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From Winyah All the Way Through Wheeler

Posted by stephen on April 13, 2016

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Well, I made it out of Winyah Bay with some good points and a solid start to the season.  With  two tournaments down, I’m in a much better position than I put myself in last season.  The past two years I’ve started off slowly and spent the rest of the season trying to dig myself out of a hole.  Not having to rely on having a great finish just to get back in the hunt is allowing me to fish very relaxed and it seems to be paying off. 

Overall, I don’t think Winyah Bay is a bad fishery at all.  As we all saw and expected, the Cooper River was a big factor in a lot of the top finishes, but some of the guys that cracked some of the big bags weren’t even fishing there.  I can tell you I didn’t make the run and short of another fish or two in the boat throughout the event, I felt like I had the potential to do pretty well going into it.

On day one, I settled into an area not all that far from take off.  Being as early as it is in the season and feeling like I could catch solid bags close by, I decided it was better to not roll the dice at this one.  I started flipping around a ZinkerZ, throwing a spinnerbait and Chatterbait around and started getting some bites.  Now I consider a ZinkerZ to be one of my favorite and most productive flipping baits.  I have done very well with them all over the country.  At Winyah Bay, it gained another purpose of being the best mud fish bait around!  They would not stay off of it and I had to adjust to throwing the spinnerbait and the Chatterbait.  The bites were kind of funky and I ended up missing a few of them, but got off to a decent start.

I went right back day two and ended up catching two of them that wouldn’t completely commit the day before.  I caught two of my bigger fish on the chatterbait and ended up having enough to jump inside the cut line.  I was pretty happy about making the cut and knew I was around the quality of fish to have a chance to make that twelve cut as well.

On Saturday, I went to a spot I found Monday of practice that had just a bit of outgoing tide rolling through.  I had my limit in an hour.  I made a slight adjustment and threw one of my Jewel Casting Jigs and put a couple of the bigger fish of the day in the boat.  I ended up catching one about four and a half and a heavy three along with that quick limit and knew I needed to cull with a couple fish that were two and a half pounds or better.  I ended up putting another quality fish close to four pounds in the livewell, but could not get rid of a couple pound and a half fish.

I moved all the way up to fourteenth and got those extremely valuable points.  It was a good tournament overall and I’m happy with how it played out.  We had a great turnout from the fans there and I’m sure we’ll be going back which I’m completely fine with.  I feel like I got a little something figured out for if and when we do go back to Winyah.  

Being in the driver’s seat heading into the next event at Bull Shoals/Norfork Lake is a great position to be in.  It’s a whole new format fishing Norfork on days one and four and Bull Shoals on days two and three.  We’ll have four days of practice starting Sunday which is also different.  They should be fishing pretty good with those really nice bags in that twelve to fourteen pound range, but with the chance of someone cracking twenty.  I really like those types of tournaments; excluding Toledo Bend and Cayuga, the season is shaping up to have a lot that are similar in that respect.  The week after Bull Shoals/Norfork we head to Wheeler Lake in Alabama, so it’ll be a busy month here in April.  The goal is to fish for fifteen straight days starting Sunday! -SB