I got in my second day of pre-fishing yesterday.  I went with a friend, DJ Morrison.  I have to say, it was a little bit of a frustrating day, but it was productive enough.  Yesterday the goal was to try and find a back up plan if my pattern I found my first day of pre-fishing didn’t hold up next week.  I was actually really hoping to find an area with some murkier water to be able to fall back on if I needed to in the tournament, but I had no such luck.  There were a few areas of the lake that I had recalled seeing murkier water earlier in the year, but that just wasn’t the case yesterday.  I ended up catching a lot of fish, but none of them were keepers…so I really didn’t find anything that would help me out as a back-up plan.  However, that does make me feel somewhat good knowing that I found one of the few successful patterns going on out there right now.  I suspect that a lot of guys will struggle in this tournament.  We’ll see what happens though I guess.  The best part of the day though was that I brought home some Guadalupe Bass and one big bonus Striped Bass that I caught (about a 24 incher).  On the way home I got the bright idea to put them in the bath tub and let May-May jump in and chase them around.  It was pretty hilarious.  I took a video that I will try to post later, but my computer seems to be having problems recognizing my phone when I plug it in.

The other thing was that it was a frustrating day because of my trolling motor.  It’s been having problems for several months now, but it’s just getting worse and worse and I just can’t deal with it anymore.  It has now decided to only start running at like half its normal speed and power.  The wind barely picked up yesterday and I got blown all over.  If I don’t get it fixed before the tournament, and that wind picks up at all, I could be screwed.  Hopefully I can figure something out before this weekend.

Lake Travis Pre-fishing

13 November 2009

I fished Lake Travis today in preparation for my ATX tournament there on the 22nd of this month.  It went fairly well.  I’ve established a pretty good pattern that I feel confident will still be there come tournament day.  Actually, I’ve been fishing the same basic pattern at all the lakes I’ve been fishing since the Fishing For Freedom tournament at Belton.  It’s a pretty classic autumn pattern, and I’m actually really surprised that there are very few guys who have got it figured out.  Everyone else seems to be talking about how tough the fishing is at Travis right now.  Only problem today was I didn’t really get any big fish.  All the keepers I caught were between 1-2lbs.  I think I only had about seven pounds for my limit today.  I’ve got to believe that this pattern can produce bigger fish though if I hit enough spots in the tournament.  I learned from the Fishing For Freedom tournament.  I’ve got a pattern established and I know exactly where the fish are positioned.  I plan on moving pretty fast and covering a lot of water.  I’ll be headed out again tomorrow to try and establish some possible back up patterns.

Happy Halloween!

12 November 2009


The Hamburglar

Halloween Fishing

I planned to go fishing on Halloween this year with a guy from my bass club on Lake Travis.  The primary purpose for the trip though wasn’t necessarily to fish.  I had to try and get my livewells operating since they were experiencing problems at the last tournament.  I figured if I had the boat in the water then I might as well let someone else spend some time fishing out of the front of the boat.  The fact that I was going to be fishing on Halloween didn’t really hit me though until the night before as I was looking at my Halloween costume.  I then knew what I had to do.  Little did anyone know that The Hamburglar is an excellent fisherman.

 

I’ll make a quick post about how my last club tournament went on Lake LBJ back on October 25th.  Long story short, I got third, won a little cash, and gained some major ground in the point standings for the season.  Here’s the breakdown:

Pre-fishing: Generally speaking I like to give myself three days of pre-fishing before I fish any tournament.  I’ve always felt like if I can have three days of fishing, I can get the bass figured out.  Often times I will get them figured out faster than that, but sometimes I don’t quite catch on to what the fish are trying to tell me until that third day.  However, this month was different.  All of the gas money that I spent on pre-fishing for the Fishing for Freedom tournament pretty much drained my budget for fishing money for the month.  Because of that, I was going to have to survive with only one day of pre-fishing for Lake LBJ, a lake that I have never seen before in my life.  I lucked out and got a pattern dialed in quickly.  This time of the year is fairly predictable.  The weather is cooling, so the shad are migrating to the shallows with the bass hot on their tails.  I happened to find a decent topwater bite first thing in the morning along the dam for some bigger fish, but the main pattern was very similar to what I was doing at Lake Belton recently.  They seemed to be in shallow, muddy pockets of water that were loaded with shad.

Tournament Day: Now, I must mention that in these club tournaments, there is an off-limits period for one week prior to the tournament date, and none of the participating anglers are allowed to fish on the tournament waters.  A lot can change in a week.  Well, we received some very heavy rain the days just prior to this tournament causing the lake level to rise a bit, the water to muddy, and lots of floating debris throughout the whole lake.  Much different conditions than what I faced a week earlier pre-fishing.  Upon seeing how muddy the water was, I had a pretty good idea that my topwater bite on the dam would be over, but I decided to start there anyways just in case.  Just as I expected, that pattern died.  After fishing half the length of the dam with no strikes, I ran down to the other end of the dam where there was a shallow pocket of water with some shallow weeds in it to try really quick.  That’s where I put my first keeper in the boat and then decided to target shallow pockets for the rest of the day.  On my pre-fishing day, I had found one pocket in particular at the back of a slough where I had gotten lots of bites and a couple of decent fish, so that’s where I ran next.  Unfortunately, as I got there, I could see one boat already in the back of the slough fishing, and one right at the mouth of it waiting for his turn to fish back in there.  I maintained my distance, fished a few nearby docks, and carefully watched the other anglers fish the slough and back pocket.  Both boats fished the slough quickly and came back out without catching any fish.  My turn.  As I made my way back in, there was a small pocket off to the side of the slough where I landed my next small keeper.  I ended up spending the next few hours fishing the pocket at the back of the slough nice and slow and managed to catch the rest of my limit out of there by 11:00.  That was pretty much the end of my day as far as catching fish went.  After that I moved to go fish some more shallow pockets, but as I arrived at my next location, I opened my livewell to see two of my bass floating belly up.  Something had clogged my livewell lines preventing fresh water from being pumped in.  From that point on, my day was pretty well shot with just trying to keep fresh water flowing into the livewell to keep my fish alive for weigh-in.  Kind of a bummer, but at least I ended up in third place on a lake I’d only fished once before.  As a result, I stayed in the number four spot in the point standings, but I drastically cut the ten point gap the top three guys had on me to just one point.  After last month, I had all but given up on being able to actually catch the guy who is in the #1 spot.  He still has a pretty decent lead, but there is definitely at least hope of catching him now.  If he stumbles in one of the next two tournaments, I have a shot at catching up.

Fishing For Freedom 2009

28 October 2009

On October 10th I fished in the annual Fishing For Freedom tournament on Belton Lake.  This was a very exciting event for me because it was my first “big” tournament to participate in since getting home from my mission back in 2006.  I heard about this tournament from another angler in my club because the organizers were trying to rally up more boaters to fish in it.  The idea was that they were trying to get 200 professional bass anglers to take war veterans out for a guided fishing trip for the day in order to honor their service for our country.  Plus, to add some extra incentive, the anglers and veterans would be competing for high cash prizes and a brand new Triton bass boat for the first place team.  The great thing about it was that it was a free tournament.  A shot at winning a brand new bass boat for no entry fee?  I was in!

Pre-fishing: I planned on pre-fishing for the tournament the three days prior to it, but unfortunately my pre-fishing was cut down to two days due to heavy winds and flash flooding one of those days.  Lucky for me, on the first day of pre-fishing, I found a pattern that I felt extremely confident in having the potential to be a winning pattern.  The second day of pre-fishing, I didn’t find much of anything exciting, but I knew exactly what I would need to do to win the tournament.  I discovered some big bass on the extreme northern end of the lake in very muddy water.  I knew very few anglers would want to run that far up north, so that was a plus for me.  The key was that the bass were holding in shallow pockets off the main lake sitting along the rocks leading back into the pockets.  Often times the biggest bass would be holding on the first piece of brush or wood as you headed into the pockets.  I knew that if I was to be successful in the tournament I would need to fish fast, cover a lot of water, and fish as many of those pockets as I could.

Game Day: I met up with my partner for the tournament, Christy Baker, at around 4 AM.  I’ll admit, about the last thing I was expecting was to be paired with a woman in a bass fishing tournament with war veterans, but she was a great asset to our team.  Christy has fished in every Fishing For Freedom tournament since they started five years ago, and was pretty experienced for a fisher-woman.  She had all of her own tackle and everything!

Going into this tournament, I was extremely optimistic and excited about our potential for getting a very strong finish.  To make a long story short, the day didn’t end as I had hoped.  We found ourselves only weighing in two fish for about 3.5 pounds and finishing in 52nd out of 230 teams.  When looked at overall, it’s an ok finish, but I was still very disappointed with it.    What was so disappointing was that, honestly, and I really do mean honestly, Christy and I had a very legitimate shot at being able to win first place and getting that new bass boat.  Even after the tournament, I knew that I had had the game plan that could have won the tournament for us, but I didn’t stick to that plan as much as I should have.  The one mistake I made was not fishing enough of those shallow pockets.  We fished maybe a third of them that I was planning on.  Reason being, I was trying to do everything that I could to be accommodating to Christy.  I know what it’s like to be in the back of the boat trying to fish while the guy up front wants to put the trolling motor on high and fish fast, so I tried to slow down for her.  I’m not blaming Christy at all for that.  That was my own decision.  What I should have done, however, is told Christy my game plan and tell her, “Just get up here in the front of the boat with me and be prepared to fish fast,” and everything could’ve worked out just fine.  For some reason though, that just never crossed my mind.

Now, here’s what really got to me about this tournament.  After we had weighed in our fish, I hung around the weigh-in tent to see what the final results would be.  Most importantly, I was interested in what the winners did to catch their fish.  Well, when all was said and done, it was a very famous angler by the name of Gary Klein and his war veteran who won the tournament.  Gary is a very accomplished angler from my neck of the woods in CA, and has won a lot of money and a lot of boats in his time.  He also fishes in the Bassmaster Elite Series on ESPN.  I was extremely frustrated with this because for years I’ve been telling myself that I can compete with the Elite Series guys, and here one was kicking my butt.  I just had to know what Gary did to win that tournament and why I didn’t do what he did.

When the time came for Gary and his partner to accept their cash and new boat, I was waiting anxiously to hear what their pattern was for landing their winning limit of bass.  As Gary explained their approach, my jaw dropped and my heart sank and Gary explained to the crowd the exact same game plan that I had had for the day.  He fished the same spots I did, used the same lures/presentations, and even experienced some of the same frustrations that I had through the day.  The only difference was, he ran the odds and fished a lot more spots than I did and by doing so was able to find enough fish that were willing to eat the bait all the way.  Gary talked of being plagued by short-striking bass all day, and that was the same problem I had.  He just covered a lot more water than I did.  One side of me was even more frustrated that he won running the same pattern I was, but the other side of me was extremely relieved.  It was a very big reassurance to me that I do know what I’m doing and I can compete against the Elite guys.  My mind and strategies are in the right place.  One day…one day…I will get there.

Getting Started!

16 October 2009

Well, here it is: my first post on the blog.  This could get interesting.  This post will be pretty well useless as I’m just doing it to try and get the feel for things here.  Basically this blog will be primarily devoted to all of my bass fishing tournament adventures and what all goes into it.  I’ll keep everyone updated on everything from the details of what goes into preparing for a tournament and then the final results of how each of them go.  Should be fun!  Hopefully in the next day or two I’ll get a post up of the full story about how my latest big tournament went and why I should have won a boat at it.  That was the Fishing For Freedom tournament.  It was a lot of fun and a big heart ache at the same time.  Despite that though, I am already looking forward to redemption at next year’s event.  Also, I have a club tournament coming up on Oct 25th, so I’ll get everyone informed on that here shortly.