Last Sunday 21 members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club fished our April tournament at Lanier. We were all excited – fishing reports said they were biting good and everything seemed right. And when Chuck Croft told us at the meeting Tuesday night he and his partner won a tournament there the weekend before with 22 pounds, we just knew we would catch fish.
Nope. In nine hours of casting, we landed 41 bass weighing about 79 pounds. There were only four five-bass limits and six members didn’t land a keeper. As expected though, there were only eight largemouth landed. The rest were spotted bass. There is a 14 inch length limit on all bass at Lanier, though. Many of us caught a lot of 13 inch bass that would be keepers on most lakes.
We are going to have to stop allowing guests to fish this tournament. Last year William Scott fished as a guest and won the tournament and had a six pounder, the biggest bass caught in any of our tournaments. This year Sam Smith fished as Niles Murray’s guest and won it with five weighing 10.79 pounds. And he had a 3.12 pound spot for big fish.
Brandon Stooksbury should have won but he came in 7 minutes late after being told the wrong weigh-in time on the phone after arriving late for blast off. He did place second with five weighing 8.86 after a 21 percent penalty. And he had a 3.39 pound spot that would have been big fish without the penalty.
William Scott came back as a guest and came in third with five at 8.40 pounds and my five weighing 7.60 was good for fourth place. Jordan McDonald fished with me and had three weighing 5.61 pounds so we had a decent day, but not nearly as good as expected.
I couldn’t wait to get to my first place at the 6:30 blast off. A few years ago I did an article on Lanier in early April with Laura Gober and she took me to a place at daylight where we caught several three pound plus spots on jerkbaits, and she said that was not unusual. Jordan and I hit it and fished it for an hour, and caught several short fish. I did hook a 2.5 pound plus spot we could see down about six feet under the boat in the clear water, but it pulled off the jerkbait.
By 10:00 we were frustrated. Although we had caught several small bass we didn’t have a keeper in the live wells. So we took off up the Chestatee River, headed to the back end of it where the lake looks more like what I am used to fishing. Jordan had taken me up there last March in a Flint River tournament and I came in second in it.
On the way we stopped on a hump and Jordan caught a keeper at about 10:30 so our attitude improved. And soon after getting to the very back end of the river, 22 miles from the blast off ramp, I landed a keeper largemouth on a jig and pig from about two feet of water.
We fished shallow bushes, grass and rocks the rest of the day and I landed four more keepers and Jordan got two more. I had only three with about an hour left to fish when I hooked a three pound plus largemouth on a worm in two feet of water and told Jordan to get the net just as it jumped and threw the hook.
With less than 30 minutes to fish we went to a small island and I caught a keeper largemouth and a keeper spot to fill my limit almost on back to back casts. It took us 22 minutes at 60 miles per hour to get back to the ramp, but it was worth the ride!