Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pickwick Preparation

We had a lot of fun on Kentucky Lake this past week. Had a blast fishing with my Dad and my son. It was so great to get out on the lake with them, without the usual pressures of a tournament situation. Hopefully our fun fishing will help me to better determine where I plan to fish come tournament time. While we were in Paris, we got to attend the World’s Largest Fish Fry, where we saw lots of interesting people (I think we met Joe Dirt’s brother out there!) It was still a cool experience, and the kids really enjoyed the carnival that they had.

We arrived in Florence Alabama a couple days early, and got to enjoy a little bit of time off. It was pretty relaxing, except for the tornado dodging we had to do. Being from Kansas (the heart of tornado alley) you would think that we would see more tornados at home, but I have come across more tornadoes in Alabama and Tennessee than good ol’ Kansas!

On to the fishing! My practice on Pickwick was not really frustrating, but stressful because I didn’t really know what to expect. There are so many fish of all sizes in this lake, and that made it tough to try and get dialed in on what a realistic tournament weight could be. Typically in practice we don’t like to hook our fish, but out here I was getting so many bites that I started sticking my fish just so I could determine the quality of fish in a given area. The cool thing about practice was that it was totally pattern. Every spot that looked like it should hold a fish actually did. And every piece of wood yielded at least one bite. In practice I determined that my best bet to catch quality fish was to just keep the jig rod in my hand and hammer out every piece of wood cover I saw. This way I could actually focus on the bigger bites.

One observation I made while we have been down here on the Tennessee River chain is that the lakes are all quite a bit lower and slower than they were last year when we were here. Last year the river had flooded, and there was a ton more current in the lakes. This year it is the complete opposite. I would love to be down here when the lake was up and there was some current, but the fact that the conditions are tough and Pickwick is still giving ’em up like this is just a testament to the great fishery it is.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happiness is Smith Mountain in my Rear View Mirror

Well, let’s just say that I am glad that Smith Mountain is in my rear view! It was a pretty rough tournament for me, and I’m really looking forward to getting some better finishes under my belt this season. Smith Mountain was a little off for my style of fishing. I really tried to find a way to catch fish besides bed fishing, and as my finish suggests, that wasn’t the best idea. In hindsight, I spent too much time fishing in practice and not enough time visually searching for beds. From here on out I have a new personal rule in place: If there is even the slightest possibility that an event will be won by sight fishing, I will dedicate practice time towards finding bass on beds.

The first day of the event went alright, but once again I underestimated the weights that were going to be brought in. I was happy to be in the top 50 after the first day, because I thought I could go out and duplicate what I had done on the second day and be alright. However, the second day was slow. Definitely not the finish I was looking for. But now I can’t look back, got to keep looking ahead to what’s next. My priorities have changed, and now I’m focused more on making the classic and less on AOY points.

Now we are at Kentucky Lake for pre-practice. We’re staying in Paris, and it is real nice down here. I have just a little bit of time to unwind before we get cranked back up for the Alabama tournaments. This time in Kentucky is real special for me because I am fishing with my Dad and my son. My parents drove down to spend the week with us in Kentucky, so I am enjoying the time off here. We’re slowly but surely getting the fish figured out here on the lake, and I’ve been catching a few on the old tried and true methiolate floating worm! What a fun way to catch ‘em!

Going along with the theme of staying focused, my goal for the rest of the season is to make five top 30 finishes so I can make it to the classic. The rest of the season should allow me to do that as the lakes should really set up for the way that I like to fish. I’m ready for Pickwick, it should be junk fishing at its finest!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On the Road Again!

We’ve hit the road for the long haul this time. The drive out to Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia was gorgeous. We took I-64 across eastern Kentucky and through West Virginia. The scenery in this area is breathtaking, and all throughout the drive I was spotting turkeys, which makes the drive even more fun. Now while the scenery is figuratively breathtaking, the pollen is literally breathtaking. I mean it is thick! And poor Mason has allergies pretty bad. This stuff is so thick that just a day after washing my truck I can already barely read the wrap on it! On a positive note, the weather has been awesome, and we’ve been spending evenings around a campfire cooking hotdogs and s’mores, which is always a treat.

So far, my practice has been a little tough. I didn’t expect the Smith Mountain bass to be as far along as they were, but as it is right now this tournament could set up to be even more of a sight fishing bonanza than it was last year. Getting bit these last couple days has been pretty easy, but finding the bigger bass has been a struggle for me. What makes it even more frustrating is I know that several of the other competitors have found some of the lake’s better bass. I have spent my last 2 practice days eliminating a lot of water, but on Wednesday I am going to try and find some more respectable sized fish. I’m staying positive, because I know that this year I am well due to catch ‘em at Smith Mountain!

Next week we are swinging down to Kentucky Lake for pre-practice. My Dad is going to meet us there, and go out fishing with me. Kentucky Lake in April should be a lot of fun, I’m really looking forward to it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Crunch Time

Wow, time at home has gone by too fast! There is a lot to pack for this trip, because once we leave on Thursday we won’t be back until June. Practice for the Smith Mountain event starts on Monday, so I’m hoping to have plenty of time to arrive safely and get settled in over there. I really think this year at Smith Mountain is going to be different than our trip there last year. Sight fishing probably won’t play as big of a role, so hopefully I can put together a pattern more suited towards my skills.

This time at home has given me a chance to catch up with family and friends. We had a really good Easter with my folks, and to tell you the truth it really just hit us the other day that we already have to get back out on the road! But while we were at home we had some fun. The kids and I caught a mess of trout out of Lake Quivira, and fried them up for supper that evening. Dinner that night made me realize just how much better a mess of fried crappie is!

While I was in California, I bought quite a few swimbaits to try out. So, while we were at home I made time to test them out on the lake. The fish aren’t quite as far along as they need to be to really get on a swimbait bite out on Lake Quivira, but I did manage to catch a few fish. After tinkering and playing with so many different swimbaits, I determined that the best producers for me are still the Osprey and Basstrix swimbaits. I really wish that I could have had the opportunity to hone my swimbait skills.

Now, being that I took 5th place at the Classic, I figured I could reward myself a little bit. I’m an avid hunter during the off-season, and an avid hunter needs to be prepared for any and all situations while out in the field. So, I bought myself a new bow from B&B Archery, not to replace anything but to be used as a back-up if something should happen. The folks at B&B are amazing, and I really enjoy doing business with them. I love fishing, but I’m really looking forward to archery deer season right now!