Category Archives: Fishing Ramblings – My Fishing Blog

Random thoughts and musings about fishing

Individual Freedoms

Our country was founded on individual freedoms. Citizens were free to go about their business as long as their freedom did not interfere with others’ freedoms. An old saying “your rights end at my nose” was widely accepted.

Our Bill of Rights were added to the constitution to guarantee individual freedom from the government. Read it, each one of the articles protect the individual from the powers of government. Unfortunately, we have gotten away from the idea of individual freedom and it seems to get worse every day. Instead of individual freedom, too many seem to want to enforce another old saying “my way or the highway.”

And far too many people seem to think they are guaranteed an easy life, doing whatever they want with no consequences. They seem to think other folks owe them a living and they don’t have to give anything in return.

In the past, my freedoms were not controlled by your likes and dislikes. Don’t like guns? Don’t buy one. Don’t like eating meat? Don’t eat it. Don’t like what I say? Tell me why or walk away. Don’t like hunting or fishing? Stay at home and watch TV.

Now if you don’t like what I like, many try to use the government or mob violence to control me. Nowhere is it more obvious than with guns, but it permeates all our life.

Bill Nye, the pseudoscience guy, now wants folks like me that disagree with his true belief in global warming to be arrested for pointing out the silliness of his claims. Paid protestors try to stop folks from going to rallies of politicians they don’t like. They try to shout down anyone saying anything against their beliefs.

And law after law is passed to try to control individual freedoms. Now, if you don’t like big soft drinks, pass a law against selling them. Don’t like my opinion on guns? Condemn me as a baby killer and ban guns. Don’t like my hunting? Go out and make noise and fly drones where I am hunting to disrupt my day and ban hunting.

That is not democracy, or even representative government. People get offended by almost anything and think that gives them the right to stop me from doing anything they don’t like. But at the same time they expect me to work and share the wealth with them.

Robert Heinlein is one of my all-time favorite science fiction writers. He said something that many have said over the years in slightly different words.

“For when the people discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader.”

We are at that point.

Ice Fishing

Outdoor Life, Sports Afield and Field and Stream magazines were staples of my reading while growing up. I could not wait for new issues every month and read each from cover to cover.

Every winter, articles and pictures about ice fishing fascinated me. I dreamed of drilling holes through the ice and sitting in a nice warm shanty while catching everything from perch to pike.

In middle Georgia, ice fishing does not happen. I knew there was little chance of me ever going up north to try it, but I wanted to. In the winter when Dearing Branch froze over, something that didn’t happen every year, I tried to ice fish, but the ice was never strong enough to hold me.

I did manage to stand on the bank over deeper holes and punch a hole in the ice with a stick, no drilling needed for the ice that was seldom an inch thick. And I never caught a fish, I guess most of our southern fish don’t eat much when it is that cold.

I have fished in Wisconsin ten times, but in the fall just after Labor Day. Although I experienced snow and sleet on those early September trips, there was no ice, I was a couple months too early.

Signs of the coming ice were everywhere. All docks there are removal, they can be rolled up onto the bank to keep the ice from crushing them. And I was amazed by trees and brush around the bank. There was a clear line about five feet above the water line where no leaves or needles grew.

I thought it might be a browse line where deer ate the foliage, but the local fisherman that hosted our group on those trips told me it was the snow line.
Snow around Rhinelander, Wisconsin covered the ground and lake ice about that deep for several months each winter, killing the tender parts of the plants.

A few years ago, I did catch a fish though the ice. My pond froze over about an inch thick, way too little to support me, but I took an idea from my past. Out on the end of my dock where I fed the fish all summer, I punched a hole in the ice with a pipe, baited up with a piece of floating fish food, and landed a two-inch bream.

That will probably be the only ice fish I ever catch.

Dogs In My Life

Dogs have always been an important part of my life. Although I don’t remember my first dog, my parents told me stories of a feist we had when I was two or three years old. That dog would go out in the yard when pecans were falling, bring one to me and crack it with its teeth so I could pick out the meat, according to my parents.

Growing up I never had an inside dog. They were yard dogs or hunting dogs, or both. Daddy’s two English setters were not pets, they were hunting dogs and lived in an old chicken house about a mile from our house. Other dogs lived under the porch and lived on table scraps. They had no real job other than sleeping and getting petted every once in a while.

Since Linda and I got married we have had six dogs, half of that number now live in our house. All have been “rescue dogs,” one from a shelter, one from the ditch in front of my house, one wandered up at a rental house and one showed up at my farm. One even showed up at a gun club meeting and went home with me. The last one I rescued from a trip to the shelter from a renter that could no longer take care of it.

The first three were sources of great joy but also great sadness. Merlin, our first dog rescued from a city pound in Maryland, slept under our bed for 14 years. She went everywhere we went from Canada to Clarks Hill and spent most of the days I went fishing in my boat with me. She was mostly border collie and extremely smart, constantly amazing me with her abilities.

Squirt was in the pipe in front of my house one morning when I went out to get the paper. He was so tiny I could hold him in a cupped hand but grew into a 115-pound cross of two breeds, Labrador and big. He was lovable and affectionate but gave lie to the claim all labs are smart.

Rip showed up at my farm one day. I tried to run him off but for two weeks he greeted me every time I drove up to the barn with wagging tail and smiling face. Like most labs, he was the happiest dog in the world and everyone seemed to know it. He loved to ride in the back of my truck and went most everywhere around town with me. I seldom came out of the grocery store that someone was not petting him. He just oozed friendliness and happiness.

Those three are gone now. Merlin at 14 and Squirt at 13 years old got hip problems and I had to put have them put down when they could no longer stand up. Rip managed to dig out from under the fence around the back yard and got hit by a car when he was ten and had injuries so severe he had to be put down.

All three are buried under the pear tree in the back yard. I softened the ground with tears as I dug the graves.

Ginger, a pit bull, showed up at a rental house. She had a broken choke collar around her neck and was skin and bones, covered in fleas, and very weak. But she was friendly and wanted affection. I took her home and washed her with flea shampoo then took her to Memorial Drive Vet Clinic where they found she had heart worms. The treatment was expensive but now, five years later, she is healthy and happy. And she proves Pit Bulls are not vicious, even though she had a hard life before I found her.

Cinnamon, the other Spice Girl, showed up at a gun club meeting the Monday after I had to have Rip put down. It was almost like fate sent her there. She was young and very friendly and happy. She is some kind of hound with a good nose but all she gets to use it for is finding tennis balls in the leaves. She loves to fetch.

Mika is a full blooded, registered border collie. One of my renters had to get rid of him and I agreed to take him. He lives to chase a tennis ball and will jump high in the air to catch it. I think he would run after a ball until he turned into butter!

I have had many kinds of pets, from hamsters and flying squirrels to cats and raccoons, but dogs are special. No other animal so closely identifies with people. They seem to adopt our habits and characteristic and some even seem to look like their masters.

Dogs are also useful, helping us hunting, working and playing. It is very difficult to hunt quail and raccoons without dogs and they make rabbit and hog hunting much easier. But they are also important for playing, sharing in our fun in many ways.

The only problem with dogs is their relatively short life. We almost always outlive our dogs and have to see them age and weaken much faster than we do. But they seem to get a lot out of their relationship with us other than food and shelter.

There are many stories of dogs traveling long distances to get back home after being lost. And there are examples of dogs going to their owners graves every day, refusing to accept the fact their human companion is gone. And the videos of dogs re-united with their owners when separated, even for years, are common. There is great joy on both sides when a soldier comes home and sees his dog for the first time after his tour of duty.

My three are not old in human years yet, but I still expect to outlive all three, even at my age. I dread the day I again have to dig graves under the pear tree but know it will happen three times.

That makes me even more determined to enjoy the time we have together.

What Is A Whippoorwill?

Whip Poor Will! That is the sound I heard when I opened my back door just before dark one night last April. It had been a while since I had heard that haunting sound, and it made me remember some past experiences with whippoorwills.

Every spring the sound of whippoorwills calling, looking for mates from sundown to full dark, drifts through our woods. I usually heard them at lakes since I spend many spring evenings around them. I always wondered about the birds that made them.

One night I got a strong spotlight and went hunting. I was able to follow the sound to a pine tree near my camper at Clark’s Hill and spotted a big brown bird sitting on a limb about half-way up the tree. It was a soft, fuzzy looking bird about the size of a crow, with a short, wide beak. It reminded me of a big quail.

When the bird flew, it reminded me of an owl, looking like it silently drifted through the trees as far as I could see it in the almost dark. Although I heard them many times after that, I did not see another one until many years later. While camping at West Point during a spring Spalding County Sportsman Club tournament, a whippoorwill started calling from a pine tree right beside my camp site. The sun had just set and I got a real good look at it.

I looked up whippoorwills in my North American Wildlife book when I got home and got a few surprised. It says the bird is 9 to 10 inches long and eats moths and other night flying insects. Its wide mouth helps them catch flying bugs, much like a swallow does.

The surprise came when I read the whippoorwills spends daylight hours sleeping in dried leaves on the ground. I always thought it roosted in trees. Now I wonder if I have ever spooked one while walking in the woods, but don’t remember seeing such a bird fly up from the ground.

whippoorwills also nest on the ground, laying two eggs in the leaves without making a nest. That reminds me of the way chickens lay eggs. Their range covers the U.S. from the Mississippi River east to the coast and the southern U.S. all the way to California, and also northern Mexico.

There is a first cousin, called the Chuck-wills-widow, that also covers most of that southern range. My book says it is very similar to the whippoorwills but its call is slower. That makes sense if it is a southern bird!

Listen for whip-poor-wills after the sun sets this spring. Try to track one down if you can. They are very interesting birds, and a part of the evening around here.

Christmas Holidays

Christmas Holidays were always a special time during my school years in the 1950s and 60s. Two weeks out of school meant many happy, free days, most involving hunting, family and church.

The first week after school was out usually meant a trip to Aunt Alice and Uncle Charlie’s house in Ocala. Daddy’s mother lived with them and we almost always left on the long trip as soon as possible to have a few days there and be home before Christmas. The drive was exciting, looking at Christmas decorations and seeing new territory.

My brother and I passed time “counting cows,” a standing chimney doubles your count, and arguing and fighting in the back seat. But we always concentrated so not to miss mama’s dream house down near Dublin. It was a nice brick ranch, similar to what we would eventually build. But what made it special to mama was the little pond in the front yard.

I know mama imagined herself, probably with her mother and maybe me, sitting on the edge of the pond fishing. We all three loved fishing, I guess that is where I got it.

Although mama got her dream house there was no pond in front. But daddy dug one a few hundred yards behind the house. She spent many happy hours there, catching anything that would bite.

On one trip, mama and Billy were asleep. I was old enough to just be learning fractions and daddy taught math at my elementary school, as well as being principal. It was a small school.

As the car rumbled along the road, I asked him about fractions. He patiently kept answering my question “What is 1/1” with “one,” but I never did understand it. (I kept saying “one-onth,” but I don’t think that is a word) But it was nice to talk with him like that.

In Ocala my brother and I loved to dig holes in the soft, sandy soil so different from the hard clay and rocks at home. We always planned on digging to China, but never made it. We picked oranges in their back yard and enjoyed the warm weather. We also went to Silver Springs where I imagined catching the huge catfish that played “football” with dough balls below the glass bottomed boats.

On the drive home we would stop in south Georgia and get a 50 pound bag of peanuts. Mama used them cooking, but there were plenty for us to roast in the oven. On nights we didn’t have ice cream before bed we sat watching TV and shelling peanuts to go with our Coke.

As much as I loved those trips, I could not wait to get home, grab my .22 or .410 and head to my little piece of heaven. There were three special places along Dearing Branch, one on our property, and two on either side of it. I spent many wonderful hours in them hunting squirrels and hoping to see a rabbit.

A few days every holiday daddy would take some hours off the never-ending work on our chicken farm and take me quail hunting. Those were especially good times that I will never forget.

The one thing I hated when we got home was choir practice. My parents insisted I be in the youth choir, but I did not like singing, or the wasted hours of practice when I could have been hunting. That lasted until I was 14 and got up the courage to just stand in the choir loft with my mouth shut. After a few weeks of that they gave up and I never went to another practice. And I still do not sing, even in the shower!

Christmas Eve was spent with great anticipation. We didn’t get a lot compared to now, and there was always underwear and sox. But there were special gifts, too, like the year I got my first outfit of Duckbax pants and jacket. They were briar proof and made a huge difference quail hunting with daddy and later rabbit hunting with my friend when wading through briar patches.

My stocking always had oranges in it, strangely just like the ones we picked in Ocala. We also had some pecans, just like the ones we picked up that year in our yard. There were apples and oranges, but candy, too. And bullets and shells for my guns. Those were my favorite.

I always had time for an afternoon in my rock fort, either alone or with Harold or Hal. There was a pile of big boulders in a small patch of trees about 50 feet from our fence line at the edge of the pasture. We made a circle of rocks that used one side of a big one to make an enclosed space.

There was no roof, but little nooks were perfect for hiding our valuables. And we had a fire place with a spit for roasting robins we shot in the field, and a big can where we boiled eggs poached from the chicken house.

I never did understand why the bird that is a “sign of spring” showed up in huge numbers on our farm in late November. Now I know they can not get worms out of frozen ground up north so come south to live where the ground doesn’t freeze, then head back north as it thaws there in the spring. Stills seems backwards to me, though.

It’s hard to believe the holidays lasted only two weeks, but I guess back then two weeks were a much longer part of my life than they are now. And I did a lot of living during those two weeks at Christmas each year.

I have what seem like unlimited memories of those times, and they are some of my favorites. I wish
I could go back and refresh them in person, but just remembering them always makes me smile.

Sitting In the Woods

Have you ever gone out into the woods and just sat, watched and thought? Deer hunters spend many hours doing exactly that every year, but I am afraid that is changing. Seeing pictures, and even worse, videos, posted while hunters are sitting on a deer stand makes me think they are missing one of the most important parts of hunting.

What do they miss? That little flash of movement that would reveal a huge buck if they were not staring at their phone? How about a beautiful cardinal eating matching red dogwood berries? Do they notice the golden yellow sweetgum leaf gliding through the air, pausing briefly when it hangs on an undergrowth limb, then falling to the forest floor to start the never-ending nutrient cycle over?

There is something magical if you actually observe nature. A squirrel waking up to start its morning commute to work, stretching and scratching on a limb near a hollow tree trunk, then scurrying carefully down the tree to search for breakfast. Did it bury the acorn if finds, stashing it away for today?

Do you miss the gurgle of the water over a tree trunk in the creek and think about where it has been and where it is going? How many times has it fallen on a hillside much like the one you watch and trickled into a creek? It then flows to a bigger creek following it to a river.

That river dumps into the ocean, where the water evaporates into the air. Wind currents move the clouds it forms back to a hillside, where it falls to start its timeless journey again.

The ancient white oak on the top of the hill has seen many changes. It now overlooks you sitting in a red oak a little way down the hill. Your perch grows up through the rocks on an old terrace, so the white oak watched it grow. Was it there while a dirt farmer struggled to flatten a small place for his crop, tediously moving shovels of dirt, then the rocks, to the terrace?

The rocks at the base of your tree had sat on the hill for thousands of years, slowly being exposed by eroding soil, then moved to their current position by the farmer. What has passed over time on their hillside? What will pass before gravity and erosion rolls them down the hill to the creek, where water will wear them away.

If you have hunted this land long enough, you may remember the fall day when you sat near the big white oak and killed a limit of squirrels with your .22. Or the summer day when you tried to catch tiny bream in the creek, on flies you had tied in a not so successful effort. But the bluegill still tried to eat it.

If you are old enough, you remember the days before whitetail deer here, and watched as the herd grew. The first deer you shot, with an old Marlin 30-30, was a small basket eight-point buck. You know now it was no trophy, but it still remains one of the most exciting days in your life.

That patch of privet was the hiding place for your biggest deer, a true trophy. You still don’t know how you made a killing shot, your arms were trembling from holding your gun on the spot where you knew the buck would expose itself as it moved out of the privet as it fed along the trail, eating acorns.

Your whole body was shaking from excitement, and you remember trying to order yourself to calm down. The movement of the buck ruins all those efforts, but you remember making yourself breath out, then in and squeeze, not pull, the trigger when the crosshairs lined up. And you almost jumped the 20 feet to the ground to go get a close-up look at him. He did not disappoint.

You may remember the days before 4 wheelers, too. Even though your property covers over 50 acres, you would never use one until you have a deer on the ground. But you hear their irritating whine and growl on nearby property at daylight as late hunters lazily ride to their stand, spooking the deer they would have seen if in the woods and quiet early enough.

Strangely enough, you hear their noise again an hour later, just when you expect to see deer moving back to bedding areas. At least they are scaring the deer they might have seen with a little patience. And they might spook them toward your stand.

Shots from other properties make you wonder if that trophy buck you have been patterning for weeks just went down. You hope that if he did, he was killed by a hunter that put out as much effort as you, and not by a deer shooter that made no effort other than to put out corn.

If you kill a deer, you take a minute at the kill to think about the deer and thank it for its sacrifice, so you will have meat. You have respect for your quarry and take pleasure in a trophy or just a meat doe, but you respect both for the wildness in it, and in you.

If you don’t make a kill you still rejoice in the total experience of being part of a tradition and way of life that is changing all too much.

Merry Christmas

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving Day is all about tradition and giving thanks for what we have. In my family while I was growing up that tradition revolved around hunting and eating until I got the fishing bug bad. After college, for me it became a day to fish, and eat.

Before I went to college daddy had two pointers and we always hunted quail in the mornings while mama slaved in the kitchen, preparing delicious meals. We usually ate so much that daddy didn’t want to go back hunting that afternoon, but in my youth and energy I usually grabbed my .22 or .410 and went to the woods, looking for squirrels and rabbits.

After I got married and finished my undergraduate degree daddy had stopped hunting since quail had become so hard to find, and no longer had dogs. So I would go to our place at Clarks Hill and fish in the mornings, then get to town in time for a late lunch. That night I would head back to the lake by myself and fish the next three days before heading back to Griffin and work Monday morning.

One year mama decided to have our big Thanksgiving meal at the lake so I could fish more. She loved to fish as much as I did and understood my addiction.
When I got to the lake Wednesday afternoon after work mama was already preparing food for the next day. She told me several family members, my brother’s family and a couple of aunts and uncles, were coming to have dinner with us.

The next morning when I got up she warned me to be in for dinner. I told her I would even come in early enough to get cleaned up before eating. I caught a seven-pound bass on a Shadrap from a tree I had cut down into the water the year before.

After weighing it and releasing it, I looked at my watch. It was 12:01 and I thought how thankful I was that mama was having our big meal at dinner, not lunch. I went in about 4:00 to get cleaned up and could tell something was wrong. Mama, daddy and Linda were mad. All the family had been there for lunch, not dinner as I understood. They had all gone home by the time I came in.

The only thing colder than the looks from mama and Linda that afternoon and night was the cold turkey sandwich I had for Thanksgiving dinner. But they got over it soon and I had something more to be thankful for that year, they didn’t stay mad.

I am very tankful for the way I was raised by two loving, strong parents that were strict but forgiving. I wish everyone could have those memories and be raising their children that way.

If you have Thanksgiving memories and traditions, keep them going. If not, start them this year before its too late.

City or Country Life?

There are millions of people who love city life. Their natural environment is concrete, glass and steel, crowds of people and the mad rush of traffic. I will never understand them any more than they will understand my love of the solitude of being in the woods, fields and on waters.

In the early 1980s I was accepted at several colleges to start work on my first master’s degree. Georgia State was the shortest drive, in distance anyway, so I first went there to register for classes. After three hours of trying to find a place to park and wandering underground from office to office without seeing the sun, I left and headed to West Georgia College.

I parked right in front of the Administration building and walked across shaded sidewalks with grass on both sides to the admissions office. Within an hour I was registered for my first summer quarter classes. The drive home was about 20 miles longer than to Georgia State but took less time due to traffic. It was a much better fit for me.

I have always loved being outside. By the time I was eight years old I knew every foot of our 15-acre farm. But I was not allowed to cross a fence to adjoining properties. When I was eight, I decided to cross the back fence, feeling old enough to explore new worlds.

When I got down to Dearing Branch, the one that flowed under the nearby fence and then through our property too, I found a wonderland. I had the same feelings as Bilbo Baggins when he first went to Rivendell. The branch flowed through a gently sloping valley. There were a few big boulders on a hill on the other side of the branch. Water gurgled in the branch with a sound I like.

Most wonderous was a huge whiteoak tree on the slope. I managed to cross the branch without getting wet and walked to one of those boulders and sat down. The feeling of freedom and awe mixed to make it one of my favorite memories. And I did not get into trouble when I got back home and told my parents.

I still get that sense of freedom and awe when in the woods, and sometimes on the lake if the weather keeps other folks off the water. Heavy fog this time of year is a good time to be alone even on the most crowded lake.

In a December club tournament several years ago, Jackson Lake was extremely foggy. Visibility was about 50 feet. I was back in a cove and enjoying the quiet and solitude the fog emphasized. Then I smelled wood smoke. I love that smell on a cold day on the lake. It almost warms you up.

Although I love the quiet, a haunting jazz song playing at a cabin fit the mood just right. I almost forgot about fishing for a short time. That song, the fog and the wood smoke combined to make me feel that same freedom and wonder I felt as a child.

One sign that shows the difference between city folks and country folks. City folks admire nature but want it controlled. You can see window boxes with flowers and plants in most cities, and well-groomed parks attract many people on nice days.

Have you ever seen a window box in the country with little skyscrapers in it? Are there any parks in the country with small buildings and traffic, to remind us of what being in the city is like? I don’t think so.

The bad thing about city folks wanting to get “back to nature” is they move to the county and try to make it more like the city. Subdivisions of closely packed houses are popular, but they destroy the natural environment.

From 1981 to 1994 I was director of transportation for Pike County Schools, and rode every passable road in Pike County monthly, checking bus routes. The changes were scary

When first started learning the county, there were some small farms, as well as a few big ones, but most of the county was undeveloped. The small farms were mostly people with good jobs in Atlanta. I said every piolet and airline worker wanted 40 acres with a horse. They bought up old farms and lived there, enjoying the natural environment without changing it much.

In the 1980 the school system developed a very good reputation and more and more parents wanted to move to Pike County so their kids could go to good schools. But they brought city life with them. Subdivisions that were natural in no way sprang up, with houses stacked together.

Some bought a few acres and built a house, but quickly started changing nature. They wanted paved roads and cleared most of their property, planting grass and flowers to replace what was there. I can’t blame them for wanting to “prettify” their place, nature is untamed and disorganized.

I have to admit I bought a house with about four acres in a subdivision but left the trees and wild except for a small vegetable garden plot. There were only four houses in the 100-acre subdivision but now there are about 17. When I first moved here, I could zero in my deer rifle in my back yard but don’t do that any longer. There are just too many houses in range.

Even with the development, I can’t see any other houses when the leaves are on the trees. And after they fall the view from my back deck is still natural. And I do shoot squirrels in my yard but use a shotgun and am very carful where my shot will fall.

Enjoy nature, but please don’t try to make it more like a city.

How Spotted Bass Ruin A Lake

Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, fishing was a warm weather sport. We fished from March through August and hunted September through February. I never knew bass would bite in the winter until I joined the Spalding County Sportsman Club in 1974 and fished an October tournament that year and a January tournament the next year.

If memory serves me right, we caught a lot of bass at Sinclair. But that was not really a surprise since the weather was still warm. But the January tournament was a big surprise. On a freezing day with sleet, my partner landed a six-pound bass at Jackson, one of six over six pounds weighed in that day.

I landed one small keeper largemouth on a chrome Hellbender, one of the few crankbaits we had back then. There were only largemouth in the lake.
The days of consistently catching quality largemouth at Jackson are long gone, as tournament results show. In the late 1980s sewage from Atlanta that used to flow into the lake down the South River, keeping it fertilized like a farm pond, was diverted.

Even worse, well-intentioned but clueless fishermen midnight stocked spotted bass in the lake. Now they dominate the bass population. Spots grow more slowly than largemouth, don’t get as big, and dominate the habitat since they are more aggressive.

Some examples of the changes over the years. I landed my first two eight pounders in January tournaments at Jackson in the 1970s, and the second one was third biggest fish that day. I landed my biggest bass ever, a 9.4 pounder, in a February tournament there.

In a March tournament I had fourth biggest fish with a 7.4 pounder. There was one just over eight pounds and a 9.1 pounder. But big fish was a 9.2 pounder. In a tournament with Larry Stubbs, I netted a 7.4 pounder for him then he netted a 7.5 pounder for me! There are many more examples like that.

I landed an 8.8 pounder in 2001 in a January tournament, but that is the last fish I can remember over six pounds, and there had been none I can remember for several years before it. If we didn’t have at least one six pounder back then it was a bad day.

Spots are fun to catch but totally change a lake. There is no size limit on them anywhere in the state except Lanier, and biologists encourage fishermen to keep a ten fish limit every time they can to eat.

I brought home as many as I could after our last tournament. The small ones are easy to filet and taste great. It is unusual to catch one over three pounds and removing as many as possible may help the lake a little.

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.