Friday, October 30, 2015

Fishing Report for Wheeler 10/20/15

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One of the major benefits of having your fishing partner get a job where you work is being able to get in those late afternoon trips. 

However, the last two trips resulted in zero fish, though I did miss a super solid Wheeler beast while flipping a jig. You can see that in this video. 

Anyway, we put in at the Redstone Arsenal ramp after work and headed up river. Josh had a new 3 blade prop that he wanted to try out. When he hit the loud pedal, next to nothing happened. The boat refused to get on plane. I had to stand on the bow to get it to level off. We figure that there is a fueling issue somewhere, but regardless, that limited the fishing we could do. 

Water temp was 68 degrees. Water is about 3 feet low. Current was 46,000CFS. 

We started fishing the entrance to Ditto Landing, throwing a variety of baits. We ran in to some of our regular Thursday night Ditto Wildcat competition and we stopped to talk to them. They were working the downriver point and mentioned that they had caught around 15 fish, none over 12 inches, since 7AM that morning. Crazy, considering that there was 46,000 CFS being pulled from Guntersville on a beautiful day. I had one lone bite as my PowerTeam Lures 7" Tickler on a PTL Triple-X pea head was washed over rocks. 

Kind of a comedy of errors on my part, as I had loosened the drag on the 6'6" medium heavy rod and Citica baitcaster just days before on Smith lake. I had been using 8-pound line and fishing for magnum spots. After breaking off a 3 pounder, I backed off the reel. You can read about that trip here:

Fishing Report for Smith Lake 10/27/15

Well, I respooled with 10 pound line, which I can now do since I order my line in 1,000-yard spools, which I have written about before. 

But I forgot to set the drag. So, when I set the hook on this fish.....nothing happened. I can just see the fish looking at the boat and spitting the bait out, then laughing at my stupidity. 

We headed in to Ditto since common thought is that bait is going back into creeks and the bass will be following them. Again, no bites. 

But a funny thing happened. Well, "funny" to you guys. As I was flipping a jig around docks, the GoPro suction mount decided it wanted to quit sucking. Plop. Splash. Into the drink and to the bottom of Wheeler. That sucked. 

But, I try to keep my temper in check these days. So, I sat down and cried instead, knowing I had to report the financial loss to my wife. Just kidding. I didn't cry. I did yell.

I figure I got 3 years out of it. And, I didn't really like the GoPro 3 White anyway. Don't bother. Buy Silver or Black. 

Without a big motor that worked, all we could do was fish rip-rap banks close to Ditto. Imagine our surprise when we got in to a mess of fish! 

It started with Josh catching two on a walk-the-dog bait. I broke off two fish on a shaky head because I can't tie a knot. 

But, I picked up my Luckycraft Sammy and quickly caught two and evened the score. 

Over the next 20 minutes, which were the last 20 minutes of daylight, we had around 30 hits on top water. Most of those didn't stick, but around 15 did. The size ranged anywhere from six inches to around a 1.5 pound spot. Nothing big. 

Which was fine, because after figuring out that the fish were located in a very small stretch of bank adjacent to an off-shore rock pile, we decided that we would save the fish for a tournament on Saturday, which our friends that were fishing the mouth of Ditto had told us about. 

We were catching the small stragglers on the bank, but the bigger fish were on the rock pile, which we graphed several times with Josh's Lowrance unit. 

Anyway, I had one of the best days I've had in the last few months. While boating 5-6 fish is far from a great day, we had a lot of bites, shook off a lot of fish, but enjoyed a low pressure atmosphere from a quick afternoon trip that resulted in fish. 

Now if only I hadn't lost the GoPro. 

SEC Week 9 Picks

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First off, let me pat myself on the back and tell you that I really racked up last week. Not only was I a perfect 4-0 in Week 8 SEC Picks, but I moved up to second place in the pick 'em league by going 12-8 against the spread. I'm getting pretty good at this. Ironically, I can't do ANYTHING in the ESPN pick 'em league where all you have to do is pick a winner! In terms of picking the SEC games this year, I improve to a, 18-11 record which is 62%. I think that is the exact some percentage I heard a professional boast about this morning. I guess I have been selling myself short, haha! 

Florida vs Georgia- It's the world's largest outdoor cocktail party! This is a game I need to eventually see. Florida is a 3 point favorite in a "neutral site game" in Jacksonville. That's a fancy way of saying that the game is essentially a pick 'em. The crazy thing is, the line had no movement after a change of QB to Bauta for UGA. Florida is a rock-solid team, but doesn't have the explosiveness that is needed to be a true SEC contender. UGA has that, if they can get even mediocre play from Faton Bauta. I really like road dogs with new QBs. Though I expect Bauta to make mistakes, especially against an extremely good Florida secondary, road dogs always play aggressive, which will make the Florida defense respect the pass. Sony Michell has the big game everyone has been expecting. UGA wins, straight up. 

Tennessee at Kentucky-Tennessee closes as an 8.5 point road favorite at Kentucky. As you may recall, I suspected the Dak Show would finally show up at home, and it did. State blasted Kentucky. Tennessee is still smarting after losing against Alabama, yet blowing the 15 point spread. Tennessee hasn't quite arrived yet, but this team is showing some serious ability, reminiscent of the 2003 Auburn squad who was expected to be national contenders before dropping their first couple of games before ultimately finishing strong. While this is a rivalry game and playing at Kentucky certainly helps the 'Cats, I expect Tennessee to cover. Tennessee hasn't played great throwing the ball, but Kentucky's defense is terrible against the pass. With the Vols running game, Dobbs, and the ability to stretch the field vertical, expect huge offensive numbers. On the flip side, Towles will have a decent day airing out the ball. But, don't expect the running game to get going. The real action is on the over-under, which sits at 57.5. I expect that to be blown out by a large margin. Take the over, as that is where the real money will be.  Take the Vols and the points. 

South Carolina at Texas A&M-South Carolina is 16 point dog on the road. The pros are all saying to take the Gamecocks and that the 16 point lie is easy money. Not so fast, my friend. USC is simply a dreadful team. Though they edged out Vandy by 9 points, keep in mind that they allowed Missouri, who has one of the very worst offenses in college football, to put up 24 points. Against better offenses like UGA and LSU, they have given up no less than 45 points. Kentucky, who struggled in their matchup, still put up 26 points and beat USC. Being on the road, even against a struggling TAMU team, is a recipe for disaster. Take the Aggies and the points. 

Ole Miss at Auburn- This line closed at 7.5 points. Auburn continues to show no life on defense, allowing back to back TDs and 2-point conversions, something that I didn't think was possible. The Tiger offense is poised for a breakout game, but against Ole Miss landsharks? I just don't know. White is showing some major ability, but the playcalling and mental breakdowns by the rest of the offense has constantly put the young QB behind the chains. This is the wrong team to be in that situation. On the flip side, Carl Lawson may be back, and that's fantastic. But, this kid hasn't played full speed in over a month. There is ZERO chance that he plays a full game at 100%. And, without that, the Tigers get skull-drug. The only way Auburn pulls close is if Kelly has at least 2 INTs. Take Ole Miss and the points. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fishing Report for Smith Lake 10/27/15

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So, I swore off Guntersville, in case you missed it. If not, just take a gander at my last report. 

Fishing Report for Guntersville 10/12/15

Wheeler had been tough the last few times we had been out and I wanted to continue to improve my abilities as a versatile fisherman. In talking with my friend John, he had shared some pictures and info from fishing Smith lake, specifically some sweet looking spotted bass.  He talked about catching top water fish in 100 foot depths. The spots were schooling up and exploding on walking baits.

I wanted in. 

Besides, I had never fished Smith lake, and though people constantly complain about how the lake sucks, it remains a destination for large tournaments such as BFL and ABT. I just assumed people thought it sucked because the large majority of fishermen, specifically in north Alabama, are shallow water fishermen. I knew that Smith was a deep late and that catching fish would likely mean heavy use of electronics and fishing off-shore structure. Not that I am good with any of that, but those are challenges I am willing to accept, as can be seen from these two blog posts.

So, we put in at the impoundment. First off, that was a bit further down the lake than I expected to fish. I have been on Smith several times as a kid and remember it quite well, as we camped a good bit. But, I was expecting to fish the upper end of the lake. Instead, we traveled a good bit further, thus disrupting my primary reason for learning Smith: it's the second closest lake to my house. Wow, the dam wasn't what I expected. I didn't realize that the lake was impounded with an earthen dam. I was used to massive concrete structures. It made the engineer in me QUITE nervous, as did backing down the steepest and longest ramp I have ever used. 

We had known the weather was going to be pretty nasty, but expectation and reality are usually quite different. It was driving rain and extremely windy. But, we brought the our rain gear, so everything was long as we caught fish.

My expectations on the depth of the lake were blown away. I expected depths in the 120 foot range. Not the 220 foot range. I also expected steep banks, but WOW, these banks were so deep that if you placed your boat 5 yards too far out and threw your jig to the bank, it would never touch bottom. We started throwing top water without any real relation to the bank. John said that the fish didn't relate to depth and that they could be anywhere from the bank to 75-100 yards off it. On most lakes, that might correspond to depths between 0-50 feet. On Smith, that is literally 0-300. He also warned that the bite hadn't warmed up until the air warmed up. Just days ago, the bite had been inconsistent until around 1PM. 

Indeed that top water bite couldn't be found. So, I picked up a PTL 3/8ths ounce Triple-X pea head with a 7" Tickler and made some tosses towards the bank. In order to get to the bottom, you had to let the bait fall on complete slack line, which meant you had to watch the line carefull, as the suspending fish may pick it up on the fall. 

On my first cast, I set the hook on a fish. I was using a 6-6 MH H2O express ETHOS rod, so I couldn't really tell how big the fish really was as it surged.

I forgot my Spot Fishing 101 lessons: The fish don't fight hard until they see the boat. 

The fish made a jump and we got a glimpse of a 3 pound or better spot, right before it made a break for the deep water, snapping my line.

I laughed about it, because I figured we would be enough bites that the lost fish would be forgotten.

I was wrong. 

For the next several hours, we hit a mixture of spots without any luck. I would occasionally get a tick on the shaky head, but none of them would pick it up and commit.

We decided that we would look for fish first using the electronics before fishing anywhere else. We idled down a stretch of bank adjacent to a main river point before we noticed a group of bait balls in 120 feet of water. In 35 feet of water between the bait and the bank were a series of arches perched on top of rock piles. 

It didn't take long to catch a few fish including a really nice spot. on the PowerTeam Lures 7" Tickler

With time running out before I had to get home and pick the kids up, we went back to the original spot.

Within a few minutes of stopping, the spots began busting shad. But,unlike his previous trips, John mentioned that they weren't grouped up. Instead of groups of between 5-10, we were seeing individual fish. A few short strikes aside, we couldn't get any in the boat. 

Then they were gone. 

It was a pretty miserable day. Though I didn't catch but a few fish, I did catch fish, which makes it a good day. Additionally, I was able to fish a new lake, which is always fun! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

SEC Week 8 Picks

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Go catch up on last week's picks. 

SEC Week 7 Picks

Time to own up. I went 1-3 last week thanks to a yawnfest of UGA vs Mizzu that ended in a 9-6 final. Auburn didn't cover the 4 point spread against Kentucky thanks to some ultra-conservative play calling. Kyle Allen's pick-sixes set the tone early and Bama rolled. At least I called the Florida-LSU game correctly. Down to 14-11, ugh. 

Auburn at Arkansas-Arkansas opens as a 5-point favorite at home. Both of these teams have underachieved thus far, but both look to have started bailing water from what looked like a sinking ship just weeks ago. That isn't saying that each program is on the upswing. Arkansas dropped a close game to Alabama after at least making it to half time. They beat Tennessee, who greatly underestimated them. Auburn has a winning streak, of sorts, going. But, aside from the last series of the Kentucky game, they have been unable to stop anyone. It is worth mentioning that Auburn did improve against the run after Muschamp made a statement about "why would anyone pass against us." Well, Kentucky did throw. A lot. Auburn's corners played one of the worst games I can remember. The good news is, Arkansas is utterly depleted at the WR position. Auburn will be sending four and five man rushes against Allen, who is known to make mistakes. On the flip side, though Arkansas hasn't shut anyone out, they have played very good defense. They looked excellent defending the run against Bama. Auburn's run game isn't that good and I think it will be exposed. However, White could very easily have a breakout game. He could as easily flop. I hate to, but I think Arkansas wins. 

Texas A&M vs Ole Miss-We've seen this story before at TAMU. Kyle Allen looked bewildered against Bama. Guess defenses finally have enough game film to put together a game plan. Ole Miss dropped an obvious trap game that everyone pretends they never saw coming.  Memphis has had a very good defense the last few years, now they have an offense. Ole Miss got their teeth kicked in. The Freeze meltdown has begun earlier than expected, it would seem. Ole Miss is a six point favorite at home. There are some issues. Namely, Ole Miss really needs to run the ball to circumvent a pretty good TAMU pass rush, or come up with a very good screen game. Additionally, the TAMU WRs are the best group in the nation. Nkimdiche will be the catalyst. If he plays, Ole Miss wins and covers. If he doesn't, they don't. At this point, we will assume he plays. I will take Ole Miss and the points. 

Kentucky at Mississippi State- Dak is beginning to have those games that everyone expected. I wasn't that impressed with Kentucky's defense. White did take a lot of sacks this past Thursday night, but he also evaded a weak pass rush and threw down field. Dak will destroy the Kentucky pass rush. On the flip side, I wasn't impressed with Kentucky. The line is State -11. I will take them to cover.

Tennessee at Alabama- UT really expected to be undefeated going in to BDS to face the Tide. The Vols played easily their best game of the last two years in the win against UGA but it is painfully obvious that UGA isn't the same without the combination of Chubb and Michele. 15.5 points in the current line. Alabama has been one of the worst teams on covering the spread. If UT shows the aggressiveness and explosiveness they are capable of fielding, they will keep it under the 15.5 line. All Jones has to do is take Auburn's gameplan for the last two years and repeat it. While Dobbs isn't slippery like Marshall nor is he the gamer, he is perhaps as capable. I will take Tennessee against the spread. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

SEC Week 7 Picks

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Go catch up on last week's picks. 

SEC Week 6 Picks

I wasn't....awful. I went 2-2. Coulda woulda shoulda but I should have been 4-0. But, injuries happen (Chubb) and South Carolina played inspired defense for a half. 13-8 is my current record after two straight week's of 2-2 performances. But, consider that I was awfully scared of the games this weekend. Lots of traps. 

Let's move on. 

Missouri at Georgia- Anyone thought Georgia would drop two straight games this year? Certainly not. Two losses would have been considered a worst case scenario just a month ago. Now it's happened in back to back weeks. I don't think anyone would have predicted a loss to UT, even without Chubb. Fact is, Richt was Richt and the Georgia football fan nation (whatever they call themselves) was Richt-rolled. Missouri's offensive slide continued against Florida, though their string of terrific defensive performances continued. Florida scored 14 points in the first quarter, two TD runs by Taylor. The Tiger defense held solid afterwards. The line is Georgia -16 with an over/under of 46 points. Basically, the betting public is saying that Missouri is going to score more than two TDs. I simply don't see that happening with the way they have played. While the Tiger's defense is really really good, UGA will retool. I will take UGA and the points. 

Florida at LSU- Who would have thought this would be a Top 10 matchup? Many saw LSU as a contender, but no one really saw Florida being a top 10 team. The situation is familiar to Auburn fans who saw a similar situation in 2013. The line is LSU -6.5. Florida lost Grier for the season just as he was beginning to look like a true SEC-caliber quarterback. The running game hasn't been spectacular outside of the redzone. Florida's strength is the defensive backfielf, which won't be an issue with Fournette on the field. With this game being at home, I am forced to take LSU and the points. 

Alabama at Texas A&M- TAMU is quietly hanging around, undefeated and in the top 10. Though the Chavis hire was big, many said that the defensive hires at LSU and Auburn were both better and would take effect quicker than the Chavis deal. That isn't to say that the defense is great, because it really isn't. They held a struggling ASU and Mississippi State defense to 17 points, while giving up even more to the likes of Ball State and Nevada. Alabama escaped a narrow defeat against Arkansas at home. That shouldn't have been surprising, as that was a theme in the past. Additionally, the Alabama offense didn't pick up where it was last year, but has in fact regressed. If Kiffin would be devoted to the run, Alabama would almost certainly win every game, though the score may not be impressive. He seems to have no interest in the traditional methods of the Tide as he abandons the run for whole drives. Additionally, Coker is terrible with pressure in his face. Enter the TAMU pass rush. Alabama enters as a 4-point favorite and a 53 point over/under. For some reason, I am going to take TAMU. 

Auburn at Kentucky-Auburn is a 2 point favorite on the road,despite a defense that couldn't stop San Jose State and an offense that may see the return of Jeremy Johnson after being unable to pass for a TD without him. The over/under is 51 points. That would lead us to believe that Auburn will win somewhere around 28-24. Without drastic improvement essentially everywhere on offense except at running back, that seems to be a tough task, especially on a road and against a team that hasn't beaten Auburn in Lexington since the 60s. I would point to some statistics, but neither of these teams are especially good enough in any phase to really point to an advantage. Kentucky will have plenty of opportunity to prove themselves with SEC East opponents if they lose. Additionally, winning won't do much for them over than for morale. On the other side, Auburn must win this game. Must. I'm going with Auburn and the points for that reason alone.

Fishing Report for Guntersville 10/12/15

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After the fiasco that was our local club classic, Brad really wanted another crack at Guntersville. In case you missed that report, read it here. 

Fishing Report for Guntersville 10/4/15

Long story short, we had paid for a guide service. The day had been tough and we didn't catch many fish (6 fish with 3 fishermen, including the guide), but we according to the guide, it was just weather. He was sure he had put us on some quality fish. That wasn't the case last Saturday. It was more of the same. But, we wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and hopefully put some of that $350 to actual use, so we decided to fish the G against yesterday. To be fair, I didn't want to go to Guntersville at all, and neither should you. We have struggled all year on that lake and we were hearing that even the very best were struggling to catch fish consistently. 

An already over-pressured lake has had two "frog only" tournaments in consecutive Saturdays, plus the Oakley Big Bass Splash coming this weekend. What makes Guntersville great, especially this time of year, is the frog fishing. Despite what you hear elsewhere, it isn't great. In fact, it isn't even good. The proof is in the weights and numbers of fish being caught in the aforementioned tournaments. Sure, someone can and will catch 20 pounds. Most people will struggle to get five bites all day. If five blowups is what you are after, have at it. 

Sorry about that. Bit of a tangent. 

We did have a bit of a pattern last week that involved flipping main river grass just upriver of Roseberry. By bit of a pattern, I mean that we had a 300-yard stretch that would produce a hit every trip. Additionally, we had some intel that told us that there was a decent frog bite to be had around BB Comer. 

We started out in the early morning with a combination of flipping, frogging, and swimbaiting. The fog was really heavy and we couldn't really run any where. No bites. 

As the for lifted, we were able to run, so we ran down river to Roseberry to flip. 

Brad was able to flip up a 3-pounder. We marked the spot, which was right on top of the same spot we flipped up three fish in last week's tournament. We flipped the rest of the stretch without a single hit. Brad flipped the whole stretch while I alternated flipping, frogging, and swimbaiting. 

We made another pass which resulted in another fish, in the same exact spot. 

A third trip resulted in a third fish. Brad had all the hits, though they weren't the crunching hits you normally expect. They were coming further out of the grass in the small clusters on the ledge. And, they were simply swimming off with the bait. If you weren't paying excellent attention, you would miss the hit completely. Maybe that's why I didn't get a single hit. 

At noon we made some phone calls. With some intel, we headed up river to an active mat. When we pulled up, there were already two other boats fishing it. It sounded terrific as the baitfish and bream were feeding. There were active bass in the area as we could see them busting. But, we couldn't convince them to hit. I made several color and brand changes in frogs. I even added glass rattles. Nothing. 

Perhaps it was the fact that the mat had been beat to death. There were tracks all over it. We left it shortly after the other boats left. 

We ran to some other mats. Some had no action and some did, but all of them were beat up. 

Around 2PM we found a fresh mat that sounded awesome and didn't have a track mark in it. Fish were actively feeding, but we couldn't get a hit. We slowed down and flipped it. I threw a swimbait. Nothing.

We ended the day with three total fish for around 7 pounds. We had a grand total of six hits with Brad being on the receiving end of all of them. That's right. I fished from 6 to 3 without a single hit. 

Your results may very, but this will be the last time I fish the lake for the year,if I can help it. By my count, I caught only 24 fish on Guntersville this year, never more than four or five in a trip. I do admit that I am not a good fisherman and that certainly doesn't help, but I caught more fish in a single day most years than I have caught all year this year. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Squirrel Hunting 10/4/15 Edition

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You know it's time to hunt when your grandmother calls you and tells you to come kill all the squirrels. Over a two week period leading up to the opening of the season, my Granny must have called me five different times. 

Since we had moved since last season, I thought it prudent to take the ole Ruger out and make sure that she was still on target. Sure enough, the scope must have been dinged around because the gun shot around a foot low at 50 yards. Additionally, one of the set screws on the adjustment knobs had backed out. So, I keep twisting the adjustment to get the scope on target, but nothing was happening. I must have twisted that thing 50 times before I figured out that I wasn't actually adjusting the scope at all.

In case you forgot what equipment we are using, check out this writeup on my Ruger 10/22 Build

On the opening day of the season, we had dinner with my grandparents. I brought the gun but didn't have any really desire to go hunting. But, I spotted a rabbit in my mom's garden. She convinced me to go after it. She was tired of having her fall crops being eaten.

One shot later, we had an adult rabbit in the bag. As I approached the dead rabbit, I realized that I had made a mistake. Just behind the dead rabbit was another rabbit that was laying flat. It scampered off and a I knew I had missed an opportunity at a double. 

As I returned with the rabbit, my Granny informed me that there would be at least one more just down the path. She said they always came out at the same time. 

With my oldest son in tow, we tip-toed down the path and spied another rabbit, just as she said. I lined up and shot. And missed. The rabbit didn't seem to notice the bullet plowing up dirt just inches away. I made another shot and the rabbit shot straight up in the air, what seemed like six feet! Then, it crumbled to the ground. Griffin was so excited because he HATES rabbits, though we don't know why. He used to have nightmares about them! 

With two rabbits, I decided that I might as well make the rest of the evening profitable. Cleaning two is hardly worth the effort. 

So, we went hunting and turned up another set of squirrels. Not a bad first day! I was amazed at how easy the rabbits were to skin! 

A few days later, Neil and I went hunting together, but the wind was howling and the squirrels were not interesting in coming out. 

What few we did see were in trees right next to us, which we obviously spooked. But, instead of running away, they ran in to knot holes in the tree they currently occupied. We didn't get a single shot off, though we did sneak up on some deer.

My next trip out was fantastic, though it started out super slow. 

After covering around 25 acres with Griffin, my oldest son, he gave up (I don't blame him) and he went to play with his grandmother. I decided to walk the remaining 75 acres. Occasionally I would see a squirrel, but they acted very similar to the ones that Neil and I had seen just days before. 

Eventually, I got on a trail of a barking squirrel. I knew he was active and wouldn't be spooked by me. The problem was that he was in deep woods well off the shooting lanes and roads. I decided not to let that bother me. 

I found him minutes later and he offered me a great shot. Barking squirrels are the easiest to hunt because they let you know where they are and they remain stationary. I took a very easy shot....and missed. He escaped up the tree and in to the thick foliage. Luckily for me, he kept barking. I circled the tree over and over. Most people would have given up on him, but I wasn't about to let that happen. 

After a ten minute stand off, I spotted him. He was much higher in the tree than I had thought, which was why I never saw him. I took a rest on a nearby tree and popped him. Down he came. 

His fall angered many other nearby squirrels, who decided to let me know how they felt. This is very common behavior, as they try to bewilder predators by confusing them due to the shear number of barks and noise. Indeed, it has hard to concentrate on one squirrel when three or four are constantly barking and jumping from tree to tree. I locked in on one who was high up in a tree and in the foliage. I could see his shadow, so I took aim and squeezed a shot. Out of the tree he came! Plop. 

That angered the other squirrels even more. I spotted another and popped him. Though I know I hit him, he jumped from the tallest point of the tree, sailed down, and smacked the ground. I didn't think there was ANY way he could survive it. Imagine my surprise when he scampered up the nearest tree, never to be seen again. 

I picked up a young squirrel at random as I was checking my fantasy scores and I spied him just yards away, sitting on a limb staring at me. 

I stumbled in to another group of squirrels late in the afternoon which was incredibly similar to the other big group. Instead, I was able to pick off three in a matter of seconds. The issue was that the last one fell and became stuck in a limb. Initially I tried to throw a rock straight up and knock it out, only to have that rock nearly conk me in the head. I proceeded to try and shoot it out. It took 10 rounds to accomplish this feat, which was 7 more shots than it took to kill all three of the squirrels in the group. 

I tied my personal best that day with six squirrels. 

ESPN Pick Em Week 6

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here: The Auburn Realist: Overview

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Last week wasn't awful, but it wasn't the best either. It's time to step up the game if I am going to gain any ground. 

We have a new leader! bamamike is out and kingfi is in! A 54 point effort will do that for you! 

I hit slightly above average, but considering the amount of people that aren't participating at all, it's really under the average. Got to do better! 

Indiana at Penn State- Hackenburg is still doing his thing. Indiana is running the ball as well as anyone. Meanwhile, the PSU defense hasn't been nearly the 2014 unit was. Both teams are 4-1, but Penn States loss was to a Temple team who ALSO loves to run the ball.  Indiana's lone loss was a tight game against Ohio State.  I am taking Indiana. 

Northwestern at Michigan-Michigan isn't as good a team as we thought. They have too many holes in their team for a disciplined NW team can exploit. I am not betting against NW anymore. I will take the Wildcats. 

Wisconsin at Nebraska- Big game with big implications in the Big 10. Neither team has recovered from losing their coach and their best playmaker in 2014. Some one has to win. I will take Nebraska simply because Armstrong is better than Stave. 

Oklahoma State at West Virginia- We asked if WV was for real. Nope. Oklahoma State has quietly racked up a 5-0 record, but their defense is terrible. I mean, REALLY TERRIBLE. WV has shown some signs of life on defense, however. I think West Virginia comes up big in Morgantown, but expect a high scoring affair! 

Boise State at Colorado State-Boise State has been quiet the last few years, yet they still win game. Not much hope for the rams. 

Florida at Missouri-SEC let down trap game? Maybe. But Missouri hasn't shown signs of life at the QB position. Florida has been solid in all phases of the game. Florida rolls. 

Miami at Florida State-Entertaining game. Lots of sloppy play that will make it appear that Miami is in the game. They won't be. State keeps the streak alive.

Cal at Utah-Quietly the best game of the week. Utah has it all, at least in terms of the Pac-12. Cal falters. 

UGA at Tennessee-The slide continues for the Vols. 

Oklahoma at Texas-Next. Wait, there is no next. Oklahoma destroys Texas. 

SEC Week 6 Picks

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In case you missed it, go brush up on last week's picks.I started out really well this past week, winning the first two contest with Arkansas springing the upset against the Vols and TAMU putting the wood to Mississippi State. No one saw Ole Miss getting DESTROYED.  As usual, Alabama responded in a big way. That is this week's lesson: always pick Bama in a step-up game. 

Ok, so my yearly total was a split and I move to 11-6 against the spread. Still not bad, but I would prefer 12-5. Thanks UGA and Ole Miss. 

This week's lineup appears to be pretty miserable, but I caution anyone from throwing serious jack around this week. There are a ton of trap game. In fact, all of them are trap games. 

South Carolina at LSU- We have heard the narrative on this game. This game was going to be in Columbia, but massive flooding kept that from happening. Obviously LSU is one dimensional, but that isn't a bad thing. It is hard to argue against 270 rushing yards per game. USC allows 170 rush yards per, but they have only played one team with a viable rushing attack in UGA. Despite that, it was UGA's Lambert who blew the game open with his three TDs. USC is giving up a 37% 3rd down completion percentage. The only thing keeping them in games is the 6 INTs they have picked off. Their offense is averaging only 20 points a game, though they are rushing for a respectable 190 yards a game, though it has been by default because the passing attack has been deplorable. LSU has won the last five meetings. The line is LSU -19, though it is floating between 18 and 20. This is a dangerous play as LSU has Florida up next. I'd steer clear of this game, but I guess I have to pick one. At the current line, that's a two TD and two fieldgoal game, which is just enough for an easy cruise to victory without having to beat Fournette to death. This will allow the young LSU QB to have a good second half of work, where I expect him to make some mistakes that will keep the game close. I am going to take the Gamecock's to stay under the spread. 

Georgia at Tennessee- Both of these teams desperately need a win and one of them will most likely be done for the season after this game. Certainly Tennessee will be hosed if they lose. UGA would need some help if they drop this game. Tennessee is giving up 24 points a game and over 400 yards of offense. 8 sacks, 4 INTs and 3 fumble recoveries have really helped keep that points per game stat lower than it should be. The offense hasn't been as poor as many think. They are averaging 37 points per contest and are over 40% on 3rd down percentage. Their struggle has been in the 4th quarter where the play calling has become super conservative. UGA took a dog-whipping from Alabama last week, but the game was blown open on two different plays that had nothing to do with the defense, which has played incredibly well. People looked at the bottom line and assumed UGA was blown out, but they really weren't that far away from making it a game. The line is currently the Vols +3, which is a line you can make money on. I am taking the Dogs to cover and I don't think it is close. 

Arkansas at Alabama- For the second year in a row, this game will get zero publicity, though it was clearly Alabama's worst game of 2014. Arkansas really turned the corner in this game last year as they ran off some big wins. Arakansas' defense has been fairly efficient, allowing 360 yards and 22 points per game, yet it is the 260 yards of passing that has put a sizeable dent in their production. Additionally, the losses on defense from last year's unit really show in the sacks and turnovers, as the Hogs have picked off just three passes and have just four sacks. The good news is that Alabama has not been able to throw the ball efficiently.  Similar to last year, this game will come down to who can run the ball together and manage to hit the big pass. I like Allen over Coker in that department. Keep an eye on both team's tight ends, who will be the game breakers. The current line is 18. I like Arkansas to keep them under the spread but I wouldn't put money on it. 

Florida at Missouri- This game has all the makings for a a classic SEC East shake up game. We are good for one a year and Missouri is usually involved. The Missouri defense has been incredible, as usual. They are the only thing that has kept Missouri getting wins. The Missouri offense has been dreadful. Florida, on the other side, has been exceptional all the way around. Which is why this is a game to keep an eye upon. The game is currently marked as Florida -5, which tells me the betting public agrees that this is a trap game. Both of these defenses hold opponents well under 20 points. In the end, I like Florida's personnel  better than the Tigers. I will take the Gators and the points. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fishing Report for Guntersville 10/4/15

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It's hard to believe that my last fishing trip was almost a month ago. I guess that is part of being the parent of three kids, one of which plays two different travel ball sports. 

Additionally, in cause you missed it, I am also writing for Track 'Em Tigers on the side. 

Between all of these things, it has been hard to find time to fish, much less blog about it. 

Amazingly, I continue to have traffic on this blog, despite the lack of fresh content. So, let me thank all of you for reading and to apologize for the lack of new stuff. 

For reference, here is my last trip on Guntersville. If you don't want to read it, allow me to sum it up. Guntersville is impossibly tough for the AVERAGE fisherman. If you think you can show up once a month and consistently catch fish, you are in for a surprise. That doesn't mean that you can't get lucky, because it's Guntersville. It's the only lake in America that people travel to fish because "lucky" will result in a 6+ pound fish. Just not for me. Additionally, if you expect to fish a random tournament without extensive prefishing, you are wasting your time. Unless you are a REALLY good fisherman, and in that case....why bother with a random club tournament? 

With that being said, our club Classic tournament was on Guntersville. The post was pretty solid, $1,000 for first place. Brad and I have struggled and struggled to get anything done on Guntersville this year. It's a far cry from past years on Guntersville where I felt like I could be within reach, regardless of what club it was. Furthermore, though the wins haven't been as plentiful as I would like, we have been fairly lights-out on other lakes this year. On any given day on any other TVA lake, you will find me and Brad/Josh within the top five. 

Because of the disparity of the success between the different lakes, Brad and I swallowed our pride and hired a guide. 

I really don't want to get in to that. If you want my opinion, you will have to ask it. There were seven fish caught, all day. The guide caught three. I caught four. Brad struggled and didn't bag any. 

That being said, we did at least have a pattern of solid fish going in to Saturday. I won't say that I was locked in on the pattern. Truth be told, it was a pattern by default. However, we figured that a pattern of any kind was better than no pattern at all. 

We launched out of City Park in Scottsboro and headed out of Roseberry. Our ride was a short one as we were going to concentrate on flipping main channel grass ledges after throwing a swimbait around scattered grass in shallow flats. The shallow flats produced a lone hit, but the fish didn't manage to take the bait. We transitioned in to our main pattern for the day. 

There was a specific 300-yard stretch that had produced fish during the guided trip. 

The first pass resulted in a solid keeper for Brad on a D-bomb. It was the only hit of the pass.

We skipped over to a grass mat that we were going to use as our afternoon pattern. On the guide trip, the best action was found on this mat. However, the constant rain and wind had broken the mat up and scattered it greatly. I was able to get a hit on a Snagproof frog, but the hit was weak. I threw back in, hoping for a follow bite. I didn't figure I would get one, since we hadn't had a follow bite all day on the guided trip. As I pulled the frog off the mat, I paused it at the edge. The fish destroyed it. This was a SOLID fish, but we would need her to be the small one, if we had a chance. Still, two fish in the boat by 9am wasn't TERRIBLE. 

We went back to the main river grass and began flipping. On the second pass, I bagged a fish on a PowerTeam Lures Craw D. It wasn't a huge fish, but it was a hit and we were grateful for any hits we had. 

Just another 10 yards down the stretch, Brad set the hook. 

We thought was a stump. Just for a moment we considered giving up the notion that it was a fish, but sure enough, the line pulled back. We fought the grass and horsed over a NICE four and a half pound fish. Four fish by 11 wasn't bad. We had another three hours or so to get one more bite. 

That time came and went. With 30 minutes left, we went a little further up river to fish some clean water. Within the first five minutes, we spotted schooling fish in the scattered grass. It was the most action that we had seen all day. But, we didn't have anything tied on that could be fished around the scattered grass except frogs. Though we had some knocks, we had no solid bites. 

We knew it was a tough day. We knew that this was a good club and that four fish wouldn't win a check. Imagine our surprised when three fish took second and third. It wasn't a surprise that the winner had over 20 pounds. 

Seeing that we were 1.5 pounds or so from third and two pounds from second was extremely painful, especially knowing that we simple needed a fifth fish, of any size. 

All told, only one boat had a five-fish limit, and that was the winner. We were the only boat with four. Everyone else had three or less.