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I really hope everyone was able to enjoy at least some of yesterday's fine weather. It was a bit gusty, but you can't have it all in March. I am going to be out of town on business next week, which will make prefishing for my upcoming club tournament impossible. As luck would have it, Brad, my fishing partner, will ALSO be out of town on business. We took a look at our schedules and the weather report and figured out that Tuesday would be the day to go.
Of course, I had to get the kids out of the house before I could leave, which meant that we couldn't get on the water until after 9. Additionally, both of our wives gave us a hard line on being home by 5PM. All three, yes...even the three year old....had practice. My wife has been on my about my time management and I was dedicated to proving her wrong.
Brad and I met at West End, which is a local gas station/fishing shop/craft beer store. The first thing I needed was to get some gas for the boat. I had a little over a quarter tank. But, as I passed the last few gas stations which posted $1.49 a gallon, I realized to late when I saw West End in the distance that I had made a mistake. The signage on the Chevron sign said $1.74. I really wanted premium, too. But, I wasn't paying $2.74 a gallon.
So, since I was a little early, thanks to taking the interstate rather than back roads, I decided to see if I could pick up a few critical items I needed, namely a new Luhr-Jensen speed trap in Crystal Hot Texas. Additionally, I wanted to check out their Spro's and see if they had a few replacements for me.
And then I looked at those prices and decided that I didn't need them that bad.
So, just in case you aren't keeping score, I stopped at a store for gas and lures and didn't buy either.
We met up and headed to Wilson, got the boat in and decided to check some bluffs with the A-rig. In between throwing the rig, I alternated throwing some PowerTeam Lures tubes that I had bought in bulk.
Neither produced. But, the old Luhr-Jensen speed trap did.
In fact, that was the only bait that produced for me all day, as I caught almost every species of fish in the lake, other than the smallmouth I was targeting. At one point, we stumbled upon a bait ball close the the surface, which caught our attention. On consecutive casts, I caught two drum, a skipjack, several white bass and a largemouth.
We didn't get to run around a lot, for multiple reasons. The first was that the crosswind built up some decent rollers and Bullets just don't take waves well.
The second was that my gas gauge apparently goes from 1/4 tank to E immediately. Did I have more gas left? Probably. But I didn't want to find out. So, we fished within a mile of Turtle Point/Lock 6 almost the entire day.
I did get to throw those tubes a little. Two casts, to be specific. And, I got hung up and broke both off.
Additionally, I lost one of my Luhr-Jensen speed traps on a fish attractor that was JUST out of reach.
At 2:30, we decided to leave and make sure that we didn't anger our significant others. Around Rogersville I caught a glimpse of something rolling away from the trailer. I was pretty sure it was a bearing buddy. A few miles later, smoke erupted from one of the drivers side tires and I pulled over in the first available roads.
Sure enough, ANOTHER bearing had eaten itself, making it the second in two weeks.
I had no tools, but I did know of a friend, Jeff at Action Glass in Athens, who wasn't too far away. I called him and asked that he bring the tools we would need. In the meantime, we unhooked the trailer and Brad stayed with it while I ran back up towards Rogersville to the local O'Reilly's. There I purchased a new hub assembly, a grease gun and grease cartridge, a set of bearing buddies, a roll of paper towels, two cans of brake cleaner, a selection of sanding paper, and mat of scotchbrite. Jeff brought me a hammer, needle-nosed pliers, and a adjustable wrench.
Once we had all the tools, it took me 15 minutes to knock the old bearing off, sand down any burrs I could on the spindle, clean it, and install the new hubb. This one wasn't as bad as the last, but it still scarred the spindle. More important,y the washer that fits against the bearing surface had two bad burrs, one of each side. I had to pound them with the hammer, then sand them down as best I could.
Installation went well, but the phone calls to the wives....well.....you can guess.
Got home about an hour and a half late. which isn't too shabby, all things considered. But, still late.
My advice to you all? When you buy a used boat, replace all the bearings. All of them. You just don't know what you are dealing with. In terms of bearings, if one is bad, chances are the rest are as well. In my case, the previous owner had bearing buddies on one side of the trailer and not the other. Though I had them greased, it appears they were ready to go to the great bearing party in the sky.
Secondly, keep the tools handy to do a replacement. It's a small group of tools. A flat head screw driver, a hammer, a jack, a 4-way, a large adjustable wrench, and pliers. And....a few stress-relieving deep breaths if things go south...and they will.
Water color varied from one foot to three feet with the cleaner water being found in creeks. On the main river, water temp was right at 50. In fingers it would range from 50 to 54.
We caught seven keepers. Best five would have gone right at 10 pounds.