Monday, August 21, 2017

Fishing Report for Wilson 8/19/2017

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I know that the vast majority of you read these reports to the info on catching fish and you aren't terribly interesting in my philosophical thoughts and ideas on bass fishing. So, if you are simply here for the where and how, skip to the bottom. If you want to have a thought provoking conversation (and I hope we will, that's why I have a comments section, so use it), then let's have one.

What's a lesson worth to you? Can you put a dollar amount on getting schooled? I can. $80 dollars. While I am not hurting for $80, donating money to your local club or wildcat hurts, even if it's just your pride. But I try to look at things for more than the dollars and cents. Rather, for dollars to sense.

What do I mean? 

Let's cut to the chase. 

Our club was on Wilson Lake this past weekend. You all know how I feel about Wilson. I have had the vast majority of my success and virtually all of my best bags (for what they are, I know) on Wilson. It's versatile in both techniques presented and what you can catch. The lake may be a ten minute run from end to end but it has some of the best large and smallmouth fishing on the Tennessee river. 

While I have had success for over 5 years on Wilson, I have really just started to learn the intricacies of this lake. Specifically, I am speaking about fishing this time of year. 

So I didn't practice any for this tournament. Why? Mostly because I took one trip 2 weeks before and didn't catch anything of value. Mostly because with the water temps and time of year, I knew that to have a legitimate chance to win, you have to fish the dam. While you MAY be able to catch some large fish elsewhere on the lake, you are essentially just looking for a limit and hoping to hit a hail mary. The dam, on the other hand, has the greatest concentration of big fish, but it means hoping for current and contending with that current as well as any other fishermen up there. 

But, this was a three fish tournament, which is about the number of bites I'd expect at the dam. TVA was predicting a 34,000 CFS average, which is a solid number. However, this time of year, TVA won't turn up the juice until around noon or one. Up until that time, they won't generate any current. I also know that on weekends, if there isn't' a demand on the system, they are just as likely NOT to turn on the turbines at all. I was fairly nervous about committing to the dam because Saturday, we had a mild-ish summer. 

Still, we had a plan. Get shallow early and fish some grass with topwater for a quick limit. Then, starting around 10, we would get in line at the dam and grind. We would commit to winning there, no matter what. 

We blasted off and headed to Shoal Creek which has the greatest concentration of grass. Josh began with a buzzbait and I used a Whopper Plopper because I wanted a hybrid bait that would combine buzzbait action with a top water walking plug.

Josh began getting hits immediately, but the fish refused to commit to it. In all, he had five hits but none made it to the boat. I didn't have a single hit on the Plopper. 

The sun rose and the bites stopped. We headed to a deep water point that Josh had caught several fish over three the previous week. Fishing shakey heads with PTL 7" Ticklers, he caught a two pounder. Meanwhile, I could not get fish to connect and when I did get two bites, but broke off on the hookset.

So let me stop there and say this: this time of year, you cannot miss fish. You just can't do it. You must do whatever you can to ensure success, whether that is triple checking knots, constant worrying over weak spots in your line, or letting fish eat your bait. 

We moved to the dam and found ourselves the sole bass boat there. Number nine and ten generators were running, but current was a paltry 13K. Josh fished a crank and I fished a PTL Swinging Hammer. This resulted in lots of drum, but no bass. 

Eventually, one of the best fishermen (and prob the best one on this lake) in our club came up to the dam. He fished for 30 minutes and left, which made me extremely nervous because he knows what he is doing. Eventually we abandoned the dam and ran to some bluffs. It was 11 now and we decided we needed a limit now. 

While we fished the bluffs (around 1230), we heard the siren begin to wail, signifying another turbine was being spun up. In retrospect, we should have quit what we were doing and gone back to the dam. 

Eventually, we put some intel (thanks, Wyatt. I owe you) I had to work and ran to McCarren Creek where we fished the middle of some pockets. After going hours without bites, we boated a trio of fish in the first five minutes. However, only one measured, though we both lost measuring fish. It's ironic that we lost fish because the other partner was currently fighting a fish, after going hours without a bite. 

With about 10 minutes to go, I finally boated a keeper on a C-rig. So, at least we had a limit. 

Naturally, we didn't win. But, the aforementioned fisherman DID win, but not at the dam. Second place, however, was caught at the dam by a good friend of mine. In talking with him, he informed me that exactly what I said would happen, did happen. 

When the siren went off and the current kicked out of number 11 turbine, the fish started biting. When they heard the siren, they got in position. In a matter of minutes, they put together a 10.5 pound limit with a 5.30 kicker in three fish. A very, very solid sack. It was the first time they had cashed a check in this club and I was very proud and happy to see them do it.

However, it meant that I had shared the winning pattern with someone, who had enough faith in me to stick to it, though I didn't have enough faith in myself. And that hurts, a lot. It was an $80 lesson but I believe it will ultimately prove to be priceless.

It's one thing if you haven't been practicing and you don't really have a lake pegged to call an audible or punt on a game plan. It's another when you have fished it a lot and you KNOW how the lake acts this time of year. 

We read magazines all the time about "trust your instincts" and "don't be afraid to try something new" or "call audibles." What you never read about (at least I haven't) is "listen and trust your experience and stick with a game plan you believe in."


Friday, August 11, 2017

Fishing Report for Wheeler/Ditto Landing 8/10/2017

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It took 2 months, but we finally figured something out. No one said we were the smartest guys in the world, but as Josh and I discussed our plans leading up to the Thursday night wildcat, we both came up with the same idea at the same time. The one spot we have both caught fish every time we have fished. What's funny is that each time we have fished this spot, just a few football fields from the mouth of Ditto, has been when we had largely given up. 

Each time we fished it, we gave it a little more time than the last. In fact, after weeks and weeks of being unable to catch a limit, we bagged and weighed our first one off of this spot.

You can read about our last few trips here:


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



So, when everyone blasted off, heading to the dam or wherever, we dropped the trolling motor and started casting. We weren't the only people who had this thought and just ahead of us was another boat who landed a keeper on the very first cast.

It didn't take us long to get on the board, either. Josh bagged spots off of a Strike King plug, but none measured. I was able to get a keeper in the boat on a PTL Bull Nose Jig with a Craw D trailer. Next cast, another one. Next cast, another fish. The problem was, few of these fish measured and those that did weren't big enough to matter.

Eventually Josh caught a decent fish on a crank and minutes later, I fought a three pound spot to the boat. Then disaster stuck. As Josh dunked the net, the fish made a last second jump and threw the jig, something fairly uncommon. 

All we could do was go back to fishing. That is until I set the hook on a fish and snapped about a foot off of my jig rod. 

After swapping lures for awhile, catching ones and twos on a Strike King crank, I picked the jig back up and went back to catching fish.

The key was an extending point of underwater rip-rap. These fish were right on the break down to 18 feet. 

After catching 20 in the first hour, we had a new issue arise. What looked like a dad and his two sons came down from the parking lot to bank fish. Mind you, the spot we were catching fish upon was tiny, despite fishing a long, long stretch of rip-rap that was accessible to the bank fishermen. Yet, even as Josh fought the 40,000 CFS current, they guys stepped even with the boat and proceeded to cast five different bottom bouncers. Some were behind the boat and some were ahead and even one right at us.

Initially, we asked where they wanted to fish so we could position ourselves to accommodate them. Either they couldn't understand us, or they didn't care. Try as we might, we hung their lines over and over. We politely asked them not to cast at both the front and the back, but to pick one. They didn't comply. 

It became a losing situation and we decided to move. We did find fish at every spot we stopped at that was similar to our initial spot, but nothing like the bite after bite. 

We tried to return to the spot, but the bank fishermen were still on the spot and we left them along.

We were surprised to find that our 6.80 was good enough for 3rd place. Of course, we also found out that the three pounder we lost would have put us in 2nd. And, we had to wonder if we could have beat the 10 pound sack had we been able to fish the spot all night.

It was our best day on the river this summer that resulted in around 20 fish, none of them over two pounds. Still, it was a lot of fun, though it did cost me a rod and Josh 4 Strike King cranks. The water was very stained and this current should make any current break money. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

College Fantasy Football Early Trends: QBs

I know all of you were waiting on me to put on some lists on sleepers, best picks, etc. Turns out, CFF is pretty small and even this seemingly small blog gets a lot of readers and I didn't feel like divulging many secrets.

How selfish of me, right?

Yeah, yeah. But I have a lot of money on the line. I'm playing in six money leagues right now with many of them having steep buy-ins. So, forgive me for selfishness.

Anyways, the first round of drafts are in the books and I thought I would talk a little about them, especially just the Power Five.

The first note that I have for everyone is that most leagues are going to a two QB system. This isn't new. The NFL fantasy world is also going to this en-mass. I think the main reason is that, as we have discussed earlier, there are about five elite QBs and their production is so overwhelming that it is almost impossible to make up the difference with elite players at other positions. With a two QB league, you can make up the ground as their are about 100 QBs that score between 20-25 points per game.

Still, beating an elite QB is possible and, to be honest, isn't that difficult. Yes, I understand that your chances against Lamar Jackson, week to week, was a nearly impossible task. But we are talking about winning a league, not winning a week. If you drafted smart and didn't fall for the mediocre QB in first and second round because everyone else did it mentality, you did well. Honestly, I finished 2nd in our 20-team league and I didn't draft a QB until the 7th round, but I digress.

It's no surprise that Lamar Jackson holds serve as the consensus number one Average Draft Position player in all of CFF. Everything points to him being that player, but I couldn't help but be wary of him, not that I had top pick in any draft, anyway. Was he the best fantasy player last year? Yep. Up until when people needed him the most: the playoffs. Luckily, most owners didn't have to burn first round picks on him last year. They did this year. Can you afford to struggle in week 12? Couple that with the history that literally every player like him has: trying to become something he isn't for the NFL draft. And, he lost some very, very valuable pieces around him. With Jackson, you are one hit away from flushing a season and that is a risk I couldn't take, but I understand.

Right behind him may be the biggest reach in all of CFF: Nick Fitzgerald. He sports a 2.74 ADP that is essentially all speculation and it is 100% due to the player ahead of him. Lamar Jackson. Look, I see what Fitz did last season. But, he caught the vast majority of teams by surprise after State started the year with a loss to South Alabama. He has to go on the road to UGA and Auburn in back to back weeks and that's after hosting LSU. People were just afraid of having him slip through the cracks and took him early. I get it. But, you could have waited on a very, very similar QB much later in the draft.

You know, like Jalen Hurts. Hurts ADP is 20 points behind Fitzgerald. I can understand why Hurts is at 20, just not why Fitz is that much higher. I get that Fitz had a lot more rushing yards and rushing TDs, but that is something that cannot be counted on, year to year. In addition, Bama is as stable as ever, despite losing Lane Kiffin and Bama has better weapons surrounding Hurts. Will that give Fitz an advantage when it comes to rushing yards? Maybe. And that's the risk you take, but a whole round isn't worth the risk to me.

Shea Patterson is another interesting reach. Though he played in only a few games (and played well), he is sitting as a back end first round or early second round pick. Considering the situation in Oxford, I just can't understand the move, other than assuming the Rebels are going to be playing from behind a lot. But, they are going to be playing behind to a lot of very good teams who aren't going to let him get a bunch of garbage time scores. In fact, the Rebels are more likely to pull the young star before letting him get killed. He is their future. Patterson is sitting at a ADP of 23, just under Hurts. Who would you rather have?

Plenty of people are putting their faith in offensive systems. It's interesting that Luke Falk is a known commodity in an Air Raid system (ADP of 7.5) and Nic Shimonek at Texas Tech is not, but the two are separated by about a round and only six places in terms of the position. Shimonek was drafted as a top-tier QB across the land without having done a thing yet.

No QB fell more in the draft that Kansas State's Jesse Ertz. Despite being a top rushing threat (1,000 yards and 12 TDs last season despite modest passing yards), Ertz slipped and slipped again during drafts. It appears that people saw the red flag by his name and turned a blind eye. Surprise, it was a separated shoulder and the senior is going to be ready to go. This is a guy who is projected for an average of 26 PPG but was drafted alongside guys a full touchdown less. He has a ADP of 137 and is a great risk adverse QB, thanks to solid rushing numbers.

Nobody seems to be willing to bite on transfers Blake Barnett or Malik Zaire. I can't say I blame them on that. 100% of leagues are taking a chance on Auburn's own Jarrett Stidham, your's truly included. Stidham sports an ADP around 114, not bad for a guy who hasn't proven anything. The former air raid QB from Baylor is just as likely to be the perfect mix for Auburn's run heavy offense as he is to be a footnote. He's a great flyer. He is not a 4th round pick. But, hey, I have an excuse. I'm a homer.

Best value? There are some guys much higher that you might have gotten for a good deal, but Austin Allen was a guy that you could literally leave until the 10th round and stock up on skill positions. Allen has been super solid at Arkansas. He isn't a game buster, but in leagues where you can have six or so RBs playing at the same time, it is much better to stock up on those guys and wait for a guy like Allen. Is he going to light up the top of the SEC? Probably not. But he is a 250-2TD guy all day long. His ADP is in the 200s. Just think about that.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fishing Report for Wilson 8/5/2017

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I didn't realize it had been so long since I checked it with everyone.  I've been pretty busy lately with softball, both our adult leagues and with our daughter. Now school has started back and since I get the kids on the bus each morning and get them off in the afternoon, there hasn't been much way for me to fish. Additionally, the fishing hasn't been great for me when I have gone.

That being said, it appears that it has been good to many of you that I see on the book of faces. Guntersville, in particular, seems to be doing well. Props to you all. 

Saturday was my wife's birthday and we had initially decided to sleep in. But, when we woke up and I asked her what she wanted to do, she wanted to go fishing. Since my next tournament is on Wilson, we loaded up and put in at Safety Harbor around 9AM. Yes, I know. Not exactly the best time to start rolling in to play. Plus, we would have to leave early for a softball double header. 

But, the current was decent (40,000 CFS out of Wheeler) and it appeared the right turbines were on (10 and 11). So, we headed up to the dam and started out throwing Strike King 5XDs. 

Now, I can't speak for everyone, but here's what I know about fishing Wheeler dam:

While you can catch 20 pounds elsewhere on this lake (and I've done it, as in this report), the dam is the only spot you can CONSISTENTLY do this. 

As a follow on, you can spend your whole day for five bites that can go 25 pounds and you can spend all day there for zero bites (from black bass) as well as any option including getting three bites for 15 pounds, etc. 

Regardless of whether you catch them or not, you are going to worn out, as is your trolling motor batteries, and you are going to lose lures. Like, lots of them. 

Ok, so we fished the first two hours without a single bite (from black bass, though we caught a couple of stripe and some drum). I noticed that I hadn't remembered to fill the boat up and it was sitting on about 1/4 tank, which meant I wasn't going very far. I had considered Shoal Creek, but it would be iffy if I could get there and back. So, we headed to Bluewater creek and fished some standing grass with a combination of froggin' and flippin'. We had a couple of lazy bites, but no real takers. 

We flipped some docks, getting a few more bites but mostly from bream. 

On the north side of the river, there simply wasn't enough shade so we moved across the river to the southside to find shade. Additionally, the  main channel runs much closer to the bluffs. Instead of it being 6 feet deep a cast length, it is more like 18-24 feet, which has been good for the fish. We also noticed that bait was much more plentiful on this side of the river.  None of this was particularly news, just that I had wanted to flip docks and there are about five total on the south side and 50 or more on the north side.

Anyway, the move paid off almost immediately and we began to get bit, but they weren't thumping our shaky heads with PowerTeam Lures 7" Ticklers. They were picking it up and running directly at the boat. I just couldn't catch up to them.  These are usually your very small smallmouth. Eventually we did get one bigger fish in the boat, but far from the 5-pounder I wanted Alyse to catch. 

Unfortunately, we had a boat roll up on us at the one 10 yard stretch we were getting bites. It was totally ok with me. It was a man and his son and I told them the fish were biting here and I was going to move. So we headed back to the dam where I told Alyse we would finish out for the day. Even if we only got one bite, I was ok with it as long as it was a big one.

Unfortunately, the one black bass bite we had WASN'T a big one. But at least Alyse quasi-boated a bass on a 5XD.

We did, however, get into the drum. And, while it isn't glamorous to catch drum, it was awfully fun. We caught around 10-12 and each one was pushing 20-25 pounds apiece. 

It did costs us around 8-10 Strike King plugs, though. That kind of hurt.

Stinks to grind away without finding them, but that's how it goes. I talked to some others who were fishing and they seemed to find them. I admit that every time I looked up, I was the only one around, so maybe that explains the struggle.