Monday, May 22, 2017

Fishing Report for Logan-Martin 5/20-21/2017

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Logan-Martin has been, by far, the most fun lake each year we have fished it. Now, we only fish it once a year, but we circle it every single year in February when the scheduled is put out. The first two years, I fished it with Josh. Last year, I fished with Brad and we decided to team up again. 

While I've cashed a check in every event we've had on Logan-Martin, it's been more about the experience than the money. We would fish Friday and Saturday and every trip, we would catch a TON of fish including some magnum Coosa river spotted bass. You can read about my first three trips to Logan-Martin by clicking the links below.

As you may notice when reading those three articles, the key to winning (or at least separating yourself from the pack) is to catch largemouth. Sure, you can catch a TON of spots, but rarely are you going to catch one or two over three. Conversely, if you can catch largemouth, even an average largemouth is going to be larger than a big spot. The key last year was catch a limit of good spots and then go to the grass for largemouth. We upgraded three times late last year with largemouth caught on a frog or a swim jig.

So, Brad and I got down to Lakeside Marina around 930 on Friday afternoon. When we dunked the boat, we noticed a plethora of grass growing along the banks of the far side of the creek. Without even firing the big motor up. I pulled out my extra heavy rod with a Spro frog tied on and went to it.

Down the first stretch of grass, I caught four decent largemouth, though none over three pounds. Three were on a frog and the fourth came on the edge of a grass line with a PTL 7" Tickler in Kitchen Sink. 

Trying to add to the pattern, specifically by finding those spots, we began to fish some areas I have had found success on in the past. This included fishing offshore rock piles, boat docks, and sea walls with a collection of baits, but specifically shakey heads with the Ticker and the 5" Sick Stick as well as a few different top water baits like a buzz bait.

We found virtually no success from the hours of 10AM to 5PM. Truly, other than a quick double of short spots that we picked up with shakey heads, we didn't have a single bite until late that afternoon. 

The lone top water bite I had came on a strange and completely random cast across a point where I had seen shad skipping. A very, very nice largemouth swirled the buzzbait and  I failed to set the hook because I believed the fish had missed it. The largemouth shook off the black Strike King buzzbait, but we didn't let it bother us, as we didn't really want to catch four and five pounders in practice anyway. 

Around dark, we began to find success as fish that had been sitting on main creek channel ledges moved shallow. These channels were all within 10 yards of the bank. These fish came from 18-20 feet to feed and we began to get bit reliably. We also caught this....

We went back to the grass to check it and on one of the very first casts, I caught another frog fish, making it five largemouth. 

As we put the boat on the trailer, a local man was casting off the dock. He asked how we did. I told him we struggled to get 10 pounds and they were all in the grass. He remarked that he had caught seven largemouth from the dock, all by flipping a worm into the local grass.

We decided that our game plan would be to start on the spot we started on the previous year. The fish had been tight to a seawall and a combination of buzzbaits had produced a very, very fast limit of spots. 

The next morning, we found that there were over 300 bass boats fishing two different tournaments. We had to use another ramp and we blasted off early to avoid the rush....or so we thought. Turned out, the high school tournament left well before safe light and we found a boat sitting on our spot already. That's the luck of the draw and all, but frustrating. 

Bouncing around, we didn't have the first keeper at 10AM. We had to fish behind a boat or two everywhere we went. So, we decided to go where the rest wouldn't: 20 miles up river. Josh had fished a section of ledges last year and sent me the coordinates. We made the run, though we stopped on a set of rock piles I had fished in years passed. This did get the stink off the boat as Brad caught a couple of short fish on a shakey head, but all of them were short. 

Meanwhile, I had some nice fish blow up on a Lucky Craft Gunfish, but none found the hooks.

Eventually we made the run. Sure enough, there weren't many boats. I guess that was for a good reason. While finding bait and fish was no problem, catching them was. We simply could not get bit. 

Brad had an idea that the fish may be in the center of the smaller creeks off the main channel. That would make sense. I had experienced spots getting low in the creeks during winter months in order to hug the warmth. Getting away from the 87 degree surface temps sure made sense. 

And, catching a nice spot on the first cast sure didn't hurt. Over the next few hours, we did catch four measuring fish off this pattern. This issue? After catching one very quickly, we would spend an hour trying to find another bite, which never came.

The time began to run short on us and we returned down river. After hitting a few spots with no luck, we decided that we would spend the last 30 minutes fishing grass, just hoping that maybe we could catch a kicker and perhaps cull this tiny spot we had.

Sure enough, I got the bite we needed.
We went to weigh in with full knowledge that we weren't going to win with this tiny sack of fish. And, we were correct. 

Now, the interesting thing is, we were a lot closer than we thought. First place was around 7.50. Second place was less than 5 ounces than that. Us? How about a 7.40. That's right. The difference between first and third was less than .10 of a pound. After all that struggling and fighting, we were right there. 

Perhaps the most amazing thing is, we had the biggest spot of the day, a 1.92. That alone shows how tough Logan-Martin was this past weekend, at least for us out of towners. 

I really, really wish we had devoted a bit more time to the the grass. All things considered, all of our bigger fish (Save Brad's bigger spot) were caught on a frog. We only caught around 15-20 fish over the two days and the top five were all largemouth caught on a frog and all within a few hundred yards of the ramp. Could we have fished grass and not gotten another bite? Sure. But one thing is FOR SURE. One more frog bite and we would have won. 

That's the way it goes. One thing is for certain, I won't hex myself next time by telling people how easy Logan-Martin is to fish! 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Fishing Report Pickwick 5/4/17

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I think we all know that Mother Nature can make fish do some crazy things. Yes, I know that "my bite died"  or "the fish moved" are some favorite lines for losers at the scales. I, myself, have rolled my eyes many times when I've heard such excuses. 

That's probably why it pains me so much to have said those very words when I was weighing in my fish on Saturday. Don't misunderstand. I had a respectable bag at around 12 pounds. Between my dad and I, we caught around 50 fish. But, none of that was what I was expecting when I wrapped up my prefishing on Wednesday, which included a small club tournament. You can read about last week's tournament by clicking the link below.

Sure, I lost last week but $40 was a small price to pay to learn the lessons I learned. In particular, I learned that doing what no one else is doing can bite you sometimes. While it has done me solid in the past, grinding it out in 30MPH winds and 125,000 CFS got me nothing but a butt-whipping as my 10 pounds was almost half of the 18 pounds the winner weighed.

On Wednesday, Brad and I put in at McFarland and attempted to put the info I had recieved to the test. We went shallow, fishing behind the series of current breaks that began around the end of Seven Mile Island with a combination of texas rigged PowerTeam Lure's 6" Gator and assorted top water. While the top water wasn't hot with the fish, I still caught my first frog fish of the year, so there's that. 

What was hot was that lizard bite. We would get on the downriver side of every island or break in that island and there was at least one three pound fish waiting in every eddy. All we had to do was toss it up into that eddy, drag it down the line, and one would pounce on it. In the end, we had 15 pounds by catching around 30 fish. None of them were over four pounds. We left early and I really thought I could hit 20 pounds. There was no shortage of four pound fish and I just knew there had to be some big fish somewhere. My plan was to work this pattern until the sun got up and then flip the grass for a big momma. 15 pounds was a certainty and 20 pounds was two good fish away.

Now, I conveniently ignored a few things. First, that a cold front was moving in that would drop temperatures by 30 degrees. Secondly, TVA was going to halve the current. Lastly, the water level was going to drop two feet. 

So Saturday rolled around and I was happy to be taking my dad fishing. He hasn't been fishing much in the last few years and I was excited to tell him that not only was I on fish, but we were going to catch him with his favorite technique and lure. 

We ran down to the very end of Seven Mile and get to casting. I caught one on my first cast, but it wasn't in the eddy, it was out on the ledge. Still, I figured maybe the fish followed the bait. But then I realized something: there was no eddy. In fact, there was no current what so ever. Still, I beat the backside of several of the islands and didn't get a bite. 

I moved to the spot where I had caught the most fish and the best quality. This was an island on the little river side of Seven Mile.  Same thing. No current and a lot of water color. More importantly, no bites.

I flipped a lot of grass along with throwing a spinnerbait along the grass lines and frogging the stretches. Nothing. 

The morning came and went and we didn't have the first measuring fish and really hadn't had but a few bites. All of the bites had come from the ledge side of the islands. It took me far to long to come to the conclusion. The combination of weather and water conditions had moved the fish on the ledges. I knew this from equal parts experience that morning, guessing, and about 20 minutes of staring at my depth finder, which practically screamed "there's a school on this ledge!"

We weren't getting bit on the lizard, so I turned to dad and said "I'm going to do something I said I wouldn't do today. In fact, I just about took all this stuff out of the boat." I pulled out my 6-6 medium heavy rod with a 3/8ths ounce shakey head and a Powerteam Lures 7" Tickler

And then it was game on. 

Fish after fish after fish after fish. I had three different stretches were I caught five fish on five casts. There was only one issue: none of them measured. Not a one. 

I dug back in the rod locker for the other rod I said I wouldn't use all day: my AKRods custom cranking rod. Swapping to the Strike King 6XD provided the change we needed immediately. I quickly boated a quartet of measuring fish. None of them big, but at least it was a start. I thought we would surely find a bigger bite eventually. 

That just wasn't the case and after catching almost 40 fish off that one spot, I decided we had to mix it up. I headed down river to where Alyse and I caught some nice fish last week. I told my dad that we would likely get one chance at catching a big fish and it would be a magnum smallie. I angled the boat so that I could dredge the ledge and began drifting. 

Sure enough, I got that bite I needed. I was fighting this pig of a smallie who refused to jump.....until she got to the net. And there the crank went. 

I didn't get any more bites on that strip of rip-rap that faced into the current. We went back to the ledge, caught a few more.

That's when the wind showed up and I knew I didn't want to run back to McFarland when it got worse. In fact, it was bad enough as it was so we pulled up and headed upriver. 

I caught our fifth fish and biggest of the day while drifting down the Seven Mile Island rip rap. We never culled though we did continue to catch fish up until the point that the rollers grew from two feet to five feet in height. We decided to come in early as fighting the 30MPH sustained wind wasn't very fun. 

We didn't have enough for a check. In fact, it took 18 pounds to win, though the weights dropped dramatically. I was ounces out of third place with my 11 and change. I sure wish I knew what everyone else was doing.

But, in the end, me and dad had a great day and losing a little bit of cash.,.....a rod.....a reel.....a whole pack of Trokar hooks, 20 shaky heads and two letters off my boat, was well worth the trip! 

This is the face you make when dad slips and falls onto your rod and snaps it. I'm just glad he's ok. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Fishing Report for Pickwick 4/29/2017

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I have several cliches that I could probably use to describe this past Saturday's tournament on Pickwick. I'll try not to do that because I don't believe in using cliches. 

Ok. So, I'll use one: "All things must come to an end." 

I was on a pretty solid streak of either earning a check or at least having a competitive day in tournaments. In addition, my wife was fishing this club tournament with my on Pickwick and we have done really, really well together. In fact, I don't think we have ever fished a club tournament and not gotten a check.

All of that ended. But don't feel bad for me. We caught a TON of fish, just not enough big ones. 

Maybe I should have prefished. That seems to me important to me. A lot of people are either just better fishermen than I or just luckier. 'Cause I just can't seem to be able to show up and catch fish. 

But, prefishing wasn't in the cards this week because the TVA has been running an asinine amount of current. In fact, they had requested that boaters stay off the water entirely. The water level was up several feet and there was a minimum of 130,000 CFS being pushed through Wilson dam. Due to concerns about flooding around McFarland, we moved our club tournament to Pride Landing. 

Sweet. That would save me some gas, I thought. 

My plan was to fish emerging grass as I had done last year which resulted in a very nice bag of fish for me and Alyse. You can read about that day by clicking the link below.

Fishing Report for Pickwick 6/18/16

But, I hadn't considering a few things. First, the fact that the water was four feet high would mean that there would be no topped out grass or even sub-surface grass. That wrecked my plans for throwing a chatterbait and a Bullshad. 

Second, that amount of current would likely sweep away any grass on the ledges. 

Last, the rising water would put a lot of new structure under the water, perfect for flipping bushes for largemouth.

But, no, I went to fish grass on the eldges. Mistake. 

That doesn't mean that we didn't catch anything. After my first two spots didn't pan out, Alyse recommended we fish some wind-swept rip-rap. In short order, she bagged a solid 3.75 pound largemouth and had another identical fish come unbuttoned. I managed just one short fish on a PowerTeam Lures 7" Tickler

We moved back up river to a similar wind-swept stretch of rip-rap. Alyse struck quickly with several short smallies on a Strike King Series 3 crank. After one pass, we had caught five or six fish but all were short. 

A second trip down repeated the same results and Alyse finally asked if I was marking any fish. We were sitting in between 18 and 20 feet and casting very, very shallow. I admitted that I hadn't even looked at the graph but that the amount of short fish told me that maybe we were catching fry guarders instead of the big mommas. 

So, I pushed the boat out a little bit and angled it so that I could throw a 6XD while she continued to throw the series three. This resulted in two measuring fish immediately. One was a very nice smallmouth and one was a measuring spot. 

Alyse and I continued to get hits but all the measuring fish we hooked for the rest of the day came unbuttoned. We continued this pattern all day hoping to finish out the limit as we thought it was a tough day for everyone and 12 pounds may win. In between the measuring fish were tons of short fish. We caught a lot of 14 inch fish that just didn't measure. There is no doubt we were on a pile of mixed largemouth, smallmouth, and spots. Just couldn't get the big ones to bit, even when I slowed down and threw a C-rig. 

In the end, we only had three measuring fish. That wasn't enough to be anywhere near the top and I believe I may have finished in dead last, something I am NOT used to doing. 

What was more surprising to me was that everyone else didn't seem to have nearly as tough a day as we did and I am not referring to fighting the current and the oppressive wind. I believe nearly every boat weighed in at least 12 pounds with the winner sacking up 17!  

Oh well. My wife caught her new personal best and we caught a lot of fish! I just wish I hadn't had to pay an entry fee to do it! 

In the end, I only blame myself as I made life as difficult as I could have possibly done. I decided to fish swift current and high wind because I didn't want to do what I believed everyone else was going to do. Truthfully, after failing to limit out quickly, I really should have gone shallow.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Fishing Report for Wheeler 4/22/2017

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It's been an odd, but good, two weeks on Wheeler. Let me's been a profitable two weeks on Wheeler. No, that's not right, either. Ok. So, in terms of TOURNAMENT FISHING, it's been a good two weeks, I guess?

Maybe I should just tell you how it how it's all come together to get me and Brad a second place finish last week and a first place finish this week, despite never really whacking the fish. 

Starting almost two weeks ago, Brad and I began prefshing for our two club tournaments. The smaller of the club would be first, so we already had one our mind that it was a "throw away" tournament. That is, if we won, great. If we lost, at least gather some useful info. 

Starting two years ago, Brad and I had found fish in practice, catching at least one fish over four pounds in each and every trip. In two or three trips, we would exceed 15 pounds, sometimes even hitting 20 pounds. Again, the key words were in practice. Come tournament day, the same thing happened essentially each time. We could catch fish, just no big bites. Most days, that meant a finish outside the money. One occasion, culling up ounces managed to cash a decent check. 

Just for fun, check out the previous two year's April tournaments. 

Fishing Report for Wheeler 4/23/16

Ok, so last Saturday, Brad and I cashed a second place check with big fish. We didn't really learn anything new, despite trying to build on the previous two years. What we did set in stone was that the big smallies were roaming shallow during the first 10 to 20 minutes of the day. We would catch fish on Strike King top water baits. The story of that day wasn't what we caught, but what we didn't. I had enough topwater bites in the first few minutes to have sacked up about 16 pounds of fish. I had three other fish on the hooks that were the same quality as the big fish, but I didn't get them in the boat.

But I didn't. You can read that report by clicking the link below.

I took solace in knowing that I had left the fish there for the bigger club tournament and I really felt like the first 20 minutes could be special.....if I fished clean. But what would we do after the sun came up? Our practice that week, including the previous two years of experience, had told us that the females went deep and the males stayed either shallow or hugged the main channel ledge. 

Ok, so for those of you wanting to know where were were need to really pay attention to that last three words. We were fishing main river points on the main river ledge, but only on one side of the river. Additionally, none of these were major creek points. 

We could essentially catch all the males we wanted to, including the occasional 15" smallmouth, spots, and largemouth. But there was no size among them. 

Knowing that, we spent the middle of last week venturing out and fishing different stuff including a mid-week trip to Ingall's in Decatur where we fished nothing but grass. The only thing to report was that I kicked my Samsung into the water at Ingall's, so if you find an S5 in a white case sitting on the bottom in nine feet of water, well, it's mine. 

Still, even without getting a bite in Decatur, we really felt that the winning bite would be in the grass, even if we managed to get some solid bites early on topwater on those points. That meant looking around Mallard Creek. I'm not claiming to be an expert at anything fishing related, but I will take my chances in grass, especially non-hydrilla, against anyone.

So, Friday afternoon, I rigged up for a combination of deep points and shallow grass. That meant one top water rod, one shakey head rod, and several heavy, fast action rods with braid. 

All that is well and good, but Mother Nature rules all. In this case, she gave us exactly 20 minutes of morning bite before a very nasty storm rolled through the area. Brad and I spent that 20 minutes as best we could and it gave us two of our five keepers on the day, including our big fish. But the entire time, both of us were looking west and our brains were never in the moment. So, the very thing I said I had to do, I didn't do. I didn't fish clean and that meant missing multiple keepers.

The storm brewed on top of us and we decided to run east to Mallard. However, the wind, rain, and rollers kept us from truly outrunning the storm and we found ourselves trapped in Mallard with the bridge in the back as our only shelter as lightening popped. As we hid under there, we ran into some fellow club members whom I consider the best team in the club. They were coming out of the back of the creek as we were coming in. We met under the bridge. They told us they had a limit fishing grass. 

So, when the weather cleared, we went at the grass ourselves, but after an hour of fishing swim jigs, spinnerbaits, and several other techniques, we hadn't a bite. We decided to run back down river to our deeper points.

That resulted in several short fish, a few lost opportunities, and one keeper. At noon, we decided we would take our chances back in the grass as using shakey heads with PowerTeam Lure's Sick Stick and 7" Tickler was not resulting in the bites we needed. 

The later hours of the tournament began creeping by and we still hadn't had a hit in the grass. I could not understand what the other guys were doing that we were not. We tried a multitude of tried and true techniques to get that grass bite, but nothing. 

What I hadn't tried was a frog. Silly, I know. But I also had been called silly for throwing top water on those points this early in the year and it had resulted in plenty of catches thus far. And, the truth is...I have been catching top water fish for over a month. It wasn't really about the top water aspect as much as it was where I could throw it. The swim jig and the spinnerbait couldn't reach the deep, dirty back of the bank where the flotsam and the cat tails resided. 

I chunked a Spro frog all the way to the bank, which seemed like it was 75 yards from where the boat floated. A fish boiled at it and knocked it side ways. I couldn't get it to come back for a repeat bite so I reeled it in, cast it all the way to the bank and slid it into the water when the fish swirled it. I waited until I couldn't see the frog, reeled down, and set the hook. But, I set the hook at the exact moment the fish jumped, leading to a five foot tail walk that ended with the frog coming back at me. In the meantime, the extra juice of the hookset added to her jump gave plenty of air time to see the five-plus pounder go flying back in the drink. 

It was now 1:15 and we had three fish, none over four pounds and a twenty five minute ride to the ramp that did not include the 15 extra minutes to troll out to where the depth was enough to run the big motor. We both kind of knew the score. That was probably it. Hey, I had accepted it. Like I said in February on Smith, it's entirely possible that you might not find fish, no matter how hard you prefish.

On the way out, Brad spotted something that caught his attention: a rip rap bank against the Mallard Creek channel. It wasn't that it looked that interesting, just that after miles of similar banks in Mallard, this one was unique. Being unique was something that we had discussed all afternoon, or rather the lack of uniqueness in the area that may lead to a pile of fish. 

So, as we trolled by, the two of us picked up worms and began probing the bank. My first fast resulted in a very small keeper, but it was number five. Seconds later, Brad noticed his line running to the side and attempted to set the hook on a fish, but the three pounder threw the worm. That was really just perfect, I thought. In the last hour of a very tough day, I had lost a five and he had lost a three that likely would win the tournament. 

Keep your head down. Make another cast. 

As the worm dropped vertically, I found a collection of rocks at the bottom of the creek channel. A fish pecked it. Pecked it again. Then picked it up. I set the hook and fought the fish, which jumped and tail walked, but I had a solid top-of-the-mouth hookset. Brad netted the solid three pound chunk. 

With half my 5" Sick Stick hanging by a thread, I tossed the fish in the box and tossed the worm right back out to the exact same spot.

It was 1:33 when I made that last cast and only two hops of the shakey head into that cast when another fish picked up the bait. I slammed back the 6'6" medium rod and worked another three pound chunk aboard. We threw down our rods, threw the smallest fish back in the drink and hammered down on the Mercury. 

It wasn't a winning sack, it  was barely 10 pounds, but we didn't care. We went from the dumps to a respectable finish, something we could smile about in the weigh-in line. Who knows? Maybe it would get third? 

And, wouldn't you know, was enough to win! 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Product Review for Bass Mafia Bait Coffin 3700 Deep

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"The Bass Mafia Bait Coffin 3700 Deep is a serious storage container built for holding your most valued lures and tackle. The extreme durability of the Bass Mafia Bait Coffin 3700 Deep makes it waterproof, corrosion-resistant, and virtually indestructible. Designed with large customizable compartments, the Bass Mafia Bait Coffin 3700 Deep can hold the super-sized plastics and hardbaits that might not fit in a traditional stowaway.
8-1/2" X 14-1/4" X 4-1/4" "

For Christmas, one of my good friends bought me a Bass Mafia Bait Coffin. I was really excited about these, since, like many of you, I have grown tired of buying Flambeau or Plano boxes every season.

If you are as fortunate as I, you fish with a lot of different people in a lot of different boats, including my own. This means that on a weekly basis, I am transferring my storage boxes into multiple vehicles. They get dropped, thrown around, and generally beat up. I probably average replacing at least three boxes a year. Seeing that I am a versatile fisherman, I have around ten boxes in my boat at any one time. This is only for terminal tackle and hard baits, as I store my plastics in Zip-Loc bags. So, I replace a third of my storage containers a year to the tune of around $40. 

As many of you know, fishing isn't a cheap sport, but it would be nice not to have an additional $40 or more a year for something that doesn't catch fish. 

Enter the Bass Mafia Bait Coffin. Now, the price is daunting, as it carries a nearly $40 price tag from most vendors. However, it also has a warranty that the other two companies don't offer. 

  • I use this for my jigs, in particular. No longer do I have multiple boxes for jigs. They all fit. 
  • This box is a very, very hearty box and the lid will latch solidly, even if it is over capacity.
  • The shear number of slots make it perfect to hold a lot of baits and to keep them separated.
  • There is a warranty. 
  • This box is heavy. That may not matter to most people, but for some people (especially performance boat guys), it will be an extra few pounds if you use multiple Bait Coffins
  • Storing a lot of baits in one box is great, but it doesn't fit a lot of boat storage areas. In particular, many boats are designed with the aforementioned companies in mind. This will not fit anything similar. Therefore, I have to just lay my boxes in the rod/bait locker however it will fit. 
  •  Each box costs in excess of $40. 
  • The dividers slip out of place just as easily as any other company's
My Experience

I have been very pleased with my Bait Coffin, regardless of the Cons. I did have a latch corner break, which is very common with these boxes. I emailed the support at Bass Mafia and they asked for a picture of the damage and proof of purchase. Though I had the picture of the damage, I didn't have proof of purchase, since it was a gift. I explained that and they sent me a replacement.

Of course, the replacement wasn't what I expected. I recieved an entirely new box along with a Bass Mafia hat and bumper sticker! 

So, despite the additional cost over competitors, the warranty made it worth the purchase. I was so pleased that I bought their Terminal Coffin as well, which I also like, very much. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Fishing Report for Wheeler 4/15/17

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In my opinion, there is no better way to prepare for a tournament than to fish a tournament. I know that's probably circular reasoning. Let me specify: there is no better way to prepare for an important tournament than fishing one....not so important. Pros do it all the time. It's the perfect way to approach practice without treating it like practice. Sure, it might pad the fruit jar a little more, but it's a very effective way to learn what the fish are doing in a competitive environment.

Our NASA club had a tournament this weekend which was out of Wheeler on First Creek. Next week, we have an Army Cargo Club tournament, which is our bigger club. We would almost certainly be prefishing Saturday, anyway, so we might as well approach it as a dress rehearsal. 

Up until Friday afternoon, I didn't have a partner. Brad did some begging to his wife and obtained a kitchen pass. That sure beat fishing alone! 

In the past few years, practice vs tournament day has been a bug-a-boo on the lower end of Wheeler. We have caught some phenomenal fish in practice, but come tournament day, we couldn't catch any size. 

You can check out the report from the last two years of this tournament and compare.

We were determined to add some spots to our gameplan Saturday. But, of course, we wanted to catch a few at our old spots, just to make sure we were competitive. It has been our experience that you should have at least five spots that you have confidence on. While we had five spots that we had learned over the past two years, all five spots were almost identical, even if they were spread over three miles of river. Experience had said that the size of fish caught off of these spots was the lone difference between them all. One spot seemed to hold at least one big fish every trip while the others would at least provide numbers. One very important thing was common between them all. When the sun came up, they all quit producing. 

It didn't take long to get on the board as I began fan casting across this main river point. While cranking across the shallow flat, I missed three consecutive fish, something that shouldn't be possible with two treble hooks. That was all forgotten, at least momentarily, when I hoisted my first fish of the day, a tank of a smallmouth.

As I went back to casting, I missed several other fish, all of which were in the same class as the one I had just boated. I got good looks at all of these fish as they threw the bait at me. At first, I believed they were just short strikes, but Brad suggested that I take a look at my hooks.

Sure enough, my back hook had two bent prongs and my front hook was less than razor sharp. With the sun beginning to creep up, I tied on a bait that Brad had, as I didn't have any more of the particular crank I was using. That seemed to solve the issue of short strikes as we both landed fish and filled our limit.

Admittedly, everything wasn't so smooth as I managed to make a cast that was about six inches too long, resulting in me having to take a swim to retrieve Brad's bait. Luckily, the water was around 75 and the sun was hot. 

About 8AM, we swapped over from moving baits to shakey heads. We both alternated between the PowerTeam Lures 5" Sick Stick and the 7" Tickler. As previous years had shown us, bites weren't hard to come by, at least for about an hour. At one point, I caught fish on five straight casts, but the size began to plummet. Leaving main river points, we began to fish up the sides of the bluffs. 

Bites were far and few in between with most of the fish being males. 

That wasn't to say there weren't fireworks. I caught two blue cats on the shakey head. For a team looking for just one big bite, the thumps I had on the PTL Pea Heads and worms were just momentary elation.

Eventually, we were forced to expand to new areas, though we should have done it much sooner. Unfortunately, we spent four hours looking for one good bite, as we had two fish that were really solid and three that were dinks. We figured that we really only needed one more big bite to sew things up.

But all the while, I was thinking about the fish I had missed earlier that day. I hoped it wouldn't hurt us, but I also knew that the ten pounds we had weren't going to cut it, no matter how big the club. 

Indeed, it wasn't enough to win, but it was enough to take second and big fish. That being said, the three fish that I saw were enough to take us to at least 13 pounds, which has a realistic chance at getting a check. 

In an effort to understand why the fish quit biting, I took a look at TVA's website. According the lake levels, the discharge from Guntersville was relatively low, in the 11,000 to 17,000 CFS range. The discharge from Wheeler dam was fairly consistent with this flow out of Guntersville until noon. At noon, the discharge doubles, meaning that there was twice as much water being lost as gained. In layman's terms, they began dropping the water level. This is consistent with our fishing success. 

It should also me mentioned that there was a massive Good Friday tournament as well as the Home Builders Association tournament. This is approximately 250 total boats, at least. That assuredly had something to do with the bite on Saturday. 

In the end, we caught around 15 fish with most coming on worms, though another five or so came on plugs. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

AKRods Custom 7-foot Medium Heavy, Fast Action Rod for Sale

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I have the following 100% custom, hand-built rod for sale by AKRods for $180.

This 7" Medium Heavy, Fast Action will be a terrific multi-purpose rod but would excel as a terrific jig rod. Pictures do not do this rod justice, especially on the handle's custom wrap. 

Please email me at for more information.   

If you will recall, this is who I am now getting all of my rods from. Once you go with a hand-built, custom rod, you will never want anything else again. This has a lot of very high end components and each is built to maximize efficiency is all aspects of fishing, from casting, to sensitivity, to fighting the fish. I have half a dozen of these custom rods and you can read my review here.   

This starts out with a MudHole MHX MB843 7'MHF blankThe MHX series incorporates innovative designs of both traditional and progressive actions. The multi modulus materials allow us to utilize the correct material in each portion of the blank. An advanced production process that is second to none creates a series of blanks unparalleled in today's market place. The MHX series are as much as 40% lighter than comparable standard graphite models and incredibly more sensitive.

These lightweight, yet powerful rod blanks provide the professional custom builder and hobbyist a dependable rod blank they can rely on for years to come. 
AKRods used the following high-end components:
  • Carbon grips
  • 11 3/4" trigger to butt
  • Fuji ECS reel seat
  • Fuji Alconite micro guides
  • Kigan hook keeper