I was glad to see Norman on my schedule this year again. I had a 2nd place here last year in the PAA. I have also had a fair amount of success here in the past.
Practice: I only had 2 ½ days to spend on the lake since I was coming from the first 2 Elite’s in FL. I found out just how productive the upper end of Norman can be so that is where I decided to spend most of my time. The first day I found a few areas that I could get bit throwing a crankbait, spinnerbait and flipping. I did spent a little time the last day of practice looking for fish spawning and saw a few good ones.
Day 1: I went straight to a pocket on the lower end that had a few fish on the bed, one of which was a big one. I caught the male off of this bed on the first pitch. It was a decent one, a little over 2 pounds. I fished for the female for over an hour and never got her to bite. I did catch 3 more off of beds, one was a spot nearly 3 pounds. I finally went up the river about 1:00. I caught my fifth fish pretty quick on a crankbait. I culled up about 3 more times with the crank. I headed in for the run with about 25 minutes to spare. A couple of minutes into my run, my lower unit went out. I called my good friend Andy Montgomery and he was on his way. He picked me up and we met up with Cliff Crochet, who was in the same flight as me. Cliff took me the rest of the way in so Andy could keep fishing. I was very thankful for both of these guys to help me out. I ended the day with almost 12 pounds.
Day 2: I spent a very short amount of time on the lower end and went to the upper end a lot earlier. It was slow but steady with the crankbait but I was finished my limit around the middle of the day. I thought I might get a big bite flipping so I decided to give it a whirl. I had flipped for nearly an hour with only a small fish to show for it. I came to a large viney looking tree that ended out in about 4 feet of water. I pitched my creature out in the end of it and got a bite. I set the hook into a solid fish. It came up, out, and the off! It looked to be about 4-5 pounds. I knew this was the bite I needed to make the cut. I did catch one more decent fish that culled flipping. I ended with one ounce more than the first day. I had about 23 and a half for a 17th place finish.
Added edge: The Mercury service crew! When my lower unit went out, they had it replaced in less than 15 minutes. This was very helpful and I appreciate what they do and everything all of the service crews do to keep us on the water.