Tuesday, October 18, 2016

SEC Week 8 Picks

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So, last week's picks were so bad that I almost don't want to make this week's picks. I picked exactly one pick right out of ten. That puts me deep in the red. Last week is one of those weeks that make you understand just how good Vegas really is. Not only was last week money for Vegas, but it shows just how good they know their lines. At least half of the lines were dead on. 

Anyway. That brings the overall record to 33-37. I am under 50% for the first time this year. 

Mississippi State at Kentucky
State is a very, very slim 3 point favorite on the road with a 54 point over/under. State is really better than their record would lead you to believe. They have outgained their opponents by a wide margin, giving up 360 yards while gaining over 400 per game. Kentucky, on the other hand, gives up 430 while gaining less than 350. Kentucky is 3-3 against the spread while State is 1-5 including a 1-3 mark as the favorite. In terms of the over, the two teams have combined to play just three games over 54 points. State coasts to a victory on the road and covers the three while the two teams stay under. 

Arkansas at Auburn
9.5 points for Auburn would seem like the biggest line of the week, if it weren't for the Alabama vs TAMU game. The over/under stands at 55.5. The FPI ranks Auburn as an 87% favorite.  The Hogs are 3-4-1 ATS and Auburn is a whopping 5-1. All signs point to an easy Auburn win. Auburn will likely lean on the run game and a much improved defense. Take Auburn and the under. 

Texas A&M at Alabama
Alabama is a 17 point favorite with an over/under of 58.5 points. TAMU is 5-1 and Bama is 5-2 ATS, so something has to give. Indeed, both teams gain over 500 yards per game, but Bama's defense could be the best Saban's ever had. TAMU is a good team, but wins against Tennessee and Auburn don't show the real Aggie team. Truth be told, Tennessee isn't any good and Auburn is a much better team than they were back in week three. Take Bama to roll and the over. 

Ole Miss at LSU
LSU is a 5.5 point favorite and the over under is an astounding 60.5 points. Ole Miss is essentially out of the SEC west race now, but a loss here would destroy their season. You can't help but have the feeling that LSU is hanging to a thread as well. Will Fournette suit up? I don't believe we will see him again. The FPI had LSU as a heavy favorite, but we haven't seen the best Ole Miss can play yet. LSU is allowing just 14 points per contest.  Ole Miss springs the upset and the score is much lower. Take Ole Miss and the under. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

End of the Tournament Year Results

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No, this doesn't mean that I won't fish any more tournaments this year. But, all of my scheduled tournaments are completed and I thought I might take a second to review how things went this year. 

First, let's take a second to review the Fish of the Year. In case you don't know what I am talking about, take a look at the two pages:

Fish of 2015

Taking a look at those two pages, it seems obvious that this year was much better than last year. In 2015, I boated only 138 fish. But, I also didn't own a boat, which didn't help matters. However, last year was an absolute grindfest all year. The Luhr-Jensen Speedtrap and 7" Tickler did most of the work for me. My biggest fish came on Wilson lake in July leading up to a club tournament. My best smallmouth came off of Wheeler, also prefishing. 

The 2015 season began a weird yet satisfying trend where I began to catch more smallmouth than largemouth. It was about equal, but it was a striking departure from previous years. Along the way, I caught fish from nine different lakes which included a trip to Smith lake and Chickamauga. 

2016 wasn't my best year in numbers or size of fish, but it was a grand departure from 2015. I boated (so far) 267 bass starting on January 7th. I caught bass from eight different lakes in 2016 including Tim's Ford, which is a new lake for me. For some strange reason, I didn't go back to Smith or Chick, though that COULD change. 

In terms of wins and losses, I'd say that this year was a lot better than last year. I've always done well in the NASA club, but I didn't get to fish many events in 2015. This year I fished nearly all of them and managed to win several. The highlights were winning with my wife on Pickwick and a great weekend of fishing on Logan-Martin that ended with another win. However, I came up short in the Angler of the Year department because one of my opponents had a fantastic year (he always does). As much as I like our NASA club, it is small and winning typically means beating just a few other boats.

The winless streak at the Ditto Wildcats on Thursday night continued. The fishing was historically bad and I don't think I weighed a limit all year. 

However, the Army Cargo club went much better this year. After cashing just one check in 2015 in what is a very, very good club, Brad and I went on to cash three checks. Two of those were for wins, both on Wilson. 

Still, as competitive as I am, I have a long way to go. Though I only fished one larger tournament (the aforementioned tournament this past weekend on Tim's), I didn't do very well in it. I'd like to not only fish more large tournaments but also manage to do well.

Anyway, here's to 2016!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

SEC Week 7 Picks

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Well well! Looks like I done made up for that stinker of a week last week. I nailed some picks this go 'round including The UT vs TAMU, the Auburn vs Mississippi State, and the UGA vs South Carolina. I blanked on the Alabama vs Arkansas picks, however. All told, I hit six total picks while missing two. That brings my overall record to 32-28, which is a 53% hit rate. 

Mississippi State vs BYU
This will most likely be a Friday night stinker. BYU is favored by 7.5 points and the over/under is 56 points. The money line is awfully interesting  because of how close it is. +245 for State and -290 for BYU. BYU hasn't won or lost by more than 17 points. All three losses were by three or less. State is 1-4 against the spread and 0-2 on the road. BYU is 5-1 against the spread but 0-1 as a favorite. State is currently allowing more points than they are scoring while the opposite is marginally true for BYU. While BYU has played some very potent offenses, State has been scored on by teams that don't belong on the field with an SEC opponet. I'd take BYU to cover and the over on points. 

Ole Miss at Arkansas
Ole Miss is a 7.5 point favorite with a whopping 65.5 over/under. Both of these teams have been a grab bag. Ole Miss' vaunted landshark defense hasn't been nearly the same this year. Against decent offenses, Arkansas has hemorrhaged points. Neither team has been very good against the spread. This is Ole Miss first time on the road. The Rebels seem to be able to throw the ball up and have those big recievers come down with it. I like Ole Miss to cover, but that over/under seems like a suckers bet. Take Ole Miss and the under. 

Missouri at Florida
The line is Florida -13.5 and a 51 point over/under. 
Missouri is coming off of a bye after being thrashed by LSU. Florida ducked LSU for their own bye week. The Gators spent the last two weeks on the road and are 3-0 at home having allowed 14 total points. Missouri's success has come from Drew Locke, who has 14 TDs and 4 INTs. However, Florida's offense continues to struggle. Take Missouri and the under. 

Vandy at Georgia
This one sits on a critical 14 point line in favor of UGA. It features a low over/under of  42.5. Vandy has gotten better and better on defense, even in losses to Kentucky and Florida. UGA continues to give up gobs of points. Though Vandy has given up almost 400 yards per game, it has stiffened in the redzone. That's where UGA will get them. Take UGA to cover and the under. 

Alabama at Tennessee
Bama is a 13.5 point favorite with an over/under of 57. Sure, it's a rivalry game. Except that UT hasn't won in awhile and they have like 10 starters out. Neyland is a little bigger and louder than Fayetteville and I do suspect Alabama's Hurts to struggle at some point this year. Even if he does, I still suspect Alabama to keep rolling. Take Bama to cover and the under. 

Fishing Report for Tim's Ford: Tina's Tournament 10/9/16

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A few months ago, my son had to change parks to play fall baseball because the local park didn't have a tam for his age. Thus, I met an entire new group of ball parents. One of those, his coach, works at Phoenix boats. In talking with him, he told me about how one of their employees had been diagnosed with cancer. They would be holding a benefit tournament on Tim's Ford for her. There would be great prizes and a good paycheck on the line. Of course I was happy to participate but I had never bass fished on Tim's Ford.

Turns out, Tim's is actually the closest lake (discounting the stretch of Wheeler from Tirana to Ditto, which is easily the worst section of the Tennessee River). So, a few weeks ago, I took my first trip to Tim's. It was really easy early in the morning as I caught fish after fish for the first 45 minutes. And then the sun came up and the bite died. 

Fishing Report for Tim's Ford Lake 9/23/16

On my next trip, things were even tougher. Sadly, this was just a day before the tournament and with the conditions worsening, I had to admit to my partner that I didn't know what I was doing. That was especially tough since my partner was my wife. To be fair, I did shake off a fish that would have won big fish of the tournament and I did catch another decent largemouth. But, the bites were nonexistent. I fished shallow. I fished 14-18. I fished deeper. I fished creeks. I fished main lakes. Nothing. I couldn't even find bait. 

That morning, we made our way to the Tim's Ford Bass Club Ramp. The event was terrific as it kicked off with fresh cooked sausage biscuits. We were about to put the boat in the water among the 140 other boat field when I couldn't find my plug. Understand that my plug has lived in my boat since I have bought it. Magically, it was gone. No problem, I made me one out of some baits and some electrical tape! 

The tournament didn't kick off until 7AM and though I was boat 19, I had a feeling that the late start would really hurt my chances of catching fish early. And, more importantly, without that early bite, I had NO hope for finding fish. 

Ironically, I caught a short fish on my first cast of the day. That turned out to be the only bite we had all day long. 

I felt really bad about it. We've always done well together and I felt like a failed fisherman. I mean, I knew it was the worst conditions possible. It's a very clear lake and very high skies. I couldn't even approach bait fish without them skittering away. 

Turns out, everyone else struggled as well. 137 boats. There were four five-fish-limits. It took 16 pounds to win, which is strong. But, 12 and 11 for second and third. It was very, very down hill from there. 

I do recognize that conditions were pitiful and that I shouldn't judge too harshly. Yet, I haven't really seen anything yet to make me excited about Tim's. I'll keep trying. After all, it's supposedly a great smallmouth lake, even if the techniques to catch them are beyond me. Hey, if you want to grow as a fisherman, that's how you have to do it. 

In talking about the tournament, I have to say: It was a terrifically run tournament. Everyone got shirts and door prizes. The items that were raffled off were incredible, even if I didn't win any. There were plenty of cold drinks and the atmosphere was great. I hope for the best for Tina and I hope they continue to put this tournament on! 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fishing Report for Wilson Lake 9/24-10/1

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I've had a lot going on the last week which has kept me from keeping you guys up to date on the fishing.Believe it or not, I was able to get in something like four trips on Wilson in the last ten days or so, starting on the 24th of last month.

The NASA classic was on the 24th and on the previous Thursday, we drew the lake for our club Classic. Sure enough, we drew Wilson. Ironically, our other club ALSO drew Wilson for that Classic. With my first tournament on Tim's Ford coming up, I fished that Friday on Tim's, which you can read about here

On Saturday, I met up with Tim, one of our club members. I had friends coming into town, so I had to fish as a non-boater and I would only fish half a day. To win my third Angler of the Year, I would need to win this tournament and catch the big fish while my only opponet would have to strike out. I knew that was unlikely, but I have won every Classic I have fished in this club and this lake is usually where I am the strongest. Here are some of our trips and wins on Wilson.

Fishing Report for Wilson 10/18/14

Tim was gracious enough to let me make the decisions for the day. In the past, I have done well in the grass throwing a frog. I knew the day would likely be tough as the skies were high. So, we went into Shoals Creek and I began throwing the frog. On my second cast, I boated a keeper. In the next few minutes, I had two more short fish in the boat along with several blow ups. But, as the sun crested the tree tops, the bite dead completely. 

Around nine, I had about an hour of fishing time left so we hit the bluffs across from Shoals. I began throwing a swim jig with a PTL Swinging Hammer. I was concentrating on shallow cuts in the bluff that held pea gravel.

I was getting bump after bump but not hooking up. I tried varying my retrieval, but nothing would get the fish to hook up. The nail in the coffin was when a six pound largemouth followed the bait to the boat and stared at me.

It was one of those stupid tough days and I tried to do all the things I do when it's tough and none seemed to work. That's an important note for later. We ended up in third with just two fish.

The next day (Sunday), Brad began prefishing for the other Classic. This one was much bigger and a lot more money was on the line. He found a lot of what I found. It was really, really tough and all of the things I tried, he tried with the same results. But, at the end of the day, he went to the dam and was able to get some bites. Though the bass weren't jumping on the hook, drum and bait were, despite the small 12,000 CFS current.

I was back on the water Wednesday to prefish and began running bluffs because of the number of hits I had on the swimjig. The cooler nights had brought the bait to the surface and it almost looked like rain. I quickly caught fish on a chatterbait and a PTL Swinging Hammer. But, it was a short smallie. The bluffs produced much of the same thing it had the previous Saturday. Lots of hits but no fish.

I made a move over to Bluewater Creek where I also found bait, but there were also active fish.

Over the next hour, I managed a hit between every other cast on an Xcalibur Zell Pop. But, there was something odd going on. They would hit it pretty hard and I would fight them for several seconds before they would pull off. I changed hooks and that seemed to help. Fishing on top of an old roadbed, you could see the bait everywhere as well as the smaller bass eating them. In between, very sizeable bass would school them up a bit deeper. I had at least five quality bites of fish three pounds or larger including this very nice smallmouth.

I was very happy with what I had seen, despite not getting them in the boat. I believe I was subconsciously not setting the hook. With how hard it had been the previous Saturday, I believed the 12 or so pounds I had stumbled upon would be enough.

Josh prefished the very next day and was able to verify that there were good fish on the spot, going so far as to tell me that we might have to share the spot.

Brad and I prefished again on Friday, starting on some all new stretches because of the fog. I was able to bag a frog fish on the first cast of the day, but the rest of the day was very, very tough as we covered the lake from end to end. That isn't to say we didn't catch fish, because we did. We couldn't catch multiple fish anywhere.

At the end of the day and after having to convince me, we headed to the dam. I don't like the dam because it seems everyone fishes these and I have never done much good. Seems like you get in line and chunk and wind. Some people catch them and some don't.

However, while we were talking to one of our clubmates who happened to be at the dam, we caught several while he caught several. Interesting. It was in line with what Brad had found the previous Sunday.

So began the argument over what we should do on Saturday. I was willing to admit that the spot in Bluewater was weather dependant. If there was ANY wind, the spot would be dead. Additionally, it seemed to need a high sky.

Saturday was windy and overcast, so that made our decision for us. The fact is, other than the one day of catching them solid in Bluewater, we had nickle and dimed the entire time to catch fish. While we do well when it's a tough day, we knew someone was going to get them, especially in this club with this many boats. We couldn't take that chance.

 At blastoff about four other boats headed to the dam. Since we were boat 14 of 20 and in a slower boat, we had to get behind everyone.

We watched the line of boats catch every species of fish known to man, but preciously few bass. That isn't to say bass weren't caught, but not enough to share among all the boats.

We had to do some jockeying since we were the odd man out. As we went behind the line of boats in an effort to get on the eddy, I made a cast with a Strike King 5XD which was basically in line with everyone's boat motors. And I picked up a short smallie.

I made another cast and picked up yet another short smallie.

On the third cast, I boated a 3.5 pound smallie and we knew we might be onto something. More importantly, everyone's attention was focused the other way and no one seemed to notice that I was pulling fish off the back of their boats.

Over the next three hours, Brad and I managed to have a total of five more bass bites, but every single one of them was a pig.

Along the way we lost every 5XD we owned, but by the end of the day we had what we suspected was just over 20 pounds along with what I believed was a six pound smallie. By 11AM, we were begging for the weigh in as the clouds had lifted and the bites had stopped.

Eventually, weigh in did come. No, I didn't catch a six pound smallie. It had the body for it, just not the girth. So, we didn't get over 20 pounds. We did weigh in 19.22 and took home a win in the club's biggest tournament of the year. Second place was around 18 and third was 11. Big fish of the day was a six pound largemouth. All the winning boats were fishing at the dam.

Week 6 SEC Picks

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Sorry I am late, everyone! Just got back into town. Ok. So, last week wasn't my best week. Thank you Bama and Florida. That resulted in a 4-6 mark, thanks to completely missing those two games. My total mark now stands at 26-26, good for .500. We need to get back on the right track. Maybe I should spend a little more time on these picks....

Auburn at Mississippi State
Auburn is a 3.5 point road favorite and the under/over is set at 54.5. This looks to be a tight game as even the money line is  -150/130. The Bulldogs do not have a competent offense, leaning on UMASS for 47 points to lift their dreadful numbers. Excluding that game, the Dogs have scored 27 points once and 20 points twice. WR Fred Ross is the only legitimate threat to Auburn, having scored four of MSU's 12 total TDs. Some care must be given to the QB Fitzgerald, the team's leading rusher. Though he is averaging seven YPC, he hasn't scored a TD. MSU's defense? The 48th ranked total defense has kept only one offense (South Carolina) under 20 points. 

On the other side, Auburn could be looking at a statement game. Sure, beating LSU was a shocker, but the luster was taken off after Les Miles was fired. This Auburn team is very, very close to being a complete team. On defense, Auburn is limiting offenses to just 16 points a game and that includes some top-tier offenses. Auburn can, and will shut down Fred Ross while limiting Fitzgerald's ability to run. On offense, Auburn faces a team that limits the run but gives up 250 pass yards a game. The rushing yards allowed (150) looks good, but it's against teams that can't run the ball. This will create a false sense of security that Auburn's Pettway and Johnson will exploit. Auburn's passing game is coming along nicely.  Auburn should jump out early and lean on the run game. Take Auburn to cover the spread and the under on points

LSU at Florida
Luke Del Rio is back, and that's a welcome site for Gator fans. Appleby was averaging just 5 yards per completion is his start and that won't cut it against a very athletic LSU defense. The major issue for LSU will be containing Florida WR Antonio Callaway. Despite sketchy play at QB, Callaway has 20 catches for 371 yards and two TDs. But, it is Florida's Powell and Goolsby that are the real X-factors. LSU hasn't played a team with multiple playmakers at wideout. These two may not have the yardage on go-to guy Callaway, but they are where the TD production comes from, having added three TDs combined. 

Against Tennessee, Florida struggled to contain the Vol's multiple recievers as well, having nearly three 100-yard pass catchers. However, Florida has only Dural to contain and they have just man to do it. 

The difference in the game will be LSU's Guise. With limited game film to study, Florida will not be able to prepare for Guise, who tuned up Missouri last week. 

LSU is a 3 point favorite with an over/under of 41. Much of that is attributed to the perceived strength of the defenses as well as the expected weather in Gainesville. Both teams are 1-4 against the spread and neither are good as underdogs. Something has to give.  Take LSU to cover and the over on points.  

Tennessee at Texas A&M
TAMU is a seven point favorite. Anytime you get around those numbers, you have to watch out. This typically means that the game's results is pretty well understood. TAMU is 4-1 AGT. Tennessee is 1-0 on the road. TAMU is a perfect 3-0 at home. The over/under is 58. Only half of these two team's games have gone under 58 points. The Vol's two games were against out of conference games. The Aggie' three were against UCLA, Auburn, and South Carolina. But, two of those were on the road. 

We can discuss how the two team's stack up, but injuries are the real story.  The Aggies may be without some combination of Myles Garrett, Ricky Seales-Jones, and Speedy Noil while the Vols will be without Jalen Hurd. 

Hurd seems to be the most likely to miss and without him, the Vols will have to lean on the legs and arm of Dobbs. This is a very, very scary proposition for the Vols. I do think the Vols have the edge on pass catchers (Jennings/Malone) and Dobbs ability to run from the shotgun and buy time could be a huge hurdle for a TAMU team that hasn't faced the likes of those two WRs. Being without Garrett on the edge gives a huge lean to TAMU. But, with Sumlin not giving out the info, we have to go with what we know. ***Note: Hurd to play***

Expect UT to get the back door cover and the over on points. 

Georgia at South Carolina
Another game sitting on a critical seven. This time, UGA is favored by the TD. The over/under is sitting at 40.5. Undoubtedly, the public believes that the combination of weather and UGA's run game will mean a low scoring affair with Nick Chubb back from injury. Indeed, USC has given up 97 or more yards in all but one game this year. a win against East Carolina. 

South Carolina is averaging just 301 yards per game including a dreadful 197 yards in the air per game. UGa is giving up 240 yards in the air, but the crosswind expected from the hurricane will affect this. This will be a run-first game, but turnovers will create short fields, hurting USC more than UGA. UGA covers and roll with the over. 

Alabama at Arkansas
Bama is a 14 point favorite and the over/under line stands at 49. Taking out the overtime game against TCU, the Hogs have done a fair job at playing D, aside from giving up 45 to TAMU two weeks ago. Keep in mind that the Hogs laid three fumbles on the grass in that loss. 

Alabama has now scored a DST TD in seven straight games. Brett Bielema has preached ball security and special teams play the last two weeks. That streak will end Saturday. 

Bama is 3-2 against the spread and the Hogs are 1-1 as an underdog. 

The last two games between these two teams have been terrific. Last year was 27-14 and 2014 was 14-13, both going to the Tide who have won 9 straight. 

This will be where Jalen Hurts will struggle and it will be an environment that struggles will be hard to get up from. Take the Hogs to cover and the under on points.