Category Archives: Tournament Fishing

Fishing Lake Sinclair in September

 Although bass fishing is tough, its getting better and some big fish are being caught in big lakes.  At the September Spalding County Sportsman Club tournament at Sinclair, 12 members caught 35 bass weighing about 55 pounds. There were three five-fish limits and no one zeroed.

    Raymond English showed us all how to do it with five weighing 14.88 pounds and his 7.43 pounder was big fish.  George Roberts had limit weighing 8.39 pounds and had a 4.08 pounder.  Zane Fleck’s limit at 5.92 pounds was third and Randall Sharpton had four weighing 5.71 pounds for fourth.

    I had a frustrating day, catching only three keepers, and I landed every fish that I hooked.  I wrongly thought everyone was having a tough day and felt pretty good with a 2.42 pound largemouth until George weighed his four pounder then Raymond shocked us all with the seven pounder.

    Mayflies were hatching in many places and formed clouds in some of the spots I fished, but oddly I never saw any bream eating them, a bad sign.  I guess I was in the wrong places.

    After fishing a buzzbait without a bite for thirty minutes, my first cast to a dock post with a shaky head produced my first keeper. I stuck with that pattern for a while and caught some short fish, then tried some deeper brush. I caught nothing but short fish even there.

    At 9:30 I cast behind a dock and a bass grabbed my shaky head and went under the dock. Somehow, I pulled it around the dock post and landed the two pounder.  It was one of those bass just meant to be caught.  After retying my line, cutting out the frayed part from the dock post, I fished several more docks and finally got my third keeper, a bare 12-inch fish that grabbed my worm and ran back under the boat before I could set the hook. Another one just meant to be caught.

    Although I fished to the bitter end and tried everything I could think of, that was it for me.

West Point Fishing in August

Sunday, August 24, at West Point, 11 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club cast for nine hours on a cool day with pouring rain the last two hours. We landed 15 bass weighing about 19 pounds. There were only four 14-inch largemouth, the rest were 12-inch spots. There were no limits and five people did not catch a keeper.

Jay Gerson won with four weighing 4.50 pounds, Wayne Teal had three at 4.03 pounds for second and big fish weighing 1.82 pounds, my two weighing 3.17 pounds was third and Niles Murray had three at 2.97 pounds for fourth.

I stated with a buzzbait on a deep rocky bank where I have caught a good many fish, but never got a bite. Then as the sky got lighter, I started fishing deeper brush, landing a keeper spot and a keeper largemouth on shaky head worm from about 20 feet deep.

Thought maybe that would work on other places but it didn’t. Since it was a rainy, cloudy day I tried a lot of shallow stuff too, and hooked one decent looking bass in a tree top in a foot of water, but it wrapped me up and sawed back and forth until it broke my line.

Saying it was a tough day is an understatement!

Trying To Catch Bass at Clarks Hill

August 10 and 11th, nine members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club fish a miserably hot two-day tournament at Clarks Hill. At least the fishing was tough. In 18 hours of casting we landed 41 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 65 pounds.

There were three limits and one fisherman didn’t catch a keeper in two days. But there were some good fish, five weighed more than three pounds each.

Raymond English, fishing as Niles Murray’ guest, won with ten weighing 17.11 pounds. Niles placed second with nine keepers weighing 14.51 pounds, Travis Weatherly was third with seven at 10.24 pounds and Chuck Croft came in fourth with six weighing 6.66 pounds. Jerry Ragen had big fish with a 4.39 pound largemouth.

I thought I had found some fish on deep rock piles and caught two Saturday, including one close to three pounds, and lost another one that felt as big as the three pounder. But that was it, two fish all day. And Sunday I missed one bite and had another good fish pull off the dropshot worm. No fish for me after eight hot hours of trying Sunday.

Lake Guntersville July Tournament Details

Camping for five nights at Guntersville – $196.00. Gas for truck – 100.00 – Gas for boat – 50.00 – Food – 50.00 – Club tournament fee – 35.00 – Ice – 25.00.

Winning $25.00 for third place and $35.00 for big fish – priceless!!

Sitting by the lake after fishing, grilling dinner and relaxing is also priceless. I always camp on multiday fishing trips for several reasons. It is more relaxing than a motel and I can leave stuff in and on my boat without worrying about it getting stolen. I much prefer my cooking to eating out. And it is easier to go to bed at sundown and sleep better.

Although it was very hot at Guntersville, a fan in a screen dining tent helped a lot. Fortunately, my camper has an air conditioner, so I sleep comfortably. Both fan and AC felt great after a hot day on the lake.

In our July tournament at Guntersville last weekend, seven members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished for 15 hours to land 33 keeper bass, only four of them spots, weighing about 80 pounds. There was one five-bass limit and everyone caught at least one keeper.

Raymond English won with seven bass weighing 16.75 pounds and Jay Gerson had eight, including a limit the first day, weighing 16.08 pounds for second. My four weighing 11.65 pounds was third and my 4.55 pound largemouth was big fish. Fourth was Glenn
Anderson with four weighing 11.14 pounds.

I went to the lake on Wednesday and got my camper set up. Thursday morning I went out looking for something that might work for me. I checked the backs of several creeks, isolated places where I thought I could fish in peace, but got only two bites and lost both fish. That afternoon I rode and fished ledges and grass lines, the usual summer pattern there.

Friday I spent the morning looking at the same kinds of places on the main lake. I have never fished a tournament on that area of the lake. The area I usually fish and am more familiar with is about 20 miles by water down the lake and I was not willing to make that run.

I did have the advantage of many GPS waypoints from old articles on the lake. But many of them were from other seasons, not the hot summertime. But I did have many good spots marked on ledges.

That afternoon I had not had a bite so I decided to try something with which I am more familiar. I had seen a line of docks around a deep cove that looked good. When I went to them I caught two nice spotted bass. At least I had something to fall back on if the ledges didn’t work.

I noticed a mercury vapor light over the water at one dock was on during the middle of the day, so I figured it stayed on all night and attracted fish. I filed that away as something to remember at first light.

Saturday morning I decided to start on a grassline when we took off at 6:00 AM. I quickly caught one short bass, about 14.5 inches long. Largemouth and smallmouth at Guntersville have to be 15 inches long to keep, but any size spotted bass can be kept, so we could weigh in 12-inch spots based on club rules.

At 7:20 I hooked and landed a 15.5-inch keeper largemouth and knew I would not zero so I relaxed – maybe too much. I fished a second grassline where I had marked baitfish the day before and largemouth were schooling on top, but all I caught were too short.

When I headed to my third marked spot, there was another bass boat there and they were fishing it hard. Since it was almost noon and the sun was high, I headed to the docks where I had caught the two spots, but there were three boats already fishing them.

The rest of the day I tried several things but never caught another keeper. At weigh-in I was in seventh out of seven people!

Sunday morning I ran straight to the dock with the light – and it was not on. But the fish were there. I quickly caught a 15.5-inch keeper, and six other bass just shorter than 15 inches, all on a spinnerbait. I lost what looked like a 2.5-pound keeper that just pulled off my buzzbait. That was not good.

At 9:00, after fishing the docks without another bite, I want to the ledges. I headed to the one I had not been able to fish the day before, and no one was there. It was the perfect set-up – a long creek channel wound across a huge flat to dump into the old river channel in the middle of the lake.

I got my boat in position and caught a short fish. Then on my second bite I set the hook on a good fish. I guessed it weighted about four pounds when I put it in the livewell.

A few casts later I hooked and landed a largemouth a little bigger than the first. It was the big fish in the tournament. Then, I got a bite, set the hook and my rod bowed up just like on the first two four pounders and fought like them for a few seconds, then pulled off my hook.

I stayed in that area the rest of the day but got no more keepers.

At weigh in my three weighed 10.01 pounds, the heaviest of any for the two days, and moved me to third place.

Guntersville is famous for its bass fishing, ranked as the second-best bass lake in the US this year by
BASS. But with the 15-inch limit, it can be tough to fish, with thousands of acres of grass and lily pad fields, and many miles of ledges and grasslines on the main lake, and heavy fishing pressure on all of them.

Its only 4.5 hours away – give it a try.

West Point Tournament and Guntersville Plans

Saturday, Jully 13, 24 Potato Creek Bassmasters members fished West Point from 5:30 AM to 2:00 PM in our July tournament. We started out wrong, arriving at Pyne
Park to find the boat ramp blocked for Dragon Boat races that afternoon. We quickly moved everyone to another nearby ramp.

In 8.5 hours of fishing, we landed 24 keeper bass weighing about 47 pounds. There were two five-bass limits, but 14 people did not have keeper.

Michael Cox won with four weighing 10.82 pounds and his 5.91 pound largemouth was big fish. It was very skinny and would have weighed over seven pounds in the spring, based on its head size.

Mitchell Cardell had four weighing 9.31 pounds for second, Lee Hancock placed third with five at 7.19 pounds and my five weighing 5.46 pounds was fourth. Trent Grainger had one weighing 4.62 pounds for fifth. It was another big headed skinny largemouth.

Again, I had a feeling I could catch some fish early in a certain place, but after fishing two places where I though they would feed shallow before the sun came up I had not gotten a bite. So, I started fishing deep brush, changing patterns completely.

I was on a 20-foot-deep brush pile at 9:00 and quickly caught three keeper spotted bass. I had fished it with a big crankbait and big worm, hoping for a good size largemouth since I had heard that was a good pattern, but got no bites.

My first cast to the brush with a smaller bait, a shaky head worm, produced a short spot then my next cast got my biggest of the day, a spot weighing a little over a pound. I landed several more short spots there, too, so I went to more deep brush.

At 11:00 I had not gotten another keeper, although I stuck with a shaky head and drop shot worm, small baits spots like. Then while looking for an old brush pile I saw a new one nearby on my depthfinder and caught my fourth keeper from it.

I kept trying deep brush without a bite. On some of them I could see fish suspended over them, the perfect set-up for a drop shot but could not get a bite on it. Then, with less that 30 minutes to fish, I caught my fifth keeper on the dropshot, my first bite on it all day.

Persistence pays off sometimes.

The Sportsman Club is fishing legendary Lake Guntersville this weekend. Although you hear about the fantastic catches there, based on the Alabama Bass Information Trail creel census reports from bass clubs, it is the most difficult lake in Alabama to catch a keeper bass in a club tournament.

Fishing at Guntersville is “combat fishing” in my experience. It seems folks go there based on its reputation, get frustrated by not catching fish, and lose all respect for others.

If you catch a bass there you can expect several more boats, anyone seeing you catch the fish, join you immediately. There is no consideration for others. A couple years ago I saw 17 boats fishing a small area. They were so close together some boats were bumping each other, and every one of them could have cast into every other boat.

I do not enjoy fishing like that and will be looking for a secluded area to fish. It may not produce a good catch, but I will enjoy it a lot more.

Lake Sinclair July Tournament Details

Summer’s hot days are tough times to catch big bass, or any other size many times. The hot water makes bass metabolism high, but it also makes then feed less and confines them to smaller areas of water. And they feed mostly at night, especially during a full moon.

Bass are skinny, too. Their high metabolism makes them burn energy fast and they don’t feed enough to regain body weight lost during the stress of the spawn.
A bass that might weigh seven pounds pre spawn in April might weigh only 5.5 pounds in July, with a big head but thin body.

But some can be caught, as the West Point results below show. But both it and Sinclair results show how tough fishing can be for club fishermen. Not only is it hot, boat traffic keeps you rocking from waves, and getting bites is a slow process.

At Sinclair weekend before last eight Flint River
Bass Club members faced all those things at our July tournament. In eight hours of fishing, we landed 15 keeper bass weighing about 20 pounds. There was one limit and three people did not have a fish.

Chuck Croft won with three weighing 5.50 pounds and had big fish with a 3.60 pound largemouth. Don Gober had the limit and placed second with 5.40 pounds, Doug Acree was third with three at 3.75 pounds and my two at 3.0 was fourth. Alex Gober had two weighing 2.0 pounds for fifth.

I had one of those good feelings that if I started on a certain seawall with topwater I would catch some fish. Sometimes those feelings work, but at after an hour and a half, I had not had a bite on anything.

Then I caught a keeper by a dock on a shaky head worm. It was about two feet deep. Going between docks a few minutes later I made what I thought was a useless cast right against a seawall with a weightless Senko. I could see the bottom and I just made the cast to be doing something, but my line moved to the side and I landed my second keeper.

That was it. I missed one more bite from a bass that hit on top in the shade and caught some warmouth on the Senko on other seawalls, but no more bass.

High Hopes for a Bassing Career

High Hopes for a Bassing Career

By Frank Sargeant, Editor
The Fishing Wire

Cole Drummond has high hopes for a bassing career.

He looks at Van Dam, at Wheeler, at Martin, at the Brothers Lee. And he sees himself a few years down the road.

It’s not an easy or a straight road.

Drummond, a South Carolina kid who started fishing with his dad Steve when he was just big enough to click the button on a Zebco spincaster, is 19 now–still a kid to some, but he’s starting to chink away at building a reputation in pro bass fishing.

He’s not only done very well in the booming high-school bass tournament scene, making the championship fishoff at Kentucky Lake as a junior, he’s also had some success in fishing open tournaments against guys two or three times his age–he’s banked $14 grand in a couple years.

But he’s come up against a hard truth that soon faces most with pro fishing dreams.

It costs a WHOLE lot of money to fish any of the circuits. Tens of thousands in travel costs, to say nothing of the entry fees and supporting a tournament grade bass boat and a truck to tow it.

“I’d like to see him get where he bankrolls himself,” says dad Steve, who’s a successful taxidermist. “Quick.”

They’re here at the FLW ICAST Cup, the kickoff for ICAST 2019, at Big Toho Marina on Lake Tohopekaliga, and I am their designated media type. Some 60 boats run by an assortment of seasoned and well-known pro anglers from FLW as well as some who hope soon to be known, like Cole, have volunteered to get us out on the lake for a taste of fishing before the doors of the big show open.

Cole is a clean-cut, tattoo-free, polite kid who just loves to fish. He’ll never be Mike Iaconelli–but you could see him being Jordan Lee someday.

One possible speed bump in the road ahead: collegiate fishing. Much as college football is a sort of farm system for the NFL, college fishing circuits, growing even faster than the high-school competitions, have become sort of the de facto road to the pro’s for many younger anglers who might otherwise have to wait years for sponsor support, all the while pouring money into the game.

Cole is not going to college. He’s not much for studying in the classroom. It interferes with his fishing time.

The question is, will a degree become an expected prerequisite for sponsors–who pay many of the bills for the more successful pro’s? Cole and his dad are hoping not.

“I know it’s about helping them sell product and getting their name out there,” says Cole. He’s no stranger to it. He helps his dad film a local outdoors television show, and sometime appears on camera.

He’s a good angler, no doubt about it. He puts four bass in the boat while his dad and I manage only a couple between us. He’s working up his social media profile, reaching out to pro’s already on the circuits for advice. But . . . .

Pro fishing has been the wreck of a whole lot of dreams, for sure. But Cole Drummond is hopeful–he’s been able to set up a couple meetings with some of the major companies in the industry during the visit to Orlando . . . maybe, just maybe . . . .

Fishing Tournaments and Lake Weiss

Growing up, I never played sports and did not like many games. I was not competitive in anything, being too much of a loner. I wanted to be out on the water or in he woods all the time and was perfectly happy being alone.

In April, 1974 Jim Berry took me to my first bass club tournament and I fell in love with the competition. For some reason, it was different. Although still somewhat on my own, with just two of us in the boat, it was very much to my liking.

Fishing big lakes in tournaments is different. If I wanted to go fishing just to catch fish, there are many bodies of water where I could catch more and bigger bass. And if numbers were my goal, I could choose to fish for something other than bass.

But the challenge of figuring out how to catch bass on big lakes with lots of fishing pressure is a thrill for me. If you watch the pros on TV, they often make it look easy. Of course, the cameras focus on the guys catching fish. If you look at the total results, in every tournament many of the top pros struggle.

My goal in club tournaments at the start each morning is to catch one bass. That first one is important. I try to not think of catch a limit until I have five in the boat, and catching a limit is often hard to do.

Two trips last week emphasized the difference in tournament bass fishing on a big lake and fishing on other waters. Tuesday, I fished Lake Weiss with Hayden Marbut and his father Brian, getting information for my Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News August Map of the Month articles.

Hayden is a 16-year-old high school tournament fisherman and his father grew up fishing Weiss. He won a high school tournament at Weiss recently. But we knew it would be tough fishing, with bright sun and no wind.

We started fishing before sunrise and three hours later had not caught a single bass. But a big part of tournament fishing is sticking with it and trying hard. The fifth place we tried, Hayden caught a two-pound keeper pitching a jig and pig to a dock. Then he caught a second keeper there, but this one weighed 5.92 pounds, a great kicker in a tournament.

We fished until 4:00 PM and Hayden landed four more keepers. His best five weighed about 13 pounds, a good catch in most tournaments. His dad got frustrated, fishing hard but never catching a single bass. I sat in the boat, taking notes and pictures and never made a cast.

In tournaments you often work hard for five or six bites like that.

Last Sunday was similar.

How I Won at Bartletts Ferry

In the June Spalding County Sportsman Club tournament, nine members fished from 5:45 AM until 2:00 PM at Bartlett’s Ferry to land 25 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 29 pounds. There were three five-bass limits, and everyone had at last one keeper.

I won with five weighing a whopping 6.61 pounds, Wayne Teal placed second with five at 5.16 pounds and Raymond English came in third with four weighing 4.32 pounds. Kwong Yu was fourth with five at 4.16 pounds and his partner, Glenn Anderson had big fish and placed fifth with one bass weighing 3.26 pounds.

It was a very slow day fishing, but I was happy to see 14 of our keepers were largemouth. Like some of our other lakes, spotted bass have ruined the largemouth fishing on Bartletts Ferry. Where we used to catch several two to five pound largemouth, we now catch a bunch of 11-inch spotted bass. Hydrilla in the lake has helped the largemouth population recover somewhat.

I started on a seawall where I can usually catch a keeper before sunrise if the lake if full, but never got a bite. I then fished a point with topwater and caught a short bass, an 11-inch spot. In a nearby brush pile 20 feet deep I caught a keeper largemouth on a Texas rigged worm at 6:30. At least I had that first one.

For the next hour I fished topwater on a rocky bank where Mayflies were hatching and bream were feeding on them. That is usually a good pattern, and I caught several more short spots, and lost what looked like a keeper when it jumped and threw my popper.

At 7:30 I switched to a shaky head worm and caught my second keeper, a 13-inch spot, and several more short fish. For the next hour I kept trying to catch a keeper off that bank and saw a new brush pile in 10 feet of water on my depthfinder. I marked it with a GPS waypoint and I am glad I did.

At 8:30 I went back to the deep brush pile and caught my third keeper, another spot, on a shaky head worm. That made me try deep brush for a couple of hours without a bite. Then at 11:00, I went to docks since the sun was bright.

After skipping a worm under a dock I felt a bite but when I set the hook somehow I got my line wrapped around the end of the rod. I could not keep my line tight and two-pound largemouth jumped and threw my bait.

That made me go to shallow water and at 11:30 I caught my fourth fish, a keeper largemouth, from some brush under a tree. I knew I did not have much weight but a fifth keeper would help.

With an hour left to fish I went back to the deep brush, but a boat was fishing it. I remembered the new brush pile I had marked and went to it. My first cast to it with a shaky head worm gave me my limit and biggest bass, a 2.57 pound largemouth.

With a limit, I decided to go in early and get out of the sun. I fished hard for five keepers and it paid off.

Potato Creek Bassmasters June Oconee Tournament Details

Last Saturday 21 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our June tournament at Oconee. Fishing from 5:45 AM to 2:00 PM, we landed 21 bass weighing about 43 pounds. There were two five-fish limits and nine people didn’t have a 14-inch bass to weigh.

Doug Acree won with five bass weighing 9.72 pounds. Niles Murray was second with the other limit and it weighed 9.12 pounds. Lee Hancock placed third with three weighing 6.82 pounds and fourth was Kwong Yu with three at 5.17 pounds.

I hoped for a good day after having 9.46 pounds in the Flint River tournament the Sunday before, but within five minutes that changed. I hooked a good bass on a spinnerbait cast to a seawall. The second time it jumped in the dark it came off. That told me it would be one of those kinds of days.

Over the next 5 hours I landed several short bass but had no keepers at 11:30. I finally landed a 2.27 pound largemouth from a brush pile in front of a dock. I was fishing a point and remembered the dock with brush on the other side of the cove.

Before I could idle over to it, another boat stopped just past it and started fishing. It did not look like they fished the dock, so when they left I went to it and caught my only keeper that day. It hit a shaky head. I was very thankful the other fishermen didn’t fish the dock and catch it.

Although I fished hard the next three hours, including some more deep brush, I never caught another bass. It was a very frustrating day.

One of the most frustrating things was how rough the lake was. Oconee is crowded with big boats and wake boats are the worst. They are made to go slow and produce a big wake, and they can knock me out of my boat if I am unbalanced.

For some reason wake boarders seem to like to circle right where I am fishing. I swear I heard a guy in one yell “there is one” as they passed me on the other side of the creek. Of course, they stopped, a boarder jumped in and they started circling.

That is just one of the hazards of summer bass fishing.