Grand Lake of The Cherokees, Grove Oklahoma. This tournament was one of my first where I felt as though I was really on big fish the whole time. Fishing a medium running crankbait I was able to consistently put good fish in the boat all through practice.
On day one of the tournament we awoke to cloudy skies with few thunder showers working nearby. I had found a stretch of docks in practice that seemed magical at the time. I was really concerned that a lot of other boats had found the same thing. The water in the area I was fishing was pretty stained but the temperatures were coming up and the fish were consistently moving back and forth in my area. as I pulled up to my docks after racing several boats into my area, I was pleased to find these docks did not seem to be the focus of other anglers. On my second cast I caught a keeper spotted bass out from under one of the docks on a chartreuse and white spinnerbait. Then I went to cranking the rocks around all of the docks on a steeper bank that led back into a nice little pocket. My second fish was a 3 pounder that fought like crazy. I worked this area hard and was able to pull one more good fish out of it. I now had 3 in the well and it was only 8:30 am. I moved to 3 or 4 other areas that I also knew held some scattered bass. I began to wander if my move was the wrong one because as the morning went on the fishing seemed to slow down. I then resigned myself to the fact that I was in an area that held good fish and I was going to have to grind through the rest of the day waiting out the bite and covering a lot of water. At about 12:30 as I was bouncing my crankbait off of a select group of rocks... Bang! a big bass knocked 2 feet of slack into my line and i reeled down on her and set the hook. After the ensuing fight I brought a beautiful 4.5 lb Grand Lake bass to hand and put it in the well! Now I had 4! I grinded out the rest of the day filling out my limit with another 3 pound fish before blazing back to the weigh in. After Day one I was in 25th place out of about 200 boats. This was my best start so far on a lake that was feeling very stingy at times.
Day 2 started out very different than day one. After the clouds of the previous day had given out to bluebird skies and high pressure the bite got really tough. I did not even get a bite until 12:30. But it was a big big bite. I tossed my crankbait to a lay down on one of my rocky banks, made three turns of the reel handle to get the bait bouncing around in the limbs and my line went tight. She came up and jumped immediately. I saw her and realized that it could be big fish of the tournament. She was every bit of 6.5 pounds. Probably more. I kept her down and fought her to the boat. As i brought her up to the net she made another run to the back of the boat. As she came back up to me I could see that she was skin hooked and I knew we were gonna have to get lucky to get her. We attempted to net this fish and unfortunately the net came into contact with her prematurely. The lure came flying out of her mouth and about took out my eye. I have never cried while fishing or after losing a fish but boy did I have to fight the emotions that all flooded to me at once. Extreme disappointment, anger, and adrenaline did nothing for the rest of my day. In many pro sports what separates the greats from the goods is the ability to put things behind you. I was not there yet! I continued to fish the rest of the day boating two more keepers. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had landed that fish the tournament would have ended very different for me. I would have had the confidence, in my lure, my area, and my abilities. However I just mentally did not rebound from losing that fish. I made a decision to leave my area for another one that I thought had fresher fish. This was a big mistake as I should have just waited out the bite and grinded in my area instead of moving to greener pastures. Instead I finished 80th, 30 spots out of a check.
If you have read my other blogs you already know that I got a crash course in when to leave an area at Sam Rayburn. Grand Lake taught me when to stay. Oh well it is all about learning and getting better. Two things that I definitely did at Grand.