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Our NASA club voted to move the tournament from last weekend to this past weekend in order to get more boats involved. That was good and bad news for me. Bad news is, it moved the tournament even further from the pattern that Brad and I had when we sacked 20 pounds in our other club tournament. You can read about that in the link below.
I guess that worse news was that this club employed a draw, so Brad and I couldn't fish together. Nor could Josh and I or Brad and Josh. So, we decided that we would do our best to be competitive and still maintain our teamwork approach.
In fact, though we would be fishing against each other, Brad and I prefished Friday, the day before the tournament. We wanted to find some new spots to add to our growing collection.
The pattern the past tournament had been cuts on either the main river or major creeks that were short in depth, but offered shallow water. We threw a collection of baits from the Luhr-Jensen speed trap to PowerTeam lures swimbaits. In all honesty, the swimbaits did the vast majority of the work and Brad threw them all day. I tried to keep the fish honest by presenting different baits, but they really weren't interested.
Current was predicted to be in the 20,000, but recent rain had bumped that to 60,000 CFS. Water temps had dropped on the main river to 58 degrees. We figured that the fish might push back off the spawning areas, but the current and overcast skies should provide a good bite.
We began by heading down river and fishing an all new area. The spot produced just two small largemouth. One on a swimbait for Brad and one on a Strike King 6XD. To be honest, that fish seemed completely random, as I had cranked the handle maybe twice before the fish hit it. It was a decent 3.5 pounder, though.
We moved to another shallow pocket that we have consistently caught fish on over the last year. Though there was bait in the area, there were no bass feeding. Additionally, the wind was howling from the south, buffering us on the north side.
Before we left, we decided to fish a new area that was right next to a spot we consistently fish. The spot has never offered up a lot of big fish, but almost always a couple of keepers. Brad bagged a short smallmouth on the stretch as we moved into the new area.
This new area was similar to what we were looking for: it was a shallow depth pocket, shallow in the back, but offering a rapid depth change. The only difference was that this one was man-made.
As Brad drug the swimbait over that transition from shallow to a 24 foot depth, a fish took the bait. Initially, we both thought it was a small fish because of how light the bite and fight was. And, it hit almost at the boat. Typically, those type of bites nearly take the rod out of your hand.
But, the fish that surfaced wasn't a small fish. It was the biggest largemouth that I have seen hooked, in person. I went to lip it with both hands. Think about that for a second. Both hands. But, Brad said to get the net. I looked around. No net.
So, he starts screaming "GET THE NET!"
And I'm like "WHERE'S THE NET?!?!?! IT'S GONE!"
See, I didn't realize that he had put it up about 30 minutes before. Brad notices that the fish is barely hooked, so he dives down to grab the fish. The fish is pinned to the boat, but shakes it head and the hook comes free. Brad DIVES IN THE WATER to get this fish. I grab the back pocket of his jeans to keep the rest of him from going in. In the process, the rod breaks in half....and so does Brad's heart.
We sat there for 15 minutes.
We moved into Shoal's Creek, but found it extremely muddy. Almost to the point of turning around. But, we noticed that the cuts had clean water.
As we have done in the past, we would push the boat against one side of the cut and cast to the other, frequently at docks. This resulted in several more fish including this nice 5 pounder, which doesn't get a lot of love, considering the size of the fish Brad lost earlier
The only hit I got was while I was on the phone with the school nurse telling my one of my kids had thrown up. I really hope I didn't say anything bad as the fish got to the boat and threw the swimbait.
In all, we caught a mere 10 fish. Of the ones we got in the boat, we had around 15-16 pounds in the best five. If we had the big fish (IF) we would have been pushed to the 23 pound mark. Think about that.
Make sure to check back, as I will have a full report for the tournament.