The Right Chop to Pop and Spybaiting

I got out a few days last week and was able to find a few on topwater, spybaiting and dropping. Right now the topwater bite is the big ticket item for me so that’s what I’ve primarily been doing. I’ve been using my little emerald popper to catch them but just about any surface disruption bait works right now. I’ve been catching some doubles lately and that tells me a couple things, one, the bass are hungry and two, the bass are competitive. Here’s my philosophy about topwater baits right now on Lanier.

The bass are feeding on bluebacks that they have pushed to the surface. They have probably singled out one little blueback and they are relentless in there pursuit to get that little blueback. If you’ve been out lately you’ve probably seen this going down on the surface in the form of a bass chasing a skipping or fleeing bait on the surface. If you watch and listen you can hear the noise the bass makes when he’s attacking the bait. I try and emulate that noise with my popper and if you’ve watched my videos, it’s been working out well and I think I’ve got that noise down to a science. Right now the bass are very competitive so if they hear that noise they think another bass is chasing a bait and they have no problem trying to steal that bait from their buddy. That’s why you see more doubles being caught on one lure right now. Another thing bass do right now is follow wakes to the source. If you’ve ever watched a blueback swim on the surface they create a wake, bass can see this wake and they will track it to the source, thinking it’s a blueback so I use a combination of waking and popping. With my little popper, I put a dressed hook on the back and tied up holographic Krystal flash on the hook for added attraction.

Now, here’s where the chop comes in. Here’s one of my biggest tips I can give you about surface fishing and bass, if you want more success with your topwater, find a light chop, whether it’s a point or over structure, position your boat up wind of the chop and throw down wind over or across the point or structure and make your retrieve against the grain of the chop. This does two things, it makes the pop and wake more exaggerated and easier for the fish to see as well as distorts his view of your lure, more so than fishing calm or glassed over water. Another thing fishing up wind gets you is a longer cast and let’s face it, the more time that little bait is in the water the more chances of catching a fish. Here’s a video from earlier this week and a 2 hour afternoon run. You can see the chop and how I work the popper.

If you would like to try your hand at Spybaiting here’s a little info on my setup.
I’m using 7lb Sunline FC Sniper flouro on a spinning rig with a medium heavy rod. No leader, just straight up flouro. I primarily throw the 90 size but if you’re fishing the smaller 80 size you might want to use a medium fast action rod. For a rod I recommend the Enigma Aarons Edge. Enigma uses a different design that most rod manufacturers, it’s lighter and you get a longer cast from that design. I’m on Enigma’s Pro Staff so if your are interested in an Enigma rod, I can help you get a little better deal. I’ve lost very few spybaits this year even though I primarily fish it around and over offshore structure. Whether it’s a crankbait or a spybait, I hold the rod loosely in my hand when retrieving it and if I feel resistance it’s one of two things, either I have a fish or a snag. At any rate, I just gently reel down, if it’s a fish you’ll know because it feels way different than a snag. If I feel the fish head shake, I reel down even faster but I DON”T SET THE HOOK in any fashion. If it’s a snag and you don’t want to loose that $15 lure, don’t panic or try to jerk it out of the snag, just keep minimal pressure on the line and move your boat to the other side of the snag and chances are it will come out. If you’re holding the rod loosely and it snags, chances are the hooks won’t bury too far in the snag and just re-positioning the boat to the opposite side works almost every time. To me, $15 is a lot of money for a lure so I try and make sure I don’t loose it. I also check the first 3-4ft of my line a lot. Especially if I’m catching a lot of fish on it. It can get scuffed up after a few fish and with flouro you don’t want any scuffs or nicks.

Stop, Top and Drop 7-24 to 7-30 Report

IMAG1822The title just about sums it up for the week. For me it’s been nothing but running and gunning brushpiles, mostly offshore and a few long points and flats mixed in. Early in the week my choice of baits was pretty simple, throwing the spin baits over and around structure followed by the drop shot when marking groups of fish underneath the boat. Early in the week the weather was stagnant with very little wind, plenty of humidity and a blazing afternoon sun. The afternoon heat was stifling and I kept moving out of necessity to cool down after fishing the structure in dead calm waters. One bonus we had was that the Corps was generating in the afternoons which seemed to activate the fish and get them moving around and feeding. Early in the week I took a friend out that I had met on the BFL trail so we did a little spin baiting and drop shot for a great day for numbers but not much for size. We totaled between 35-40 fish but nothing bigger that that 2-3lb mark. One spark of life that really got me excited was the topwater bite out over flats while they were generating. My buddy had to do a job interview over the phone while we were fish so I drifted across a flat kinda out of the way of all the boat traffic and it just so happened that the flat we were drifting across came alive with fish feeding one bluebacks. It was very near deeper water and the current from the generation was pulling the bluebacks across the flat. The bass were schooling all around us and I was picking them off with a 2 punch combination of topwater and drop shot. This time of year the topwater can be slow and with no moving air to produce a chop on the water the fish aren’t fooled by the topwater baits as easily. When the fish get active during the generation periods they tend to push more bait to the surface and feed on it. I saw surface temps topping out at 89-90 degrees on Tuesday afternoon right before they started generating. My buddy was conducting his phone interview while drop shotting. At one point I had 2 fish at one time on my Emerald Popper but we couldn’t get them netted before one shook off. It was a great day for numbers.

On Wednesday I noticed they were generating in the early evening so I called a buddy, Mercer, to see if he wanted to make an evening run during the generation period. He was able to meet me at the ramp after work at 5:30pm so I picked him up and we made a bee line for the flat that was loaded with bass from a day earlier. I knew we didn’t have much time so we needed to make the best of it. Mercer likes to drop and the drop shot was a lock during generation. Anything that moved across the flat was going o get eaten by the feeding bass. We got to the flat and started drifting and it didn’t take long till we started marking fish and catching on the drop shot. Mercer busted a good one right away and then followed it up with a striper on the drop shot which is rare in my boat. We caught some good numbers on the flat and we were back at the dock before 8pm.

I didn’t fish Thursday because I needed to get caught up on work but I had signed up for a charity tournament on Saturday so my plan was to fish on Friday and figure out a pattern for Saturday. I launched at first light on Friday and started out throwing moving baits over brush and since there was a little breeze blowing from an approaching front I broke out the topwater popper. It was before dawn and I could clearly see the thermocline on my graph from about 22 feet down through 40-45. Surface temps hadn’t heated up and they were reading mid 80’s. Just as the sun broke the tree line on the lake I caught my first topwater fish. I was on a long point and there was the perfect chop blowing across the point. When it comes to chop and the popper it’s like Goldie Locks and the three bears. There is water that is too chopping and there is water that is not choppy enough but if you can find that right blend of chop blowing into or across a point your chances of catching a topwater bass goes way up. Friday was shaping up to be one of those days so I just started running and gunning offshore structure as well as long flats and points with the popper. It was almost like every stop over structure had a bull spot swimming around it and once you caught the bull spot the topwater would shut down. That’s when I’d break out the drop shot and come at them with that. At the end of the morning I had amassed several nice spots on the topwater popper and a few more good ones on the drop shot. I was fishing with Lanier Jim, aka the drop shot Jedi Master in the tournament the next day and I felt like that between the drop shot and the possibility of the topwater bite going strong we could do well in the tournament.

We got off on tournament morning without any problems and we were running south from Little Hall. When we past by Port Royale, across from Pelican Pete’s we saw a pleasure boat that had run up on the reef over night. It looked like they hit the reef pretty hard but the boat was sitting upright so maybe everyone was ok. LJ and I just spent the day dropping and popping away, hitting brush, flats and offshore structure. We caught a lot of fish during the day and had a blast. LJ was dropping his fruity worms and I was chunking the popper like a mad man. We both caught fish and managed to bring a 3 fish limit of 8.07 to the scales. The top 4 places had between 8-9.21lbs with us bring up 4th at 8.07. All in all it was a good week and I expect this kind of pattern to be the norm for a while. Stay tuned and hopefully I’ll find a few stripers willing to bite the artificals soon. I really haven’t paid much attention to the stripers lately but hopefully that will change soon. Here’s a few pics from the week.
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Fall Lanier Bass Report

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Well, October is finally here and I couldn’t be happier. October is by far my favorite month of the year with baseball play-offs in full swing, college and pro football is getting cranked up (even though my fantasy team is tanking), the nascar chase is on and most of all, the topwater is busting loose. For the past 3 weeks I’ve been stepping up my topwater game and the bass seem to be busting the surface more and more each day. The surface temps are getting down to the mid seventies and I’m seeing signs of the turnover in the back of the south end creeks right now. A few weeks ago there was a good early morning topwater bite but for the past few days it seems that the better bite has been in the afternoons. I suspect that the bluebacks are cruising near the surface when the sun gets higher in the sky, soaking up the warmth of the afternoon sun and the bass are feeding on them as they cruise the surface. We’ve watched plenty of fish and bluebacks tearing across the surface on points and over submerged brush in the creeks and out on the main lake. This is something we see every October and with all the bass chasing the bluebacks, the topwater bite is in full swing right now. Over the past few weeks I’ve been using my emerald popper with great success and once again October and the emerald popper is a big hit. I’ve also found a good bite on some walking baits such as the Yozuri 3DB, Sammy type baits, the bone Vixen, the Sexy Dawg and Sexy Dawg Jr. At times, when the fish get finicky and they aren’t cooperating with the topwater I’ve been throwing some blueback type jerkbaits and the spybait to get a few bites. When it really gets slow, we’ve been using the drop shot around brush to get bit but the majority of the fish we’re getting on the drop shot are on the small side right now.

One bait that I’ve been having a lot of fun with for the last week is the larger Chug Bug. Last week I took a friend out and he broke out the big Chug Bug on a windy point and caught a nice striper and then followed it up with a nice bass over 5lbs as well as a 3lber. Here’s a pic of my buddies Chug Bug bass:10-3-bass2
That’s about all the convincing I needed and I remembered that I had seen the big Chug Bug hanging on the shelf at Walmart last week so I went back to Walmart and bought the last 2 they had on the shelf. I started using it right away and over the past 4 days of using it I have wore the bass out. I’ve literally wore the paint off the lure and probably caught a few dozen fish on it so far. The big Chug Bug works the best for me on windy points with a small to moderate chop on the water and I like to cast it down wind and bring it back up wind, making it splash and pop as much as I can. Here’s a video I made using the Chug Bug for a couple hours this afternoon. I was supposed to be going out this morning but when I launched my motor sucked up some mud and I spent most of the day cleaning mud from my impeller and cooling system on the motor before going out.

Right now is probably the best time to get out and try your luck with the topwater fishing with a lot of points holding fish that are feeding up for the cold winter. For the topwater baits, my little emerald popper is a big hit once again this fall and I’ve got plenty in stock if you would like to try one. Here’s a link to the emerald popper: http://www.castawaybaits.com/product/the-emerald-popper/
Here’s a few picture of some popper bass over the past week or two.
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My “Popping the Top” Popper Challenge Coming This Fall

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It’s been a long hot summer this year and I know I’m not the only one ready for fall. Once again we’ve endured the heat of summer to get to the cooler, dryer air of autumn. We are quickly approaching a time of year when the bait rises from the cooler depths of the thermocline and I’m already seeing numerous pods of small threadfin scattered throughout the creek on the surface. It won’t be long now till the 1st and second year bluebacks follow suit along with the threadfin and seek the warm sun near the surface. Inherently, groups of bluebacks in Lake Lanier rise to the surface in October basking in the remaining warm surface water as the lake begins it’s winter cool-down and bass as well as stripers start feeding up for the winter gorging themselves on the surface offerings. Our summer stripers have been hanging around the deep waters of the main lake chasing massive schools of bluebacks but in the fall the stripers start making their way back into the creeks where the new batch of first year threadfin are piled up and waiting. The threadfin are just an addition to the menu for our stripers and bass and they provide some excellent topwater opportunities for us anglers. When I think back to October over the past few years, one thing that always comes to mind is our fall topwater bite. More specifically, for the past few years the stripers and bass have fallen prey to my Emerald Popper in the fall and the way things are shaping up, this fall should be no different.

This fall I’m going to do something a little different and make an interesting offer to ya’ll. As some of you know I fished my first FLW Bulldog series tournament as a Pro earlier this year on Lake Lanier and I really enjoyed the tournament and the tournament atmosphere in the FLW. I’ve always been a competitor and the level of competition in the Bulldog trail was a challenge that I couldn’t resist. I managed to finish in the money in my first tournament as a Pro and I’ve set a goal for myself of fishing the full Bulldog series trail next year. With that being said, as you can guess it isn’t going to be a cheap endeavor. I need to offset some of the cost and I’m going to offer a few things to help with that. First off, as some of you know I have a military background and in the military one of the things we used to do was award challenge coins to our over achievers. It was always a big honor to be given a challenge coin and I’ve collected a few over the years. I’ve designed a Cast Away Baits challenge coin for my Emerald Popper topwater bait and it will come complete with a inset notched bottle opener with my old cast away fishermen under a palm on the front of the coin and the words “I popped the top with Cast Away Baits” inscribed on the back. I should be receiving 100 of the custom challenge coins in the near future and I’m going to offer these coins to anyone who wants to jump in my boat with me this fall and take a shot at catching a fish or two on the popper for a few hours of fishing plus you’ll get to keep your own popper. I’ll even throw in a Cast Away decal to sweeten the deal even more. That a total of learning to use the popper on a topwater fishing trip with me, a custom Cast Away “Popping the Top” challenge coin, one of my Emerald Poppers and a decal to commemorate the trip.

*If you’re not local and would like to drop in for a weekend, be sure and ask about availability of our 3 bedroom private fish camp on Lake Lanier. I can offer a weekend getaway package that includes a day of fishing with me and if you bring your own boat, we have a single slip covered dock to park your boat for the weekend.

I don’t consider myself a guide and we have some very knowledgeable, talented bass guides on Lanier so I’m not going to charge a guides fees for the trip but I do need to earn some money to offset the cost of the trail fees. I’d also like to invest in a wrap for my boat for the trail next year and represent some local businesses as well as some bigger tackle names in fishing. I will be spending the fall and early winter soliciting some sponsors in exchange for advertising on my wrap and on my videos so if you are interested in a trip out this fall or you have an interest in some sponsorship just drop me a line or give me a shout for more information. Keep an eye out here on my blog for a topwater start date and a picture of the Cast Away Challenge coin very soon.

Here’s a few videos from some awesome fall topwater fishing over the past two years to get you in the mood…






Late summer Lanier report 8-27-2016

It’s been a rough 2 weeks with a bout of bronchitis and the lose of a dear family member and my shop mate for the last few years, our cat Blacky. It took him 16 years to used up those 9 lives but after a 2 year battle with diabetes, he passed yesterday. I decided I could be sick and depressed at home or out on the lake so I I’ve been hitting the lake. A few things are starting to change right now and all we need is a good cold front to come through and drop the temps and humidity. Right now the heat of summer is hanging in there like a hair in a biscuit and even though the days are getting shorter the surface temps are still in the upper 80’s with no relief in site. I’ve been spending most of the time messing with the bass but I’ve thrown in some striper fishing out over deep water. For the bass, not much has changed but I have started to mix in some cranking on the big natural chunk rock piles on points and I’ve found a few nice fish willing to hit a crankbait early in the morning. My philosophy is that the early morning rocks are providing the bait and fish a nice little cool haven to hang out in and some nice big bass are foraging the shallow rocks in search of crawfish, bream and shad. I would look for this bite to get stronger and stronger and it won’t be long till the fish start running the shad up into the shallows. When this happens there are 2 crankbaits I like to use, the first is the DT-10 in a shad pattern. It’s been a favorite of ours in the fall and the perfect bait for bass on the rocks when they are pushing shad into the shallows early in the morning. Here’s a picture of the crankbait, it’s definitely one you need for the collection in Sept. IMAG1009My second “go to” crankbait is my old favorite and one I make in the shop, the DT-10 knockoff Sand Key crank. Here’s a picture of that one. IMAG0613

Believe it or not, I’m still getting some bass on the topwater and just yesterday I nailed a good one on the surface throwing a popper. My buddy has be getting some good ones on the surface with a blueback pattern Whopper Plopper over brush but you have to make a lot of casts to call up the topwater fish right now. The surface bite is only going to get better and by late September we should see a lot more fish rising to feed on the shad pods and bluebacks swimming on or near the surface. The key to calling up topwater fish right now is a little bit of chop on the water. With a little chop to distort the surface in gin clear water you can fool the bass where as with no chop they can see the topwater bait better and usually just swirl on the bait without eating it. Most of the bass we’re catching on the surface are bigger fish in the 2-4lb range right now so it’s worth making a few casts on points and over brush.

If you’ve been out lately, you’ve probably seen more and more bass suspended above brush piles in 5-10 feet of water. These bass can be frustrating but a couple baits that have been working for us is a spy bait and a little 1.5 squarebill in a shad pattern. I’ve also had some success with a shallow suspending LC Pointer jerkbait in a blueback pattern and it makes a good follow up bait for surfacing fish that refuse to resurface for a topwater bait.

The drop shot bite is still going strong but frustration can set in with more window shoppers and chasers than eaters on the drop shot but we can still get good numbers with a bigger bass or two mixed in, mainly in the afternoons and evenings. The biggest mystery for the drop shot is the color selection. A month ago the fish were killing the Aarons Morning Dawn 4-5 inch worms and I wiped out Hammonds for every bag they had. Since then the bass have been eating the lighter colored baits and I’ve been catching a few on flukes as well as the worms.

For the stripers, I’ve been using a Ben Parker spoon and a 2-3 ounce bucktail with a 5-6 inch paddletail in a chartreuse over white pattern. For the spoon, it’s as simple as dropping it through the fish and bringing back up with a steady retrieve. With the bucktail/paddletail combo I’ve been having a blast enticing the fish to bite it by using a yoyo pattern while watching it on my graph. With this technique I’ve been dropping it down as deep as I can get it and getting the fish to chase it. The stripers are very curious of this bait and if I can get multiple fish to chase it, I just keep bring it up and down between 20 feet and 60-80 feet and just keep going up and down with it until a fish reacts. I’ve come to the conclusion that these stripers are very competitive and if I can get a few fish to chase it, one of the fish will inevitably get aggressive and take a whack at it. It’s a challenge but a lot fun to watch all this unfold in real time on the graph. Here’s a little video using the bait and a pic of a nice one I caught this week. IMAG1007
If trolling is your thing, there are plenty of stripers to be caught with leadcore right now and a variety of baits will work for that. I’ve got some older videos on my YouTube page that will explain and demonstrate how the leadcore works. Just go to YouTube and type in Jim Farmer or jfarm44 and look at some summers past for my trolling videos.

We’re right on the verge of weather changes and pattern changes and I’m more than ready for cooler weather. Stay cool out there

Lanier Summer Report #2

Since our return from Lake Guntersville I’ve fished a few times out on the lake and it seems that not much has changed since my last report. The bass are out on the brush piles in full force but getting them is just a little tougher than it was a month ago. Today we caught them on the drop shot as shallow as 15 feet and as deep as 40 feet but most have been around 25-30 feet in and around brush. A month ago I was loading the boat using Robo worms in Aarons Morning Dawn on the drop shot but that bite has slowed considerably so we’ve had to change our color tactics. It seems the fish are liking the lighter colored worms right now and Lisa has been doing well on a clear white ice color scheme that my buddy makes for us in his shop. I’ve been doing ok on my little 4-5 inch sky blue drop shot worms but Lisa has the magic touch and has been wearing them out on her ice worms. Here’s a pic of Lisa and her new favorite drop shot worm color. 13902205_10206079241854690_2100370255_o13902205_10206079241854690_2100370255_o (1)13898178_10206080872055444_1787630607_o
Drop shotting has been hit and miss for us but when the bite is going good we can get a dozen or two a day but not very many big ones right now. I’ve been using light tackle spinning gear with 6lb test fluorocarbon line, Mustad twist free or VMC Spin Shot hooks and a 3/8 ounce weight about 18 inches below the hook.

The big ticket item for me has been the topwater bass bite this summer. If there is a little chop on the water I could probably sit out in the heat and catch fish all day on my emerald topwater popper on points and humps. The bass are pushing singled out bluebacks to the surface all day long and the emerald popper is a great imitation of a blueback getting hammered on the surface by a bass. I’ve been using a lot of splashing and popping to get the basses attention and the chop on the surface causes enough of a distortion to fool the bass into hitting the popper. Here’s a couple pics we took this morning with the emerald popper and a couple nice bass on top.20160801102805 (3)
13898504_10206079241814689_417112716_o (1)I’ve also been catching a few by adding some red eyes and a red dressed trailer hook. Here’s a pic of that color pattern and a nice bass on it.IMAG0924IMAG0920
If I feel like the topwater popper isn’t working or there’s no chop, over the past few days I’ve been using a suspending Lucky Craft Pointer blueback colored jerkbait when I see the fish are moving around in the upper water column or suspending over the brush. I like the blueback pointer because when you jerk it a few times it creates a good flash in the water and I can flash it and suspend it over the brush and usually I can get a few to slam it while letting it sit on a long pause. It’s a fun little bait to use and I’ve been using a jerk-jerk-slow moving pause pattern for it to be successful. I’m still throwing a underspin but it really hasn’t been getting very many bites lately.
Here’s a little video I made last week that kind of explains what I’ve been doing and a couple fish we’ve caught over the past few days.
For the stripers we’re using 2 baits to get bit. The first is the big Ben Parker spoon and the second is a big 7.5 inch swimbait on a 1-2 ounce jig head. The hardest thing about the stripers right now is finding them. Once you find them just dropping the spoon up and down is all you need to do to attract more fish and catch a few. If I really want to have some fun and we’re over a lot of active fish, another bait I’ve been using is a big swimbait vertically jigged just like the spoon on a Heavy 7’9″ Mojo Bass rod and a Revo baitcaster with heavy flouro. I can also cast it, count it down to around 40-60 feet and bring it back to the boat in a horizontal retrieve. You can figure out your sink rate with the swimbait jig by dropping it under the transducer cone and counting it down while watching it on the graph. 13918662_10206079958072595_590005335_oSwimbaits and spoons are a lot of fun this time of year on Lanier for stripers and it’s pretty easy to catch a few if you can find them. Around the river channel or the deep 100 foot ditches near the mouths of our south end creeks have been the best locations to look for the stripers. Here’s one of a few I caught this morning on the spoon. 13918739_10206079241774688_797089199_oIf If you can stand the heat, now is a pretty good time to get out there and get a few. Surface temps are in the upper 80’s and the bite has been varying from early morning to late evening but the best bite seems to be when the sun gets up. Good luck out there and take plenty of water, cover up or use sun screen.

Lake Guntersville trip 7-13 through 7-17-2016

This was a 5 day trip to Lake Guntersville and the last 2 days of fishing included our club tournament with the Greater Atlanta Bass Club. I needed 3 days to figure out a game plan for the tournament, this time of year finding fish and catching them can be hot and tough. On Wednesday I fished with a friend who knew a little bit more about ledge fishing than I did. All I was interested in was learning about ledge fishing on Guntersville. We found a few areas of small shell beds on some flats while fishing a long stretch of ledge or the drop off into the main channel. The shell beds on the flats next to the ledge just kept producing 2-5lb fish on every pass. I marked two primary beds that were producing and one bed in particular had chunk rock next to it which made a perfect spot. On every pass we made we picked up at least one nice fish. My first fish of the trip was a 7 pd’er which I lost at the boat and this fish was on the shell bed with the neighboring chunk rock so it was the first mark I made on the gps. We went from one shell bed mark on the graph to another down the stretch of ledge Wednesday through Friday. Tournament day we sat on the shell bed that produced the most fish the entire time. It’s hard to believe the amount of fish that just kept coming, it’s fair to say we caught around 35-40 fish. The fish ranged from dinks to 6lbs with Lisa catching 10-15 fish and my buddies catching a few also. Overall is was a prosperous ledge.

The tournament was a 3 fish limit which made it pretty easy given we were averaging 10-20 fish a day from that stretch of the ledge. The tournament format was a 3 session tournament with the first session being Saturday morning from dawn till noon. The second session was from 4pm till 8:30pm and the third session was Sunday morning from dawn till noon. There was a tournament within a tournament with each session having a total weight pot and a big fish pot. There was also a bigger pot for overall total weight and big fish for combined both days. I like the format because it gives more teams a chance to get in the money.

Basically for the first session we made sure we were sitting just off the shell bed at dawn. We threw a shakey head with a magnum trick worm across the shell bed and dragged it back through the shells to the boat. There were numerous fish on the ledge and you just needed to be able to tell the difference between the shaky head running across the shells and a fish picking up the bait. Once you get the feel of that, then it’s all in setting the hook. You need a good hook set because the fish figure out very quickly to run at the boat if they can’t shake the hook initially. That little tactic is by design to keep you from digging that hook barb into the hard cartilage of their inner mouths. When they get near the boat they surface, jumping and shaking their heads violently as a last ditch effort to shake the hook. Keeping the rod tip low is a must.

In session one, every once in a while the fish would turn on and we would catch a few with one or two nice keepers in the mix. My strategy was to be patient, just sit on them and wait them out…..all weekend. I knew if we could average 4-5lb we would probably do very well, so waiting for the fish instead of running around and missing the bite was my strategy. We just needed patience and trust in the plan.
It was Lisa’s first day of fishing for the week so there was a little learning curve for her to get up to speed. Unfortunately she lost a couple of good fish before she got dialed in with the feel of the bite and good hook set. Once she accomplished that she was good to go and brought several good fish to the boat. On this session I did the damage and put 3 fish at over 13lbs in the boat right away then it was just a matter of working on an upgrade.
We went to the weigh in with 13 and change, all from the same little shell bed. It was good enough for first place in the session and I had a 5+ pounder to take big fish. A lot of teams struggled to find fish and a working pattern but these club guys figure out patterns and strategies very quickly so we were glad we jumped out to an early lead. Here’s a pic of the fish from session #1.IMAG0904

When session 2 started a local club was having their weigh in at the ramp…. it was a cluster so getting out to our spot was a little slow. We finally reached the shell bed and it was wide open… but man was it hot! We could see a big thunderhead building just north of the lake and I was hoping it would give us some cloud cover to cool things down, and it did…. Unfortunately there was an outflow wind from the storm. The stretch of ledge was covered in white capping water, soon came cloud cover and then blowing rain. We stuck it out and every once in a while picked up a 3-4 lber. We ended up heading back to the ramp with three decent 3-4lb fish just as the wind and clouds broke at sunset.

When we got to the ramp to trailer to the weigh-in a big catamaran looking center console was launching. I didn’t pay much attention as we parked along side a couple of cool looking high dollar Phoenix boats, Lisa held my boat at the dock as I went to get the truck. When I pulled down to the ramp area I noticed the big center console was still at the ramp and the guy couldn’t get the boat off the trailer, he hadn’t backed down far enough. He quickly jumped out of the running boat and ran back up to his truck to back it down further. When he did, the boat jumped off the trailer and started heading out into the bay …. with the boat in reverse. The guy in the truck just drove away as his boat headed out into the bay, motor running, in reverse. It took me a few seconds to figure out what was going on but I quickly realized this boat was making an arc and if my trajectory calculations were correct it was heading right for our Ranger and the 2 unmanned Phoenix’s. I looked at Lisa and she was bracing for impact as the big boat was bearing down for her and our boat. She was standing at the back of our boat with our little dog Chigger in her arms. She quickly thought to take her foot and push the big center console. I knew that wasn’t going to work so I jumped out of the truck screaming as I ran for somebody closer than me to stop that boat. I was at a sprint trying to get there before the collision. Thank goodness there was one lone guy who came flying from nowhere and jumped in the center console just as it collided with Lisa’s foot and our boat. Our boat collided with the Phoenix and that Phoenix hit the next Phoenix but luckily the guy that jumped in the big center console slammed it into drive and minimized the damage. The boat owner came running down just after it was all over and I quickly said a few choice words about him driving away full knowing his boat was in reverse putting everyone in danger. There were only a few minor scratches and we needed to get to the weigh-in. We made it with time to spare but our weight was off so we ended up with 10.5 for the second segment. There were a few teams that were getting things figured out and we finished the session in 3rd or 4th but we were still leading the overall weight by a good 6lbs. We just needed to stick some good ones in session 3 to seal the deal.
It was getting late and Lisa and I swung into Burger King for a burger and onion rings. By morning we were both sick. I don’t think the whopper and the onion rings was a good idea for us…..

At 5am Lisa got sick on the way to the ramp which made me even more sick just watching her so. We were both a mess but we knew we needed to fish and finish well. We got to our spot and by some miracle it was wide open again. We had a lot of company in our spot for the first 2 sessions but the shell bed was so small nobody could get a good angle on it but us. Not long after we got into position Lisa got a nice one on, unfortunately I was a little slow getting the net and it shook the hook boat side. Lisa and I both got a little discouraged but it wasn’t long till Lisa tied into another good fish and we boated a 5+. I just held the boat in one position and Lisa cast to the same spot over and over and before long we had another 13-14 pound sack. Lisa steadily caught fish off the back of the boat on the shell bed and I made a great net man for her. It was getting hot and we still had an hour till weigh-in so we just rode around in the breeze keeping the fish cool with o2 and ice. Our little dog Chigger likes to ride in the boat so we just let him enjoy the ride. At the end of the day we finished in first place for total weight at 36+ pounds, second place was a little over 28. Here’s a picture of the fish Lisa caught in the 3rd session to win the tournament for overall weight.IMAG1034 (1)We won total weight and big fish for session one as well as total weight for the tournament. Here’s a few pictures and a video of Lisa’s final day weigh-in with the winning fish!!

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