When I started this endeavor I decided that I was going to approach this blog with total honesty. That being said I just got my ass handed to me at the FLW Rayovac Texas #2 tournament on Sam Rayburn. This was a very valuable learning experience as I was able to narrow down a more productive way to practice for future events. It all started when I arrived at the lake for a good 9 days of practice. Who can't figure a lake out by fishing it 9 days in a row? Right?
My first day on the water was a good one. I quickley figured out that there were fish in all phases of pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn. This bodes well for getting bit in all differant types of structure and situations. I also confirmed what I already knew that the lake was about 6 feet above full pool, so there was plenty of water. I immediatley started throwing flies that first morning. I then switched over to a spinnerbait to move a little faster and cover more water. The water was also pretty stained so I opted for Colorado blades on this bait which vibrate substantially "calling" fish in dirty water. Wham the spinnerbait bite was on. A little later in the day I switched over to fishing brush and structure with a Texas rigged baby brush hog plastic creature bait. Wham Wham Wham. I caught a nice bag that day, my confidence was sky high. The fishing stayed pretty consistant for the next few days. Then easter weekend hit. I was all by myself as a lot of the guys that were around went home for the holiday. On Easter sunday I pretty much had the entire lake to myself and about 9:30 that morning all hell broke loose. First there was the thunder and lightning, followed by a four hour torrentiall down pour and high winds. I power poled down deep in a grove of trees and stood and waited the storm out. At one point I was standing on the back of my boat with rain pouring down from the front bow area over my front step into the bottom of the boat like a waterfall. My bilge pump was automatically turning on every thirty seconds and spitting out about 10 gallons of water. After the storm passed the fishing was dynamite! I boated about 15 keepers in a very short time. Then the weather totally cleared and the fishing got very tough for me, for the next two days I got my ass kicked all over the lake. I thought I had a pattern figured out but this slow fishing had me second guessing everything. With no confidence in anything I had one more practice day to figure something out. That morning I started practicing to just try and get 5 good bites a day.
I went to work with a flippin rod, a 1ounce tungsten flippin weight and 65 lb braided line. I flipped large piles of buck brush all morning. I thought that the prespawn females and some of them that had already done their thing would be hunkered down in the deepest cover. I caught 3 really good fish out of the buck brush and decided to quite and save the rest of the brush at my spot for the tournament the next day. Renewed with confidence I went in about noon and got ready for the next day.
Tournament day 1
We blasted off from the Umphrey Family Pavillion the next morning at 7. I quickly raced to my first spot, threw the trolling motor down and threw a 10 inch swimbait on a point just to see if I could get lucky and boat a giant first thing. On my first cast I threw the swimbait about 80 feet. it hit the water and I let it sink. While it was sinking I felt a heavy "wham" on the bait..... Then I waited as a lot of times a big fish will hit a big swimbait once to stun it then come back and actually eat it. Whatever it was never came back. Not a big deal that was just a hail marry any way. Then I went to work with the flipping rod. The flipping kind of goes like this. Look for heavy buck brush piles, locate the heaviest part where nobody else really wants to throw their stuff and flip this one ounce weight into the pile. Slowly let the rig fall to the bottom while feeling it bump and fall off of all the branches on it's way down the whole time trying to feel for anything that might be a bite. Once it is on the bottom, pause then lift it about 6 inches and let it fall again and reel it up and do it again. Over and over. About 15 minutes into flipping i felt the classic whomp whomp of a bite. I set the hook and immediatley tried to get the fish"s head up and going through the same little hole that I had flipped into. Most times you get the fish on and they stay on and you might have to reach down into the brush to get them out, but most of the time you can be successfull getting the fish out. This first fish wrapped me so deep in the brush I lost him, then I lost another and yet another. I was so bummed about getting bit and losing the fish that it totall messed with my phsychy. Instead of continuing to pound the deepest areas of the brush I looked for a little more friendly areas to flip and did not get bit in these places. Then I moved to the back of the creek and missed two more nice fish on topwater. Now I knew I was watching my day slip away. I finally in desperation threw the spinnerbait and boated a couple of small keepers to weigh in. But man I blew it that first day.
I went to a whole differant part of the lake and threw spinnerbaits in the morning with the whole goal just getting 5 keepers so I had a limit. The bite was good for the first hour and I boated 2 nice keepers and lost another at the boat. Then I proceeded to make my final mistake. In Montana it is an old adage to never leave fish to find fish. However I thought that I had all of these spots that I had not touched in a week. It did not pan out and I ended up finishing 120 out of 125.
I was dissapointed that the fishing was so heavily focused on thick structure because this took the fly fishing aspect out of this tournament pretty early. I cannot wait to get on a body of water that fly will be able to be a dominant factor in catching fish!
All in all I learned many valuable lessons in this tournament.
Lesson #1 Do not defeat yourself
Lesson #2 Practice for my pattern and do not let others effect my judgement.
Lesson #3 Do not leave fish to find fish
Lesson #4 Don't be too hard on myself, and accept the fact I still have a lot to learn.
Lesson #5 I am having so much fun doing this, keep having fun!
Lesson #6 Get em on the fly!