Monday, May 21, 2012

MFC Tournament at Pickwick

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Why is it that I seem to fish the lakes where I am the least successful? Either I am a glutton for punishment or I am the definition of insane.

But, this weekends tournament was on Pickwick...and by my calculations, since I fish the lake the least, then I should have great success. Right? Well, I guess that depends on your definition of success. These days, that would be weighing a limit of measuring fish.

I entered as a non-boater for this event...for multiple reasons. Foremost, that I SUCK at running the trolling motor and finding fish. Put me on the back of a boat and  I will do great. Swap me to the front and I won't catch anything.

I drew Buzz, my President predecessor. I was really excited about fishing with Buzz....since I hear he makes the BEST sandwiches! So, everything else aside, I knew I would be eating good!

We left the house at 3:45am and made the trip to McFarland Park in Florence. Blast off was at 5:30. We started off the day fishing a small island just downriver from the point of 7 Mile Island. It's hard to miss. Beautiful little spot with 4 trees standing on it. It has a series of humps in front of it and behind it. Having had so much luck on crank baits in the past, I started out throwing a trio of different depth cranks and topwater.

Pretty quickly, Buzz caught a short large mouth and a measuring small mouth. That was a great sign. I was tossing a Zell Pop around the trees on the island and bagged a short fish. On the next cast, had another fish hit it. I could tell it was small because I got a great view of it.

"You need me to get the net?" Buzz asked.
"No. It's a short fish." The fish stayed down in the water, which was surprising. About halfway to the boat, the fish talk walked in front of us. It wasn't a short fish. It was a 4+ largemouth. He scrambled for the net and we boated it. I was fairly certain that would be a "money fish." there was a length pause between bites, so we moved on to the humps behind the island, as there was a lot of top water action, although we could tell it was probably gar. I was throwing a Strike King Series 3 Silent
I had a few violent hits, but no hook ups. That changed when one loaded up on me. It was either a massive smallie or a drum. I had a good idea which. I wrestled with it a long time since I didn't want to loose the crank. Big. Nasty. Drum. A few casts later and I had another hit...this one was a massive fish. Up to the surface swam a 4 foot long gar. I was willing to let him keep the bait. Luckily, he threw it out. Whew! It slowed down a lot and I went to throwing a shakey head, hoping to fill out a limit. No luck. We ran upriver to the point of 7 Mile, drifted over the submerged rock piles. I started crashing my crank baits, this time a 6XD Silent in the same color. But, those rocks are sticky. I got hung out. I started complaining about loosing the bait, but Buzz produced a Bill Dance plug knocker. At first I scoffed at it...but a few seconds later, I knocked it loose! In fact, I did this 5-6 times over the course of the day and NEVER LOST A CRANK! I am hitting up eBay for one now! A big thanks to Buzz for being patient with me. Josh isn't so kind, most of the time. But, I believe in throwing baits to where the fish are. If you ain't snagging cover, you ain't snagging fish.

I just made that up. Book it.

 A few short fish aside, we didn't really do any good. So, we idled just across the river to a spot that I had found last year. It's a little cut in the shore, surrounded by rip-rap banks and laydowns. The fish weren't exactly where I thought they would be, but they were close. I was still throwing the shakey head and Buzz was throwing a lizard. I had a peck and launched a short fish back at me.
Seriously the shortest bass I have ever caught. The finnese worm was longer than he was! Few minutes later, caught another one!
Few minutes after that, Buzz made a comment that a nice fish followed his bait all the way to the boat. I thought about it and suggested that he swim it instead of dragging it. It paid off. He slammed a keeper while another keeper was on it's heels! Next cast, another keeper. Then another. I got in on the action and caught a few on the shakey head, but not nearly the number he put up! They really wanted that swimming lizard! I tied one on and caught another nice fish myself. From 11-1230 we probably caught 10 keepers and other assorted fish. Maybe even more than that. All from a spot between two lay down trees. We were swimming it over submerged branches and the fish were sitting in those branches. Lots of them. It was a spot about 5 yards long. Having a short time until weigh in, we decided to leave those fish, as we wanted bigger fish. I figured that everyone else was having it rough as well. In the even that someone else found a flurry, I wanted to go for the throat and find some big smallies. After all, it's Pickwick! Tried some places up by the dam, but never found any smallies. In fact, we had the only smallie weighed in! I caught several more on the shake head. I am a firm believer in the Spot Remover Pro Series backed by a Zoom finesse worm.

So, we weighed in. First team weighed in and had 14+ pounds! HOLY COW! I had already done the math and knew we had between 10.25 and 11 pounds. Talking to them, they did indeed find a flurry of fish at the exact same time we did. The good news was, we DID have the big fish, 4lbs 4oz
We weighed in 11.10 pounds. Not a bad haul! Everyone else had it pretty tough. It was a great time! The sandwiches were AWESOME! Thanks to Buzz for a great time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Guntersville fishing report 5/17/12

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One of the gentlemen who reads my blog makes trips down to Guntersville a few times a year. A few months ago, he had contacted me about fishing with he and his father. I love meeting new people and thought it would be a great opportunity for all of us to learn off each other and have a good time. They were down most of the week, but because of my schedule, we had to wait a few days before I could join them. It had been the same song, different verse for them. Tough fishing. I didn't expect it to be any different for us.  Yesterday, we met up and got to do some fishing.

Now, I know what you are thinking: Didn't you give up Guntersville? Well, sorta. Don't you have a 2 week old? Yep. I also have the bestest wife ever. :-)

We put in a BB Comer and ran downriver to a spot where the had caught a few fish a few days before, there at the power lines. Not a whole lot of action. They caught a fish or two on topwater Spooks:

I had a swipe or two on the Sammy and I had the funniest thing happen on my swim bait. I was throwing my Baby Carp swimbait, see here at Zach's Swimbaits. I was pulling on top of a grass mat and a big fish smacked at it. I kept reeling and he kept coming! He must have jumped 3 times and slammed it repeatedly, never quite getting it in his mouth. About 5 yards from the boat, he finally caught up to it, made a massive splash and ran under the boat. I couldn't get a hook set on him, but we all enjoyed the show! 

After a few more minutes, we headed up to the mouth of roseberry. We started fishing the ledge, but noticed there was a ton of action on the flats. Groups of the bigger shad were getting hammered by the bass. We pulled up on the flat and started casting at them. But, the bass liked the buffet and we couldn't entice them to bite. 

So, instead, I told the gentlemen to start throwing the spooks over submerged grass. The sun was high and there were no clouds...but there was a little chop and  I had a feeling we could catch a few. The move paid off and they boated several fish. 

One of the funnier things of the day was when one of the guys broke off the spook on a fish. We were all pretty bummed about it, but the spook was too buoyant for the fish and we found him and the spook about an hour later. Removed the spook, revived the fish, and off he went!

Not a banner day, by far. But we caught some fish and traded stories all morning. We called it quits about 11:30 as the sun got way up. Great time was had, and I can't wait until they make it back down! Even managed to sell some swimbaits, too!

The day didn't stop there, although I doubt most of you care. I was asked to play on an A-League softball team. I have played C-league the last 2 years with my awesome wife. So, I ran home, took a little nap, slammed a Red Bull and was off to the field. 

Turns out, A-league is A-league for a reason. Where as I had been hitting over the outfielders heads in C-League, the A-Leaguers put their backs on the fence and dare you to hit it deep. You either hit it over, or you fly out. And I can't hit it out. Took 3 at bats to figure that out...some smart guy, huh?

Got home around 6:45 and went to work in the garden. 

What a day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A nice dose of humility (MFC Tourny, Guntersville)

So, I noticed my wife hasn't blogged in 6 months. Therefore, most of you probably don't know that our 3rd child was born. It wasn't a huge event. In fact, it was quick and stress free. One day he wasn't here, the next he was. Baby Gavin is a perfectly healthy baby boy.
With the low stress, my wife insisted that I fish our club tournament only 3 days after he was born. I didn't argue. I decided to go ahead and use my buddy pass since I didn't think I would be fishing any more. Only 3 other boats signed up. Josh and I discussed our plans Friday night over burgers while the ladies attended to the babies. I like to think that I am a humble guy, but I had already said in my mind that we would be getting a check. I even voiced this to a few people. That wasn't a slam against my competitors, just that I couldn't see the two of us struggling. We usually don't.

So, Saturday morning, we roll into Seibold campground and launch the boat. Low and behold, the for was thick and we were constrained to the surrounding area, which was NOT our plan. We putted around, top water fished without a bite, then moved onto humps. Josh caught a nice little spot. He measured it. Then threw it back as he was telling me: "Too bad it's only 14 inches." Then he realized our mistake. Guntersville has a 12 inch limit. We just threw back a measuring fish. I told him not to worry as we would catch plenty of fish. The morning drug on and I hadn't caught a fish. Josh had caught about 5 short fish. I set down the power baits and went to plastics, hoping to at least get a quantity bite. The fog lifted and we finally ran to the spts we had agreed to. Yet, no fish.

Before we made the long run to BB Comer, we stopped in one of my old community holes. First cast with one of my swimbaits and I hooked into a good one. It tail walked a few times and I knew this would be a contended for big fish. It was a solid 4. It got to the boat and Josh couldn't quite get it in the net. Absent minded, all I could think about was how awesome this would catch another good chunk on my swimbait. I couldn't wait to get the pictures! To counterpoint, the fish turned and loosened the tension, spit the swimbait out, and kept trucking.

 The only good news...sorta...was that we found some active fish who would at least swirl on a frog. We had probably 15 smacks without a hook up. At least that's something to look into. So, 26 miles of running. 8 hours. And we didn't weigh a fish. Not one. I was as bummed as I have ever been. Granted, the day was rough on everyone in our club, but I couldn't accept that I didn't catch a fish, although that is a growing trend on that lake. So, I am giving up on the G for awhile. There are too many good lakes out there.

Fishing is one of those things that offers life lessons. Today's life lessons were about arrogance and assumptions. It was about focusing at the task at hand. Lessons I won't be forgetting soon.