Saturday I fished the morning tournament out of Fate Sanders from 730 to 2:30 pm. This goes down as one of the most frustrating tournaments for me(although there are quite a few of them… lol). For some reason only 5 boats showed up, but they were all good sticks on the lake. I felt to beat them I needed 15 to 20 pounds, which in reality I only needed 17.5lbs to win. The water temperature surprisingly was 50ﾟ at the marina. Before the cold front hit early last week it was 53-54 and after the cold front with the temperature in the sixties Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I thought the water temperature would get backup to 53-54, but it did not.
I hoped the river was a little warmer than at the marina so we started way up in the river where we’ve been catching some good bass three bends up from Jefferson Springs ramp. This is the flat on the left where there’s a couple PVC poles. The water was down over 1.5ft and all the stumps were exposed. I knew if the water temperatures was ok I only needed a foot of water, but I found the water to be 50.3ﾟ…….which was too cold for a spook bite. My 1st pass down the flat around the isolated would I tried my spook without any action. I picked up my Alabama rig without any activity is well. I motored down lake 100 yards to the end of the bluff wall on the other side of the channel and fished the transition of boulder rocks to sand. A marked a few fish and lined up where I could make parallel cast with my Alabama rig in 10-12′ of water. The first couple long cast I was getting bites, but could not hook up. I was encouraged they would get fired up and we could start swinging keepers into the boat. We fished for 20 minutes and the bites slowly diminished. Before it completely quit my partner caught a 2lb on his Alabama rig!
I decided to go up to the West Fork blown out bridge. When I arrived I noticed the water temperature was 56 degrees!!! We fished the blown out bridge with no activity except for one keeper bass on the right rocky point on my Alabama rig in about 5′ of water. This fish was 2 pounds. I was so excited to see 56ﾟ after we fished the blown out bridge we cruised way up into the West Fork to the Nissan plant. This is 3 bends passed the West Fork boat ramp.
We fished our way up to a flat full of stumps. We caught a couple short fish around some fallen trees. When we arrived to the flat the water had 1ft visibility. I started casting my spook around the isolated stumps and quickly picked up a short bass where there was water trickling into the lake from all the rain. Next to the flowing water was another stump. I cast my spook over and caught our 3rd keeper, 2.6 pounds! We started casting to every piece of wood that we could find and not 15 minutes later I cast to a stump way out in the middle of the channel and got smashed by a giant bass! I set the hook and watched, what I thought was a smallmouth, jump out of the lake 3 times! I finally got him to the boat and we netted a 5.09 largemouth!!! Now it was not even 2 hours into the tournament and we had four fish for 12 pounds! We continued fishing the flat up a couple 100 yards with only one other blow up that missed the bait…maybe a 3-4lb! The current was very strong and after we fished a couple 100 yards we idled back down and did the whole thing again. The 2nd pass we did not have a bite! Hindsight I should have stayed in the area fished my spook on different areas of wood and tried plastic worms, spinnerbaits, and other lures cause I knew the fish were there. However, I thought if I were to try the back of Spring Creek(on a cloudy rainy day) I could catch a couple keepers.
So I cruise to the back of Spring Creek and stopped at the finger coves and grabbed my spook. I fished the flat across from the finger coves where the water was 57ﾟ with less than a foot visibility due to the muddy water entering the lake. Fishing the flat and the boulder rocks that come out the next 50 yards I caught 3 very quickly that were all short. I couldn’t believe we did not catch a quality keeper their. We fished several of the points on the other side of the channel on the way out……never caught a keeper.
Again, I figured I could head to Stewarts Creek, fish the stumps in the back, surely I’d catch a couple decent fish maybe a couple 4 pounders. When we got back there the water as 58ﾟand still cloudy and raining… it was perfect. I fished all the stumps, around the boat ramp, near the riprap, the rock hump, and never had a single bite! With 2 hours left I couldn’t believe I was sitting in that situation, but still confident.
I cruised to Sister Cove and tried buzzbait on the left bank. The water temperature was still 50. We tried buzzbaits in 1-2ft while we sat in 3-4ft for 5 minutes until we realized the waves were too strong.
We motored back to Stewarts Creek, but fished the main point on the left at the mouth. Casting black 1/2oz Hoppy’s buzzbaits, chartreuse and black squarebill crankbaits, and green/white Heddon spooks we fished the boulder rocks in 1 to 3′ of water on the bank…. Nada.
With an hour left we tried Alabama rigs on the bluff wall under Weakly Lane bridge. We went down 50-60 yds without a single bite and decided to pull up the trolling motor.
Our last spot was back in Stewarts Creek(out of the wind), but we did not go to the back. We stayed at the narrow part of the channel and fished the little bluff wall on the left and the cypress tree point on the right. I had one bite on my Alabama rig that did not take on the bluff wall and that was it. We finished on the long point that comes out across the channel from the Stewarts Creek boat ramp. Sitting in 20′ and casting into 2 to 3′ with buzzbait, spooks, crankbaits, and Alabama rigs I still felt confident we could catch a nice 3-5 pounder. I had one bite on my Alabama rig that did not hook up, but that was it. We heading in for the day.
We fished the last 5 hours without catching another keeper after having 12 pounds the first 2 hours! I love this sport, but it drives me nuts. We had potential of catching 18, 19, 20 pounds, but it just never developed. It seemed like the guys down lake were catching more on shad raps and a-rigs. 17 pounds won, 16 pounds was next, 14 pounds was third and then us at 12lbs.
I’m a river rat. I love the river. How it turns and bends with stumps and flats…… it’s how I grew up fishing. However, as far as competing goes, I get tired of getting beat by guys down lake…..so it’s a toss up. At the end of the day you gotta do what your strength is and most confident. It has prevailed twice in a BFL and ABA tournament so I need to remember that. I’ll be out this week Wednesday and then next week I have a tournament Wednesday and Saturday so hopefully the table turns and we can get that big sack!
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