Category Archives: Tournament Fishing

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.

Flint River April Oconee Tournament

On Sunday, April 8, 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!

Potato Creek Bassmasters Club Classic

The last two days in March the Potato Creek Bassmasters had our end of the year “Classic” at Lake Martin in Alabama. Sixteen members of the club qualified for this tournament by fishing at least eight club tournaments last year.

We weighed in 152 keeper bass weighing 223 pounds. Almost everyone had a five-fish limit both days. Ryan Edge won with ten weighing 17.58 pounds, Kwong Yu was second with ten at 17.42 pounds, Raymond English placed third with ten weighing 17.16 pounds, my ten at 16.83 pounds was fourth, Tom Tanner was fifth with ten at 16.48 pounds and his 3.76 pounder was big fish.

It was close! As usual, I had one bad day and one good day. I got back from the Top Six at Clarks Hill Tuesday and went to Martin Wednesday for one practice day on Thursday. I went to some of my favorite places that day and caught some decent fish on a spinnerbait so I decided to fish that way Friday.

Friday morning started out frustrating. Everything I did seemed wrong, with many backlashes and no bites in the first two places I tried. I had heard the fish were biting pretty good until about 9:00 AM but very poorly after that, and I and not gotten a bite at 9:00!

I started dragging a worm around, not the best way to catch quality fish most of the time, way earlier than I wanted to, and did manage to catch six small keepers and several throw-backs. But at weigh-in my five weighed less than six pounds and I was not even in the top half of the club that day.

That night I decided to go for broke since this tournament is a one-shot deal. Most tournaments at Martin are won in Kowaliga Creek, far from where we start at Wind Creek, and I hate to make that long run. But I did, getting lost one time around some islands and thinking I was lost another time in the dim light.

I finally made it to a rocky point where I have caught some quality spotted bass at first light but caught only two small fish. At 8:30 I headed to another point but slowed down to idle between two islands. I was not sure how deep it was and did not want to run aground. I am glad I slowed down.

As I idled through the gap that turned out to be 18 feet deep I saw some fish on the bottom on my depthfinder. They were in a position that looked like they might be feeding, and wind blowing through the gap had created a slight current, always a good thing. There were also some brush piles and rocks in the gap.

As soon as I dropped a swim bait to the bottom a two-pound spot hit it. I stayed in that gap for over four hours, catching close to 20 keeper spots between two and 2.68 pounds. It was fun and they hit swimbaits, jig head worms, a jig and pig and a Carolina rigged worm. They were still biting when I left at 1:00 to try to find a kicker fish the last hour we fished.

I really messed up at that point. At some brush piles known for producing big fish I got a bite on my Carolina rig but when I set the hook I broke my line. I was in too big a hurry and had not checked my line for nicks in it. I have no idea how big the fish was and I will never know.

Lesson learned, again. Slow down and check your line!

Frustrating March Tournaments At Oconee

Caught in March tournament

I came home in time to fish the Potato Creek Bassmasters March tournament at Oconee on Saturday, then went right back to Oconee the next day to fish the March Sportsman Club tournament. My results seem to tell me I did not learn much at the Classic about catching bass.

On Saturday, in the Potato Creek Tournament, 23 fishermen weighed in 46 14-inch keeper largemouth weighing 95 pounds. There was one limit of five fish weighed in.

Frank Anderson won with three weighing 9.59 pounds, Lee Hancock had the only limit and his five weighed 7.82 for second, Kwong Yu with three at 7.46 pounds was third and his 4.53 pounder was big fish and Jamie Beasley placed fourth with four weighing 7.19 pounds.

On Sunday in the Spalding County Sportsman Club tournament 19 members and guests and one and youth fished our tournament for eight hours. We landed 31 keepers weighing about 71 pounds. There was one limit and four of us zeroed.

Javin English blew us all away with five weighing 15.42 pounds for first, Billy Roberts had four weighing 7.68 for second, third was Niles Murray with three at 7.04 pounds and Russell Prevatt’s grandson, Craig Zoellner, fishing as a guest, placed fourth with two weighing 6.99 pounds, including big fish weighing 5.72 pounds.

Javin brought his nephew Kaden English, to fish the youth division. All our tournaments are designated youth tournaments and youth can fish them with no entry fee. They do not compete against the adults but win prize packages. Kaden had two weighing 5.62 pounds to win the youth division. He would have placed sixth in the adult division with his catch!

Dan Dupree and I took off Saturday morning and went to the point where I had caught three keepers in the Flint River tournament the previous Sunday. I landed two keepers there on a crankbait. During the next few hours we caught some short fish but no keepers. At 1:00 I went to some deep brush piles and caught my third keeper on a Carolina Rig. That was it for us.

In the Sportsman Club tournament my day started wrong when I waited in Jackson for 15 minutes for a partner that did not show up. At blast off I ran to the point where I had been catching keepers but in over an hour of fishing it I landed only two short fish. One was 13.98 inches long – so close but no cigar.

I fished hard for the rest of the tournament and landed about ten more short fish, but no keepers. I guess I got all the goodie out of that point. It was very frustrating.

Caught in March tournament

January Club Tournament At Jackson

Sunday, January 7, only five Flint River Bass Club members braved the icy cold to fish our January tournament at Jackson. When we took off at 8:00 AM it was a brisk 24 degrees, the wind was blowing and the water temperature was 45 degrees. At the 3:30 PM weigh-in we had 12 keepers weighing about 23 pounds. There was one limit and one zero. I was surprised there were five largemouth, usually spots are about all that hit in water that cold.

I got lucky and made a good decision or two and landed five weighing 10.97 pounds for first and had a 3.64-pound spot for big fish. Jordan McDonald had three at 5.91 pounds for second, Niles Murray was third with three at 5.18 for third and Doug Acree placed fourth with one at 1.38.

Knowing how cold it was going to be, I decided to set up a “milk run” of rocky points near the ramp. I did not want to ride far in the cold and wind, and rocky points are a good place to fish this time of year. So at blast-off I idled to a point near the ramp and started casting.

On my second cast a keeper spot hit my crankbait and I was thrilled. I knew I would not zero! Then a few minutes later I caught a largemouth on the same crankbait. It weighed almost three pounds so I was really happy. At 8:15 I landed another keeper spot on a jerk bait. That was a really good start, but it got tough after that.

I idled to another point and tried to fish it but the wind was blowing on it and my hands started burning. I missed a bite on a jig head worm. I thought I felt a bite but ice in my rod guides made the line scrape as I reeled it in, and I was not sure.

I dipped my rod into the water to melt the ice and before I could get back in position the fish took off and spit the hook. That was disappointing. A few minutes later I landed a largemouth that was just shorter than the 12-inch line on my keeper board.

After trying to fish some brush on a point in the wind I gave up and went back into a small creek that was somewhat protected from the wind. I would cast out a crankbait, reel it a few feet then have to dip my rod into the water to melt the ice. I just kept working around the creek, casting and dipping, out of the wind.

At 11:00 I got my next bite, the big spot. It hit the crankbait on a shallow rocky point. Four in the livewell with two decent fish. I started hoping I might catch a limit.

At noon I cast a jig and pig to some brush near a dock, got a bite and missed the fish. Knowing sometimes you can get another bite on different bait I picked up my jig head worm and caught another keeper largemouth, filling my limit.

For the next three hours I cast my crankbait and other baits. It was finally warm enough that ice did not form in my guides. At 2:00 I caught a keeper spot on the crankbait that was slightly bigger than the one in the livewell so I culled.

At 3:00 I went back to the point where the big one hit. With ten minutes to weigh-in Niles and Zero rode by headed to the ramp. Then, as Jordan came by, I caught my last fish with five minutes left. It was a keeper spot that hit my crankbait and culled my smallest fish.

I never got my boat faster than idle speed all day. And it worked!

Griffin Bass Clubs Annual Results

The fishing year for all three Griffin bass clubs ended with our December tournaments. All year we compete not only each day but get points for each tournament, based on where we place, and the top fishermen each year in the point standings get plaques and bragging rights for the next year. And the top six in two of the clubs qualify for the state federation Top Six tournaments.

In the Flint River Bass Club, I won with 1310 points, weighing in 48 bass weighing 85.9 pounds over the year. Niles Murray was second with 960 points, 35 bass and 65.73 pounds. Don Gober placed third with 780 points, 26 bass and 27.21 pounds. Alex Gober was fourth with 740 points, 21 bass and 27.21 pounds. Chuck Croft was fourth with 620 points, 22 bass and 32.63 pounds. Sixth was John Smith with 450 points, 10 bass and 13.41 pounds. Niles won big fish for the year with a 6.62 pounder caught at Oconee in March.

In the Potato Creek Bassmasters Raymond English won with 1065 points, 67 bass and 113.18 pounds. I was second with 1000 points, 55 bass and 99.05 pounds. Kwong Yu placed third with 770 points, 47 bass and 92.75 pounds. Lee Hancock was fourth with 945 points, 45 bass and 91.24 pounds. Niles Murray placed fifth with 650 points, 41 bass and 73.67 pounds. Sixth place was Donnie Willis with 635 points, 45 bass and 69.62 pounds. Tom Tanner caught an 8.09 pounder in March at Wedowee for big fish.

I won the Spalding County Sportsman Club standings with 313 points, 61 bass and 102.08 pounds. Zane Fleck was second with 279 points, 49 bass and 70.95 pounds. Raymond English placed third with 274 points and 49 bass weighing 94.4 pounds. Fourth was Russell Prevatt with 247 points, 36 bass and 58.87 pounds. Fifth was Billy Roberts with 179 points, 32 bass and 44.48 pounds. Sixth place was Kwong Yu with 177 points, 37 bass and 68.97 pounds. Kwong also had big fish of the year with a 6.4 pounder caught at West Point in February.

In both Flint River and Potato Creek, first place gets 100 points for first, 90 for second down to 10 for tenth place. Bonus points are also awarded for meeting and tournament attendance. In the Sportsman Club first gets 25 points, second 24 down to 1 for 25th place, with bonus points for meeting and tournament attendance as well as big fish and limits in each tournament.

All three clubs start over with our January tournaments. Flint River meets the first Tuesday of each month with a Sunday tournament the following weekend. We also have three two-day tournaments. Potato Creek meets the Monday after the first Tuesday and fished the following Saturday, with three two-day tournaments. Spalding County meets the third Tuesday and fishes the following Sunday with two two-day tournaments.

This is a good time to join and club and compete, not only in each tournament but for the point standings for the year. Both Flint River and Spalding County send their top six to Federation tournaments, but the Potato Creek club has its own special tournament, the Classic, for money taken in over the year.

If you look over the results above and think “I could do better than that,” come on our and join us. Join one club or all three as Niles and I do. Several others are in two of the three clubs.

Dues and tournament fees are not expensive. Annual dues in Flint River are $60 and you also have to join BASS. Potato Creek has $50 dues and is not in a federation. In the Sportsman club the dues are $75 but that includes an annual membership in the FLW.

Entry fees are $20 for each tournament in Flint River. We also have optional daily big fish pots of $5 and two other pots, a cumulative big fish pot of $5 that is taken up at each tournament. The first person to catch one over six pounds wins it all. If no one breaks six pounds, or if it is not broken again after a six pounder is caught, the person with the biggest fish after it is broken wins it. There is also a $5 points pot. The person winning the point standings for the year gets half of it and the other half is drawn for from everyone that has been in it all year.

In Potato Creek entry fee is $30 with a $5 big fish pot and a $5 cumulative pot. Sportsman Club has a $25 entry fee with a $5 cumulative pot.

January Tournament at Sinclair

On Sunday, January 21 at Sinclair 13 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our January tournament. We landed 18 keeper 12 inch bass weighing about 38 pounds in 7.5 hour of casting. There was one limit and four people did not have a fish.

I won with five weighing 12.14 pounds, Wayne Teal placed second with two weighing 7.83 pounds and his 5.91 pound largemouth was big fish, Jay Gerson fished with Wayne and had three at 4.05 for third and Russell Prevatt’s 3.29 pounder placed fourth.

January showed how important a trolling motor is to me. I won two of the three I fished with limits in both and had big fish in one of them but placed eighth in the other one. The two I won my trolling motor worked, in the other one it did not. I had to fish where the wind blew me or sit in one place and cast with the power poles holding the boat in place.

I fished some of the same places at Sinclair but could ease along slowly, making casts, with my trolling motor. The week before I blew past the brush piles with only one bite where I caught all five of the fish I weighed in Sunday. I had three more keepers
I culled, the first from behind a dock I had tried to fish the week before but without a trolling motor could not cast to that specific spot. Two of the other keepers I did not weigh in came while easing around a cove where I could not fish the weekend before because the wind blew me around too much.

We started at 8:00 AM fishing a shallow bank I like. I had heard fish the weekend before were caught shallow on crankbaits but did not get a bite until 9:20 AM when the first small keeper hit my crankbait behind the dock. At 10:00 we had not had another bite, so I decided to try some deep brush.

We pulled up to a brush pile that was in water that dropped from 10 to 30 feet very fast. I had tried to fish it the weekend before, but with the wind all I could do was pull into shallow water behind it, put my power poles down and try to make cast to it. I never got a bite that day but Sunday, while moving a jig and pig very slowly through the brush, I caught two of my biggest fish.

We tried some other places and I caught one keeper on a crankbait and one on a shaky head worm but ended up culling both. When we went back to the deep brush and I caught my biggest of the day, just over three pounds. By then I realized the bright sun and lack of breeze drove the fish to deep water, so we fished it the rest of the day.

I caught two more good keeps on the jig that culled my smaller fish, both out of deep brush where I tried to fish without a trolling motor the week before but could not because of the wind. I had to fish extremely slowly, and the fish did not hit hard, I would just feel my line get “mushy.” That’s when another advancement, quality, light-weight, very sensitive rods, help a lot.

What a difference having a working trolling motor made!