Elliot is the son of one of our NASA club members who lost both his legs in a car wreck. One of our other club members who is close to the family decided to throw a benefit tournament for him. The event was on the 30th out of Ingalls Harbor on Wheeler. Of course the NASA club would be happy to fish it and even lend a hand as needed.
Josh and I decided that we would fish it, though I had never fished out of Ingalls and he hadn't much experience. But it was about the cause, of course. I sent in a check as soon as I could and secured blast off position #2.
The date rolled around and, wouldn't you know it, expected 107 degree temps. Josh said after the weigh in that had we not prepaid, we wouldn't/shouldn’t have bothered. I almost agree. I should have just sent in a check...haha!
Without a game plan, I met up with Josh at 3:45am that morning and we headed to Decatur. Around 4:30, we passed Jack's...who was closed. Needing to do something for breakfast, we kept on riding down the road and found the Krystals was open. We pulled in. I looked at the breakfast menu and started to order...just to be told that they weren't serving breakfast yet. Wait. It's 430 am and you aren't selling breakfast....OK. Well. Give me some Krystals.
The order was completed at 437am. At 552 we recieved our meal. Ran to the ramp, dunked the boat just as blastoff was starting. We jostled our way to the front of the pack and I bet we were asked a dozen times what boat we were....as if we were trying to cheat everyone. HAHA! By the time we got to the mouth of the harbor, we were behind boat 13. Sigh.
No matter. We ran 200 yards to the barge tie ups that sit on the channel ledge. Fish were busting and there was no shortage of bait in the area. Alas, no bites in the first hour. We were throwing everything from Sammys to Strike King 6XD Silent to shakey heads.
Ran just upriver to a set of houses just off the 565 bridge. Had a couple of fish slap on a shakey head and a few on a 3XD. Still, no fish.
Ran up to the powerlines and started fishing the ledges there. Had a few bites and a decent hookup on a crank and C-rig. Still no fish. We were marking fish, but noticed a lot of Gar on the surface.
Ran even further up river towards the Point Mallard creek entrance. Josh had the idea to start flipping scattered cattails and grass on the points adjacent to the creek channel. Now, I HAVE flipped a little. But never with any success. Just one of those things that I do when the day is REAL tough....which means I prob won't catch any fish anyway, but it's a high cast density method.
Pretty quickly, Josh caught a squealer on a beaver bait. I was flipping a brushhog. Moved down a few yards and picked up another short fish. Then another. I wasn't even getting taps. So, I thought I would try something else while he flipped. I started throwing a frog into the grass. First cast and I had a gar go postal on my frog. Luckily he couldn't get it in his mouth! At the end of the grass, Josh had caught 5 fish and one solid fish. I had one gar bite and broke off one bass. Sigh.
It was around 9am when we finished this first stretch of grass. So, we ran further up river to more grass. No luck. Ran to another patch. No luck. Decided to run that first bit of grass. Nothing.
At 10am, we went back to the second ledge we fished, the one with the gar on it. I picked up my Magnum crank stick and Strike King 6XD silent and tossed it out. While dredging the bottom, I hit a stump. Then another.
"The pros always nail the fish when the bait nails the stump." Josh said....ironically as my rod loaded up.
I could just imagine the look on my face. "AH? AH! AH....SIGH." Yep. If you can't picture it...it was the hit...was it a stump? Nope. It pulled back! It's a fish. Oh. It's pulling really hard. And it keeps pulling. It's a gar.
Now, it wouldn't be a tournament if I didn't catch a massive trash fish. It fought. And fought. And finally I got it to the boat. It was about 5 and a half feet long and all teethy smiles. I guess about 30 pounds.
Luckily, I got the crank back.
OH! Before I forget.....you may recall that I fished Pickwick a few months back. My partner, Buzz, had a plug knocker. And I saved about 30 bucks in baits with it. So, I farted around and DIDN'T buy one immediately. Next trip out, lost 2 baits. So, I bought one from tacklewarehouse last week. It didn't come with a rope, so I bought a retractable dog leash. Works PERFECT. Go get one. Now. I would venture a guess that I loose about 1,000 dollars in cranks a year. I throw them in the thickest cover.
But I digress.....
That was it. So, at 11, we ran up to the first ledge we fished. As we cast around, the water exploded into a feeding frenzy. I mean, 30 yard circle of flying fish. I tossed out the Sammy and caught one on the first cast. A nice white bass. Josh caught one as well.
Caught them sporadically, but it SURE beat catching nothing. We decided we obviously weren't going to win the tournament, so we should be happy we fished it for Elliot and just catch some white bass. And that's what we did.
We made it to the weigh in and I was delighted to see so many local fishermen that I knew making the effort to fish. Not just club members, but guys I knew from other clubs! It was too hot to watch the weigh in, but it was a slick setup. When I left, 12 pounds had the lead. 3 fish limit and 12 pounds. That's stout. In fact, I passed all these guys I knew who would normally love to chat for a few minutes, but the heat was so oppresive that we just said hi and kept trucking. However, most boats didn't even weigh in. Us included.
Sigh. The 2012 nasty streak continues.