Friday, March 31, 2006

Lake Austin 9-30-06 Guide Trip

Lake Austin is fishing really well right now for those who are able to locate the fish and get a hook in them. Chris and Derek booked a guide trip for Thursday and had a great day on the lake. This picture is one of the two 7 lb bass Chris caught on the trip. If they were in a tournament, their 5 best would have gone 25+ lbs I would guess. We saw some other anglers catching them as well. The primary bait of choice was a white senko rigged Texas style weightless.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Clint Bridges vs Richard Witthouse in I-Match on Lake Austin.

I had a busy weekend, before I was able to pick up my Ranger 520VX. I fished one last tournament in my R73. My first round I-Match was against Richard Whitthouse. We drew some lousy lakes and agreed to fish Lake Austin instead of the three lakes suggest by I-Match. This is how the tournament went:

We met up at Walsh Landing to fish from 6:30AM to 2:30PM. Richard seemed like a nice enough guy when I talked to him. This was his first season in I-Match, so I could tell he was a bit nervous. We did the formal checkin per I-Match rules and headed off to fish. I started off a short distance from the boat launch. At 6:45 AM I put my first keeper in the boat on a chartreuse spinner bait. I fished the area for a while and then blasted off to hit a productive dock nearby. This dock is good because it's got some brush washed under it from the flooding last year and it seems not many people have noticed yet. I flipped a watermelon senko and caught a 10 inch bass on the first flip. The second flip procuded his twin, and several other cases to follow went unanswered. Decided this wasn't going to work, so this time I headed to a creek where I'd caught some keepers the day before in practice. I fished the creek with nada for my efforts and headed off to the next spot that produced fish in practice. I passed Richard on my way up the lake, he was fishing the flat across from Ski Shores. I quickly picked up two more keepers on the spinner bait and then went for a while with nothing else biting. I had one more honey hole up the lake that I'd caught fish in practice from, so I took off again. I ran up the lake past city park and went to work with my spinner bait. Three or four casts later I tagged my 4th keeper. I kept chunking and winding until I saw a large bass cruising in the shallows, easily a 5 lb bass just by looking at it. I flip up on the bank with a senko and worked it near the fish only to spook it under a nearby dock. I positioned the boat all the while, thinking, "If I get that fish I've won." I get the boat into position and flip under the dock where I can see the fish resting and make a twitch to move the lure. I see the fish make a movement that I believe is to pick up the bait, so set the hook and the fight is on. A moment or two later I land a 5+ lb bass to find out I've got her hooked in the side. I'm guessing the reason why she didn't pickup my bait was because a 1/4 oz jig is hanging from the corner of her mouth. I removed the jig and release the fish because I know I didn't catch it in a sporting manner. Keeping the fish would be breaking tournament rules. I put it out of my mind knowing I did the right thing then and say a little prayer for one more good bite. I finish fishing out the area with nothing else biting and check the clock, Two and half hours remaining in tournament time. I got a 20+ minute ride back to the weigh-in, so decide to hit the area that produced two for me earlier. I take off and within minutes of stopping I set the hook on my fifth keeper. I fish out the bank with no other bites and decide to hit the creek again on the way back. On the way back I see Richard fishing on the flat still and stop to chat. He says he's got 5 lbs of fish and caught a few littles ones, so I tell him I've got five bass that'll go 9 lbs. We wish each other luck and I head back down the lake to fish the creek again. I fish the area only to come up empty and decide to fish the grass bed across from the weigh-in site to finish out the tournament. Richard came in 15 minutes early and say's he's done for the day. He weigh's two keepers for 5.08 lbs, then I weigh my five bass for 9.00 lbs. We shake hands and it's done.

Tournament in Review:

The temperatures started out at 35 degrees with partly cloudy skies all day warming up to 70 degrees. Water temperatures on the lake range from 63 degrees to 58 degrees. I didn't see any bedding bass despite a lot of looking. I caught my five keepers on a chartreuse spinner bait. Richard caught his two on a Texas rigged Sweet Beaver.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Ranger Elite Team sponsored by Austin Boats and Motors.

Over the weekend I accepted an offer to join the Ranger Boats Elite Team sponsored by Austin Boats and Motors. I sold my old R73 to the dealer and upgraded to 520VX Tour Edition. It's the best bass fishing boat on the market by far. It's 20 feet 9 inches long providing a huge amount of deck space for casting and landing bass. My boat is equiped with a Yamaha 225 horse power engine that's rated for propelling the boat at 72 mph across the lake, but I bet that's a conservative number it'll do more. I've only put four of the 10 breakin hours on it at this point so I couldn't tell you for certain yet. I can't say enough about how great this boat is you'll have to get one for yourself to know what I mean. Visit Austin Boats and Motors website for details about the new and used boats available on their lots -

Monday, March 20, 2006

Choke Canyon Texas Classic Bass Club 2006 Classic Tournament.

I fished the Choke Canyon Texas Classic Bass Club 2006 Classic Tournament over the weekend, March 18th & 19th, with Mike Amescua. We got second place, and had one of those fishing tournaments that neither of us will ever forget.

Day One: Weather - Partly cloudy with 30 mph winds from the SE.

I'm going to glaze over the details on day one, because it was a long hard weekend of fishing. Mike and I woke up at 5:00 AM, loaded our stuff headed off to South Shore park. The gates open at 6:00 AM which was the official start time of the tournament, so we were loosing time. We were third in line at the gate at 5:30 AM, which wasn't a bad thing since it gave us time to ready the boat. At 6:15 AM we had launched the boat and run around the corner to the pocket next to the dam and started fishing. Mike quickly set the hook on a solid 3 lb fish with a Texas rigged watermelon red brush hog. A few minutes later I caught a short fish on a white spinner bait. We fished there with a few missed bites until safe running light and then made a run across the lake to 4 fingers only to find it covered up with boat traffic. We worked a long stretch of the east bank with nada for our efforts, so I moved the boat to the west bank and went to work. Mike and I fished this area for the rest of the day, catching a limit of keepers from 1 lb to 4 lbs. In our first attempt to run back to the south side of the lake, we suffered an unfortunate setback. We hit a 3 foot roller pretty solid, that caused the water in the livewell to slosh the lid open and eject one of our larger bass. We eventually made it back across the lake despite the big waves and strong winds to finish out the first day with a little over 10 lbs which was far from top of the standings for the first day where the leaders had 20 lbs of bass. If you're wondering, no the live well in my boat doesn't having a lock on the lid to keep it closed. It's never been a problem in the past, but from now on you can bet that I'll be holding the lid closed any time I make a run across the lake.

Day Two: Weather - Cloudy with 20 mph winds from the SE.

5:00 AM Mike and I, loaded our stuff headed off to South Shore park once again, but a little stiff from the beating we took from the weather the day before. We didn't get to the gates until 5:45 this time and we were fifth in line, but ended up being first to launch. At 6:15 AM we headed across the lake, but I made a last minute decision not to hit the corner again and instead went to the dam spillway. Mike quickly put a bass near 5 lbs in the boat with a brush hog flipping the brush and a few minutes later followed with a 2 lb bass. I put my spinner bait down and joined in the fun with my own brush hog rig. 30 or so minutes later after several missed strikes by Mike and I, I set the hook on a bass I'd say was 5 lbs. I worked her out of the brush and all the way to the boat when I said, "Don't worry Mike, I've got her on braid, she's not coming off." No sooner than the words are spoken and the bass makes a strong run under the boat and tears the hook out. She came off, so a few minor explicatives follow while I reposition the boat and refocus. Mike eases the tension by saying, "At least you were not fishing in the BASS Classic and lost a five pounder." Mike and I cast back to the same area a foot or two apart and double up with nice 2 lb keepers. For a minute, I thought one of us had a fish and it had tangled our lines, but hey I'll take'm two at a time. :-) I reposition the boat again, because of the winds and we pound the area with nada to bite after those three. If it was a school of big fish, it had already moved on after we pulled those three fish out. 10 minutes later I set the hook and caught a nice 3 lb bass. We fish around the area for another hour with nothing biting. There are 4 or 5 other boats in very close rang and nobody is catching anything at this point. We make the decision to leave this area and head out to the island near Four Fingers. We make a pass down the west side of the island while fighting the swells and Mike sets the hook on a 5+ lb fish, he fights it out from the bank and halfway to the boat where the fish surges into some brush that's not visible and comes off. We hit the west bank of Four Fingers and nothing else bites. We ended the second day of the tournament with 15+ lbs and had the day two big bass.

Tournament in Review:

The wind blew and blew and blew from 10 mph in the mornings to 30 mph in the afternoon on both days. It made for extremely tough fishing, because the boat was never sitting still. We caught our fish on white spinner baits, watermelon Eager Beavers, watermelon/red Brush Hogs and watermelon/red lizards. Most of the fish we caught were in three to seven feet of water in brush. All the fish, but one were holding tight to brush, so flipping Texas rigged plastics was the best pattern. Congratulations to Dan and Karl on their first place finish, to Dudley for his day one big bass that was over 6 lbs, and to my partner Mike for this day two big bass. Official Results will be post on at some point before April 6th.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Wal-Mart BFL Tournament on Sam Rayburn March 4th 2006.

I fished the Wal-Mart BFL over the weekend on Saturday March 4, 2006. This is the second of five qualification rounds for the 2006 season. I was very fortunate to have been paired up with Jeff Wooldridge for this event. Jeff if you see this report, "I had a great time fishing with you and thanks for putting us on the fish!" I really appreciate the effort Jeff went through to make sure I was able to catch fish. There were 121 boaters and non-boaters entered in the event and the top 23 places were paid out. Jeff placed 47th with 4 fish for 11 lbs 15 oz. I placed 20th with a 5 fish limit for 10 lbs 1 oz getting a small check for my catch. It was a great day to be out fishing, you couldn't have asked for better weather conditions or lake conditions for that matter. Weather was partly cloudy with light winds early, 55 to 80 degrees. Rayburn is 2 1/2 feet low with stained water, visibility to 3 feet on the lower end of the lake. Water temps were 58 to 70 degrees, main lake vs back of the creeks. The bass are in prespawn staging with some males already on beds in the shallows.

The Tournament:

Kelly, the kiddos, and I arrived on Friday afternoon in Jasper Texas in time to setup camp and eat dinner before the pretournament meeting. My mom joined us at dinner and came along for the trip. I went to the meeting and met up with Jeff after the pairing was announced. Jeff hadn't prefished, but said he had some spots that would hold fish and we'd do a little bit of everything to catch them.

Saturday morning we met up at 5:45 AM and I walked down to the water and loaded my stuff in the boat because Jeff had already launched and gone through boat check before meeting up with me. We sat in the boat and talked about fishing and stuff waiting for the take off to begin.

Boat 15 was called and we headed out to Veach Basin to begin the morning on a grass bed in 3 to 8 feet of water. Jeff caught a 3 lb fish after about five casts on a chrome blue rattle trap. I caught a short fish ten or fifteen minutes later on a white spinner bait. Another ten minutes later and I caught my first keeper on the spinner bait off the grass bed. Two other boats moved in on the grass bed, so Jeff went in to the shallow water to see if there were any spawning bass.

Now we're fishing in two feet or less of water with a sandy bottom and scattered brush. Jeff begins flipping the bush in hopes of getting a bedding fish. The low light and windy conditions make it nearly impossible to sight fish at this point in the tournament. I stick to my spinner bait and place it between some brush and catch a keeper in front of another boat moving around in the shallows. The coangler on the boat askes me if I want to get rid of my spinner bait after I drop the fish in the live well. I said, "Sure if you got $50." A few minutes later he flips into the brush and pulls out a keeper as well, so I guess he didn't need the spinner bait after all. We work our way back out of the shallows and out on the grass flat again. I catch my 3rd keeper on the spinner bait right before we leave to try some new water since this area was covered up with boats fishing all around us. I offered my spinner bait to Jeff at this point since I had a few extras, but he declined while tying on a similar bait.

We leave Veach and head out to another area only to kill a lot of time. We trap some grass beads and hit some other pockets with nada until we get to a little point with some deep water and stumps on it with a little scattered grass. While Jeff is setting up a Carolina rig I set the hook on a keeper only to have it jump and throw my spinner bait after battling it half way to the boat. On the next cast I catch a short fish in disappointment. I pound the point with the spinner bait while Jeff drags the c-rig and catches a short fish. Jeff gives up on this spot and heads back to Veach.

Jeff stops the boat on a new grass bed in the Veach area and after several casts sets the hook on another 3 lb bass with the chrome blue rattle trap. I stick to the spinner bait for a while and finally give into the idea that I need to get a bigger bass like the ones Jeff is catching and switch to a 3/4 oz rattle trap. Jeff is throwing a 1/2 oz model made by Pointer lures. After a few casts I set the hook on a large fish that takes a nose dive into the grass and pulls off leaving me with a big glob of grass on the bait. Five minutes later I get my 4th keeper on the rattle trap and at this point I'm getting a little excited because I know I've got about 7 1/2 lbs and one more good fish will put me in the money. Jeff comments that we need to get my 5th keeper in the boat and decides we should go back to where we started.

We fish the flat with nothing to show for our efforts and move up into the shallows again to see if we can spot some bedding fish since the wind has died down and the sun is out. We cruise around and spot a few fish. Jeff finds one locked on a bed in some brush and sets up to catch the bass. After a few minutes I spot a bass cruising in a zone, but not locked on to a bed. I switch from the spinner bait to a Texas rigged watermelon senko and go to work. Ten minutes later I set the hook and land my 5th keeper!

With two and half hours of fishing left Jeff decides to give up on the fish in the brush and go in search of the big ones. He takes us to Farmers and to our surprise we're the only guys in there. We head to the very back where we get stuck, way, way back in there. After some push poling and brush pulling we get the boat out. On the way out we spot some 3 lb fish on beds and go to work. I swing and miss on my fish after a few well placed casts with the senko and that's the last we see of that one. A few minutes later Jeff sets the hook in his 3rd keeper and lands the bass. We ease around the shallows spotting little males bedding all over the place. Jeff spooks a big bass probably about 6 lbs, the bass heads into some brush. We swing the boat around, Jeff makes the first cast and the bass heads for deep water never to be seen again. The search continues and we find another set of 3 lb fish on beds. Jeff does a great job positioning the boat so that we both have perfect angles on the fish. After about 5 minutes I set the hook on mine. The bass was position right in the middle of a bush, so I have to pull it up through the bush to get it out. I got it out alright, it shot up like a rocket and goes airborne only to shake my hook free mid flight. How it shook that weightless rig free still baffles me. Anyway several casts later Jeff gets his 4th keeper in the boat and we got about 30 minutes left to fish. We fish a few more bass on beds and can't get them to bite before the clock ticks down to zero.

Tournament in Review:

We caught fish on grass beds in 3 to 8 feet of water on spinner baits and chrome rattle traps. I caught my bedding fish on a watermelon senko and Jeff caught his on a bubble gum twin tail grub rigged on a 1/4 jig head. I caught a total of 7 bass all day, 5 keepers that weighed 10 lbs 1 oz for a 20th place finish. I was the highest Ranger Cup participant in the tournament and won the Ranger Cup award. Unfortunately I lost three good fish that would have put me much higher in the standings if I could have gotten the fish in the boat.

Special Thanks -

Thanks to Kelly, my kids, and my mom for coming along to support me in this event. Thanks again to Jeff Wooldridge for putting us on the fish and making sure I was able to stay at the top of the standings. :-) Extra Special thanks to Dr. Roup for fixing my grill before the tournament. I had a tooth become super sensitive to hot/cold for no reason at all three days before the tournament. Dr. Roup got me in quickly and fixed it up fast. If you're looking for a great dentist in Round Rock then visit Roup Dental. You won't be disappointed.