I just returned home from my last event of the year. The Angler’s Choice Marine Team Trail is a great local trail with great participation and some good pay backs. They give away a boat for their championship, so obviously, I wanted to win. The tournament was held on what I would call my home water which is Kerr Lake, or Buggs Island for the locals. The weekend before, there was a 2 day tournament that only took a little over 28lbs to win, so I wasn’t very hopeful for big weights. I started my search shallow, as there was quite a bit of shad in the pockets, but the fish just weren’t there. I found one pocket they were in pretty good, but I could tell the fish were migrating out of it. Knowing that the water level was dropping and there was a mini cold front coming through that was taking the night time temperatures down into the low 40’s, I figured I would really focus my last practice day out deep where I thought they were. I had only caught 2 fish deep earlier in the week, but they were both over 3lbs. That right there should tell you something. The day before the tournament started, I probably shook off 10-15 fish. I was throwing a jig with a Missile Baits Twin Turbo trailer. This was the best day of practice I had, so I felt pretty good about the next day.
It’s unusual for this time of year, but there were several other tournaments on the lake, and it was VERY crowded the first day of the tournament. I chose not to let that bother me though. I fished behind someone all day long and caught fish. The first fish of the day was a 5lber and won big fish for the day. The key to fishing behind everyone was to slow way down. I had to crawl my jig over the rocks and feel every one of them. If you fished too fast, you wouldn’t get a bite. We caught plenty of fish, and they were hammering the jig. These were the good bites where the rod jumps and there is no question if it was a fish or not. I fished clean all day, and when it ended, we have 5 that weighed 16.48lbs. That was good enough for second, but we were only a couple ounces shy of the lead. There were 2 other 16lb bags brought in and several over 15lbs. It was really anybody’s tournament to win as long as you had 14lbs or so the first day. You can never win a multi day tournament the first day, but you can certainly lose it. Thankfully I cleared that first hurdle.
The second day started out similar to the first. We caught another good one over 3lbs the first stop, so I was hopeful that they would continue to bite. We stopped at the second stop, and I caught 2 more keepers, but these were not the size needed. These were just keepers. I noticed that I never felt any of the first 3 fish bite. The line just got heavy. That told me right there, along with the 2 smaller fish, that they weren’t going to bite my jig very good today. I stuck with it though. I missed several more, because I just didn’t realize they were on there until it was too late. I went for a long time without a bite but finally got number 4. I could see the fish on the graph, I just couldn’t get them to bite like they did the day before. Still, I was getting some bites and felt like I could finish off our limit and still have a chance at getting some better bites. I did finish off the limit, but never did get the better bites. I retrospect, I should have picked up a drop shot or shakey head and finesse fished a little since that’s what the tournament was won on. I thought about it, but it was a little windy, and I used that as an excuse to not do it, since I don’t like fishing that way. I also was getting just enough bites on the jig to keep me committed.
When the day was over, we had just a tad over 10lbs and fell from 2nd to 7th. Not a great second day, but I felt like for the most part, I made good decisions, had a good game plan, and executed as well as I could have. Next time I’ll just be a little quicker to pick up the “fairy wand” and try to finesse some larger bites. I’m off for the rest of the year, but I have a little surprise coming the end of November. A hall of fame fisherman and an Elite Series angler will be in town filming a show. I’ll get some pics and let you know how that goes.