Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fishing Report for Wheeler/Ingalls+First Creek 7/15/2017

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After a month off, our club was set for our July tournament out of Ingall's Harbor on Wheeler. Last year, our club fished this tournament a month later, almost to the day. That day ended up being pretty good to me and Brad as we left Decatur and made the long run to 1st Creek. 

You can read about how Brad and I cashed a check after calling some audibles. Just click the link below. 

Fishing Report for Wheeler 8/19/16

So, I haven't written a report over our prefishing, for several reasons. First, the fishing hasn't been good, like, at all. It's been putrid. 

Secondly, because a lot of our competition reads my fishing reports and what we did find (which wasn't much) was really, really specific and we needed the edge. 

So, let's back up a week. A week before our tournament, Brad and I put in at First Creek as Decatur has been the Dead Sea. We fished our typical points and pockets on the main river and found that while we could catch fish, they were really, really sporadic and none of them were big. What we did catch was on Pop-Rs and PTL 7" Ticklers. We moved up river to Mallard and Fox, attempting to find some fish in the grass, but didn't get a single bite.

So, we began working ledges. We found one ditch just down river from the powerlines at Brown's Ferry that was holding fish. Over an hour, Brad caught around five fish with the largest being a 3-pound smallie. With the current being a solid 60,000CFS, I was unable to get my shaky head into the strike zone and relied on a Strike King 6XD, which resulted in a keeper or two. In all, our best three fish would have gone about six pounds. Not enough to win, but perhaps enough to cash a check.

Two days later, I took my wife back to one of our spots on the main river. There has been a large log that has been lodged in the bottom for the last two years. With the heat and sunlight, the bass were grouped tightly to this log and as long as I could get my shaky head to drop vertically on top of it, I caught fish. You can read that report by clicking the link below. Another day, another six pound limit. 

Now, I know a 6-pound limit isn't something to rely on. But at this point, numbers weren't a problem. Size was. We felt like if we kept chipping away, we would eventually find quality.

Josh and I went out together and Brad went out solo on the 14th. Josh and I covered Spring Creek while Brad checked our ledge. The ledge produced seven fish, but no keepers. Josh and I struggled to get bit all day, but did manage three bites for around 7 pounds. That included a nice four pounder on a Pop-R I caught on the Spring Creek bridge. Josh added two fish, one on a swim jig and one on a shaky head. Current was around 16,000 for most of the day but went to 30,000 about the time we started getting bites. Brad verified that as well.

So, Saturday came and it was tough to get out of bed at 3:30 for the second day. Turns out, that heat really takes it out of you. Regardless, we made it to the ramp, dunked the boat, and had to make a decision: do we take a chance on the ledge without current and hope TVA turns it on? Or do we go to where there are always fish, but maybe not MEASURING fish?

We decided on the latter and ran down to First Creek. We knew the story: we should get Pop-R hits in the first five casts and we had to make sure they stuck. Problem is, those smallies have trouble with the Pop-R. We missed a couple of hits, moved to the next point, missed a few more. We caught several short fish. Then they quit biting. 

So we moved into the 1A part of fishing that area: fishing the log jams in the back of the cuts and pockets. This quickly resulted in our first keeper of the day, a one pounder on a 7" Tickler in Pumpkin Seed with Purple Flake. Ok, so we are on the board and 1/3rd the way there. 

Hours went by. We ran the points. We ran up to the power lines. Nothing. Now, we knew that TVA wouldn't start generating until noon, if they did at all. So, we had to make a choice: do we sit there and hope? Or do we try and find something else? Do we run back to First Creek? We decided to go back where we had bites, and it was a good thing too because TVA never turned the current on. It stayed at 17,000 all day, which is half of what we needed.

We stopped at a cut I've caught multiple nice smallies on and, wouldn't you know it, there was one there. Boom. Nice two pounders in the boat. 

And then we spent the next few hours trying to find another keeper. We caught fish. Just nothing that kept. The best chance we had came when I flipped a shaky head over a lay down that Brad had just been bitten on. Fish nailed it, then wrapped me up. I tried to get the fish to swim out, but it never would and eventually it broke. 

With only two fish, we headed back to Ingall's. I had just one more trick up my sleeve: a rock pile inside the marina. 

And, wouldn't you know it, both of us caught a measuring fish at 1:58. So, at least we had a limit.

It wasn't enough. We weighed in 4.80 but the winning sack was just over 6 pounds and 3rd was 5 and change. I ain't even mad. It was a terrible day for everyone and anyone could have caught a big one to win it all. Hardly anyone had limits. Everyone struggled to catch anything. I was glad to say I caught 10 fish over the course of the stupidly hard day.