Last weekend 14 members and guests of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our May tournament at Lake Eufaula. It was a madhouse with more than 200 boats in the BFL on Saturday and several smaller tournaments going on. Then on Sunday there was a 60-boat tournament along with us, all out of Lake Point State Park where we launched.
After 16 hours of casting on two hot days, we weighed in 40 bass weighing about 85 pounds. Most were largemouth that had to be 14 inches long or longer to bring to the scales, but there were a few spots that are legal at 12 inches. There were no five fish limits and two members did not catch a fish either day.
Randall Sharpton won with six bass weighing 14.01 pounds and John Miller had five keepers weighing 11.95 pounds for second. My five weighing 9.67 pounds placed third and Sam Smith had five weighing 8.81 pounds for fourth. Glenn Anderson had a largemouth weighing 4.68 pounds for big fish.
Eufaula is an extremely popular bass fishing lake, producing many four-and five-pound bass over the past five years. But fishing there is getting tough, partly due to the fishing pressure and partly due to stupid management practices.
The lady at the marina store at Lake Point told me there had been at least one tournament every weekend this year, since January 1, with at least 150 boats in it. That is a lot of pressure, especially since several of them were two-to-five-day tournaments.
Add that to the usual number of club tournament and local fishermen and it is overwhelming.
The bass population at Eufaula is so healthy due to habitat. The waters of the Chattahoochee River feeding it are fairly rich in nutrients by the time it gets that far south. And the thousands of acres of shallow water filled with water plants like water willow, lily pads, alligator grass and hyacinths, provide cover and feeding aeras for bass.
For some reason either the states of Alabama and/or Georgia, and/or the federal Corps of Engineers that manages the lake, it trying to kill all the water plants. Last year I could stand at the campground at Lake Point and look across acres of water lilies between the campsites and islands across Cowikee Creek.
This year there was not a lily pad in sight from my campsite, or anywhere else on the lake. Areas where I usually fish topwater baits through the pads for hundreds of yards for bass hiding and feeding there are open water now. It is sad. One local fisherman told me there were four air boats spraying on the lake two weeks ago.
Add to that the fact the Corps of Engineers, during spawning season for many species of fish there, were dropping the water. It was almost two feet low by the time I left Monday, dropping several inches each day. Cypress trees with roots under water last Wednesday were dry by Monday and any bass or other fish beds in two feet of water a week ago were now dry and dead.
I could understand if the Corps was generating power at the dam during the hot days, but all the drop in water level was at night!
I am doing some research trying to find out the reasons the lake is being managed like it is. The economy of the area depends on the millions of dollars spent there by fishermen. The cost of a motel room for two or three nights, gas for vehicle and boat, launch fees of five dollars a day and meals for two or three days can easily run three hundred dollars per fisherman.
Multiply that by the 500 to 600 fishermen there just last weekend and you get an idea of what the local economy will lose, more that $150,000 per weekend, if fishing gets bad and tournaments are not held in the future.
Maybe there is some good reason for the management practices I see as stupid.