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Follow my Fish of 2015
For some reason, I thought I had fished Pickwick in February, but apparently I was wrong. Apparently it was actually December. Brad and I fished it several times during a month of near record highs. You can find the reports by reading my last blog post from Pickwick by clicking the link below.
It just so happened that none of our kids had ballgames this Saturday. So, Alyse and I hatched a plan to head to Florence and fish together in my NASA club tournament. We had done well together on Pickwick in the past. We really wanted to go up that Friday afternoon, prefish, and spend the night in Florence. That didn't happen, as the two boys both had games on Friday night.
So, we had to drive from Hazel Green to Florence. Let me tell ya, it's a haul!
Luckily, the club had decided on a later blast off time, for which I can take credit for. I had noted that the Fishlife Big Bass Battle was on Pickwick. Little did I know that it was actually to be held at another ramp across the river. While I didn't suggest times or vote, it was my information that persuaded the club to start at 7.
So, you can imagine my surprise when we pulled into McFarland and NO ONE was there. And yes, some of my club members let me know how they felt, especially some of the better smallmouth fishermen in the club. Though the vast majority were perfectly ok with starting late and getting some extra sleep.
I had already noted that there was to be no current and there would be a high pressure system in the area. That would kill any bite on the upper end of the river. Add in the other tournaments going on in the area and it added up to a no-go for the upper end of the lake. That was counterpointed by a howling wind that was supposed to be 14 MPH gusts but felt more like 15-20 MPH sustained winds.
At blastoff, everyone went up. I went straight across. My feeling was that I should be able to get at least a few bites on the bluffs. Specifically, I wanted to get Alyse her first smallmouth and those bluffs were the best way I knew how.
It didn't take long for her to catch her very first smallmouth. And, it was small. And mean! She nearly threw the poor fish when it started biting her!
We couldn't muster any more bites, so I decided to make the switch to largemouth. We went to fishing laydowns on rip rap, specifically some that I have won a tournament way back when. That produced two drum and one decent largemouth.
However, the wind was absolutely brutal. Between the high skies, high wind, high pressure, and low current, I decided to go to the worm sooner than later, specifically on a stretch that had produced a lot of bites in another tournament Josh and I fished two years ago. On that stretch, bites were plentiful but size was not. When we did get big bites, we lost them. I was convinced that I had grown enough as a fisherman that I wouldn't let that happen.
Specifically, I would be flipping a worm on heavier line with a heavier hook and on a baitcaster. I have transitioned from a spinning reel to a 6'6'' medium rod using 12 pound Seguar InvizX. On that I use a PTL Sick Stick or a PTL 7" Tickler rigged on a XXX Pea Head.
On the first lay down I bagged a keeper. Then, we caught another fish on a Speedtrap.
Then we had to cover water to the next lay down.
On the way, I head Alyse's windpants rustling and I turn around to see her fighting a fish. I jumped off the deck and grabbed the net about the time the fish surfaced. The five pound fish tail walked and shook its big head, throwing the speedtrap at Alyse's face, She was heartbroken, as that would the second time in her life she has hooked into that kind of fish and seen it get off.
So, I wasn't too hard on her. I just gave her two bits of advice: say something when you have a fish on. Always keep the rod tip down and away from the fish. She had it up and pointed back at the bass.
On a day like today I knew that was going to sink us. But, what else can you do?
I decided to go with my initial gut instinct from the second I saw the current predictions. I decided to run way down river, which I had avoided because Alyse doesn't like to go too fast for too long.
We ran down to within sight of the Natchez Trace bridge and fish for smallmouth grouped up on pea gravel beds or rip rap points.
The first spot didn't pan out and instead of cranking the big motor up, I decided to just fish the do-nothing bank.
That's when Alyse yelped to get the net!
Though she had this fish hooked good, and I could see it had both sets of treble hooks, I let her fight the fish while giving her instruction.
We boated a very nice smallmouth.
She finished the limit just minutes later and then culled with another good largemouth.
The only thing she was doing different than I was throwing behind the boat and bringing the bait downriver. Once I started doing the same, I caught another smallie that culled our last squeaker fish.
We had around one hour left when we tried to refish that same stretch. But, we found no takers.
Heading up to McFarland, we caught another five or six small largemouth in the last 30 minutes, but none helped.
We placed 3rd, just ounces out of second. First place was around 11.5 pounds, but 5 pounds of that came from a very nice largemouth, similar to the size we lost. In all, we caught around 15 fish but only had one with real size, which we lost. Having that fish would have won the day.
But, winning and losing aren't nearly as important as saying that I won a check with my wife as my backboater. Additionally, she caught all but one of the measuring fish including her first smallies!
And, she only lost one lure, my last Texas Red Diamond Speedtrap, which she threw two or three trees deep and I couldn't retrieve it. Amazon had my back though, as apparently a backlogged order went through and we received an email as we left McFarland saying that my order had shipped....a Red Texas Diamond speed trap.