Clark’s Hill is definitely a unique fishery in my eyes. All blueback based lakes that I’ve fished have been difficult for me to adjust to, and this tournament was no exception. I had some decent days out there, but in the end the bad days were enough to keep me out of the top of the pack.
The last time we came to Clark’s Hill we hit the blueback spawn dead on. This year we were about 2 weeks late. And in this lake the bite only gets worse after those bluebacks spawn. Everybody out there was concentrating on an offshore, schooling fish bite. So on day one of practice I tried to find the same kind of thing. On day 2 of practice I ran around a lot, and eliminated a bunch of water. However, I also found a really unique area. I ran way up a creek, and up this creek I found a large area of matted grass. It looked a lot like the gator grass they have down in Florida. It was the perfect place to throw a frog, and almost immediately I boated one that went about 4 lbs. I then cut the hooks off my bait and had several more quality bites in just a short amount of time. I knew this spot was something different, so I left it until tournament time. I spent the last day of practice trying to find more areas to catch schooling fish. In hindsight, I should have spent the last day exploring my matted grass area and getting familiar with it.
The first day of the tournament was a good way to get things started. I caught a limit of schooling fish in the first half hour. After that I ran to my matted grass and culled out a few of my small schoolies. After the first day I was sitting in 26th place, which is a great place to be after day one of a tournament. On the second day I couldn’t get anything going in my primary spots. Finally I pulled up on a point that I had caught some schoolies on in practice. I caught a 2 ½ lber pretty quick, and then caught several hybrids. Then I caught two more largemouths, and after those two fish all I could get to bite were hybrids. That was a really strange scenario. On the third day I ran to my schooling areas first, only to find local tournament fisherman sitting on my points. I tried a few other points that I hadn’t fished before, but had no luck there. I ran up to my grass mat area at about 8a.m. I had one bite on the frog, and lost it. I bailed out of there at about noon. I decided the only thing I could do was get out there and “practice fish” for the rest of the tournament. I ran new areas and new patterns, and managed to catch a couple of squeakers on a small tube. That day really hurt. But what hurt even more was the fact that the only other person that found my grass mat spot was Cliff Crochet, who wound up in second place. All I can say is way to go Cliff, and that I wish that I would have played my cards a little bit differently. My key baits this week were a 5” basstrix swim bait that I used to target shcooling fish, and a hollow body top water frog used in matted grass.
Now we have two weeks off and we are headed to Biloxi Mississippi to spend some time with family, and it looks like instead of watching the waves roll in on the beach we’re going to watch the oil slicks roll in! Oh well, time with family is always fun. The week after this we are headed north to Kentucky Lake so that we can get set up and prepared for the next event. I plan on spending some time on Guntersville trying to get dialed in on a Tennessee River ledge bite, or at least that’s my excuse for fishing there for the third time this season!