What a difference a week makes; well OK, and a total attitude adjustment
My fishing partner, Troy Lindner and I had a great year fishing multiple tournament organizations and ended up taking Angler of the Year Titles in both Anglers Choice and American Bass.
As luck would have it both of the TOC (Tournament of Champions) fish offs were at Clear Lake one week apart. We decided to stay for both weeks and fish both of them back to back.
The first of the two TOC’s was the Anglers Choice and we put in the time to pattern as much of the lake as possible. We did find one great spot that had the potential of putting together a quality limit each day and we banked on this spot. The bad thing is that a few other guys also liked the looks of the area.
Not to get into too much drama, but the no encroachment rules always seem to bring the best out in people (even the so called big names). We got what we needed for the first day of the tournament and that was the luck of the draw to get the spot first. Bad thing is that ethics and sportsmanship are not established by being the first on a spot. Our tournament went from putting a quick limit in the boat to COMBAT FISHING.
This went on for the next day and my mental game was not in the place it needed to be and it showed in the standings at the end of the tournament.
Troy and I went over every aspect of the tournament and started the next week over with a better frame of mind. We took in account of fish management and anglers movement for the next TOC. Our hard work paid off with finding another area that had the fish to win this tournament as in the first week and then figured out boat positioning to help us more with fighting the bass and not other tournament anglers.
We found a very small hump 30 yards off a round point that topped out at 4.7’. From the point to this hump it had a small channel that bottomed out at 6.9’. The best way to explain it is it looked like the letter (J) with the small hump at the bottom of the letter that made the funnel where the bass wanted to eat. The “spot on spot” was the face of the hump, as we worked our bait uphill right at the 5’ mark we got hammered. This was a prime BBZ mindset on structure fishing uphill, but looking at this spot everyone would think that you are fishing down hill.
We ended up with over 30 fish in the first few hours catching bass on just a few lures. The tools I used were Spro ArukuShads, prototype 4” boot tail Gizzard Shad, 6” BBZ-1, and my kicker fish came on the 8” BBZ-1 big bait in the new Hitch color. I worked these baits on Lamiglas Rods and Shimano Reels spooled up with Maxima fishing line.
Troy used the new Clack and Rap Rapala, and a few small swimbait he picked up over at Tackle –It; Hitch colored BaitSmith and Osprey boot tail in 6”. His equipment was Shimano rod and reel combos with Berkley fishing line.
There is always one key factor that always put someone in a position to excel. Though American Bass put on one of the best TOC’s we have fished and fishing against a whopping 181 of the West top teams; we needed just one more thing to make this win happen. After leading the first day of the tournament with almost 27 pounds on this one spot, we hoped that we would be lucky enough to get on the spot again the next day. As we pulled up to the spot we found out that another team was sitting right on top of the fish we were on the day before. With a better frame of mind and all attitudes left at the dock when the tournament started we talked to the other team and explained our position and hoped for the best. All I can say is if we got lucky this day it was the chance to run into one of the most professional teams we have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They understood our position and told us that they did not have the weight the first day to warrant them sitting on the spot and pulled off enough so we could position the boat to work the fish. I have seen the good, bad, and ugly in the tournaments I have fished and I have always said I have a pretty good idea on what the bass do, but most of the fishermen out there leave me scratching my head. Well these two guys Derek Castro and Brian Hoxsie should give us all hope that there are still some very classy fishermen out there.
The point of the story is that “Fishing Karma” came full circle to me. A few years back I was fishing a WON Bass Pro-Am at the California Delta and was sitting in the top ten after the first day. On the second day a boat came up on me and told be he had caught most of his fish the day before in the same area. I remember he told me his name was Stitch and that all he needed was 7 lbs to win the tournament. Funny thing was I was sitting on a bed fish that size but I would need another 7 lbs on top of that one to even have a chance to win. I remember saying to myself that one day I would have the favor returned and told him good luck as I drove away. He caught the 7 and won the tournament from the first day leader Steve Sapp.
I am passing on the “Fishing Karma” to both Derek and Brian for keeping the tradition of sportsmanship alive and well in the sport we all love so much.
Keep it in the BBZ
I would like to “Thank” all of my Sponsors for their continued support for always giving me a chance.
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