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everythingthatswims

Warning: Lengthy Tournament Report (South Holston Lake)

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    This Saturday, the Virginia Tech bass fishing team hosted a collegiate tournament on South Holston Lake on the Virginia/Tennesee border. On Thursday, my tournament partner Casey and I traveled from WVU to Charlottesville, VA, to get my dad's truck and our boat, then we headed to Abingdon, VA, to stay with my grandparents while we fished the lake Friday and Saturday.

    Friday was our practice day, and having never been on the lake before, I didn't know what to expect. Looking at a lake map, I saw that there were a lot of creek arms and coves at the lower end of the lake, so we headed there to pursue some smallmouth. At our first stop of the day, the first cove as we entered a creek arm, I caught a keeper (15") smallmouth on a vision 110. I caught two more keepers in short order fishing neighboring coves after that, so we decided to head to the other side of the creek. Here there were solid rock bluffs whereas the other side had a mixture of chunk rock, bluffs, and gravel/clay banks, with fish holding on the transitions. We fished three coves of solid rock without a bite, so we headed further into the creek to look for coves with rock transitions. We found them but no fish, so we decided to stick closer to the main lake. The pattern held up everywhere we went, any cove on or near the main lake with rock transitions had smallmouth anywhere from 1 to 3.5lbs ready to pounce on a jerkbait. We would catch one or two, mark a waypoint, and leave. The whole day we did not get a bite on anything that wasn't a moving bait. Fished drop shots, shakey head, ned rig, and a jig, nada. We started working our way back up the lake fishing similar areas and continued catching fish, so we decided to head to the "mid lake" area and see what was going on there. Starting with the jerkbait, we put a 3lb smallmouth in the boat in short order just inside a creek arm. After that we decided to quit throwing jerkbaits since we had the fish figured out and started trying to find another bait they would eat. I picked up an Alabama rig, which I had been throwing a good bit without a bite in the cleaner water down lake, and boated a 3lb smallie within minutes. Two more smallmouth and a largemouth after that on the rig, and we decided to get off the lake and prep for the tournament.

     While the tournament we fished only had 26 boats, there were at least 4 tournaments on the lake that day, one 15 boat club tournament out of the same marina as us, a larger club tournament from a different marina, and a big tournament that had 105 boats fishing it (could have been more but that was the number I heard). Couple that with guys out fun fishing, and it made for a VERY crowded lake that day. We were boat number 6, and headed to our spots down lake right off the bat. Our 17' aluminum tracker tops out at about 40mph, so I got pretty good at easing over the boat wakes as everyone else zipped by in all directions. The first stretch of bank we hit produced 3 fish, 2 keepers, a 16" smallie and a 14" largemouth, both on the jerkbait. I missed several fish but I don't think there was anything I could have done about it, I had put brand new katsuage hooks on my 110 the night before! We headed further down the lake and fished a couple spots without a bite. Finally I caught one about 2&3/4 when we were working down a bank and it came up behind us over deep water chasing an alewife. We ran to many of our spots from practice and found no fish but plenty of boats. It was around noon when we ran back up to the spot we caught our first two on. We caught two more short smallmouth, and decided to work our way up the lake, bouncing around fishing coves with the banks we were looking for. Things were looking up in this area of the lake, we were only seeing a boat or two in each pocket rather than 3 or 4 (or 5 or 6). Finally some time after 1pm my partner hooked a 2.5lb smallmouth on a jerkbait that went in the well for our 4th keeper of the day, this was a big turning point as the "wheels were coming off" after such a rough first half of the day and a nice fish made us feel a lot better. Shortly after that I boated a 14" largemouth, we had our limit and felt a lot better, but we needed to get rid of most of them.

     We fished similar areas for a while and caught a couple short fish, and decided to make a move to the creek near the ramp where I caught the fish on the Alabama rig in practice. The creek had a couple boats in it, two on the spot we were going to hit, so we fished a couple pockets on the other side. In about 10 minutes I boated three fish on the jerkbait, one of them was a 15" smallmouth that we swapped with one of our little largemouth. It was about 2:15 now, (with a 3:00 check in!) and the two boats were no longer on the stretch of bank we wanted to fish, so we headed over there. 15 minutes in and I hook a nice fish on the A-rig, a 16" chunky smallmouth that got rid of the other little largemouth. 10 casts later and I swing into a solid fish, it ended up being a 3-3.5lb largemouth, I culled quickly and jumped back up on the front of the boat. Very next cast produced a good smallmouth, and after that cull we fished for another 10 minutes before we had to head back to the ramp.

    Pretty much everyone in our tournament struggled that day, only 6 limits were weighed. We ended up in 2nd place with 14.3lbs, we hadn't really paid attention to how much we culled at the end of the day and thought we only had 11 or 12lbs, it seemed like they grew a little when we opened the well to put them in the weigh bag, it was a nice surprise. First place had 14.8lbs, and big fish was an absolute brown football freak weighing in at over 6.5lbs, but it was that boat's only fish for the day. Not a bad showing for our first college tournament, hopefully there will be more to come!58e177db2131c_HolstonLimit.thumb.jpg.05f204903aaaaa07c0c80750fd83d1cf.jpg

Everything below this picture is from practice, when we caught some BRUTES!

58e177fadb708_SohoSmallie2.thumb.jpg.d54de6dd68c08037b8ddf0df98990b34.jpg

58e1780eec096_CaseySohoSmallie.jpg.7706e51922c276569759c097e1e02115.jpg58e1781a6b614_WyattSohoSmallie.jpg.b81b9f682e1a235ce9e2aae6f5d44adf.jpg 

Forgot to add that my younger brother Wyatt came down to practice with us and film on tournament day for some youtube stuff, here is his PB smallie @3.54lbs

58e178a824a62_ARigSmallie.thumb.jpg.7e09919a9e49b1ec086d0befb760966c.jpg

58e178bb40400_SohoSmallie.thumb.jpg.8ad13fc53038e83b5463a6b294ce44ba.jpg

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Congratulations!  Second place for your first college tournament - WTG.  

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Your maturing as a fisherman for sure. Congrats on 2nd place. 

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Great write up. Fun to see how the tournament goes. With so many boats out there, that would be a nightmare. 

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Well done, young bassmasters!

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Cheers great job & write up 

Fred

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great job guys proud of you , keep swinging and i'll bet we see a first!!

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Congrats! I always enjoy reading your posts and the level of detail you use to pull things together. 

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1 hour ago, stk44 said:

Congrats! I always enjoy reading your posts and the level of detail you use to pull things together. 

+1

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