Evan Williams Bourbon All Star Finals
This week is what it’s all about! There are 8 of us that made it to the Alabama River to fish in a bracket style competition. This is very different from our normal style format. As I said I am against Ike in the first round. He has fished the river a few times before and has done well here so I feel like I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Practice: The first day I went up. There are 2 rivers and one canal that flow into the upper end of the river coming to Montgomery, the Coosa, the Tallapoosa and the canal coming from Lake Jordan where most of the power is generated. I caught a few fish near town off of main river current breaks and points. It was cloudy and I caught these on topwater. Once I got up the river I caught a few deep cranking and got some more bites on top. When I went up the Tallapoosa I got some bites flipping but never caught any good fish. The next day I went down river. I found a few fish in backwaters but not the quality I had seen up the river, the numbers were less as well. Most of the fish I caught in these areas were on buzzbaits and flipping a Havoc Pit Boss. It was an easy call for me to go up in the tournament.
Day 1: I started near the ramp on a spot I caught a couple of fish in practice. I made my first cast with topwater and caught a keeper! I fished several more spots without any other bites. Finally about 10:30 I made a move up the Coosa River. I caught a few keepers flipping and then got the bite I needed. I was fishing a big tree that was out off the bank and hooked a big spot. After a tough fight I flipped this spot in the boat. It weighed 4-13! This is one of the biggest spots I have caught in a long time. I culled a few more times up here but not with any others over 2 pounds. I had come back to the spot where I caught a fish cranking in practice. I was fishing here and saw a fish chase bait in the canal near a short point. I went over there and on my first cast I caught a good one, next cast another good one, then a couple casts later another good fish. This helped my bag a lot! Two of these fish were about 2 ¼ and one was about 3 pounds. All of these came on a deep crankbait about 10’-12’ deep. This turned out to be a very important spot for the rest of the event. I had the biggest bag of the day at 12-13. This advanced me past Ike and I am fishing against G-Man on day 2. He had 12-5 today which was the 2nd biggest bag of the day.
Day 2: I started on the same place but no good today. I had a small backwater that was close by so I went here next. I caught a couple of keepers here to start the day. I missed a couple more as well but they were all small. These were all on the Butch. After this I went to the spot at the canal that was good the first day. There wasn’t any water moving at this time and there wasn’t supposed to be any all day. This meant that I would have to change my presentation from cranking to something a little more subtle. I decided to use a soft jerkbait to imitate the shad these fish were chasing. On my first cast here I caught a solid 2 pound spot, next cast a 3 pounder, two casts later another good keeper. This finished my limit before 9:00. This was a big relief compared to the day before. I caught about 15 or so out of this area in the next hour and a half. I had culled several times and had about 9 ½ pounds when I left. I went up the Coosa next. I had gone through most of the stretch that was good the day before and didn’t catch any! I noticed the water had fallen about a foot and this gave me an idea to adjust. I picked up a topwater and started throwing it. About 5 minutes later my adjustment paid off. A spot just over 4 pounds ate it! This fish was in about 2’ of water under some shade from an overhanging tree. This was about noon that I caught this fish. I fished some other areas on the way back but never culled up any. A couple of my fish looked a little sickly so I checked in early to avoid any penalties. I had 12 pounds even and had moved past G-Man to advance to the final round against Edwin Evers!
Day 3: This is it, the Championship round, last two anglers, head to head, $100,000 to the winner! How cool to be in this on the last day. I am as confident as I have been all week. I know I am starting at the canal today. It was too good yesterday in the morning. When I get there it’s on again with the soft jerkbait. I caught a couple of small keepers quick. Then stripers and hybrids are really breaking today. The spots seem to be a little more active too but I can’t get the better spots to bite. I have some real good ones hit my bait but not eat it. This is very frustrating! I catch a limit before 9 again so I have all day to upgrade. I leave here about 10:00 with a limit that weighs just about 7 pounds. The water level in the Coosa is a little lower than the day before, so I know I’m going with the topwater. I catch one small one that helps just a little to start. I fish the rest of the lower stretch and don’t do any good, so I run up to the top end to start drifting back. About the 2nd good overhanging tree I come to I make a good soft cast and start walking my bait out. In just a couple of twitches I see a big one coming! It eases up and eats it! I pull back and set the hook, the fish goes down a little then straight up, head shakes, and throws the bait! This looked to be about a 5 pound spot. This was the one big bite I knew I would get and I lost it. This really hurts because I knew I needed a big one to help offset all of the little ones I have. I went the rest of the way down this bank and had one more about 3 pounds come up and hit it but didn’t get hooked. This was the end of the action here for me. I went down and came up the Tallapoosa a little ways after all of this. I felt like I could catch a few decent ones to cull with. I spent too much time in here and only got a couple of bites I didn’t catch. I headed back down to hit a spot where G-Man had told me and given me a bait to throw there. When I got there I didn’t have a drop shot rigged up so I had to sit down, tie a fluorocarbon leader on then tie up a drop shot. I get it all rigged up and realize there is a knot in my braid on the reel! I have to redo this process again. Finally rigged I have about 20 minutes to fish. I catch a small keeper that doesn’t help any pretty quick. There are some fish here chasing shad around this pipe. I move around a little bit and throw in this area. I am fishing real slow and feel some weight on my line and tell that it’s a bite. I pull back and it doesn’t move. The fish starts running out to deeper water pulling hard. I am a little worried it’s not a bass because it has not come up to jump. I see it flash by the boat and then I know it’s a spot. I go back to the console and belly land this nearly 3 pound spot. I fish about 5 more minutes and have to go in. This was the most important fish of my career! As you probably know I had 8-7 (Abbie’s birth weight) and Edwin had 8-2. This was a huge win for me and my family. I can’t believe that I have won an event in my first year on the Elite’s.
Added edge: Fishing my strengths in this tournament. It has always been won on the lower end and I chose to fish the way I like to by going up river. I love fishing rivers that flow in with rocks and current. This fit my style perfectly! It has been said that a man can make a lake but only God can make a river, so thank you Lord!