Monday, June 20, 2016

Fishing Report for Pickwick 6/18/16

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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.

Fishing Report for Pickwick 4/16/16

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! 

Fishing Report for Pickwick 5/ 13&14 /2016

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. 

A video posted by Alyse Taylor (@alysetaylor) on
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! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Fishing Report for Guntersville 6/10&11/16

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Brad and I had a club tournament coming up on the 11th. While prefishing the G hasn't EVER done us any good and the lake has been the bane of our existence for the last three years....we decided to prefish anyway. 

To be fair, it is ledge bite time and you HAVE to prefish or at least get out there and search for the super school. 

We put in at Seibold and immediately began scanning ledges. We began looking at the 14-18 foot range. The first set of ledges, out on the main river in front of Seibold, looked promising. We were marking bait balls and larger fish, but they didn't seem to be grouped up nor relating to any structure. For the rest of the day, we scanned ledges from Seibold to Goose Pond. 

In the meantime, we did do some fishing, but we weren't getting bit. In fact, the ledges we started at ended up being the most promising area, even if we couldn't get a bite. As I've said elsewhere, the top water bite on the Tennessee River has been off this year. Of course, if you know better, comment below! 

We quit around 2PM after arriving at just 9AM. We figured it would be better to save our strength. After all, I would have to get up at 2AM in order for us to be on the water at 5AM.

Along the way, I made some phone calls to try and gather some information. I wasn't looking for a winning bag or any secrets, just something to get us on fish. Several guys had been catching ledge fish and all said that their bites were coming in 18 foot while the boat was in 30. That might explain why we weren't getting bit on ledges. Everyone agreed that the top water bite was still way off.

We decided to start on our ledges in Seibold, but after 15 minutes without a bite on top water and chatterbaits, we made a change and ran to some shallow humps in front of Seibold. I was throwing a Z-Man in a green pumpkin color with a PTL Swinging Hammer swimbait.  On my first cast into five feet, I caught a nice keeper. 

Minutes later, I had a second keeper and we were one away from a three fish limit. 

I had another come unbuttoned, but Brad hung into a nice fish and we boated  4.5 pounder. It was a great start and exactly what to guys who have struggled really needed.

I added a fourth fish, though it didn't look to add anything. 

The sun came out and the chatterbait bite died.

We moved to the ledges. Nothing. Over and over we checked spots from the day before, even idled around and tried to see if the fish had moved. We couldn't get a bite. We got desperate and started scanning for new schools, but none of them ever bit. Brad eventually boated a decent fish on a lizard, but it didn't help us. 

We threw a collection of crankbaits, lizards, and big works. I even tried to throw a magnum shakey head. Nothing. 

We weighed in a little over 8 pounds in our three fish, which I believe was good enough for fifth place.  First place was 13 pounds, second was 12, and third was a little under that. There wasn't a fish over 5.82 weighed in and very few five pounders weighed. The fish have not recovered from the spawn just yet. 

On the day we had just five fish on six bites. The water temp would begin in the high 70s and creep to 85 by the end of the day. Grass is coming along, but not topped out anywhere. The water level is incredibly low and I imagine the frog bite will be very good, as long as there isn't much rain. 

Fishing Report for Wheeler 6/9/16: Ditto Wildcat

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On Monday or Tuesday, Josh had asked me if I wanted to fish the Ditto Wildcat on Thursday night. We hadn't fished one yet and it seemed tempting. It was especially tempting because the weights had been at late July and August levels. That is, six pounds would get a check. Based upon my prefishing the week before, I knew that it would be tough, but I also knew I could get a small limit. All I had to do was do some flipping. 

Fishing Report for Wheeler: Week of 6/1-5/16

On Thursday, I brought the boat to work. Turns out, Josh couldn't fish. We had a club tournament coming up, so I had to make a decision: fish the wildcat alone or prefish alone. It isn't that I don't like fishing alone (I mean, I don't) but prefishing Guntersville has done me ZERO good so far this year. I decided that I would just fish the wildcat.

There was no current according to the TVA so I decided to start out flipping. So, I flipped and flipped and flipped. No bites. I spent two of the three hours I had flipping. 

Around 7 I moved out onto some bluffs. The only other way I had been catching fish was with a Strike King 3XD, targeting shade on the bluffs. I really had to get the bait on the edge of the bluffs. For the most part, that meant actually hitting the ledge with the bait. 

Pretty quickly, I began to get hits. Unfortunately, I missed a decent fish because I had no net man and the fish threw the bait at the boat. I moved 25 yards and caught another. Then another. While I was catching fish, only every third fish actually measured. With four in the box, I had to make a call: Do I finish the limit with a small fish or try and find a kicker? 

I decided on the latter and went back to flipping for the last 30 minutes.

The only thing that flipping provided was the smallest fish of the day, a six-incher. 

In all, I caught around 10 fish but the size was just pitiful. I did throw some top water, but not much, as what fishing I have done has shown that the fish aren't interested in top water at all.

As I went to weigh in, the ramp was absolutely packed and the parking lot was a disaster. I decided to forego the weigh and toss my fish. The winning weight was 14 pounds and it took just over 6 to get 3rd place.

It's very tough out there and the reliable bite I can find is on the bluffs with a small crankbait. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Fishing Report for Wheeler: Week of 6/1-5/16

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I was fortunate to get out two different times over the course of the week. Both trips were in the middle of the day and, therefore, not exactly the best conditions.

Wednesday afternoon, I fished the area around Ditto. Two different patterns paid out dividends:

The first was a StrikeKing Series 3 crank in either sexy or powder blue back. This pattern would only work on bluff walls that were shaded. So, specifically, the north bank of the river. It was really weird. The fish would hit these cranks within the first turn of the handle. Sometimes, the fish would hit it before I even cranked. But, they would not touch top water baits. 

Later in the afternoon, I was able to catch just a precious few fish while flipping wood. You would work 10 or 12 laydowns before finding one that would have three fish on it. The fish seemed to prefer a 7" Tickler as opposed to flipping the jig. 

Unfortunately, weather was moving in and I didn't fish but for about an hour late in the afternoon. That meant that I only was able to fish about 10 or 12 of those laydowns before heading home.

Just yesterday (Sunday), we took a family trip on the water. With overcast skies, rising water levels thanks to rain, and a little cooler weather, I figured the top water bite would be on. It would be a great time to have a little fishing competition between the kids. Truth be told, competition between them is the only way I was going to get them to fish. 

The water isn't quite where it needs to be for a good flipping bite nor a frog bite. Where there is good grass, it is too thick to work a frog. I would like to see thick vegetation with at least a yard of scattered grass around it. In this case, it isn't scattered quite yet and the water level is just too low. 

After hitting one spot that normally has fish, we headed to the back of a pocket. On the way in, the white bass were feeding and I thought this would be the PERFECT time to get the kids to actually catch fish. I even had them excited enough to cast on their own. But, for some weird reason, we could not buy a white bass bite! It was very frustrating. 

We started flipping grass in the back of the pocket where we were able to start catching a fish every 15 minutes or so. All of my fish came on a PTL Bull Nose Jig in Black to the Blue. None of them were very big, but the best five would have gone 10 pounds. Either I have bad luck or the topwater bite just hasn't been very good. Now, I do recognize that I am fishing the toughest parts of the day.