The B.A.S.S. Southern Open at Douglas Lake is over and just like had happened at the PAA event there the week before, the Alabama Rig dominated the event. At least the 537 mile drive home gave me a chance to reflect on everything that happened over the past week and put some of it into perspective.
First of all, I’m just glad to have survived the first day of the tournament. The morning started off at a balmy (at least for last week) temperature of 45 degrees and a light rain. As the day progressed, the rain got worse and the temps fell until there was sleet and everyone was miserable. I heard unconfirmed reports that at least 2 anglers ended up at the hospital with hypothermia and I certainly feel like I wasn’t far behind them. In 20 years of tournament competition, it was the most miserable day I’d ever spent on the water.
My lesson for the day, buy a second rain suit for days like this. Mine was soaked though by about 1pm and I’d have loved to had the chance to change into a dry one for the afternoon. Also, I could have saved myself the trip to the laundry mat to dry out everything that night.
Despite the weather, the bite was pretty good all week. I could catch fish pretty much at will on a shaky head but quality was a real problem for me. All of the reports from the PAA tournament the week before our event had told me that the Alabama Rig would be the major player for the tournament but even with that knowledge, I couldn’t get comfortable with it. I’m not a real fan of the A-Rig (more on that soon). I really believe it takes a good bit of the skill out of catching fish during this time of the year and I’d personally love to see it banned not only from the Elite Series but also the Opens. But as long as it is legal, it’s obvious that to remain competitive you better learn to use it.
This was my second trip to Douglas Lake and each trip couldn’t have been more different. The first time was in early June and the temps were already close to 100 degrees. The lake was 20 feet or so higher than it was this trip and there was plenty of cover in the water. The fishing was great and I averaged about 40 fish a day. This time, I only averaged about 15 fish a day but for 50 degree water temps, that’s not bad. I really like the lake and would love to be there when the conditions were good to see what the lake could produce.
This was also my first tournament in a while without my Phoenix. I’d sold it right before the tournament and it’ll be a while before the new one is ready. Fortunately, my traveling partner for the Central Opens, Austin Banks, was kind enough to lend me his boat for the week. I really appreciated the use of his boat and will certainly return the favor if the situation is reversed.
Overall, it was a great week on the water but then again, when is a week on the water ever a bad thing. I got to catch some bass, meet some new people and test my tolerance for how cold I can get and still continue to fish. I can think of a lot worse ways to spend a week.
Thanks to the sponsors who make this all possible: Lowrance Electronics, Phoenix Bass Boats, Denali Rods, Bryan’s Marine, BoatUS Angler, Power Pole, Costa del Mar Sunglasses and Mississippi Van Lines. Without all of you, none of this would be possible.