Saturday, April 15, 2006

Clint Bridges vs Charles Whited in I-Match on Lake Austin.

My second round I-Match was against Charles Whited on Saturday April 14th. Charles won our division last season, so I knew this was going to be tough. We drew Lake Austin as one of the lakes and agreed to fish Lake Austin. This is how the tournament went: We met up at 360 bridge to fish from 6:30AM to 3:00PM. Charles seemed like a nice enough guy when I talked to him. He told me about how crazy the lie detector testing is when you get to the final rounds. We did the formal checkin per I-Match rules and headed off to fish.

I started off across from Ski Shores and killed the first 30 minutes of the tournament with nada biting. At 7:00 AM I put my first keeper in the boat on a white senko doctored with Fool-a-Fish. I had made a long run up the lake to Commons Ford park to fish for bedding fish I scouted the day before. I saw my first bedding fish, flipped the senko out about 3 feet past his bed and twitched the lure once, the bass charged off the nest and inhaled my senko with no hesitation. That felt good, so then I went looking for a big fish I'd seen the day before. I found her hanging on the outside edge of the grass line instead of on the bed where she was the day before that was located on the inside edge of the grass. The female is all of 5 lbs and could weigh as much as 7 lbs depending on her girth, but it's hard to tell when you don't have them in the boat. I flipped the senko to her and as soon as she saw me cast, she sank out of sight into the deeper water. The male looked like a 3 lb bass, I figured I'd put it in the live well while I was there. I positioned the boat up shallow in a foot of water about 5 yards off the bed because of the winds blowing the boat around. I started working the bed and the female came in from the outside edge to visit the bed. Both fish showed aggression toward the bait at this point and my first two attempts where unsuccessful. On the third cast the female turned nose down on the bait as I let it settle on the nest. I made a small twitch and she sucked the lure in. I set the hook and the fight began. She made a strong surge for the deep water and grass, but I was able to hold her off. I realized I'd put a lot of pressure on her, so I started adjusting the drag to keeper her from pulling the hook free as she continued to fight for access to deeper water or the weed cover. I had her a few feet from the boat and wore down when she made another strong surge and the hook popped free. That was a major set back because it was the only big fish I'd been able to locate while prefishing.

I shake it off and got back to fishing, well not totally shaken off. The winds are getting pretty gusty at this point, because we were forecasted to have 30 mph winds, but Lake Austin is down in the canyon so it's not that bad, but still blows the boat around a bit and make sight fishing nearly impossible. I fish the length of Commons Ford Park and don't see any big fish, I decide I should go back for the male where I'd lost the big fish because it's a solid keeper. He disappeared with the female after she pulled off. I decide to cast a spinner bait down the inside edge over the beds on the way back to see if I can pick off an aggressive male. As luck would have it I caught a nice 2.8 lb male and continue down the bank. I caught a few short fish along the way as well, and then run across Charles fishing for a bass on the bed. He says he's got three keepers and is working a 5 lb bass at the moment, but had already lost it once. I tell him I got two keepers and lost the big one then give him some room and find a fish down the bank that's worth putting in the live well. Charles gives up on the fish about 15 minutes later and heads further up the lake. Charles was flipping a bubble gum colored tube bait on the beds when I came across him. I continue working the bass I've located and catch it a little later. I work my way back to the spot where I'd lost the big fish and see her back out on the outside edge and she descends into the dark blue water on the outside edge again. I grab a rod and rig it with a watermelon/red flake Eager Beaver and spray it with Fool-a-Fish, flip the bait to the spot where I'd last seen her and feel a thump before the bait hits the bottom. My first thought was, "No Way" and I was right unfortunately. I set the hook and reel in a 10 inch bass. I should have seen that as a sign from God, that I'd missed my chance at this fish. The male is back to guarding the bed, so I set to work at fighting the wind and trying to catch him. After about 15 minutes of working him with the senko, he's agitated, but won't pick up the lure. I grab the Eager Beaver and flip it out on the bed and before the lure hits the bottom I see the line moving. I swing and miss because I couldn't see anything due to the wind breaking up the surface and the color of the bait blends with the bottom. The winds settle just long enough for me to see that the female is back on the bed with the male. I make a cast and the female flares her gills at the bait, which usually indicates that she's doesn't want it near the nest and will hit the bait soon. I make a few more casts and feel a thump, but can't see which fish took the bait, so I set the hook and real in the male. The female is back on the outside edge again when I finally get a look at her after about 30 minutes of fishing the bed blindly in the winds. I give up and make a run up the lake past Quinlan park and start scouting for bedding fish. I kill a lot of time and don't see anything, so I go back for the big fish, hoping she's settled down and ready to bite again.

It may seem crazy to fish for a bass that got away, but I have caught fish from beds after loosing them multiple times in a single day. Big bass are sometimes hard to keep on the hook. In fact the 7 lb bass Chris is holding in the picture from a few weeks back was hooked twice. Derek hooked the fish and it broke his line after a brief struggle, then Chris caught it two casts later.

Back to I-Match, I see the fish on the nest when I arrive, but only for a second because the wind blows me off the spot along with some wake from boats passing by. I flip the Eager Beaver over the outside edge of the grass while trying to get back in position and set the hook on a large fish that dives deep into the grass and comes off. I won't guess at the size of the fish, only say that it was big and pulled hard. I pass over the area where the bed is and can't see the female at the moment, so now I'm on the other side and off target again because of the wind and wakes. I flip out over the grass a few times and set the hook pulling up my 5th keeper that is some 3 lbs. Not a bad deal since I couldn't get to the one I really wanted to catch. I spend another hour working her only to decide she's not going to bite after all and head down the lake to the flats across from Ski Shores to finish out the tournament. I cull a fish and catch several more that won't help me out, but are keepers out there. I meet Charles at 360 bridge and after a quick conversation it's clear he's smoked me, so we go weigh his fish to make it official. He weighs the fish for 23+ lbs and a big bass of 7+ lbs. I shake his hand and it's done. I decide to weigh my fish just to see where I ended up, 12.2 lbs on my scale.

Tournament in Review:

I caught most of my fish on white Senkos and watermelon/ red flake Eager Beavers. I doctored all of them with Fool-a-Fish and have to say I'm liking this stuff. I caught a lot of fish throughout the day and missed two fish that could have made the difference. Congratulations to Charles on the win, that was a nice sack of fish you caught.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wal-Mart BFL Tournament on Cedar Creek Lake April 8th 2006.

I fished the Wal-Mart BFL over the weekend on Saturday April 8th, 2006. This is the third of five qualification rounds for the 2006 season. I was paired up with Michael Howell for this event. There were 88 boaters and non-boaters entered in the event and the top 17 places were paid out. I placed 14th with two nice bass for 5 lbs 10 oz getting a small check for my catch. It was a challenging event due to two cold fronts blowing in just ahead of the tournament. Weather was cloudy with 25 mph winds, 55 to 80 degrees.

The Tournament:

Kelly, the kiddos, and I arrived on Friday afternoon in Log Cabin City, Texas in time to setup camp and eat dinner before the pretournament meeting. I went to the meeting and along the way the second front blew in with 60 mph winds. I met up with Mike after the pairing was announced. Mike had prefished for three days and fished in the Texas Tournament Trail there the weekend before, and said he had some spots that would hold fish. Saturday morning we met up at 5:00 AM. We sat in the boat and talked about fishing and stuff waiting for the take off to begin at 7:00 AM. Boat 16 was called and we headed out to begin the morning on the water. We passed under a bridge, headed out for the main lake and met three to four foot waves rolling down the lake due to the high winds. The boat ride wasn't too bad since Mike has a 22 foot Ranger boat, we never took on water or speared waves running at 40 mph across the lake. The same can't be said for everyone else trying to get across the lake in other boats. We pulled into a small creek where I started with a white spinner bait and caught a 13 inch bass on the second cast. I fanned the area with the spinner bait quickly with nada, so I switched to a white senko and picked up my first keeper after two or three casts. Ten or fifteen minutes later I caught my second keeper on the white spinner bait. We fished out the creek and Mike caught a five inch bass on a spinner bait. Mike had been fishing a fluke until he saw another competitor put a keeper in their boat using a spinner bait. This was also after I'd caught my second keeper. We hit a few other creeks and killed a lot of time with nothing to show for our efforts. We fished out onto a flat with some boat docks that had brush tied all around them where I caught two 13 3/4 inch bass on a white senko. About 12:00 we hit Mike's honey hole he'd talked about all day and the bass were right where he said they would be. We pulled up on his spot and within three casts Mike caught a nice keeper, 3 lb 12 oz on the watermelon fluke he started the day with. Mike and I caught few more short fish in the area and we had to head back across the lake. With two hours left in the tournament Mike takes us to a creek across from the weigh-in site where 10 boats are within feet of each other trying to hide from the wind and hopefully catch one more fish. I still can't believe we spent an hour in there fishing, weaving in and out of the boats. Anyway maybe it's a good spot, but at the end of the day with all that traffic, I think it was a waist of time to fish that creek. We move out of the creek to fish some docks near the weigh-in site and call it a day.

Tournament in Review:

The weather played a huge factor in the fishing and messed up everyone's plans for the tournament. Mike said he wasn't able to get to a few of the spots he wanted to fish because of the high winds and big waves on the main lake. I caught two fish on a white spinner bait and six more on a white senko. I brought in two keepers that weighed 5 lbs 10 oz for a 14th place finish. Mike caught three fish all day and only one of them was a keeper. One of the things I believe that helped me catch fish vs Mike... I was putting Fool-a-Fish on my lures. That may sound like a commercial, but it's the truth. Most of the day Mike threw white senkos or spinner baits and I was fishing behind him catching bass with the same lures. I think the difference was that I was spraying the baits with Fool-a-Fish.

Special Thanks -Thanks to Kelly, and my kids for coming along to support me in this event. Thanks to Fool-a-Fish for providing me with a great product that allowed me to catch more fish.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Fool-a-Fish, fish see your bait like a thousand tiny mirrors!

I've recently partnered with Fool-a-Fish and will provide a product review once I've tested this product thoughly.

Fool-a-Fish is based on research showing that fish see and are attracted to light in the ultra-violet spectrum, which is invisible to the human eye. Fool-a-Fish is an odorless, colorless compound that causes your bait or lure to shine with reflected ultraviolet light.

How it Works

Visible light only penetrates clear ocean water to a depth of about 30-40 feet; UVA light travels up to 1/2-mile, penetrating even murky and off-color water. Lures and baits treated with Fool-a-Fish reflect UVA light in every direction, just like a spinning "Disco Ball." Fish use UV vision to find locate their prey; they swarm to bait or lures coated with Fool-a-Fish. For more details visit their website -