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Willzx225

Just got back from my first Elite Series event!!!

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After responding to the 100+ emails I had at work, I can finally get back to the important things and let ya'll know how Clarks Hill went.

First and foremost, this tournament was an extremely good learning experience.

On day one I drew out with Casey Ashley. This was a great opportunity to draw out with an Elite pro on his home lake! We made a long run and fished big topwaters on flats and points that were loaded up with baitfish. Casey fished very fast and often only made 5-10 casts on each spot.

On day two I drew out with Brian Hudgins. The difference in techniques were night and day but the results were pretty much similiar. Brian was throwing drop shots in 1-2feet of water on 6lb line and spinning tackle. I was a little apprehensive in the beginning since everything I had heard and seen about this lake was centered around large baits and big tackle. Just goes to show you that there is always multiple patterns that can put you in the running. This was one of the best lessons I learned in this tournament. Fish your strengths and fish what the water will give you! I got really fortunate towards the end of the day and landed a 4lber on a topwater. That fish allowed me to fish the 3 day.

On the third day I drew out with none other than Skeet Reese. Since I went into the day towards the back of the pack, I decided not to fish as aggressively and to try to learn as much as I could by watching more than fishing. That turned out to be a good idea since I think I picked up on a few things that I would have missed if I had been completely focused on my fishing. Skeet's level of awareness and the sense of calmness he had were unmatched by anybody I have shared a boat with. Skeet caught all of his fish on a big jig and a Hollow Belly Swimbait.

All in all, I learned a bunch from watching these guys first hand. The biggest thing I will probably take away from this experience is that these guys are extremely efficient. I used to think I was a pretty efficient fisherman but after fishing with these guys I would say I fish at about 50% efficiency compared to these guys. Another valuable lesson I learned was that you don't have to force fish to bite the way you think they should. Hudgins practiced with the topwaters and jigs just like everyone else but didn't get on the quality he was looking for so he dropped back and finessed enough fish to make the top 50 cut. Probably the most interesting tidbit I learned was how Skeet was rigging his Hollow Belly swimbaits. Everything I have read and seen was centered around either the Falcon-style Baitjerker hook (weighted EWG) or rigging it "Pro-style" with a Treble hook. Skeet rigged his on a lead head hook and just pushed the bait up the shaft. Simple and very effective in the open water we were fishing! :-?

If you ever get the opportunity to fish one of these DO IT.  You will learn more in 3 days then you could in 3 months fishing by yourself.

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Wow! sounds like an awesome experience.

What do you mean by fishing efficiency?

What were your daily bags?

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Will, It was great to meet you while you were here. I had a blast.

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Fluke- Like wise.  I appreciate you dragging me to that horrible cook out!   ;D

Sodaksker - By fishing efficiency I mean how much is actually wasted.  These guys don't ever do anything without a purpose.  There are never any wasted casts or moments where they aren't following the pattern the have figured out.  I know that I always fall victom to "exploring" things that look good even though they are not associated with the pattern I am running.  For example, if I were catching them on flat points, sometimes I find myself running over to fish a loan dock in a cove just because it looked good.  These guys see that as a huge waste of time.

Also, they tend to make as long of a cast as possible just to keep their boats away from the good stuff so they don't spook their fish.  Boat positioning is also huge for these guys.  For instance, we were fishing a bunch of long flat points but the fish were positioned in specific areas.  All of my pros would not make a cast until they could line up and make the correct cast.  All of this is more than likely a product of spending countless days on the water.  

I hope my rambling makes some sort of sense.

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Oh yeah my daily bags.  :)

On the first day I had around 4lbs.

Day two - just under 8lbs

Day three -  3-4 lbs

I will say that these guys are vaccum cleaners and don't leave a whole lot to throw at.  They don't front end you but they have a knack for hitting the highest percentage spots and moving on.  The second day I caught a 4lber while my partner was retying so that allowed me to make the 3rd day.  Also, I went into this tournament wanting to learn more than I wanted to win money.  Don't get me wrong I would have loved to win the tournament but this was a rare opportunity to learn so I tried to take full advantage of it.  I really did my best to stay out of my partners' way and make it a point to not throw on any schooling fish (with the exception of the 3rd day when I made a cast before I realized what I was doing.  HAHA I'm just programmed to throw at schoolies).  

Do I think I could have finished higher than 41st? Yes but I felt like it would have hindered the learning experience.

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Will,

Thank you for taking the time to make the explanations.  Interesting information, and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

 I would love to go be a co-angler in an event like that.  Is that something that you just go sign up and pay for, or do you have to qualify for an event like that?

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I don't mind at all.  I was very fortunate to get into this event and it was an experience that unfortunately not everyone will get to experience.  They have set dates before the season starts where you can sign up based off of which associations you are a member of (ie. Bassmaster, BASS Insider, etc.)  Basically the more associations you are a member of the earlier you can sign up thus the better chance you have to get into the event you want to fish.  The entry fee is $750 per event with a $250 deposit and balance due 30days before first competition date.  You do not need to qualify for them via tournament results but being a member of the associations helps greatly.

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