Friday, April 15, 2011

Ditto Wildcat Tournament, April 14th

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Well, it was that time again! The day of the week I look forward to. Thursday night Ditto Wildcat tournament. If I am not mistaken, this is the 3rd or 4th this year. Josh couldn't fish with me and Dad was planning on turkey hunting. So, I called up TJ, who agreed to go. If you will recall, I fished a few weeks ago with Josh and we didn't do very well. That's not to say it was unexpected. This time of year, the good fish are caught near the dam...which is a stroke in the old Stratos. When you are talking about winning MAYBE $100 dollars....it just isn't cost beneficent. There aren't many alternatives. Upriver is a collection of community holes such as Hobb's Island, Butler Basin, and Flint River. All of these areas hold fish, and I have always caught fish at one or all of these on any given trip. The problem is, that so has every one else.

As we motored out into the channel, I counted at LEAST 16 boats, all pointed up river. Seeing that I will be in the back of the pack, if not the slowest, I won't be making any of those community holes first. So, I pointed her down river. Again, you will recall that I tried this tactic last tournament with little success. The places down river, such as the Army Recreation area and the NASA barge ties, will hold fish, but get beat to death by bank beaters. Also, they just aren't setup that well for spawning fish. But that's better than fishing behind 15 other boats!

We shot down river as fast as the Johnson 150 would take us, arriving about 10 minutes later at the NASA barge tie ups. The current was about 1.5mph, 2 feet or so of visibility. Water temp was about 63 degrees. Here is a picture of the places we fished and where we caught fish:
The first spot we fished, which is the furthest upriver, has been relatively good to us the last few weeks. If you recall, we are sitting against the downriver bank, casting the the "eddy line" created by the current. There is a series of rocks that seem to hold fish. Although it is adjacent to 30 feet of water, the entire little cove is less than 2 feet. TJ quickly caught a short fish with a fire tiger shallow crank. Meanwhile, I cast a mixture of War Eagle blue herring spinner bait, slow rolling it against the bottom and bumping rocks, and a strike king series 3 citrus shad.


However, all I caught was a tree with the spinner bait. As I jerked the 6 foot 6 inch medium heavy St. Croix Premier rod around, it broke in half. $120 dollars, gone. UGG!!! Don't tell my wife! That's ok, I didn't like it anyway.

There goes any potential profits, though. Guess that means I get to build me my own spinnerbait rod. Take the good with the bad, make lemonade and all that jazz.

the more we sat in this spot, the worse it smelled. Like a dead animal. I started to wonder if that woodland creature we saw a few weeks ago had died. The smell was so bad that we abandoned the spot and floated down.

Fishing a set of downed timber and the end of the rip rap, I hooked into a solid fish and swung it aboard. It was 2.5 pounds and we could make a solid sack out of it! It wasn't quite a money fish, but it was something to build on!

We fished the area quickly and onto the bend in front of the tie ups. No takers, though I had several hard bumps. we noticed that the smell was getting worse! I finally figured it out as we got to the the concrete slab. The gentleman fishing was fishing with the foulest smelling bait I had ever smelled. As you can see by our map, we made an about face. As we neared the cylindrical pile-on, I cast a Model 6XD in sexy against the eddy line and got a solid bite. It didn't feel large, but when it surfaced at the boat, it was a good 3 pounder! That COULD be a money fish. I was pumped! Even if we only got 3 more bites, we had a solid chance!

Next cast, however, I was so hyped up that I didn't pay attention that the bait was wrapped around the rod and I threw it a billion miles....without a line attached. Fortunately, it floats...so I got it back :-)

Without any more bites...and a strong smell on the wind, we hopped upriver to the Rec area. No bites. Although I admit that I didn't fish long because it was over run with bank beaters, and I respect them and their right to fish. So, even against my better financial judgement, we ran all the way to the upriver point of Hobbs Island.

The current was WHIPPING us along. The gar were out in force, and  I figured that we were in the right spot if they were feeding. I was quickly rewarded with a measuring (when stretched) fish. However, the money spot isn't on the rip rap bank, but rather the flat area in front of the point, which extends about 50 yards. I just couldn't keep the boat on it, although the fish finder was going crazy! This summer, this is where we will catch a lot of our fish.

After two trips down the bank, several little fish caught, we shot down to Butler basin. However, there were at LEAST 5 boats in there and we didn't get to fish it.

As we idled out, and I let the motor eat...I forgot to pull the trolling motor up, and TJ and I got SOAKED! Insult to injury!

We were hoping that everyone else was having a tough day, but I knew better.

It took 11 pounds to win, and 2nd and 3rd place had 10 pounds or so. big fish was 3.5 pounds, so I wasn't too far outside on that.  We were midpack again, and I am not too upset. They all ran to the dam to catch fish and I could do that. It just costs too much money! You know, 4 bucks a gallon and all.

I really want to learn the down river section, as it is "dead water" to most people. It's between 565 and 231..an area that just doesn't get fished.

Oh well. Good fish were caught, good time was had!