Last Sunday 15 members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club fished our April tournament at Lake Oconee. We choose Lake Oconee April Tournament because fishing is usually good there. In 8.5 hours of casting we brought in 38 bass over the 14 inch size limit. There were five five-bass limits and two people didn’t bring in a keeper.
Travis Weatherly won it all with five weighing 13.01 pounds and his 3.44 pound largemouth was big bass. Chuck Croft was second with five at 10.12 pounds, I came in third with five weighing 9.32 pounds and Niles Murray placed fourth with five at 8.88 pounds.
When we took off I noticed everyone but me went up the Oconee River from Long Shoals ramp. The water was more stained that way than it was in Double Branches where I headed. And it seems the bite was different. I tried spinnerbaits and crankbaits but never got a bite on them. But at weigh-in the other three finishing in the top four all said they caught their fish on spinnerbaits and crankbaits.
After about 30 minutes I stopped fishing those faster moving baits and switched to a Texas rigged lizard, and almost immediately caught a good keeper. So I kept fishing it and had three at 9:00 in the first cove we fished.
The next cove we went to I quickly filled my limit by 10:00 on the lizard but then it got tough. I fished hard but at 2:30 had not caught another keeper. My partner Wesley DeLay and I both caught a lot of 13 inch bass, too short to weigh in.
Finally at 2:30 I landed a bass big enough to cull my smallest fish. But that was it, I landed six keepers all day.
Most tournament fishermen want to be in control of the boat and fish from the front. At times it makes big difference, and it seemed to Sunday. Travis fished by himself so it did not make a difference, but JJ Polak fished from the back of Chuck’s boat. Chuck had five, JJ had one keeper. I had five and Wesley, fishing behind me, had one. And Niles had five while Jack Ridgeway, fishing from the back of his boat, had one.
I’m not sure why it made a difference. Wesley and I both were fishing the same bait. I steadily moved down the bank and the fish I caught were not on any kind of visible cover. So each of us were blind casting to the same water. I probably made a cast every 20 feet or so, leaving lots of un-fished water between casts.
A bass will move a couple of feet to hit a bait like a lizard but I don’t think they will move ten feet one way or the other to hit one. Bass are ambush fish, relying on a short burst of speed to catch and eat their quarry. For them to move ten feet to hit something moving along the bottom would be unusual, I think.
But who knows why bass act like they do. I have certainly had plenty of days when my partner beat me from the back of the boat and I’m sure it will happen a lot more times.