Category Archives: Tournament Fishing

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.

Fishing Weiss Lake

When your wife decides everything in the house you have lived in for 37 years is unsatisfactory and plans to renovate it, that is a good time to go to the lake for a couple of weeks. So I did, heading to Lake Weiss for five days and then straight to Clarks Hill for another week.

Unfortunately, work was slow and I came home a week too early!

Weekend before last the Spalding County Sportsman Club held our June tournament at Lake Weiss. Ten members and two guests fished 16 hours in two very hot days to land 45 keeper bass weighing about 80 pounds. There were two five-fish limits and two fishermen did not catch a keeper.

Jay Gerson won with nine bass weighing 14.74 pounds. He had a limit the first day and four the second day. Glenn Anders on brought in six keepers weighing 12.49 pounds for second, my six at 9.74 pounds was third and Raymond English was fourth with eight bass weighing 8.52 pounds. Kwong Yu had a 4.95 pound largemouth for big fish.

I spent two days trying to find a pattern for the tournament. The first day I quickly hooked a keeper on a buzzbait so I thought that would be a good way to start each morning. But then I fished shallow water hard to land only one keeper on a worm in the next three hours of casting buzzbaits and worms.

All afternoon, until a thunderstorm drove me off the lake, I rode open water ledges and points looking for fish. I could see fish on my electronics but could not get them to bite. Fish in open water often just hold in place, not feeding, until current makes them active. There was no current.

Friday morning, I caught a nice keeper up shallow around some grass on a chatterbait but that was my only bite shallow. Again, I rode deep structure and found excellent cover like brush piles and rocks, with fish on them, but got no bites. Since some Weiss bass are known to feed very shallow, even in hot water, and I could not get any bites out deep, I told my partner Chris Davies we would probably fish shallow all day both days.

Saturday morning we started on a rocky bank and within a few minutes I landed a 3.46 pound Coosa spotted bass on a spinnerbait, a good start. That fired me up but in the next hour I missed one bite on a frog and nothing else fishing spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and frogs while Chris tried a variety of baits.

We then fished some docks and I landed a little largemouth on a shaky head worm, so I hoped that was a pattern. Over the next five hours we fished all kinds of shallow cover, and Chris caught five keepers, the only other limit in the tournament, but I never hooked one.

At 1:00 on a windblown rocky bank I landed my third keeper on a spinnerbait. That was it for the day and at weigh-in Chris was in third place with 7.66 pounds and I was in fifth with 5.57 pounds, a very disappointing day. There were two four-pound bass weighed in making my spot third biggest fish, but most with a big fish caught only one or two more to go with it, like me.

Sunday morning, we tried a different starting place, running to some lighted docks, but got no strikes. As it got light we ran way up a creek to some grass beds where I have caught fish in past years but did not get a bite. At 7:30 we fished up a shady bank and I landed a small keeper on a spinnerbait, then on another small grassy point I caught two keepers close together on the spinnerbait.

For the next six hours we tried everything we could think of, fishing different places and a variety of baits, but neither of us ever got another bite.

At weigh-in Jay, after leading the first day, held on to first with his four keepers. But the others ahead of me the first day either zeroed or had one small fish. Glenn moved up from sixth to second with three nice fish and I moved up to third with my three small ones. Raymond moved up from seventh to fourth with four keepers, the most anyone other than Jay caught that day.

You never know what will happen in a tournament, as this shows. That is why I try to never give up until the last cast is made.

I heard the better fish were caught on buzzbits, but Chris and I never got a bite on one. I guess we were fishing the wrong places. I caught only one on a shaky head in two days but Chris caught all five of his on Saturday on one. The fishing was very tough and inconsistent!

Hope you had a great, safe Independence Day and remembered the reasons we celebrate, and kept the military that keeps us free and safe in your thoughts.

Two Tough Lake Oconee Tournaments

Fishing at Oconee has been tough the past two weekends. Last Saturday the Potato Creek Bassmsters fished our June tournament there, and the weekend before the Flint River Bass Club fished our June tournament on Sunday.

In the Flint River club 14 members and guests fished nine hours to land 17 bass weighing about 36 pounds. There was one five-fish limit and seven members did not catch a 14-inch keeper.

Chuck Croft won with a limit weighing 12.57 pounds and had big fish with a 4.55 pound largemouth. I came in second with four at 8.67 pounds, Gary Cato had two weighing 3.84 for third and fourth was guest Kevin Cato with two weighing 2.86 pounds.

Chuck said he caught his fish on buzzbaits and landed six keepers during the day, culling one. I struggled, missing several bites early on a top water popper. My first keeper hit a shaky head worm by a dock at 8:30 then my second one came off another dock on the same bait less than an hour later.

After three hours of fishing docks without another keeper, I tried a deeper, rocky point and landed my third keeper on the shaky head worm at 12:30. My last keeper hit on another dock with just an hour left to fish, hitting the same bait.

In the Potato Creek Bassmasters, 21 members fished for eight hours to land 32 keepers weighing about 58 pounds. There was one limit and four fishermen did not catch a keeper.

Lee Hancock won with five weighing 8.26 pounds, Raymond English placed second with three weighing 6.02 pounds, Buddy Laseter was third with two at 5.51 pound. Niles Murray came in fourth with two weighing 5.34 pounds and his 3.74 pound largemouth was big fish.

I was somewhat excited Saturday morning, thinking I could catch fish like I did the weekend before, but it was not to be. I started better, landing two keepers early on a buzzbait and losing one about two pounds that jumped and threw the hook right beside the boat.

At 8:30 I fished some brush on a deep point that I had found with my electronics the weekend before and landed my third keeper. That was it, I did not catch another fish although I tried the same places I had caught fish the weekend before. It is amazing how things change in a few days.

Both tournaments were hot and boat traffic kept us rocking and rolling all day. This past Saturday was the worst, with no breeze and blazing sun. About noon I thought I was either having a heat stoke or getting seasick, or maybe a combination of the two!

Fishing during the day will be hot and you will face boat waves all day on weekends the rest of the summer. Night fishing is the way to go, it is cooler for you and the fish bite better. But there are so many idiots out there, even at night, that you have to be very careful, even more so than during the day.

The only thing worst than fishing in the heat and rough water is not going at all!

March West Point Tournament

The last Sunday in March 15 members and guests of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our February tournament at West Point. The unusually warm weather had the fish feeding. We landed 66 keeper bass weighing about 101 pounds. All but 8 of the keepers were spotted bass. There were 11 limits, and no one zeroed.

I won with five weighing 12.22 pounds and my 5.35 pound largemouth was big fish. Robert Proctor came in second with five at 11.09 pounds, Billy Roberts placed third with five weighing 9.40 pounds and Javin English was fourth with five at 8.87 pounds.

I went over on Wednesday trying to find some kind of pattern. Thursday afternoon, after catching some bass, I cast a shaky head worm to a rocky point and got a thump. When I set the hook, my rod bowed up and the fish pulled my boat around the small creek for 15 minutes before I was finally able to land a 22-pound flathead catfish. That was a highlight of the trip.

I thought I had a good plan, but Sunday morning started very frustrating. I lost two keepers before finally landing a small keeper at 9:15. At 10:35 I went to the point where William Scott and I had missed a bunch of bites the weekend before and put my fifth keeper in the live well ten minutes later. I was able to hook almost every fish that bit there and had ten keepers in the livewell at 11:15.

After getting my limit I started casting a jig and pig, hoping to catch a big fish, and the big one hit on a nearby point at 11:30. After that I really relaxed, and fished some new places, trying for another big one, but caught only one more keeper the rest of the day.

May Eufaula Tournament

In the May Sportsman Club tournament last weekend at Eufaulaq, 13 members fished for 18 hours in two days to land 58 bass weighing about 126 pounds. Five of the keepers were spotted bass. There were eight five-fish limits and two members did not catch a fish.

I won with ten weighing 27.35 pounds and had a 4.30 pound largemouth for big fish. Raymond English placed second with ten weighing 24.64, his partner Kwong Yu had ten at 24.52 for third. Wayne Teal had nine weighing 18 pounds for fourth.

I got real lucky, spotting some birds feeding in grass along the shoreline at first light the first day. When I went there I was surprised to see gizzard shad spawning. I though it was too late for that.

In the two days I caught five bass early on frogs in the grass, then caught some on worms. Saturday, I had a good limit at 9:40, including two over four pounds each, and Sunday had my limit at 8:00 with two three pounders. So as the sun got up and hot I got under the bridge, staying somewhat cool and trying to catch a bass big enough to upgrade my limit.

I stayed under that bridge for more than nine of the 18 hours we fished and caught exactly four keepers. Two of them did help my weight, but it got kinda boring fishing the same place so long. But at least I was not out in the sun!

Fishing Lake Hartwell

Five pound largemouth and nice spot from Hartwell

I went up and camped, practicing and fishing a Flint River Bass Club weekend before last and a Potato Creek Bassmasters tournament last weekend. The first day there, the day before the Flint River tournament, I spent all day fishing shallow, looking for the big largemouth that inhabit the lake but saw mostly turtles.

I did catch eight bass, all small male bass, on six different baits. I saw some big largemouth cruising the shallows but if I cast within 30 feet of them they took off, running from the bait even if it entered with barely a ripple! There was no pattern to where they were or what they would hit, not a good sign for the tournament. Saturday morning I went to a point where I caught bass last year this time, and in the first 30 minutes landed two six-pound hybrids and five keeper spotted bass, filling my limit.

All the spots were small so at 7:00 I went to shallow docks, trying to catch a kicker fish. After fishing docks for almost two hours with one bite, a short spot, I decided to fish one more dock then try something else. But a cast to it got a bite, and I landed a 5.08 pound largemouth.

It was a miracle fish. I had cast over a dock cable and the fish ran back under it. Normally the cable will cut your line when a fish pulls against it, but I managed to net the fish, unhook it then get my line back over the cable.

When I stopped shaking and put the fish in the live well I counted and had fished 31 docks. But the big one made me keep trying. After two more hours of casting to 30 more docks without a single bite I went back out on the main lake and caught more small spotted bass that did not help. With just an hour left to fish I caught three big spotted bass that culled three of the four remaining small fish I had caught first thing that morning.

The first day I led with 13.54 pounds. The second day I tried everything I could think of except shallow docks. I caught only a hybrid on the point where I had the limit the day before. I landed exactly five small spots weighing 6.41 pounds and dropped to second with 19.95 but my 5.08 was big fish. New member Gary Cronin won with ten at 20.07, Don Gober was third with nine weighing 14.60 and Brent Drake placed fourth with ten weighing 13.77.

I spent four days trying to find some pattern the next week but caught only two or three fish a day. I started Friday in the tournament on my favorite point but caught only a short fish. On shoal markers I managed to land 11 keepers, the best five weighing 9.77 pounds and putting me in first. But as the weekend before, on Saturday I could land only four small spots weighing 6.10 and dropped to fourth with nine weighing 15.52.

Lee Hancock won with ten at 17.74 and had big fish with a 3.75 pound largemouth. Ryan Edge was second with ten at 17.34 and Kwong Yu placed third with ten at 16.55.

The lake was very crowded since there was a BFL tournament there Saturday and fishing was much tougher than it should be this time of year, even for them. It took only 14-14 to win it and 10-3 for tenth even though many of those guys are experts on Hartwell.

Bass Tournament on Lake Sinclair

Last Sunday 11 members of the Flint River Bass Club fished our April tournament at Lake Sinclair. We landed 46 keepers weighing about 92 ponds. There were eight five fish limits and one fisherman zeroed.

New club member Bubba Siren won with five weighing 15.10 and had big fish with a 5.35 pound largemouth. Doug Acree was second with five at 14.02 pounds, my five at 10.65 pounds was third and Chuck Croft placed fourth with five at 10.05 pounds.

For me it was a tough day. At my first stop I was excited to see shad spawning in the grass and on a seawall, often a sign bass will be feeding. And I quickly got a hard hit on my spinnerbait, but it was a three-pound hybrid. Within a few minutes I landed two more that size.

My luck got much better when I cast a chatterbait behind a dock. The wind took my line over the post, and as I started reeling it up to the post to try to get it off a nice bass hit. I was able to pull the fish completely out of the water against the post, use my trolling motor to ease over and get it. I could not believe it did not come off.

Then it got tough. I fished several places for the next 90 minutes and caught a couple of small fish, but at 9:10 I cast the chatterbait to some boat house rails, got a good thump and caught my biggest bass, a 3.06 pounder.

It took over two more hours with a few more short fish before A nice two pounder hit my chatterbait in a ditch, the kind of place I expected them to be. For the next two hours I fished places like that without a bite.

At 1:00 I was fishing a seawall with a jig head worm and caught my smallest keeper. That gave me four. I decided to spend my last hour in a small cove I like, but when I got to it there was a boat fishing there so
I went to another cover where I have never caught a fish.

With ten minutes left to fish another two-pounder hit my chatterbait on a seawall, giving me my limit. That I why I never give up and cast right to the last minute in tournaments!

Bad Clarks Hill Tournament

Last Saturday and Sunday, 13 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club and one youth competitor fished our Clarks Hill April tournament. We weighed in 84 keeper bass weighing about 129 pounds. There were eight five-fish limits and no one zeroed.

Wayne Teal won with ten weighing 18.98 pounds and had big fish with a 4.18 pound largemouth, George Roberts was second with ten at 16.47 pounds, Raymond English placed third with ten at 14.47 pounds and Kwong Yu was fourth with eight weighing 12.94 pounds. Cooper Terry won the Youth Division with three weighing 6.02 pounds and had big fish with a largemouth weighing 3.06 pounds.

This has been a very frustrating spring for me and this tournament added to it. I fished Thursday and Friday trying to figure something out, and caught one bass, a big crappie and a gar in two days. I thought some fish would be in the shallow flooded grass where I caught some quality bass a month ago but could not get a bite around it.

That grass was rotting, and I decided it was using up the water oxygen and keeping the fish out of the shallows. I never saw even a bream swimming in it. So I tried to find fish on other cover. I definitely outsmarted myself since the tournament was won in that grass.

Saturday morning I went to a rocky point where I can usually catch some bass this time of year, but did not get a bite in the first hour. Back in a cove I did miss one fish on a weightless Trick worm and caught a small keeper and that should have told me something, but those were the only two bites, and they were both small, so that added to my thoughts of no oxygen in them.

On a rocky hump I caught a decent keeper but that was the only one there, a place where bass should be schooling up. I tried another shallow cove and as I went around it I saw some brush out in 20 feet of water on my 360 scan depthfinder. A cast to it produced a three pounder so that made me fish deeper for several hours, but not more bites.

In desperation I went back shallow and caught my fourth keeper on a whacky rigged worm under a dock, but that was my last bite for the day. My four that day put me in third place so I had some hope for Sunday.

Sunday morning, I got no bites on the rocky hump where I started, and nothing in the brush or around the docks. I decided to make a major change and ran to a bridge, but no bites there, either.

I thought about fishing a nearby point where I had caught fish before, but almost left without going to it. As I fished around it two rental jon boats rounded it, full of kids banging paddles against the side of the aluminum boat. Again I almost left, but a cast right behind those boats as they left produced a keeper.

I caught my second one a little later on that point, but that was it. I dropped to sixth place with my two little keepers.

April Lanier Tournament

Last Saturday the Potato Creek Bassmasters had our April tournament at Lanier. Dan Dupree won with 13 pounds and had big fish, Kwong Yu had 11 pounds for second, Lee Hancock was third with ten pounds and Niles Murray placed fourth with nine pounds.

I wanted to go up early, so I made reservation at Van Pugh Campground, the closest one to where we would take off with an open campsite, but about 20 miles away by road. I did not realize until I got there Thursday afternoon the gate stayed locked until 7:00 – 15 minutes after blast-off for the club.

Fortunately, a boat ramp is available in the campground. The first thing I did after launching the boat Thursday morning was to ride to Balus Creek ramp, where the tournament would be held. That left a track in my GPS I could follow in the dark Saturday morning. It took me about 15 minutes to make the trip at 30 miles per hour, about as fast as I would run in the dark, so it was seven to eight miles by water.

Friday, I spent a lot of time looking for bedding bass. The clear water at Lanier makes it easier to see them but even with the good conditions I could not find any. I just could not see them.

I did catch one three-pound spot under a dock on a whacky rigged worm. At a dock back in a creek I skipped a frog under a dock and watched a five to six pound largemouth come up and look at it. Then I saw one just as big right beside it. That excited me even though they did not hit.

Saturday morning the ride up was dark but no problem. I went to two of my favorite points but never got a bite. Then I went to the dock where I had caught the three pounder the day before and landed a spot just under three pounds on a swim bait. At another dock a little later I got another two pounder on the swim bait.

Then I went to the dock with the big fish and spent way too much time trying to find them, but never did. I caught two more keepers and several short fish on the whacky rig before time to quit. I ended up with four weighing just under eight pounds.

The ride back to the campground took a lot longer that afternoon due to the big waves from all the sail boats and off shore yachts that plough Lanier during pretty weather.