Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Our last regular regular tournament of the year was set months ago for the 17th on Guntersville. I think everyone knows my feelings about the G. Life threw us a little curveball, though. See, we moved the Calcutta side pot from 5 to 6 pounds this year and it rolled every tournament. That mean that $10 from every boat and for every tournament. Next thing you know, there is $1500 dollars on the line and whoever wins the big fish from this last tournament takes home the pot.
Kinda have to fish it at that point.
So, we decided that we would put our best effort into finding something and if it took three days to find it, then so be it.
Keep in mind that we both work full time at other jobs and have five kids between us. For us to devote that many days to one lake is saying something. I haven't spent that many days prefishing any other lake. While we haven't won any big tournaments (we don't fish big ones), we have done consistently better each year. Why? Because we prefish and we learn.
Guntersville has been the exception. I haven't learned anything on the G from prefishing on the last three years. Additionally, I haven't won a tournament on that lake in about the same amount of time.
Prefishing really started three weeks ago on Labor Day. Brad and I fished all day, focusing on Roseberry creek. Fishing the traditional techniques and patterns resulted in three hits and zero fish. Those three hits, all on frogs, were weak and all were about six inches or more behind the bait. We flipped a good bit as well, nothing.
This past Thursday, I decided that I would try and get out of mid-lake. I put in at Mud Creek and found a ton of bait and active fish on grasslines. Other than one solid blowup on a frog, I had no action. I then worked every creek from Mud to Crow, starting on the outside of the creek and fishing to the back. Grass was topped out and some of the creeks even had good looking grass with popping bait fish. Other than gar, I had no hits.
Around 11AM, I sat down and tried to use my brain a little bit, painful as that may be. I had covered enough water to have all the confidence that they were not biting in the creeks. Where could they be?
That was about the time I caught my first fish of the day. I was throwing a Lucky Craft Sammy and while I was surveying the small creek I had stopped to fish, a bass blew up on the sammy. My reaction was slow and I missed the fish. On a return cast, I hooked up.
It was one fish, but it gave me a ton of data. See, I hadn't had any second chance hits yet. First strikes were few as it were. And, it came on the OUTSIDE of the creek next to the main river channel.
Ok. So, they are on the main river channel. That's a lot of acreage. How could I narrow it down? I knew of some rip rap banks.
Pulling up on the first rip rap bank I could find and I immediately saw active fish. I caught one on a Sammy and missed a nice fish on the very next cast.
I went to throwing a swim jig with a PTL Swinging Hammer swimbait. In a span of about six casts, I had caught four more fish. They weren't big, but it was the start. In all, I caught eight fish. Two on a Sammy and six on the swim jig.
So, I left them and headed to another stretch. The next three stretches produced fish. Confident in that, I headed home.
Brad and I headed back out 12 hours later, this time we wanted to see if the pattern would work in the mid-lake area or if it was location-centric type of pattern.
We fished hard all day, but our lone fish came on...you guessed it....ledges with a swim jig.
At that point, we knew the fishing had been tough for everyone, yet we were on a pattern and location that not many, if any, fishermen would use. Was it something that would get us that Calcutta fish? Probably not. But, could it get us a win if it only took 10 - 12 pounds? Yes. We thought so.
Saturday morning we blasted off at Scottsboro City Park and made the 17 minute ride upriver.
The day started just as we would have liked. We had two keepers on the first pass down the rip rap. We caught a third and fourth fish, both short, on the second pass. A third pass resulted in a single short fish. A fourth pass resulted in nothing.
We checked the current on the TVA app. Zero. And I don't mean less than 10,000 CFS. I mean ZERO. That's killer.
We decided to wait it out, hoping that the sun would come up and TVA would kick the turbines on. But, cloud cover, low 80s, and rain worked against us.
We had to punt on the pattern even after we had said we wouldn't. Turned out, it didn't matter. We had no more bites for the rest of the day, save for some hungry gar.
So, the results? We had 20 boats fish. there were four limits weighed in. Winning bag was 15 pounds. Second was 11.92 and third was 11.56. The $1,500 fish? A 5.09 pounder. Fully half the field didn't weigh a fish.
I posted up my frustrations on the local Guntersville Fishing Page. Most fishermen are in the same boat as Brad and I. The fishing is erratic at best and, at worst, impossible. There are random fishermen who tell us we don't' know what we are doing and the fishing is fine. Hey, that's certainly possible. But, consider this: go look at the guides. Most of them aren't posting anything. Some that are have been, well, called into question for reusing old pictures from yesteryear.
I'll get over it. We will be fishing this coming weekend in the NASA club classic, location TBD. I hope it isn't the G. I might just have to pass if it is.