BFL Ė REND
The first event in the Illini division of BFL was set for
The weekend before, I opted to fish mostly north and sample some of the flooded cover. Unfortunately, the bushes had minimal water in them, so they werenít holding bass, as normal. Still, the northern end of the lake has flooded timber and laydowns, so I concentrated on the abundant wood cover which I thought would work well, if tournament day beamed a bright bluebird day. Well, on the day I struggled and amassed a limit of bass which weighed maybe ten and half pounds which was not good enough considering eighteen and half pounds won a tournament on the lake that day.
Friday, the day before the tournament I opted to fish mostly rock, since I figured with little water in the bushes, many bass would be on the miles of riprap. But, naturally loving to fish bushes gets in the way, so I headed to a set of favorite bushes right off the bat. I get nothing until I put on a pop-r, then bam, I catch a keeper and miss one. Enough here, so my co-angler and I move to some rock. We fish down a long stretch of riprap with barely a nimble until I nail a two and half pounder on a crankbait. A few minutes later, my co-angler catches a keeper on a shaky head. Iíve seen enough here, so weíre off to the next spot. We fish twenty feet at a new spot and my co-angler has a good one follow a crankbait up to the boat and I have a hit on a crankbait. We make another move and continue fishing riprap and have bites on just about every stretch. By the end of the day between the two of us, we have five keepers, though no big ones.
Well with the bite decent on the rocks and predicted overcast skies for tournament day, I decide to start on the rocks for the tournament. Thankfully, I had a good draw, so I head for my first stretch of riprap. I make one pass and my co-angler and I each catch a short. With no keepers to show for our efforts, I move down a stretch of nearby bushes and the lady who is my co-angler for the day has a solid two and half pounder come off. We run out of bushes, so I head for the next set of riprap. Iím tossing a crankbait and one eats it. Yes! Itís a good one of about two and half pounds. My co-angler nets it and Iím on the board. We continue fishing down the riprap and are catching shorts left and right. It was crazy. Many of these fish were bloated from being overstuffed from eating so many shad. They shouldnít be hungry, but still it was fun. And finally after so many shorts, my co-angler gets a keeper. Now sheís on the board and itís her first tournament. Not too much longer, I net a short for her and while sheís unhooking it, I catch keeper number two which I swing in the boat on a crankbait. This one comes on a handmade cedar crankbait made by Southern Illinois Custom Crankbaits and these baits have a different action that plum catches fish. So we continue to fish back and forth down the stretch of rirpap, but can only catch shorts. Itís time to move, but the next stretch of riprap yields nothing. With the skies brightening up and almost no wind, I decide to make a tactical move to fish points with cover.
At first, Iím thinking they gotta bite, but the fish were not biting where I caught them last week. Undaunted, I continue pitching to wood cover and throwing a spinnerbait. And reminiscent of last year, I put on a Biffle Bug and start to swim it like a spinnerbait. Hah, one comes up and eats it. Keeper number three is in the boat. We continue fishing and I see one of the guys I know and heís fishing a spinnerbait. Heís got three, so weíre both at the same crossroads Ė needing more fish and the day is going by fast. He leaves and I fish where he was tossing a spinnerbait and I swim a baby brush hog in inches of water and a two pounder eats it. Yee-hah. Number four is netted and Iím pumped.
Weíre done on this point, so I move across the way to another point with a bit of wind blowing on it. Bam, I catch one on a spinnerbait, but itís a short. I continue fishing my spinnerbait and pitching a Biffle Bug. And hah, another one eats the bug. This one makes number five. Well, I continue fishing and I have around eight and half to nine pounds. Thatís not enough and I have an hour of fishing time left, plus one of the keepers, just touches the line.
Itís time to head back to the rocks as I figure the bigger fish should be moving up, but everyone is fishing rocks or so it seems. Each section, I want to fish is covered up. So I head back to the stretch where I started in the morning. We fish down a long ways and Iím looking across the way after my co-angler and I each catch a short. The other riprap has wind blowing on it, but the stretch Iím fishing is dead calm. I tell her weíll make a few more casts and head to the other side. Lo and behold, Iím cranking my buddiesí homemade crankbait along and I feel that unmistakable heaviness and set the hook. My rod loads up. It feels like a big ol catfish or drum. I call for the net. Oh baby, it wallow jumps at the boat. My co-angler doesnít get it the first time. The second time, she does. Itís big. I estimate over four pounds and it leaves a big pile of **** on my deck. I say, ďThank you, Lord,Ē put her in the livewell, and cull out the small keeper. Itís about 1:20PM and weigh-in is at 2:00 PM, so I opt to fish the stretch one more time, but that was it for the day.
We head back to weigh-in and as the scales settle down, my fish weigh twelve pounds and eight ounces and the big one weighs five pounds. Hey, Iím leading, but I knew it wouldnít hold up, but still it was a good day. I ended up in eighth for the day. Congratulations to the winner, Ray Arning, Jr and thanks to my co-angler for netting my fish.
Til next time.
Sponsored by The Fishin Hole at Leisure Time &