Category Archives: Tournament Fishing

Excuses For Not Catching Fish

I can always come up with lots of excuses when I don’t catch bass. But fishing tournaments and looking at results from other tournaments on the same lake the same day tell me they are just excuses.

The fish just didn’t bite, it was a bad day. The water was too muddy, or it was too clear. The weather was too sunny, or it was too cloudy. I fished the wrong depth, lure, place or speed. There was no current or there was too much current.

The water level was too low, or it was too high. The water was rising, or it was dropping. I didn’t spend enough time on the lake. I just don’t fish this lake enough. I’m getting old and can’t fish hard like I used to.

All are good excuses, but they don’t seem to apply to everybody else that fished the same day, for some reason. When I do everything I can think of for eight hours and catch only two bass in eight hours, like I did last Sunday, its hard to admit I am just not that good a fisherman.

Good fishermen don’t make excuses, they just figure out how to catch bass. Even though everyone, even the top pros, have bad days and don’t do well, they are much more consistent than I am, and that is true of most club fishermen. There are different levels of expertise.

I get to fish with some of the top pros in the US doing “research” for magazine articles. The BASS Elite Series and FLW Tour have some of the best bass fishermen in the world on them. Of those pros, I have spent the day in the boat with 11 guys on the Elite Series and seven of the Tour guys.

I have written about 275 Map of the Month articles in Georgia Outdoor News magazine in the past 23 years and about 100 in Alabama Outdoor News over the past eight years since it started. Not only do I go out with the top pros, I do those articles with other good fishermen, including local tournament fishermen, college and high school fishermen and men and women that guide on the lake.

Looks like I would learn how to catch fish. And I do learn and pick up tips and skills from them. But all of them have one thing in common, they go out and figure out what the fish are doing that day and are adaptable. They do not keep doing the same thing and getting the same bad results as I tend to do.

I think the really good fishermen have some “sixth sense“ for finding and catching bass. I get little glimmers of it some days, just knowing if I do certain things they will work even before I go fishing. But it is not consistent.

Some say that sixth sense comes from time on the water and experience. Maybe for some, but it has not worked that way for me.

Way back in 1983 I almost qualified for the BASS Classic through the federation route, missing going by one two-pound bass in a three day Regional tournament. I thought I was pretty good, so I signed up for the Redman Trail, the BFL now, the next year. After fishing all six in 1984 without getting a check I thought it was first year jitters.

I fished all six the next year and again did not get a check. That made me decide I am a pretty good club fisherman but not above that level. Some trips make me wonder about being good even at that level, as the results below show.

Griffin Club Results for 2018

Final results from local clubs are compiled for 2018. In the Flint River Bass Club, Potato Creek Bassmasters and Spalding County Sportsman Club members compete all year for points at monthly tournaments, and the top six at the end of the year are awarded plaques and bragging rights. All three use a point system rather than total weight but we keep up with both.
In the Flint River club we award 100 points for first place in each tournament down to 10 for tenth place. There are also 20 tournament attendance points and ten meeting attendance points for each month. After 12 tournaments, I won with 1440 points weighing in 62 bass with as total weight of 112.03 pounds. I was the only member to fish all 12 tournaments so that made a big difference.

Alex Gober placed second with 670 points, 25 bass and 40.81 pounds and his grandfather Don Gober was third with 650 points and 34 bass weighing 45.3 pounds. Niles Murray was fourth with 590 points, 17 bass, 28.39 pounds, fifth was Chuck Croft with 550 points, 18 bass, 24.47 pounds and Doug Acree placed sixth with 470 points, 11 bass and 22.21 pounds. Brandon Bailey had big fish for the year with a 6.29 pounder.

In Potato Creek the same point system is used. Lee Hancock placed first with 920 points weighing in 56 bass at 98.97 pounds, Kwong YU was second with 880 points, 48 bass and 84.57 pounds and Raymond English was third with 805 points, 49 bass and 81.46 pounds.

Doug Acree placed fourth with 780 points, 49 bass, 94.47 pounds, I was fifth with 730 points, 49 bass, 83.78 pounds and Tom Tanner came in sixth with 610 points, 35 bass and 68.38 pounds. Jack Ridgeway had big fish for the year with a 5.90 pounder.

In Spalding County, points are different, with 25 for first down to one for 25, and bonus points are awarded for meeting and tournament attendance as well as big fish and limits in each tournament. Raymond English placed first with 300 points weighing in 69 bass at 116.32 pounds.

Jay Gerson placed second with 281 points, 58 bass, 88.29 pounds, I was third with 272 points, 57 bass, 107.45 pounds, Kwong Yu came in fourth with 241 points, 48 bass, 93.7 pounds, Wayne Teal was fifth with 219 points, 46 bass, 85.21 pounds and Billy Roberts was sixth with 238 points, 51 bass and 76.23 pounds. Wayne Teal had big fish with a 5.91 pounder.

If those results seem low, join one, two or all three clubs and show us how to do it. Entry fees and dues are low, and we do not pay out much money in the tournaments, but we have a lot of fun and share information after each tournament.

All three clubs are starting our year now. Flint River meets the first Tuesday of each month at Bryans, Potato Creek the Monday after the first Tuesday at Panda Bear and Sportsman Club the third Tuesday at Bryans. Potato Creek fishes the Saturday after the meeting and the other two on the Sunday after the meeting. All three clubs fish some two day tournaments, too.

Flint River met this week and is fishing this Sunday at Lanier, Potato Creek meets Monday and fishes next Saturday at Sinclair and Sportsman Club meets on the 15th and fishes the following Sunday at Jackson. You can fish alone or with a partner of your choosing that is a member of the club. And we welcome fishermen with no boats, we have more than enough to find you someone to fish with.

I joined the Sportsman Club in 1974, Flint River in 1978 and Potato Creek three year ago. I love club fishing and try to fish every tournament in all three. I will keep fishing all three as long as I am able!

Spalding County Sportsman Club Rules

The Spalding County Sportsman Club was formed in the 1950s and the group hunted and fished together. In the late 1960s the club started having bass tournaments and these rules were started from club rules at the time. No input from the Bass Angler Sportsman Society was used, unlike the Flint River Bass Club rules Those rules were developed from BASS. These rules have developed over the years and have served the club well.

A. Tournament committee shall be comprised of the executive officers and the top six fishermen. This committee shall make all new rules and will rule on all decisions. Its decisions shall be final in all tournament matters.
B. The tournament committee shall plan the dates and locations of all tournaments. This committee reserves the right to change the date and location of any tournament. The schedule will be presented for a vote by the club membership at the January meeting each year. After adoption, the schedule can only be changed by following the rule for a by-law change. Tournaments can be canceled by the tournament director due to dangerous conditions. NO canceled tournament will be rescheduled.
C. Recorder shall be the same as the club tournament director. Duties shall consist of keeping complete tournament records and enforcing tournament rules.
D. Tournament director will receive and distribute any tournament money.
E. Inspection officers shall be appointed by the president and the tournament director. Duties shall be enforcing all rules set forth by the tournament committee, including random live well checks.
F. The weigher shall be appointed by the president and the tournament director with approval of the tournament committee. Duties shall be maintaining the club scales and conducting the weigh-ins for all tournaments.
G. Scorers shall consist of the weigher, the recorder, and one or more assistants appointed by them.
H. Each tournament officer shall appoint an alternate if unable to perform his duties.
A. Former members in good standing of the Spalding County Sportsman Club must pay dues at least one meeting prior to his first tournament during the calendar year.
B. Former members in good standing must pay dues by March meeting or attend a meeting prior to fishing a tournament.
C. Each tournament shall have an entrance fee determined by the tournament committee prior to the first tournament. The entrance fee shall be $25.00 until changed.
A. All participants shall leave from a designated starting point and return to the same point for weigh-in.
B. Participant shall not be allowed to fish with a nonmember except a member may bring a guest to a tournament. The guest may fish only one tournament a year and will pay all entry fees and be eligible for all tournament winnings. They may participate in the tournament big fish pot but may not participate in the cumulative big fish pot. Guest will not receive any points for the tournament they fish.
C. Roll call will be taken preceding each tournament by the president and /or tournament director. Any participant missing his name at roll call shall be considered late. Any late participant must find another participating member (A club member who was on time) who will check his livewell fish and collect his entrance fee before the late member is allowed to start fishing . Failure to do so will mean disqualification.
D. Penalty for late arrival for weigh-in shall be 3% per minute up to 15 minutes late. Later arrival will call for disqualification.
E. Only artificial lures may be used. No live bait is permitted. All fish must be caught live and in a conventional sporting manner.
F. Scoring shall be determined by pounds and ounces. Tournament winners shall be determined by accumulated weight for entire tournament. 25 points shall be awarded for the largest total weight in each tournament, 24 for second, down to one point for 25th place. No points shall be awarded unless the participant has weighed at least one fish. One additional point will be awarded to anyone catching a daily limit of bass (5 except in three club tournament, 7 in it). Also , 1 additional point will be give for the largest bass caught in each tournament and 1 point for each club meeting, and 1 point for each tournament attended.
G. There will be one division and we will pay the top four places.
H. Only black bass; largemouth , spotted, red eye or smallmouth bass will be weighed. Five bass per day is the limit. Each contestant must present his own catch at weigh-in if possible. A bass will not be counted or weighed that is not at least 12 inches in length, and all bass must meet state requirements for the lake being fished. Length of a bass will be determined by measurement of the bass with the mouth closed an one tip of the tail touching. The tail will be smoothed down and pinched together As a penalty, a contestant with short fish will have one pound weight deducted for each short bass. This shall apply to both days of a two day tournament. If a short bass is weighed in the first day and the contestant has no other fish, the pound penalty shall be deducted on the second day. Any contestant weighing in more than 5 fish will have his bass culled down to the limit by culling the largest bass first. All fish taken out of the boat will be weighed in. Any bass that appears to be mangled, mashed or mauled will be measured and credited only the discretion of the weighing officials.
I. The tournament committee reserves the right to change or postpone any tournament. However, no tournament shall be postponed once it starts.
J. Weigh-ins. In case of unavoidable delays, catches must be brought to the weighing station by a fellow member and registered as the delayed members catch and reason for the delay shall be given to the recorder.
K. Any member in good standing missing a tournament because he is representing the club in a Federation Tournament shall be given his average points for the present years tournaments.
IV. Tournament Prizes
A. Total prize for each tournament shall be set at a fixed percentage of the money taken in for each tournament. The percentages are 1st – 40%, 2nd – 30%, 3rd – 20%, 4th – 10%.
B. Fifty dollars of all entrance fees shall be placed in the club treasury before any prizes are given out. This money will be used to promote the club and its activities. Examples: Patches for each member, scrapbook of tournaments, pictures, slides, film and film processing, entrance fees for members attending federation tournament and jackets for the top six members representing the club at federation tournaments.
C. Trophies or plaques shall be given to the top six and for the largest fish for the year. These places will be based on total number of points for the year. All tournaments will count in the point standing.
A. Any situation not covered by these rules and regulations shall be ruled upon by the tournament committee but may be appealed to the club at large.
B. These rules were adopted by the tournament committee on January 12, 1993
Last Revision February 2004

Flint River Bass Club Rules

The Flint River Bass Club was formed around 1970 and suggested rules were received from the Bass Angler Sportsman Society. These rules were developed from them and have been adjusted over the years. They serve the club well as they are now.

The Spalding County Sportsman Club rules differ in several ways.

Date of meetings:
1. The Flint River Bass Club, Inc. will hold a regular scheduled meeting on the first Tuesday of every month, unless changed by the membership. Special meetings may be called, at any time by the President. The Board of Directors will meet when requested by the President.
Membership Limit:
2. On April 2, 1974 the membership limit shall be expanded to and held at thirty five (35) members.
Membership Annual Dues:
3. The annual membership dues shall be twenty dollars $20, payable at or prior to the January meeting each year. You must be a member BASS. State dues are $10 and national dues are $30 for a total of $60. You also must keep a current membership in BASS. FEDERATION DUES HAVE GONE UP
Qualifications to fish a tournament:
4. All tournament participants must be a member in good standing of the club prior to fishing their first tournament. (An exception to this rule is a member may bring a guest to a tournament. The guest can fish one tournament (annually) before joining the club. They will pay the same tournament fees as regular members and receive any money they win. If they join later they will get the points related to the position they placed in the tournament. A Guest must fish with a club member.) (A guest cannot take part in Progressive Big Fish Pot.) A person may join the club at the tournament site. POINTS FOR GUESTS NEEDS TO BE DELETED
Insurance Requirements:
5. All members using their boats in any club tournament or any related club function will be required to have in force a liability insurance policy in the amount of three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000.00) or $100,000 plus a one million dollar umbrella policy that cover liability on the boat.

Tournament Fees:
6. Tournament fee shall be twenty ($20.00) per tournament. All tournament fees will be paid prior to the start of the tournament, unless a contestant is late for the tournament. If a participant pays his tournament fee and for any reason other than being disqualified for a rules violation, is unable to fish in the tournament, his money will be refunded.
There will also be a voluntary Big Fish Pot at each tournament. The fee is $5 and the total pot will be awarded to the member or guest weighing the heaviest bass in the tournament. Guests may participate in the daily big fish pot.
A voluntary Cumulative Big Fish Pot will also be collected. It is $5 at each tournament and will be awarded to any club member that is current in the pot weighing a bass at 6.0 pounds or more. Once the pot is broken it will start over. At the end of the year, if the pot has not been broken during the year, or since it was broken, the club member with the heaviest bass weighed in will win the pot if current in it.
A Voluntary Points Pot of $5 will also be collected at each tournament. At the end of the year the points winner will receive half of the money collect if current in the pot. The remaining half will be awarded to the winner of a drawing to be held at the January meeting among all the members current in the pot from the previous year. To get into the Points Pot, members have until March to get in it or stay out. New members may catch up by paying all previous months if they get into the pot no later than the meeting after their first tournament.
Distribution of tournament fees:
7. All entry fees from the tournament shall be divided as follows: Five ($5.00)per constant will be deducted and deposited in the club treasury for club use and functions as per club rules and regulations: Balance remaining shall be distributed as follows: Four places will be paid in this order, first place – 40%; second place – 30%; third place – 20%; fourth place 10%.
Late for Tournament:
8. A late constant will launch his boat and proceed to find another tournament participant before doing any fishing. He must pay his tournament fee, have his live well checked, confirm the tournament weigh-in time with a member who has already paid his entry fee and is fishing the tournament, and check his watch before he is officially in the tournament. A tardy contestant will not be allowed to make up for lost time.
Choosing a Partner:
9. All tournament contestants will have the option to draw for a partner, choose a partner, or go alone, except for designated draw tournaments.
Boat Problem Prior to Start of Tournament:
10. In an emergency, if a boat is totally inoperable prior to the start of a tournament, the contestants in the disabled boat may be placed in another tournament boat by invitation. On two day tournaments they may be placed in the same boat or a different boat by another invitation.

11. It is required that all tournament participants wear a securely fastened, USCG approved, chest type life preserver anytime the combustible engine is operating and boat is on plane. Safe motoring conduct must be observed at all times by the tournament participants. Caution and good judgment, on tournament starts, must be observed. Every boat must have all required Coast Guard safety equipment.
Tackle and Equipment:
12. Only artificial lures may be used. No live bait or prepared bait will be permitted, however, pork or pork type strips, rinds, etc., may be used. All bass must be caught live and in a conventional sporting manner. Only casting, spin casting, or spinning rods and reels may be used. All other types are prohibited. Only one rod may be used at a time.
13. Boat Operation and Expense:
A full discussion should be held between the two partners prior to the tournament start as to a schedule of boat operation. A schedule must be set that permits each partner equal time to fish from the front of the boat and operate the trolling motor so he may select his choice of fishing locations. In the event that one contestant elects not to operate the trolling motor and such election is satisfactory to his partner, the contestant waiving the right to operate the trolling motor shall have the right to choose the fishing spots one half of the time. Any contestant found operating the boat in an obvious and deliberate manner so as to handicap, his partner shall be disqualified. Trolling with a gasoline motor as a method of fishing is prohibited.
Daily fishing partners are expected to work out satisfactory arrangements between themselves as to which partner will furnish the boat and motor, this should equal at least twenty dollars ($20.00) on one day tournaments.
Official Checkpoints:
14. Tournament headquarters shall be in the launch site area. All fishermen must start and end each tournament day in this area. The official weigh-in station shall also be in this area. Contestants must not leave the boat to land a fish.
Permitted Fishing Locations:
15. Fishing is permitted any place on the tournament waters, except within fifty (50) yards of another contestant’s boat that was first anchored at a location. All fishing must be done from the boat. Contestant’s must not leave the boat to land a fish.
Determination of Tournament Winners (Scoring):
16. Placement in each tournament will be determined by pounds and hundredths of a pound. Tournament winners will be determined by the total pounds and hundredths accumulated during the time of the tournament. Only black, largemouth, spotted or smallmouth bass may be weighed. There will be a five (5) bass per day limit. Each contestant will be responsible for keeping his bass separate from his partners. The contestants with the highest total weight will be declared the tournament winner, with the next highest weight being second place, etc., until each contestant has been ranked. At the end of each tournament, Tournament Director will total each contestant’s total weigh and announce the top ten (10) places for the tournament.
Awarding of Bonus Weight 17. Deleted
Awarding of Points for Determining Club Standings:

18. A point system will be used to rank members in the club. The points will be accumulated throughout the year to determine the end of the year standings, points will be awarded to the membership in the following manner:
A. Meetings: All members present for the monthly meeting will be awarded ten (10) points each. Questionable attendance will be decided by the Board of Directors.
B. Tournaments: All contestants will receive twenty (20) points for participating in each Tournament. In addition, placement points will be awarded on a decreasing scale with first place receiving one hundred (100) points, second place ninety (90) points, and decreasing by ten (10) points each place through tenth place which will receive ten (10) points. Participants weighing a fish but not placing in the top ten places will be awarded five (5) points. At least one fish must be weighed-in to receive any placement points.
Size Limits and Measurement of Fish:
19. All bass must be a minimum of twelve (12) inches in length in order to be weighed-in. Other size limits shall be as per state regulations governing that specific lake or body of water. (A spotted bass will be determined by checking for a patch of teeth on the tongue. If the teeth are present it will be considered a spot.) All questionable fish will be measured on the official measuring board. As a penalty, One Pound for each undersized bass brought to the weigh-in station will be subtracted from that contestant’s total weight and the short fish will not be weighed. Official measuring board will be used for official measuring only. All Game and Fish laws that apply to length or size of fish apply to each individual lake regardless of the above rules. (You may not bring more than the club limit to the scales. The penalty for above the limit is eliminating the heaviest fish until the limit is reached. All fish brought to the scales and put into the weigh-in bag will be considered for the above rules.)
Late Penalty:
20. Contestants must be represented at the official weigh-in area on time. (In the ramp area and not fishing.) Any contestant (s) not reporting in by weigh-in time will forfeit three (3%) of his weight for each minute he is late. After fifteen (15) minutes he will lose all weight. This also applies to any Big Fish award. Each represented contestant will be given ample time to weigh-in his fish. Exact fishing hours will be announced at the registration time. If a tournament participant leaves a tournament early he must notify another participant on the lake or leave a note on the Tournament Directors vehicle. If you leave the tournament early you may leave your fish with another contestant who can weigh in for you.
In Case of Ties:
21. In case of tie the places in question will be combined and the money will be divided equally by the two (2) contestants and tournament points for the highest place will be awarded to both contestants.
22. The Tournament Director must be notified of any protest within fifteen (15) minutes after the contestant wishing to protest has weighed-in his fish. A written protest must then be submitted to the tournament Director within thirty (30) minutes of the notification. The Tournament Director will then turn the written protest over to the Board of Directors for a resolution of the matter.
Severe Weather Conditions:
23. In case of severe weather conditions if a tournament is postponed it will be canceled and there will not be a makeup tournament.
Selection of Lakes, Launch Sites and Tournament Times:
24. A tournament committee shall be appointed each year consisting of the top six (6) fishermen from the previous year. The top fisherman from the previous year will be appointed as Tournament Director for the year. One tournament shall be held each month on the first weekend after the monthly meeting when possible. Tournament sites for the year will be selected by the tournament committee prior to the January meeting. This slate of tournaments for the year will be voted on by the membership at the January meeting. Once adopted this schedule can only changed by following the procedure for a by-law change.
Selection of Top Six (6) Team Members: eliminate 25 and 26 if we do not stay in the federation

25. The club team for the Georgia Bass Chapter Federation (GBCF) and the Georgia BASS Nation Top Six Tournament shall be elected at the first meeting in January of each year. This team shall be selected from the club standings from the previous year (Jan.-Dec.), starting at the top of the list and continuing down until the team and the alternate (s) who elect to participate. The three boats listed for use in the federation tournament will be determined by the order of the participants’ final standings.
Club Responsibilities to Top Six (6) Team Members:
26. The club shall furnish the total entry fee in the Bass Federation Nation (BASS) for the top six (6) if there are funds in the treasury.
Awards for Top Club Fishermen:
27. At the end of the year, trophies, plaques or cash shall be awarded to the top fisherman and as follows: first runner-up, and for largest fish caught during the previous season in club tournaments. Plaques of recognition will be awarded to third through sixth place. The value of each type award shall remain relatively the same each year.
Responsibilities of Board of Directors on These Rules:
28. Anything not covered in these rules shall be turned over to the Board of Directors for a decision. The decision by the Board of Directors shall be final and binding for this time and matter only. The board of directors shall be made up as: President, past president, vice president, sec. treasurer,and tournament director.
Method of Amending These Rules: 29. These rules may be amended by a majority vote of members present at any regular meeting, provided notice of the proposed change was stated in the monthly bulletin prior to the meeting calling for a vote. The procedure for an amendment to these rules are as follows:
A. A motion and a second for a proposed amendment, stating the proposed amendment must be made at a regular monthly meeting. B. Discussion of the proposed amendment will follow. C. Vote on motion to propose the amendment. If motion passes the proposed amendment will be published in the next monthly bulletin and voted on at the next monthly meeting. If the motion to propose the amendment fails no further action will be necessary

November West Point Tournament

The fist Sunday in November, only five members of the Flint River Bass Club showed up for our November tournament at West Point. We fished eight hours on a cold, windy day. At 3:30 we weighed in seven largemouth and ten spots weighing about 25 pounds. There was one limit and no zeros.

I got lucky landing a limit weighing 9.32 pounds to win and had big fish with a 3.11 pound largemouth. Doug Acre was second with four at 5.09 pounds, Jack Ridgeway was third with three at 4.14 pounds, fourth was Don Gober with three at 3.79 pounds and his grandson Alex Gober placed fifth with two at 2.79 pounds.

I thought it was going to be a good day, quickly catching a keeper spot on a crankbait back in a creek. But after three hours fishing in creeks, catching only throwbacks, I was getting disgusted. Something made me go to a hump at 11:00 where I had some brush marked in 22 feet of water. My first cast to it produced my second keeper.

The bite was strange, just a little mushy feeling on my shaky head worm. My next cast I didn’t feel anything but realized my line was moving. When I set the hook, I reeled in a jig and no worm. That made me pick up a Carolina rig and pulled it into the brush. I thought I was pulling the weight against the brush but felt a fish spit it out.

I put a worm on my shaky head and was ready. When it hit the brush and felt mushy, I set the hook and caught my third keeper. Although I cast to the brush until noon, I did not get another bite.

Hoping the pattern would hold, I went to more deep brush on the main lake. At the next one, the big largemouth took off with my shaky head as it sank, almost jerking the rod out of my hand. I definitely felt it! Luckily it hooked itself.

At the next brush pile a good keeper spot did the same thing. I now had four keepers and was feeling better. The next brush pile I was ready. I switched to a jig and pig and as it fell I watched may line. It twitched, and I set the hook on my biggest spot, giving me a limit.

The rest of the day I carefully fished brush and stayed ready to set the hook on any unusual feeling. I landed three more spots, culling my first three fish.
the last one hit on my last cast with just eight minutes to get in to weigh-in on time.

Today Potato Creek is fishing West Point. I’m sure all the rain has muddied up the water and dropped the temperature. But I will try my pattern again, anyway!

November Club Tournament and More Good People

Last Saturday 14 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our November tournament at West Point. We brought 41 bass weighing 58 pounds to the scales. The top four all had limits, but three fishermen didn’t have a keeper.

Doug Acree won with a good catch of 13.02 pounds and had big fish with a 5.43 pound largemouth. Frank Anderson was second with 9.17 pounds, Mike Cox placed third with 8.40 pounds and Buddy Laster came in fourth with 7.84 pounds.

With all the rain upstream last week I knew the lake would be very different from the one I won on the weekend before. And I was right. The lake had stained up and water was being pulled hard to keep the lake level down. I have had good catches there on rocky points with current rushing past, and I just knew that would work this time.

AS we took off at 7:00 AM, fog was starting to form on the lake. Another tournament took off just ahead of us at Pyne Park but I was able to go to my first two places but did not get a bite. I noticed the river upstream of the railroad bridge had thick fog. I went across the very foggy water very carefully to my third stop, watching for other boats and floating logs on the water. Wood was everywhere.

At 8:30 I heard a lot of boats running. A big tournament took off from Highland Marina, but it was so foggy in that area they were held until it was safe. At least 40 boats ran past me, headed down the lake. I knew they were going to clearer water.

I should have taken the hint but stubbornly kept fishing the heavily stained water. At 9:00 I landed a keeper spot on a crankbait from a rocky point with current so that gave me hope. But at 11:00, without another bite, I realized I had to go to better water.

Whitewater Creek was a decent color but after three hours fishing it without a bite, I made a major change, running way down the lake to a fairly clear creek. The last hour of the tournament I caught one keeper, missed two bites where the fish just made a fool of me, and, with five minutes left to fish hooked a keeper that came off as I lifted it over the side.

Some days are like that, nothing goes right. I was very weak and tired, so bad that if William Scott had not helped me put my boat in and take it out, I would not have been able to fish. That is my excuse and I am sticking with it!

Folks in the club are great like that, very helpful. They are more of the good people you never hear about.

November Bartletts Ferry Tournament

On Sunday, November 25 nine members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our November tournament at Bartletts Ferry. After eight hours of casting we brought 27 keeper bass to the scales weighing about 32 pounds. There were two limits and one zero.

Jay Gerson won it all with five weighing 9.22 pounds and his 4.09 pound largemouth was big fish. Wayne Teal had four weighing 6.84 pounds for second, my three at 5.60 pounds was third and Billy Roberts had five weighing 4.60 pounds for fourth.

Driving to the lake the fog was so thick it was a slow trip. I thought I would have to change my plans of running about five miles to start on a point I like where I caught fish in September, but when we got to the lake there was little fog on the water, a surprise.

I should have changed my plans anyway since I did not get a bite for almost two hours. At 8:45 I landed a 3.12 pound largemouth on a shaky head so that fired me up, but I didn’t get another bite for two more hours, then lost a solid keeper that jumped and threw my jig head worm.

About ten minutes later I hooked and landed another good keeper largemouth, making me feel a little better. But two hours later I had not gotten another bite until a keeper spot hit my worm. That was it, I got no more bites before having to go in. I was surprised to place in the tournament with just three fish, but everybody had a tough day.

I was happy to see 14 of the 27 bass were largemouth. And three of them weighed more than three pounds. Back in the 1970s and 80s we caught a lot of good largemouth there, many in the five to six-pound range. Then spotted bass invaded the lake and for years we had a hard time catching largemouth.

Spots are not native to middle Georgia lakes and when they get in one they are so aggressive they tend to crowd out the largemouth. That has happened on Jackson, West Point and Bartletts Ferry.

Hopefully the spots are getting reduced and the largemouth are coming back some. One reason Bartletts Ferry has changed is the hydrilla there. That underwater weed offers largemouth great habitat but not so much for spots.

The Chattahoochee River feeding Bartletts Ferry has had a lot of hydrilla in it for several years and it had spread to the lower lake. Last year there were thick beds of it, helping the largemouth. Unfortunately, the Alabama DNR sprayed and killed most of it on the lower lake. I wish they would leave it alone.

Lake Martin Annual Tournament

In our annual three club two-day tournament at Lake Martin last weekend, 27 members weighed in 244 bass weighing about 357 pounds. We had 26 five-fish limits on Saturday and 21 limits on Sunday. There was one zero for both days. There were only 36 largemouth.

Lee Hancock won with 10 bass weighing 21.96 pounds and had big fish with a 4.38 pound largemouth. Doug Acree was second with ten at 19.87 pounds, Tom Tanner placed third with ten weighing 18.04 pounds and Kwong Yu was fourth with ten at 17.94.

We pay out the top four and big fish each day based on that day’s catch. Saturday, Tom Tanner won with 11.10 pounds, Kwong Yu was second with 10.94, Raymond English was third with 10.76, Lee Hancock was fourth with 10.36 and I came in fifth with 10.0. Raymond English had big fish with a 3.33 pounder.

Sunday Lee Hancock won with 11.60 pounds, Doug Acree had 9.97 for second, third was William Scott with 9.33 and his partner Dylan Lawrence was fourth with 8.95. Tom Tanner placed fifth with 8.77. Lee Hancock had big fish with his 4.38 pounder and was the only fisherman to win money both days.

I went over Wednesday in the pouring rain and set up camp at Wind Creek State Park. Thursday, I tried a few things and thought I had a pattern of decent size spots on deep rocky points. I caught my biggest fish, a 2.5-pound spot, from a blowdown so I hoped that was a back-up plan. But I did not catch fish in the tournament on either!

Friday, I got up before daylight and thought I had found some fish on a shallow point at first light. I didn’t fish much, deciding to come in and rest.

Saturday, I caught two decent spots on my first stop. Then I spent the next six hours catching small fish on the two patterns from Thursday that I knew I did not want to weigh in. I needed bigger fish.

At 2:00 I cast a jig under a dock and caught a bigger spot, about 2.5 pounds, so I started fishing docks. I soon caught another 2.5 pound spot, then landed a 2.63 pound largemouth, under other docks, before 3:00. Although I fished docks hard for the last two hours I did not catch another keeper.

Sunday I again caught two fish on my first stop, but they were small spots I hoped to cull. So, I started fishing docks but could catch only small spots. I had a limit at 9:00 but they were small and my best five weighted in only 6.25 pounds.

At noon I decided to try other things and caught as few small spots. I probably should have stuck with docks since the fish started hitting around them after lunch the day before. As usual, I wish I could go back and do something else.

I love Lake Martin and camping at Wind Creek. On my first trip there in 1975 I caught my first spotted bass ever. And we usually catch a lot of fish, as all the limits in the tournament show. It is a fun place to fish and the bass bite good all fall.

Justin Lucas Wins BASS Angler of the Year

Justin Lucas: The Path to Angler of the Year
from The Fishing Wire

Justin Lucas wins BASS Angler of the Year

This time, just one year ago, Justin Lucas watched the Angler of the Year championship tournament come and go from the sidelines. 2017 would mark his worst year on the Bassmaster Elite Series and leave him without a bid to the following Bassmaster Classic. With only a short winter to reflect and prepare for the 2018 season, Lucas went to work.

“I had a tough year last year. I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it was because things got out of whack in my fishing,” said Lucas, referring to his season in which he finished tied for 64th place. “I put too much emphasis on practicing to win instead of practicing to do what I do best. I’d fish a technique that I wasn’t good at just because I thought that was the way to win.”

Frustration and forcefulness has proven to be the downfall of many anglers’ seasons. For Lucas, there’s no question in defining what set him free on his route to winning AOY.

“The birth of my son, Cooper Jack, had a huge impact on me. It’s unbelievable what something like that can do to your thinking. I realized that regardless of how I fished or where I finished in a tournament I had a responsibility to help take care of him and to set an example for him, even at a young age.

“Recognizing that there were other things more important in life than the tournament I’m fishing in allowed me to relax and just do my thing. In the end, that was what I needed to get things back on track.”

From the first cast of this season, it was noticeable the tides had turned. The 50th year of Bassmaster and the 2018 Angler of The Year would belong to Lucas.

With most of his focus on becoming an elite father, Lucas settled back into the zone on the water. Lucas relied heavily on a set of techniques he perfected through a childhood on the California Delta and nine years on professional tours. Whether flipping, finessing, or showing off topwater dominance, Lucas tallied five straight top 12 finishes doing what he does best.

“I had something to prove to myself this year. Nobody else. I didn’t want to be that guy who had three awesome years and couldn’t come back.”

There is no path leading to an AOY title. No formal coaching or game script that guides young anglers. Lucas was no exception to the uphill climb. He owed his introduction to the sport to his grandfather Jack, but the journey thereafter, to an internal fire. Passion and intensity fueled a progression from local tournaments through the ranks, into the forefront of the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) tour and, ultimately, to hoisting a Bassmaster AOY trophy.

I feel like I’m the most competitive person I know. Others might see me as this 5-foot, 9-inch guy. But I’m the most intense person I know. I hate to suck.

– Justin Lucas, 2018 Angler Of The Year

Amongst recent dramatic shifts in the professional bass fishing landscape, this victory serves as a testament to the next generation of anglers. Young and hungry, Lucas exemplifies that the baseline of a champion is a humble appreciation for sport and pursuit. But throughout each elite performance and the persistent competitive drive, the bond that tied skill and success was Cooper Jack Lucas.

“He’s not going to learn to be the man his mother and I want him to be if all I show him is that winning a tournament is what matters in life. A real man is honest and has integrity. He lives a life that makes everyone around him proud. I’d like to be the man who teaches Cooper Jack to be like that.”

Looking ahead to the 2019 season, Lucas said, “There’s no way to know what next year will bring. I hope it’s good on the fishing side of things but more importantly I’m going to do my best to make things good everywhere else.”

Congratulations Justin Lucas, Angler of the Year.

Trying To Catch Bass At Sinclair

Last Sunday 12 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our September tournament at Sinclair. After seven hours of casting we brought 26 12-inch largemouth weighing about 33 pounds to the scales. Thankfully no spots are showing up at Sinclair yet. There was one limit and three people did not catch a keeper.

Raymond English wore us all out with five weighing 11.40 pounds and had big fish with a 5.37 pounder.
Robert Proctor placed second with three weighing 5.46 pounds and had a nice 2.96 pounder, Chris Davies was third with three weighing 4.47 and fourth was George Roberts with four at 4.21 pounds.

I’m very glad the hot summer fishing is about over. I managed to place fifth with three weighing 3.69 pounds for the second time in the last two tournaments. It can be very frustrating this time of year, but I keep telling myself I am just happy to be able to be out there.

First thing that morning I thought I could catch some fish on topwater, but I guess I started at the wrong places. I did hook and lose what looked like a short fish on a buzzbait and missed a hit on a frog, but those were my only two bites the first hour.

At 8:00 I gave up and started fishing brush with a shaky head worm. I quickly caught a keeper in some deep brush, then 15 minutes later caught a small keeper from some shallow brush. After running to another cove, I caught my biggest keeper out of some brush beside a dock, then caught a short fish in more brush.

At 9:00 I felt pretty good with three keepers in the live well and five hours left to fish. I spent another hour fishing brush but never got a bite. I was mostly letting the sun get higher and creating shade under docks.

Usually I can catch some small keepers at Sinclair this time of year by skipping a weightless Senko under docks, but after trying that for three hours without a bite from even a short fish, I gave up.

The last hour I went back to fishing brush and rocks but never got a bite in the last five hours of the tournament. I must have been in the wrong places using the wrong bait at the wrong time, or maybe the bass were just not eating.