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I doubt there are many dads out there lucky enough to have this type of Father's Day gift. When asked what I wanted to do for father's day, I responded that I wanted to fish a tournament with my wife. Many wive's might have scoffed at the idea. Those that would concede it would probably take the day to lay out on the back deck. But, I knew better. My wife is too competitive for that. She's been kind of a good luck charm on Pickwick, though we haven't won a tournament. We have gotten checks in them, as you can read from these reports.
It didn't hurt that I threw in dinner at the River Bottom Grill after a little late afternoon fishing as a date night the evening before.
We had the boat in the water around 6PM on Friday night and ran down the little river section of 7 Mile Island to see if some of our river fish were still around. This spot has become my last resort spot for tournaments, as it consistently produces a limit, even if it is small.
Seeing that there wouldn't be any current on Saturday, my game plan was to stop somewhere on the way to Waterloo and get a limit. As soon as I had the limit, no matter how big, I would head down river to find a school of fish on a ledge. Having a limit is paramount, as many of you know. Considering how this time of year can be, having a limit of any kind will at least keep you in the ball game. Just take a look at our last trip on Pickwick last month and what having a limit would have done!
Our first stop produced just one fish, a decent spot that came off of a Zara Spook. It is the first top water fish I have caught on the Tennessee River this year. In talking with other fishermen, it appears that the top water bite just hasn't been very good.
We ran to the tip of 7 Mile as the sun began to set. Behind a small current break, I could see bait fish being run up the bank in about 14 feet of water. On one of my first casts with a Strike King Series 3, I had a fish hit. There was a lot of weight and it didn't swim right. I assumed that it was a trash fish. With another boat having stopped in front of me about the time i set the hook, I slow played the fish. Alyse grabbed the net and as I pulled the fish in, we saw that it wasn't a fish, but two fish. Both bass.
In the process of slow playing, I lost the smaller of the two but was able to boat the larger, another spot. About that time, the other boat pulled in a fish. We traded fish for about 30 minutes before Alyse talked me into leaving some for tomorrow. In all, I caught around 5, most on a PTL 5" Sick Stick on a Magnum Shakey Head. None were very big, but I had faith that we could catch our limit quickly. While I was stowing rods, I snagged my flip flops and broke the strap. Now, I don't normally fish in flippy floppies because, well, hooks and stuff. Plus, my feet burn easy. But, this trip I brought them....and only them. I tried to repair them by melting the strap. No luck.
We tied the boat up at the River Bottom Gill and I plodded inside with my busted flip flop while singing Jimmy Buffet. Alyse took a funny video of me.
Go ahead and laugh.
Anyway, we shared some fried pickles and the River Bottom Burger, which is amazing. Then, we had to hunt down some MORE flip flops before going to bed at our families place on Wilson lake.
Up and at it at 4AM...which is a lot better than 2AM!
The ramp was fairly empty and we were able to easily get going. We stopped at the point as everyone else either headed to the dam or went down river. Considering the lack of current, there was no way I was going to fish the dam. While I knew that the better fish were down river and that I would probably find just spots here at the point, I wanted a limit.
Working both sides of the point, we began to pick up fish. They were coming on an assortment of lures but there seemed to be no pattern other than the fish seemed to be grouped in one tiny area.
There was a small rockpile on the side of the point, smaller than the boat. It was about 5 feet off the bank, so there was a hole between the bank and the rockpile that created a hole. More importantly, it provided a current break and an ambush spot. Between the worm, the Spook, and a chatterbait, we had three fish.
Alyse was getting bit on a Strike King 3, which is her favorite bait, but the fish were being awfully crafty. She lost two or three measuring fish that would have finished the limit. One of those broke the line as it pulled against the rockpile, totally not her fault. She did pull in a smallie that didn't measure.
About the time I was going to turn around and make a last pass, Alyse spotted a fish running bait against the bank. I didn't think it was very big and it wasn't worth my time, but she convinced me to throw on it. I had to skip the Spook under some branches and it landed an inch from the bank. Two twitches in and a fish annihilated it! This was no small fish. It was a money fish.
We slow played the tail walking toad to the boat and she netted it. It was easily the biggest fish we have caught together in a tournament. I told her that we now needed one more quality fish to win, even if we didn't get another hit all day.
Just seconds later that very fish knocked the Spook five feet in the air! The fish came completely out of the water but missed. I said some wordy durds.
Eventually we picked up a fifth fish, started the big motor, and began heading towards Waterloo. As we passed Colbert Ferry Park, I spotted matted grass and I was compelled to fish it.
Throwing a frog didn't amount to a bite, but as I fished the edges of the grass, I had a hit. It didn't result in a fish in the boat, but the quickness and suddenness of the bite which came on a chatterbait backed by a PTL Swinging Hammer gave me a reason to stay.
The next hour of fishing was the best hour I've had this year in terms of both number and quality. We caught around 10 fish in the next hour on an assortment of baits. Sadly, a series of misfortunes hurt us. Alyse has never fished grass and her crankbait experience hurt her as she was bulldogged by big fish. They would get in the grass and pop the lures free.
I also struggled. Two (and my only two) chatterbaits both broke at the ring. I also lost some series fish on a swimjig, also with a PTL Swinging Hammer.
We knew we had a good bag. After texting and calling some of the other club members as well as talking to random fishermen, we knew that we were way ahead of the pack, most likely. But, we wanted 20 pounds. Any of the fish we lost would have most likely pushed us to the mark. The issue was that were catching a lot of quality fish, just none over three pounds.
By the end of the day, we had caught 20 or so three pounders. In addition, we had the big one from that morning. I figured we had around 17.
The biggest loss of the day was the Bullshad that I managed to break. How it broke on braid I will never know. As I ripped it through some grass, it simply broke. I wasn't able to find it.
We didn't have 17. We had 15.5 and the big fish was a six pound head on a four pound body, checking in at 4.8. That weight was still almost double second place. Though we cashed the first place check, losing that $50 bullshad hurt.
On the way home, we stopped at West End Outdoors. They didn't have the cheaper Boyd Duckett BD-series swimbaits, but they DID have Bullshads. The issue there? They wanted between $60 and $90. Nope.
Anyway, we had a great day catching around 25 fish. The swimjig and chatterbaits did the most damage.
Props to my wife who, though she didn't have the best day catching, did a marvelous job at netting!