Friday, July 10, 2015

Fishing Report for Wheeler/Ditto Landing 7/9/15

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Hey, remember a few weeks ago when I was complaining about not being able to catch big fish....and that I was at least catching a limit in every tournament? Yeah, well, the streak ended last night in the Thursday night wildcat out of Ditto Landing on Wheeler. Yeah. So. You know what's worse than getting beat by one fish when you have a limit? Getting beat by one fish when you don't.

So, once again, mother nature proved to me that I have no EARTHLY idea on when days are going to be good versus days that are going to be bad. Typically, this time of year IS very tough. There isn't much rain. And, when there isn't rain, there isn't current. But, thanks to the rain last week, TVA had the flood gates open and the generators all fired up to deal with the increased energy usage due to this 100-degree weather. 

As far as we were concerned, this was the PERFECT thing for fishing. Cooled off water. Heavy current. Right?

We considered our options for fishing. With only 3 hours to fish, you really have to make a decision and stick with it, especially if it involves going to the dam. Over the course of the years, the vast majority of winning bags have come from the dam. BUT, it's also worth mentioning that when the dam bite is's off. 

The times we have won, or placed, have been those type of days. And, honestly, we have only made the trip to the dam a handful of times. It's paid off about half the time. 

Now, with the gates open and the generators turning, we did consider a few things. One, it was very possible that the current would push the fish all together, creating super schools. Two, the current could be so tough that we might not be able to stay on the fish if we found them. Three, the current could be so strong that the fish could be pushed away from the dam entirely, or at least into places we didn't know about. 

We wouldn't know unless we went. So we did. Life jackets on. Motor trimmed down. Drop the hammer. 

It takes about 12 minutes at 60MPH to make it to the dam from Ditto. 

The plan was to fish an offshore rockpile from which we had caught some good fish and seen some winning bags caught upon. 

And we didn't get a bite. 

Meanwhile, 3-4 other boats were fishing each of the 4 or so wingwalls by the dam. Josh had seen the previous week's bag caught on one of the wingwalls, so we waited until the boats all cycled through them before giving it a try ourselves. We threw a combination of cranks, both shallow and deep, several jigs, and magnum shaky heads, which have been my go-to bait this year. 

Magnum Shaky Heads: The Answer to Finesse Fishing in High Wind and Current

The bait was plentiful everywhere we stopped and we could see bigger fish hugging the bottom. I had read that when bass lay flat on the bottom adjacent to bait, it means they are staging to feed, but aren't ready to be active. In retrospect, maybe we should have kept scanning until we found some stacked up and ready to feed. 

And, there was a reason that they had all cycled through them before all tuning tail and heading down river. The fish weren't biting. 

Now, to our defense, we DID have a plan B and even a plan C. But, like I said earlier, when you have only 3 hours, you don't have much time to enact those backup plans.

At 7, we decided to hit the mouths of creeks on our way downriver. The thought was that the creek channels would offer more current breaks than anything near the dam. 

Sure enough, the first small creek we stopped at had active bass. I quickly landed two fish, one short and one keeper on an XCalibur Zell Pop. When the fish went deep, I swapped over to a Spro Little John and caught another nice fish right at the boat. After having several chase the bait to the boat, I started pausing it before pulling it out of the water. On that cast, just as I hit the brakes, the bass swallowed it. 

But, that was it. Other than a few white bass, we couldn't get any more green fish to bite, even when they were going nuts on topwater. We slowed down and threw jigs and shakey heads. Nothing. 

We decided to fish the next small creek. The point yielded no fish, but the down river section of the creek had some tasty looking rip rap with some laydowns. We couldn't help ourselves and decided to do some flipping. 

Josh caught a squeeker off a lay down. As I was fishing my PowerTeam Lures 7" Tickler, I hit every single limb of the laydown. Thump Thump. Hang. Thump. Hang. It got old. I must have popped that thing loose 5 times.

I even made a comment..."How many limbs can I hang in one cast?"
And then I noticed that the line was moving to the side. 

Flipped up a magnum spotted bass. 

Anyway, we didn't fill out our limit and ended up with 6 pounds in 3 fish. 

It took 14 pounds to win, and it didn't come from the dam. In fact, of the 5 boats that went to the dam, only 1 fish was caught near it. 

It took 10.80 for 3rd place, but there wasn't enough boats to pay 3rd. I think I might be a little upset had that been me...haha!

Lessons to be learned? I don't know. We think that the heavy current, which kicked up even more the later the night went, might have positioned the fish so tight together that it was nearly impossible to find them. Or, it could be they were pushed away from their typical ambush points.

We had thought about fishing the point of Hobbs, which might have actually been perfect. With it being 12 miles down from the dam, the current wouldn't be nearly as bad, but 50,000 CFS is probably perfect to turn on those fish. I had rumors that the winning bag came from there.

Other than that? If you are flipping and the bait gets pulled isn't a limb. 

Check out the look of amused dejection!