Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2017
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."