Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's been a while

Wow how time flies! I just realized that it has been several months since I have posted. Since my last post was in October, I think, we have only had one tournament in the district. We fished in November at Lake Graham. I missed that tournament because my daughter had a parade that she was marching in. The guys didn't too very well down there that day. Only 5 of the 13 guys that made the trip caught fish. It took 11 pounds to win.

In December we fished at Amon Carter Lake around Bowie Texas. This was my first time fishing this lake and my 2nd time as a non-boater since my boat died. It was COLD!! We started the morning and it was about 34 degrees in the air and the water temps were in the low 50's. It was a tough day of fishing. I was one of four people that caught fish and only 5 fish were weighed. My lone bass was a 2.7lb largemouth that came with about 15 minutes to go. I caught her dragging a football head jig in about 8-12 feet of water next to an isolated piece of brush. I thought I felt a little tick so I set the hook and there she was! I really needed the points since I had blanked at Bridgeport this year.

Our scheduled tournament in January and February were cancelled and re-scheduled for a later date thanks to the snow and ice that we have gotten this year. It has been a really odd winter as far as the weather has been for this area. In January I did manage to sell my broken boat. A guy drove all the way down from Kansas to buy it. He was going to do the motor work himself and sold it to him for a little less than what I owed on it. Since then I have been looking and looking for a new boat. I had found several only to either call a day too late or schedule a look a weekend too late. Most that I was finding were a good 3 to 5 hour drive away. Larry at Larry's Marine here in Wichita Falls had a TR21 on his website so I decided to drive down and take a look at it. It was way out of my price range, but I figured what the heck. Of course when I got there it was sold already.

While I was there I asked them if they had anything else used or knew of anyone that was trying to sell one. He told me that he had a Triton TR186 that a guy was trying to sell in storage out back. I took a look at it and asked him what the guy wanted for it. He said that he wanted $12,000 for it. I asked him to call him and see if he would take 10 for it. Within an hour Larry called me back and said he would only take 12 for it. I said thanks and didn't give it another thought. Fast forward four days, Larry calls me and asked me if I still wanted to give 10 for the boat. I told him sure and asked if they had changed their minds. Turns out the bank was taking the boat and asked Larry to get 2 or 3 bids for it. My $10000 bid was the high bid. So now I am really excited and I told Larry that I would stop by and wanted to run the boat on the lake before he sent the bid to the bank. The next afternoon, which was Wednesday, I went down to run the boat and Larry tells me that the bank just called him and told him that the co-signer on the note was going to buy it. Great! Now I am back to square one and looking. Larry said that he would try to find me one within a day or two.

So Thursday afternoon the phone rings. I have no idea who the guy on the other end of the line is. He tells me that he is sorry about the whole deal and that Larry gave him my number. It was the co-signer on the boat and he tells me that he just closed on the loan for the boat and asked if I wanted to buy it. I told him sure and we agreed on a price. So long story short I found and lost and eventually bought a 2004 Triton TR 186! Just in time for the next tournament on 14 March.

Our next tournament is on Millers Creek. I have never fished that lake before so we shall see what happens. I am currently sitting in 7th place in the district. They guy that is leading this year is fishing with us for the first year and he has been doing it all right. I am glad that I will have a boat the rest of the season and I hope to give him a run for his money. The ABA championship is on Kentucky Lake this fall. Ya'll have a good one and I will talk to you soon!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Typical Bridgeport

Well we fished tournament #2 of the season at Lake Bridgeport. This was my first district tournament since the boat motor went kaput! Luckily I drew my good friend Mr Dean. The morning started off kinda bad, I left the house around 0445 for the hour and 15 minute drive. My neighbor fished the district and his wife was sick. I sent him a text message the night before asking him if he was staying home. He replied with a simple no. When I woke up in the morning I was sure that I had asked him if he was going and I remember his reply was a no. I got in the truck and started it up and took off for Lake Bridgeport. When I got there I was immediatley informed that I had left Chris at the house. I thought for sure he was staying home! About 15 minutes after I got there Chris pulled in and said that he heard me start the truck and leave, he was on his carport tying on some lures when I left him. Talk about feeling bad, I felt horrible that I left him and he had to waste his gas to drive there too.

Once we started fishing it was steady all day long. We caught a lot of fish all day and at any other lake it would have been a great day. I caught a huge catfish on the 2nd cast of the day. Not what I was looking for, but fun still. Even though we caught a boat load of fish, between the two of us only two fish were weighed at the weigh in and those belonged to Mr Dean. Lake Bridgeport has a slot limit from 14 to 18 inches for largemouth. Spots and Smallmouth have to be the Texas standard of 14 inches. Every single fish that I caught was in the slot limit and had to be released. When you have to release a 17 3/4 inch largemouth that weighs in around 3 or 4 pounds during a bass fishing tournament, it will frustrate you to no end. The only good thing about Lake Bridgeport is that you can weigh 12 inch to 14 inch fish. That tends to keep the weights down, in fact it was a 5 fish limit that weighed 7 pounds to win. 2nd place had the big bass that was 5 pounds and he had a 2 fish limit that went for 6 pounds.

Even with being able to weigh in 12 inch fish I couldn't manage to catch a 12 or 13 inch fish. All of my fish were in the slot or just under the 12 minimum. I really have a dislike for Lake Bridgeport, but it tends to draw a crowd, except this trip. We only had 12 anglers for this tournament due to some conflicting buddy tournaments.

The good thing about going as a non-boater on a lake that I really do not like, is the fact that I saw parts of the lake and was shown some things that I would have never known existed. So next time, when the boat is fixed or I get a new one, I have more spots available to check out. Mr Dean and I fish the same style and fish a lot of the same looking water. You never quit learning when you are fishing and he did some things that I would have never thought to try in certain situations.

Our next tournament is on Lake Graham on 7 Nov. I love to fish Graham and have two second place finishes in three tournaments there. Unfotunatley I will not be able to fish Graham unless we can find a babysitter. My oldest daughter has a Veterans Day parade to march in along with the wife. Last year it was so cold out that day, that this year we are not going to take my youngest out there and put her through that. So I will more than likely be staying home with my two year old playing with her. She loves cars and watching fishing and boats on TV and college football so I think that we will be OK. Ya'll have a great and Happy Halloween and Thanksgiving. Hopefully after the December tournament I can report some good news from Lake Amon Carter which is a lake that I have never fished before. Take it easy!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

2010 season underway and 2009 AOY/Nationals in the books

Wow, what a month September was. We fished our first tournament of the 2010 season and it was a day of ups and downs. We actually had a really good turnout for the first tournament of the season and we are hearing that with the new ABA format and no regional tournament that more folks are gonna fish this year. That is some really good news and if we can draw 15 to 20 folks each tournament we can compete (points wise) with the larger districts. We have to have 20 folk to receive max points for a tournament. We had 15 show up for the first one of the year. There were about 4 or 5 new folks fishing with us for the first time. That number of 15 is up about 5 from last years first tournament. We also had a few "regulars" who weren't there. I did ok for that tournament and finished 4th. I lost a really nice 4 pounder while trying to get the net. That turned out the be the difference between 4th and 2nd. With about an hour to go in the tournament I decided to make a move down the lake and hit a spot that should have reloaded. About half way into my run I noticed that the pitch in the motor sound changed and I started losing RPMs so I shut it down. About 10 minutes later I got the motor to re-fire and it was vibrating something fierce and would only run at 2200 RPM. It took me about 35 minutes to idle back across the lake to the launch site and load the boat. I took it into the repair shop and told them what was going on. I was leaving for the AOY tournament in 4 days and they put a rush on it. Monday morning rolls around and I got the dreaded call on what was wrong with the motor. It turns out that the motor burnt up a cylinder and needs a complete top to bottom overhaul. There was no way that they could get it done in the 3 days before I left for the nationals and the AOY tournament. Estimated cost of repair $3000 to $4000.

So now the boat is broken and I am without a boat for the AOY tournament. My assistant director for the division was going to the nationals and as an observer for the AOY tournament. He let me borrow his boat for the tournament but would not be able to get there in time for the practice day. So when the tournament rolled around I was flying blind and had no practice the day before like the other 52 folks had. We launched at safe light and I had a plan based off of the time of year and the map study that I had done. I made a 18 mile run to Wheeler dam and started fishing. It turns out that they guy that won the tournament camped out at Wheeler dam and hauled in 20 pounds of smallies to win. Now ususally my downfall is I stick with a spot too long and don't make an adjustment fast enough. This was not the case this time. The TVA was not pulling any water and the bite was slow to say the least. After an hour I decided to head to the feeder creeks where the baitfish should be and the bass shouldn't be far behind. I later found out that about 30 minutes after I left the TVA started pulling water through Wheeler dam and things heated up quickly. I figured that the time of year that the baitfish should be making their way to the backs of the creeks. I was right, there were spots where you could have gotten out of the boat and walked from the boat to the shore on the thousands of 2 inch shad in the creeks. Unfortunatley the bass had not yet followed the baitfish. It was a hard day and with no practice the day before I was fishing all new water. I zeroed on the day and wasn't the only one that found the fishing tough.

When nationals rolled around I practiced with Mr Dean and we located some fish on Pickwick but there was no size to them. The first day I drew a guy from Little Rock Arkansas and it was bad from the start. He was a super nice guy, but the kill switch on his boat would not work at first and it took about 30 minutes of tinkering with it to get it to work. His livewells were not working either! Due to the kill switch issue we almost didn't get to launch and were on the verge of being DQ'd for day 1. Finally the kill swith worked but the livewells were not pumping. We fished a few spots and finally moved to a spot that had a point that the current was breaking around about a mile below Wilson dam on Pickwick. The baitfish were stacking up around the point as the current swept them around it. I started throwing a shallow running bandit crankbait across the point and it got hammered. Unfortunatley it was about a 10 pound drum. My boater threw over there and caught a nice largemouth. In fact, when it was all said and done he caught 12 pounds of largemouth off of that single point. Now I do not think that he meant to do it, but he swung the boat around where I could not cast at the spot. When the boat finally turned and I could cast over there he would throw across my line and swing the boat back around. I did manage to pull a 4 pounder off of the point while he managed to pull 5 fish off of it. I ended the day with 2 fish for 6 pounds and some change. My boater ended day 1 in around 12th position.

Day 2 I drew a great guy who is a former First Sergeant in the Army. Being an Air Force First Sergeant myself I figured the day would be pretty good. This gentleman was what a boater should be like. I know that when I draw a non-boater I judge my day on not what I can catch but what my non-boater can catch. This guy was the same way. He put us on fish and both of us managed a small limit. I was able to catch my first fish on a Carolina rig. I have thrown it for years off and on but had absolutley zero confidence with it. He taught me a few things and I pulled 4 fish off the the C-rig. My 5th came on a Texas rigged craw. I managed 8 pounds on day 2 and moved up from 191st to 115th on day 2.

Day 3 I drew a great guy as well. The weather conditions changed and a cold front moved through that made tough fishing for everyone. My boater only managed 4 fish and I was only able to boat 1 keeper, a 2 pound smallie. I finished the nationals dead in the middle. 184th out of about 394 people. I finished the year in 180th place in the nation. Not too bad for the 2nd year of competetive fishing and my first national tournament.

So now my boat is up for sale for what I owe on it. I don't have the 3-4G to get it fixed and it is a hard decision on whether or not to get it fixed. Part of me doesn't want to invest another 4 grand in a boat that is worth $7000. If I do invest the money to get the 15 year boat fixed then I will have $12000 in it and it just isn't worth that. On the other hand, I hate to get rid of it and fish as a non-boater until I find something else. I just don't like being at the mercy of another guy relying on them to get on fish. If a guy wants to go out and dropshot all day, then I need to do that as well. And let's say that finesse fishing and fishing deep are not my strong points. However, being forced to do those things will eventually make me a better fisherman. Lord knows that I would not go and try those things on my own on tournament day.

Well I guess that I have ranted and rambled for long enough. Our next tournament is Oct 18th on Lake Bridgeport. I hate that lake because of the slot limit. It just pains me to have to throw a 3 pounder back because he is in the slot. I will let you know how things go and if you know someone who wants to buy a broken boat for $4000 let me know. The hull is in good shape but the motor is busted and the trailer has a few cracks that need welded. Ya'll have a good one and thanks for listenin'!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Getting Ready for Nationals

Well here I sit 2 weeks from the ABA nationals on Lake Pickwick in Florence Alabama. Just prior to the practice for the nationals I get to fish in the AOY tournament. The top angler from all of the ABA districts will be there for a one day practice and a one day winner take all tournament for a 2009 fully loaded Triton boat. At my last count there were 54 or so anglers qualified for the AOY tournament. I am really getting excited about it and can't wait to get out there. I think that smallmouth are going to be key on both of those tournaments. My last trip to Alabama when I went to the USAF First Sergeant Academy a few months ago the fishing was not so great. I did manage to catch a few fish but nothing with any size on it. I left my boat at home that trip and was fishing from the bank but still did not manage to do very well. Maybe this trip will be better.

I have been trying to do as much research as I can on Wilson and Pickwick. I can find some info on Pickwick, but information on Wilson is hard to come by. You would think that a lake that formerly held the world record smallmouth would have a little more info on it.

Prior to leaving for Alabama we have our first tournament of the 2010 season next Saturday. I am looking forward to that one as well. I did fish several of the local Wednesday night tournaments this year and did manage to boat a 7 1/2 pound largemouth one night, but other than that didn't do to well. It is a 3 hour tournament and sometimes the fishing can be tough. The one evening that we thought we would do decent, we didn't. We brought in 10 pounds or so but the winning stringer was 22 pounds and some change. All of that in 3 hours! They did it by dragging a C-rig in deep water. I have absolutley zero confidence when it comes to deep water. It is something that I am going to have to get over I guess. I have tried to make myself go out and fish deep and only fish deep. It seems that within 30 minutes or so I am back shallow doing what I feel the most confident in doing. Sometimes I catch 'em, sometimes I don't.

Well I hope that the next time I write I will have a brand new Triton bass boat. My fishing mentor tells me that I have a pretty good chance and he thinks that it will be won on about 15 pounds or so. I think that it will take 20 or better for the AOY and I think it will take a 15 pound average to win the three day national. Ya'll have a good one and I will talk to you soon!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

ABA District 112 AOY

Well we just finished up our districts 2 day championship. It was two days of ups and downs. The weather was great with the exception of the wind. The wind blew pretty good yesterday and today. We launched at first light on Saturday and the wind took out my first fishing spot. I ran to another spot and after a few sand bass I tied on a Storm swimbait. I got bit about a dozen times with that swimbait, largemouth, white bass, and drum. The white bass were absolutley eating it. That is fun and all but in a black bass tournament you don't want to waste your time with them. I hooked 6 largemouth keepers (over 14 inches in Texas) just to watch them either jump a ways off and throw the swimbait; or wait until they were right at the boat and jump and throw the swimbait. I was really getting frustrated. Not only about the bass tossing the swimbait, but also for the fact that this 2 day championship was goign to determine who is our districts AOY and who gets to go to Alabama and fish for that brand new Triton. I was tied going into this tournament with my good friend and fishing mentor Mr. Bob Dean. So each fish that I lost was taking those valuable position points from me. Finally with about 30 minutes to go i finally boated a keeper that weighed in just over 2 pounds. I headed to the scales just sick to my stomach. Mr Dean weighed in a limit and was leading day 1 with 11 pounds and change. I was sitting next to last with 2 pounds and change. The guy behind me didn't catch a fish on day 1. So I went home to the wife and kids and told her that i had taken myself out of competion by loosing all of those fish. Told her that the only way to have a chance is for me to bring in a 20 pound sack and Mr Dean had to slip and have a bad day.

Day 2 rolls around and I make the long drive to the lake thinking that Sunday had to go better than Saturday. We launched and i stayed close to the ramp not running too far because i didn't want to fight the wind and the waves. Around 7 or so i boated the first keeper on a crankbait. Ok, this is already better than yesterday. I had moved over to a few docks and was fishing around them when i got hung up on something. I moved the boat over and was trying to free it up when the wind pushed the bow of the boat into the dock piling and it sent me swimming. I dropped my rod trying to catch myself so now it is in the water. I climb back up on the boat and move the boat back over to try to fish my rod out with the net. So here i am dripping wet from the chest down and the wind strikes again and pushed the boat into that same piling sending me completly under the water this time. I did manage to grab my rod while i was in the water this time. So now i am completley soaked it is 8 AM and i am already ready to go to the house. Something told me to press on. I start throwing the Storm swimbait again since i got bit a lot with it the day before. I hook up with the first fish and wouldn't you know, he throws it back at me. Now I am really mad, so I cut it off and tied on a Strike King King Shad and started throwing it. On about the 3rd cast with it I hook up with a nice 5 pounder. I start thinking 3 or 4 of those and i am back in it. The very next cast I feel a little tick like i am hung on some grass and give it a sweep and felt the tick of a bite so i set the hook. As i get it close to the boat i realize that there are 2 fish hooked, one on the front treble and one on the back. I swing them into the boat and one comes off and lands on the carpet. Both were keepers both went into the box.

At this point I have 4 fish with a 5 pound kicker int he box. 2 casts later, another 5 pounder hits and i land him. About 30 minutes after that, another 5 pounder hits and i get him in the box. In a matter of 45 minutes I went from 1 little 1 1/2 pound dink to about 16 or 17 pounds. Before the day was done, I was able to cull a couple of times to end the day with 18 pounds and change. I had lost another 3-5 pounder just before i came in also. I am thinking that my 18 today and my 2 yesterday is going to land me around 3rd or 4th for the tournament. I just needed Mr Dean to come in with less than 9 pounds to have a shot. It was down to me and him for AOY and we were tied with 756 points each. Whoever finished ahead of the other would win the AOY title. He looks at my bag and asked what i had yesterday and told me enjoy fishing for that boat in Sept and good luck with it. He had brought 2 fish to the scales that weighed 4 pounds and he finished the tournament in 3rd place with 15 pounds and change. I finished in 2nd with 20 and change and the district director finished with 27 and change. I managed to take AOY honors by 2 points.

It was my goal to qualify for nationals this year, I never dreamed that I would do this well this year so far. I managed to catch fish at every tournament I fished. Last year I blanked in 2 of the 3 tournaments that i fished so i improved. It is fun to do and the guys are great. I look forward to doing it again next year. But for now i need to learn what i can about Wilson Lake in Alabama (AOY tournament) and Pickwick Lake (Nationals). Look out Alabama here i come again!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fianlly got that "W" in the district

Whew....I am glad to finally get that monkey off of my back. Finally got that first win in an ABA tournament this weekend. And it couldn't have came at a better time. We only have 2 more one day tournaments on this season before we have the district championship 2 day. I am leaving for Montgomery Alabama to attend the USAF First Sergeant Academy and would have missed both of those. This was my last chance to try to add to the 1 point points lead that I have over my good friend Mr Dean. I was able to cushion that lead to 6 points now with a first place finish at Arrowhead this weekend. Mr Dean was a little under the weather and did not fish this weekend. If I know him, when I get back from Alabama he would have passed me up and it will come down to the 2 day.

I am really hoping that this year is my year. I have decided that I am going to nationals. I just hope that I can go to Pickwick and fish at Lake Wilson for the Angler of the Year. If Mr Dean or Rob Eckle or any of the guys win lead the division I will be happy for them too, as long as they go to nationals. Only the 1st place angler gets to fish the AOY tournament and we can't send a sub if the 1st place guy decides not to go. Our director Mr Rob Eckle was awesome in the fact that he moved the division 2 day for me when I found out that I was going to be in class and would have missed it. He didn't have to move it, but he did. So for that Rob I thank you very very much.

Hopefully the fish are startign to bite all over the place by now. I know that the weather has really been tough here in North Texas. One day it is 90 degrees outside and the next it barely gets past 40. The other morning I woke up and it was 74 degrees at 6 am. The next morning it was 33. Between the unstable temps and the 20-60 MPH winds fishing has been tough and it has been a workout too! Ya'll take it easy and until next time!!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Been A While

Wow it has been a while. The past few weeks have been really crazy and haven't had much time for fishing. The wife and kids went to New Mexico for spring break and I stayed behind to work on the house. I did manage to get one day of fishing in the week they were gone. Caught a couple but nothing to write home about.

After they got back we had about 2 weeks before my mom and sister came out for a visit. It was really nice to see them again. I haven't seen my sister in about 2 years or more so it was nice to see them. The kids had a blast and got to see aunt missy and mawmaw and spend some quality time.

I was suposed to fish the 5th tournament of the year a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunatly I was sick and throwing up all day Saturday and did not even attempt to drive down there and fish it. They had 6 folks show up and 5 pounds won it thanks to the cold front that came through and dropped temps into the upper 20's lower 30's overnight. The weather has been up and down here lately. The winds have been up and blowing in the 30 MPH range with gusts into the 50 range. The temps have been up and down also. It is 80 degrees one day and the next it will be into the 40s. The water temp has been so up and down the fish probably don't know what to do. About a month ago the water temp was in the 64 degree range. I was at the lake Friday and it was between 57-61 degrees. I did manage to catch a couple of fish friday on an Xcalibur one knocker. Both fish that I caught absolutly destroyed it! I had a few more take a swipe at it and they thumped it pretty good too, but i couldn't hook up. I tossed a Carolina rig around for a little bit, but I have absolutly zero confidence in a C-rig. I have yet to catch a fish on it, but try to make myself toss it so I can get a little more comfortable with it. I did the same with a jig last year, and even though my confidence with a jig is no where where I want it to be, it is better than it once was. Maybe one day I will catch something on a C-rig and will start to build that confidence with it.

Well I have to try to finish some things on the house. We are going to try to sell it before I go off to the First Sergeant Academy. Yall have a good one!