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Follow my Fish of 2017
I have several cliches that I could probably use to describe this past Saturday's tournament on Pickwick. I'll try not to do that because I don't believe in using cliches.
Ok. So, I'll use one: "All things must come to an end."
I was on a pretty solid streak of either earning a check or at least having a competitive day in tournaments. In addition, my wife was fishing this club tournament with my on Pickwick and we have done really, really well together. In fact, I don't think we have ever fished a club tournament and not gotten a check.
All of that ended. But don't feel bad for me. We caught a TON of fish, just not enough big ones.
Maybe I should have prefished. That seems to me important to me. A lot of people are either just better fishermen than I or just luckier. 'Cause I just can't seem to be able to show up and catch fish.
But, prefishing wasn't in the cards this week because the TVA has been running an asinine amount of current. In fact, they had requested that boaters stay off the water entirely. The water level was up several feet and there was a minimum of 130,000 CFS being pushed through Wilson dam. Due to concerns about flooding around McFarland, we moved our club tournament to Pride Landing.
Sweet. That would save me some gas, I thought.
My plan was to fish emerging grass as I had done last year which resulted in a very nice bag of fish for me and Alyse. You can read about that day by clicking the link below.
But, I hadn't considering a few things. First, the fact that the water was four feet high would mean that there would be no topped out grass or even sub-surface grass. That wrecked my plans for throwing a chatterbait and a Bullshad.
Second, that amount of current would likely sweep away any grass on the ledges.
Last, the rising water would put a lot of new structure under the water, perfect for flipping bushes for largemouth.
But, no, I went to fish grass on the eldges. Mistake.
That doesn't mean that we didn't catch anything. After my first two spots didn't pan out, Alyse recommended we fish some wind-swept rip-rap. In short order, she bagged a solid 3.75 pound largemouth and had another identical fish come unbuttoned. I managed just one short fish on a PowerTeam Lures 7" Tickler.
We moved back up river to a similar wind-swept stretch of rip-rap. Alyse struck quickly with several short smallies on a Strike King Series 3 crank. After one pass, we had caught five or six fish but all were short.
A second trip down repeated the same results and Alyse finally asked if I was marking any fish. We were sitting in between 18 and 20 feet and casting very, very shallow. I admitted that I hadn't even looked at the graph but that the amount of short fish told me that maybe we were catching fry guarders instead of the big mommas.
So, I pushed the boat out a little bit and angled it so that I could throw a 6XD while she continued to throw the series three. This resulted in two measuring fish immediately. One was a very nice smallmouth and one was a measuring spot.
Alyse and I continued to get hits but all the measuring fish we hooked for the rest of the day came unbuttoned. We continued this pattern all day hoping to finish out the limit as we thought it was a tough day for everyone and 12 pounds may win. In between the measuring fish were tons of short fish. We caught a lot of 14 inch fish that just didn't measure. There is no doubt we were on a pile of mixed largemouth, smallmouth, and spots. Just couldn't get the big ones to bit, even when I slowed down and threw a C-rig.
In the end, we only had three measuring fish. That wasn't enough to be anywhere near the top and I believe I may have finished in dead last, something I am NOT used to doing.
What was more surprising to me was that everyone else didn't seem to have nearly as tough a day as we did and I am not referring to fighting the current and the oppressive wind. I believe nearly every boat weighed in at least 12 pounds with the winner sacking up 17!
Oh well. My wife caught her new personal best and we caught a lot of fish! I just wish I hadn't had to pay an entry fee to do it!
In the end, I only blame myself as I made life as difficult as I could have possibly done. I decided to fish swift current and high wind because I didn't want to do what I believed everyone else was going to do. Truthfully, after failing to limit out quickly, I really should have gone shallow.