home > news > Lessons Learned at the Rock

Lessons Learned at the Rock

Posted by stephen on October 5, 2015

IMG952420.jpgOverall, the bite was tough as expected, but a handful of guys were able to catch some very good bags of fish at Table Rock; especially the winner.  I was very impressed by what James Watson was able to do and my hat goes off to him.  The topwater deal that he was on I just wasn’t able to make work for me.  I tried throwing topwater a lot in practice and started off throwing it in the tournament (even threw that same bait), but could never get on a consistent bite.  After looking back at it, I think I just missed on where to be fishing it to get those big bites.

I got to Table Rock early hoping to figure out some areas and patterns that could help give me a chance to fish on Saturday.  With that Classic bid still not secured, these last two Opens are big.  I actually had a solid practice.  Knowing bites would be tough to come by and weights would be low, I felt like I was around the right fish to put myself in the mix.  On the low end I was catching around fourteen pounds a day and one day had right around twenty fishing with my buddy Mike from Lew’s.  That day was unreal.  We had three over four including a six and five pounder.

On day one I had a late boat draw and was jacked for the long fishing day.  I really thought I would smoke ‘em.  Honestly, I think I was a little too overconfident.  I could never get it going.  I started off the first hour throwing topwater, but never got any big bites.  Soon after, I went to my confidence bait, the Z-Man ZinkerZ and went to flipping bushes and standing timber.  Right off the bat I caught two and it was only nine a.m.  I ran to places where I had shook fish off the day before, but couldn’t get it going.  In hindsight, I should’ve gone straight to the area I had caught the big fish in practice.

I only had four and was running up the White River when my motor started vibrating like crazy at 70 mph.  I got the boat off pad and found that I had slung a blade off the prop.  Up the White River there wasn’t anyone there so I called my buddy Chad Wiley who was nice enough to come get us.  I knew I didn’t have a lot of weight and needed another good one to stay in the mix, but in a tournament as tough as that one, you can definitely make up the difference with a big day two.

Day two, I fully committed to flipping that ZinkerZ.  With that high pressure I figured flipping would be the best thing going.  I was able to put together a solid limit on day two, but fell just under a pound short of making a check.  It was a disappointing end to the Central Opens season not only for that reason, but also because I lost the points race by four, finishing in second. 

Although it didn’t end up the way I would’ve liked, you always learn lessons.  In this tournament I learned a couple.  The first lesson would be to not get spread out with fishing areas.  When you are spread out and running around a lot you don’t fish the areas you have efficiently.  I’m the kind of guy that likes to find about two or three areas where I can put the trolling motor down and just go fishing.  That’s what works for me and this event just reaffirmed that.  The other lesson I learned goes along with the first one.  I shouldn’t practice for a long period of time.  I normally don’t because on the Elite’s we only get about three days to figure it out and honestly I feel that’s plenty. 

My last chance to make the 2016 Bassmaster Classic is coming up shortly at the final Southern Open at Lake Seminole.  It’s going to be another tough one with the winning weights generally somewhere in the upper thirty to lower forty pound range historically at this time of year.  This event sets up well for the way I like to fish.  It’s going to involve some flipping grass, throwing a chatterbait, and possibly some topwater in my opinion.  The weights seem low, but there are some absolute giants that live there so that’ll definitely be a wildcard in the event.  You never get too old in this game to learn and I definitely will be taking my lessons from Table Rock to Seminole. -SB