Category Archives: Bass Fishing

Bass Fishing Information

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!

Tennessee BASS Nation High School State Championship

Capt Jake Davis
State Advisor/State Tournament Coordinator
615.613.2382

Tims Ford Lake, Winchester, TN. (May 13, 2017) – Lenoir City High School’s Jacob Woods and Austin Winter who took down the 2016-17 State Championship on Tims Ford Lake with 28.87 pounds!! Woods and Winter bested a field of 124 High School Teams from across 22 Tennessee High Schools in the Tennessee BASS Nation High School State Championship held this past weekend in Winchester, TN.

Rounding out the top ten teams was Second Place Bailey Fain, Lenior City with 26.38, Third Place Case Anderson/Grant Hodosi, Grundy County with 23.46, Fourth Place Kyle Ingleburger/Kyle Palmer, Grundy County with 22.63, Fifth Place Chase Cantrell/Nathan Powell, Whitwell High with 22.53, Sixth Place Asa Robertson/Blake Delong, Warren County with 21.55, Seventh Place Thomas Sanders/Caston Hensel, Summit High with 21.02, Eight Place Harry James/Trip Costello, Franklin High with 20.86, Ninth Place Hunter Haley/Garrett Fellers, Coffee County with 20.71 and Tenth Place Jon-David Bedford/Ty Cobb, Lawrence County with 20.51 pounds.

Kyle Ingleburger/Kyle Palmer of Grundy County High School earned distinctive honors as the 2016-2017 Tennessee BASS Nation High School Points Champions with 589 points for the season and just edging out Jacob Woods/Austin Winter from Lenoir City who had 580 points. Also the top 25 teams in the points race for the year earned invitations to the 2017 BASS Nation National Championship to be held on Kentucky Lake in June.

The Tennessee BASS Nation High School Trail in 2016-2017 also established a formal scholarship in addition to the tournament scholarships which are good for any higher education. They turned to Mrs. Beth Cragar, the Dean of Financial Aid, and her staff at University of the South to complete a non-partisan review of all applications. TN State Rep. David Alexander, Thom Abraham from BASS Master Radio, David Lowrie and MS. Beth Cragar presented Baily Fain of Lenoir City with a $1000 scholarship, receiving $500 Scholarships was Kyle Ingleburger of Grundy County (attends Franklin County High School), William Schibig, Gallatin High School and Trevor St. John of Campbell County High School.

David Lowrie, TN BASS Nation High School and youth State Director, stated qualifying teams competed for just over $20,000 in scholarships and prizes, which are completely funded by trail sponsors such as Academy Sports + Outdoors, Citizens Tri-County Bank, Lowrance Electronics, Denali Rods, Shimano Reels, Jackall Baits, John Roberts Toyota, John Roberts Nissan, Mountain DEW and many others. “I also want to thank the City of Winchester, Thom Abraham host of BASS Master Radio, TN Rep David Alexander, Winchester City Cile Alexander, Beth Rhoton the Winchester City Administrator and Captain Jake Davis, Tennessee BASS Nation High School State Tournament Coordinator/Advisor,” stated Lowrie More information can be found at www.tnhsbasstrail.com

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Jake Davis, State Advisor/State Tournament Coordinator

Fishing Pickwick Lake with Shane Cox

Last Wednesday morning I got up at 2:15 AM and drove to Iuka, Mississippi to meet Shane Cox, owner of Hammer Rods, to “do research” for a June Map of the Month Alabama Outdoor News article on Pickwick Lake. Pickwick is a big Tennessee River lake mostly in Alabama but its dam is in Mississippi and the north shore there is in Tennessee in that area.

It is as far north and west as you can go in Alabama. The six-hour drive is the longest one I do for any articles. I have driven it both ways and fished during the day in the past but I think those days are over! On my longest trip ever, a few years ago I met Karen Elkins at Neely Henry at 6:00 AM after driving for four hours. We fished until 9:00 that night – I was in the boat 15 hours – then had another four-hour drive home. That was my longest day, 23 hours!

Shane lives near Pickwick and is very good there. Week before last he had a five-bass limit weighing 30 pounds to win a local tournament. Pickwick produces a lot of big bass if you know how to catch them.

We ran to a river ledge where the bottom quickly dropped from 13 feet down to 30 feet deep. Shane kept the boat out over the deep water and we cast big crankbaits to the shallow water, cranking them down to bump the bottom. As they came off the bottom on the edge of the ledge, fish would hit it.

I was sitting in the bottom of the boat taking notes when he made his first cast. He said “look at that” and I looked as two three pound largemouth wallowed on top, both hook on his plug. Then he got excited and said there was a four pound smallmouth following the two hooked ones! Since I was sitting down I could not see it. One of the three pounders came off but he landed the other one.

That made me quickly grab my rod and start casting. Shane was using one of his rods made for throwing big crankbaits, a 7 foot, 11 inch model. He could throw a crankbait about half again as far as I could on my 6.5 foot rod. That helped him get his crankbait down deeper than I could get mine to go.

I did catch a three-pound largemouth and a two pound largemouth, but he landed seven or eight, including two close to six pounds each and several more in the four pound range. His best five would have weighed about 25 pounds, one of the best limits I have ever seen caught in person.

The original plan was to run to his tournament hole and catch a couple of bass for pictures then go look at ten similar spots to put on the map. We stayed longer because Shane wanted to catch that smallmouth!

After a few hours of looking at the spots and me taking notes while he fished and caught several more three-pound bass, we finished up on hole ten. As I completed my notes on it Shane caught a hybrid. I got up and started casting but this ledge was deeper and I could not get my crankbait to run deep enough, so Shane let me use his rod. I had thought maybe it was his skill that allowed him to make longer casts, but I found with his rod I could cast just as far.

Shane caught another hybrid and a two-pound largemouth on a swimbait and I did not get a bite. I quickly get worn out cranking a big plug and Shane felt sorry for me and swapped rods. A swimbait is easy to fish, you cast it out and reel it in with little resistance. This pattern was let it hit bottom then start reeling and I managed to hang his bait and lose it.

Rather than lose any more of his baits I dug around in my tackle box and found a three-quarters ounce football head jig. I carry a small box with some tackle in it, mostly stuff I usually don’t use, on these trips. That jig has been in there for years and I have never caught a bass on a football head jig,

The first cast I made I let the jig hit bottom in 18 feet of water and drug it to the drop. As it started falling I felt a thump and set the hook and landed a three-pound largemouth. I did that on the next three cast in a row, then went three cast without a bite but caught my fifth fish in eight cast on the next one. All were three-pound fish so I had a five-fish limit weighing 15 pounds in less than 15 minutes.

I would love to do that in a club tournament!

I left Pickwick at 3:30 PM and headed home, thinking I might be able to drive all the way. But after turning west rather than east onto I-20 in Birmingham, a turn I have made dozens of times coming home, I stopped just east of Birmingham and got a motel room for the night. I knew I was too tired to think straight.

Pickwick is a long way away but the fishing can be incredible!

Frustrating April Club Tournament at Clarks Hill

In April 1974 Jim Berry invited me to fish the Spalding County Sportsman Club April tournament at Clarks Hill, my first ever. Last weekend we fished our April tournament there. We have not missed many tournaments in April on that lake in 43 years.

The lake is different every year. Full last year, this year I watched a barn swallow scoop mud from the edge of the water to build its nest on a nearby bridge. Last year that birds head would have been under 8.3 feet of water. And for whatever reason the bigger bass bit much better last year.

In the tournament, 12 fishermen landed 88 keeper bass weighing about 160 pounds. And that includes four fishermen that left after one day since the weather guessers guessed at rain for Sunday. It did not rain a drop until after 8:00 that night. There were 15 five-bass limits and no one zeroed.

Raymond Edge landed 10 keepers weighing 21.39 pounds for first, Robert Proctor had ten weighing 18.53 for second, John Miller had ten at 18.04 for third and big fish with a 5.73 pounder, Sam Smith placed fourth with ten at 17.10 and my ten weighing 13.98 was fifth.

I went over on Wednesday afternoon and stayed at my place at Raysville Boat Club. The tournament was out of Mistletoe State Park, a 30-minute drive by land but less than ten minutes by boat if light enough to see. It was both mornings.

Wednesday afternoon I looked at some of my favorite places to fish and caught a couple of keepers, but nothing to be excited about in a tournament. Everyone I talked with said the herring and shad were spawning so then next morning I drove around to Cherokee Landing, about 20 minutes away and ten miles down the lake, and put in just as it got daylight.

It was very foggy but I wanted to idle around and look for herring and shad spawning, so I did. I found a few schools and caught a couple of bass, but again not what I expected. I never got a hit on topwater. And I did not expect to have to idle around until 10:30 when the fog finally lifted. But being able to get on plane did not help. I did not find anything worth fishing.

Friday morning I put in at the boat club and went up the river, a completely different kind of fishing, and had caught seven keepers by noon, but none weighed more than 1.5 pounds. Then, at noon under the blazing sun, I landed three bass over two pounds each on three consecutive points on a topwater plug. Then I caught a three pounder on a lizard on the next one. I thought I was on something.

Of course, in the tournament that did not work. I did catch five weighing 9.38 the first day, all after 10:00. Sunday I again did not have a fish at ten and managed to catch five weighing a whopping 4.6 pounds by noon, dropping from fourth the first day to fifth the second.

April has been a strange month for bass fishing. I hope May is better!

How much of a good thing is too much?

How much of a good thing is too much? As of today, April 2, I have been on the lake in a bass boat nine of twelve days, from Hartwell on the Georgia/South Carolina line to West Point on the Georgia/Alabama line, then back to Hartwell, then Lay Lake in Alabama Friday and Jackson here today. Today we are fishing the Sportsman Club tournament on Oconee.

The Georgia Bass Chapter Federation Top Six was at Hartwell Monday and Tuesday, so I went over last Wed and camped two nights, fishing Hartwell Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday. Friday morning I got up and drove to West Point, all the way across the state, right through downtown Atlanta, to practice for a Potato Creek Bassmasters Classis Saturday.

After spending the night at home Friday night I fished West Point Saturday and after that tournament Niles Murray, Raymond English and I headed cross state to Hartwell They were both on the Top Six Team.

I slept in Sunday and then went to the drawing for the tournament. After fishing the tournament Monday and Tuesday I met Martha Goodfellow, a fishing pro, and her husband on Wednesday morning and fished all day to get information for a Georgia Outdoor News article. They live near Hartwell and fish it a lot.

I drove the three hours home Thursday morning then got up Friday at 2:30 AM to drive to Lay Lake and meet Caleb Dennis to get information for the May Alabama Outdoor News article. Yesterday I got up and took my old boat to Jackson to show it on the water to a buyer. Today, the Sportsman Club is fishing our March tournament a week late due to the Top Six.

Unfortunately, I did lots more driving and riding than I did catching, except for Lay. Although I started great the first place I stopped Wednesday afternoon, landing a five pound largemouth on a spinnerbait then a keeper spot and a 12 pound striper, those were the only three bites I got.

Thursday morning started right, too. I quickly caught a three-pound largemouth on a jig head worm then a two pounder on a spinnerbait. But those were the only two for the next six hours. That was very frustrating.

Friday at West Point I thought I had found three good places to catch fish. And they all did produce fish Saturday, just not enough numbers and size. I had five weighing a little over seven pounds. Buddy Laster, fishing behind Raymond English, had five weighing over 13 pounds to win. Michael Cox had five weighing 11 pounds for second and big fish with a pretty 6.5 pounder he caught with just a few minutes left to fish. I think Niles Murray finished third with nine pounds and Ryan Edge finished fourth, but by the time of weigh-in I was not thinking totally clearly!

At Hartwell I drew Carl Logan as a partner for the first day. He is one of the best fishermen in Georgia and had made the state team many times. His club, the Marietta Bassmasters, is usually the top team in the state. Carl said he was on a good pattern to catch a limit of fish weighing at least 12 pounds so I was excited.

Of course, after seven hours of fishing each of us caught two small keepers weighing 3.5 pounds total. But the fish were where we were fishing. Carl’s practice partner, Brenden Smith, pulled up on a point we had just fished without a bite and he landed five keepers, on the same bait we were throwing! He had 13.5 pounds that day on the exact pattern we were fishing sand a similar weight the second day to finish fifth overall out of 156 competitors.

My second day partner, Fred Lisk with the 26 Bassmasters, another top club in Georgia, had 10.5 pounds the first day and his partner had almost 10 pounds, so I told him to run the boat the next day. After five hours of fishing we each had two only keepers!

At noon I told him I wanted to run to my “desperation” creek and try it. It was about ten miles away so by the time we got there we had about 1.5 hours to fish. The fist cast I made I hooked and lost a 2.5 pound largemouth then landed three keepers, filling my limit. My partner caught two so we had five keepers in 90 minutes, more than the seven hours the day before and the five that morning put together.

That just shows how decisions make a difference. I wish now I had insisted on my half of each day in that creek, but I did not. Raymond English was fishing there when I got there and he said he lost a four pounder in there, so there were some good fish in it. That’s fishing!

Raymond had about ten pounds each day to finish with ten keepers weighing just over 20 pounds total to place first on the Spalding County Sportsman Club team in 34th place overall. I was dead last on the team with seven keepers, placing 124th.

Friday at Lay I landed three keepers, one about three pounds, all on a spinnerbait while 19-year-old Caleb showed me how to fish, landing about ten keepers with the five biggest weighing about 16 pounds. He caught them on a little of everything.

If my luck holds the buyer changed his mind about buying my boat yesterday and today at Oconee I will get in a lot of casting practice with little catching.