Friday, July 27, 2012

MFC Tournament on Wilson Lake 7/20/12

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Night tournaments. Some people love them. Most people hate them. While I have tremendoust success in night tournaments, I have RARELY caught fish after dark. In fact, in the 4 or 5 night tournaments I have fished, I bet I have caught 4 or 5 fish after dark.

So, what does that mean? Well, that means that I average about 6 hours of doing nothing but sitting in a boat with another dude, in the dark. And since I don't have any romantic involvement with them, it makes for a long night...haha!

Josh couldn't fish with me because he was working Saturday morning following the tournament, so I began to pole other boating partners because I just didn't want to get the old Stratos out and rely on it. Especially after dark.

Alas, that's exactly what it came down to. So, I called up someone I should have called right off. I called Ole' Bertus, one of my "best good friends" as my fellow Alabama Native Forrest Gump would say. Bertus agreed to fish with me.

So, we met up Friday, grabbed a bite to eat, and headed to Lock 6. Got out and waited for the club to arrive and meanwhile, setup our rods. I got out the culling beam and the net and immediatly noticed that the net was SCREWED. So, rather than it become a hinderance, I tossed it.

Now, some of you may recall that my wife's aunt has just bought a lake house on Wilson. I had fished there back on July 4th and found fish on a few good spots in Shoals Creek. Namely, one that I had caught fish on last year with Josh.

Come blast off, I looked around and only one other boat was headed down lake. So, I figured the likeliehood of this boat running to the same place were slim considering we had 1/4 of the lake in front of us. But, as I turned into Shoals Creek, the boat followed. And then it was a race. Of course, it wasn't one that I could win the the Stratos. The Bullet would have been ok against a rigged out Skeeter with a 250. Not the old heavy Stratos with the 150. So, he passed me, made it to the 72 bridge, and sped off.

At this point, I conceeded that they were going exactly where I wanted to go.....grasslines on a main creek point. Second bend of Shoals Creek.

However, Bertus and I had discussed this earlier. Our strategy was to run to that grassline and catch a small limit. I knew there were lots of fish there because I had caught them two week ago. But there were no big fish. I probably caught 20 small fish with maybe 5 of them measuring in the hour that I fished it. After we caught our limit, we would motor back to the point where I had caught bigger fish. It was a decent strategy, I thought. But now we had to strategize a little more. I believe my hero Early Cuyler would call it sit-you-i-a-shun-all stratification. If you don't know...don't look it up. LOL! See, every time I fish this one point, I see other fishermen fishing it. But they fish were common sense would tell you to fish. And yet, while there are fish there, the bug wad of fish is about 100 yards away. I had found them by accident last year because wind blew me off the main point and onto submerged boulders in 20 feet of water. So, I wasn't really wanting anyone to see where we were fishing and it would be dark soon. We followed the other boat. Naturally, they stepped on the brakes exactly where I wanted to fish. We stopped short of them and fished.

We didn't give it long. The whole point had been to catch a QUICK limit. 20 minutes without a bite isn't quick. So, we EASED on out and headed down creek.

Naturally, a boat was parked exactly where I said it would be parked....about 100 yards from where I wanted to be. We were concerned that we may be viewed as "cutting them off", but we asked and they didn't mind. I am sure it raised some eyebrows where we asked to fish a spot about the size of a VW beetle and that they could fish on either side of us.


It took us a few minutes to get the exact boat location. We were about 20 yards off the shore casting across a point into the slew channel. I was throwing a Spro Little Jon DD in chartreuse while Bertus threw a C-rig.



 First or second cast into it, something broadsided the crank and ran straight at me. I couldn't get in front of it and it shook off. Never saw it. Next cast, some thing...except she stuck. I knew it was a chunk right off. No question. Bertus jumped off the trolling motor (I hate running the trolling motor), looking for the net. It was then I told him I didn't have one and had JUST trashed mine. We weren't really sweating it until it jumped. It was a smallie. A big one. HUGE one. 4+. And I had to swing it. But, she made it in the boat and boy were we stoked. A fish like that would be tough to beat for "big fish". A smallie like that was probably big enough for "smallie of the year". In the livewell she went.

It was then that I noticed that the hooks were bent. Front AND back. Now, these aren't cheap hooks. Spro puts good hooks on their baits. I dug out my pliers and bent them back. Mostly because I didn't have any hooks that were that tough anyway, and Spro puts heavy duty D-rings on their baits.
Next cast, another one smashed it. Got it to the boat and as I lifted it, it shook loose. Deff a keeper, but not a huge fish. But it hurt none-the-less.

"Looks like we might have them fired up!" I made the comment. On cue, Bertus swung into a fish and boated another small mouth. About 2.5 pounds. 2 in the livewell. He hung up on the next cast and as he retrieved it, he graphed what I had told him was there. Big boulders with a lot of fish on them. Boy, did he get excited when he saw that on the Hummingbird! 

We scooted back out. Next cast I hooked into another fish. Big. Real big. In the class of the big smallie. He jumped a few times and I swung him in. a SOLID 4 pound largemouth. I retied but didn't check the hooks. And on the very next cast, another fish...same size...loaded up. As he got to the boat, he tail walked and tossed the Spro. I shrugged. It happens. About this time, Bertus asked me if I was hitting anything on the bottom. He asked because he had swapped to a Strike King 6XD in the same color but wasn't hitting anything.



Me, on the other hand, I was burning the bait down to depth and then crawling it through rocks. So, he did the "knell and reel". Paid off on the first cast as he boated another 4ish largemouth.
At the same time, I lost ANOTHER fish at the boat about the same size. I realized that the hooks were bent...again. So, I fixed them and went back to work.

In 20 minutes we had caught around 10-12 fish. We landed 7 of those with me having lost 2 of the bigger ones. With the exception of the small mouth Bertus caught, nothing was smaller than 3 pounds.

Now came the fun part. Keeping them alive. The Stratos has a very small livewell and I knew we had a lot of weight in there. Add in that most of these fish came out of 20 feet of water and you had trouble.

As night fell over the lake, the fishing fell off as well. Bites were hard to come by. I didn't catch another bass while Bertus did manage to boat several, including one keeper.

I'll save you the next 6 hours of boredom and get right to the results. We killed two fish. We did everything we could. No question.We managed to keep the smallie alive though.

We weighed in 17.5 pounds with a 4.73 pound small mouth and took 1st and big fish. That's a heck of a sack. Esp considering that we could have weighed in 20 pounds had I managed to boat the two I lost. They would have been bigger than the 2 smaller fish we weighed in for sure.