Ross Barnett Reservoir, Ridgeland, MS. I flew to Austin to practice on the 3rd of March. I wanted to get ready for the 1st tournament of the B.A.S.S. central open season. Since this was my first B.A.S.S. event I decided to enter as a Co-Angler (back seater). This was my lazy way of fishing my first huge tournament. I knew if I co-angled that I could show up in Mississippi the day before the tournament and go fish. This would also save me the time and cash that I would spend on lodging, gas, and meals. I also thought that sitting in the back seat would give me a good opportunity to break out the fly rod and maybe learn something from a new fishing partner.
At the tournament meeting I was greeted by reports from the other anglers that the reservoir had been fishing tough. But it was really cool to see some of the best bass fisherman in the world in the same room as I was. The first day of the tournament I was paired with a boater from Lubbock, TX who I had actually met at the Amistad FLW Tournament in February.
Jeff Cloud and I proceeded to fish around docks and rip-rap banks that held water from 1-15 feet. The water conditions were new for me. We were fishing cold very dirty water that was for the most part very shallow. The fishing had been so tough in practice for all of the anglers, that many of them had adjusted to finnesse techniques to get a limit of even small bass. Jeff proceeded to grind out the day and get 5 keepers to weigh that were fairly small. I on the other hand was struggling to even get a bite! I attest this to not really having confidence in being the second guy through alot of
the dock water. about midway through the day I still had not gotten a fish in the boat. I was throwing a shakey head worm against a sea wall when all of the sudden it got pounded. I set the hook and realized that I had tied into a large aggressive fish. It was fighting very differant and of course when I got it to the boat I was heart broken to see it was about a 7lb channel cat. I struggled mentally the rest of the day and got blanked on the first day. On day 2 the rain started! I mean rain like a Montana boy is not used to. It flat poured on us all day. I can tell you that the new Patagonia River Salt Jacket is flat amazing! I have never had breathable rainwear keep me so dry in wet conditions before! On day 2 I had a new boater and his pattern was to run up the river and fish shallow water around lilly pad stems with spinner baits and jigs. Day 2 was alot better for me I caught and landed 2 nice bass right away in the morning. I was able to weigh in and I came in 140 out of 200.
I learned alot in this tournament. The main thing I came away with was the fact that I need to be a boater and not a co angler. When you are the boater you are forced to work hard to figure out a pattern and once you do, you have the confidence in it to captialize and fish hard with confidence. the other pro's are not using some magic bullet that I am completely missing. Do not get me wrong, the guys who have been doing this for a long time are definetley better than I am, but at least I am going down the right road and barking up the right tree.