Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Home for a Little While

Wow, after 2 months on the road we are finally home! We just drove from Clear Lake California to Kansas City, only about 1,850 miles. We left Clear Lake last Sunday and drove 2 days to Park City, Utah. I finally got Bobbi talked into stopping and doing a little snow skiing. I haven’t been skiing in about 6 years, so it was a real fun stop. The kids took lessons for a day, and then they came along with Bobbi and I. The ski stop really helped break the trip up, and not make it feel quite as long. I’m definitely going to have to make sure that I don’t let another 6 years go by before we all go skiing again.

The drive from Clear Lake back home was really fun because it was a route we had never taken before. We saw lots of wildlife, from antelope and elk in the west to waterfowl and sand hill cranes in Nebraska. We got home on the evening of Friday, March 26th, and now I am looking forward to some unpacking and unwinding.

In February, prior to the Classic, I was very organized. Honestly, the most organized I have ever been in my career. But now, 2 months later, it seems that all of the organization has come undone. So, sometime during these 10 days at home I am going to have to try and find a way to get everything put back together, and hopefully get back to that “February” state of mind. In the short time that we have been home, I was able to get out on our dock and catch a few fish. I would have been happy with just 1 or 2 in the short amount of time I spent on the dock, but I probably caught about a dozen or more bass in about 15 minutes! The bait that yielded such impressive results is one that I am really looking forward to putting to good use in the rest of the season. It was a War Eagle Ultravibe Spinnerbait. The bait sports a Colorado blade and a tear drop shaped willow blade, and the combination of the two puts off incredible vibration. I am very impressed with this spinnerbait, and really looking forward to using it on the tournament trail.

Now I am looking forward to regrouping, reorganizing, and spending time at home with family and friends. Easter is coming up, and we are very excited to be at home with loved ones for this holiday. Over the next 10 days we are going to have to try and spend as much quality time with friends and family as possible, because after we leave for Smith Mountain we won’t be back home until the middle of June!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

We Survived California!

The family and I just stopped for the night at a campground off of Interstate 80 in Nevada. We drove past beautiful Lake Tahoe, and Bobbi had to talk me into not stopping to do a little skiing. When we left California, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. Both the Delta and Clear Lake are such amazing fisheries, and I feel like the timing wasn’t quite right to really hit them good. I would love to go back to Clear lake in the summer, and get on some of that awesome frog action I heard so much about. While we’re all sad to leave California, my wallet is pretty happy to be heading home for a bit. I probably spent $500 on those fancy California swim baits that we all hear so much about!

Well, here’s how my Clear Lake practice went:

Practice was tougher than expected. The weather forecast called for really nice weather, which meant sunny, warm, bluebird conditions. While the days were warm and pleasant, at night time the temperatures would drop back down to the low 30s. So, any water temperature gain during the day was lost at night. This made it difficult, because everyday we had to start all over again. The water would temperatures would start out in the low 50s each day, and by the afternoon hit the upper 50s. This had the fishing moving shallower and shallower in the afternoon, but when it cooled back off in the evenings the fish would vacate the shallows.

My first practice day was my best. I caught fish flipping, and caught one key 4 lb. fish cranking a Wiggle Wart. I was also able to put together a drop shot pattern, but mainly just caught keepers on it. The rest of my practice was spent searching water, and finding areas similar to the ones that produced for me on the first day.

Day one of the tournament:

My expectations weren’t very high going into the tournament, but I caught a break and was boat #3 to take off. This gave me the opportunity to fish a local hole before many others got to it. I fished a drop shot in this area, and after 2 hours and only 1 keeper I had to abandon that area. At about 9:30 I ran up to the bank where I caught my fish on a Wiggle Wart in practice. After my first pass down the bank I had caught 17 lbs. From there I ran on to another spot and caught a 5 lber flipping, and a couple more fish on the Wiggle Wart. With 20 minutes left in the day I caught one more 5 lber flipping a UV Beaver in some tules. I was quite pleased with my day, but I really estimated the weights that the other anglers would bring in.

Day two:

Right off the bat I ran down to my Wiggle Wart spot. I really anticipated the bite to be better there because that day there was some wind and clouds. Unfortunately the wind blew in a giant mat of floating dead tules right over the area I had been catching them on my Wiggle Wart. I couldn’t make a cast without catching a dang tule! So, I headed out of there and ran back to my flipping spot, and caught a 3 lber. Ran on down to my drop shot area. I got there at about noon, and only had one fish. There were 2 other pros in this area fishing, and they were both catching and culling fish. I started to feel a little frustrated. I ended up catching 3 keepers on the drop shot, and left at 1:30 for my Wiggle Wart spot. I caught a 3, a 4, and one that culled one of the small drop shot fish. I felt fortunate to make the day 3 cut, but I also felt optimistic as I was in 23rd place and only out of the top 12 by about 3 pounds.

Day 3:

I felt that I had nothing to lose and nothing to gain. Alton clued me into a spot that had really produced for him, so that is where I went to start my day. I threw a big swim bait, and after about 20 minutes, it was fish on! The strike was good, the fight was good, and as I got the fish boat side I discovered that it was only a 3 lber! Only fish I caught on that swim bait. After I caught that fish, I ran to my tules and was able to catch a 3 ½ lber, and then ran on to my Wiggle Wart spot. I caught a 2 ½ lber pretty quick, but really had to work hard for another bite. I finally caught another fish on the Wiggle Wart, and it went about 4 lbs. I bailed on that spot at about 1:30, and ran back to the spot I started my day on. When I pulled in on it, there were 8 locals fishing. I watched them catch a few fish, and then they gave way so that I could have a shot at it. I pulled out my flipping stick and went to work on some dead matted tules. I caught a 3 and a 4, which gave me the chance to cull. I kind of scrambled the rest of the day, and couldn’t come up with anything else. There was a lot of boat traffic on the lake on Saturday, and I think it really kept the fish from feeling comfortable in the shallows.

I finished 27th in the tournament, but given the practice that I had, I feel very fortunate. This tournament kind of helped ease the pain of my Delta tournament, and it moved me up into 44th in AOY standings. Now, we are headed back to Lake Quivira for some time off. This long drive will give me an opportunity to refocus for the Smith Mountain tournament in April. Until then, I will get to spend some time at home, and get some time in on Lake Quivira!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First Stop: Cal Delta

The Cal Delta event was a pretty frustrating start to my Elite Series season. Practice for me went pretty well, but I think the unpredictability of the tides got the better of me. In practice I was able to dial into a couple of patterns. The first one was cranking a Luhr Jensen Speed Trap along riprap banks. The second was flipping a Tightlines UV Beaver bait. I didn’t ever catch any hogs in practice, but I had enough bites to make me feel comfortable going into the first day of the tournament.

Day 1:
I picked an area to fish that I felt comfortable and confident in, and I stuck with that area. Everything started off great. I caught my first fish at about 6:40 A.M. on my fourth flip with my UV Beaver. The rest of the morning lasted forever, as I didn’t get another bite until about noon when I finally switched things up and started fishing a Tightlines UVenko. My third and final fish of the day came right before I headed back to the ramp. I was cranking the Luhr Jensen Speed Trap along a riprap bank. It was a pretty rough day, but I kept my sights set on day two.

Day 2:
I fished some different water, and again caught my first fish right at the start of the morning. This time I was throwing a War Eagle spinnerbait. As the day progressed, I managed three more keepers on that spinnerbait, but I was never able to tap into the big fish that I really needed.

I felt as if I was in the right areas to do well, but never could get the rhythm of the tide and the feeding periods figured out. What really hurt was when I found out that John Crews spent his tournament in an area that I fished last time we visited the Delta. I fished there in practice, but must not have timed it quite right because I never found anything that made me want to stay. All in all, I really wish I could have managed a better finish, but I have to remember that this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. I have seven more chances at redemption, and it’s going to be sweet!

We’re headed to Clear Lake next, and I am very excited about this one. There won’t be any tides to worry about, and we just might hit it at the perfect time!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Arriving in California

We finally made it to California! The trip was very long, it took us about 25 hours to get here from Dallas. The drive out here is so beautiful, we really had fun despite the amount of time spent driving.

We got to stop at the Grand Canyon, and take in the beautiful sights (check out the pictures below). The kids and I got to throw snowballs over the rim of the canyon! When we were there that morning the temperature was 26 degrees, and by the time we arrived in California it was 75 degrees! So far the weather has been real nice for us out here, which is quite the relief given all the weather we have experienced in the last few weeks.

Being that we arrived early (we got here on the 4th) I have had a lot of time to prepare for this tournament. I am very excited to fish the Delta, and also very excited to fish Clear Lake. These tournaments are back to back, so I really used my extra time to prepare for two tournaments not just one. It looks as though this area has got some rain in the past weeks, the water is pretty muddy. Probably going to be fishing a pre-spawn style event. I can’t wait to get out on the water and check it out! I will let you all know how practice goes before the start of the event.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

Great Week in Dallas

This past week we’ve been in Dallas spending time with family. Kind of a home away from home for us. I had a chance to catch my breath and relax a little bit so I could get myself refocused for the next tournament on the Delta. Also had some time to reorganize and prep my tackle for this trip out west. It’s always good to stay ahead of the game just in case something were to put us behind schedule. I had the chance to talk to a lot of people this weekend while working at the Bass Pro Shops Spring Classic, and I am blown away by all of the congratulations and well-wishes I received from fans. Thanks so much, your words are very appreciated!

While visiting the Bass Pro Shops in Garland, Grapevine, and Shreveport I had the pleasure of working with one of my all time Bass heroes…Tommy Martin. It was an extreme honor to compare stories and notes with a man that I remember watching give seminars at the Bass Pro in Springfield Missouri when I was young. What a cool experience! I also met the founder of the LSU Fishing Team while I was in Louisiana, and I have to say it is really refreshing to talk to these college-aged fisherman who are so passionate about the sport of bass fishing. While at the Spring Classic there was an impressive amount of people out buying fishing equipment, which is awesome. I also noticed that the Wright and McGill Skeet Reese Tessera Rods were being bought left and right. I am very proud and excited to be a part of the success and popularity of these new rods!

Now we’re back on the road again, heading out west. It’s going to be a long drive, but we are going to have some good family fun and plan on stopping at the Grand Canyon! I am very excited about fishing the Delta this year, as it suits my style of fishing very well. The tournament should set up to be a primetime pre-spawn/spawn flipping event, and I can’t wait to pull my new Tessera flipping sticks out of the rod locker and put them to good use. This will be my third trip to the Delta, and both times before I have earned a check, so I am looking forward to doing some good work there this year.