Monday, January 11, 2016

Fishing Report for Guntersville 1/9/16

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It's the new year, and with the new year means tournament season is nearly upon us. If you are from the north Alabama area, you know that starting the first weekend in February, Guntersville lake will be on fire, no matter the weather. Every club and trail series has a stop on the Big G. My clubs are no exception. 

2015 has already starter for me, and it started pretty awesome. You can read about it below. 

Truth be told, I didn't fish any early season tournaments on Guntersville last year, as I was moving into our new home. Additionally, I was sick one of the weekends. Apparently the McDonald's in Hazel Green is the worst McDonald's in the world, as I got food poisoning from it. I am not the only one. Ironically, it is now closed, despite being in a fantastic location. That's right. It is THAT BAD. 

Anyway, I started out 2014 pretty solid on Guntersville and I would like to get back to having that kind of success. That doesn't mean I won a bunch, because I didn't. However, I learned a lot and I wanted to put that to use. I also learned that you cannot fake your way on this lake this time of year. 

So, with a free Saturday, I asked Josh to fish the The Bait Tackle and Grill at Goosepond Wildcat, which they have every weekend during the winter. I have no affiliation with the store or its owners, but Jamie and his wife do a fantastic job at Goosepond in providing year-round service for fishermen. I can't recommend them enough. 

Anyways, we had 15 boats and 24 anglers. The ABA was also using Goosepond for their tournament. The lake was completely empty, save for these boats and a ton of duck hunters. 

The night before, Josh and I went over our gameplan. We decided to fish the hotspot we found in 2014. We knew there was a chance that the fish probably weren't there anymore, but it was worth a shot. I was going with a four bait system: The A-rig, a red square bill, a green pumpkin chatterbait backed by a PTL Craw D, and a red lipless crank. 

Josh and I ran into the back Roseberry creek. As we pulled up on the point, we were whistled at by duck hunters, which made us change our boat positioning. No big deal. It just wasn't something that we had anticipated. 

Nothing in the first spot. We moved over a pocked. Nothing.

When scanning the Roseberry creek channel which was intersected by a secondary creek and a huge conduit (which we found on sidescan), we came across two masses of fish adjacent to some bait balls. It was picture perfect as one can find using electronics. But, both of us had our doubts if they were bass and even if they were bass, would they be feeding? Their position, holding tight to the bottom, told us that they probably weren't.

Indeed they weren't active, but I busted out a PTL bullnose jig and set the hook on a fish anyway, reeling in a drum. We left. 

After fishing some bluff walls at the mouth of Roseberry, we caught our lone bass of the day, a short fish on a jerkbait. 

We fished Mink Creek for the rest of the day, not having another single bite. 

That was the story of the day, as boat after boat was either not present for the weigh in or had nothing to weigh at all. I can attest that only 5 boats weighed any fish. So, a swing and a miss. As much as that makes me disappointed, I will simply chalk it up to bad luck and learn from it. That's going to be one of my themes this year. Not that anyone really cares, but those are going to be:
  • Don't get upset. Get even. It isn't striking out. It's eliminating water. 
  • Don't celebrate winning on tough days when everyone else struggles.
  • Don't feel better about struggling when everyone else struggles. 
  • Find a way to win even when everyone else is catching fish.
 Here are the final results directly from The Bait Tackle and Grill at Goosepond 

"Hello Lake Guntersville Anglers! The Goose Pond Wildcat tournament results for Sat January 9, 2016...1st place and Big Bass winner was Jr. West with 16.50 lbs and a 6.04 biggin!...2nd place was Joey West with 14.32 lbs...and 3rd place was Benny Medlen and Mark Breen with 13.78 lbs they also had a 4.20 spotted bass...we had 15 boats, 24 anglers...It was a beautiful morning, 50° and breezy but for Jan it wasn't terrible..the winners said lures that worked were A- rigs, crankbaits, traps, jigs, and " Forks! " lol ....the ABA Div 29 also went out, 23 boats 18+ lbs won it, see there website for complete results. With the weather moving in we will be closed this Sun. Stay safe and warm! Thanks for coming out to The Bait Tackle and Grill at Goose Pond!"

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Fishing Report for Wheeler/Ingalls Harbor 1/6/2016

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(Please excuse the stupid face)

A quick look at the Fish of 2015 Page shows that my first catch of 2015 came on 1/17/15. I thought it would be tough to beat that early of a date, but the weather this past year has been.....unique. On a related subject that I promise is non-sequitur, 2015 proved, among many other things, that the best trips are always the last second trips. That is, not the days I take a day off of work. 

So, when I got a phone call around lunch time from my fishing partner, friend, and co-worker John asking if I had time to fish for a few hours in the late afternoon, I said yes. After all, the best trips seem to be those I didn't plan and the weather was decent (for the first week of the January). 

John had some info that the fish were really turned on with the high water and current coming out of Wheeler. In particular, the smallies were really biting. Well, that was GREAT news. I have good cold weather gear. I like to catch smallies. And, wouldn't it be the proper and fitting beginning to a 2016 to follow up where 2015 left off. In case you didn't know, 2015 was definitely "The Year of the Smallies" for me. 

No, I didn't catch a ton of them, but I caught SOME and really got hooked on catching them. And, the first fish of the year in 2015 was a nice smallie I caught on Guntersville. No, really! Furthermore, I caught at least one smallie on every Tennessee River lake in Alabama last year, which puts me in a very rare group. If you caught one on Guntersville, Wheeler, Wilson, and Pickwick last year, speak up. 

Maybe I am wrong, but catching smallies is a game that really separates fishermen. And, it doesn't hurt that it seems that the worse the conditions, the better they bite. Translation: Joe Blow ordinary fisherman won't bother getting out, relieving much of the fishing pressure. In order to catch them, I've had to do much more work on matching lake and weather conditions. I have had to do a lot of scanning. But mostly I just had to throw the A-rig.

Anyway, we fished out of Decatur and ran to where the powerlines cross the lake. The powerline towers are located on the main river channel and are stacked with rip-rap. The heavy current creates some great eddies. The water was very stained, offering only about 8 inches of visibility. Water temp was 45 on the main river and 47 in slow moving eddies and backwater. 

I brought four rods with me, but I really only planned on using two. I planned on using a A-rig with PowerTeam Lures grubs and a Luhr-Jensen speed trap. Initially I threw a sexy-chartreuse, but eventually changed over to a crawfish red with tiger stripes at John's suggestion.

We began fishing the eddie line and the swift water, but after two casts, I made a longer cast right at the rip-rap and inside the eddie, which was actually flowing in a backwards pattern than the river itself. The bottom was littered with rocks and I used the same retrieve I had been using on my last trip to Pickwick. That is, dead slow. I would crawl it over rocks. 

Fishing Report for Pickwick 12/23/2015

On my third cast in to the back eddie, the A-rig was absolutely DESTROYED by a fish. I said a little prayer that it was a brown fish and not a white bass or a stripe. Eventually I horsed in a nice smallie. 

That's a heck of a start. Seconds later, John was hooked up with a nice fish. But, it was about a 3-pound stripe. I boated another stripe, as did he. 

We made a drift, catching several more before motoring back up to the spot. We never got another bass to hit, though we caught more white bass and stripe. Then, the spot went dead. We followed the powerline to the next tower. 

Another trash fish or two, but no bass to speak of. So, I dropped the A-rig and went to the Speed Trap. After a few slaps, I slowed down the crankbait. As soon as it hit cover, I would hit the brakes. The positive buoyancy would lift the bait up. If nothing hit is, I would crawl it along. 

Withing 5 minutes, I had caught two largemouth. One of them a squeaker and the other a decent 2-pounder. 

Again, we caught all the stripe and white bass we wanted, but no more brown or green fish.

We fished a couple of other spots. John caught a tiny bass on a crankbait. 

Since we started out with just a few hours of sunlight and the sun was beginning to dip below Decatur, we decided to go back to where we started. 

The big stripe and white bass were back. And, they were ANGRY. John had one pull the D-ring off his A-rig at one point. 

While we both caught some massive white fish, we were both haunted by two different hits. 

Both of us made casts to where I had caught the smallie and both of us had freighttrain hits. In both instances, the fish got in the current and pulled off, even though the fish was halfway to the boat. Neither of those hits acted like whites or stripes. Coulda woulda shoulda. 

We ended up with 4 largemouth and 1 smallmouth on top of all the magnum whites and stripes we wanted. We took some pictures with the fish and let them go. I was repaid for my kindness with a nasty fin attack, #whenfishfightback .