Category Archives: Bass Fishing

Bass Fishing Information

Little Spots at West Point

Maybe we should have tried bows and blowguns at West Point last Sunday. In the August Spalding County Sportsman Club tournament nine members managed to land 12 keeper spots weighing about 13 pounds at West Point. We did not weigh in even one largemouth. There were no limits and five of the nine fishermen did not have a keeper.

Randall Sharpton won with four spots weighing 4.62 pounds, my four weighing 4.35 pounds placed second and I had big fish with a 1.62-pound spot, Zane Fleck had three at 3.70 pounds for third and Russel Prevatt was fourth with one weighing .98 pounds. That was it, all the fish that were caught!

I knew it was going to be a tough day and it started wrong. I had to be tournament director since Sam did not fish. I thought I was late getting my boat in the water but when JR. Proctor and I idled out to the no-wake buoys at 6:30 for blast off everybody else was still tied up at the dock or standing around talking in the parking lot.

The first place I stopped was on a rocky point and I tried everything from topwater to shaky head worms without a bite. We next eased over to a deep bank with blow down trees and I got a bite. When I set the hook my line broke, something that should never happen. I think the jig head had bumped against the rocks and gotten a weak place in the line. I should have checked my line.

I retied and soon caught my biggest fish. Then I got a bite in a tree top and set the hook. The fish wrapped my line around a branch and I could see it but it came off before I could get to it.

I did find some fish feeding on a shallow point and landed my other keepers and several short fish there. But I had another keeper that looked bigger than my biggest jump and throw a jig and pig. It was just not meant for me to catch a limit. But several others said they also lost fish.

I can’t wait for cooler weather and, hopefully, fish biting better!

Hot, Tough Fishing At Clarks Hill

We should have used spottails or some other live bait at Clarks Hill last weekend. In the Flint River Bass Club August two day tournament, six members fished for 15 hours to land 21 keeper bass weighing about 29 pounds. There was one five-bass limit and one member did not catch a keeper in the two days. It was hot, tough fishing at Clarks Hill.

I won with seven bass weighing 10.46 pounds, Travis Weatherly was second with four weighing 8.32 pounds and big fish of 3.69 pounds, Chuck Croft was third with six weighing 6.58 pounds and Alex Gober places fourth with three at 3.31 pounds.

I made a lucky guess and started on a bridge riprap Saturday morning at 6:05. I caught my first keeper at 6:10 and had five at 6:35, all on a spinnerbait. Then, for the next 7.5 hours, I landed three more keepers. I was shocked at weigh-in that I had five, Chuck had two and nobody else had caught a keeper in eight hours.

Sunday I started at the bridge and caught keepers on back to back cast at 6:20. One of them was a good bass weighing 3.21 pounds. Although I fished hard until weigh-in I never caught another fish.

It was a better day for others. Travis caught his four on Sunday after not catching a fish on Saturday and Alex got his three after zeroing the first day. All five of the other guys stayed at a cabin at Soap Creek and I stayed 17 miles away in my mobile home at Raysville Boat Club. Maybe they shared information!

I got really frustrated Sunday. It was miserably hot, without a cloud in the sky, contrary to what the weather guessers predicted, and there was no breeze. Even worse I broke my line three times when setting the hook, something that should never happen.

The first happened when I was fishing down a shady bank and saw a big rock in about three feet of water. I pitched my shaky head worm to it, felt a thump and set the hook, breaking my line. I figured my line was over the rock and got cut.

Later out on a rock pile on an old road bed I was bouncing my bait through the rocks felt a bite and again broke my line when setting the hook. I again figured it was cut the rocks so I retied and it happened again a few minutes later.

I switched to heavier line to try to stop that from happening again but never got another bite!

Yet Another Tough July Sinclair Tournament

Last Sunday 12 members and guests of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our July tournament at Lake Sinclair. We landed 24 keeper bass weighing about 29 pounds. There were two five-bass limits and two zeros.

Raymond English found the big one and a limit to place far out in front with 11.0 pounds and big fish of 5.81. My little limit weighing 5.15 pounds was second, third went to Jay Gerson with four keepers weighing 3.93 pounds and Robert Proctor was fourth with two at 3.92 pounds.

At least I am consistent. The weekend before I had five weighing 5.19 pounds. I caught all five of my keepers on a weightless Senko skipped under docks. The first one, my biggest, hit at the end of a dock about six feet deep at about 8:00 AM. After that I was surprised at how shallow the rest of the fish were.

At about 10:00 AM I was going between two docks along a shallow bank. The riprap dropped to about two feet deep and the water was clear enough to see the bottom where they ended. I cast the Senko to a little grass patch on the rocks and caught a short fish, then a few feet further I landed another one about 11 inches long.

At a patch of shade from the seawall I saw my line move out as the Senko sank. I figured it was another small bass and may not have set the hook hard enough. As soon as I set the hook a two pound plus bass flashed in the water. I fought it almost to the boat and it just came unhooked.

As I approached the next dock I saw a man and his dog come out of the house and head toward the dock and I figured he was going to fuss at me, so I started moving past it. But he was very friendly, asking me how I was doing and pointing to where his brush piles were underwater.

I got the far side of the dock and skipped the Senko under the walkway and caught my second keeper. Then, as I worked toward the next dock he said right where is banana plant grew on the seawall was a good place. I had passed it but threw back and landed my third keeper. It should have gotten off, as I lifted it over the side it came unhooked, hit the top of the gunnel and fell into the boat.

I caught one each on the next two docks, landing my fifth at about 11:20. That was it, I never hooked anther fish before the 2:00 weigh-in.

Hot Lake Sinclair Tournament

I didn’t think fishing could get any worse than the three tournaments in July but last Sunday West Point proved me wrong. I thought I had a really bad day until weigh-in.

At the Flint River Bass Club July tournament 10 members and guests fished from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM to land 11 keeper bass weighing about 13 pounds. There were six spotted bass longer than the 12-inch size limit and five largemouth over their 14 inch limit. No one had a limit and there two people didn’t have a keeper.

I won with two fish weighing 2.40 pounds, Wes Delay came in second with two at 2.30 pounds, third was guests Glen Holcomb with one weighing 1.86 and that was big fish. Alex Gober was fourth with one weighing 1.71 pounds.

I started with a buzzbait near the ramp, something that has worked in the past but I never got a bite. After 30 frustrating minutes I ran about five miles down the lake to some trees in the water on a steep bank, the kind of place a friend told me it was easy to catch a limit of small keepers.

At 6:40 I threw a jig head worm to a small pine top in about four feet of water and when I tightened up my line it was moving toward the boat. I set the hook and landed a 13-inch spotted bass and knew at least I would not zero.

After working more trees over the next two hours I ran back up the lake to some more blowdowns but did not get a bite. I knew there was some brush a fisherman had put out way out on a long, shallow point and I fished the point out to my waypoint on it. When I cast my jig head worm to it I got a thump but before I could set the hook the fish took off, luckily for me setting the hook himself,

That was a largemouth weighing over a pound and a half and it hit in 22 feet of water. I decided I needed to fish deep and tried a variety of places but got no bites.

At noon I stopped on another long point with some rocks out in 20 to 30 feet of water and quickly caught four short bass, all under the size limit. I ended the day fishing the brush pile where I had caught the largemouth, hoping another one had moved to it to feed, but got no more bites.

It was so hot by 9:00 I realized I was fishing places where I could sit in the shade or in the little breeze, not really fishing where I thought the fish should be. I wish we still had night tournaments when it is cooler, boat traffic is much less and the fish bite better!

Stocking Plans for Lake Guntersville

Stocking Plans for Lake Guntersville (AL) Progressing
By stocking Florida strain bass in the big Alabama lake, local anglers are hopeful Guntersville can be restored to former glory as one of the top bass lakes in the nation.

By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing Wire

Captain Mike Carter and wife Sharon, organizers of the Lake Guntersville Conservation Group, held a meeting in Scottsboro this past Sunday in which Carter advanced plans to go ahead with state-approved stocking of 50,000 Florida strain largemouth bass fingerlings into the north end of the lake next May.

The stocking will be entirely financed by local communities and private donors, with no state tax or license money involved, Carter said. He’s hopeful the infusion of new bass stocks will help to restore the lake to former glory as a fishing lake–it was once ranked as the top bass lake in the nation, but has dropped dramatically in recent years in the rankings.

Carter said he had hoped to get the stocking underway by fall to see earlier returns of catchable size fish, which will require at least two to three years from the stocking date, but the ADCNR district biologist Keith Floyd recommended that the stocking take place in late spring, when he said research indicates the tiny largemouths would have a better chance of not being eaten by other fish, and would also have a better chance to learn to feed themselves without immediately having to deal with the cold water of winter.

Carter said the group plans to put donated funds into a tax-deductable account, so that private parties who donate can get a tax deduction for their funding.

Carter said the fish would be stocked in the shallows of a number of feeder creeks. Though it’s sure that the majority will be eaten by other fish, it’s likely that enough will survive to have a major impact on the fishery in the future, not only with anglers catching the stocked fish, but with their contribution to the gene pool.

Florida bass are noted for growing faster and reaching much larger sizes that the northern-strain bass that are found naturally in the TVA lake system. Florida strain fish stocked in some California lakes have exceeded 20 pounds in recent years, and they regularly produce fish of 13 to 15 pounds from Texas lakes. Pure Florida’s are found mostly from Gainesville, Florida, southward–those in the northern part of the state are primarily intergrades with northern strain bass, biologists say.

Carter said he’s hopeful that the Lake Guntersville Conservation Group can become a continuing funding source for added stocking in the future, with donations allowing restocking every two to three years. The pure-strain Florida fish are obtained from a Montgomery hatchery that specializes in raising them for stocking in private ponds nationwide.

“It’s not just about fishing and fishermen,” says Carter. “When we have nationally-known fishing here, the communities around the lake make a lot of money based on tourism, property values go up, and the tax base grows a lot faster than it would otherwise–it’s a real investment in the future of our area.”

Visit the Lake Guntersville Conservation Group Facebook page here. Carter, who is an active fishing guide on the lake, can be contacted at 423-802-1362.

Top Bass Lakes In The Nation

Mille Lacs Leaps To No. 1 of the top bass Lakes In The Nation
from Bass

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Minnesota’s state motto is “Star of the North,” which seems appropriate seeing Bassmaster Magazine has crowned the state’s second largest lake as the best bass fishery in the nation based on the recent release of the publication’s 100 Best Bass Lakes rankings.

Mille Lacs Lake, a 132,516-acre natural lake located 100 miles north of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, soared to the No. 1 spot after months of research unveiled its unbelievable production of smallmouth bass. Mille Lacs was ranked No. 6 in the nation last year.

“This fishery really got our attention last September during the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, when 94 limits of smallmouth were weighed in that topped the 20-pound mark,” explained Bassmaster Magazine Editor James Hall. “Had that been a four-day event, eventual winner Seth Feider may have topped the 100-pound mark with smallmouth, a feat that has never, ever happened before.”

But it takes more than one good event to push a fishery to the top of these rankings.

“After months of research and processing data from dozens of sources, we realized that the Angler of the Year event was hardly impressive production for the lake. Thirty-pound limits were weighed in during five team events last fall, including two limits breaking the 36-pound mark. Remember, these are limits of smallmouth. Just incredible,” Hall said.

This year, the rankings highlight the Top 12 fisheries in the nation regardless of location. The remaining lakes are ranked within one of four regions (Northeastern, Southeastern, Central and Western), so readers can easily identify the Top 25 lakes nearest them.

The Central division, which has been dominated by Toledo Bend Reservoir the past two years (it was the first fishery to be ranked No. 1 more than one time), experienced the biggest shakeup of the rankings. As Mille Lacs took over the No. 1 spot here, Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas also jumped ahead of Toledo Bend (which fell to No. 4 in the region). Lake Erie, fishing out of Buffalo, N.Y., took top honors in the Northeastern division (No. 7 nationally). California’s Clear Lake ended up the best in the West (No. 3 in the nation). As for the Southeastern division, North Carolina’s Shearon Harris Lake topped all other fisheries (No. 4 in the nation).

“There are a lot of surprises this year,” Hall admits. “Shearon Harris may be one of the biggest. But this lake produced two limits this year that topped 40 pounds. Can you imagine an 8-pound average?”

Other highlights include the comeback of Michigan’s Lake St. Clair, a former No. 1 lake on this list that faced a serious downturn two years ago. This smallmouth factory has climbed back to No. 9 in the nation. New Bullards Bar in California (No. 4 in the Western division) has produced several world-record class spotted bass in the past 12 months, including an 11.25-pounder. South Carolina’s Santee Cooper Lakes (Marion and Moultrie) are again producing near-30-pound limits, earning them the No. 8 spot in the nation and top spot in the Southeastern division.

As for bragging rights for the individual state with the most lakes making the Top 100, Texas wins by a long shot. The Lone Star State features 11 lakes that made the cut. California was a distant second, with a still-impressive showing of seven lakes being ranked in the Top 100.

Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes will be published in an 11-page section of the July/August issue of Bassmaster Magazine. The complete rankings will also be featured on Bassmaster.com.

The Top 12 In The Nation
1. Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota [132,516 acres]
2. Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas [114,500 acres]
3. Clear Lake, California [43,785 acres]
4. Shearon Harris Lake, North Carolina [4,100 acres]
5. Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California [1,153 square miles]
6. Lake Berryessa, California [20,700 acres]
7. Lake Erie, New York [30-mile radius from Buffalo]
8. Santee Cooper Lakes, Marion and Moultrie, South Carolina [110,000 acres and 60,000 acres, respectively]
9. Lake St. Clair, Michigan [430 square miles]
10. Falcon Lake, Texas [83,654 acres]
11. Thousand Islands (St. Lawrence River), New York [50-mile stretch]
12. Chickamauga Lake, Tennessee [36,240 acres]

Central Division
1. Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota
2. Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas
3. Falcon Lake, Texas
4. Toledo Bend Reservoir, Texas/Louisiana [185,000 acres]
5. Lake Palestine, Texas [25,560 acres]
6. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin [4,945 acres]
7. Newton Lake, Illinois [1,775 acres]
8. Lake Ray Roberts, Texas [29,350 acres]
9. Lake Oahe, South Dakota/North Dakota [370,000 acres]
10. Lake Amistad, Texas [64,900 acres]
11. Lake Fork, Texas [27,690 acres]
12. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri [54,000 acres]
13. Caddo Lake, Texas/Louisiana [25,400 acres]
14. Squaw Creek Reservoir, Texas [3,275 acres]
15. Table Rock Lake, Missouri [43,100 acres]
16. Lake Texoma, Texas/Oklahoma [89,000 acres]
17. Lake Dardanelle, Arkansas [34,300 acres]
18. Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Oklahoma [46,500 acres]
19. Lake Waco, Texas [8,465 acres]
20. Millwood Lake, Arkansas [29,500 acres]
21. Lake Bistineau, Louisiana [15,500 acres]
22. Lake Ouachita, Arkansas [40,324 acres]
23. Mississippi River Pools 4-10, Minnesota/Wisconsin [from Lake City past La Crosse]
24. Bull Shoals Lake, Arkansas/Missouri [45,000 acres]
25. Okoboji Chain of Lakes, Iowa [12,687 acres]

Northeastern Division
1. Lake Erie, New York
2. Lake St. Clair, Michigan
3. Thousand Islands (St. Lawrence River), New York
4. Lake Erie, Ohio [30-mile radius of Sandusky]
5. Lake Champlain, New York/Vermont [490 square miles]
6. Saginaw Bay, Michigan [1,143 square miles]
7. Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan [32 miles long, 10 miles wide]
8. Burt/Mullett lakes, Michigan [17,120 acres and 16,630 acres, respectively]
9. Bays de Noc, Michigan [Escanaba to Little Summer Island]
10. Lake Charlevoix, Michigan [17,200 acres]
11. Cayuga Lake, New York [38 miles long, 3 1/2 miles wide]
12. Oneida Lake, New York [79.8 square miles]
13. China Lake, Maine [3,845 acres]
14. Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia [20,600 acres]
15. Webber Pond, Maine [1,233 acres]
16. Presque Isle Bay, Pennsylvania [5.8 square miles]
17. Candlewood Lake, Connecticut [5,420 acres]
18. Great Pond, Maine [8,533 acres]
19. Lake Barkley, Kentucky [58,000 acres]
20. Kentucky Lake, Kentucky/Tennessee [160,309 acres]
21. Chautauqua Lake, New York [13,156 acres]
22. Lake Cumberland, Kentucky [65,530 acres]
23. Stonewall Jackson Lake, West Virginia [2,630 acres]
24. Upper Chesapeake Bay, Maryland [The entire bay is more than 64,000 square miles, but the best fishing is in the top one-third.]
25. Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire [20 miles long, 9 miles wide]

Southeastern Division
1. Shearon Harris, North Carolina
2. Santee Cooper Lakes, South Carolina (Marion and Moultrie)
3. Chickamauga Lake, Tennessee
4. Lake Okeechobee, Florida [730 square miles]
5. Pickwick Lake, Alabama/Mississippi/Tennessee [43,100 acres]
6. Lake Murray, South Carolina [50,000 acres]
7. Lake Seminole, Georgia/Florida [37,500 acres]
8. Watts Bar Reservoir, Tennessee [39,000 acres]
9. Lake Guntersville, Alabama [69,000 acres]
10. Bay Springs Lake, Mississippi [6,700 acres]
11. Lake Tohopekaliga, Florida (plus Kissimmee Chain of Lakes) [22,700 acres]
12. Cherokee Lake, Tennessee [28,780 acres]
13. Lake Istokpoga, Florida [26,762 acres]
14. Cooper River, South Carolina [30-mile stretch below Lake Moultrie Dam]
15. Stick Marsh/Farm 13, Florida [6,500 acres]
16. Fontana Lake, North Carolina [10,230 acres]
17. Clarks Hill Lake, Georgia/South Carolina [71,000 acres]
18. Wilson Lake, Alabama [15,930 acres]
19. Kenansville Reservoir, Florida [2,500 acres]
20. Lake Wateree, South Carolina [13,250 acres]
21. Lake Hartwell, Georgia/South Carolina [56,000 acres]
22. Kerr Lake, North Carolina/Virginia [50,000 acres]
23. Logan Martin Lake, Alabama [15,263 acres]
24. Lake Lanier, Georgia [38,000 acres]
25. Davis Lake, Mississippi [200 acres]

Western Division
1. Clear Lake, California
2. Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California
3. Lake Berryessa, California
4. New Bullards Bar Reservoir, California [4,790 acres]
5. Saguaro Lake, Arizona [1,264 acres]
6. Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho [25,000 acres]
7. Diamond Valley Lake, California [4,500 acres]
8. Lake Havasu, Arizona/California [19,300 acres]
9. New Melones Lake, California [12,500 acres]
10. Apache Lake, Arizona [2,568 acres]
11. Dworshak Reservoir, Idaho [17,090 acres]
12. Columbia River, Oregon/Washington [191 miles from Portland to McNary Dam]
13. Siltcoos Lake, Oregon [3,164 acres]
14. Roosevelt Lake, Arizona [21,493 acres]
15. Potholes Reservoir, Washington [27,800 acres]
16. Sand Hollow Reservoir, Utah [1,322 acres]
17. Tenmile Lake, Oregon [1,626 acres]
18. Moses Lake, Washington [6,800 acres]
19. C.J. Strike Reservoir, Idaho [7,500 acres]
20. Lake Mohave, Nevada/Arizona [26,500 acres]
21. Brownlee Reservoir, Idaho/Oregon [15,000 acres]
22. Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona [108,335 acres]
23. Elephant Butte Reservoir, New Mexico [36,500 acres]
24. Lake Mead, Nevada/Arizona [158,080 acres]
25. Noxon Rapids Reservoir, Montana [7,700 acres]

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), radio show (Bassmaster Radio), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation presented by Magellan, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

Tough Bass Fishing at Bartletts Ferry

At Bartletts Ferry last Sunday in the Spalding County Sportsman Club tournament 10 fishermen landed 41 keepers weighing about 54 pounds. Four fishermen had five-bass limits and no one zeroed in the 8.5 hours we fished. Of the keepers, 17 were spotted bass.

Sam Smith won with five weighing 10.70 pounds and had a 3.03 pound largemouth for big fish. Raymond English had four weighing 6.97 for second, Kwong Yu placed third with five at 6.78 pounds and Billy Roberts came in fourth with four weighing 6.47 pounds.

What a difference a year makes. Last year this same weekend I won the tournament there with five weighing 14 pounds and had a five-pound largemouth. Russell Prevatt had a five pounder a little bigger than mine for big fish.

When I got to the lake Sunday morning my heart fell. The lake was two feet lower than it was last year, and when I put the boat in my temperature gauge read 80-degree water temperature, seven degrees warmer than last year.

Hardheaded me still tried to fish like I did last year. The first place I stopped where I caught fish last year the water on a seawall was only a few inches deep rather than more than two feet deep like last year. I did not get a bite.

Several more places that were good last year were just too shallow and warm this year. At 10:00 I did not have a fish so I went into desperation mode, fishing a jig head worm just trying to land a keeper. Last year I caught fish on spinnerbaits and a jig and pig, baits that usually produce bigger bass.

I caught my first keeper off a ledge on the river where I have caught many bass in the past but there was no current and the fish just were not feeding there. My second keeper came off a small brush pile and my third was under a dock, all on the jig head worm.

My fourth keeper hit the jig head worm on a small rocky point then, with 15 minutes left, I caught my biggest fish, not much over a pound, under a dock. That shows how small my other four fish really were!

The weather guessers did their usual good job of prognostication. They were saying it would rain all day so at the ramp I put on my rubber boots and rainsuit. It is much easier to do that on the ground than in the boat, especially the rubber boots.

It did not rain a drop until 10:00 then the sun came out. It got very hot and I had to struggle to take off the rainsuit and boots in the boat, but was miserable with them on. It did not rain at all that day.

Sometimes I think I would be better off just ignoring what the weather guessers predict.

Bad Fishing Luck Can Turn Into Good Luck

Sometimes bad fishing luck can turn into good luck. Last Sunday at the Sportsman Club tournament at Bartletts Ferry Sam Smith’s boat broke down before 9:00 AM a long way from the ramp. It took him almost six hours to get back to the ramp using his trolling motor and fishing as he went. He caught enough to win first place and big fish.

The first time it happened to me was in the late 1970s in a tournament at West Point, soon after it filled. Emmett Piland and I were fishing together out of my boat and we camped at Holliday Park the night before the tournament in pouring rain. The next morning my van was stuck in the soft ground at the campsite and by the time we got it out we arrived at the ramp just as it was time to go.

We checked in and finally got the boat in the water after everyone else had left. Then my motor would not crank for several minutes. When it finally cranked, it skipped and sputtered and would not get on plane so we slowly idled to the nearby bridge to fish, not where we had planned on fishing.

During that day we caught more than 100 bass off the riprap on the bridge. Many times we both had bass on at the same time. After lunch another boat in the tournament stopped as they idled under the bridge and said they had not caught a fish all day. About that time Emmett and I both set the hook and landed keepers. They just shook their heads and left.

We came in first and second in that tournament. If we had not had problems that morning we would have been running all over the lake and might not have caught a fish.

Another tournament at Bartletts Ferry a few years ago in February one of the boats would not crank in the cold. While the rest of us ran all over the lake trying to catch a fish they fished around the cove at the ramp all day, and came in first and second and one of them had big fish.

In a 2011 tournament at West Point I took off from Glass Bridge ramp and between the Highway 109 bridge and the railroad causeway my motor blew up. It took me all day to get back to the ramp but I caught enough bass to place third.

Of course, there have been many more times when bad luck with the motor just ended up being a very bad day.

College Fishing Athletes

Team Building Exercise

College Fishing Athletes Connect for National Championship
from St. Croix Rods

Park Falls, WI (May 30, 2017) – The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) bass fishing program (men’s and women’s) epitomizes how far the scholastic level of the sport has come. Led by full-time coach Isaac Payne – himself an avid angler and former SCAD grad – the team has placed both male and female athletes into several national championships over the past four seasons.

A case in point: SCAD standout Sean Hall – a former High School World Championship finalist attending SCAD through a bass fishing scholarship – has already qualified for every college championship available for the 2017-18 season.

Hall, along with teammate Justin Roberts, are the newest members of the St. Croix college fishing program, poised to make headlines this month at Alabama’s Pickwick Lake, where they’ll compete in the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship, presented by Cabela’s.
The team recently joined forces, and this event marks the first time they’ll compete together.

Collegiate bass fishing is unlike any other sport. Players often have varied backgrounds, and experience levels and practice sessions are anything but textbook. In addition, teammates are frequently paired with little knowledge of the other’s strength and weaknesses, yet their destiny lies in each other’s casts.

Hall and Roberts see little difficulty in their recent pairing, and have spent considerable time preparing for the Pickwick event. “It’s getting to the point where we know each other’s move before it happens” Hall said.

A scouting trip to the lake prior to the off-limits period proved productive, as the team located several schools of bass in shallow waters loaded with spawning shad. While the duo admits such a pattern won’t likely prove productive during the pre-summer event, knowing where a large majority of the bass were previously located could prove helpful when hunting current hot-spots.

SCAD fields both men’s and women’s fishing teams. Photo courtesy of SCAD

As with all SCAD bass athletes, a large percentage of preparation lies in regimented practice periods 2-3 times weekly, led by Coach Isaac Payne. Even Payne, however, cautions against treating competitive fishing like other sports, and focusing solely on the act of playing.

Instead, the mental aspect of practice can often be key, as can orderly duties like boat preparation and tackle maintenance. The key, Payne stresses, is that we’re all students of the game, constantly learning, regardless of skill level or past accomplishments. Payne encourages all anglers on the team to constantly add input, helping broaden the mindset of all players.

Both on and off the water, Hall and Roberts continue to communicate about nearly every variable in their lives, from tests and essay papers due in their classes, to discrete creek channel swings found on topo maps. The two use each other as a sounding board, enforcing the principle that two heads are better than one.

A quick trip to the nearby Savannah River proved a great testing platform for new gear, including St. Croix’s Bass X series and Mojo Bass rods. True to their team-style methods, Hall and Roberts dissect each new body of water by sharing the front deck and fishing rods during practice, allowing each angler to simply pick up and cast whatever’s on their mind at a given time. For the upcoming Pickwick event, that will likely mean cranking ledges, an offshore fishing method where rods featuring forgiving actions often claim the prize. “It’s gonna be all about the Big Crankster” Roberts declared, admitting his favoritism for St. Croix’s 7’8” Mojo Bass Glass model, designed specifically for winding big plugs.

Since the team believes the event will be dominated by offshore cranking patterns and ledge fishing, they’re prepared to spend the majority of their practice time off-shore. After power-fishing with cast-and-retrieve style baits, however, the pair plans to mop up more bass with a swing-head jig. The technique was responsible for a recent high finish for Roberts, and has become a major confidence builder on Tennessee River impoundments. Here, the Bass X 7’1” medium-heavy casting rod, with a faster action, will get the nod.

Think, test, tinker, repeat. As the team of Sean Hall and Justin Roberts focus on the fishing, they’ll need not forget the primary reason they came to SCAD: a degree from one of the premier design schools in the country.

Again unlike other collegiate sports, competitive fishing often requires athletes to be away from class for a week at a time, resulting in major strains on their schedule. Coach Payne turns up the heat, requiring a 3.0 GPA to stay eligible for his travel team; today, the SCAD men’s bass team carries a cumulative 3.3.

In the end, Sean Hall and Justin Roberts are ready. They’ve prepared tackle, discussed a game plan and worked ahead in class. Equally important, this unique new division of competitive bass fishing has prepared them for the real-world, through team building exercises that are far more fun than just sitting in class.

Second Place On Sinclair

The ten members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club had a tough day on Lake Sinclair last Sunday. We fished for eight hours on a bright sunny windy day to land 35 bass weighing about 55 pounds. There were three five-bass limits and no one zeroed.

Guest Gary Cronin won with five weighing 10.6 pounds, my five weighing 9.59 pounds was second, Don Gober with three weighing 7.17 pounds was third and his 3.48 pound largemouth was big fish, and Niles Murray came in fourth with five weighing 5.02 pounds. Niles had a good weekend!

I started good, in a way. We blasted off at 6:30 and at 6:45 I landed my first keeper on a Trick worm from a treetop. But it was skinny and just over 12 inches long. That worried me but even more worrisome was I had worked a topwater plug over the tree and ran a spinnerbait through it first. That told me the fish probably would not chase a faster moving bait.

Thirty minutes later I landed a second keeper from another tree top, this one on a jig head worm, my go-to bait on tough days. It was skinny too. I then fished for two hours trying to find more fish and finally caught my third keeper, another light-weight fish, from a dock.

As I worked out of that cove around a rocky point I cast my jig head worm to a rocky seawall near deep water. There was a patch of shade on the water from the pine trees on the bank, and I landed a fairly decent fish weighing about a pound and a half. On my next cast I caught my fifth keeper, another small one, to fill my limit.

After fishing another cove full of docks and catching only a throwback I went back to the point and caught my sixth keeper from the shade. But my best five would not have weighed five pounds total.

For the next three hours I worked docks and points but caught only a few more short fish. With an hour left to fish I had just worked around one of my favorite coves with docks, without a bite, and started to leave, but noticed the bank ahead of me was fairly steep, had seawalls on it and patches of shade. That rang a bell.

My first cast to the first patch of shade produced my biggest fish, a 2.8 pound largemouth. That was better. A few feet further, in the next patch of shade, I caught another one almost that size, then two more just under two pounds each before I ran out of time and had to go to weigh-in.

I surely am glad I found that little pattern!