Frustrating April Club Tournament at Clarks Hill

In April 1974 Jim Berry invited me to fish the Spalding County Sportsman Club April tournament at Clarks Hill, my first ever. Last weekend we fished our April tournament there. We have not missed many tournaments in April on that lake in 43 years.

The lake is different every year. Full last year, this year I watched a barn swallow scoop mud from the edge of the water to build its nest on a nearby bridge. Last year that birds head would have been under 8.3 feet of water. And for whatever reason the bigger bass bit much better last year.

In the tournament, 12 fishermen landed 88 keeper bass weighing about 160 pounds. And that includes four fishermen that left after one day since the weather guessers guessed at rain for Sunday. It did not rain a drop until after 8:00 that night. There were 15 five-bass limits and no one zeroed.

Raymond Edge landed 10 keepers weighing 21.39 pounds for first, Robert Proctor had ten weighing 18.53 for second, John Miller had ten at 18.04 for third and big fish with a 5.73 pounder, Sam Smith placed fourth with ten at 17.10 and my ten weighing 13.98 was fifth.

I went over on Wednesday afternoon and stayed at my place at Raysville Boat Club. The tournament was out of Mistletoe State Park, a 30-minute drive by land but less than ten minutes by boat if light enough to see. It was both mornings.

Wednesday afternoon I looked at some of my favorite places to fish and caught a couple of keepers, but nothing to be excited about in a tournament. Everyone I talked with said the herring and shad were spawning so then next morning I drove around to Cherokee Landing, about 20 minutes away and ten miles down the lake, and put in just as it got daylight.

It was very foggy but I wanted to idle around and look for herring and shad spawning, so I did. I found a few schools and caught a couple of bass, but again not what I expected. I never got a hit on topwater. And I did not expect to have to idle around until 10:30 when the fog finally lifted. But being able to get on plane did not help. I did not find anything worth fishing.

Friday morning I put in at the boat club and went up the river, a completely different kind of fishing, and had caught seven keepers by noon, but none weighed more than 1.5 pounds. Then, at noon under the blazing sun, I landed three bass over two pounds each on three consecutive points on a topwater plug. Then I caught a three pounder on a lizard on the next one. I thought I was on something.

Of course, in the tournament that did not work. I did catch five weighing 9.38 the first day, all after 10:00. Sunday I again did not have a fish at ten and managed to catch five weighing a whopping 4.6 pounds by noon, dropping from fourth the first day to fifth the second.

April has been a strange month for bass fishing. I hope May is better!

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