Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fishing Report for Tuscaloosa Lake 12/26/15

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I think it's a fair statement to say that I love fishing different lakes. I don't have huge aspirations of becoming a serious tournament fisherman, but I think everyone knows that I am a competitive fellow. While I have given up trying to be a great fisherman at Guntersville, which is where all the action is, I do think that being able to fish other lakes is extremely beneficial. It makes me learn different techniques and patterns.

One such lake is extremely different than any that I fish here in north Alabama. And, it just so happens that I have one of the lake's best fisher-families on that lake. 

My wife's uncle Tony has been fishing this lake all his life and he really knows how to catch them. And, I kept seeing his pictures on facebook of some magnum spots and even a five or six pound largemouth. Between he and his son, they had won nearly every club tournament on the lake this winter. And, unlike my clubs, they have no less than 20 boats per tournament.

Since we were going to be in town for Christmas, I asked if he was fishing on the 26th. He said he was and I politely invited myself to fish.

Of course, we all know what happened Christmas night: Over ten inches of rain. We knew that the rain might produce some problems with the patterns we would be running. But, we would catch them or we wouldn't. 

Uncle Tony had instructed me on what to bring. While I typically listen, I also typically bring a lot more. I decided that I would only bring what he told me and nothing more. After all, I need more time throwing jigs in 30+ feet, which I typically wouldn't do. Correction: I would never do. 

There were over 30 boats in this club tournament and we were to blast off at 7AM. 

A photo posted by Zach Taylor (@best5zach) on
So, when the sun came up, we made a short run to a main river point. I was throwing a PowerTeam Lures bull nose jig, watermelon with a watermelon Craw D trailer. I was having to relearn how to fish such deep water with a jig. For me, that meant letting it fall on slack line to prevent it from penduluming back to the boat without ever getting in the strike zone. Many times that meant stripping off additional slack line from the reel.

Doing that meant that I lost touch with the bait for around the first 10 seconds of the cast. That's important when a largemouth snaps it up on the fall. But, I was ready for it and boated a solid 2.5 pounder.

Hey, not a bad start! Solid fish in the boat in the first 30 minutes!

But, the spot went dead. We moved to another main river point. Nothing.

We probably moved two or three times before our next bite. That bite came on a smaller 1/4 ounce jig I had tied on, but I had the drag set way too loose and I stripped drag when I tried to set the hook. The fish took off with the trailer.

After resetting, I was able to boat another fish. This one was a small spot.
A photo posted by Zach Taylor (@best5zach) on
We could tell the rain and subsequent flooding had changed the fish. Uncle Tony said that the quickly rising water (the lake came up two feet over the course of the day) would make the spots scatter. While we planned on getting a quick limit before looking for a largemouth, we ended up spending more time that we wanted on the spots.

Uncle Tony picked up two spots to even up the score, though the four fish were terrible inadequate and we needed some significant upgrades.

We pulled up to a secondary point inside a large creek, one of the few large creeks that didn't look like chocolate milk. By this time, we had around two hours to fish and we hadn't had a bite in a few hours. I had resorted to throwing a magnum shaky head with a PTL 7" Tickler. I cast one one side of the point and uncle Tony cast on the other. No sooner had each bait bounced on the bottom than we both set the hook. We both hoisted aboard two solid spots, which both finished the limit and culled the smallest spot.

We moved further on, looking to fish some trash in the bottom of the creek channels. As I was throwing the jig and working it through brush, I jiggled it off of an underwater tree top and a bass pounded the jig. I was still taking up slack from jigging it through the trash and I tried to set the hook on slack line. Nothing was there.

I inspected the trailer and noticed the teeth marks on the Craw D all the way at the weed guard. They weren't just any teeth marks. The trailer was serrated. That was the mark of a three or four pound spot.

Turns out, that was just the fish we needed. We finished just outside the top five with 7.25 pounds including a 2.5 pound largemouth. It took just over 9.5 pounds to win. The separation between first and third was less than half a pound. All of those boats had a 3+ pound spot.

Word was that all of the winning bites had come from upriver in muddy water, which was a great surprise to us.

Still, it was a great time. I am just bad luck as a partner. Don't take me if you are on some fish, because I will kill any bite you may have!