I don't know if it was epitome of foolishness, or perhaps the height of overconfidence to fish a lake...for the first time....at night....in a tournament. But, I am in the mix (somehow) for angler of the year, so every point counts on the way to getting the big check of $10 dollars (which pays next year's dues!)
First thing I did was look at last year's results. Out of the 8 or so boats, the winner had 14 pounds and there were 3 other sacks over 11.5 pounds! That was impressive, to say the least. The FLW tour was also on Pickwick, ironically out of the same launch, McFarland Park, which is just down river from the Wilson Dam.
With the old Stratos still unproven, I asked Josh if we could take the Bullet. He said that if I would tow it, he would buy the gas for the boat. Not a BAD deal....
The days leading up to the tournament, I tried to find a topo map in local stores. Apparently every FLW tour member, every beat-the-pros, and every other fisherman in the world needed a map, and it took 3 stops to find one. Once I had it in hand, we studied it in depth. We didn't want to run too far, as the tournament was at night, and the lake can be very treacherous. We picked out two areas. First, the area just below Wilson Dam, and the other was the up river point of 7 Mile Island.
I figured this was going to be a Zach Taylor "Crank your way to victory" kind of day, so I bought two new Lew's Speed Spool 5.4:1 reels. You can read about my review here:
We followed the stream of vinyle wrapped boats until we got to the park, unloaded the Bullet and blasted off.
Here is a cool video of us running to the Wilson Dam:
So, we ran to the dam and fished here:
There were soo many small mouth! They were practically jumping in the boat...but just not biting our lines! Talk about frustrating! There was just too much REAL bait to eat and we couldn't interest them in it, other than a few short strikes.
So, we ran down to 7 Mile Island.
It hit as I crawled it through the rocks with my new Lew's Speed Spool.
Every time I brought it through those rocks, I had a hit. The problem was, that was 1 out of every 3 casts, as the massive bill on the 6XD would get hung. I swapped to a Series 3
That made all the difference. From 8pm-9pm we caught fish after fish, both large and small mouth! However, I seemed to be missing the big fish. I was getting hits from them, and they would either jump and throw the hook, or lose it at the boat. It seemed the big fish weren't getting stuck on the tiny hooks on the series 3. And they are small! But every time I threw the 6XD, I got hung, and that was the end of that spot.
We took a break and decided to eat dinner. That turned out to be a mistake, as a boat moved in on top of the spot. That usually isn't a big deal, as most people drift, just like we did. So, we motored upriver, above them. They didn't seem to like that, and they whistled and shined lights at us. It wasn't that we were too close to them as much as they had decided they weren't going to drift. That's their prerogative, of course, and we made the mistake of getting off a spot.
Bad news got worse, as our big fish died on us, not for a lack of trying. We tried a few more places without any luck, other than bad luck, as we lost at least 50 dollars in baits between us. I even went to throwing a shaky head! That's how slow it got!
We went into the ramp early, with a good sack, minus one smaller fish. As luck would have it, I culled it with a good fish which I caught on my swimbaits!
We started the weigh in promptly at 2am. It took 13 to win, and although our 10 wasn't enough, it was enough weight for second. But, because of the dead fish, we had to take 3rd. that sucked, but considering that neither of us had ever been to Pickwick, especially at night, we couldn't complain!
I can't wait to get back to Pickwick and get back on the smallie/largemouth mix!