Category Archives: Tournament Fishing

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!

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.

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

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!

Lake Hartwell Bass Tournament

In the two-day Potato Creek Bassmasters April tournament at Lake Hartwell, 20 members fished for 17.5 hours to land 298 pounds of bass. Lee Hancock won with ten weighing 28.91 pounds and his 5.29 pound largemouth was big fish. His partner Jack Ridgeway came in second with ten weighing 26.38 pounds, Kwong Yu was third with ten at 24.82 and my ten weighing 22.00 placed second.

I had good and bad luck. One day of the tournament I landed a big hybrid and a keeper spotted bass the first few minutes after we started. Then I hooked and landed a 4.6 pound largemouth. So far so good. But then I lost four big fish in various ways, two of them that I saw and were as big or bigger than the 4.6 pounder. A couple got me around stumps and broke me off, one just pulled off and one jumped and threw the topwater plug.

I had a limit the first 90 minutes of the tournament and later in the day had to release four two-pound largemouth since I had five that big or bigger. That day I weighed in five weighing about 12.5 pounds. But Lee and Zero were ahead of me with their great catch that day.

The other day I started by catching a ten pound striper and a four pound hybrid on top, then a keeper spot. A few minutes later on two casts I had two fish weighing between 2.5 and 3 pounds each that came completely out of the water and my topwater plug went sailing. Another five pound plus largemouth ran at my plug in about a foot of water. I could see its back out of the water. I don’t think I set the hook too soon but may have since I never felt it.

I tried another place and filled my limit but then hooked a four-pound largemouth that jumped two feet out of the water and threw my jig head worm. That is rare since that bait is light, unlike a big topwater plug that has enough weight that when the bass shakes its head the hooks pull free.

The last two hours I fished deeper with the jig head worm and landed a 3.22 pound spotted bass and another one that culled my smallest fish, ending up with five weighing just under ten pounds. That was it for the two days. I hooked enough big bass to win but did not get them in the boat.

The Sportsman Club is at Clarks Hill this weekend. I hope my good luck holds and my bad luck gets better!

Flint River Bass Club Tournament At Lake Oconee

Just in time for the Flint River Bass Club tournament last Sunday winter decided to revisit our area. On a cold, rainy, windy day 12 members, one guest and one youth fished for up to eight hours to land 24 bass longer than the 14 inch minimum size on Lake Oconee. They weighed about 70 pounds. Those of us that stayed to the end had three limits but six people either zeroed or left early due to the weather.

Sam Smith had an incredible catch for our club of five keepers weighing 18.39 pounds. Sam’s big fish weighed 4.85 pounds so all of his other keepers were quality fish in the three to four pound range. Niles had what would usually be a winning weight but placed second with five at 15.72 and had big fish with a very nice 6.62 pounder. Niles is on a big fish roll this year!

I had what I thought was a really good catch with five at 13.64 pounds and placed third. New member Daniel Hinkelman placed fourth with five weighing 11.72 pounds. Kelly Chanbers had two keepers weighing 5.25 for fifth place. I was surprised at the number of bass weighing in that weighed in the four-pound range.

Kelly and I were very frustrated with the rain and wind that “burned” exposed skin, especially since we had one small keeper each at 1:30. I knew the fish should be shallow near bedding areas, even with the changing weather, since the water temperature was 59 degrees.

But no matter where we fished or what we tried we could not catch much. We did land several fish under the 14-inch limit but keepers were tough to find. Kelly got one on a rattle bait first thing then I caught one on a Carolina rig but those were the only two keepers. We had tried spinnerbaits, crankbaits, chatterbaits and several kinds of plastics.

Then at 1:30 in some brush in the very back of the cove I hooked and landed a 3.93 pound largemouth on a jig head worm from some brush. Working out of that cove I got my third keeper on a spinnerbait off a windblown dock, something I had tried dozens of casts without a bite. Then going into the next cove I landed another bass close to four pounds on a jig head worm.

We worked around that cove then Kelly got a 3.97 pound largemouth from some brush on a jig head worm. A few feet further up the bank I cast my jig head worm to a rock in about three feet of water and landed my fifth keeper, filling my limit with another bass close to four pounds.

That was it for the day, five keepers in one hour out of the eight we fished. At weigh-in I felt pretty good until I saw Sam’s and Niles’ great catches! Niles said he got the big one on a rattlebait and had, like me, only five keepers. Sam surprised me by saying he landed 22 keepers during the day, all on spinnerbaits, something I could not get a bite while fishing.

Just goes to show many patterns work most days even if they are not working for you, and also show you should never give up while fishing.