I don’t have a lot to talk about this week as it’s been somewhat abbreviated. There are 53 steps from my back door down to the dock and early this week my knee couldn’t make but about 3 of the 53 steps. I’m still on track for a Friday Night Man Cave podcast and early this week I worked on the Man Cave remodel. Thankfully there is cortisone and I had gotten a shot in my knee last week so by Wednesday afternoon it was starting to give me some relief.
It seems like everywhere I’ve stopped over the last few days there’s been a 4lber chasing a blueback on the surface within casing distance not long after I pull up, but it no longer has any effect on me, and I just keep on working my little spybait. That 4lber is just like that hot chick at the club with all these pretty dudes trying their best to hook up with her, but they’re all shot down in flames. Their throwing out the best lines and dance moves, but nothing seems to work. I always called that group of guys the “WHA” (went home alone) crowd. There was another group of guys at the club, and they had another plan, it was the “GUE” (go ugly early) plan, and it almost always worked for those guys. That’s my plan this week, however short it was. I put my topwater bait away and I wasn’t going to be teased by the that 4lb hotty bass all thrashing around on the surface trying to eat that blueback. I didn’t drop what I was doing and grabbed my poppin, ploppin, walkin, splashing bait to throw at the hotty, I just keep right on cranking that ugly little spybait at the speed of a 3 toed sloth. There is no topwater approach to my target area this week and I’m going with the “GUE”.
I figured out a while back that the 4lber up on the surface chasing that blueback, she ain’t bitin what you’re throwing and she ain’t coming back. When she leaves the surface to go back down, she ain’t coming back. She gone. I’m talking gone as in “might as well be in the next county” gone. There’s little to no oxygen on the surface and the only reason she pushed that blueback up to the surface is that she knows the blueback is slower up on the surface in that warmer water and that blueback only has 180 degrees of area to move around in on the surface. She’s so focused on that one bait, she could care less about my popper or walking bait. She is laser focused on that bait and basically holding her breath because there is very little oxygen at the surface right now, so the fish are more inclined to stay closer to the thermocline.
It’s almost impossible for me to have success trying to call fish up with the topwater right now so I’m just working the spybait and not getting distracted by the surfacing single fish. Now, if a school comes up, it might be a different story, but I saw very very limited schooling when I was out. I can’t say what is going on before 8am because both Thursday and yesterday I didn’t get out till 8. The little g-fix 80 spybait has been about all I’ve used this week and I really can’t say it’s been on fire but the cool part about the little spybait this week was that most of my fish were nice ones. I didn’t catch numbers over the last 2 days but I did catch some quality fish. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a good medium/fast tip rod, a reel with a good drag system and the right line for the spybait. When you get all those things right and you get the correct retrieve speed on the spybait, you’re bound to have some fun. It’s not quite as fun as topwater but it feels pretty good when a big one loads up on the medium rod. Some of the bigger fish feel like a brick when they load up on the spybait. It’s a lot of fun, more fun than chasing around surfacing fish here and there.
I’m still moving around a lot and spending the bulk of my time out on the main lake. There is a lot of recreational traffic in the creek during the summer months and there are a lot of options out on the main lake without all the boat traffic to contend with. There has been wind to work with for the past few days, so I’ve been utilizing my spot lock function on my Minn Kota and setting up spot lock up wind of my target area. I’ve been fan casting the area and moving in before moving on. About 50% of my stops have been a wash for a nice one but every once in a while, I would pop a good one to keep me in the game. I always have my drop shot rod very handy and ready to drop if I see multiple fish under the boat. You can’t sleep on the drop shot this time of year and every once in a while, you can get some good ones dropping so don’t rule it out.
Who knows what next week will bring but for now I’m putting the bulk of my confidence in the spybait and a little bit of that Georgia Blade flutter spoon early in the morning. The lake level is dropping right now and we’re approaching 2 feet below full pool. Water temps are in the mid to upper 80’s and the corps is generating during peak usage periods in the afternoon and evenings. I put a short video below from one of my memorable spybait catches this week.
Several years back I wrote about a very valuable lesson I learned in complacency during my time in Navy boot camp. The story is here in my blog, and I think about it from time to time. I don’t think I have a bigger fear in my life than the fear of my own complacency. I’ve done things in my life that I would now consider fearless feats when I look back on those events, but the one fear I’ve always harbored is the fear of complacency. If you’ve never read the story “The Marching Party”, it’s here in my blog under the “Sea Stories” section and if you read it before reading this entry, this will make more sense. Here’s a link below if you want to check it out.
Sometimes I wonder how my life will end. I don’t dwell on it, but at times I wonder. I’m sure ya’ll have done the same. Will it be peacefully in my sleep or something else. I used to think about it during my time in the Navy and working around the jets. I always feared making a mistake that would turn out to be my last mistake. I tried to envision my last moments and what that might look like. I always would come back to the same conclusion every time; my last seconds would probably be filled with a cuss word or two when I recognized that I made the ultimate mistake.
Around a year ago a very legendary pilot was killed in Idaho during a routine flight. His name was Dale Snodgrass, and he was a retired Navy Captain who went on to perform at airshows flying various aircraft. He was a legend in the F-14 Tomcat community and if I’m not mistaken, it was he who was flying the aircraft in the picture above. I believe he had logged more flight hours in the F-14 Tomcat than any other pilot and his accomplishments were amazing. He had a list of accomplishments a mile long and some say that the character “Maverick” in the movie “Top Gun” was fashioned after Dale Snodgrass. Our paths never crossed during our time in the Navy and I really didn’t know much about him until I read about his aircraft accident and started reading his biography. The guy was incredible and had flying skills like no other. I can say this from my experience while working in the Tomcat community, you have to be tough to fly or maintain that aircraft. You have to respect the Tomcat and if you fly it long enough you’ve probably experienced a few flight emergencies at the minimum. The guy had to be tough as nails.
One of the most basic functions of a pilot and something that every pilot does before flying an aircraft is a “Preflight Inspection”. It is a requirement that has been in place for years and every pilot, from the smallest Cessna to the biggest commercial aircraft, every pilot is required to do a preflight inspection. Most aircraft have a preflight card or in the case of the Navy, a pocket NATOPS manual with step-by-step instructions for a preflight inspection. I have spent hours of my Navy career walking around the aircraft with pilots while they performed their required preflight inspection. In the Navy a lot of the rules and procedures were written in blood and over time, usually a short period of time, you recognize that in the Navy and you learn very quickly not to take shortcuts for ANYTHING.
In the case of Dale Snodgrass, he was at a small airport in Lewiston, Idaho when he climbed into his Marchetti SM.109 aircraft to take off. Shortly after his take-off the aircraft he was flying took an un-commanded roll to the left and subsequently crashed into the ground killing Dale Snodgrass instantly. It was a jolt to the aviation community. I’m sure there were a lot of folks just wondering what had happened to the aircraft. Was it a mechanical failure? A lot of questions. Just a few weeks ago the results of the accident investigation came out and it came down to a flight control lock that was still in place, locking the flight controls from being moved and basically rendering the pilot useless in the cockpit. What amazes me is the fact that the aircraft was actually in a takeoff configuration with the lock installed. The flight control lock is placed on the aircraft to prevent the flight controls being moved inadvertently and preventing the aircraft from flight. I’d almost bet the FAA has fixed that glitch in the system and like most, another fixed glitch was written in blood.
The official listing for the cause of the accident was “Pilot Error” as it was found that the pilot had failed to remove the flight control lock before flight. I recently read the results of the accident report and I also read a description of the cockpit voice recorder in another article. In the article it had described the last words spoken in the recording, and the description was of one or more curse words. When I read that, I thought to myself that it would have more than likely been my last words also. I would like to think that my last words would be more of a biblical nature but when I realized that I had overlooked one little step in the process, the reaction would warrant the words in frustration.
Dale Snodgrass was 72 years old and had over 50 years flying aircraft. He had spent a very long time defying the laws of gravity while Murphy’s Law was slowly creeping into his life. Just the fact that he spent 50 years flying various aircraft for thousands of hours is a testament to attention to detail and his own fear of complacency. I can still remember the words of my old Company Commander when he was lecturing me in boot camp. He said: “You know Farmer, in the Navy complacency can get you killed, or even worse, you’ll get the people around you killed. I want you to remember that“. He made very sure I remembered his point and he was right, I never forgot it. From that point on I had a fear of letting my guard down and forgetting something.
I no longer work around the jets, so complacency is now less of a concern that it used to be, but it doesn’t have to just be aviation for complacency, I see it every day out on the lake in boats. Boats are big and they go fast, just like the jets. I really need to be aware out on the lake and my biggest fear is getting complacent out there on the water nowadays. The story of Dale Snodgrass is an inspiration to us all and it’s also a lesson in respect and complacency whether it’s in the air, on the road or on the water.
First off, I gotta admit that I’m a climate change believer and if the climate didn’t change, I’d be worried…. unless I was back in San Diego or Hawaii, it seemed like the climate never changed there. Nonetheless, this week feels like my old sweaty friend Louisiana came up for a visit and brought me a gift of sweltering heat and 152% humidity. I could tell it was here by the humidity dripping from the Georgia pines at 5am when I stepped outside to let Chigger out for his morning pee. I’m pretty sure this is just a precursor to August when Louisiana comes back to town in the form of a tropical wave with biblical rains for days but it’s just some of the joys of living in the south.
This week was a tough one for me in terms of getting out on the water. I got sick late last week and thought it might be that mutated covid strain going around so I laid low for a while. Early this week my knee went all “bone on bone” pain and I met with my ortho doctor for options for the knee plus a pat on the butt and a yummy cortisone shot to kick the can on down the road for a few months. Ultimately, I’ll need to have the knee replaced but for now it’s just shots. The suspected mutated covid strain and the painful knee definitely slowed me down this week, but I was still able to get out and throw a few new baits that I haven’t tried in a while. Early this week I was thinking spoon, and not just any spoon but a big Georgia Blade spoon. Early in the morning there has been some wind out on the main lake and if there was a good chop on the water, I was throwing the big white pearl 5-inch spoon this week in low light and cloudy skies and then switching over to a chrome spoon if it was sunny. I like the 5-inch Georgia Blade spoon because I can cast it a mile with my bait caster and 17lb test fluorocarbon line. I made a video this morning and you can see the big Georgia Blade spoon in action in my “On the Cast Away Deck” video further down in this report.
Another bait that’s re-surfaced like another old friend this week was the emerald popper. It was probably my second-best producer this week coming in just behind the spoon. I used the popper in the afternoons over brush if there was some chop over the brush. If there was a small to moderate chop over the brush piles in 20-25 feet of water, I could call the fish up at times. It wasn’t a sure thing, but it seemed like the better popper bite has been the afternoon when these bass are chasing bluebacks on or near the surface. No big ones on the popper but some nice blow-ups during the week.
The third best bait I had this week was the G-fix 80 spybait in the American Shad pattern. It just seemed to net me some decent fish out on the main lake this week. If there wasn’t any wind to work with and I didn’t feel like throwing the spoon because of a lot of structure of brush in the area I chose to run the little spybait over the top of the brush. It was a great bait for numbers, especially earlier this week.
After I beat up the brush with the topwater and spybait stuff, I’m moving in for the kill with the drop shot. The drop shot has been the best for us in the afternoon and evening time but has been a little tough for me in the morning, so I’ve been sticking with the moving stuff in the mornings.
I’m planning to start changing my format a little bit and moving towards a podcast over the next month. My plan is to have videos from the current week or use some older videos from my YouTube page as a reference and narrate the videos from the man cave. I haven’t done a “On the Cast Away Deck” video in a few weeks so I made one this week and posted it below. The water temps were around 86-87 out on the lake this morning and the corps is generating in the afternoons through early evenings. Water level is 1.2 feet below full pool and dropping. Here’s a video of the tackle I used this week and a very nice fish I caught on a Georgia Blade spoon around the 8-minute mark.
This week we’ve been working down in the man cave to give it a little much needed makeover. Lisa and I are adding a few things and finishing out a few projects we’ve been planning for a while. I’m still working towards a podcast, and I set a few goals to get it off the ground. I’d like it to be on Friday evening from 8-10pm down in my man cave and I’d like to start the first podcast on the Friday evening just before the MLF Bulldog 2 day on Lanier. I’m pretty sure we can put together a show with a few guests that evening and we’d probably get a pretty good audience for the first podcast. I would like to cover my weekly report during the podcast and also have guests with reports and info on the lake. I’d also like to cover hunting and have guests that can talk about our upcoming hunting seasons and different topics concerning hunting. I’d like to put together a show in advance and have a video or two as a reference and a topic for our conversation during the show. Definitely we would have a Q and A for the guests and have a good time. It’s still in the planning stages and I’ve got a long way to go. Stay tuned…
My week started out on Monday morning, and it was a great morning for some good old fashion summer topwater. We had wind and we had cloud cover. It didn’t take me long to break out the white pearl walking bait for the win. If there was wind and brush on a main lake point or hump, I was running the topwater over the top of the brush. Usually there was an alpha bass guarding the brush or the crown of the hump and just a soon as I threw the bait around the hump the alpha bass was going to smash it. Usually, the alpha bass is the first bass to eat and the biggest bass around the brush to be caught. I caught a lot of smaller fish on Monday but here’s a nice sack of 5 topwater fish from Monday morning. I was probably using the topwater walker 75% of the time with the spybait being 25% and drop shot 0%.
Tuesday, I worked down in the man cave during the day and Lisa and I made a quick evening trip for some spybait/drop shot action. It was slow and boat traffic was heavy in the creek, but we managed a few on both drop shot and spybait. Here’s a couple of nice spybait fish that Lisa caught Tuesday evening.
Wednesday was a wash for me. I worked down in the mancave most of the day, but I did go out in the afternoon to throw the spybait and drop shot. Just a few decent keepers on both spybait and drop shot. Here’s a pretty cool pic from Wednesday.
Yesterday it was mainly spybait but I did still catch a few on the little topwater walking bait and the drop shot. In terms of percentages of baits and time used, about 50% of my time has been focusing on spybait with 25% topwater and 25% drop shot. Here’s a couple nice fish from yesterday.
Today was hot from the get-go but you know what they say, “if you can’t stand the heat get off the lake”. I could see from my living room window that the creek was flat as a pancake this morning and as soon as I got out into the wider parts of the creek it confirmed my suspicions. No wind anywhere so I had to make the adjustment and just leave the topwater on the deck and focus on the spybait. My plan was to work the spybait over and around offshore brush and drop shot if I see fish under the boat. I had made 4-5 different stops at points and humps out on the main lake, and I was making a few casts on a hump that had been producing a big fish or two for me lately. That’s when it happened. Now, there’s two different ways these bigger spotted bass hit my little spybait, it’s a nip here and a nip there until they get a little piece of meat snagged from one of the treble hooks. They usually come unbuttoned on the way to the boat when the little piece of meat tears and the big one swims away with a sore lip. Sometimes you can land these fish if you have your drag set properly, and the hook holds long enough to get the fish into the boat. That happens time after time with the spybait and I call those big fish the “nippers”.
The other way the bigger spotted bass hit my little spybait is what I call the “brick”. I call it that because when they hit the spybait it feels like the spybait just hit a brick. It’s a dead stop for a split second and then the fish goes into the routine. It’s like those big old bulls in the PBR rodeo. All of the bulls have their own little moves coming out of the chute. Some come out spinning and some come out bucking. The spotted bass has some moves too and in the case of this morning on that main lake hump, I hit a brick with some moves. The bass did what just about every big bass does, it headed straight back down towards the brush he came out of and as soon as I saw the trajectory of the line start moving downward, I knew it was a big one. That’s when I raise my rod tip to try and turn the fishes head up instead of down. If I’m successful in keeping the big fish out of the brush with a good setting on the drag, the fish usually comes shooting straight up to dislodge the bait and try and shake it while jumping out of the water. They may go through this routine a couple of times but this morning it didn’t work, and I managed this 4.14 pictured below to end my week.
Today it was about 75% spybait and maybe 25% drop shot but with no wind today the spybait was the best choice. I probably shook off 5-10 smaller fish boatside and had a couple close to 3lbs but after catching this one the 2-3’s looked like dinks. It was a great fish to end the week on and I only used 3 baits this week. All pictured above. It’s typical summer patterns for now. Water temps are in the mid to upper 80’s, the water level is about a foot below full pool and the corps is generated during peak power usage in the afternoon and evening. This weekend is the Poker Run on the lake and there a lot of very big and fast boats out there right now. Be safe this weekend!
Just a couple of things to cover before we get started with the fishing:
I’ve been thinking about starting a podcast for a while and I think we may pull the trigger on it soon. My neighbor has a podcast for his business asked me if I had thought about it for my fishing and offered to help. I think it would be great to have it in the Cast Away man cave and cover more topics than just fishing. I’d like to talk about a variety of topics, including hunting, fishing, sports in general, outdoor type activities as well as military topics and guests to tell their story. I’d like to invite different guests every week, whether it’s bass and striper fishing guides to promote their business or just folks that I find interesting and want to chat with. I’m open to ideas and suggestions to get it off the ground and I’d like to hear what you think…..
Secondly, chigger has been taken off the “seriously ill” home hospice list. He tried to bite Lisa and myself a couple days ago which means he’s back to normal. He’s barking at squirrels and turkey buzzards again and he’s eating well, so I think he’ll be around a bit longer.
Now to the fishing:
Speaking of seriously ill, topwater is on life support right now. Don’t get me wrong, you can still catch them on top, especially early or if you can find them schooling but I can definitely tell it’s slowing down considerably, and my friend Mike told me that a lot of the fish he’s seeing on Panoptics are coming up to about 5 feet below the surface before going back down when they see a topwater bait. That tells me that there isn’t good oxygen at the surface which means that if the fish do come to the surface they won’t stay there long. My friend Mitch Harper told me that the 3 second rule was in effect. If you can’t make a cast to a surfacing fish within 3 seconds of him going back down, he ain’t coming back up. Today it was more like 1 second but who’s counting. That’s where the Stealth stuff comes in.
Just after I retired from the Navy, Lockheed Aeronautics contacted me and ask if I would be interest in working on their F-22 stealth program. That was back when stealth was becoming a thing and I knew very little about stealth because there were no Navy aircraft with stealth capability. I agreed to go to work for Lockheed and I learned a lot about stealth and the need for it. There is a lot to be said for the element of surprise and being stealthy provides just that. This week I left the topwater on the deck for the most part and chose to sneak up on the brush and start out with the spybait all stealthy like. I found that if I approached the brush throwing topwater, the fish more than likely were not going to come up but what throwing the topwater did do was scatter the fish. The more I threw the topwater, the more the fish would scatter. It was like when the Army Air Cav blasted music approaching an area for attack. Blasting music from the choppers confused and scared the hell out of the enemy before they scattered into the trees. That’s what topwater is doing right now, for the most part it’s scaring the hell out of the bass, and they are scattered for the trees. For that reason, I have chosen the stealth approach and kept it quiet with the spybait and then after moving around the brush casting the spybait, I’m moving in with the drop shot. If I used this method this week, I caught more fish than if I started with topwater.
My week started on Sunday afternoon out at Man Pond. We caught some very nice largemouth including my buddy Will with a nice 7.5 on an ole monster. Here’s a pic.
Man Pond never disappoints, and I had a few nice ones myself but nothing like the 7.5. On Monday the 4th of July, Lisa and I got out on an early morning spybait/drop shot trip before the crowds got out and we caught some nice ones. Lisa and I were using the very same spybait, ghost minnow, but she caught 5 spybait fish from the back of the boat with me zeroing from the front on the same exact Spybait. Go figure.
Here’s a few pictures of our biggest from our trip on Monday including Lisa’s 4lber.
I really didn’t do much fishing until yesterday when I took my neighbor and his friend out. We just threw around the spybait and we caught 8 pretty nice fish for the morning, all on spybait. The bite died about 10;30-11:00 and we called it quits shortly thereafter. We had some great fellowship and talked about our faith in the Lord. David and Keith are great mentors when it comes to faith. Here’s a picture of one of my guests, Keith, a retired dentist and avid surfer as well as a few other sports. He’s still going strong, and I want to be as active as Keith when I hit 72.
Today I got out early in the morning, just after sunrise by myself for a little spybait and drop shot action. I caught fish on both and made a little video with a few fish and a quick report to end my week. Water temps are hoovering in the upper 80″ and the corps is generating during peak power usage and into the night right now. The lake level is a foot below full pool. Have a safe weekend. Here’s the video from today.
There was a period in my life in which I took a 10-year hiatus from fishing and my primary focus was on competitive distance running. Don’t get me wrong, I still fished during this time, but I spent the majority of my time running and training for distance races. I also played senior league baseball after moving to the Atlanta area which ate into my free time to fish for a few years but after the running and baseball was over, I was back at the lake fishing.This is the running years.
Running was a requirement in the Navy and early on in my Navy career I found out that I was way above average in running. The requirement in the Navy was to run one and a half miles in a minimum time depending on your age and sex. You were tested twice a year and I always did very well, finishing with a very good time every time I was tested. I’m not sure what they put in the water in Kansas, but it always seemed to me that the best runners were either from Oregon or Kansas.
It was around the mid-nineties, and I was stationed in southern Louisiana at Naval Air Station Belle Chase in another F/A-18 squadron at the time. I held the position of the squadrons Assistant Fitness Coordinator, and I was in great physical condition. Running was something I did just about every day to stay in shape and I felt like I was in very good shape for being in my mid-thirties while most of my counterparts were at least 5 years younger. I would usually run a few miles at a time when I had time, and I would usually just run along a one and a half mile stretch of roadway that led to the back entrance to the base. With the distance to our hanger and back, I was logging about 3 miles on a run just about every day.
A few of the pilots in the squadron invited me to a 6-mile run including 4 of those miles on an old unused runway obstructed from view from the main road close to the back entrance to the base. They told me that there was an old runway that was no longer used and that’s where we would be doing our run. These pilots were tall lanky distance runners and had logged quite a few marathons as well as triathlons over the years, but they agreed to run at my pace which really wasn’t that far off their pace, just double the milage. I agreed and we set out on a hot and humid afternoon run on an old runway surrounded by swamp. We made a lot of small talk and chit chat about the jets as they got to get a little inside look at life on the enlisted side of a squadron. Pilots were usually doing their own thing and there wasn’t a lot of fraternization with the pilots and enlisted folks but when I ran with most officers it was like the rank wasn’t a big deal. I showed them respect and they did the same for me. Our ranks were rarely a topic of conversation during long runs but topics like where we grew up or some of the past experiences we had while in the Navy usually dominated our conversations. Believe me, when your running distance, unless you’re running a very fast pace, there’s always plenty of time for conversation.
In distance running it was always a constant battle with my body for the first few miles of a longer run. My body needed to get into a rhythm before I felt comfortable. I always said that it wasn’t uncommon for me to look for a good place to rest in the first few miles of a longer run. The cool part about the first few miles of the run is that if I could fight the urge to stop and walk for a minute, the runners high would kick in shortly afterwards, usually around the 3-mile mark. From then on it was like putting my body on cruise control, it was just a matter of holding my pace and filling my time with something to keep me from getting bored.
After running a few times with the pilots, they asked me if I’d consider running for a military team competition in Pensacola, Fla., called “The Blue Angel Marathon”. The Blue Angel marathon was held every year in Feb., and it was approaching September at the time they asked me. They told me that we would need to train together for about 4 months prior to the marathon competition and we would be competing against other teams from all branches of the military. Pensacola in Feb. was usually pretty warm, and the course was relatively flat which seemed to attract quite a few top-notch running teams. They told me that the marathon course started on the Navy base but after a few miles on the base the course went through the city of Pensacola and out along the beach for a few miles before circling back through the city and then back to the base. The race was very popular with the locals, and it drew a lot of local support all along the route. It sounded like a fun race and I told them I would join the team.
We ran together and trained pretty hard over the course of the next few months but unfortunately, a few weeks before the race, when I was tapering in late January, I developed walking pneumonia in my right lung and had to drop out of the race. I was really bummed about missing my first marathon but as soon as my lung healed, I was back to running in late spring of 97. I started running smaller races in the New Orleans area before transferring to Dobbin Air Base in the Atlanta area in July of 97.
Once I checked into the base and started my new job, I quickly became the Assistant Physical Fitness Coordinator for the Naval Air Station and put together a daily fitness plan for the personnel assigned to the Navy base. I also managed a group of sailors who were out of Navy standards and my job was to get them back into shape before the next physical exam cycle. I spent a lot of time at the gym, and I also liked to incorporated weight training for core strength in my training plan. My weight training wasn’t to bulk up, but it was to tone and work a lot of important muscle groups for distance running. The base had a running trail, and I would begin my runs at the base gym and often times it would be with a small group of runners. We would run 1-2 miles a day on the little base trail, but my real distance runs were always off the base.
The first place I ran distance after moving to Marietta, Ga., a northern small suburb of Atlanta, was the “Cheatam Hill Battleground” and the “Kolb Farm” area in Cobb County. My new home was just a few miles down the road from Cheatam Hill, so it was very easy to go for a quick 5-mile run. If I could recommend one place above all other places to run in this area, or train for a distance race, it would be Cheatam Hill and Kolb Farm. It was a big oval scenic trail run with hills and the trail was a distance of about 5 miles unless you wanted to go all the way to Kennesaw Mountain visitors center and back which made the run about 18 miles. If I’m not mistaken, you could add 2 more miles to the run by running up to the lookout center at the top of Kennesaw Mountain which made it an even 20 miles and my longest run when training for a marathon. That was my litmus test before tapering, and when you throw in all the steep hills of a 20-mile run, it was very challenging. I ran the 5-mile trail almost daily for the first few months after moving to the area. Not long after getting to Atlanta I learned of a big 10k race in Cobb County on Labor Day. The race was called “The US 10K Classic” and it was dubbed “the toughest 10k in the nation”. That sounded like my kind of race, so I trained hard through the months of July and August that first summer I was lived in Marietta. The 10K classic was tough because it was all up hill, and 6.2 miles of constant uphill will wear a body down very quickly. Down in Louisiana all of my runs were relatively flat but after moving to Ga. running took on a whole different meaning. It’s hard to get away from hilly ground around the Atlanta area so most of my runs, either training or a race, involved hills.
I ran the 10K Classic that first year in 97 and it was everything it was advertised to be, it was tough. My body did very well at the 10k classic, so I found other local races to run, and I continued to train as my ultimate goal was to compete in the Blue Angel Marathon in early 98. Most of my training runs were on trails out at Kennesaw Battleground but I occasional ran over in East Cobb along the river. There was a 3-mile loop along the river and there were a lot of runners as well as bikers that used the trail on the weekends. The river trail was actually busy with people walking biking and running so I could always people watch while I was running. Another place I liked to run was the Silver Comet Trail down in South Cobb. It was an area that was flat, very scenic and it ran for a very long stretch of miles. Once again, the trail was well used so I could always people watch during my runs. One other place I like to run was the Big Creek trail. I was a member of the Alpharetta YMCA and there was access to the Big Creek trail, which was paved, right there next to the parking lot of the Y. The Big Creek trail runs for miles and actually starts up here in Cumming and runs down to and through Alpharetta now. The trail runs along Big Creek and there are miles of scenery along the way.
Although running was always something I could do to clear my mind and sort out my issues, running was also boring to me unless I made it interesting. I would carry a Walkman with an arm strap on most of my runs and I could listen to music. I also wore an iPod in later years, and I could load my favorite tunes for a distance run. As I got more seasoned with my longer runs, I planned out my runs and I would load enough music on my iPod to not only listen to, but to also help me keep on my desired pace.
Training properly was a big thing for me when preparing for an upcoming race. If it was a shorter race like a 10k I trained for speed. Not only would I train on hilly trails, but I would also incorporate a day every week devoted to interval and gate training. If you want to get faster at distance running, interval training is the only way to better your times. It was very painful but a necessary evil when training for a race and figuring out my target pace. If it was a long race like a half or full marathon, I would focus on distance rather than speed. A full marathon takes about 4 months to properly train for the race and the milage increases every week until the last few weeks when you taper. By late 97 I was forming my first marathon team by soliciting runners in my weekly article in our base newspaper. I wrote an article in a weekly sports column on health and fitness, and I put together a team for my first Blue Angel marathon. I also put together a support group that was comprised of a medical staff and a few select folks to stage along the marathon route for support and drinks if we needed them. We did well and finished 3rd in 98 and the glass trophy you see me holding below was placed in the captain’s trophy case at Naval Air Station Atlanta. This was our first NAS Atlanta marathon team.
Our base Captain really liked the idea of the base having a running team and to him it promoted fitness and a healthy lifestyle for our base personnel. Shortly after the first marathon in 98 I started running more local races and I usually wore a Navy shirt to promote the Navy in our local area during the race. I would chat with a lot of other runners about the Navy and often times I would give my Navy t-shirt away to a younger person along the route towards the finish line. I’m not sure how they liked receiving a sweat soaked Navy t-shirt from a runner but maybe they kept it. I never like running with a shirt on, but I like to promote the Navy in our area and a lot of times I would get positive comments from spectators along the route.
In the early fall of 98 I started soliciting for another marathon running team in the base newspaper and we actually put 2 running teams together for 99. We finished 2nd and 4th in Feb. 99
I ran a lot of local races in our area as well as traveling to races around the south but a few most memorable races I ran was the Hog Pen Hill Climb in Helen Ga. in the dead of winter. They don’t have that race anymore, but it was the toughest race I’ve ever run. It was 18 degrees when the race started in downtown Helen, Ga. and ended 10 miles later at the top of Hog Pen Pass. It was the only race where I experienced frozen chest hair and two frozen streams of snot beneath my nose. This was me during the last hundred yards of the race.
Another was the Atlanta Track Club Ekiden relay marathon race. I ran the anchor leg for the Georgia Power team that year and we took 1st place. I’ve always said that it was the best race I’ve ever run. It was a marathon relay, and I was asked to run the final leg of the race. I was representing Georgia Power which was entered into the large corporation division and a very competitive division for the race. I was actually dating one of my teammates and she was one of the engineers that worked for Georgia Power at the time and I was looking to get an engineering job there after retirement. Team Home Depot had some pretty good runners and seemed to always win in the large corporation division, but we foiled their plans in 2000. My other 5 teammates kept us close for most of the race and when I took over the final leg, only the Home Depot team was in front of us. I knew exactly how many minutes they were leading me, and I did the math to figure what kind of pace I needed to run to pass them before the finish line in a little over 7 miles. To me it was just another 10k race and I was able to pass the Home Depot runner with a couple hundred yards to spare. As soon as I passed him, I knew he was spent and couldn’t hold my pace so he drifted back. I won the race; Georgia Power had their winners’ cup from the Atlanta Track Club, and I kept the blue ribbon and a winner’s cup from the race. Here’s a few pictures from the race and our team.
Another race that really sticks out in my mind was the 2002 Blue Angel Marathon. It was the year that our team from NAS Atlanta won the race. We trained hard that year and we finally broke that winners curse that haunted us since 98. My good friend Rob Tomey did a lot of training with me over the years and only fitting that he and I were teammates when we won. Another teammate and good friend of mine over the running years was my old Maintenance Officer in my last squadron, Rudy Chavez. He was just a bit older than me but could usually outrun me in shorter races but not the marathon. We logged a few thousand miles together and competed in a lot of races with and against each other. In 2002 Myself, Rob, Rudy and one of our squadron pilots won the Military Branch division of the Blue Angel Marathon and our teams was put on the Naval Station Pensacola’s Captain Cup. I had reached the pinnacle of my running years. We presented the Naval Air Station Atlanta Commanding Officer the first-place plaque to place in his base trophy case. Here’s few pictures from the race including the Commanding Officer from Dobbins and the Commanding Officer from Pensacola.
Once we won the race in 2001 I went on to run races, including the Blue Angel Marathon up until my last marathon in 2004. By that time, I was fighting a bulging disc in my lower back which was very painful when I ran distance. Ultimately the disc ruptured, and I quit running after surgery and my doctor advised me to find another sport. I still played softball for the Naval Air Station for a few years and also played senior league baseball for a team in Duluth. Playing baseball in my 40’s was a dream come true for me but after all the running, softball and baseball I just enjoy fishing now but I’ll never forget my running years.
This week my report is just a little different and I want to share a few personal things before I get to the fishing. First Lisa’s son Mark and his soon-to-be bride Amanda are tying the knot tomorrow and we’re all pretty stoked around Cast Away Cove. We’re all very happy for them and starting a new life together. Secondly, a little update on our little dog Chigger. He fell pretty ill a few days ago and we were all but certain we were going to have to put him down today, but that little joker bounced back this morning and started eating and drinking again. He had been checked out for the last 3 days and just paced day and night. He hadn’t recognized me for the last 2 days, but he knew who I was this morning. I really believe that some new foreign chicken snacks we gave him made him very sick. We’re not out of the woods yet but hopefully he’s on the mend. Lastly, every once in a while, I run into someone who thanks me for writing reports, answering questions and making videos to help others on our lake and I really appreciate the kind words. A neighbor thanked me just a little while ago out on the lake and I told him the good Lord asks us to live our lives in service to others. I believe you can find it in the pages of Matthew and Peter and among other places throughout the Bible, but we all need to be in service to others in some way whether it’s at your everyday job, first responder, serving in the military or writing fishing reports. I really enjoy what I do, and no thanks are necessary. Now on to the fishing.
This week actually started last weekend, right after my last report when I had a chance to get out for a while to try a few new baits. LJ, from Lanier Baits hooked me up with a few of his new hard swimmer prototypes so I put the chrome swimmer to work. I had it tied on when I was out throwing a spybait on the main lake when a few fish started schooling beside the boat. I had the video camera rolling so here’s my first cast with the hard swimmer and another fish a little later in the morning.
Here’s a couple more fish from my trip with the hard swimmer.
Another bait I was throwing off and on that morning was the spybait. Once again, I had the camera rolling when I boated a nice 4.3 on the spybait and I also added some instructional stuff to the video as well as a cast to catch video of the 4.3 at the end of the video. Here’s the video and a picture of the 4.3.
No fishing on Monday so I was back at it Tuesday morning and I was actually greeted with some wind in the morning. I’ve been saving this one bait for a nice windy day and that bait provided me with a lot of fun last year, so much fun I wore the chrome off the old one last year. That bait was the 120 chrome Choppo. I tied that sucker on Tuesday morning and slap wore them out in the wind all morning. It was a steady retrieve with no ripping necessary and I had at least one fish boated at every stop. I tried the same thing with my ghost choppo pattern, and I also tried a solid shad pattern choppo 120 but the only one the fish would react to was the chrome choppo. It was just like last year when I wore all the chrome off my last one. Unfortunately, this one broke off on a fish right before I was coming in Tuesday afternoon, but I’d venture to guess the chrome choppo 120 accounted for 20+fish. Here’s a few from the morning.
Wednesday, I had a doctor’s appointment, so I didn’t get out till lunchtime, and it was brutal hot with little to no wind. I didn’t stay long and only took a couple of pictures, but I was starting to put something together. Here’s a couple from Wednesday. I also did pretty well with the smaller fish in the afternoon on the spybait. The spybait always does better in the afternoon.
By yesterday morning I started figuring out that these fish wanted chrome. I had a few z-dogs in a chrome pattern, so I tied one on just to see if I was right and sure enough, they went after the z-dog in chrome while denying other topwater baits. I tied the Casper shad pattern on, and they were not interested in that or a solid bone color, but it was obvious that they wanted the chrome. I had caught them on the chrome hard swimmer and the chrome choppo earlier in the week, so it only made sense that they were attracted to the chrome and the success with the chrome z-dog just proved it. Here’s a few pics of some of the fish and the chrome z-dog I was using this week.
I may have another video to put out this week with more of the hard swimmer catches. It’s been a good option for me off and on over the past week. Here’s a pic of the hard swimmer.
In terms of bigger fish, I would have to say that the best bait this week was the chrome 120 Choppo when there was wind and bigger chop, the little g-fix spybait for the flat/calm water, especially in the afternoon. If there was a small to medium chop, I used the little chrome z-dog. They would also come up a whack that little z-dog even when the wind would die down at times. Lastly, I was dropping a little bit with Blue Lily this week. No big girls on the drop shot this week but it’s coming soon. Water temps are hovering around the mid-eighties and the lake level is approaching a foot below full pool. The Corps is generating during peak usage hours in the afternoon and evening, and I think the drop shot bite is picking up during generation periods. If you’re on the lake this week, be safe and good luck~!