Ferguson sweeps Lake of the Pines
06.Oct.2012 by David A. Brown
LONGVIEW, Texas. – Ritter Ferguson was well aware of the dreaded hometown curse, but he was more concerned over big-name competitors like Kellogg’s Rice Krispies pro Jim Tutt and Texas legend Harold Allen. In the end, neither local jinx, nor heavy competition could stop Ferguson from claiming the wire-to-wire win in EverStart Series Texas Division action on Lake of the Pines.
Making his home in Diana, Texas, just a short drive west of the lake, Ferguson brought plenty of local knowledge into this event. But unlike the common scenario of a local stick over-thinking his wealth of information, he mentally prepared himself with a solid game plan complete with tactical options and went to work hammering out a solid performance.
“I was lucky enough to have several locations I could run to and pull off my main spot and finish out limits,” he said. “I had a game plan going in and luckily it worked out.”
Drought conditions have this East Texas impoundment down a good 4 ½ feet, so competitors often fished in close proximity, but Ferguson located a spot that he had to himself for three days. Fishing about mid-lake, he targeted a hump near the Alley Creek area and found his bass mostly on the edges.
“There were just coming up onto that spot to feed,” Ferguson said. “I would cast across the spot and drag my bait over it. I was catching my fish on the drop-offs in about six feet of water.”
Ferguson did most of his damage with a Texas-rigged Zoom Trick Worm, but he switched to a Baby Brush Hog in the final round. With both baits, he used tungsten bullet weights and a brass ring between hook and sinker.
When his primary spot slowed, Ferguson would give it a rest and visit main lake drop-offs where bass were corralling shad schools. Dragging a Carolina-Rigged Grande Bass Rattlesnake through the activity delivered several bites. These were mostly smaller fish, but Ferguson used them to fill out his limit as needed.
On day one, Ferguson caught the event’s heaviest bag – 19 pounds, 10 ounces – and took the lead by a margin of 1-13. He added 13-11 on day two and stretched his lead to 3-2. In the final round, Ferguson sealed the deal with a limit of 13-4 that gave him a total to 46-9 and a winning margin of 2-8.
After receiving his trophy, Ferguson pointed to heaven and gave thanks for a gracious ending to what could have been a tragic day. Throughout the tournament, he had struggled with bass that wanted to turn on their sides in his livewell – a clear sign of a stressed bass. He had been treating his livewell water with a fish care additive other than the Rejuvenade used in FLW’s release tanks and he finally became suspicious today when a peak in his well revealed two of his best fish weren’t doing too well.
“After I caught my first three fish, we got ready to leave and go to another spot, and before we did I looked in the well and all three of them are laying over,” Ferguson said. “I said ‘This is what was (threatening) those fish all week.’ So we pumped that water out and pumped new fresh water in there.
“We continued fishing and I was a little worried about it – a little distraught about (possibly) loosing at least a pound in dead-fish penalties. But we went to another spot and started catching fish and my partner looked in the well and said ‘Dude, these fish are alive.’ I went back there and looked and sure enough, they’re swimming around like there’s nothing wrong with them. It was amazing.”
Ferguson also noted that using a Hydrowave improved his opportunities. The patented device emits the sounds of forage fish and predators eating them. Such sonic stimulus often spurred the bass to start feeding and this gave Ferguson more shots at enticing aggressive fish.
“I think that made a difference for me,” Ferguson said. “The Hydrowave kind of activated the school a little bit and made them bite here and there.”