I can't quite remember what it took to win last year, but I BELIEVE it was 18 pounds or so. A nice sack, don't get me wrong, but not unobtainable.
Josh and I started prefishing once a week for about 3 weeks before the tournament, and each day the fishing got harder. Our friend Bertus would also prefish with us. We concentrated mostly on deep structure, 45 degree banks and the like. But about the only thing we could catch were small scrapers and crappie.one thing in abundance were tall waves, whipping wind and cold weather!
On the second of 4 prefishing days, Bertus did land this solid fish on a XR75 in royal purple off of a 4 foot flat.
The 3rd of 4 days, Josh and I had a little fish off against Bertus and his friend Jim. After almost an entire days worth of fishing, the only thing we could come up with was one solid scrapper caught on a square bill.
While Bertus called and swore they didn't have anything, we knew that wasn't the case. When we weighed in, they produced a solid 6 pound fish with another 5 and 4 pounder to boot.
My friend TJ and I fished the day before the NATA Open, but it was the same result. I did manage to catch a fish on the Alabama Rig.
So, that wasn't a total 30 dollar waste. I was starting to wonder as Josh had thrown if for 2 weeks straight without a bump!
I did manage to hop around that day and mark some fish on drop offs.
So, Josh and I met the night before and put together a game plan. Included in this was essentially fishing only mid lake. If things got dicey, we labeled the BB Comer bridge as our "Alamo."
Boats poured in to Goosepond. But, NATA did a FABULOUS job of setting it up and we easily signed in and launched the boat.
Our first stop was a bust, so we headed to Preston Island and fished a 45 degree bank. Josh threw the Bama rig and I threw a Silent Strike King 6XD. The white bass were running bait, but we knew if there was white bass, there were large mouth to be had. Josh did catch a white bass on the Bama rig, which, to that point...made his day. We pushed on to some submerged boulders in 14 feet of water. josh had a hit but the fish let go and one SMACKED my Strike King. I assume it was the same fish. It was a solid 2.5 fish but it barely measured. But MAN was it fat. Next cast, struck the underwater boulder, caught another clone. We caught a few more short fish but couldn't get any more.
We ran into Bertus and Jim, who said they had a small limit. So we assumed it was a tough day. From the very beginning, we thought if we could just catch a limit we could do well. From the looks of it, that might actually be the case. Now we only had to CATCH those 3 more fish.
After a few more hours without luck, we headed to the Alamo, which is to say, fish shallow. We had about 1 hour until weigh in and 3 fish weighing MAYBE 7 pounds.
We pulled into a little creek channel among old lilly pad stickups and Josh smoked one on the Bama lure. It was a nice chunk. Almost on the next cast, he snagged a 4-5 pounder. I immediately picked up the Bama rig and started throwing it. we caught several more and even culled up 2-3 times! We figured we had between 18-20 pounds..which made us feel REALLY good about our chances. We just needed to find that lunker. Unfortunately, we never found him and had to run full speed back to the ramp.
Upon reaching the dock, we found that MANY people said the day had been rough.
As I got out onto the dock, a dude FELL IN THE WATER trying to get off the boat and get his truck. I mean, he ATE it. I hate to laugh at his expense, but it was one of those times when he had NO change of making it, but tried it anyway. I helped him up while we all got a good laugh. Him included.
After walking to the weigh in, we QUICKLY found out that even if HALF the boats had a tough day, there were still 30+ boats that either did ok, or owned it. In fact, the first weigh in I saw was 21 pounds and I knew we were in trouble.
We weighed in at 18.6. Bertus and Jim had around 21 with a 7 pounder. It took 29 to win it. Yes. 29 pounds. 28 pounds for second! And the boat with 28 pounds also had a 8 pound fish! Could you imagine loosing with 28 pounds and an 8 pounder! I sure can't!
So, we ended up in 15th or so. we didn't really look to see how bad it was. Bertus and Jim came in 6th.
However, I am super proud of us for adapting and overcoming. Josh carried us, really...so props to him. Sucks to loose, but we learned a little something something. When you fish tournaments with guranteed money...the local pros will beat you almost every time. I guess I didn't realize that when I fished with Uncle Tony....since he IS the local pro.