Follow my Fish of 2014
Well, she bought it. Or played me. One or the other. But, at the end of the day, she agreed.
So, for three weeks straight, I struggled through tournaments. First, we had the Eagle's Wings Fishing for a Mission...which I busted on. Then, on to the MFC Kick Off on Guntersville....that was ok. We won a check. Then, onto the NATA Open on Guntersville, which was another bust AND led to boat problems.
Thursday before the Pickwick tournament, I pulled some of the fuel system apart to see if I could find the problem that was limiting the boats performance. I didn't pull down the fuel system all together, but stuck to the easy to access parts that are common problems, such as the fuel and water separator, the low pressure pump prefilter and the like. In both cases, I found a lot of trash.
The first thing I noticed was just how low the water was. I mean, REAL low. Lowest I have ever seen. So, I wanted to be EXTRA careful when running around. I ran up to the dam, made my first cast and caught a dink. The evening was fairly cold and the sun was getting low, so I decided to quit while I was ahead. I pointed the boat down river and kicked it. After a mile or so, I decided to turn back around and make the same run. Except I took the turn too fast and nearly threw my wife out of the boat. She was NOT happy with me. I certainly didn't mean to, but that's what I get.
I made the run again and noticed that the boat would not exceed 60MPH. Something was obviously still wrong. So, that made me have to rethink my plan for the upcoming tournament. I had planned to run 16 miles down river to fish grass humps in Waterloo. I have some good spots down there that I found while fishing with my NASA buddies during the Government Shutdown. But, the weather wasn't supposed to be very good and the motor certainly wasn't cooperating. So, I decided we would have to stay local.
As we put the boat on the trailor, I raised the motor as I always do and gunned it. With the combination of the ramp angle and the low water, it wasn't enough. Thump. Thump. Thump. And now I had this to deal with:
We ate a nice quiet dinner at the River Bottom Grill then headed to the lake house. It was certainly nice to be able to wake up at 530 instead of 330!
When we woke, it was pouring down rain. The rain continued even after we arrived at the ramp. My fellow club members had the same idea we had: sit in the truck.
Eventually it slacked off and we headed out. We headed just down river to McFarland creek. On my first cast with a square bill, I netted a magnum shad.
After flipping some laydowns with no action, we ran down river looking. With the river as low as it was, almost all the rip rap was out of the water. But, we stumbled upon a small 10 yard section that was not out of the water. It was an extended rocky point. I decided to fish it. I caught our first fish on a shakey head with a a PTL 5" Sick Stick in kitchen sink pretty quick.
I quickly figured out this would be a milk run/junk fish tournament. At least for me. Spot hop and catch the active fish. Pull up the trolling motor and run.
We ran down the skinny side of 7 mile island, but quickly realized that was a mistake. The win was howling up the river at 30 MPH with 50 MPH gusts. It was so bad that if we would have gotten pinned to a bank, we might never get off.
The only solution I was was on the other side of the island. On one of my first casts, I had a hard bump. I set the hook and hauled, but the fish hauled back. I knew what it was immediately. A nasty drum. I played with it, then broke the line rather than boat it.
I retied as we drifted down river. I spotted a nice log under water and made a cast to it. A fish immediately nailed the bait on the fall and I knew it was a big one. The fish jumped. And jumped again. A third time. Finally we got it in the net. It looked like a 4.5 pounder (which it ended up being) which I KNEW would be a personal best with light line and a shakey head for me.
We didn't win, but we did get a check for our efforts. It took 16 pounds to win, which isn't great, but it was a TOUGH day. The bag that won was a gorgeous sack that featured a 3.5 pound spot, 3 small mouths, and a nice largemouth to boot!
I loved spending time with my wife. We both love competition and I hope she decides to make this a regular thing!