Smith lake has been a different place for me. The first time that I fished there was in an FLW Series. I had a great practice but there was a flood in the tournament and I caught one bass in three days. The other time I fished there was in 2008 for an FLW tour. After the first day I was in the 140th range and we were low on funds and needed a check. After a little encouragement (and butt kicking) from my wife, I had one of the biggest bags of the day and I moved up to 40th place. That has been my history here so I had mixed feelings going in.
Practice: I thought coming in that this should be a great topwater tournament. There had been a major rain about a week before our practice started. When I got there the water had already came down about two feet. The first day of practice I caught 4 keepers, which was ok for here at the time. The second day I caught 3 and had 3 more keepers bite. One of which was a 4 1/2 on a Pop-r. Most all of my bites were on topwater. The last practice day is only a half day and I actually had 5 keeper bites before noon. The water had feel about another foot and the fish were biting the big Pop-r. I was very excited to get started in the derby.
Day 1: I had found a few schooling fish and thought that I should start on them. After about an hour and no good on the schoolers, I went to the bank. The very first pocket it was on! I had several short biters and one fish hooked that came off. I finally do get one in the boat that is a keeper on a spook. Then in the back of a short pocket a real good one smokes it, after a short fight it is in the boat about a 3 1/2 pounder. I fish several more pockets and miss some more. Then a little after noon a catch another keeper on a big Pop-r. I end the day with 3 that weigh 7-9, and end in 29th.
Day 2: I started on the bank this day, no schoolers for me. I have one bite in the first pocket, and it bites three times before I catch this 2 1/2 pounder on a spook. I fish a little longer and don’t get any more bites. I had a vision while I was getting my rods ready last night to tie on a small pop-r. I get to where I missed a fish yesterday, and throw the little pop-r and the fish eats it! The light went off! I catch another keeper on the small pop-r and have another fish bite that is one a bed. After about 45 minutes I catch it. I find a ball of fry a little later and catch my fifth keeper on a wacky worm. After some more searching, I find another ball of fry. I throw my wacky worm in there and it bites. I jerk and it steals my worm. After a few more casts it doesn’t bite. I move around the other side of the dock and throw under the walkway. The fish swims up and eats it. After a very explosive battle about 3 1/4 pounder is in the boat and culls a 1 1/4. I finish with 6 keepers and 11-12. This moves me up to 6th place.
Day 3: I’m very excited to have made the top 30 again. I start on the bank with the spook again and catch two keepers before 8:00. One of which was caught while BASS media was following me. I fish a lot of old and new water before my next good bite. It comes on a big Pop-r at the mouth of a small pocket. This 3 1/2 pounder blasts the bait. I’m still feeling good about my chances but every where I want to go is muddied up from boat traffic. I finally another vision to get up the creeks where there isn’t as much boat traffic. I catch a good spot on the little pop-r that has 4 or 5 good ones with it! After I catch this one I run to the back of the creek and have three good bites on the big Pop-r and don’t catch any of them! I end with 4 keepers that weigh 9-5 and stay in 6th place. I move up to 4th in the points with one more event to go.
Added edge: The Citrus Stick Pop-r rod was a big advantage this week. It is the perfect rod for the accurate casting that is needed to get the bites on the pop-r. It is a 6′ medium action, short handle rod. It is still a prototype but will hopefully be in production soon! Thank you Citrus Stick!