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One Ounce Away at Lake Amistad

Posted by stephen on February 10, 2014

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(Photo: James Overstreet)

Anytime you put yourself in position to win a Bassmaster Open you have to be extremely grateful.  After starting with a dismal few pounds, it’s hard to believe that I ended up making the cut and finishing in second.  It definitely was heartbreaking losing by one ounce, but the road to make it there was what made this finish a special one.  

My practice was plagued by tough fishing conditions and only a few bites.  I knew going into it that my first tournament day would be a continuation of what happend in practice; still, I kept an open mind and grinded it out all day.  Towards the end of the day I started to pick up on something, I only caught a couple fish Day 1, but my confidence grew.

Going into day 2 I knew exactly what I had to do and executed my plan which ended up paying off greatly.  I decided to pick up the Alabama Rig and never put it down.  Most anglers know you have to stick with the rig to catch fish.  After the end of day 2, I put all my other rods in the locker, kept out my Alabama Rig and fully committed to it.  I ended up jumping way up the leader board on Day 2 with a 20 lb 4 oz bag with an 8 lb kicker.  This catapulted me from near the bottom of the standing into the third spot going into the final day.  The guy leading the tournament had a cushion to work with, but I knew if I could duplicate my Day 2 catch I would give myself a great chance if he happened to stumble.

When we took off Day 3 I knew what I had to do and got to work early.  The bite definitely picked up for me and I was able to catch a lot more fish than Day 2.  The difference on day three was the lack of that big bite that I was lucky enough to get the day before.  I ended up weighing a respectable bag, but fell just one ounce short of the win and a guaranteed Bassmaster Classic berth at Lake Hartwell in 2015.  My hat’s off to Andrew Young who ended up winning the tournament - congratulations on making the 2015 Bassmaster Classic!

The lake is not the Amistad I remember.  It had been my favorite fishery in the country, but there is something going on there that has the bass in a funk.  I’m hoping it will rebound and I’m sure we’ll see it return to its former state eventually.  As for this tournament, I was lucky enough to have a great finish after having such a difficult practice.  After getting onto the Alabama Rig bite, I think my set up was the key in doing well the final two days.  I was able to cast about 15-20 yards further than my co-angler’s which I believe helped me get the bites I did.  The whole set up was the key however.  Here are the specifics:

Rod: 7’11” St. Croix Legend Xtreme

Reel: Lew’s Super Duty Speed Spool

Line: 20 lb Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon

Lure: Umbrella Rig

Jigheads: Strike King Squadron Swimbait Heads (4, ½ oz heads and 1, red 3/8 oz head in the middle)

Baits: Z-Man Diezel Minnowz in the Bad Shad color