Let’s start by saying this was a COLD tournament. Anytime when fishing under these cold conditions, the number of bites goes way down. I fished on Table Rock last year and had a decent tournament, so I was looking for another good event this year.
Practice: The first day of practice was brutally cold. I caught a few keepers but it was very scattered. I fished from the lower end to the middle of the James River. Most of my bites were on a jerkbait. Second day was fairly similar in the number of keepers but a few more short fish. I put in near Kimberling City and fished up the White and King Rivers. The King had warmer water and a few keepers. They were still scattered, one on a point and one on a bluff. Jerkbaits and crankbaits worked today. The last day I decided to go where I usually fish in the upper James. I had about three keepers again but two were on back to back casts. I also had some bites deep on a Tabu jig. After looking back on it all again I decided to go up the James. I’m more familiar with this part of the lake and that was important in this tournament.
Day 1: I started on one of the places that I had jigs bites and after 30 minutes of no bites, I went to a good jerkbaits place. Soon after getting there I was getting bit. I caught about 10 shorts and one just barely keeper. I fished some other places and caught some more short fish, then about 11:00 I went down to the place that I had caught the two back to back fish. After just a few casts with a jerkbait, I get a bite. It comes up into view and it’s a good one. I work it up to the net and we get a 5 1/2 pounder in the boat. The rest of the day was consistent but all short fish. I weighed two fish for a little over 7 pounds and was in 43rd.
Day 2: I started on the place that I caught the first keeper. In pretty short order I catch some shorts, then a keeper, and then one close to 4 pounds. After fishing through this area I had to take a break and fix my front graph. A wire came loose under the front dash and after about 30 minutes I get it fixed. The rest of the day was pretty slow. I weighed two again for about 6 pounds and moved up to 38th.
Day 3: Starting on the same place as day two, I catch one short then one keeper spot. It is a real chunky 15 1/2″ fish. It weighed 2-6. I know that because it was the only keeper I caught that day! I finished just inside the pay cut at 48th and go home very happy!
Added edge: This was the first tournament out of the Nitro Z-9. It was amazing how well this boat handles and fishes under tournament conditions. I was very pleased with the performance of this boat and believe that it helped me get to the fish faster. Looking back it was purely a morning bite in my area. Had I not been able to get the early, I would have missed out on bites. If I weighed even one less fish, I would not have gotten a check.