Category Archives: Tournament Fishing

Tough Times At Bartletts Ferry

Last Saturday 14 members of the Potato Creek Bass Club fished our September tournament at Bartletts Ferry Lake. We landed 23 spotted and largemouth bass. There were no limits and five people did not have a 12-inch keeper after casting for seven hours.

William Scott won with four keepers weighing 5.22 pounds and I was a very close second with four weighing 5.21 pounds. But my 2.15 pound largemouth was big fish, beating William’s biggest fish by the same amount, only .01 pounds! Kwong Yu placed third with three at 3.81 pounds and Donnie Willis was fourth with two weighing 3.31 pounds.

I was surprised when I got near the ramp. Folks were backed up 200 yards from the boat ramp entrance, waiting to put in. We found out there were at least three other clubs taking off at about the same time as us.

Kwong and Zero both offered to help me get my boat in the water since I was by myself. That is the way it is in bass clubs, we try to help each other. Even nicer, Kwong kept my keys until that afternoon. As I pulled into the cove to take out, he saw me and had my trailer in the water by the time I got to the ramp.

That morning I should have known better to start right at the ramp, but there is a security light on the bank in front of a nearby house, and I can almost always catch a fish or two before the sun gets bright. It is a very shallow bank and so many boats ran by it when they took off that big waves washed it. I never got a bite.

I had a plan. My next stop was a deep bank that stays shady most of the morning. But there was another boat on it. Same for the third place I wanted to fish. So I stopped on a point I had not planned to fish. At 8:00 I caught two short spots on it.

Since the lake was crowded I decided to stay on that point longer than I normally would have, and it paid off with a keeper spot at 8:20. At 8:40 I cast to some deep brush on the side of the point and caught another keeper spot, this one a little bigger.

At 9:00 another cast to that brush got a hit. When I set the hook, the fish was tangled in the brush. After sawing it back and fourth a couple of times it locked down tight, a bad sign. As long as I can feel the tangled fish moving I have hope it will come out but when it does not move it usually means the line is wrapped around limbs.

As I eased the boat directly over the brush the fish suddenly came free and started fighting. I was worried since I knew my line had to be frayed. But I managed to get the fish to the boat and net it. It was the 2.15 pounder that turned out to be big fish and I guess it was one just meant to get caught.

For the next four hours I fished several places, often pulling in as another boat left. I did catch one short spot and lost a fish I did not see on dropshot in deep brush.

With an hour left to fish I went back where I had caught my first three but got no bites. I remembered some brush on a nearby point and stopped on it with about ten minutes to fish. I needed to leave at 1:50 to get in on time and at 1:49 caught my fourth fish out of the brush. All four keepers hit a shaky head worm.

I am glad the water is cooling and fishing should get better soon!

Tough Fishing At West Point

Last Sunday six members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club fished our September tournament at West Point. We brought three 12-inch keeper spots and one 14-inch keeper largemouth to the scales after eight hours of casting. There were no limits and two folks zeroed.

Alex Gober won and had big fish with the only largemouth weighing 3.27 pounds. Brent Drake was second with one at 1.50, Don Gober was third with one weighing 1.11 and my barely keeper spot weighing .92 was fourth.

I had hopes of catching a few fish and started on the point where Zack Presley and I had both caught keeper largemouth two weeks ago in the Sportsman Club tournament. We had also both missed fish on topwater lures there, too. After two hours and a variety of baits, I never got a bite.

My second stop was a point where I had caught two keeper spots and lost one in the last tournament, but I never got a bite there, either. At 10:30 I was on another point and got a bite on a shaky head worm. It didn’t fight much so I thought it was a small spot, but as I lifted it out of the water I saw it was a keeper.

I watched as it came off the hook, hit the windshield, flopped on the deck then went back into the water. The next two casts to the same brush produced bites and I landed both, but they were not keepers. The fish were hitting strangely, especially for spots. I never felt a hit, my line just started coming toward the boat.

After 30 minutes casting to the same place with the same bait I got a similar bite, set the hook and landed my only keeper. I stayed there another hour but got no more bites of any kind. I guess I used up that point!

Although fish were swirling around me, hitting shad on top, I never got a bite the rest of the day on a variety of places I tried. I think they were small spots and hybrids but could not get them to hit.

I was just happy to be fishing!

West Point Club Tournament

Sunday, August 26. 14 member, guests and youth fished our August tournament at West Point. After 8.5 hours of casting, we brought in 26 keeper bass weighing about 39 pounds. There were only 6 keeper largemouth 14 or more inches long, the rest were spots. Two members had five-fish limits and there were four zeroes.

Kwong Yu won with five weighing 9.17 pounds and had big fish with a 4.05 pound largemouth. Raymond
English placed second with five at 8.19 pounds, Jay Gerson placed third with three weighing 5.01 pounds and Chris Davies was fourth with tree at 3.71. Jackson Terry won the youth division.

I had a very frustrating day, catching a keeper largemouth on a shaky head about 7:30, then a spot on the same bait at about noon. I got my third fish, a keeper spot, on a drop shot a few minutes later. Those three gave me fifth place,.02 pounds out of fourth and getting a check!

Fishing One Day of a Two Day Tournament at Lake Weiss

We lucked out at Weiss last week with the weather, but not with the fish. Clouds and breezes kept it bearable since it was a little cooler. But the fish did not seem to care that we were more comfortable.

I thought the turnout for the Flint River tournament at Clarks Hill was bad, but the Potato Creek turnout was worse. Only three of us showed up to fish a two-day tournament at Weiss! We landed eight keepers weighing about 15 pounds and nobody had a limit.

I won with four weighing 8.69 pounds. Raymond English was second with two at 4.68 pounds and had big fish with a 3.20 pound largemouth. Kwong Yu fished with Raymond and had two at 1.74 for third.

My trip started badly. I had a blow-out on a trailer tired about two miles from where I was staying at Crossroads Campground Wednesday afternoon. George and Shelia, the campground managers that helped make my stay very nice, suggested OK Tires in Centre.

I spent last Thursday morning riding ledges and humps, looking for deep fish. There were some beautiful drops with brush, stumps and rocks on them, with what looked like fish holding on the cover, but the only bites I got were taps and I never hooked a fish. I think they were either crappie or bream pecking at my worms with the tails dipped in chartreuse JJs Magic.

Thursday afternoon when it got hot I took my tire to the tire store and Tim was great. He got a tire on my rim and balanced in just a few minutes even though they were very busy. I also found out he was a tournament fisherman and gave me some tips. He said some of the ledges I ran that morning looked good to him, too, but he had never hooked a fish on them, either.

Friday morning was cloudy, so I decided to fish shallow. The first rocky bank I tried I caught a good keeper largemouth on a buzzbait. Then on a deep bank with docks on it I got two good spots about 2.5 pounds each on the buzzbait. That told me where to start the next morning and gave me hope.

I got a call Friday afternoon that I had a doctor’s appointment Monday morning. I had planned to stay

Sunday night and rest up before the drive home, but the appointment was too early to do that. I thought about driving home tired and sleepy and decided I might just fish one day of the two and drive home Sunday.

Saturday morning, I started on the deep bank, throwing a spinnerbait since it was still dark.
After fishing about 300 yards down it with no bites
I was disgusted, but then a 2.5-pound spot hit my spinnerbait right at the boat and I landed it.

I went back over that bank with a buzzbait but got no more bites. I then went to another bank I like and finally caught a keeper largemouth on a crankbait at about 10:00. Two hours later I went to another deep bank and caught a keeper spot on a shaky head. I was happy with three keepers with three hours left to fish.

With an hour left to fish I was back on the deep bank where I started. I cast a shaky head worm behind a dock, got a tap and set the hook. Then I realized my line was over the corner of the dock.

I pulled a 2.97 pound largemouth out of the water. It was hanging in the air, thrashing around. I grabbed my net and went to it but as I reached out with the net the line came off the dock and the fish took off. Somehow, I got it back to the boat and netted it.

It was my biggest fish and a miracle since my line was badly frayed for a foot about two feet above the hook. Some fish are just meant to get caught.

I decided to sleep in Sunday morning and drive home. I later found out Raymond and Kwong gave up at noon rather than fish until 2:00, as planned.

If you go to Weiss I highly recommend Crossroads Campground if you camp. A good ramp at the Spring Creek bridge is only half a mile away. And if you have tire problems, OK Tires will treat you right and you may even get some fishing tips!

Clarks Hill August Tournament

In the Flint River Bass Club tournament only four of us showed up. We weighed in ten bass weighing about 15 pounds and one fisherman didn’t weigh in anything.

I won with eight weighing 11.90 pounds and had big fish with a 4.62 pound largemouth. JJ Polak had one at 2.19 pounds for second and Chuck Croft had one at 1.04 pounds for third.

The other three wanted to quit at noon both days but club rules say times are set at the meeting. The first day everyone was there at 3:00 but Sunday I was the only one, the other three gave up at 10:00 that morning and went home!

I started Saturday morning on a bridge riprap and landed three keepers, one on a spinnerbait and two on a crankbait, before the sun came up. Then I tried a bunch of deep rocks and brush I had located with my electronics on Thursday and Friday in practice.
I caught one on a rock pile in 20 feet of water.

I was real frustrated about 8:00. The third place I had planned on fishing some deep rocks and brush in 22 feet of water on a long main lake point with fish holding on them. But when I got where I could see it there were two boats anchored on it, fishing live bait. I saw one catch what looked like a keeper bass but never got to fish there that day.

Sunday morning, I headed to the bridge and caught one keeper on a spinnerbait but an hour later, after trying several baits, never got another bite. I next went to a deep rockpile where I have caught fish in the past and had seen some on it on Friday, but I guess they were crappie. I had got several bites on it Saturday but never hooked a fish, and that repeated Sunday morning.

Some brush was near those rocks and I had fished them Saturday without a bite, and almost didn’t go to it. But I did, and at 8:00 got a thump on a shaky head worm jiggling it in 25 feet deep in the brush straight under the boat. It was the 4.62 pounder.

I then headed to the main lake point and there were no boats on it. I managed to catch my third keeper on it on a drop shot worm as soon as I stopped but got no more bites after more than an hour.

At 12:20 I went back to the brush where I caught the big one and caught my second biggest fish out of it on a Carolina rig. That was it and I had to weigh-in all by myself.

I wish we would fish at night but this weekend the Potato Creek Bassmasters is fishing Lake Weiss from 6:30 AM to 3:00 PM Sunday and 6:30 AM to 2:00 PM Sunday! And I will be there.

Terrible Tournament at Jackson Lake

A week ago last Sunday 15 members and guests of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our July tournament at Jackson Lake. We also had one youth competitor. After fishing from 5:30 AM to noon, we brought in 38 keeper bass weighing about 43 pounds. There were no limits and one fisherman didn’t catch a keeper. There were 11 largemouth and 27 spots landed.

Glenn Anderson won with three weighing 6.52 pounds and had big fish with a 2.38 pound largemouth. Niles
Murray placed second with four weighing 5.54 pounds, Kwong Yu was third with four at 4.96 pounds and Jay Gerson had three weighing 4.03 pounds for fourth.

Jackson Terry, our only youth competitor, had one weighing 1.59 pounds and won that division. And he beat me and several other adults!

Fish were reportedly caught on a variety of baits, from buzzbaits to shaky head worms. I guessed wrong. I had gone to Jackson on Thursday to look around and went way up the Alcovy River where the water was cooler, had a little stain and was flowing. I caught one keeper and lost two more in the hour I fished there.

In my vast wisdom I figured all the rain the two days before the tournament had muddied up the river, so I stayed in Tussahaw Creek. Of course, several of the people that finished in the top five or six said they went up the Alcovy and the water was not muddy.

I could not get a bite on anything but a shaky head worm and landed one keeper. Several other fish made a fool out of me. At least three times I cast right beside a seawall and when I started tightening up my line it stayed slack. By the time I caught up with the fish it was all the way out back under the boat and I did not get a good hookset and lost the fish.

I did learn from those first three and when it happened the fourth time, as soon as I realized my line was slack I set the hook, and landed a 1.10-pound spot, my only keeper. Then I got lazy and let two more get back out under the boat before setting the hook. In my mind I should have landed five more fish, and I saw two of them as they came off that looked like keepers.

I did catch several spots about 11 inches long and kept them to eat. That size bass tastes good, is easy to filet and need to be killed. Spots have overpopulated some of our lakes so badly there is no size limit on them. If you go to Jackson, West Point or other lakes with lots of little spots, keep some to eat.

Frustrating Tournament At Sinclair

Last Saturday 20 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished out July tournament at Lake Sinclair. After fishing from 5:30 AM till noon, we brought in 38 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 60 pounds. There were three five-fish limits and eight members did not weigh in a keeper.

Lee Hancock won with five weighing 8.95 pounds, Raymond English was second with five weighing 8.46 pounds, Kwong Yu placed third with five at 8.04 pounds and Jack Ridgeway came in fourth with two weighing 6.80 pounds and had big fish with a 5.90 pound largemouth.

William Scott and I started on a lighted dock, usually a good plan, but did not get a bite. Our second stop was a dock where I caught my first keeper under a light the week before, but the light was not on and we got no bites there, either.

After making a short run to the cove where
I caught my best fish on topwater baits the week before, I landed my first keeper on a buzzbait. Then my second one hit a shaky head worm about 6:30 AM. William then got a keeper on a worm a few minutes later.

The next cove produced my third keeper at 7:15. We decided to go back to the cove that had produced three keepers for us, and as we started on one side we saw club member Tom Tanner fishing the opposite side. We did not get a bite, but Tom told me he caught three keepers in that cove. We had left it too soon!

We then went to some of William’s favorite places and I got a small keeper, my fourth, off a dock he said we should not bother fishing. I went to it because it was in the shade and just felt like a place to fish to me.

That was it, we fished all kinds of cover and structure till weigh-in but never caught another fish. My four weighed a whopping 3.99 pounds, not even a pound each. The weekend before I had five and four were about that size but the three pounder I landed in that tournament made the difference. We just could not get the bigger fish to bite.

Fishing will be tough on our area lakes for the next two or three months, before it gets better as water starts to cool. Most bass are feeding at night right now and it is just tough to catch them during the day. And it is hot and rough from all the pleasure boats. My preference is to fish at night this time of year, but all our tournaments are during the day.

Rare Trout Species

Fishingenuity “Backs Up the Data” on Rare Trout Species
Editor’s Note: Here’s an interesting feature from Craig Springer of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on a program designed to assure the continued existence of a unique strain of trout.

By Craig Springer, USFWS
from The Fishing Wire

The biological clock never ceases ticking, and all living things die. But that clock can be frozen, and decay ceased indefinitely. The implications to fish conservation are large.

Rare trout


Apache trout – photo Jennifer Johnson USFWS
Williams Creek National Fish Hatchery, situated amid the ponderosa pine-studded hills of the White Mountains of eastern Arizona, harbors gold: the only captive Apache trout brood stock in existence.

This hatchery, one of 70 other national fish hatcheries, turns 80 years old this year. It’s a product of the New Deal era—a hatchery built on Apache lands under the auspices of the White Mountain Apache Tribe for the express purpose of raising trout for fishing. Trout fishing, then as now, helps fuel a rural and tourism-based economy in the White Mountains.

The Apache trout, as odd as it may seem, is a fairly recent arrival to the hatchery given that it sits so closely juxtaposed to native trout’s habitats. Recognizing the trout swimming in their streams as something special, the tribe closed off reservation waters to fishing approximately 30 years before the Endangered Species Act became law in 1973. The tribe was the first conservator of Apache trout.

Though this rare trout wasn’t described for science until 1972, hatchery biologists made early attempts at creating an Apache trout brood stock. Getting wild fish accustomed to captivity is difficult. Those attempts fell flat until 1983, by which time commercial fish food had become more refined such that captive wild fish take to it easier. The existing Apache trout brood stock turns 35 year old this year. Those captive fish descend from the original fish brought on station more than three decades ago.

Apache trout sperm for freezing


Apache Trout sperm label indicates to be frozen at Warm Springs Fish Tech Center in GA Jennifer Johnson USFWS
To bolster the brood stock, the biologists have turned to what sounds like science-fiction: “cryopreservation.” It’s a big word for this: they collected sperm from wild Apache trout and froze it.

It’s science-fact. Hatchery biologists along with staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Arizona Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office and White Mountain Apache Tribe collected sperm from wild Apache trout from the East Fork White River. Under the guidance of Service biologist Dr. William Wayman at the Warm Springs Fish Technology Center in Georgia, the team of biologists collected and froze sperm from several individual Apache trout this past spring.

Gathered and stored in clear straws the approximate size of a coffee stirrer, the sperm now reside in vats of liquid nitrogen at -321 degrees Fahrenheit in Georgia in permanent storage, locked in time. And there it will be stored until it’s needed for spawning at the hatchery in November.

“We expect cryopreservation to boost our brood stock,” said hatchery manager, Bruce Thompson. “Cryopreservation reduces the likelihood of spreading disease that comes with having live fish brought in from the wild, not to mention the savings—a savings in space, in time and in money—by not having to keep wild male trout alive on the hatchery.”

The hatchery stock originated from the East Fork White River—it’s a rare lineage of a rare trout, says Service geneticist, Dr. Wade Wilson. He’s stationed at the Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center in Dexter, New Mexico. Wilson has expert knowledge of trout, having worked with two other species native to the American Southwest, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout and Gila trout.

“Cryopreservation at least preserves the genetic diversity of the males, and the main advantage is that we can infuse wild genetics into the captive fish with great ease,” said Wilson. And the approach will be disciplined, as Wilson has developed a plan for the hatchery staff to ensure that each pairing yields genetically robust Apache trout offspring that exemplify the East Fork lineage. Having collected the genetics from the wild male fish and the captive female Apache trout, data from Wilson’s shop will steer captive spawning this autumn. Those offspring will be future brood stock.

Caught a large Apache trout


Bradley Clarkson Alchesay-Williams Creek National Fish Hatchery biologist and White Mountain Apache Tribe member handles a large Apache trout – photo Craig Springer USFWS

The whole idea of freezing and thawing a living organism gives flight to the imagination, even if it is a single cell. Cryopreservation hasn’t been use yet for Apache trout brood stock management, but the concept isn’t new. The method is common in the livestock industry and has been used for decades.

For rare, native trout, “it’s like backing up your data” says Thompson. “You store off-site what’s precious, and we’re confident that this is good for Apache trout conservation.”

Craig Springer, External Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Southwest Region

Lake Chatuge BASS Angler of the Year Championship Preview

When I was growing up in the 1950s and early 60s my family took a week-long trip to the mountains every summer. We drove up to the area around Hiawasee on the Georgia/North Carolina border and visited all the popular tourist sites.

Back then things were very different. Roadside stores that had everything from gas to groceries often had a bear cub chained outside under a tree and you could buy a five-cent coke and give it to him. The bear would greedily turn it up and drink it down.

I learned about scams early in my life on those trips. One place had a covered cage with a sign “see a copperhead and baby rattler 5 cents.” I paid my nickel expecting to see two snakes. Instead, under the cover was a copper penny, heads up, and a baby rattle. I was disappointed but learned a valuable lesson.

We did see majestic views from overlooks, and I was moved by the outdoor play “Unto These Hills’” the story of the Cherokee Indians being forced from their homeland to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.

We stopped more than one year at caves and I fell in love with the wonderous beauty of what water and minerals can do under ground over thousands of years. And rocks were everywhere, many kinds that I had never seen. I always came home with many for my rock collection. We even panned for gold and gems at one place on one of these trips.

We traveled cheap, staying at small motels and eating sandwiches at roadside parks for lunch. We did go out to dinner each night, usually at a small dinner that served basic food at a low cost.

I have good and bad memories of those trips. Fighting in the back seat with my younger brother was always a problem, and one day at lunch I turned up my coke without noticing a yellowjacket on the bottle mouth. My lip was swollen for several days that year!

Those memories were brought back to me last week when I went to Lake Chatuge for a Georgia Outdoor News September Map of the Month article. BASS is having their Angler of the Year Championship at Chatuge in September and this article will be a preview of what might work for them.

In the Angler of the Year Championship, the top 50 fishermen on the Elite Series are invited to fish against each other for points and money. It is a fun tournament for most of them, only three or four are still close enough in the points to make it mean much. It should be an interesting tournament.

Chatuge is a beautiful, clear, deep lake with mountains ringing it, making it very scenic all times of the year. And it has big spotted bass as well as a good population of largemouth. I went out with Cas Anderson, a high school fisherman that lives on the lake and won the points standings in the Georgia BASS Nation high school series this year.

He said the tournament will probably be won with a limit of spots weighing 16 to 18 pounds each day in the three-day tournament. Cas did say one of the pros might lead for one day with largemouth, but they are so scattered it would be hard to catch enough to win a three-day tournament.

We caught a good many keeper spots fishing brush in 20 feet of water on points and humps and saw some schooling fish we could not get to hit our baits. Cas said in September the fish will be even deeper and most quality fish needed to win will be at least 30 feet deep.

Chatuge would be a great lake for a fishing trip with the family. There are lots of interesting things to do other than fishing. And going up to watch the pros in September might be a good way to learn something about catching bass.

July Tournament at Sinclair

Last Sunday 13 members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club fished our July tournament at Sinclair. In nine hours of casting we landed 26 12-inch keepers weighing about 36 pounds. There were three five-fish limits and four fishermen didn’t catch a keeper.

I won with five weighing 7.66 pounds and my 3.35 pound largemouth was big fish. Chuck Croft was second with five weighing 7.40 pounds, Niles Murray was third with five at 5.65 and Phil King placed fourth with two weighing 3.72 pounds.

My partner Brandon Bailey and I headed down the lake, planning on starting on a grass bed in a cove, but I saw a dock with a light on and decided to stop there. After several casts with topwater I picked up a Texas rigged worm and a keeper grabbed it before it hit bottom and took off, hooking itself. My first keeper at 6:15, a good start.

A nearby dock has deep brush on it so I eased over to it and started casting. After a few casts with the worm the first one hit, I picked up a jig and pig to fish the deeper brush. A thump made me set the hook and my heart almost stopped, it was a big fish. After a few seconds I calmed down a little and told my partner it was a catfish since it was rolling. I kept hoping I was wrong until a 12 to 15-pound blue cat came to the surface.

After netting it and getting the slime off my line, and letting my hands stop shaking, we ran to the grassbed I had planned on starting on, and quickly caught a keeper on a buzzbait then the big fish on a popper. On a nearby dock where I had never caught a fish I landed my fourth keeper on a shaky head worm at 8:15.

Brandon and I fished hard for the next six hours and he caught a keeper on a dock. Then, with three minutes left to fish, I landed my fifth keeper by a dock on a shaky head worm. It turned out to be the difference between first and second place!

That’s why I never give up until the last second.