Monday, May 01, 2006

Wal-Mart BFL Tournament on Palestine Lake April 29th 2006.

I fished the Wal-Mart BFL tournament over the weekend on Saturday April 29th, 2006 at Lake Palestine. This is the fourth of five qualification rounds for the 2006 season. I was paired up with Blaine Leblanc for this event. There were 85 boaters and non-boaters entered in the event and the top 15 places were paid out. I placed 3rd with a nice five bass limit for 10 lbs 15 oz earning a trophy, check, and the Ranger Cup award for being the highest placing Ranger boat owner. It was a challenging event due to a front blowing in morning of the tournament and I had been suffering from flu like symptoms for the last 36 hours.

The Tournament:

On Friday and work up around 5:00 AM feeling like a train had run over me, headache, low fever, and my stomach was messed up something fierce. I used every ounce of strength I could gather to get through a half day of work and then help Kelly load up the kids and the trailer before heading out for the lake. Kelly was a true angle making the drive and letting me rest. When we arrived at camp, my mom was there ahead of us and she helped Kelly setup camp. I went to the pretournament meeting and sat on the curb in the parking lot instead of standing with everyone else. The pairs were announced and before I could walk to the meeting area I had forgotten which boat number I had drawn and who my boater was for the tournament. Whatever bug I had was doing a number on me that's for sure. The tournament crew helped me figure out who my partner was and Blaine told me he'd been prefishing over the week and caught a limit of fish each day on a variety of baits.

Saturday morning, about 1:00 AM storms blew in bringing 100 mph winds and tornadoes to East Texas. At 4:30 AM my mom woke me up and asked what time I was going fishing and I thanked her for waking me since I had not programmed the alarm correctly. Still not feeling well I took some Tylenol and set out in the rain to find the marina. I got a little lost on the way and wound up getting there around 5:30 AM and didn't find my partner for another 15 minutes, because torrencial down pour of rain occurring. The boat ramp at Villages Marina was flowing like a raging river about three inches deep, and lightning flashed lighting up the marina. It is moments like this that I question why I love fishing so much. I have a million reasons to head back to camp, but I am going fishing! In any other sport under conditions like this, the event is called off and everyone spends the day indoors watching TV. Not bass anglers, they get out in the worst conditions weather can produce and catch fish.

Blaine and I launch the boat and idle out to the marina entrance in the rain to hear Tim, the tournament director advising everyone to keep safe on the lake today and more bad weather was possible. Around 6:30 AM Tim began sending off the boats, I said a little prayer for the strength to compete and safety for all anglers on the lake. When boat number 66 was called we headed out, the rain was much lighter now, but at 50+ mph running down the lake rain drops feel like needles on your skin. We headed to the south end of the lake near the 155 bridge and hit a few points in some coves for the first hour of the tournament and Blaine managed a short fish on a white popper. I had no luck with a black buzz bait.

We switch up and ran to a point out on the main lake, where we boated five hybrid whites or striper between us on spinner baits and chatter baits. Blaine had one about 5 lbs on his chatter bait. We made another move, ran under the 155 bridge and back into a creek filled with stumps. Blaine was using a chartreuse/white chatter bait and caught his first keeper out in the middle of the stumps. I had made a cast with my spinner bait when Blaine called for the net, so I dropped my rod and helped him land his fish. When I picked my rod up, took up the slack, I set the hook and reeled in my first keeper. That's right, a 2 lb bass caught dead sticking a spinner bait believe it or not, ok so it may have hit the lure when it fluttered down. :-) Anyway so we work our way back into the back of the cove and Blaine tags a few small fish on the popper. As soon as we got back to the middle of the stump field where we had caught the two keepers before, I set the hook on another keeper about 3 1/2 lbs and put my second bass in the live well. We work our way out of the creek and decide to make another pass through the stumps again. I pick up another keeper on the spinner bait in the stumps and we each catch a short fish. We then go on a long spell of nothing in there, Blaine says, "I think we wore out our welcome."

We make a run to a new cove with the same type of cover. On the first cast to an isolated tree out on the front edge of the creek I catch my 4th keeper on the spinner bait. A few casts later I catch a short fish and Blaine decides it's time to switch to a spinner bait like the one I'm throwing. On his first cast, he catches a bass close to 14 inches. We work the area and catch several more short bass and Blaine hooks up with his second keeper.

A while later after not getting anymore bites we make another run to another creek, on the way in we have to pass under a bridge and Blaine slows down the boat enough for a few casts while we pass under it. I make a cast parallel to the bridge pilings, slow roll the spinner bait back to the boat, set the hook, and flip my fifth keeper aboard the boat. We get in the stumps in the creek and catch a few more short fish but no keepers to be found.

We head back out to the creek where we had the bigger fish early in the day. I catch another short fish and we see a local guy catch one over 3 lbs a few yards from us, but we can not find another good bite and time is running out. Blaine decides to fish some docks on the way out of the creek. As we approach the first dock a fish explodes on the surface and two casts later Blaine swings another near 14 inch bass aboard on the chatter bait. I switch to a 6 inch junebug worm rigged Texas style on a 8th oz weight to flip the docks. I catch a 6 inch bass off a small stump between docks. A few docks later I flip the worm under the center of a dock and set the hook on a solid fish, fight it to the back of the boat, when it surfaces mouth wide open and shakes the hook free. That fish would have given me 2nd place and possibly 1st if I could have gotten it in the boat. We finish out the docks with nothing else biting and two hours left to fish.

We make another run back to the point where we caught the hybrids early in the morning. Blaine catches a 13 inch bass after a few casts and I catch a hybrid about 2 lbs. A few casts later Blaine catches another 13 inch bass and I catch a 10 inch hybrid. I make several more casts and I set the hook only to have the rod nearly jerked out of my hands. Drag start peeling off the reel, Blaine jumps for the net and I say, "There's no way this is a bass." Sure enough, after three or four minutes of fighting I swing a 6 to 7 lb hybrid into the boat. That was fun, but not the kind of action I'm looking for right now. Blaine catches another near keeper before we give up on that point and decide to call it a day.

Tournament in Review:

The weather was rainy and cloudy all morning and then gave way to bright sunny skies later in the day. I caught 5 keepers on a fire tiger spinner bait sprayed with Fool-a-Fish. I probably caught 10 to 15 more non-keepers as well. Blaine had two keepers as well and I am not sure how many none keepers he caught, but his fish were caught on spinner bait, chatter bait, and white popper. Blaine was a great guide on the lake and I hope to fish with him again in the future. Good luck to Blaine as he continues to compete to make the regionals this season.

Special Thanks:

If not for Kelly, I may not have been strong enough to compete in this event because of the bug I had. Thank you so much for supporting me! Thanks to Kelly, my mom, 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.


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