Sam Davis and his son Seth made the drive down from Sparta, Tenn. They bought a trip I donated to a benefit banquet.
The cats were on fire today. We caught catfish in every spot we fished. It seemed we could do not wrong. At one point Seth complained because he didn't get a bite on a particular drift. I said, "Seth, do you realize you just complained because you went for an entire five minutes without a bite?" He grinned sort of sheepishly, realizing that, "Yea, it's been a pretty good day."
Sam and Seth went home with a packed cooler... and were really wishing they'd brought a second cooler. That means life is good and gettin' better every day!
Sept. 28, 2012 (Sam Simons)
I've been wanting to try an evening trip for awhile, into dark that is. We put around 12 bluegill in the boat for live bait in shallow water and also had skipjack. Fishing the sunset bite in a familiar hole, there are no takers. We were worried, you don't catch one here at sunset and you're in trouble. Our next stop is looking for structure/shallow spots off of deeper holes. I made around 3 anchors, with only one small fish that wouldn't hook up on a big circle.
Further downriver, I found around 23 ft of water near a cut on the bank. I anchor up in 15 of water, and 2 nervous bluegill go missing from the hook. I'm thinking gar, but another good run later, one gets hooked. Talk about the largest 30 lber ever, this blue was awesome coming out of around 10 ft of water near the bank. Super fast runs, surprised the heck out of me.
After that, another bluegill gets a good run, and just doesn't quite hook up. We move over to the opposite shore and try to fish in structure. Some bluegill were irritated, but the little cats couldn't get them down. We're getting a little tired, and we make a few more anchors upriver with no luck. It was interesting to see how the bluegill behaved when there were cats around, and when the area was dead.
It felt good to find a few quality bites in a new spot in between some upriver holes and my downriver spots. I hope to explore the night bite a little more this October looking for a trophy flathead.
Sept. 22, 2012 (Sam Simons)
I had the pleasure of taking out Troy and Kale Langley fishing today. Let's just say this, I tried really hard to get on fish, and I guess a few things worked out.
We started fishing for bass, and Troy and Kale landed 3 smallmouth, along with a little striper. AFter that, they boated a few channel cats on shad. I had Kale fish for some skipjack for bait. He landed around 4-5 and got to see the "Tennessee Tarpon" up close and personal. I went downriver to catfish, and I only managed to work over two spots before the wind chased me out.
I decided to start drifting as Richard always reminds me the channel cats are plentiful in the fall below the dam. We didn't absolutely slam them, but Troy and Kale had plenty of light tackle battle with 2-6 lb channels. They sure act a lot bigger than their size. After that, we tried and tried to get a gar in the boat. Finally, Kale lands a nice one for his first ever.
I head downriver in the choppy water, and we start drifting. Kale brings in the first and only blue of the day, pushing 4 lbs at best. The drift bite is impossible, as the boat is nearly anchored with the upriver wind. I tried a few more anchors, but nothing was happening. By this point, I put Kale to sleep and figured it was time to go. I just checked the generation schedule and they are pumping 44,000 when we only had 20,000 with an upriver wind.
Don't know why it's been, but the big fish bite has been way better in the evenings during sunset. I think it might have more to do with a steady current, but I have some years I can't buy a big fish except in the morning. By the way, Kale got a big kick out of his morphed smallie he caught.
Make sure you look at that pic, for the three of you that actually read through these reports :)
Thanks for the trip Troy and Kale!!! Maybe you can get your first taste of striped bass at Watts Bar next spring.
Sept. 22, 2012 (Richard Simms)
James Storie brought hit Mom Rita, down for a catfish trip. We started out drowning some big shiners hoping for a big smallmouth bite. It wasn't happening:( Nothing but a white bass or two.
We headed downriver to start drifting for blue cats at precisely the same time the wind started upriver... blowing 10-15 and perfectly "up the funnel" as I call it. The wind was impossible to escape so my light tackle drift bite wasn't going to happen. That really bummed me out. We switched to anchoring down and fishing big tackle for big fish. That was tough as everything else... a couple missed bites before Rita finally reeled in a 10-pounder.
We headed back to the Dam where the faster current could overcome the wind. We finally got on a decent pattern and were stickin' channel cats consistently... including some good-sized channels in the 5-6 lb. class.
Fight a six-pound channel on regular spinning tackle and you are in for a tussel. One fish had Rita yelling, "Help!" The channel cats saved the day for us and Rita went home with a cooler full of future filets.
I've been lazy... bookings are slow and I am in a "hunting" frame of mind. But Erik Almy called Saturday night and inspired me to take my brand new truck out on its virgin voyage pulling the boat... and we decided to fish a little as well.
I delayed our start time to closer to "generation time" below the Chick. Which means Labman was already there smackin' fish when we arrived.
I told Spur that I thoroughly enjoyed fishing with someone who enjoyed "trash fishing" as much as me. We caught a little of everything (except a smallie or striper). But before he can give me crap, I will divulge that I made Spur crank the big motor once to chase down what I THOUGHT was a striper... which turned out to be an especially mean, hard-running drum. Except for the prime targets, we caught just about everything else.
I was actually wore down and ready to go when Spur talked me into going back after the skippies... and then some gar. I didn't bother breaking out the camera until that point.
HERE IS SOME VIDEO of "The Garmaster" in action.
Sept. 16, 2012 (Sam Simons)
I decided to start later as they weren't turning on the water until 10:00 A.M. You can always catch a few with no water, but suddenly I find any excuse I can not to go early since I'm part of the working class again. I started out catfishing about 15 minutes, with no takers. I headed upriver to the dam, and I talk to a few fishing buddies. We all fish for skipjack, and Norman informed me he hit a nice striper and smallmouth. I put two skippies in the boat. I headed for the turbine holes and threw the cast net. I got a bunch of shad, and I started fishing those for bass with no takers. I try a different spot, and I'm hooked up immediately. Wow, big fish. Lots of drag stripping, burning runs. Eventually, a giant gar surfaces. Awesome, I'm into some gar on light spinning tackle. Caught 3 or 4 of those, and I had a big catfish on my mind. I went downriver and anchored. Threw a bait up on a ledge, and the rod goes down. It's a pretty good blue, weighing in at 29 lbs. I can't complain one bit. I really worked the area hard, and I searched on the graph for different structure, etc. I fished some same spots but in different ways. NO takers. I went back to a good middle of the day spot, and I dropped literally right behind the motor. The rod goes down, and I'm into a battle with apissed off 17 lber. Fat fish, looking good gearing up for that winter bite! I called it after that, as I had plans to crush some hibachi at Fuji with my wife Kylene. In fact, I'm so full, I'd have to say I'll only be awake another 5 minutes. Once it cools more, I'll probably start getting into my routine of catfishing to downtown and beyond. I still just can't stand the heat and would rather save the gas money until then. Norman catching a striper makes me wonder if we'll have a decent run this fall/early winter at the dam. I can only hope, I love that zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzziiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggggg sound!!!
Sept. 8, 2012 (Sam Simons)
I went on the river about 6 p.m. just to get out a few hours. I tried a little catfishing, and not a sniff in the familiar spots. So, I gave that up fast as I could tell they weren't in the mood. You should at least have a bite from some small fish. I went up to the dam and threw the cast net. I got a few decent shad in a turbine hole, and I immediately hooked into a nice largemouth on a larger shad. the battle was fierce, to the point I thought it was a smallmouth. I took my remaining shad that was a little larger, and I missed that bite. Then, I had only little shad with no bites. I went downriver and fished some schooling skipjack. They weren't too cooperative, and I only landed 3. Here's the thing though, below the skipjack, there were a ton of white bass. I landed one every two casts or so once I figured what retrieve and depth they wanted. I pretty much fished that bite till dark as it was fun reeling something in every minute. I've got to admit, I love that river!!
Sept. 3, 2012 (Sam Simons)
I decided to lay low this Labor Day weekend until the last minute. I had an unusual guest with me, my wife Kylene. This is the 2nd time this year she's been fishing with me, probably a new record. I nearly passed out when she said she'd go with me. So, the pressure was on. I made the 1st anchor, and nobody was home. I ran downriver, and after a long 2 minute weight, a rod goes down. I get the rod to Kylene after it had already stripped a lot of drag, and settled in for the battle. After several minutes, Kylene gets the blue to the surface and it's thrashing. We almost get the net under, and then it races back down to the bottom. The Tennessee River Cruiser from the aquarium stopped to see the show. I wonder if the people on the cruiser were jealous after watching the fight. I finally pulled up the anchor after 10 minutes, as Kylene had that look like she might drop my cat combo in the water. I get the net under finally, and Kylene gets a big congratulations from the river boat captain. He exclaims, "It looks bigger than you!" We get a few pics, and Kylene announces, "Well, are we going home now?" I managed to distract her and made one more quick anchor with no bites. Hey, not bad for a 1 hr time limit, a blue in the 50-60 lb class.
This will be one of those I'm (Sam Simons) too exhausted to write that much reports. Paul and Lytle Anderson were visiting from Lynchburg, TN. Let's just sum it up like this, we fished the river and lake and tried everything to get a big one to bite. It didn't quite work out, but hey, the biggest blues went 12, 14, 17, and 24 lbs. A few from the river, a few from the lake. There were also 3 quality smallmouth thrown in the mix.
The cats seemed finicky today, they weren't hammering the baits like you'd hope, but I had so much fun today fishing with some great guys. Thanks a lot Paul and Lytle. Enjoy the pics everyone, I love MY river!!! Even though I didn't make it 3 straight trips with a 60 lber! That's what I get for feeling cocky.
August 18, 2012
Went fishing with Carrol Waddle, old college roommate and longtime friend. Carrol wanted a cooler full of catfish for a fish fry for his prison ministry. That worked out well with nearly 100 lbs. of blue cats in the cooler.. We also settled in to try and catch a trophy. The biggest we managed was 22 lbs.
Sadly, we had another bite right after this one that broke off in a hurry... probably because I didn't retie the leader after we battled this one. I hate it when I get lazy:(
But it was a great day in the boat catching up with a great friend. That means life is good and gettin' better every day.
August 18, 2012
Scott Lillie came out on one last half day trip for the year with Sam Simons before he chases every animal on land or bird in the sky. I (Sam Simons) asked him what he wanted to do, and he decided he wanted to fish the lake near his house. Scott started fishing for bluegill as I started throwing skipjack baits in the water. He gets me a few live baits for a flathead, and then he hooks a very nice crappie on a brushpile. I switch him over to an assassin and a few more nice crappie are landed. The bite is ultra slow, and then we finally get a few runs. One of them hooks up, and it's a blue coming in at 12 lbs. That was it, maybe they just aren't here. We head downriver and anchor a hump, deciding not to drift. Nothing. We go back upriver, and throw out some skipjack baits and a few more live baits. A small fish comes in the boat. Another rod gets tapped, and then it drops. Scott reels it in, and I put on another piece of fresh skipjack. He drops back down, and now he's into a serious battle. After a few minutes, and several runs of the drag, I'm thinking Scott has a new personal best for sure. The big blue nears the surface, and then makes a serious run back down to the bottom. I can just see the excitement on Scott's face. This is why you target big fish, for a chance like this. Finally, I slide the net under a big ole' blue. While Scott was fighting the blue, I missed bites on two other rods, one on cutbait, and one on a live bluegill. It's like the feed bag came on for a few short minutes. The big blue weighed in at 60 lbs, and honestly, it was smaller than I thought after a furious battle. This fish had a serious temper! It was a super fun time to watch the battle. We were off the water by 10:00 A.M.
Tomorrow will be a full day trip, starting on the lake, and ending on the river. If a big one doesn't bite, it won't be because I didn't try!
August 15, 2012
Craig Smith and Sam Simons hit Nickajack for some evening fun. We started out in the usual big fish location. It's nice to know where your best chance is for a river giant when the flow is steady from all the rain. We threw out some baits, and I was determined I'd get to the rod first if one went down. I haven't reeled in a giant cat since last October, though seeing them is just as fun too. Normally, I bulldog a fish as hard as I can, but I just had to take my sweet time to enjoy the entire fight. Craig put the net under after awhile, and it weighed in at 61 lbs. We left for the dam to fish for skipjack. A 5 gallon bucket later on small white foley spoons, and we were extremely happy campers. We went down to the sunset hole, and Craig is on the phone with his wife. A rod taps, and Craig just stays on the phone thinking it's a little blue. Nothing happens. We go to reel in as the anchor slipped, and I can't get the snag out. We get further downriver, and Craig says he says a hard fighter. Oh wow, another tank blue for Craig. Great stuff! The bite was soon explained though, as a big blue rarely never takes the rod and line downriver. It was a flathead that swam upriver in the snag. 25 lbs to be exact. Kind of hard to beat 5 minutes from your house after work.
We are blessed guys!!!!!!
August 9, 2012
My buddy told (Sam Simons) the cats were good and active the night before, so Sam decided to give it a try. I raced out of work, hooked up the boat, and tried to get out there while it was still raining. Unfortunately for me, the front passed through and maybe I missed a front bite that my buddy had the day before. Who knows, but I eeked out a couple. I anchored up in the first hole, and I waited a long time. I've caught some giants from this hole in a lot of current, so the heart always races when a rod goes down. After about 40 minutes, a rod finally goes down on a skipjack head, and I'm in a tussle with a 21 lber. Nothing after that, so I head upriver and fish a big fish hole. No bites, head to the next spot, no bites. They clearly have lockjaw, so I decided to try for a skipjack. I land one, and I broke 2 off losing my last foley spoons. I'm going to try the bass for a bit, though I only have one spinning rod for that venture. I start throwing the net, and I play surfing USA riding through the boils. Throwing a net while running the motor and pushing off the dam before your boat collides is a fun game. I get some bait, and I hammer a smallmouth right away. Another good fish comes unglued, and the bite is dead. That fresh skipjack is on my mind, so I ride back to where the 21 bit. No bites, and I head back upriver to fish the sunset bite. I just have to be patient, they'll move on a bait when they're ready. I throw out on the ledge, watch the bait walk down, and like dozens of times before, the rod goes down right after the bait settles. I think I'm in a giant at first, but it's a 19 lber that's hung me in the rocks. I bulldog him out on the 80 lb leader, and release him to fight another day. As soon as that blue hits the water, another rod goes down in the core of the hole, and it's a fat, fat, 15 lber. No big boys, but a decent smalljaw and 3 cats at 15, 19, 21. I can't complain about an evening like that after work.
My favorite moment of the night would be hearing a little boy yell at his worm, "Hey, you get back here!" Nice to knock some cobwebs off, and visiting probably the best place in the world never gets old!
August 4, 2012
Lisa Bourg and her friend Laurie Aicklen came to the Chattanooga area primarily to go rafting on the Ocoee. But Laurie loves to fish... or more accurately, she loves to eat fish. Laurie owns a New Orleans restaurant called Spudly's, specializing in Super Spud baked potatoes. However you might find a few catfish on the menu next week.
What was supposed to be a half-day outing turned into a 2-hour quick trip because Laurie only brought a medium-sized cooler. It's not like we were knockin' their eyes out or anything, but in two hours we put a respectable number of eater-sized blues and channel cats in the boat, to the point Laurie's cooler was overflowing.
Apparently a true Cajun at heart, Laurie had no interest in any "catch & release" release foolishness. When the cooler was full, she was done.
It was a fun, albeit short, morning with a pair of fun ladies from Louisiana. That means life is good and gettin' better every day!
July 28, 2012
Richard Kee is a hardcore bass angler, but he's not ashamed to catch "other stuff," especially big blue cats. Richard brought his family from Jackson, TN for a visit in 2007. This time around he brought business associate, Mike Corcoran.
It is a real pleasure fishing with folks who really know how to fish. I didn't know about Mike in the beginning, but as soon as he hooked up with the first hefty cat on light tackle, I could see he knew his way around a fishing rod.
Unfortunately he didn't get the opportunity to do that nearly enough. It was a tough bite, made even tougher by a hefty southwest wind that just ruined my favorite "chicken drift pattern." I ran all the way around Moccasin Bend to try and find the right pattern. We stuck a few fish here and there, but it was far more work than normal. After we hopskotched our way all the way back upstream to the Dam, Richard came in with the big fish of the day.
Fortunately Richard and Mike are real nice guys... and good friends, so catching lots of fish wasn't really essential for having fun. That means life is good and gettin' better every day.
July 21, 2012
Had a great day fishing with the Dudley Family... Trip Dudley and sons, Drew, Beck and Cooper. We did really well on "eater-sized" catfish. The biggest weighed in at ten pounds. After taking refuge from an hour or two of bad storms, we made a serious effort at a "trophy cat bite." Unfortunately the big boys just didn't want to play on this day. But no matter, I believe a good time was had by all.
July 20, 2012
Report from Watts Bar Tailwater... my friend Sam Simons and his
buddy Scott Sheely head north on the river. Here's what Sam had to report: "Scott wanted to try to hook a striped bass, try, being the key word. After driving all night, he arrived around 4:30, and we headed out. We arrived a little later than I had liked, but we were going to catch something, this is Watts Bar Dam after all. Scott drops down in the water, and he's hooked up with a bruiser. After a good battle, the line breaks, as Scott described it as, "I think I just got a little too excited to see that fish!" After that, Scott lands a few striped bass that were very picture worthy and made him happy. Scott then hooks into a nice smallmouth, and pulls up a hard fighting flathead off the bottom. Then, he lands a blue cat. Scott then takes a spinning rod with a 2 inch shad and a small splitshot, and suspends the bait 10-15 ft in 35 ft of water. He gets a hit, sets hook, and 75 yds come off the reel before I can get the motor down to give chase. Then the fish proceeds to tow us around in circles for 1 hour and 30 minutes at the flood gates. That fish just hunkered down in 20 ft of water, and if Scott ever gained, just went back to the bottom. It finally broke, with no fault on Scott's part. He knew just how to pressure the fish the whole time, and the line was so frayed when it came up I'm surprised it didn't break earlier. Scott and I have both landed blue cats in the 40-60 lb class on light tackle, but just couldn't get anything done in that deeper water on the light spinning tackle. Man oh man, we just wanted to see it one time, just one time! An epic fish tale, and I'm sure the size of the fish will grow every year!!!
July 19, 2012
Larry Akin and his son Tyler came out for a trip. The order of the day was bass and see if a big cat would bite. I had shad ready to go, but the bass were unproductive. We boated a few largemouth, skipjack, white bass, and a few small striped bass that were smaller than the largemouth. Tyler casted a bait upstream, and I watched his line take off. He sets hook, and I watch the line come to the surface. A really quality smallmouth rocket launches out of the water, and it spits the hook. Oh the luck, would have been that nice picture fish, which I don't take for granted at all on the river. You just never know day to day. We tried some anchor fishing. A rod goes down, and when Tyler gets to it, the line gives way. Darn thing broke off. We try another big fish hole that was productive last trip, and it was a ghost town. I run back upriver and try a different technique. We were fishing baitcasters with 14 lb line. Tyler hooks a nice blue, and he has it on for around 5 minutes. I'm getting anxious to see this fish, and then it breaks off. Size unknown, but definitely not little. So, I move spots, and he's got another nice one. After minutes of battle in turbulent water, Tyler lands a 20 lber that seemed kind of long and lean. That's pretty common this time of year. Tyler was a pro fighting this fish, as he had to maneuver it in several directions. I went ahead and went back to the first big cat hole since that's where we had a bite. It was Larry's turn if a rod went down. Well, a rod goes down, and the fish are never small from this spot. It stays on, and I hear Larry struggling a little bit. That's a good sign. The blue comes boatside, and I get the net under, while there's a tremendous thrashing. I go to take out the hook, and wouldn't you know it, it's the same fish that bit earlier. I removed two 9/0 circle hooks! This has happened before, but I didn't expect it of course. I told Tyler and Larry that about this previously, so it was neat to tell Tyler that his fish was 37 lbs that broke off. Very healthy looking blue. We changed over spots and Tyler brought in two blues at 8 and 10 lbs. We decided to head back to the dam looking for one last bite, but there were no takers.
A little slow for my liking, but two new personal blue cats, I can't complain about that!
July 14, 2012
Mark Coates from Madison, Wisconsin joins me today along with Eric Anderson from Collegedale. First thing I tell them, "We're going to go big or go home."
Then we proceded to sit on three "big fish spots" for three hours with nary a nibble. I cry uncle, break out the light tackle and say, "Let's size down and go Catch some fish." The first spot paid off in a hurry with several blue and channel cats in the 4 to 8 lb. range... the biggest catfish they'd ever caught, by the way. Mark stocked up several on ice to take home for a fish fry.
Eric, the father of brand new twin boys, had to leave early. After he left I was determined to try and get Mark on a bigger fish. Wouldn't you know the first one came on light tackle. Mark went toe-to-toe with a 22 lb. blue for a whole bunch of long minutes. It was great fun and it felt good to "size up."
Later, in an effort to size up again, we broke out the big tackle and camped out on a couple of big fish holes. A few nibbles and finally we got one "taker." It gave Mark fits, but on the big gear, it came to the boat much easier than the light tackle blue. When it surfaced, lo and behold it was a long lanky flathead. Flatheads are rare for us. Even though this one was a good half-foot longer than the blue, it weighed the exact same... 22 lbs. Check out the video:
Not long after we threw in the towel... but I think a great time was had by all.
July 12, 2012
I had Greg Von Bruchhaeuser and his son Gregory out on a trip today. I believe we sat in about 2.5 inches of rain, and it was a great opportunity to run the bilge pump. We started out doing the usual, put a few bass in the boat. We boated a few largemouth, white bass, and skipjack, with nothing big to brag about. We moved to a new spot and Greg boats a couple nice smallmouth, and Greg and Gregory had a double.
We go to catfish, even though we're chilled to the bone, not being properly prepared for the weather. I anchor up on the spot that's been my honey hole recently, and we wait for awhile. I'm thinking, "Uh oh, my big fish spot is drying up on me." A rod starts tapping, and it slowly bends down. Gregory lands his first monster blue catfish at 45 lbs. We head upriver to get out of the cold rain. By then we were shivering and shaking. I gear up in the gore tex, give Gregory a sweatshirt, and we're ready to go again.
"Well Greg, what do you want to do?" I ask him. He knows I mean try for your big catfish or put some more bass in the boat. Greg decided for catfish. I ride over one of my spots, and the big boys are down there. I've seen this before, and they won't bite. Well, I throw a bait up on a ledge, and that rod goes down. Greg is in a nice battle with a cat on one of my lighter cat rods. I tell Gregory to get my net for me. Another rod goes down, and I grab that rod and hand it to Gregory. Well, a few minutes later, the net gets knocked out of the boat. You might ask, How do you lose the net Sam? It was complete chaos, that's why! I had to cut a line, grab a rod and switch it over, Greg and Gregory had to change sides of the boat 3-4 times. Unbelievable, and now I have to land these cats by hand.
Gregory, after a long fight with the drag stripping repeatedly, brings up a horse. I think Gregory's fish is somewhere in the mid 60's based on how hard it was for me to pull it in the boat. Ok, one down, now Greg gets his fish to the surface, and I bring a 35-40 lb class fish in the boat.
After that, they decided they had enough. I wasn't going to fight them, as I was soaked to the bone. After all that went wrong on the two big cats, we were blessed with two big beautiful blues. They are just so beautiful and big, and I love them.
Way to go guys, glad you got to experience the Tennessee River at its best! It sure was fun wasn't it?
July 10, 2012
Frank Davis and Richard Tatum came out for a trip with me. I had not been on the river for a week, dodging the heat. I started out at the dam at 5:00 A.M. cast netting bait. Carrying 50 lbs of water up the hill to the boat for the bait tank makes a man out of you!
We started out in the first spot and boated a few bass. The current was slow, so the bite was kind of slow. We head down to the next spot, and boat a few more bass. Head for the catfish holes, and only one takedown resulting in a pull off. It came out of a hole where I know it was probably just a smaller fish that couldn't handle the 9/0 circle hook. Man, they just won't cooperate. I head back upriver, and Frank puts a few bull bluegill in the boat and lands a few more bass. One he landed included the first and only smallmouth of the day. I marked bass all over my graph, but I think they just were either full or not wanting our baits.
I head back downriver and throw some big chunk bluegill and a giant skipjack head in the water. We're waiting for awhile again, man, they just won't eat. Richard looks up at the sky, "Hey Sam, look at those clouds." A little rumble of thunder. We start getting a little nervous. Hey wait, a rod takes a polite bow, and Frank is in a battle. After a few minutes, he finally bulldogs the cat into the net. Great job Frank, he played it like a champ. I weighed the blue, and he clocked in at 40 lbs. Welcome to the 40 lb club Frank!!! Richard Tatum joined the 60 lb club in January. Actually, he joined the 30 lb, 50 lb, and 60 lb club in a wild 10 minutes on our January trip. That's catfishing for you! It can all change in a few minutes.
After that a bolt of lightning ran us off the water. As my last rod went in the truck, a nasty wave of rain and lightning was on me. Thank goodness we got off the water just in time.
Thanks for the trip guys, it was great fun as usual hanging out with you.
July 3, 2012
I had two awesome fishermen on a trip today, old college buddies Clint Bailey and Josh Kirby. They are both excellent fishermen.
I tell people, sometimes, the bass work out. Sometimes, the catfish work out. Sometimes, neither work out. Well, today, both worked out.
By the way, I told them I can't ever take them again. There's no where to go but down, ha!
July 2, 2012
We started out catfishing when the current was running kind of slower and it was terrible as usual. I made 3 anchors. On the 3rd spot, rod number 1 taps once. That was it, a chicken fish as I like to call it. Well, darn line is snagged when we get ready to go. I set the clicker and go downriver. It's snagged for sure, so I just tie the 80 lb. leader to the boat cleat. We go another 30 ft downriver, and I feel pressure on the line. Huh Scott, guess we pulled up a piece of structure on that huge leader. Wait a minute, a surge. Oh boy, hand the rod to Scott, and he's tied up with a big old post spawn blue. We get the net under, and it's in the boat. That was a whole load of luck for that 40 lb blue.
After that, we head to the dam looking for bait. We put several good bass in the boat, included 20 and 22-inch smallmouth. Most largemouth 15-17 inches. About a 7 lb largemouth jumped and spit the hook.
You just never know day to day. I hope I didn't use up the river luck when Clint Bailey and his friend come into town tomorrow.
June 30, 2012
I had Tait Rassel out for a catfish trip. We went ahead and split this trip up into an evening/morning trip to beat the ALL-TIME record heat of 107 on consecutive days. I just could not get a big one to bite in the extreme heat. I guess they did not want to feed. Tait landed 12 catfish from 1 to 10 lbs, but that was it. We just couldn't get any quality in that heat. I couldn't get a big one to bite off anchor on skipjack or live bluegill. A few good runs of the bluegill, but no hookups. Just some feisty smaller fish. I miss those predictable days of spring, but hey, we had a great time hanging out. It reminded me of hanging with an old college buddy. It didn't matter what Tait and I talked about, we just enjoyed each other's company. Thanks for the trip Tait!
June 26, 2012
There we was, it was real windy and rough on the water today with Denny Coleman. He wanted to learn about different catfishing techniques. It's still June, so my expectations were low. We started out with only a small bite, and headed for another spot. I anchored up, with no luck. The wind has the lake choppy, but at least it's downriver. We start drifting a bit, but the wind is blowing so hard I can't hardly stay in contact with the drop I'm going to fish. We go back to the first spot. I put the rods out, and I hear a clicker going at a slow pace. It's a live bluegill, so I have a good feeling. I engage the drag, and Denny is in a big time battle. I'm assuming a big, big blue. Turns out, it was a mean flathead weighing in at 26 lbs. A blue can't compete with the temper of a flathead. While Denny was battling that, two other rods were peeling line, but we missed both bites. We had to abandon the lake after that, as water was coming in the back of my boat from some serious wave action.
We were debating calling it a day, but I figured the tailwaters would be alright. We made 3 anchors, with two really good bites. Denny landed a 10 lber, and a really big bite broke off. I'm going to change out some lines, but I have a feeling the blue just burned the line along the bottom cutting it off in rocks above my 80 lb leader. My line was completely frayed in several spots telling me that blue was belly sliding the bottom. Didn't really even get to fight the fish for long. That's the breaks sometimes. We went to drifting after that, and if we could have missed a fish, we did. It was unbelievable how much chicken breast we fed to those drifter blues. I did connect on one big fish, screaming drag upriver, but it broke off on light tackle. We gave it up after that, as Denny is armed and ready to put a hurting on catfish in his section of the river.
June 25, 2012
I had to net bait this morning at 4 a.m. The effort paid off as Noah and his "Pops" did battle with some monster largemouth, and one lonely spot. Noah also got crushed by a 20 lb. blue cat that had to have a shad. Noah was super impressed, and the kid always seems to land a big fish on a trip with me. We then messed around catching bullgills on ultra lights, and they did awesome landing "wristers" as I like to call them. I tried to hook another big bass, but only a few small ones wanted to cooperate. Our half day trip ended at an actual half day, because we all couldn't stand the darn heat anymore.
It never gets old does it?
June 7, 2012
I fished with Dr. Steve Sawrie and his grandson Noah today. I started cast netting bait around 3:00 A.M. and worked at it till around 5:30 A.M. It wasn't all work though, as I just had to sit around 10-15 minutes for them to come back to one spot.
It was your typical mixed bag day, with all the bass species, channel cats, two species of gar, and a rockfish that broke off on a long battle.
Noah landed several largemouth when he wasn't fishing for gar... including one monster largemouth. I assumed he had a catfish on the line. When I saw it was a bass, I freaked out and was pumped full of adrenaline. This was a tremendous fish, especially for a 10-year-old. Dr. Sawrie and I just looked at each other in disbelief. I've had a largemouth that big in my boat, but never landed one personally that big myself. It was very exciting.
We closed our half day trip with one of those super aggressive smallmouth that gave Dr. Sawrie fits on light tackle. Other than the broken off rockfish, it was solid for a summer trip. I guess getting bait at 3:00 A.M. pays off. Those bass just can't stand a lively threadfin shad.
June 3, 2012
Richard Boehms, his Dad, Henry and cousin, Will Goodson made the trek to Chattanooga from Middle Tennessee and Tupelo, Mississippi. The Boehms have fished with me several times. I am sad to say this was probably the toughest trip we've had together.
As usually, it is really hard to hit the Chickamauga Dam tailwaters and not catch fish. But these days it is really tough to put together a consistent, go-to pattern for anything. We started out bass fishing with shiners. Henry broke off a couple of quality fish... and we caught a mixed bag before switching out and go to concentrate on catfish.
We couldn't fish one of my more consistent patterns because of a hard wind blowing upstream. Drifting with the current is critical for a proper presentation. Sadly the wind was stronger than the river current and we simply could not drift.
Later in the day, close to the Dam in faster current, we finally got on a fairly consistent bite with a mixed bag of blue and channel cats. The Boehms always like to take catfish home to stock the freezer. We hit fish good enough that we had to make a shore run to drop off one cooler stuffed full and pick up another. So we couldn't really complain... but for some reason it sure felt like work today.
May 27, 2012
John Parker, attorney-at-law, came down from Clarksville to fish with me. His very kind wife was up long before sunrise to bring John to meet me, whereupon she left to go sleep... and to shop.
John and I started out using shiners to search for smallmouth. But my smallmouth bite has just died. We lost one big largemouth (when it jumped) and caught few small spots or largemouth, but no brownfish.
Fortunately the catfish kept us well-entertained. They'll eat shiners or chicken breast. Only a couple of quality fish in that 15-pound class (give or take). We also took a break and caught some big bull bream... and like the day before, we ended our hot afternoon on, as John called it, "Spot & Stalk Gar Fishing." It's a blast spotting these big toothy critters, and then watching as they turn on a bait, snatch it and start swimming off before they'll swallow it.
Most folks call gar trash fish, If that's the case I guess I'm a trashy fisherman because I LOVE cathing these prehistoric beasties.
May 26, 2012
Dan Griffith and his son Josh came from Spring Hill Tenn. to fish with me for the 4th year in a row. This time Dan brought his older son Zach as well.
I'm sure Dan will tell you... this May is VERY different from their previous excursions when they've been very fortunate to be here at "the peak" of the action. This year, due to the extremely warm weather, our best catfish bite has come and gone.
The certainly doesn't mean we can't cath 'em however... just not quite the numbers, or the size they're used to. Although Josh did reel in a 20 lb. class fish... while Zach scored on the best (and only) smallmouth of the day.
We ended a VERY hot afternoon sight fishing for gar. Great fun!
May 26, 2012
This all started the night before on Chickamauga. I went to cast net shad in the Sequoyah outflow boils for my guide trip the next day. Unfortunately the plant is on an outage which means no outflow and no shad (Very sad face). I went down to the river and about killed myself cast netting and hauling a couple dozen gizzard shad. Finally, after pretty much being at physical exhaustion, I get to bed for my 4:00 A.M. wake up call. Hey, it's the curse of hunting down and tracking shad. This is my life now.. although I'm getting pretty good at keeping shad alive over night.
Frank Davis and his friend Joe came along for the hot Memorial Day weekend trip. We start out drifting. Joe appears to be hooked up, but it's a snag. We make another drift, and Frank gets pounded by a rockfish on light tackle. We motor up river, Frank said it's shaking, and then "Oh no!" ... it's hung down in the rocks. We try to shake it free, with no luck. A few skinned up shad later, we hit up the bass spot.
We land 3 largemouth, but unfortunately, if a big bass could get away, it would. I hook a tank in the current, fight it for a bit, and pass the rod off, and it comes unglued. It felt like a psychotic smallmouth. How do I know? You just know when you hook a big brownfish. Joe hooks into a couple more freight train bass, breaking him off on bottom. Unfortunately, when you are fishing in a hangy spot on bottom, they sometimes just whip you on light tackle.
We run out of shad, and the bass don't want a shiner. They are just so locked into shad, and I'm really disappointed that we didn't land a few more brutes. That's the breaks!!! We go to play with the gar, and land several. There were two different species biting, and some of them made several good runs.
But Joe was looking to keep a few fish for the cooler. We drift for some cats, hooking up around 6, and landing 4 small blues. Well, 3 blues for the cooler back home to Atlanta. I go up in the turbine holes. There's more current today, so it's tricky. I get a nice bite, and some stripping of drag. Go to pass the rod off, comes unglued!!!!! Grrrrrrr, this is killing me!
After that, nothing, so I hit up a few cat rods and ultralight bluegill rods. I tie off to the wing wall, and start bottom bouncing the boil. No cat bite, darn. Frank and Joe did get Joe another 8-10 bullgills as I call them, and had a good time. AFter that, I was going to head downriver and put a few cats in the cooler. The heat convinced Joe and Frank otherwise, and we went ahead and called it.
A typical mixed bag, but unfortunately, a few freight train smallies and largemouth made their getaway.
Thanks for the trip guys!!! I had a 4 hour nap afterward, followed by an 8 hr sleep.
May 25, 2012
Scott Lillie and I have had so many great trips together!!! There were too many highlights from the day to mention as I'm very tired. The pictures tell the story how special our tailwater really is below Chickamauga Dam!!! We left at 12:00 pm, as the gar ran us right out of shiners. We had 16 shad from the night before in 3 hours of casting the net. I believe I'm fit and trim from suffering throwing a heavy cast net! Scott summed up the day, well, we caught white bass, gar, largemouth, smallmouth, blue cats, channel cats, and striped bass.
May 20, 2012
Frank Duff put in high bid on a trip I donated to Ducks Unlimited. He and his wife, Libby (Wann) Duff decided to spend the morning of their 34th wedding anniversary fishing with me. Quite an honor for me, partly because of the anniversary and partly because, "back in the day," Libby was one of the best journalists in Chattanooga. She's penned some great words over the years. But today it was all about fish.
Libby is almost as good a fisherperson as she is a wordsmith. Her first cast of the day, a healthy largemouth put on a show for us, dancing against the sunrise. We actually all three scored quickly on a largemouth, smallmouth and a blue cat. For 45 minutes it was game on, including one really big smallmouth that measured just over 21-inches, even if he/she was kind of skinny.
The action on live shiners stayed good most of the morning, producing mostly spotted bass. Before they called it a day the Duff's wanted to try for a big cat. Once again my one sweet spot paid off fairly fast with a 16 lb. fish and two 20 lbers. At one point Libby had hold of a true beast of a catfish. On light tackle it's impossible to know how big... but this one was definitely bigger than your average blue. Sadly about two minutes into the battle he made a screaming hard run and it was game over. It is true, the big ones sometime get away. Even that means life is good and gettin' better every day.
May 19, 2012
Todd Trivett and his Dad, Jerry, came down from Knoxville for a Scenic City Fishing voyage today. It was a "hunt & peck" sort of day. The drift bite for catfish is lackluster at best. There's a few key spots holding some decent fish, but only one that is consistently holding quality fish. If that hole dries up on me, I'm in trouble:-(
We had to use our patience pills today. But it paid off with six or eight quality fish in the 10 to 25 lb. range, and a goodly number of eaters scattered here and yon. I'd say we easily passed 150 lbs. of fish in a six-hour day. Can't complain about that.
We also enjoyed a 30-minute "ultralight break" when a friend put us on a goggle-eye hole. We didn't find the goggle-eye, but we found a passle of good bluegill, a couple of spots and a couple of cats that pushed the ultralight rods to the limit. And that means life is good and gettin' better every day!
May 18, 2012
Headed to the Watts Bar tailwaters with Kim and John Fischer as they were interested in catching a striped bass (a.k.a. rockfish). Honestly, the bite was terrible. We did land a typical mix, drum, blues, skipjack, white bass and a few stripers.
Kim and John each tagged 15 lbers on light tackle, fishing like pros. I love maneuvering the boat with a drag screamer. Go this way, turn that way, back over here. They were absolutely ecstatic. Kim hooked another really big one right before dark and we thought it was under control. But it changed course on us, ran hard right at the bank and pop went the line. That's going to happen on light tackle stripers. I would rather hook them on larger tackle, but that pattern is just not happening yet. I guess the water isn't warm enough yet, and the rocks are up in the water column. Another guide was out asking how we were hooking a few of the striped bass. When you fish Chickamauga Dam, you fish a lot of light tackle, and apparently that sometimes works at the Bar. I didn't get a bite on heavy tackle. A good time was had by all.
May 17, 2012
Norman Neel and I loaded up on bait, a Highway 58 cheeseburger, and made the trek to Watts Bar. We ended up hooking 8 stripers, and landing 6 of them. I broke off a giant on the baitcaster, and Norman lost a good one on spinning tackle. We saw stripers wake up river. I yell at Norman, "stripers, stripers, stripers!" Then, his rod goes beserk and the fish makes a hard run for the bank breaking off. The three biggest ones went 15, 15, and 17 lbs. The other three were in the 8-12 lb class. The fish still aren't really in there yet, but it could change any day I believe. At any rate, light tackle stripers, it can't be beat.
May 12, 2012
Clint Bailey from Lynchburg has fished with me the last four years. Clint helps create that wonderful libation known as Jack Daniels... and he is prone to share, so I always really like it went Clint comes calling.
This time he brought his Dad, Dwayne, along and said they wanted to try and split the day between the search for a trophy smallmouth and a few cats... so that was the game plan.
The first drift (with Jack's shiners) and a 4 lb. smallmouth erupts from the water on the end of Dwayne's line. High-five's all around and we do it again. Second drift, Clint size's up when a 21-inch, 5 lb. beast of a smallmouth that bends his buggy-whip of rod double. (video coming later). It was still so dark it was hard to take decent pictures. With a pair of trophy fish in the boat in 15 minutes, I asked Clint and Dwayne if they just wanted to head for home and save some money. <Grin>
Fortunately they said, "No," because the hits just kept on coming. After Dwayne had a good striper come unbuttoned, the initial drift line shut down (except for pesky white bass) but we spread out and just kept finding fish hungry for more shiners (presented just the right way). All morning long a variety of species of fish just kept coming, including a 3.5 foot gar and FIVE more big smallmouth. I think it was the most "quality" smallmouth I've ever put in the boat in one morning... seven brown fish and there wasn't a single one under 3.5 lbs. I think we could have stayed on 'em if the wind hadn't kicked in hard, making it nearly impossible to provide the right presentation.
No matter, we figured it was a sign to just switch to cats (plus we used up five dozen shiners, the majority of which caught a fish).
My drift bite for cats is dead right now... unbelievable for the month of May, but as we all know, it's a strange year. Thank goodness the one sweet spot (and special secret light tackle presentation) I found a couple of weeks ago paid off again. It wasn't a fast & furious bite, but over the course of four hours, we smacked a good number of blues from 10 lbs. up to 21 lbs. At one point Clint was fighting a beast that would have gone 30 lbs. He got him to the boat three times, but remember... I don't carry a net, encouraging folks to "fight 'em to the finish." Dwayne hooked another fish and like an idiot, I encouraged Clint to "put some heat on him," to get his fish to the boat. He did... and the line parted ways. <Sad Face> Dumbass Guide!
I was rolling video on Clint's iPhone so he can pull out clear evidence of my "dumbassedness" for years to come.
Bottomline... we fished a solid eleven hours. Again, it wasn't fast & furious but we pretty much "whacked 'em & stacked 'em" all day long. Clint quesstimated we put 300 lbs. of fish in the boat (not counting the lost 30 lber)... and that means life is good and gettin' better every day. Now excuse me while go enjoy a little Lynchburg libation.
May 12, 2012
I had a tough guide trip with a great father/son combo, Joey Arender and his son Brock. We went out Friday night for a few hours, looking for a nice light tackle cat. Well, they just weren't there. So I changed plans and found a few drifting. The biggest fish went 10 lbs that Brock landed. He was a good fisherman, taking it to his dad and me as far as hooking the fish. I couldn't believe we didn't find a good cat where Richard found them, but when they aren't there, it's a ghost town. Richard said himself the next morning they weren't there, but then in the afternoon, they moved in!!
The next morning I was ready to slam those bass like five days ago. Well, after 10-12 skinned up shad and no fish, I was getting pretty nervous. We finally landed a mix of a few largemouth, a smallmouth, white bass, and some small blues. The bite disappeared.
I completely regret not going to Watts Bar chasing stripers now, but five days earlier landing around 25 bass from 3-5 lbs, well, geez............ Leave it to the river/lake to throw me a curveball. I just thought I had a good game plan put together for a 9 year old!
Thanks for the trip guys! Maybe we can chase some striped bass one evening/morning.
May 10, 2012,
Norman Neel and I cast netted some bait up on the lake and headed for Watts Bar. We caught a mixed bag to start, white bass, a smallmouth, and some skipjack that were massive. The stripers did not want to play. Every shad was hit, so we were still entertained.
After that, they decided to eat. It was a finicky bite, but we landed some quality, biggest 2 at 19 and 20. We both had some drag burners pull off on light tackle. The stripers weren't really hanging on the bottom, so we had to light line them. You know what that means right?
A lot of times I like to go fishing, in fact, I love fishing every time I get to go. Today was not fishing, it was catching. Bass after bass after bass!!! Wow, Paul Close had a run for his money doing battle with one largemouth after another on light tackle. Drag stripping, jumping, head shaking, you name it. 8 lb line and a spinning rod means maximum fun with the largemouth. I battled a few, but Paul was the star of the show. We each lost a huge gator as mine broke off on the boat making a hard charge down and in, and Paul's came unglued just as I was getting ready to reach into the water.
Wow Paul, what a morning. Our fishery here in Chattanooga is amazing!!! I could not think of a better place to live. I just hope I can stay on this live bait, as it's hard work, but the rewards are amazing.
May 6, 2012
Turnabout is fair play... a while back he took me on a fancy, dancy trout trip so today guide, outdoor writer and friend Joe DiPietro joined me. came along hoping to get his picture taken... he said he might even smile:-) The morning was slow except for one striper which broke Joe off in a heartbeat, and one decent smallmouth Joe captured in the shadow of the Tennessee Aquarium. You know somebody has fished a lot, and caught a lot of fish. When the smallie hit, literally with two seconds (after having caught several cats and white bass) Joe said, "That's a smallmouth." Two more seconds and the brownie cleared water in confirmation. It was a cool catch.
Sam got summoned home by his lovely bride to do some shopping for the upcoming nuptuals. It was sort of sad that we waited until Sam left to find "the sweet spot." And it was VERY sweet!
For about four hours me and Joe took turns going toe-to-toe with big cats on light-line spinning gear. Every fish we caught was averaging about 20 lbs... some smaller, some bigger. Tops was a 30 lb. class fish. Joe, who originally hails from Florida, compared the big cats on light tackle to "freshwater amberjacks." If you've ever caught an amberjack, you know what that means. It was one of the most amazing four hours of catfishing I've had in a long time... and we actually "left 'em bitin'!" We were just both smack dab wore out. It was a very "good tired," which means life is good and gettin' better every day.
May 5, 2012
I had the fine honor of escorting Jeanette and Bob Rose from Estill Springs today. They were referred by previous clients who caught some monster catfish. Obviously the Rose's were hoping for the same, so the pressure was on <Eek!>
My big fish bite has actually been off in the past couple of weeks, but Bob brought his lucky charm because we hadn't fished long when he hooked a beast. Fishing light tackle, 72-year-old Bob was in for a serious fight... but as you can see, he was up for the task.
We caught decent numbers of "eater cats" which went in the cooler to go home to Estill Springs. But later in the day, Jeannette managed to stick a bragging-sized blue as well. I think the Rose's went home happy.
May 5, 2012
I originally had a guide trip planned for catfish, but I rescheduled. I decided to check on some post-spawn bass (with live bait, of course). Bait was hard to locate. I found a small pocket in about 50 ft of water sitting 15-20 ft deep. It took some work, but I finally had enough shad to fish.
I dropped the anchor on the sweet spot and started fishing. It was a combination of white bass/largemouth. I was messing around with the bass, when about a 6 lber jumps and shakes the hook. "Oh well, that was fun," I thought. Then, I hook a big ole' fish, wow, what a largemouth. It jumps, maybe 8 lbs, and it shakes the hook. "Ok, I better get serious and start landing these fish," I tell myself. Solid, solid, fish, stripping a lot of drag. That is saying a lot for a largemouth. A couple of the toads took what seemed liked a few minutes to surface on 8 lb line, the excitement building as you can't wait to see a big bass surface that feels like a catfish.
My initial plans to striper fish at Watts Bar didn't work out today, but I tried to make the best of it with the bass, and I obviously can't complain.
April 29, 2012
Out this morning for awhile, I was bored. What is a guy going to do? Fish? I guess!!!!
I concentrated for awhile trying to catch a big cat out of the boil on bluegill, with no luck. This spring is the exact opposite of last spring. Last year at this time i was cast netting shad in slack water and pummeling bass on current breaks. I could barely get my anchor to hold in all the current. Now, I'm wondering if the cats are already thinking about the spawn! We hooked some monster cats in the boils last year, but I still haven't caught one this year.
I did land a few cats thanks to Richard picking up on a pattern last night, and they were quality, with two of them going 16 lbs. Great fun on light tackle. I missed a few other bites trying to fish 2 rods, serves me right I guess.
I'll be checking on the post spawn bass bite probably this week, or Watts Bar Striped Bass. I'd like to combo for the rest of my upcoming May trips. Have a grreeeeaaattttttttttttttt week!!!!!!!!!!
We started out with a few bragging-sized bluegill. The big boys are starting to bed now. The we switched to cats. Our drift bite was sort of slow... although Lucas did hook up with a monster channel cat. It was sort of crowded so I bailed out on the drifting and went to a secret hole. It wasn't fast and furious, but we found several quality fish. Zach went to-to-toe with a 25-pounder on light tackle... that was fun. Of course Lucas broke the 20-pound mark himself.
We just sort of nickel-and-dimed fish all day... not great, but none too shappy either.
April 28, 2012
Out with Steven Swinea and his father-in-law, David Harper today. I fear I had the wrong game plan set up, and honestly, I was in bed going over it in my head. Ok, ok, what to do? Should we start out anchoring looking for a big fish, then drift for cats? Or should I load up on shad, start out for bass, and switch over to cats? They wanted a chance at a picture catfish, so I went to anchor. Other than one small bite, the anchor bite was dead, with very little current. I was used to fishing a ton of current for so long, and now it feels like the dead sea. So we abandoned ship and headed for the dam. I think we landed 12 catfish, with a one eyed blue and a 9 lb channel cat. Then, the bite just went totally dead for me. I have no idea what I was doing wrong, as I couldn't get back in contact with the blues. Richard was landing some with his clients, and I saw them hook a really good fish. It was pretty frustrating, but hey, the company was great and that's a record Channel cat at the river park for me. We thought it was a big blue, and when I saw about 30 inch fish surface, my jaw dropped. Nothing like a hard fighting channel cat to make you think you have a monster blue on the line.
Thanks for the trip guys. Remember to give me a call this December, and let's go hunt a trophy blue!!!! I'll even buy Jimmy John's and have it delivered to the river, a winter time tradition.
For those of you that are Scenic city customers on this email list, I usually like to hunt a giant catfish from about October-February, fish 8-10 hrs looking for 2-3 bites. Typically, these are the largest fish of the year. When your back hurts from a monster taking you to the limit, well, there's not much else better to me!!
April 27, 2012
I cast netted shad from the bank and headed for some drifting in the late evening. It was ultra slow. Steve Smith landed a white bass and I had one come off near the boat. We went up to drift the dam and Steve briefly hooked a drag burner, otherwise known as a striped bass. It pulled off, and it was like a ghost town. I went ahead and started fishing shad on the bottom, and that was the ticket. We ended up with around 10 bass, a mix of smallmouth, spots, and largemouth, and 1 small striper. All great fun on light tackle of course. The evening wasn't a wash at least, although it's slowing enough now to make me want to make a trip to Watts Bar really soon to see if it's happening there or not!
April 22, 2012
I was really looking forward to hitting the water with an old friend, and now Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Ed Carter. (FYI, I worked for TWRA many years ago and Ed an I have known each other since those days).
It was another "mix & match" morning. I really wanted to stick a striper or a smallmouth. The stripers didn't want to play (at least not in the time my patience lasted). We switched to drifting shiners for smallmouth. While the white bass loved our shiners, it took a long time to find a brownfish for Ed, but we finally did. He also did big battle with a monster drum... great fun on light tackle. (video below)
We played with zillions of bluegill. We found lots of big females, but the big bull males still haven't arrived en masse. We were having enough fun that Ed called the hotel to request a "late checkout" ... that was good.
After the bluegill we started concentrating on cats. With the help of my partner , we found a "sweet spot." We caught good numbers of 4 - 6 lb. blues... with a couple of 8's and 10's thrown in for good measure.
Listening to him speak to the Outdoor Writers Saturday night I realized that as TWRA Director, Ed is dealing with a tremendous amount of stress that most sportsmen never understand. Hopefully Sunday AM we shed a little of that stress.
April 22, 2012
Out with Robert and Curt Brewer from Knoxville, TN. We've had a strange month of weather, lots of cool weather. Today brought us a fierce wind out of the west, causing havoc on our drifts.
I started out netting shad from the bank, armed and ready to go with about 50 baits. Curt was drifting that around with only 1 taker that pulled off. We boated 2-3 small cats, and then I hook a big fish. I pass off to Curt and he's in for a battle. I see brown, oh man, I think it's a flathead. A minute or two later, a 17 lb drum surfaces. Wow, what a fight from a drum!!!
After that, I gave up on the shad and just decided to drift for the cats. I just can't turn down the cats when they are willing to cooperate. We hit the cats in 3 different spots, but had to work for it, and work for it, and work for it!!! A couple of doubles came in the boat that tipped the scales at over 20 lbs combined, so that was fun.
The Brewers brought a 50 qt cooler to keep fish, and it was filled to the top with blues and 1 lonely channel cat. It even had a big longear sunfish that somehow hooked up on chicken as we had on a triple, me landing the bluegill, quite funny.
After the cats cooled down, I went and fished a few bass spots with no luck. We all switched over to shad, and Curt brought in a nice little striper that put up a great fight. We made a different drift in one of my old bank spots and Curt brought in a hard fighting smallmouth. The kid was a fish catching machine, made Dad and me proud!! I thought about drifting again, but the Brewers had the drive back to Knoxville and a mess of fish that I'm sure they just started on right now. We just couldn't survive till the evening bite for stripers.
Thanks for the trip guys, I think we did well considering a high of 60 and a 10-20 mph wind. What a solid weekend on the river!!!
April 21, 2012
Every year , a teacher, rewards some of his best students with a fishing trip. Today was the 2012 Trip out with "The Fishing Teacher." Three out of the four kids had never fished before, so they had quite the good time. Jesica boated two big smallmouth, and she was letting out shrieks each and every jump. We hooked up with a number of blues drifting light tackle.
Jesica hooked into a big blue, but after awhile it towed us down to the parked barge, and we got into trouble fast. I couldn't get out of the way and pop went the line. I think it would have taken a lot longer to land it downstream as it was a big ole light tackle fish. Later, I hooked an upstream drag screamer that must have broken in the rocks as I passed the rod off to one of the kids. Each kid had a cat in the 10 lb class, so they were all happy campers. Wish we could have landed the two big bites we had, but I was excited the trip turned out to be a success.
Now, I must say, for three of them never fishing before, they hooked and landed on their own a fair number of fish. As usual, the first shift of kids hooked a few bass and the 2nd shift landed more cats. It seems like it takes the cats a bit to wake up.
April 20, 2012
I took outdoor writer Rob Simbeck for an excursion on the river. I hoped to duplicate the great day we had Thursday... basically three patterns -- drifting shiners for smallmouth (or assorted species), drifting chicken for catfish and doing a little bluegill fishing. They're starting to bed.
We were successful at all three... unfortunately we just never found "The One," ... lots of fish, just nothing especially big of newsworthy. But we had great fun and fellowship nonetheless.
April 19, 2012
Off work for the Tennessee Outdoor Writers Conference... Berry Cross with the Tennessee Wild Side Television Program came to town for us to shoot a couple of stories. He brought his Dad, Clyde. On this day we were going to shoot a general story about the fishing in Chickamauga Dam Tailwaters. Berry and Clyde were running late so I striper fished a little while while waiting and "Boom!" ... 20-pounder nails my topwater redfin. That was fun (see i-Kam video below).
When they arrive we headed downriver under perfect conditions chasing smallmouth. We whacked 'em good drifting shiners. Clyde caught a beast (5.3 lbs)... and even Berry caught a great fish (4.5 lbs) while I shot video of him.
We caught a little bit of everything... Clyde stuck another beastly channel cat. It was a great day all around, we got some super video and it should make a great TV story.
April 17, 2012
I was sitting in the parking lot at Chick Fil-A eating a spicy chicken sandwich weighing my options. Do I just hitch a ride with Richard and fish topwater, or get there earlier and find some bait? I decided to get there earlier. I netted 15 baits from the bank, and hit the boat.
First drift, I hook a huge striper, and by the time I get the motor turned upstream, he nearly spools me and breaks me off in the rocks. Wow, so I switch rods to some new line. I hook another tank, I start motoring upriver, he's still stripping drag. I finally get caught up, oh no, snagged in the rocks, pop goes the line!!!! It's hard to describe how fast they ran upriver, kind of takes your breath away honestly.
Later, Erik Almy shows up, and I try for some more bait to get him on some fish. I get about 8 baits, as my bait spot was covered up by some people fishing. Bait is tough to come by right now. You know what happened? I only had 5 baits left, as a heron ate 3 of them while I turned my back. sneaky and crafty bird!!! Come on bird, only when I have too much bait!
Off to drifting we go, Erik lands a striper around 8-10 lbs. He has another striper chase and miss his bait 2 times, then a big skipjack picks his threadfin up! I get a bait crushed and ripped off the hook.
Quickly after that, Erik hooks one, wait, I've got one, oh no, what are we going to do? Wait a minute though, they aren't stripping a bunch of drag. Erik has a big smallmouth jump. It jumps again! Our lines near each other, we swap sides of the boat. Get the net out, net his, I still don't know what I have. Then, another big smallmouth surfaces, what a double!
Erik missed a few after that, and it was off the water. I had some heart breakers tonight!!!! Still, you can't win when you don't play right? I also like feeling had by the fish and still landing those smallmouth. I am blessed to have this beautiful river in my backyard.
April 16, 2012 (Sam & Richard)
We finally had a little rain and cloud cover. Sam and I wanted to check to see if there might be a late-evening striper bite with the change in weather. I let Sam out on shore to try and cast net some shad. I moved out in the river just to hang out and throw a lure or two.
First cast with a topwater Redfin -- Bam!
12 lb. Striper in the boat.
Figured I better go fetch Sam who was standing on shore watching me catch fish. :-)
The stripers were HOT! I caught five total on the topwater Redfin and missed several more. It is absolutely the most exciting bite there is in freshwater fishing. Sam had a lot of sweat equity in his shad, so he stuck
with the live bait and landed two.
Sam loves fishing light line... 8 lb. test line for stripers in the tailwaters is crazy, but he does it. When he hooks up you WILL have to chase the fish down with the big motor, but it is great fun. Sam and I won't book specific striper trips at Chickamauga because the striper bite is very inconsistent. If we've booked trips for other species, we will fish for stripers if they're there. But even then it is almost always a very short-lived bite. On this night the fish were active about 30 minutes and then they disappeared. Here's a video taste.
April 15, 2012
Jim Wallace is an old college friend from near Nashville. Like so many folks do these days, we crossed paths after 35 years on Facebook. Jim wanted to come down, catch some catfish and hash over college days (some of which might best be forgotten). He brought his portable CD player complete with the "Best of the '70's" music.
Apparently catfish are not fans of 70's music because we had to work really hard to stick a few cats. They just really did not want to play very much on Sunday.
But as usually the case, Jim still managed to reel in the biggest fish of his life. Even on a slow day, it's nice when somebody achieves a "PB" (Personal Best).
And we enjoyed some good music and relived some good times. Now, hopefully, I can forget them again... which means life is good and gettin' better everyday.
April 14, 2012
Chad Perry and his girlfriend Kristen came along this morning for some light tackle catfish. I felt extremely confident as I knew where the blues were sitting from fishing with Kylene just six hrs earlier. Unfortunately there were two boats anchored, blocking out my preferred drift line. We started out with 4 channel cats, and the blues were unproductive. Then the anchored boats left, and we nickel and dimed the blues, the usual mix of 5-10 lbers, the occasional double, even had a triple till one came off.
A few of the cats were really aggressive at the boat and we had three or four in the 12-13 lbs. class. By noon we were ready to go, but stuck another 3 blue cats, with Chad having quite the battle on light tackle with a 23 lber. I remember one trip last year fishing with my 4th grade students. The first shift of kids didn't catch one over 12 lbs, and the 2nd shift, at high noon, caught a 21, 41, 48. You just never know do you? What a great morning, even though it seems like the cats did not get the 7 a.m. breakfast call and slept in. Thanks a lot cats, next time I would like to know when I can sleep longer than 5 hrs!
Another great trip on the water, it's a great time to boat 10-20 blue cats on light tackle. You just hope you hit the lottery and a big one moves on your bait fishing 8-10 lb line! Fun, fun, fun!!!
April 14, 2012
Martin Draxlbauer is a German Engineer in the United States working at Wacker Chem in Cleveland. He's a hardcore fishermen... his friends peter and Irvin, not so much. But they wanted to come along for the ride and just watch. Martin has fished a lot of places, but he had never pursued Tennessee River catfish. We fixed that in a hurry.
The first fish of the day was a beast... the biggest of the day. The 33-pounder hooked up on a light action spinning rod gave Martin an incredible fight. The German engineer obviously had fought big before because he knew exactly when to let him go, and when to "put the heat on him!" Still, I'd say it took nearly 30 minutes before I got the grabbers on him. Needless to say, the folks from Germany were highly impressed with what the Tennessee River has to offer.
Again, that was the biggest fish of the day... but Martin had the chance to go toe-to-toe with several other bragging-sized catfish. It was very unusual, and fun, having plain old "spectators" in the boat. They took home one big channel cat to have for dinner.
It was great having the opportunity to host folks from around the world... and that means life is good and getting better everyday.
April 13, 2012
Well I'll be!!!!!!! A certain special lady (my fiance, Kylene Booher) joined me tonight for some tailrace cats. I was given a 2-hour time limit, but I think I snuck in 2 1/2 hrs. We stuck some doubles, but they were mostly 3-6 lbers. We went hunting for some bigger fish, and found a few 8-10 lbers, with a 20 lber throw in the mix. I pretty well just moved Kylene around the boat by hand as it was a very aggressive fight. I just grabbed onto her life jacket as the cat ran all around the boat. Just to let you know, I now know the difference between coaching and being "condescending."
April 12, 2012
Today was the coldest day so far this year (kidding, but it was very cool and I think has slowed down the striper bite.) I threw the cast net over, and over, and over, and over, and over and over again to catch a small amount of bait. We hooked 2 stripers, with Craig breaking one off and me landing one. We all landed some white bass, and among us a few drum/cats. I lost a nice smallmouth, and all three of us had what I believe was a smallmouth spit our baits back at us. It was about the upper 30s to start the day and 50 degrees when we were fishing. Although the cold snap seems to have shut the striped bass down, it beats a kick in the pants --right?
April 10, 2012
Norman Neel and I finally met up for a trip. Only bad thing was a huge striper broke me off on 8 lb line. At first, the fish just kind of did nothing, then he realized he was hooked and screamed on upstream. Norman caught me up to the fish, but it was fairly dark at this point and we ended a touch upriver of the big striper. I couldn't get him off the bottom, and I'm pretty sure he ran me into a rock.
I landed one otherstriper around 8-10 lbs. Norman got a 24 lber. that screamed around for awhile, and we each landed a toad smallmouth, a few blues, a few drum. I want that one back, but hey, I like living a little dangerous with a spinning rod and 8 lb line. Too bad it's a little hard to control a 25 lb. striper in 6 ft of water!
April 9, 2012
Stephen Matt with G3 Boats came through town on a work trip with his wife Kellie. Stephen said, "It's just a fun trip to see some new water, no pressure." But when you're guiding a professional outdoor-dude carrying a high-dollar camera you can't help but think, "Eek!"
We had a fun morning. We started out with live shiners looking for a trophy smallmouth. Kellie got one on the line right away. It cleared water so we got a great look at it... but then it made a mad dash beneath the boat, line hit the boat and "snap." We did catch several spotted bass, one real nice one. Later Stephen hooked up a
big smallie that simply came unhooked after a minute's fight.
About 9:30 we started catfishing. Immediately Kellie hooks up with a beast! A minute later it just comes unhooked. We're figuring we're jinxed. We had to work for the cats, but Miss Kellie smoked us all catching back-to-back blues in the 10-15 lb. class... her "Personal Best" fish ever. She was proud.
Finally just as we're set to leave, Stephen hooks up an especially big blue that makes a run for the boat, turns quickly and the line
It was a great fun morning with several fun fish
but the really Big Boys were too smart for us on this day.
April 7, 2012
Jason McGee and Todd Roberts came over from Shelbyville, Tenn. for a day in the tailwaters. Jason had a REALLY bad itch to catch some big smallmouth, so there's where we concentrated out efforts for starters. We began drifting turbines with shiners at daylight. We caught several white bass and some solid "eater cats" that won a free ride back to Shelbyville. Once the sun topped over the dam, it got real slow but Todd finally tagged one good-sized smallmouth.
We bailed and headed downriver to some other smallmouth locations. We got a couple of smallies on one of my favorite banks then headed for an area almost in downtown Chattanooga. It was slow at first, except for a couple of good spotted bass.
Then I went out and drifted over the mid-channel hump. Bingo! It was hot! For a while, every drift across it yielded a smallmouth or a cat, or sometimes both. The biggest smallie (boated by Jason) was 20.5 inches, 4.7 lbs. We finished off five dozen shiners pretty fast.
We broke out the catfishing gear and hit a couple of spots going back upriver... a cat or two, but not much. Earlier I told Jason and Todd the catfish bite at the Dam might pick up when it got warmer. We got back up there about 1 pm and it was "Game on!"
We stuck, missed or broke off a big fish on almost every drift.... it was crazy. Most fish were 10-15 lb. class. One 23 lber., and one I guess was 40 or 45 pounds. However
I screwed up. Todd volunteered to land the beast while I shot video. But I did a VERY bad job giving instructions on how to properly grab and land a monster cat (with no net):-(
Todd got the grabbers on the fish, but with a massive alligator roll, the beast twisted out, broke the line, and was gone!
Jason wasn't TOO mad at me ... and it made for great video.
March 31, 2012
Ron Swallow fished with me last year. He is a hardcore fishermen. This trip he brought along his friend Mark Bentley, who hasn't fished a whole lot... but he's good at it! We put in a long, hard day... 13 hours from daylight to dark... on Chickamauga Lake and in the Tailwaters. We caught a little bit of everything!
We started on crappie and as per norm for the year, we caught a LOT... we estimated 50 or 60... but only a relative few that were big enough to eat. (Ron and Mark photos) Midway through our day partner called my and said they were whacking some good catfish (and bass) in the tailwaters. So Me, Ron and Mark packed up, swung by my house to swap out equipment and headed for the Dam.
It started slow... a few hard-fighting channel cats. Then we had to run for cover and sit out a huge thunderstorm for an hour or more. That ran everybody else off the water however.
When we resumed fishing, the closer to sunset it got, the better the fishing got. Ron and Mark each nailed a couple of trophy smallmouth... and right at the sunset, they got to watch me catch a healthy striper after declaring, "This is my last cast!" It was the perfect ending to a great trip (for me anyway <grin>)!
March 31, 2012
(Sam) met up with Richard Tatum and his friend Mike at 7 a.m. I had 3 dozen shiners ready to go, but had my mind on some shad. I tried some spots where I netted last time, but the current was different. After about 20 minutes, I hit the jackpot. Off to bassin' we went. We landed around 4-5 bass and missed the same amount. One spot came back after a bait 3 times. Mike landed a toad largemouth, very fat.
Then, Mike finds himself in a battle. Several runs of the drag later, the infamous drum comes to the surface. Great fight on light tackle. I decided to drift hoping to find a big smallmouth. I was floating a piece of chicken just in case the cats were there. They were there, in force!!! Mike landed 4-5 over 10 lbs, along with an 18 and 36 lber. The 18 was vicious at the boat splashing us with all kind of water. The 36 pulled us downriver as Mike was on one side of the boat to the other. We took a break from catfishing, as they were interested in the smallmouth. We landed another 3 bass, and catfished a bit more. 2 or 3 doubles later, our chicken breast was gone!!!! Richard, who definitely isn't a catman, had to admit that cats on light tackle are "pretty fun."
Thanks for the trip Richard and Mike, I sure had a blast!!! You guys were fun to hang out with. I'm glad you got your first dose of light tackle cats!!!
March 25, 2012
David Green and Willis Elrod wanted to learn about "long line" or "flat line" trolling for crappie. I'm mostly a one-trick pony crappie fishing, but that is my one trick. We fished hard, daylight to 4 pm. We caught 100 crappie, maybe 120 (or more)... but as has been the case this March, we struggled finding "keeper crappie" (bigger than the 10-inch size limit). We ended the day with a grand total of 14 keepers. But obviously, between 100-plus crappie and assorted other "off species," there was no shortage of action to keep things interesting. And hopefully David and Willis learned a technique they can use for years to come.
March 25, 2012
The tailwater was mighty slow this morning, current wise and fish wise. I tagged a couple quality bass, and a few channel cats. I had quality bait today, but I guess the flow being cut in half turned the stripers and bass off completely. I netted some big golden shiners and had an epic battle that the fish won. Felt like a monster smallmouth, but it could have been a football spot. I just didn't quite get the hook stuck on an 8-inch shiner I guess. The bass just wouldn't bite though. I didn't see any striper action the past 2 mornings as far as catching by me or other boats. I did not fish downriver for bass these past few days. It seems there are some toad smallmouth right at the dam, so that was good enough for me. Happy spring everyone!!!! I can't wait for some tailrace cat action!!!! I hope to catch a 100 lber in the boils this year.
March 24, 2012
My clients didn't like the weather report and bailed on me Saturday, so me and Ed McCoy (enmreal) made a jaunt to the Riverpark for the afternoon of "unsettled" weather. We got to test our rainsuits. First fish we believe was a drum, but aren't really sure. All I know is I got to watch Ed fight it for about 15 minutes on #4 test line before it broke him off. But it was fun while it lasted.
It was slow but we managed another drum or two, a channel cat and I hooked what I know was a trophy smallmouth. But we parted ways as he made his very first screaming run... it's what I get for trying to get by with old line which I knew was marginal.
Then we checked some slack water for crappie and found a BUNCH. Just like on the lake however, you have to cull through a boat load of short fish to find keepers. We found four of those in about an hour... along with assorted bluegill, rock bass, stripe, etc.
Lastly we went to check on stripers... we should have done that earlier. They were going crazy just as we arrived... I got so excited I couldn't cast and immediately backlashed. Finally got that undone (after a bunch of monster fish had stopped boiling) and coaxed a twenty-pounder into crushing my Redfin... my first topwater striper in a long while. It's a good thing I don't get the chance to do that too much... my heart couldn't handle it.
Not long after that the birds departed, along with the fish. There one minute... gone the next. Go figure. But it was a fun afternoon with enmreal, which means life is good and gettin' better every day!
March 24, 2012
This vaunted striper bite I've been hearing about wasn't happening this morning. Richard texted me a 20 lber this evening. I will politely remind him this spring when I'm at Watts Bar that I like big striped bass as well!!! I threw some lures and live baits, nothing!
Paul and I didn't catch that much but what was there, was quality. We had a 20-inch class smallmouth come off at the boat but got another one into the net. Hooked on a bait caster with 14 lb line and it was still an absolute terror.
Paul caught a "football spotted bass!" As always, I enjoy your company and awesome friendship. May there be big fish in your future,
We caught fish... a wide assortment of fish... but we had to work for them. The crappie we found Saturday in the driving rain did a total disappearing act overnight and we had to go "on the prowl."
We did some "hunting and pecking" looking for a concentration of spawners, but couldn't find the Mother Lode.
Finally we split the difference and went back to slow trolling... but we were trolling shallow with jigs under floats. That's where we caught about 5 zillion fish... crappie, bass, catfish (blues & channels), drum, yellow bass, bluegill, golden shiners and shellcrackers. It was great fun, albeit aggravating having to cull through the small crappie for keepers.
Richard loves to eat fish... they went home with 28 fine crappie, along with an assortment of other species that will fit perfectly in a frying pan.
Kayla got broken off by one BIG fish of some type that we never saw. It ran around too much to be a catfish... I'm certain it was either a drum, or a big bass:( But she captured another drum, her biggest fish ever:)
In THIS PICTURE I'm am pretty sure Kayla is making reference to the size of Richard's fish... that means life is good and gettin' better every day?
March 17, 2012
Had a great day out with the VanZant clan... Dillon, Jacob and John. We had to call a short "Rain Delay," and then it still rained on us even after we thought it was done. But while it was raining the fish were on fire... trolling six rods and we had fish on almost non-stop for the first hour. After the rain stopped and sun came out, the bite slowed dramatically.
As usual, lots of short fish to cull through.
But in four hours the VanZants carried home 19 big, fat crappie to filet. More importantly I believe Jacob and John had a TON of fun!
March 16, 2012
Tim Maharrey and his co-worker Nick are thinking about lining up some of their business customers on fishing trips, so they wanted to make a short trip just to "test the waters." We had a beautiful morning and caught LOTS of crappie and yellow bass.... "LOTS" means several dozen in about three hours. As per norm this year, we had to cull through a lot of undersized fish for a few keepers... but Tim and Nick weren't keeping fish anyway, so it was all about "catchin'" ... and we did lots of that.
With all the warm weather we've had, the crappie have
moved up much shallower much earlier this year.
March 11, 2012
You've heard it before.... what a difference a day makes!
After a great day Saturday, I had Steve Mainord hyped for a repeat performance Sunday. He brought along his granddaughter, Delaney.
The crappie... at least the legal-sized crappie... did a vanishing act Sunday. We fished hard, exact same places, same methods as Saturday. We did catch LOTS of fish... yellow bass and crappie. Unfortunately the crappie seemingly shrank overnight. We had a zillion "shorts," but at the end of the day we only had seven keepers.
Of course Delaney still had great fun, and thanks to the action, the 7-year-old fished like a trooper for a long time. But I know Steve was hoping for a few more fish for the freezer. What can I say ... Life is still good and gettin' better every day!
March 10, 2012
I had a half day trip out today with Jim and Chris Miller. It was tough river fishing, but we pulled a few bass/several quality bluegill out of the mix. Jim also landed one blue cat about 5 lbs drifting for bass. Chris was hooked up with a decent cat for a bit, but it came unbuttoned. We only found aggressive blues in one hole, and they were not hooking up very well with an 8/0 circle hook. We had at least 5 takedowns, and no fish in the boat! I think there was a new personal best smallmouth for both Jim and Chris. You talk about some characters, it was like listening to my dad tell jokes. One zinger after another! We sure had a lot of fun, and the weather turned out awesome.
On another note, I find it interesting that my cat bite this late winter has only been a success in the afternoon/evening hours. There has been years where I can't seem to connect on a big fish except in the early morning hours. I definitely was frustrated today marking some big fish that didn't want to play. I like to compare it to deer hunting, it can be tons of pain staking waiting, and then a few minutes of a complete adrenaline rush!
Jim and Chris... thanks for giving me the opportunity to take you fishing!!!
March 10, 2012
Great day on the water chasing crappie! Randy Johnson and his Dad, Reed, started out catfishing with me. Last year they decided they wanted to try crappie... of course my pre-spawn crappie season was a bust last March and I REALLY wanted to put the Johnsons on some crappie.
Today I was gravely concerned heavy rains were going to mess up my favorite area... Wolftever Creek. I was right (I hate it when I'm right ). We hit it for 20 minutes and quickly figured that it was time for Plan B, which meant find clear water.
The Plan B move was a good one. We were on fish in no time... the wind moved with us so the first two hours was interesting. My trolling motor wouldn't work against the white caps so we had to run upwind with the big motor, then drift/troll back downwind. It was aggravating, but still productive. The wind died about 10:30 or 11. However we caught fish pretty much non-stop, in the wind and after... we did have to move to deeper water when the sun got higher, but the fish were still aggressive.
Our keeper/non-keeper ratio was much better today than previous trips. We "guesstimated' roughly a 2-to-1 ratio... we quit with 36 keepers, so do the math. We caught more than 100 crappie today... and a ton of yellow bass. It was an action-packed day.
My traditional slow-trolling method... 1/16th oz. tube jigs. Early we found fish mostly in 8-12 feet of water... later in the day they were bunched up in 10-16 feet.
March 4, 2012
No trips booked today so I got lazy and slept in today. Texted partner about 8:30 and he was about to head for the river to try to live bait for some bass. I grabbed a rod and headed that way.
Sam knows live baiting bass means first catching live bait. He keeps up with it pretty well, and throws a cast net with the best of them. In short order we had a bucket full of 5 and 6-inch threadfin and gizzard shad.
The bass weren't hot and heavy. To be exact, in about three hours we caught six (and missed a few)... but all were QUALITY fish. Two largemouth, two spots and two smallmouth... Chickamauga Dam Tailwaters have great diversity. Smallest fish was two pounds... biggest was at least five, maybe more. (See 2012 Photo Gallery)
Big bass on light tackle is great fun! We tried catfishing for a short while but no quick bites. The hard wind was bitter cold so with several quality bass under our belts, we were happy and bailed out about the time the wind got even worse.
Best catch of the day... on one catfish anchor pull, Sam snagged the rope from a previous 30-pound anchor he'd lost. The rope slipped off the cleat while he was fighting a big fish. As he pulled the "lost" anchor back into the boat Sam said with a big smile, "That's about an $80 catch right there."
It was a good day for several reasons.
Posted March 1, 2012
I have done a lot of hunting and with the exception of a trout fishing trip to North Georgia, I've done very little fishing so far this year. That will soon change with March crappie season. As a matter of fact I made my first serious crappie foray of the year Feb. 27 with Brad Hudson. It was a "short" foray because my 2-year battery is nearly three years old. It gave up the ghost after about three hours trolling:(
The day was partly about "getting the kinks out." I succeeded.
We caught a lot of fish... but most of them had their tails to close to their eyeballs. We were longline trolling and caught 25 or 30, but only six keepers (min. 10-inch size limit). I'm hearing similar reports of lots of short fish from guide and friend Steve McCadams on Kentucky Lake. It might be seasonal or might be just a strong year class of fish coming on. We caught an even mix of black and white crappie, but most the keepers (5/6) were black crappie. Red/chartreuse or black/blue were the colors of choice.
During January and February Sam has stayed on the river regularly catching some great bass ... smallmouth, spots and largemouth... as well as a few trophy cats (See 2012 Photo Gallery).