Monday, April 3, 2017

Fishing Report for Wilson 3/31/17

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First of, let me thank each of you for reading this blog. It's a lot of work for something that doesn't earn me a red cent. This past month, the blog went over 200,000 hits. Sure, that's a trifle for some bloggers, but it's a massive accomplishment for me. Consider that the viewership has done exceedingly well the last six months. I don't know why or how I am getting new viewers, but I suspect it is because you guys that read the articles and pass it to your friends. So, thanks! 

In case you missed it, the streak of cashing checks on Wilson came to an abrupt end two weeks ago. We never found fish, or at least couldn't get them to bite. Occasionally we could catch some good ones, but finding five good ones wasn't in the cards. You can read the report by clicking the link below.

I was able to have a "get right" day with my wife last week when we put in two hours on Wheeler and sacked up a ton of fish. Sure, none of them were big but it was still a lot of fun. You can also read about that trip below. 

Fishing Report for Wheeler 3/28/17


So, the NASA fishing club had a tournament on Wilson. I wasn't sure I wanted to fish it because we have a lot going on right now with all three kids playing ball. Additionally, the lack of bites just made the thought of fishing another day cringeworthy.

But then a funny thing happened. During the draw process, me and Brad, one of my regular fishing partners were paired together. That certainly changed something things, and not just because I had faith we could catch them. No, my daughter had a softball tournament in Muscle Shoals and fishing out his boat meant I could both fish AND watch her play without dragging Big Booty Judy all over the Florence area. 

After a very rough week at work, Brad and I decided to fish Friday and see if we could find some fish for the tournament. Well, that didn't happen. We spent the vast majority of the day at Wheeler dam hoping to find the magnum smallmouth that we have done so well at catching in the past. Catching fish wasn't an issue. We caught a ton of stripers and drum, just no bass. 

The next morning, we tried to formulate our game plan. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) had been pulling decent current Friday (40,000 CFS) and the right generators had been running, but no fish. According to the TVA app, only about 19,000 CFS was planned on Saturday. We assumed that was a bad thing and decided that we would try to fish for largemouth bass in the few spots that held grass, specifically in Shoals Creek. 

Now, wouldn't you know it that there was a boat sitting in the five yard stretch we wanted to start upon. We had forgo that spot and move deeper into Shoals creek to another spot we have had a lot of success upon. Fishing this spot ended up not being nearly as much an issue. Throwing a combination of C-rigs, cranks, and Alabama Rigs, we were struggling to get bit. That's when we noticed that bass were running bait in the grass. I picked up my buzzbait, which I had tied on as mostly a joke, and worked it in the grass. After seeing a swirl in the grass, I shot the buzzbait in and a fish turned the water into a toilet bowl. We netted a solid three pounder.

Moving on, I boated another keeper on the buzzbait and Brad added two keepers on the Alabama rig. It was 8:20 and we had a decent start. We spent the next hour trying find that number five. Wilson is such a small lake that it is very hard for us not to fish the same stuff we have always fished. Even telling ourselves we wouldn't do that, we still overlapped a good bit. But, there was one particular main river point we wanted fish, which Brad had located some fish on the previous week. Luckily, the wind was keeping everyone in the pockets and we could fish all the main river points we wanted to, but it meant dealing with waves like this:

I had decided on Friday evening that I would throw a Carolina Rig that day simply because we knew fish were around and our typical power fishing approach just wasn't working. Using a PowerTeam Lures 6" Gator and a half ounce weight, I drug the C-rig on the bottom. The one bite left no question in my mind what I had on as a four pounder slammed the lizard bait. Brad netted the toad and we had a solid limit for about 10 pounds. While we knew that even 10 pounds was a decent sack on a day like that, we wanted to leave no doubt.

So, we did the one thing we knew to do when looking for a kicker: we went to the dam. That was a tough decision to make, considering the dam hadn't produced much in the past few trips. Still, we knew that it was a matter of time at the dam. If you fish there enough and you throw the right bait, you will get bit and chances are, it will be a big one. A quick look at the TVA showed that they had far exceeded the 19,000 CFS expectation and were pushing over 40,000 CFS.

10 minutes later, we were in line with five other boats who were also fishing the eddy line. We ranged back and forth, checking the eddy, checking the current, checking the slack water but never could find the green or brown bass. Again, white bass and drum were easy to come by as we threw a combination of crankbaits, scrounger headed swimbaits, and A-rigs. One by one, all but one other boat left and we were looking to do the same.

That's when the other boat swung aboard a six pounder. Minutes later, they swung another toad. What were they doing differently? They were certainly fishing the same things we were, but I noticed they were throwing a standard lead-head swimbait just like every other boat I had seen. No scrounger head. No underspin. Certainly not an A-Rig or a crank. We pulled up and talked to the two, who were also fishing a tournament. Eventually it came out that they had about 25 pounds, but had just five bites all day.

Both of us sat down and retied. I went with a PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammer in green pumpkin with blue swirl while Brad went with a standard sexy shad.

It took the better part of an hour, but Brad finally had that big bite that didn't turn into a drum. I netted his five plus pounder. Another hour later and Brad had another bite and, again, I netted a solid four. We culled up about seven pounds and knew we probably just won this tournament.

It turned out that the fish wanted a combination of a specific weight, color, and retrieval speed and I just didn't offer that, much to my dismay.

We weighed in 16.24 pounds, beating second place by double. Brad's toad went over five and a half pounds. While the two of us are always happy with a win, we both wonder "what might have been" had we not been so stubborn the past few days by throwing what we wanted to throw and not what the fish wanted. For me, it was tough to throw the same thing everyone else was throwing, especially as I watched others call it quits and leave.

That's tough for the average "fruit jar" competitor to do, especially compared to "big money" tournament guys. The latter accept that they may not cash a check in two, three, or four tournaments. But, when they sack them, they are going to win. The former aren't willing to spend $500 to make $100.  I guess it's the old 'Vegas mantra of "scared money makes no money."