Sunday, March 31, 2013

Alabama Mountain Lakes Media Event on Pickwick 3/27/13

I have every intention of giving you all a terrific breakdown of everything we did in this terrific half week. But, we fished soo much, ate sooo much, and saw soooooo much that I have to break it up into a lot of different posts. I plan on doing a post for each day.

Let's get to it.

Wednesday morning, we left Doublehead Resort on Wilson Lake and Kay Donaldson from Alabama Mountain Lakes and Alabama Bass Trail treated us to breakfast at Cracker Barrel. "Us" included myself and fellow writers John Felsher and Dennis Sherer and Pro Guides Jimmy Mason and Brent Crow (more about them later).

After we were done eating, we headed to beautiful McFarland Park on the head end of Pickwick Lake. What's our plan? Well, to catch some monster smallies, of course. Pickwick is, after all, the Smallmouth Capital of the World.

Now. Like all bass fishing, you can go to catch fish....or you can go to catch BIG fish. I explained to my two Pros that I wanted big fish. I had fished Pickwick many times, but I had little to no experience in catching smallies...that is, targeting them specifically. I had caught some good smallies there, but nothing over 4 pounds. You can read about some of my experiences here:
Last Fall
Last Fall 2
MFC Club Day Tournament
MFC Club Night Tournament

So, that was the game plan. Catch monster....and I mean, WALL HANGER....sized smallies. After all, they had said that the fishing that week had been outstanding and catching numbers...even with good size...had been no issue.

Of course, I had to explain to them that it didnt' matter WHAT had gone on before I stepped in the boat. But, when I stepped in the boat, bad luck and tough days followed. They laughed. I didn't.

It was frigid. Like, upper 20s when Pro Guide Jimmy Mason and I met at a gas station where he was filling up his Toyota Pickup and Phoenix boat.

I won't go into the full bio for Jimmy. Go see that for yourself at his website. But, he is the real deal. An Elite Series Qualifier in 2006 and 2007. That says enough.

We all stopped at Perkins Outdoors just outside of McFarland. I had never been in the store, and it didn't look like anything special. But the fact that Jimmy and Brent BOTH had things to buy in the store told me that something was interesting about this place.

That was an understatement. I have seen some great tackle shops on or near the water with great selections. Waterfront Grocery and Keller's on Guntersville, to name a few. But Perkins had a few things that I haven't seen many places. Sure, the tackle was superb. Even had things like the new Strike King 10XD(pictured below). But, they also had weight casting equipment, spinnerbait and jig skirts in unique colors, and on and on. Fantastic selection. I will be in there EVERYTIME I am on Pickwick.

Check out all these swimbaits! Now if I could only get them to carry the new PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammer! The Smallies sure liked it!

We arrived at gorgeous McFarland Park, which has awesome amenities including nice wide ramp, tons of parking, lots of docks, and nice bathrooms. Not to mention the awesome view!

I loaded my stuff into his boat and he dunked me and the boat in the water. Off we went. In the 30s. WHEW!

We talked about the game plan. We would fish a typical early prespawn pattern by fishing the tail races of the Wilson Dam with a combination of swim baits and bama rigs. Of course, this is a widely used pattern and I admit that I was caught off guard. I had tried this approach MANY times on this lake and had limited success. I'm not a good fisherman and I admit that. I'm also not terrible and this pattern....though I had seen the videos from Bassmaster Elite Series events and read all the reports....never seemed to produce. I surely couldn't see how we would ever get on a monster bite. But, as we left out of McFarland, I noticed all the other boats doing the same. I'm a fairly humble person, so I knew...if the pros say this is what we should do...that's what we should do. And I would follow the directions to a T, though in the past I have been quick to make my own decisions.

We pulled up to the "horse shoe" and let the current drag us down river while we chunked lead headed single swimbaits. I didn't ask what Jimmy was throwing, though it looked like a Yum Money Minnow. I was throwing the new PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammer.

It didn't take long for the pro to show out, as he hooked a beast within the first 3 casts. It was a gorgeous largemouth in the 5 pound range. Easy. As he wrangled the fish to the boat, the swimbait came on buttoned! The 5 pounder looked at us for a second as if to laugh, than swam off. Not matter, right? If it was going to be like that, no need to worry over 1 fish. Least of all a largemouth.

But it got tough for a while. No bites for us, though we did see Brent and Dennis boat a nice fish.

But the clock ticked for us. We only had until 11:30 to catch fish before we stopped for lunch. So, we fished harder. In the mean time, Jimmy did a fantastic job showing me just how meticulous each cast should be with the swimbait if I wanted to be HIS level of success.  I told him what I had done before and that I had limited success. He told me why that had happened and what I needed to do. He took a painstaking amount of time to teach me, for which I am VERY grateful. Even when it was tough, Jimmy played his part of guide and still found ways to show why they are worth every penny of your money and every second of your time.

I believe this is something that many people don't understand about guides....what separates good guides from great guides. See, believe it or not, sometimes the fish don't bite. It's what a guide does on those tough days that separates them. He could have gotten desperate and started running around, he could have let us catch dinks, or he could take the slow period to instruct. And that's what he did. That's what makes all of these guides associated with the Alabama Mountain Lakes special. They don't just recommend anyone.

Again, one of the things I kept wondering in the back of my mind was....what am I supposed to be doing? The other writers would fish a little, then take notes, then take pictures. While I took some notes and some pictures, I was there to catch monster smallies. So...since it was tough, should I sit down and interview him? Take scenery pictures? What would people considering coming to Pickwick really want to read? In my mind, if you want to sell the country on Legendary Pickwick Smallies, you had to catch the big smallies. That's all that matters. And, if you want to catch them....2 lines in the water are better than 1. So, I fished harder. After all, that's my style and that's what I blog about (haha...see I didn't use write...)

Fire up the big motor, run to the dam, chunk the swimbait, reel it in. Cast again. Drift further down. Fire up the motor. Repeat. I was finally awarded for my hustle while I was chunking the PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammer and a fish crushed it. We could tell by how hard it fought that it was a smallie. I could tell by the bend in my rod that it was a NICE one. It took a long time to wrestle her before we netted a nice 4.5 pounder. As you can see....she CHOKED the Hammer.

By then, it was lunch time...and to be honest....I was hungry. And cold. So, with a few minutes left, we fished the mouth of McFarland. Josh and I had done well at the mouth with swimbaits before. I was able to catch 3-4 small largemouths really quick with the Swinging Hammer. Jimmy caught a few fish on the Bama rig. We called it a morning. It felt tough, but in reality, we only fished for 2 hours and caught 10 fish. That included a nice 4.5 pound smallie and a 5 pound large mouth (in my boat, if it hits the side, it counts....Jimmy didn't agree with that rule...but I am counting it!). That's really pretty solid. He did a great job finding quality fish and a fantastic job with instruction. He was personable and hospitable. A very good guide.

So, we idled into the harbor and met everyone at the River Bottom Grille. It's not open yet...but if you are in the neighborhood...want terrific food, great scenery, and an awesome atmosphere....look no further. I know that I will be eating there from here on out. Goodbye PB&J and jerky! Hello fried jalepenoes, pickles, Key Lime Pie and grilled chicken!

After we were done eating, I went outside for some air before I fell right to sleep! I decided to take a few pics while i waited on my nest guide. Even Kay from Alabama Bass Trail was able to get in on some pics!

Well, it was time to swap guides. I was now with Pro Guide Brent Crow from North Alabama Guide Service. Brent also runs the Top Rod Solo Trail, a really cool tournament series in North Alabama that is COMPLETELY out of my league. He has qualified for the BFL All-American as well as the Bass Federation National Championship. You can find all you want to know on his website. Now, Brent and I were roomies at Doublehead and we had stayed awake till the weeee hours chatting the night before, so we already knew each other fairly well. We know a lot of the same people and we both fish Guntersville a lot, though he is obviously much better at it than I. We had already talked about what we wanted to do. We wanted a massive sack of smallies. I told him I was willing to grind it out. I didn't need a ton of bites. I just wanted that massive sack. I wanted a wall hanger smallie. I have caught a few high 4s and one nice 5. No 6s. I wanted to see that 6.

So, the pattern was almost identical to the one that Jimmy had been using. We fished the tail race.

But, as the bite slowed, we needed a few more fish. The tail race bite had all but died. He made a small move, made some incredible cast, used a very specific retrieve and caught a nice one. He did it on the next cast and caught another nice one. Then he put the rod down and watched me. I did it wrong and got hung up. He calmly retrieved the lure, told me what I had done wrong. Told me what to do right, and we went to work. Again, this is something that seperates Brent from other potential guides you might use. Even after he found active fish, he took the time to put the rod down and teach me how to catch them.

So, we ground and we ground. I won't lie to you. It's hard to get excited when bites are far and few. But, when it was picture time...and we hoisted these made the effort well worth it. Check out all the species! Turned out to be a SOLID day.

Almost before I knew it, it was dinner time. We were in for a real treat, even if I didn't know it. We were going to head to Stanfields. I was told it was a local steak house. Now, I won't lie. I am a steak snob and when they told me it was in Rural Rogersville and not downtown Florence, I was REALLY skeptical. But, I trusted Kay. Stanfields is a benign looking restaurant which did nothing to assuage my skepticism. But, when my appetizers of fried mushrooms showed up...I realized that I had been wrong. By the time my Delmonico Ribeye showed up, I was already saving their address for my next trip. Service? Terrific. Food? Outstanding. Price? Very affordable. Like I said. I am a steak snob. I wouldn't lie to you about it. It was a fine meal for under $20. If you are staying at Doublehead, which you should, it is a MUST STOP.

By the time we got back to Doublehead, I was nodding off. I didn't even really chat with Brent and thank him for the great trip. I headed upstairs, wrote a quick blog post, and I was O-U-T. Out.

So, That was it. You know. No big deal. Great breakfast. Fishing with 2 big time accomplished guides. 20 pound sacks of smallies. 3 6 pounders and 1 7 pounder. Lunch on the river. Steak dinner. No big deal. While I was fortunate enough to have these accomodations paid for, I'd venture a guess that you could get a night in Doublhead, a full days guided trip with these two guys, and all your meals for under $1,000. I know that sounds like a lot, but I can almost gurarantee you that it would get you the smallie trip of a lifetime. And that is priceless. Look, if I can do it...I know you can.

So, could I honestly say that I could have caught fish without the guides help? Sure. I have run that pattern with limited success many times. I've watched the TV shows. I've read the articles. But, there were 3 guides on the water with us and each guide had a smallie over 6 pounds including 1 that went 7 pounds 3 ounces. Yep. Get some of that. Each boat had a smallie limit over 20 pounds. If you took 100  good amateurs and put them on the water, there might be 1 smallmouth over 6 pounds weighed in. And every one of these guys had one with a sack on a "tough day" by their standards.

Of course, I wanted to know what THEIR definition of a "not so tough" day was, to which each replied that I should come back on another trip and they would show me. So, I am calling them out on it right here....Jimmy....Brent....I want to go out again and stroke them to yalls definition of "not so tough!"

Pickwick is a well known lake, but there aren't nearly as many guides for Pickwick as there are from Big Brother G about 2 hours up the road. I was able to fish with a couple of those guys that guide and watch a few more. Let me tell ya....there might only be a few, but they make up for quantity with quality even on those tough days. While catching a 10 pound largemouth is really awesome and something that I still haven't done,  I've got a pair of 8s on the G and a lot of 7s, so really I am a long way....but I am in the ball park. You can and will luck into one on the G eventually. Now, that could take years, don't get me wrong.

But seeing multiple 6 pound smallies and one over 7 boated in one "tough" day is really a once in a lifetime experience for most amateur anglers like myself. While luck can get you any where, most anglers don't want to wait their whole lifetime for luck. Especially when a few hundred dollars for a guide, some terrific food, and wonderful accommodations are right at your fingertips.

One of the main purposes for being invited to this event was to show I could show you...that it's easy to book a great trip and very affordable. Alabama Mountain Lakes, Alabama Bass Trail, and even the counties and cities associated with Pickwick have made the info readily available to you, and if you want secondary sources, the different Chambers and Tourism offices for the associated counties are all waiting for you to call. Don't believe me? Look it up for yourself. The hotels, guides, eateries, and entertainment are all easily found at their websites. And if that isn't enough, call them representatives directly. They are all happy to assist you.

Talk to yall soon!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Alabama Mountain Lakes Media Days-Overview

I admit that I haven't done a good job telling yall about the awesome opportunity in which I have taken part of this week. I was asked by Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association and Alabama Bass Trail to be one of 4 writers to take part in an awesome half week of sampling everything that several counties communities have to offer.

Now, calling me a "writer" is a very loose term. Especially considering the company that I have kept this week. I am in the company of writers such as David Ranier, John Felsher, and Dennis Sherer. I'm not really sure how the stars aligned so that I could be here. Honestly, it's been a struggle for me to answer WHY I am here. What do I mean? You ask...

Well, whenever we meet tourism representatives for each of the counties in the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, they all ask me: Are you a writer or are you a pro? Well, I don't make any money writing, and I don't consider blogging to be writing. I certainly am no fishing pro. Even my look is different than either of those two groups. I wear my PTL hoody and stained blue jeans like a pro, but I don't have those awesome tan lines. I certainly don't look like a writer and I don't have the talent.

Of course the answer is...neither. Not by a long shot. To which I have received some interesting looks from the fine ladies who represent many of your counties and its tourism. So, as they passed out buisness cards...I had nothing really to offer other than a shoulder shrug and a foroughed brough on why they cared to give me a card or want one from me.

So, I started just saying I was a writer....and because of the company I am keeping this week, they assume that I am a free lancer for one of the big outdoors magazines. You know. Like I am Accomplished.....

Wrong again. Nope. Just a kid who has a blog and some spare time. I bet they think I am joking.

I further admit that this has put a lot of pressure on me to deliver some grand type of writing, and the viewing traffic associated with that writing, for the people who are paying the bills for me to be here like they will get from the other writers.

Add to all of this that the week isn't JUST about fishing. I mean, I was told this was about ALL of the attractions and accommodations offered by the Top 16 Counties in the State of Alabama. But, we were's all about fishing? And if it's about fishing, I'm in good shape.

Wrong again.

It must be a Generation X thing that we believe life is all about us and what life has to offer us. In this case, I thought this was all about fishing and what the communities had to offer me. Why else would they treat us to great accommodations at Doublehead Resort on Wilson Lake, fishing with Pro Guides like Jimmy Mason, Brent Crow from North Alabama Guide Service, Currey Holley from Always Gone Fishing, Brian Barton from Brian Barton Outdoors, and Johnathan Henry from Guntersville BassWhacker, or the absolutely terrific food from River Bottom Grill and Stanfields?

So, as we met the representatives from each of the 16 counties in Alabama Mountain Lakes, listened to what they offer tourists and sportsman, and listened to their struggles and plights, things became clearer to me. Was I there to gather information to share with readers about how great the fishing and associated accommodations are? Sure. But more importantly, to impress upon me the NEED for people like me to take ownership and responsibility for this terrific region of this wonderful state and to make sure that all Alabamians know WHO is fighting for them and WHY.

When I arrived, I thought I was just here to sample the goods and to report.  I will still do that. But, in my simplistic world, that was it. Already I have learned that I am not just the consumer. I am part of this whole economical system that has to work together to ensure that our state is successful in bringing in these tourists so that we can raise the money to leave our children an opportunity to enjoy the things we had.....or even make them better.

It took about 30 minutes to realize all of this. Probably about the time that full-blown statistical analysis of the impact of spraying the grass in Roseberry creek on Guntersville to the total states tourism got into full swing.

This is about working together to provide income and jobs to Alabamians while protecting and restoring the State for our kids.

We are talking about the 14,000 jobs that fishing alone creates in Alabama. . Or the $8xx,xxx,xxx of economical impact that fishing has in this state. Jobs that have direct impacts on how well fishing does. Not just the Brent Crows and Brian Bartons who fish....but the workers here at Doublehead, the servers at River Bottom. Here is where it got REALLY interesting....what about all the OTHER stuff that we have here in Alabama like white tail, quail, and turkey hunts that people don't really know about? Or great attractions like the Coondog Cemetary? Terrific Festivals?

Suddenly, this trip that was all about me me me became very much about everyone else and how I was going to do my part to help.

The sad thing is, my part seemed pitifully small...especially when the name dropping for Representative So-and-So, the Governor, Congressman Whomever....who these writers and County Representatives all know by first name basis....and how they need them on their side to keep up the good work. Who do I know? No one. What pull do I have? Slim to none.

Here I was. I know no one. Outside of the 5PM news, I am not plugged in with all the politics that effect this state. I don't have the first understanding of how this bill or piece of legislation put forth by whomever that affects tourism will effect anyone else. But these people do.

It became imperative that a lot of work has to happen to keep this state's head above water. Specifically speaking of our State Parks and Wildlife Refuges...and the legislation that directly or indirectly affects our tourism.

I don't want to read too much into why I am here. Again, the cavern between the pedigree of the other writers...speaking of talent, experience, and inescapably vast. Yet, as I thought about how I fit...or DO I fit...I thought....

Maybe they see the need for the next generation's help. People don't turn 50 and suddenly care AND have the ability to sway those votes....they have to build it up over DECADES. Which means you have to groom the talent at a young age.

Is that what I am? Maybe. Maybe not. I could be someone whom they see the energy and ability. But then again, maybe they just had a spot that they couldn't fill and someone suggested me. Hey. It was better than having no one, right?

Regardless, it's clear that the resources that I enjoy, from the fishing to the hunting, to all the great festivals our region has...ARE a depeletable resource. If everyone enjoys them but no one builds them...what do you think will happen? I came into this thinking how awesome all the free stuff was going to be for me. All the publicity. All the fun. Yet it took about 30 minutes for me to meet these WONDERFUL ladies from these different counties and see things from their point of view and to realize that this wasn't all fun and games for me....but to ensure that our Children and the rest of Our Nation can experience the Great State of Alabama while providing a jobs and lucrative income, by getting my support, however small it may be.

They have it. Do they have yours?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

MudSlam 2013 at The Great American Park, Auburn Al.

Check out the Vid!

We had been looking for an excuse to get down to The Loveliest Village on the Plains. just so happened that MudSlam was this weekend.

Off Roading, mudding, and rock climbing is something that I would like to get in to. Kevin has always been into it and has already started building a serious rig. isn't done yet. Which meant that if we wanted to partake in the action, we would have to do it in his rather stock Jeep.

As usual, the drive down was long. Especially when it cuts in to your time with your friends...and you have 3 kids in the car. But, they enjoyed a Bible Story DVD and the baby was well behaved. The traffic wasn't, however....

Anyway....Saturday morning rolled around and Kevin and I hit the trail! We had it all to ourselves until lunch time. We took a LOT of video. The stock Jeep did terrific.

At lunch, we picked up the older kids and brought them. By now, life was stirring at the park and the mud was swirling. The Jeep started having some problems...but we managed to get out of all the holes....until the last one of the day got us. Luckily, we were bailed out by some really nice folks.

We then watched some rock crawling and tractor pulling.

That night, we enjoyed a terrific steak dinner and watched the Nashville Predators. I was asleep by the 2nd period......

Sunday, I paid my respects to the Toomer's Corner Oaks. We had a Toomer's Lemonade and Ice Cream...then it was back home!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fishing with Mr Ben on Guntersville

I am a very lucky guy. I have a gorgeous wife. Terrific kids. A great job. God continues to bless me in many ways. One of the little "extras" he blesses me with is the ability to fish with so many awesome friends. I don't care how good you are (or think you are) everyone has something to teach you....whether it's about fishing or life.

Mr. Ben is the father of one of my dedicated readers, Greg. Last year, while they were down from their respective home towns, they asked me to fish with them. We didn't kill the bass, but I showed them a few things and they showed me a few things (a la... I showed them throwing a Sammy into pockets of grass and they showed me the floating worm).

Well, they have continued to keep in touch with me.

I missed Ben the last few trips he made...but this trip I made it a point to find a way to fish with him. Even if it meant driving an hour each way to fish 2 hours. It's worth it.

So, Ben had been fishing for a few days straight with limited success. This day, he hadn't caught a fish. That set the tone for the afternoon. Well, sorta. The 20MPH growling wind and overcast skies did a good job, too.

I took him to a placed that I always catch at least a fish or two. It paid off quickly, so at least we didn't go home skunked. Well, he didn't, anyway. I had one weak hit on the PTL Gator all afternoon.

But, we had a great time. Shared some laughs. Hopefully I enriched him as he did me. It's always great to spend time with your elders.

It wasn't the strike filled day that Josh and I had on Saturday,'s fishing! Not catching!

Anyway, we got some vids of a few fish. Nothing spectacular...but it's something!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Product Review for the ALL NEW 4.8 Swinging Hammer

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!

Follow my Fish of 2014

For the best price on Swinging Hammers, check them out on Amazon. Just Click This Link! 

Bob (owner of PTL) had called me a few week ago to let me know that the molds had made it to the plastic injector company. All well and good. Don't tell me until they are here. I don't want to get my hopes up.

So, it went into the back of my mind and I didn't think about it.

When I wake up in the morning (about 5:45), the first thing I do is roll over and check my email. My bosses get to work and start emailing the work instructions for the day.

Well, imagine my surprise when I received an email telling me that the Swinging Hammer was in! I jumped up, ran to the living room, got on the laptop, and made an order. I just HAD to have these baits for the SNUFISH Tournament on Saturday. was Wednesday and I was SWEATING that it would come in......

But it did! And it saved the day! It boosted us from outside the money to 3rd when Josh hung a 4.5 on our last cast! In fact, we threw this bait for the last hour of a cold blue bird sky day and culled several times. Here is a vid from that day as we threw up over 18 pounds. 

Here are the specs from PTL:

"If you're looking to create a serious amount of turbulence in the water, the 4.8" Swinging Hammer was specifically designed to do exactly that.  The oversized paddle tail of the Swinging Hammer creates a massive amount of vibration that calls in big fish from far away. To boot, it's flat belly prevents rolling even at high speeds and it's segmented body creates a delicious side to side body sway from the nose back which just drives fish wild. The 4.8" Swinging Hammer can be fished multiple ways…but no matter how you fish it, be prepared to stick pigs!
Swim it on a weighted swimbait hook in open water or bang it off of cover.
Rig it weightless on a 6/0 EWG for slow surface waking and calling fish out of vegetation below.
Rig 5 on an Alabama rig and create a turbulence like never before.
Stroke it off the bottom on a jig head.
Use it as a trailer on a swim jig or Chatter Bait and bring that lunker to the scales.
Each package of Swinging Hammers comes with a capsule of Hog Tonic inside. Rub some on the baits and add amino acids to make sure those pigs don't let go. "

I have been using this bait for about a year and a half, and it has become a go-to bait for me on multiple lakes. I have a few ways of rigging and retrieving that are a staple of mine. The first is a standard lead head, fishing around damns such as the Guntersville dam on Wheeler or the Wilson dam on Pickwick. It is deadly on small mouth in the current.

Perhaps the most underrated method is weightless on top of grass, such as on Guntersville. During the dog days of summer in 2013, "skitter shadding" became the sole producer of big fish for me. I wold throw it as far as I could, then twitch it back while it sat on grass. The hook up ratio is extremely high and the fish can't stand it. You can also throw this weightless into schooling fish and it is almost automatic. Just toss it out, let it fall, and make a couple of twitches. This technique earned me a 2nd place finish with Big Fish during my clubs Classic on Guntersville. Check out the vid.

Whatcm my product review, which is at the top of this page. If you want to know my favorite attribute to this bait, it's that it swims even as it falls, where as most swimbaits have a stiff tail that won't move as it falls. This doesn't look like a real bait fish. The Swinging Hammer swims as it falls, making it look like a dying bait fish. As a result, most of my catches have been on the fall, either from the cast or from popping it off the bottom.

If you are looking for a extremely versatile swimbait in some awesome colors with a unique action, check out the PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammer Swimbait and its 12 colors. My all time favorite is Money. But all of the colors are great.

I have caught a ton of fish on this bait. And I have caught them every single way I have rigged them and on every single lake I have used it on. Whether it's lead head, swim jig, A-rig, or weightless, this bait produces fish.

For the best price on the web, check it out on Amazon. Here is the link. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fishing Report (with Video) for the 1st Annual SNUFISH on Guntersville 3/16/13

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube,  and Twitter!

Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!

Follow my Fish of 2014

Go here for the VIDEO!

November seems so long ago. That's when I agreed to help the Sigma Nu fraternity from UAHuntsville to put on a benefit tournament for American Heart Association.

It was a great way for me to represent PowerTeam Lures(I know yall are sick of the plugs...) as a member of their Pro Staff. In fact, it was really the first tournament I had fished, aside from the NATA, which was a hard bait dominated tournament.

Anyway, the date rolled around and...fortunately, I found myself with a free Friday to prefish. If you have read about my other attempts to prefish, you will see that I do little more than eliminate water, much less get on a pattern.

But...I did. And while I don't have a post of it....yet....let me assure you that I stumbled upon a pattern that I was pretty sure we wouldn't see used for another few months. I was sure, however, that the Bama Rig would be tossed all over the lake, so I had ruled it out.

Anyway, to save some time, I fished Friday with Jon and we put up 25 pounds including a 6 pound bucket head on the last cast.

So, when I called Josh and told him that I had filled out a limit mostly on rattlebaits, he wasn't surprised. When I told him that I culled up 2-3 times with a PowerTeam 6" Gator....he was a little taken aback. And why not? Sure, a lizard type bait is a staple in spawn, post spawn and summer patterns. But not in March.

Now. The Gator ISN'T a standard lizard, like you would see from Zoom. See the ridges on the tail? That gives it a "thump" in the water. The ridges make it stiffer, so it doesn't just twirl around. It paddles. Also, the legs are backwards from most other baits. I also like the very realistic bumps on it's back and the rib cage-like side profile.

Anyway, that was our plan. Rattle baits in the morning, Gators in the afternoon.

We also knew that the Alabama Highschool tournament was also going to be out of state park and they were expecting 250++ boats. Plus any other tournaments. So, we decided it wise to put in at Seibold and motor over. Boy, was that a smart decision! Props to Josh for thinking of it!

So, we arrived at Seibold and there wasn't another trailer in the lot. We motored across. And man, the road that circles the mountain below the State Park looked like a fireworm. It snaked back and forth...truck-trailor-truck. And it was PACKED at the docks.

We found Jared, the gentleman running the show. I dropped off some PTL Giftcards that PTL had graciously donated, as well as some baits that I provided out of my own pocket.

And....we were off.

We fished the Seibold area, starting where Jon and I fished the morning before where I caught a 4.5 and several 3 pound fish early. I threw the rattlebait while Josh threw a Bama rig, mostly. After a while, he picked up a rattle bait and tossed it. Yo-Yo'd it. Picked up a fish and slammed the rod home....just to break the line....NOT the way to start!

A few minutes later, we headed to where I had caught the 6 the previous day. We put the boat in 12 foot of water and threw to 8 feet. I decided that the Gator had worked there 16 hours ago...maybe it would work again.

And so it did. I had a solid THUMP and I hammered it. I fought it for a second and had almost given up on it being a solid fish until it pulled back. And I quickly yelled at Josh to GET THE NETTTTTTTTT!!!!

I tell ya. I am throwing this new St. Croix Triumph rod in Medium Fast with the new Skeet Reese reel. And that rod is deceptive. It makes big fish feel small and small fish feel big!

Anyway, boated it and we were off! It was a 5+ fish. THAT'S the way to start the day!

Josh immediately picked up his lizard bait and started throwing it....right after he let me douse it in Hog Tonic.

Now, I am not hard core about scents. But, I believe they are very useful in cold muddy water, which was what we were fishing.  He was throwing a Zoom in an almost identical color as I. He quickly picked up keeper #2. So, we figured  that the lizard was the way to go.

That was sort of correct. After we moved to a new place, I quickly picked up fish 3 and 4. A non-keeper. And it was 5:1 PTL vs Zoom. We made a deal that if I caught another one, he would swap. So, I did. And while it didn't measure, it proved a point. So, I gave him one of the Gators.

Quick aside...I was Facebooking the whole day, updating when we caught our keepers...etc. So, when he swapped, I made a status up date. I was finishing up when he made his first cast....and caught keeper #5! It was HILARIOUS! And Lord strike me dead if I am lying. It was a RIOT!

We quickly found out that we could go anywhere that had 12 feet adjacent to 7 feet with grass and catch fish. So, we started hopping around. But, the 3-4 foot waves made it impossible to run to places that we knew. So, we started fishing new places around Seibold. Each new place yielded a fish or two. And while we did catch 3-4 fish an hour, the size started to plummet. It got to where we were only catching dinks.

We were sitting around 16 pounds. We hadn't culled up in a long time. And the bites were coming slower. So, Josh picked up the brand new Swinging Hammer from PTL. If you didn't know, this bait came out Wednesday. Which is when I ordered. I received them Friday night. SO, unless you went to PTL and bought them, you couldn't get them faster than I.  But, I hadn't caught any fish on it. Heck. I hadn't thrown it!

But Josh went out on a limb and started chunking it. It took maybe 5 minutes. He caught one that was a small upgrade. Then on the next cast, he caught another. It didn't help, but it sure gave us the sign. So, I picked mine up and threw it. 1st lie. Caught a fish. Again, no help...but we caught 5 fish in 5 minutes.

Again, numbers are great, but they don't win tournaments. We were hurting for another good fish.

We tried a new place that I had heard about and while he threw the Swinging Hammer, I picked up the Gator again..since it seemed to produce bigger fish. And, 2pm the day before was win I caught the big one. We also noticed that the bigger fish came out of 10-12 feet instead of 8-10 feet.

So, when we got into an area that was 12 feet deep with grass, I thought I had a good chance at a big cull.

I was dragging it on the bottom when one THUMPED it. If you don't know...little fish do the "tap tap tap", which is them chomping on a bait to make it fit in their mouth. A quality fish doesn't do that. It opens its mouth and inhales the bait.

I leaned back on the fish. It leaned back into me. And broke the line. I won't speculate on how big it was. It doesn't matter.

I was destroyed. There is no getting over that.

3pm rolled around. Then 3:30. Then 3:45. I wrapped my rods and sat down. I was done. If 16 pounds wasn't enough....oh well.

Josh made 1 more cast with the  PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammer. A fish destroyed it. Initially we thought it would be another dink...but when it jumped, we knew it was a cull up fish. I dipped it and we had boated a 4.5 pounder that culled up a 2 pounder. That's a heck of a cull!

We ran back to the ramp where we discovered that the day had been extremely difficult for most everyone. In fact, only about 5 boats weighed in a limit. We weighed in right at 19 pounds. That was good enough for 3rd place. It took 23 pounds to win and 21 for 2nd. Big fish was about 6.5 pounds.

Jim, whom you may remember from some of my videos, and his 2 other friends were the boat to win. I know that sounds funny, but this tournament allowed you to fish 3 to a boat. Which is different and kinda cool. Maybe we should have done that! HAHA!

Anyway. We ended up catching 25 fish or so. Many of those were good fish. But, the majority were buck bass that were prestaging. I have an inclination that the females are still in 12 feet. All but 1 fish were caught on PTL baits. Most of those were on the gator.

As you can see, we got good videos...though the GoPro shows its bad side again. The GoPros are really bad about shutting on and off at odd times....and that stinks when you are expecting to have video of 20 or so fish and you have video of 5. Oh well.

Quick note...almost forgot! I took care of myself this weekend and stayed covered up. Skin cancer runs in my family. But...the one thing I didn't cover up.....