July 25 and 26, seven members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club braved the heat and high school fishermen at Guntersville for our July tournament. We landed 23 15-inch keeper largemouth weighing about 57 pounds in 16 hours of casting. One person had a five-fish limit – both days – and there were two fishermen without a keeper.
Raymond English caught ten keepers weighing 26.71 pounds – almost as much as the rest of the club put together, for first place. Kwong Yu had four keepers weighing 12.52 pounds for second and big fish with a 5.74 pounder.
Zane Fleck placed third with three at 7.10 pounds. Although my gas motor locked up before daylight Saturday and it took me five hours on the trolling motor to get back to the ramp, my three weighing 6.28 pounds was fourth. Jay Gerson had three at 6.19 pounds for fifth.
The weekend of July 18 and 19, 14 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our July tournament at Lake Eufaula. To say it was hot is somewhat misleading. It was miserably hot. My shirt was soaked with sweat before 7:00 each morning. It was so hot and the fishing so bad that only six of the 14 members were still around for weigh-in at 1:00 Sunday.
In 15 hours of casting we brought in 37 keeper bass longer than the 14-inch limit that weighed about 73 pounds. There were three five-bass limits and two people did not have a keeper.
Raymond English had a great catch Saturday, five weighing 16.68 pounds, and added five more Sunday for a total first place weight of ten weighing 24.71 pounds and had a 5.78 pound largemouth for big fish. My five at 15.11 pounds, including a 5.36 pounder, was second. Kwong Yu placed third with seven weighing 12.56 pounds and had the third limit on Sunday. Mike Scoggins had three at 6.71 pounds for fourth.
Raymond said he caught his fish on a Trick worm, as did Kwong. Mine hit a buzzbait early. We started at 5:30 each morning in the dark and I never had a bite after 7:00 either day.
It was tough but our catch included a high percentage of three to six-pound bass, caught in shallow water. Eufaula is full of them!
Somebody in the Flint River Bass Club thought it would be a good idea to hold our June tournament on Lanier on Sunday, June 7. In it 14 of us fished for eight hours and caught eight 14-inch keepers. Ten of us zeroed!
Lanier gets crazy on any warm day, and Sunday was no exception. Wake boats that cruise slowly and make huge wakes have to go back in creeks to get away from the ocean-going cruisers on the main lake. Those big boats make waves even wake boats don’t want to face.
Boat ramps are crowded, not a problem when we launch before daylight but we often sit in line for a long time waiting on folks that back their jet skis or ski boats down on the ramp then block it while they transfer everything from their vehicle to the boat and get the boat ready for launch.
I have been on double ramps when we loaded eight bass boats on one ramp while an inconsiderate pleasure boater blocked the other one. And it is often irritatingly entertaining watching some try to back their boat down the ramp as they repeatedly go off to the side and have to pull up and try again.
On my “Fazebook” page, I posted about ten of us zeroing and got as response “I don’t see how anyone can zero a tournament.” I said “Its easy, just don’t catch a keeper.” Not only is it hard to fish from all the waves on the lake when its like Lanier was Sunday, bass definitely react to all the activity. Trying to cast and work a bait is very hard when you are just trying to stay in the boat, and the bass get very skittish and inactive with all the noise and waves.
Bass club fishermen fish under all conditions, from freezing cold winter days to miserably hot summer days. And we go to different lakes every weekend. Fishing the same waters week after week helps you keep up with what the bass are doing there, but all we have to go on is what they did the last time we fished there, often a year ago. Practice can help, but most of us don’t get to spend time on the water before a tournament due to work or health.
Bass change their habits and activities daily, sometimes even hourly. They follow seasonal patterns that we all know, but conditions change their daily activity within their patterns. Trying to figure out what is going on in eight hours is tough.
In the tournament, everything went wrong for me and I was one of the zeros. I had no idea what the bass were doing other than some posts I had read saying they were hitting on windy rocky points. I ran to one of my favorites, a place where I have caught a lot of fish, and four spots over four pounds each, in fall and spring tournaments there.
For thirty minutes I did not get a bite, then on a cast with a jig and pig, as I tightened up my line to move the jig, the line was slack. That often means a bass has sucked in the jig and is swimming toward the boat. Too often if you set the hook with too much slack line, you do not get a good hook set.
I kept trying to get my line tight enough to set the hook. That is an iffy situation. And unfortunately, I tightened it up too much, the fish felt the pressure and I felt it spit out my lure.
Another time I felt a tap and lowered my rod tip to quickly set the hook. Before I could, a big carp jumped and came down on my line, jerking it and making the bass let go of the jig. That has never happened to me before!
In the tournament, guest Tim Puckett won with three bass weighing 4.87 pounds and had big fish with a 2.21 pounder. Travis Weatherly came in second with three weighing 4.17 pounds, Chris Lee placed third with one weighing 1.66 pounds and Brent Drake came in fourth with one weighing 1.21 pounds. That was it, the rest of us did not have a fish to weigh!
In the Potato Creek Bassmasters June tournament at West Point on June 13, 28 fishermen landed 65 bass weighing about 108 pounds in nine hours of casting. There were six five bass limits and ten people did not have a fish.
Niles Murray won with five weighing 11.44 pounds. Kwong Yu placed second with five at 10.05 and had big fish with a 4.02 pounds. Caleb Delay came in third with five weighing 8.58 pounds. Tom Tanner came in fourth with five at 8.18 pounds.My five weighed 6.42 pounds.
The two I lost would have added at least three pounds to my weight but it was not to be.
In the Spalding County Sportsman Club June tournament at Sinclair the next day, 16 members and guest fished 9.5 hours to land 50 bass weighing about 88 pounds. There were eight five bass limits and two people zeroed.
I won with five at 11.45 pounds, those two lucky fish really helped. Gary Hattaway placed second with five at 10.88 pounds, Jay Gerson came in third with five at 10.88 pounds and Wayne Teal placed fourth with five at 9.21 pounds. George Roberts had big fish with a 4.01 pound largemouth.
Two weekends ago, May 30 and 31, 2020. 15 members and guests of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our May tournament at Lake Eufaula. In 17 hours of casting, we landed 81 bass weighing about 161 pounds. There were eight five bass limits and one fisherman didn’t catch a keeper.
Kwong Yu won with ten keepers weighing 23.60 pounds and had big fish with a 5.54 pound largemouth. He also had a 5.09 pound largemouth in his catch. RaymondEnglish placed second with ten bass weighing 19.73 pounds, Jay Gerson had nine bass weighing 17.54 pounds for third and guest Dan Dupree fishing with Raymond had seven bass weighing 13.60 pounds for fourth. Glenn Anderson, fishing with Kwong, had nine bass weighing 11.20 for fifth place.
Eufaula is known for its big bass but we had a hard time finding them.
Parker Guy, the high school fisherman I did a Map of the Month article with that is in this month’s issue of Georgia Outdoor News, has been fishing the lake every day.
He fished a tournament Sunday and won with five bass weighing 18.5 pounds and had big fish in it with a six pounder! it helps to know the lake.
The Wednesday after my Oconee tournmqent I went to Blanton Creek Park to camp, social distance myself, and practice for the Potato Creek Bassmasters Club Classic on Bartletts Ferry Saturday. The campground was crowded, a lot of people seemed to think the same way about avoiding coronavirus. The lake crowd seemed to be like Memorial Day or July 4th weekend!
Thursday it was very cool so I waited to go out until about 10:00. I just knew the big largemouth would be moving in to feed in river sloughs so I looked at them. I had heard it took 17 pounds to win a Tuesday night tournament the week before, and 19 to win one on Saturday, so I just knew the big ones would bite for me.
Wrong. I never had a bite.
Friday I looked at some more river sloughs, marked some brush piles, and got no bites. The river was ripping with the West Point dam releasing water 24 hours a day. The current was so strong it was almost impossible to fish. At one point I drifted with the current as I got ready to move, and my GPS showed I was moving 2.5 miles per hour!
That afternoon I ran over to Hawalaka Creek where I usually fish. The water there is always clear and it is full of spots, but they are mostly small and I did not think I could do well in the tournament there. The first cove I went in I saw a two-pounder hovering by a small brush pile in two feet of water, then another one about that size go under a dock.
I cast a wacky rigged Senko for a few minutes and caught a 1.5-pound largemouth out of some shade by a seawall. That made me realize fish were easier to catch doing that.
Saturday morning I had high hopes to catch a decent largemouth in the river sloughs early, but in the first one I fished at daylight I caught four short fish and felt others nipping at my spinnerbait and bladed jig. They just were not hitting good.
I did make a couple of good decisions during the day. After fishing two more sloughs without a bite I decided to go to Hawalaka Creek and try to catch something. As I headed that way I decided to try one more slough.
Back in it on a point I landed a 2.07 pound largemouth on a shaky head. A little further down the bank I saw a swirl near a seawall, cast to it and landed another two-pound largemouth. That fired me up but after another hour of fishing the area, I had not gotten another bite.
I ran to Hawalaka creek and caught two keeper spots off the first dock I fished, then my fifth keeper on the next dock. With almost six hours left to fish I went back to the river trying to catch a bigger fish, but no bites.
I went back to where I had seen the fish the day before and caught two spots that did not help, then a largemouth that did cull my smallest spot. When I headed to the ramp I decided to fish one last place and caught another spot that culled again.
I did not think my little limit would do any good.
In the tournament 17 of us fished from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM, landing 54 keepers weighing about 82 pounds. There were seven five-bass limits and three people did not have a keeper.
Raymond English won with four weighing 9.21 pounds and had big fish with a 4.76 pounder. Drew Naramore was second with four at 8.51 pounds. I was shocked with my five weighing 7.85 tied with Lee Hancock’s five for third place. Fifth was Edward Folker with five weighing 7.48 pounds.
I hoped to actually LAND a big one this weekend at Oconee in the Flint River tournament but it got canceled!
\The big one always gets away. Or for me, most of the time.
On Sunday, March 22, 15 members and guests, and one youth, fished our March tournament at Oconee from 7:00 AM until 3:00 PM. We weighed in 48 14-inch keeper largemouth weighing about 100 pounds. There were four five-fish limits and one zero.
Sam Smith re-joined the club and showed us how to do it, with five weighing 16.33 pounds for first. Zane Fleck had four weighing 11.45 pounds for second and his 6.62-pound big one didn’t get away until after it was weighed for big fish. Third was Billy Roberts with five at 9.57, Raymond English placed fourth with four at 9.36 pounds and my four weighing 9.23 pounds was fifth.
Niles Murry’s nephew, Tom Murray, fished with him and won the youth division with a keeper weighing 2.51 pounds.
My day started slowly, with no keepers until 10:00 when I caught a 4.38 pounder on a jig and pig, then a few minutes later I landed a two pounder on the jig. Just before 11:00 I landed my third keeper. Feeling pretty good but knowing I needed two more, I tried some of my best March places without a bite until 2:00.
I had pretty much given up but decided to fish one last place on the way to the ramp. At 2:15 I cast a shaky head to a dock and felt a thump. When I set the hook the fish made a huge boil in the two-foot deep water then ran under the dock around a post.
Somehow it came out without breaking my line. When I got it about ten feet from the boat I saw a bass every bit of eight pounds and got really excited. Then I saw my whole worm hanging on the outside of its mouth, showing it was barely hooked.
It made a surge toward the metal boat lift and I managed to stop it and get it coming to the boat again. I reached down and picked up the net, and suddenly my line went slack. The hook had pulled out.
Although disgusted and heartbroken, I kept casting and landed my fourth keeper on the same shaky head and worm by a grass bed. In desperation, I went back to the big fish dock and cast to it for the last five minutes before I had to leave, but the big one did not bite again.
Spring weather means fast-changing conditions for bass fishing. Two weeks ago, it was a ten-degree drop in water temperature in two days at Sinclair. At Eufaula the next week it was a drop in water level. Those are my excuses!
I got to Lakepoint Campground a week ago last Tuesday and set up my camper. A couple of folks camping near me stopped by to talk and told me they were catching a lot of catfish, but few crappie. One of them pointed to a five-foot-high pole by the boat ramp and said it and half the campground had been underwater the Friday before. The pole showed just over one foot of water on Tuesday.
A four-foot drop in water level in four days had to hurt, and my fishing seemed to prove it. I fished about five hours Wednesday and caught only two bass. Both looked like males that had moved in to find a bedding area in the 59-degree water. And the water continued to drop, going down .4 of a foot Wednesday.
Thursday morning I got up and drove south to put in closer to the main lake, hoping to find clearer water. It was even muddier! I did catch a keeper spotted bass and an eight-pound blue cat hit my shaky head worm.
I did get a thrill. While fishing grass beds between docks, I eased around one and looked at the post with my Garmin Panoptix. What looked like a fish was at the base of it about a foot off the bottom. When I pitched my jig to it and watch it sink, I saw the bass come up to it and the jig disappeared. I was so shocked I just watched; I had not seen that before. Then the fish almost jerked the rod out of my hand as it took off, and I did not hook it!
Friday, I rode around checking some creeks and found some clearing water that was 67 degrees back in one. I decided to start there Saturday morning in the Potato Creek Bassmasters tournament the next day. It was a good decision, but a lot of other folks decided the same place looked good.
Saturday morning, I put my boat in at the campground ramp and ran up to the bridge where we were to meet. Due to the Alabama Nation tournament with more than 60 boats and several other clubs taking off from the park, the ramp was a madhouse. It didn’t help that one set of ramps was closed due to construction.
Folks were backed up from the ramp all the way back to the highway, at least a mile and a half, waiting to put in before daylight. It was so bad Niles called me, got the campground gate code and drove around to put in there. He was at the bridge while most folks were still waiting.
In the tournament the first day, 27 members landed 79 bass weighing about 153 pounds. There were seven limits and four zeros. Lee Hancock did it right with five weighing 16.02 pounds and had a 4.88 pounder for first. My five at 12.70 pounds was second and I had a 4.62 pounder. Third was Caleb Delay with fiver weighing 12.26 and Edward Folker was fourth with five weighing 11.59 pounds.
On day two, Sunday, the fish bit better – for some. There were 10 limits and three zeros. We landed 58 bass weighing about 173 pounds. Stan Wick had five at 13.80 pounds for first with a 4.59 pounder. Raymond English had five weighing 13.68 pounds with a 5.11 pounder for second, Trent Grainger was third with five weighing 13.02 pounds and Edward Folker had five weighing 12.73 pounds.
Overall, Lee Hancock won with 10 weighing 26.80 pounds and Edward Folker was second with 10 at 24.32 pounds. Raymond English came in third with ten at 23.14 pounds and his 5.11 pound largemouth was big fish. Fourth was Trent Grainger with ten weighing 22.91 pounds. I caught only three keepers the second day and dropped to a tie with Drew Naramore. My eight and his ten weighed an identical 19.12 pounds.
On Saturday I quickly caught a keeper on a spinnerbait, then two more on a bladed jig. At 9:30 I laned my four-pounder on a jig. Then it got slow, I did not have another bite until 2:30 when I caught my fifth keeper on a jig then immediately caught another keeper on it. A few minutes later I set the hook and felt a good fish fight for a few seconds before pulling off.
Sunday did not start well. I did not get a bite until 9:00 and that fish pulled off the jig. I guess I set the pattern the last fish the day before. At 9:30 what looked like a four-pounder just came off my bladed jig. Then, at 10:00, in about ten minutes, I caught three keepers and a grinnel on the jig.
It got slow. Just after lunch I set the hook, my rod bowed up and the fish fought then came off. With 30 minutes left to fish I set the hook on a good fish, fought it to the boat, and reached for it with the net. It jumped, missed the net by THAT much, about two inches, and came off.
I had my chances, as did many others. There was a lot of talk at both weigh-ins of big fish lost. Part of the problem was the number of fishermen, especially on Saturday. All-day there were at least ten bass boats within sight in the small creek I was fishing.
Sunday at least four other club members were fishing the same area, it was get in line, go down the bank and hope you got a bite all day both days.
Right now is a great time to get on the lake to avoid the virus and catch good bass. That is my plan!
After Ricky Layton’s great catch on Friday, I could not wait to get on the water Sunday morning in the Flint River Bass Club March tournament at Sinclair.
I should have known better.
After fishing from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, 13 members landed 20 bass weighing about 36 pounds. There was one five bass limit and five people didn’t catch a 12-inch keeper.
Travis Weatherly won with five weighing 9.02 pounds and his 4.99 pound largemouth was big fish. My three weighing 7.47 placed second and I had a 4.57 pounder for my biggest fish. Niles Murray placed third with three weighing 5.75 pounds and Brent Drake came in fourth with three weighing 4.20 pounds.
The cold air made me shiver on my run to my first stop. Luckily there was enough wind to keep the fog down, it was wispy and hanging just off the water. But there was enough to make it scary trying to watch for all the floating wood.
I stopped off a grass bed that was perfect for the pattern Ricky caught his big fish on Friday, but my heart sank when my temperature gauge hit 49 degrees. A nine or ten degree drop just had to affect the bass. It surely did affect my optimism! I fished three places in three hours without a bite.
Around 11:00 the weak sun was warming the water a little, raising the temperature to about 51 degrees in the cove where Ricky caught a six pounder. I cast a Chatterbait across in front of a grass bed, something thumped it and I set the hook. My rod bowed up and the fish headed for deep water. I just knew I had a six pounder on, but suddenly my line went slack. The fish just pulled off without me ever seeing it.
At noon I was in the area where Ricky caught two fish, hole #2. I was very down, fishing half the day without a keeper. The water had warmed to 52 so I had some hope. I cast my Chatterbait into some grass and hooked the four pounder I weighed in. That improved my attitude a lot.
After another hour of fishing without a bite, I caught a two pounder in front of some grass, then at 2:00 PM landed my third keeper, a one pounder, from another grass bed. That was it. I fished hard for the rest of the day without another bite.
On Monday, the weather guessers said it would be in the 70s all week as I got ready to go to Eufaula for a week. I hope they were right, the Potato Creek Bassmasters are fishing our March tournament this weekend at Eufaula.I think I kinda wish we were at Sinclair!
Sunday, February 23, 13 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our February tournament at West Point. After fishing from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, we brought 31 keeper bass to the scales. Ten of them were 14 inch largemouth and 21 were spots over the 12-inch size limit. Three people had five fish limits and no one zeroed.
Russell Prevatt won with five weighing 11.04 pounds and Zane Fleck placed second with five at 10.17 pounds. Robert Proctor, fishing with Zane, had five weighing 8.30 pounds for third and Jay Gerson placed fourth with four at 8.10 pounds and had big fish with a 3.46 pounder. My four weighing 6.22 pounds was fifth.
Robert told me he and Zane caught at least 20 keepers during the day. That always amazes me, I struggle to get four fish and others catch a bunch of them, doing exactly what I was doing!
After the Potato Creek tournament the Saturday before, I felt hopeful, but when I ran to the creek where I caught fish the week before, the water had come up 18 inches and the temperature had dropped five degrees! It was still very muddy, and there was already another bass boat back in it fishing.
I caught a keeper on a worm before 9:00 but then it got slow. I probably should have left the creek and tried other places, but I was convinced bass were somewhere in that creek and stayed there all day. It almost worked, I landed my biggest fish of the day at 2:00 PM and just knew they were moving up as the water warmed.
I had my chances, too. About a dozen times I got bites and brought in half or no worm after setting the hook. They could have been small spots that are notorious about grabbing a worm but they are so small the tail of the worm is in their throat but the hook still outside their mouth.
But on one hookset, the fish was swimming to my left. When I set the hook, my rod bowed up and drag on my reel slipped, then the line went slack. I reeled in my jig and worm. It could have been a gar that my hook could not stick, or it could have been a big bass that was clamped down on my jig head so tight the hook could not move and stick it. I will never know! Thats fishing!