As summer closes we all know how tough fishing can be, especially during the dog days of August. While getting ready for Eufaula I knew it would be a derby where you could possibly zero if you tried to be a hero. I opted for a few days of practice to try to eliminate some water but to keep an open mind and not get discouraged. It’s easy to look at the weights after a tournament and say “wow, I could have caught that”, but to go out and back those words up are often harder than we realize.
The first morning, I spent hours trying to find a shallow bite in the grass and endless pad fields. Once the sun came up and began to rise, I was left second guessing my thought process. Everyone knows I am not a shallow water expert but will do it when they are biting. Having only caught one keeper thus far, I decided to change things up. I started looking offshore to see if I could expand the search to find a sure way to catch some keepers.
Let me back up for a second. When going into the final event in the top ten and trying to qualify for regional, the main goal is to make sure you catch one so you do not fall outside the cut. You don’t want to watch all your hard work go down the drain. All that being said, the number one main goal is to catch one fish for points and then focus on the rest of the derby.
Having gone offshore mid-morning in lieu of finding a school of spotted bass, I once again found myself scratching my head thinking “it’s tough”. I called my travel partner to see how his day was going. We came to a quick decision, take a time out, cool off, have lunch and launch down the lake to see if we could find something to expand on the next day.
After our much needed short rest from the 97 degrees heat, I started down the lake and began to feel at home. I ran around for about an hour or so looking at the ledges but there was just nothing to them. Using my Lowrance electronics as always I was just not seeing what I was looking for so I had to back up and punt, “where are they”? I decided to move in after being near the river channel and starting looking at the next break, a little shallower but still off shore. I ran a few brush piles and after the third one I saw a little school which appeared to be spots. I quickly jumped up and dropped to them, instantly hooked up. That one simple move put me in the direction I needed to begin gaining confidence.
The next morning of practice I was anxious to get out there and start looking for more places. I didn’t waste any time and started looking where I had stopped the day before. I was trying to not only look at old places but find more new ones. The playing field was narrowed down to water depths of 8′ – 14′ which seemed to have the most catchable fish around the brush. Keeping in mind, the goal, catch a keeper. I was looking for spotted bass, knowing it would be my best option for a quick bite.
During my day it seemed that I could do no wrong. I was finding brush piles with catchable fish. I had hit the jackpot and would feel comfortable going out on tournament morning but we all know that plan never works and you’ll most likely have to readjust the next day. None the less, it was a strong pattern.
I had a dream day on Friday, trying to catch one and shaking off multiple at each location just to see what was living on each brush pile. During the day I was able to catch 16 pounds. Most might say,”why did you catch them”? I have seen in the past, not catching one in practice sometimes hurts you. It makes you fish too fast the next day when you do not get a bite quickly. Most just wind up their lines to move on to the next spot and you end up getting ahead of yourself.
I ended up catching two fish in the derby, not a stellar performance but I accomplished the number one goal, not to zero. As always, while on stage, FLW gave me ample time to talk about my cause, spreading ovarian cancer awareness for the Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance.
My set up for the day was simple, a 1/2 Greenfish Tackle Casting Jig color Reno Reckum, spooled on 12# test Hi-Seas 100% Fluorocarbon, Kistler KLX 7’3″ Rod, Quantum Speed Freak Casting Reel. My drop shot and shakey head set was the same as always, Hi-Seas 6# and 8# test both 100% Fluorocarbon, Kistler Rods and Quantum Speed Freak spinning reels, War Eagle 1/4 Jig Head Green Pumpkin. I alternated between the Zoom Bait Mag Shakey Head Worm and a Zoom Bait Swamp Crawler on both rods.