Saturday I fished the ABA tournament in the pouring rain from 5:45 to 3 p.m on Old Hickory out of Sanders Ferry. The day before I practiced way up in the river past Spring and Bartons Creek to try my buzzbaits on the main channel. That’s what I normally like to do this time of year and hoped it would work in this tournament. However, that was not the case. The water temperature was 60-62 and ripping through the channel. I only caught three short fish and decided making the run up there all the way from Sanders Ferry was not worth it. So I just went fishing on the tournament day and try different things. Ultimately, what I learned was anywhere near the main channel where the water was 60-62 you could not get a bite. You had to be back in the big pockets, coves or creeks where the water was 65 to 70 degrees. I tried Cedar Creek Marina fishing with spinnerbaits and sinko’s catching one short bass and one giant crappie and then missing three on the riprap with a Texas Rig lizard.
I also tried Bluegrass Cove. I started on the right point heading in and fished from 2 to 12 feet of water with a shaky Head and then up shallow in 1-3 feet of water with a buzzbait without any action.
I also fished all the wood across from the barges just passed Flippers. I tried to force feed the bass my black Hoppys buzzbait in the shallow current, but the fish were not having it.
I tried the creek just passed Johnny Cash’s house on the left. I fish with shaky heads, spooks, buzzbaits in the 62 degree water…I wasted another hour.
It wasn’t until 12:30 when I started catching fish. I went into the cove just before Shutes Branch where all the sailboats are on the right bank. I fished the riprap behind the sailboats with a shaky head and a Texas Rig lizard without any action. When I reached the back of the cove I came to shallow grass in 1 to 2 feet of water. You got to remember at this time it had been raining cats and dogs for 7 hours. I picked up my spook start casting to the grass…..boom… I got my first bite and landed a 1.75lb keeper. I threw back into the same area….. boom….caught a short bass. A couple cast later I had a quality blow up maybe 3lbs right near the boat. I figured I’d come back and try to catch him later. 30 yards further down the bank a 2lb swallowed my bait in 1ft next to a shallow grass patch. I netted and threw him in the live well. I continued further down and had another quality 3lb blow up on my spook twice and missed it each time! I couldn’t believe I had missed two that could be 3lb each. I went down further and where I thought it was getting too shallow in 1.5ft I threw up to some grass and watched a 4lb come out of the water and swallow my spook! I set the hook and felt him shake his head 3 times, knowing this was the fish I needed to get in the boat. It was about that time the fish unbuttoned and frustration set in. I couldn’t believe I’ve lost maybe 10 pounds of fish in the last 30 minutes. I went back and forth on this bank for an hour missing one more fish.
With 30 minutes left I cruised to Shutes Branch Cove and fished the far left bank where there’s boulder rocks that come out near the ramp. First 5 minutes I caught a short fish followed by my 3rd keeper…1.5lbs. I knew I was on the right pattern. The water temperature was 68 degrees, the fish were aggressive and eating my favorite lure.
Nevertheless, time ran out and I only had three keepers for 5lb. I felt like if everything went perfectly I could have had 13lbs or more(that’s what won), but that’s the way goes. I definitely learned when the main river has cold current in the spring to stay away from it!
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