Tuesday, February 20, 2007

FLW Tour On Lake Travis

I fished in the FLW Tour tournament held on Lake Travis on February 15th through the 19th and finished the tournament in 10th place out of 200 anglers. This was one of the most amazing tournaments I have ever fished in and will be something I never forget. I'll just go ahead and apologize now for how long this post will be since I'll include photos from the event and tournament details. Hopefully it turns out to be a good read. :-)

Day One: I drew Sam Swett for the first day of the tournament and was very blessed to have been paired with Sam. Sam has been fishing professionally for a while now, married and has a three month old little girl on the trail with him. Sam is a really nice guy and represents Fuji Film well. Sam if you read this post, best of luck in your fishing career and thanks for putting us on the fish.

We fished the whole first day of the event up in Cypress creek fishing on a point that I have fished I don't know how many times over the last eight years of fishing tournaments on Lake Travis. The day started out cold, 21 degrees cold, and it was tough just making a cast, let alone reeling in a fish until 11:00AM when the temp would finally get above freezing. Well that was the case for most of the field, I on the other hand did not feel the cold. I was bundled up like I was about to go climb Mt Everest and I was feeling no pain, because my second keep of the morning was 7+ lbs. I'm getting ahead of myself, so let me paint a better picture.

We pulled up on the point in Cypress Creek, half frozen from the boat ride in freezing temps, cold enough that ice was forming on the guide eyes of the rod when the line was reeled in. Our first spot was on the edge of a point that quickly drops from 8 feet to 25 feet. We started catching fish right from the start, not all of the them were keepers, but we were catching fish. Sam threw a drop shot with a green pumpkin 6 inch shaky worm and I threw a modified drop and Carolina rig (c-rig) with a purple worm on the drop shot and a watermelon ring worm on the c-rig. I dipped the tail of each in garlic SpikeIt and sprayed them with Fool-A-Fish. I'm certain the combination of those helped get me a few extra bites over the day and also helped get the big bass to bite. I caught one keeper up shallow and I think Sam had two when we decided to move out on the end of the point that was 25 feet deep and dropped to 40 really fast. I felt my line just stop and I set the hook, but the line didn't move. I then said, "Hang on Sam, I'm hung up," and shook my rod trying to free the hook when the line pulled back after I shook it, then the excitement started. "Sam, it's not hung. I got a big fish, but I don't think it's a bass." The fish pulled and pulled with steady pressure, taking a little drag out from time to time, it stayed down on the bottom which is odd for bass. They usually want to run for the surface, but the cold must have kept her from acting like most bass. I fought the fish for five minutes making sure to wear it down and not risking pulling the hook out or breaking the 12 lb fluorocarbon line I was fishing with. Once I got the fish to the surface I shouted for the net, the bass just lay over on it's side and glided into the net without the slightest struggle.
Photo By Jason St. Peter.
Once I put the bass in the well I experienced a flood of emotions and the end result was I nearly threw up on Sam's boat or fed the fish anyway. It didn't happen, but I was really close to it, when Sam looked at me and said, "Congratulations, you just made it to the top 10." It's hard to comprehend making the top ten when it's something I'd been dreaming about for last four months and it was only two hours into the first day of the tournament. Sam and I went on to fish, each catching our limit of bass and culling a few times over the rest of the day. Sam also used a drop shot to catch a few of his keepers in the tournament. Just incase you can't tell, that's me putting the big one into the livewell, picture by Jason St Peter a free lance photographer working the event. Credit to Sam for my success one the first day, I've fished this same point, but usually just the part where we were catching the vast majority of our fish, but I've never fished the end of the point which is nearly in the middle of the lake. I learn something new every tournament I fish as a coangler, even when it's a lake in my back yard.

Day Two: I drew Andy Morgan for the second day of the event and met him out at Point Ventura to launch from a private ramp up there where he had stayed for the weeks leading up to the tournament. We launched and made a long freezing run down to the take off site in Sandy Creek then only to turn around and run back up there somewhere. I'm sure Andy is a great fisherman, something about how he fished the tournament on the second day didn't feel right. Andy spent the first day of the event catching bass on a drop shot and shaky head worm in Devil's Cove and then heard about the success of some of the fisherman in the upper part of the standings and changed (adapted) fishing methods to see if he could get a bigger sack of fish. He told me he had caught 20+ keepers the first day of the event and same for his co-angler. I don't get why he changed up to fish a float'n fly. I can only equate it to a golfer's strategy laying up when faced with a par 4 hole and not wanting to take any risks.

What did he change? Well he used the float'n fly method used by a lot of fisherman in the North East when the water temps drop below 50 degrees. Something about a small hair fly slowing falling and then coming to a sudden stop to suspend that draws a bite when everything else is failing. What is it, well it's a lot like perch fishing, you have a bobber and a small jig 1/16 oz in this case and a long rod with light line. You tie the jig about 8 feet below the bobber and flig in out to a bluff bank and wait for the jig to fall, a minute or two later you reel in a repeat until you see the bobber go under then you reel in the fish in that case. I have to say, "fish" in that statement because a lot of drum (gaspergoo) are caught using the method as well. It pretty much took Andy all day to catch his 5 fish limit. I tried it for about two hours, but Andy was pretty much casting his rig and leaving very little room between casts, so he was picking up all the fish that would hit that rig. I fished the drop shot and c-rig that had worked well the day before with only a few short fish hitting in the 4 hours I put into throwing that. I did try something new at one point, switched to a shaky rig, put on a eight inch smoke worm and stuck a nice 2 to 3 lb fish, reeled it to the surface to have it talewalk and pop free about a foot from the dip net. If you use a Lake Fork shaky head jig, set the hook hard, because they don't seem to be sharp enough to push through the roof of the mouth on a larger bass. That was my one chance at bringing a fish to the scales for day two. End of the day, Andy had 5 and I zeroed, but it wasn't for the lack of effort. I tried to talk Andy into hitting some more productive spots, but he responded by saying, "Quit you're whining, you've already made the top 10 cut." Andy was focused on making sure he cashed a check and it seemed to be even at my expense. I can see both sides of the coin. Overall standings at the end of Day 2, I slipped from 1st to 5th despite not bringing in a single keeper. Andy did stay in the top 75 and cashed a check for his efforts, but did not make the top 10.

Day Three: Day three was something I'd only dream about for the last 15 years of my life. Standing on the big stage, camer's rolling, lights shining, it's a day that will be with me forever. I drew Ron Shuffield for day three and could not have asked for a nicer guy to fish with. At the end of Day 2 when we got paired up and were given a chance to talk about fishing the third day, Ron said, "I'm fishing by the seat of my pants. I got lucky and caught a big fish that put me in the top ten and I'm not sure where we are going to fish tomorrow, but I'll be throwing a jig all day." True to Ron's word, we did just that, but I'm getting ahead of myself again.

The day started off with all of the top 10 anglers meeting up at the Austin Convention Center at 5:00 AM. We were provided tow vehicles and boats by the FLW for the final days. We even had a driver, and were escorted to the lake and back again by Austin police. My driver was a friend, Bill Ellis. Bill drove the PTSI tow vehicle down to Travis and then met us back there to take us back after the tournament ended for the weigh-in at the convention center. When you are in the top 10, they treat you like bass fishing royalty. At take off, breakfast was provided, lunch, and drinks as well. I forget who, but someone with a nice voice sang the National Anthem, and we were off. First class all the way, and I can only describe it as "good times." :-)

First stop was a five minute ride up the lake to a long deep point where Ron caught his 7+ lb fish on the second day of the event. I caught a spotted near the minimum 12 inch required length about 15 minutes into the tournament on my c-rig and thought it was going to a great day of fishing, but about 15 minutes later the wind started picking up and it never stopped. Ron and the camera boat following us got to the point they couldn't hold the boat on that windy point, so we started covering new water. That was pretty much the beginning of the end for me. It tried serveral bait changes, methods and nothing worked all day. Ron caught two keepers over the day and a few short fish. The funny part of this story is one of his keeper fish was caught in the last 30 minutes of the day fishing a bluff in Hippy Hollow, a nude beach on Lake Travis. It was 55 degrees at 3:00 in the afternoon and there were a few naked guys standing on the cliffs watching us fish. I tried to warn Ron, and his response was, "Is it off limits?" I said, "Well... no, I suppose you found some fish that definately do not receive a lot of fishing pressure!" The look on Jeff Cook's face (camera boat driver) when we pulled up and stopped in Hippy Hollow was priceless. The guys in the camera boat with the boom camera got a good laugh as well, they didn't realize it was a nude beach until to late. They came zooming in to get some last minute footage, but saw the naked guys on the bank, laughter errupted from the boat and they did a 180. Nope, no last minute footage being shot, they would just go sit at the ramp and film people loading boats instead. Can't say that I blame them, haha.

Below are several pictures taken over the course of the event by Jason St. Peter a freelance photographer. Here is a link to Jason's site -

Me Fishing on Sam Swett's Boat on Day 1.

Have a look at this 7 lb beauty, I'm going to Day 3!

Clint's got a good sack, have a look at the screen. :-)

Tell us about your day Clint.

Show the fishing fans what a Lake Travis bass looks like.

End of day one, leading the co-angler field.

Reporters asking me questions about fishing, baits, etc...

Day three of the event, yet another freezing cold day and I'm in the zone.

Here is a link that has photos of the event - ttp://

Armature video of day one launch -

Special Thanks:
Thanks to my wife and kids for supporting me in the event. Thanks to my sponsor for the event, Fool-A-Fish helped cover some of the entry fee. Thanks to Jason St Peter for taking some awesome photos. Thanks to the guys from TCBC and Austinbassfishing for supporting me in the event.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Texas Classic Bass Club February Tournament on Lake LBJ.

I fished the Texas Classic Bass Club February Tournament over the weekend Saturday on Lake LBJ. There was near perfect fishing weather with cloud cover and a light breeze. Water temps ranged from the upper 40s to the low 50s and water clarity was about 1-2 feet. Rick Trussel and John Hackney brought in the days winning sack with 12.5 lbs including the day's big bass at 3.95lb. Most of the fish were caught early on a crawfish patterned crankbait near docks. Jody Woodruff and Bill Wells came in second with 4 fish weighing 7.10. These fish were caught on crankbaits fished off docks and one off a finesse rig in the closing minutes. Clint Bridges and Jon Magee brought in 3 fish weighing 5.59 for 3rd place. They caught their fish on a pointer and a crankbait. All our fish were caught fairly early on rocks. We had some short fish that bit a watermelon senko up the lake in a creek channel. Great day to be out on the lake even if it was a little chilly.