Adjustments, Impossible Angles, An Unexpected Swim and Fish Porn! (Part 1)

Lake Norman is my kind of place!  I know it’s strange for a guy raised on the shallow, muddy water filled lakes of Mississippi but if you asked me to describe the perfect lake, it would be much like Norman.  I love places with clear water, rocks, docks and a mix of largemouth and spotted bass, so I felt right at home when I got to Norman last week.  Throw in a bunch of bedding bass and I’m in bassaholic heaven.I’d done my research and I knew that it would be a dink-fest, but despite many attempted changes to my fishing style, that still fits me to a T.  I’ve always been one of those guys that struggles when everyone is weighing in 20+ pound stringers but I’m also the type that will normally have 10 to 11 pounds regardless of how tough the lake is fishing, so I was positive that Norman would be the place to turn around what has been a miserable season so far.

Tournament fishing is all about adapting and adjusting to the changing conditions and the people who do this quickly and correctly are some of the most successful anglers in the country.  In typical B.A.S.S. fashion, practice weather consisted of cloudy and windy conditions with a cold front coming through on the night that practice ended and we hit the lake on Day 1 with bluebird skies and no wind.  After an abysmal first day where I only managed to catch 2 fish for just under three pounds, it was obvious that I need to make more adjustments than I had on Day 1, but being out of the running to get a check offered a perfect opportunity to just go out and figure out what I should have done to adjust on the first day.

With that in mind, I started the second day in some different spots and tried to determine if that was the problem.  After about an hour and a half with no bites, it seemed pretty obvious that that was not the problem, so with nothing to lose, I decided to swap colors from the Amistad Special Ocho that I’d been throwing and go to the same bait in Watermelon Red Black.  The results were both almost instantaneous and amazing.  In 15 minutes, I’d boated 3 fish and my first two keepers of the day.

Lake Norman has lots of pockets, but the best ones all week had been the pockets with dredged out ditches or smaller pockets in the back of larger ones.  About 1pm on the second day, I came across one of these perfect areas about 25 feet by 25 feet but couldn’t throw to it because it had a covered dock sitting in the mouth of the bay, completely blocking the entrance.  My philosophy has always been that you can’t catch them until you get them to bite, so I’ll throw into some pretty impossible looking places in search of a bass; but I was afraid in this case, I might be pushing it a little bit.

As you can see from the photo, there was barely enough room to get the boat into the slip, very little room to pitch and no room at all to set the hook thanks to the overhead cover.  Add to that the 6 feet of dock that I had to get the fish across; and if I hooked one, things were going to get exciting.  So, with the thought of “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, I made my first pitch across the dock and into the pocket.  One hop and the line moved off to the left; so I tried the abbreviated hook set into the right hand corner of the cover, hooked a 2¼ bass and swung it perfectly over the dock and onto the front deck of the Phoenix.

That went so well that I decided to try again and on the second pitch I caught another keeper that wouldn’t help my limit.  Two for two means that you try again, so back in went the Ocho and I catch a short fish.   At this point I thinking, no way there can be a 4th, but why not and I pitch it back into very back of the pocket and set the hook on the largest fish of the day.  Naturally, when I got this fish to the dock and tried to swing it in, the line went behind a splinter and wedged.  I could hear the fish thrashing around but since B.A.S.S. rules prohibit you from leaving the boat, I could only frantically try to get the line free.  After what seemed like five minutes, but was probably only about 15 seconds, I got the line loose and swung.  My partner had moved to the front deck to hold my belt to keep me from falling out while I was freeing the line and when I dodged the fish coming at me, it hit him right in the chest and he bear-hugged it.

4 pitches and 4 fish!  Not a record but definitely the hardest conditions that I’d ever landed that many in during a tournament.  There are several lessons in that incident; never be afraid to put your bait where you think the fish are, always think you can find a way to get them out and most importantly, 15# Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon is tough as nails.

Those fish helped me end up with 12 pounds 7 ounces on the day (10th largest string of the day) and made me feel a lot better about the trip.  I was on the right fish to do very well, but I failed to adjust quickly enough and dug too big of a hole on the first day to work my way out of on Day 2.

(Part 2 will be posted Wednesday)

Thanks to the sponsors who make this all possible:  Scoutlookweather.com, Lowrance Electronics, Phoenix Bass Boats, Mercury Motors, Motorguide Trolling Motors, Costa del Mar Sunglasses, Bass Angler Magazine and Mississippi Van Lines.  Without all of you, none of this would be possible.

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One Response to Adjustments, Impossible Angles, An Unexpected Swim and Fish Porn! (Part 1)

  1. Bad Ass site thumbs up 😉

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