As many of you know, this was a tough event for me. Without the bad events we can’t have the successful ones, Right? With that said, I will keep my head high and move on to the next one with the confidence I need to be successful. Tournament Bass Fishing is all about decisions. At Guntersville I made the wrong decision and I know that now. I will learn from it and chalk it up as a lesson learned.
Practice Day 1: Everyone knows bridges and Traps in the grass win events on Guntersville. So I set out to split my practice days and concentrate on these two patterns. The first day I’m pretty sure I fished every bridge on the lake. I started out at the one in the back of Spring Creek that Randy won the Classic at. Not because he won there, but because our house and boat ramp overlooked it. Right off the bat I caught a five pounder on a V&M Flatline Football jig using my Kistler KLX Texas/Carolina Rig Worm Jig Heavy 7'3" Rod. Really thought I was on to something until after I fished the entire day without another keeper bite. Every bridge I went to was just extremely crowded with other fishermen.
Practice Day 2: So the Bridge pattern wasn’t working for me so I decided to run with the Trap in the Grass pattern on the second day. I really concentrated on the Goose Pond area. It’s a known area to have some good grass and also to be one of the first areas the fish will pull up into a pre spawn bite. I fished this pattern all day long with my Kistler KLX Feel N Reel S2 Hybrid 7' 3" Heavy Rod and covered many miles of the backwater areas and the main river ledges. I never had a keeper bite, a lot of shorts but not one keeper.
Practice Day 3: So neither one of the major patterns that win on Guntersville was working for me. I decided to throw everything away and just go fish my strengths. I ended up getting on a pretty decent jerkbait bite with my new Signature Series Skirmish Aim7 jerkbait throwing it on my Kistler KLX Feel N Reel S2 Hybrid 7' 1" Medium Rod. This is one of my favorite Pre Spawn Techniques for cold water Bass, so I was extremely excited to have figured this out.
Tournament Day1: So I started out the morning with 8 Kistler rods on the deck, 6 of them having a jerkbait and two with a jig. This is my strengths this time of year and I was going to give it everything I had. I did, I fished every spot that I had found on the 3rd day of practice and I didn’t have one fish by 2:30. For whatever reason this bite was not working as it was two days prior. I think the fish that I had found in practice were suspended fish waiting to move to the bank and I was able to fire a couple of schools up, unlike tournament day. I think the slight changes in the weather from the last day of practice to the first day of the tournament repositioned, or just shut them down. I pretty much went into panic mode and started looking for some new water. I found a shallow water area behind a windblown bridge that we ended up catching several small fish, one keeper for me, and a five pounder for my co-angler. We had very little time so I couldn’t execute on this late in the day bite I had found.
Tournament Day 2: I went straight to the area I had found the day before only to find the leader of the tournament and another guy that was in the top 20 fishing it. So I did what any respectful angler would do and let them have it. I knew I needed a big bag if I was going to cash a check, and I needed some necessary points to help qualify for the FLW Cup. So I went to where I had caught the big fish on the first day of practice on a V&M jig. To my surprise there was no one there, so I went to work. Almost immediately I lost a good five pounder on my jig in the same spot I had caught the one in practice. At that time I told myself to just hunker down and do what I do. I fished every nook and cranny around that bridge and never had another bite. There was at least 10 other guys that came in on me and I never seen them boat a fish either. So at this point I felt like I gave the other two guys fishing my other spot enough time that I could head back over there. When I pulled up there was no one there, but there was also no fish left there either as I boated several small fish but no keepers. So I did what any experienced tournament angler would do and went back to my bridge. Right off the bat I boated a 4.5 pounder on a V&M Jig with the same Kistler 7’3” KLX rod. At that time I looked at my co-angler and told him we were fishing here the rest of the day. I never caught another fish on that jig, but I did end up switching over to a 6” paddle tail swimbait with a 1oz jighead and caught another 4.5 pound fish. I had probably about 10 bites on that swimbait and never hooked up with another Bass. I was slow rolling it through the flooded groups of baitfish under the bridge. You could almost tell when you were going to get bit because you could feel the bait tapping your line, almost like they were running away from a fish. But they were just grabbing it by the tail and not eating it!
Post tournament Review: Knowing what I know now, I should have stuck with the bridge bite earlier on in practice and just figured out how to catch them. They were obviously there, just very finicky and didn’t want to bite You had to either hit them on the head with a jig and make them bite, or match the hatch and trick them into biting. I didn’t want to deal with the crowd and the hassle of other anglers throwing over your line and setting their trolling motor down on top of where your fishing. I’m pretty sure if I would had taken the time to figure out what color, size, and weight swimbait that they really wanted, I could have caught most of those short striking fish. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to even fish the FLW Tour this year, and I am extremely thankful to every Sponsor, friend, and family that has anything to do with me being here. Its time to move on to Travis and make up for this poor event!