Back to my strengths
After my frustrating finish at Clarks Hill, I had an epiphany that I needed to quit trying to fish like everyone else and return to my fishing roots.
In an effort to secure that promise to myself, I preceded to remove two-thirds of the tackle from my boat after Clarks Hill. Basically, if I couldn’t flip it or it didn’t have blades or a squarebill on it, it stayed in the garage in North Carolina.
Of course, this was a risky maneuver considering the next event was Kentucky Lake: the ledge capital of the world where many believe if you’re not fishing 10 feet plus, you’re just not fishing.
But it became the acid test for a return to my shallow-water strengths. Fortunately there was still plenty of water in the bushes so I knew there still had to be some fish shallow.
Certainly I would be no threat to win, but I figured I could at least score a check in the shallow bushes – and I was right.
I spent the whole tournament with just three flipping sticks on my deck. My bait selection was super simple: a Zoom Brush Hog and a Sweet Beaver. If there was no wind, I used a 5/16th Tru-Tungsten weight. And if wind was an issue I went to a heavier 3/8-ounce Tru-Tungsten.
The first day I ran all the way to Barkley and flipped willows and buck bushes. The first five bites I got were all keepers and weighed 13 pounds. Then, to my disbelief, I never got another keeper bite the rest of the day. I caught at least 50 more bass without another keeper.
The second day I went way south on Kentucky Lake and did the same thing. I caught 50 or 60 bass, but only five were keepers and they weighed much better at 18-10.
I ended up making the day-three cut in 36th, but only caught three keepers for 6-06 the third day, which dropped me to 47th.
Hey, it’s not great, but here’s the deal: I fished my way and I did not have to go bow-to-bow with locals and other competitors for a spot on the ledges. And the best part was I never saw another boat the entire time I fished, which was fantastic. And most of all, I had fun fishing again.
Lure: Zoom Brush Hog (green pumpkin, black w/ red flake)
Lure: Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver 4.20 (black neon, big Texan)
Hook: 4/0 Xpoint offset round bend
Weight: Tru-Tungsten 5/16 and 3/8-ounce, both black
Line: 20-pound test Vicious Ultimate Fishing Line
Rod: 7-foot, 6-inch American Rodsmiths H3 Titanium
Reel: Ardent XS1000 6.3:1
Scent: Carolina Lunker Sauce Crawfish flavor
Tip: During practice, I whiffed on a few bites and missed a few fish. During the tournament I soaked all my plastics in Carolina Lunker Sauce overnight and never lost a single fish during competition. The fish not only bit it better, they definitely held it longer with that Lunker Sauce.