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bighed

Club T- What would you have done?

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Last weekend I fished a club tourny on a small local lake of about 2K acres and max depth of ~40'. Water temps were low to mid 70's. Bonham city lake has tons of reeds around the shoreline but the lake is down about 3' leaving most of the reeds in a foot or less. There are also a fair number of boat houses which draw alot of attention from anglers and were also affected by the low water. The dam is about a quarter mile of riprap and there are three small bridges also with riprap. Several decent main lake and secondary points also can hold fish. In prefishing I had located a strech of shoreline that was holding a good number of 15-18" fish under schools shad. The wind had pushed the shad into a cupped shoreline and the bass were taking advantage of the situation. I was not able to reproduce this pattern on any other windblown shorelines that day. Tournament day there was a slight shift in wind direction but I was still able to boat three keepers just above the 14" minimum from the spot in the first hour. The numbers were not here like they had been a week before and the shad were not as thick. I had noticed some surface activity across the cove so decided to give it a try. The spot was a secondary point dropping from 2' to 8' with the wind blowning right into it. There shad were thick and so were the bass. In the next few hours I had a ball boating around 40 fish filling my limit and culling up four or five times. The catch was that there was nothing over 17" in the livewell and most were 15". My running tally said I had around 12lbs max and that was less that what usually would take the win. With about three hours of fishing left the wind changed direction. The shad scattered (I think)and I went to hit some boat houses that usually produced. Nada, nothing. So tried one of the bridges, same. Hit some of other secondary points and caught a couple but no keepers. Time was winding down so I went back to the honey hole and caught a few more but nothing I could cull with. At weigh in I had 11.3, about 4lbs. short of the win but good for 3rd. So what could I have done differently to take the win? I thought of leaving fish to find fish but decided to spend alot of time in one spot hoping better fish might move in. They never did. How long would you stay on a school of mostly 12-15" fish before moving on? Do you think that bigger fish avoid areas where many smaller fish are feeding? The wind shift in the afternoon killed the surface activity. Do you think the fish stopped feeding when the shad scattered or did they just follow the bait somewhere else leaving me behind? Any thoughts on finding that kicker fish? Thanks for your input! big

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Sounds to me like you did the right thing.

If you are new to tournament fishing remember you do not win them all. I will take a limit weighing 12-14lbs. every tournament day and I will be unbeatable at the end of the year. I don't care what circuit you fish you are the champ with that kind of daily weight.

Most people don;'t realise the number of off days everyone(Pros to) experience while fishing around the area. It is tough. Take what you can and give it a shot another day. congratulations on third.

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After boating 40 fish with none over 17" and knowing that what I had in the box wouldn't win, I would have definitely been gone from that spot.....a lot earlier than a few hours, more like one hour. I know it's hard to leave a bass catching marathon but during a tournament, sometimes it just has to be done if you want to pull off the win. You have to expect that everyone will be catching the schoolers in the fall. After you've got a solid limit, which you had, thats when you must immediately switch mindsets and seperate yourself from the pack....with a kicker. The sooner you go in search of the kicker, the better off your chances are of catching one or even more than one big one.

In the fall especially, not saying it never happens but I dont expect to catch a kicker around any of the common schoolers. After I run the schoolers for a limit I will abandon them real fast in search of deeper water in places where big fish are known to hang. I tend to believe that bigger fish are loners or only hang with a few other big fish and that these fish never leave the main lake or main body of water. Thats where I would have spent the majorty of the tournament day, on deeper structure most likely with a jig tied on or maybe a big worm.

If you have thoughts that bigger fish may move in, you can always go back and check the hot spot later, in between runs to the main lake big fish spots. It shouldn't take long to figure out if the big ones are there or not. If you continue to catch the small schoolers, move on.

I'm interested in what baits you used. I expect on the schoolers you were throwing some kind of reaction bait. Crank, spinnerbait, soft jerkbait, etc....

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Thanks for the replys guys.  I can accept that I won't win them all but do struggle with the fact that a couple guys spank me at just about every tourny.  Sometime I have a great day or night of fishing. Catching, culling, and still come up short by a couple of pounds.  It's all part of the learning process but after five years of regular tournaments I wish I was doing a little better.   In hindsight, FBL hit it on the head.  All my culling of small fish probably gained me less than two pounds.  This lake holds good quality fish and it usually takes a 5lb + for big bass.  One kicker would have put more weight in the boat than sorting through the little fish all day.  I easily had half the day to find those one or two bigger fish.  I'm  a beliver (now) that the big fish don't hang out with the little fish.   As far as baits used, I caught a few on a white spinnerbait and a couple on a wake bait but most were caught on the spot remover/7" robo.  big

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Just realize what you've stumbled onto next time and make the most of it. Some people would kill to have over half a day to seek out a kicker fish. Worst case scenario if you do 'swing for the fence' and don't get the big bite is that you go to the weigh in with a solid limit,  which you would've done anyway. At least you put yourself in a position to catch a kicker and possibly win the tournament. Use your 'bonus' time wisely and soak up all you can. If you get that good limit early, think of the rest of the day as a learning experience as you try to locate the kicker spots.

The reason I asked about your bait choices was that anytime I am strictly trying to catch bigger fish I usually upsize my bait and go to deeper water that has some structure and preferably some cover on the structure. 95% of the time my bait of choice will be something that combs the bottom. A jig, big worm, deep crank touching the bottom or carolina rig.

Good luck bighead, you fishin' another one this weekend? Be sure to give us an update.

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Thanks for sharing some wisdom with me.  It's easy to get caught up in the moment and let time slip by you.  I agree on the bigger baits.  I've come to think of the shakey head as a numbers bait rather than a quality bait.  I've caught hundreds of fish on the things but only a few over 4 or 5 pounds.  No tournys this weekend but will prefish Texoma for the next.  The waters cooling here and the shad are stacking up real good but in deeper water at Texoma.  Lots of folks go to the jigging spoon and I've used it with some success.  Dam boring fishing though.  May try the dropshot in it's place for those 25-35' deep fish.  big

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I agree, the spoon thing isn't real exciting but it's effective when the fish and bait are suspended deep. It's just one of those techniques that you have to learn although there's not much technique involved at all. Finding the 'right' school with your electronics is the hardest part.

The dropshot idea is a good one. I can catch 'em on a dropshot but I'm not real confident with it yet on suspended fish because I'm always second guessing myself on whether or not my bait is actually in the strike zone. Now if they are closer to the bottom, I'm better with the drop shot.

With the spoon, I dont have to be completely dialed in to the strike zone when I drop it, I just have to get it close. Because I'm moving the spoon up and down anywhere from 6 to 10' at a time, that movement compensates and covers up if I should be off in my depth calculations.

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Here on Table Rock in MO that spoon can be deadly flipping it up in boat docks.If you find a dock that is 35' deep or more out on the end try it.I use a 3/4 oz white War Eagle.Flip it in there and just a few jerks and move on to next stall.I flip it right over boat lifts and all.Give it a try and let me know if it works for ya. :)

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Dam it eatnsleepfishing! >:(

I just got one of them flutter spoons and was throwing it at docks last weekend and had one nail it....

thought i find a new tactic...  

I had been fishing that area with a crank and jerkbait for a while before started in with the spoon....

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