Sunday, April 18, 2010

American FIshing Series...Lake Ouachita

The second stop on the AFS central division schedule took us to Lake Ouachita in central Arkansas.  Normally, the scenery is much better than the fishing (if you've never been, it's beautiful place),  but not this time, the majority of the fish were up shallow either cruising the bank looking to spawn, or actually spawning.  Coming from Southern Illinois, we don't have a lot of opportunities to sight fish, with only a few lakes clear enough to see them, it's something we don't so very much.  Unfortunaltely, those lakes don't show up on very many tournament schedules I fish during the spawn, so I was a little under equipped for this one.  The only saving grace for me came from two days of practice for a Lake Norman FLW Tour event when I practiced with my good friend Wesley Strader, and the fish were spawning there also.  In two days he taught me more about catching spawners than I had ever seen or read.  I gotta give a thanks to "W" for teaching me how to catch 'em.
I spent the first day and a half trying to catch fish that had not come to the bank, the ones still in the pre-spawn phase, but that proved more difficult than I expected, so the last 3 days of practice, I put the trolling motor on high and ran every little pocket I could looking for spawners, marking them with my GPS.  On the next to last day of practice I found the "Mother Lode" of spawners, I mean not just a few, and not just nice ones: Giants, Gorillas, Toads, Donkeys, Mules (insert any other name you have for big bass here).  The big ones were laying around everywhere, I knew I had found where I was going to fish. 
You ever get punched in the stomach?  You knw how that feels?  At the pre-tournament meeting, it was announced that you couldn't fish within 50 feet of a "commercial" dock.  I read that rule before practice and thought it meant the marina docks, the ones where they pumped fuel, sold sodas, etc., the docks that had businesses on them.  At the meeting I found out that meant every dock that someone had paid to rent a slip, or store their boat.  I had found all of these fish in the backs of pockets in behind the big long marina docks, under the walkways, beside the cables that stabilized the docks., all within 50 feet of a dock, that apparently was considered "commercial".  In thirty seconds at the pre-tournament meeting I lost over 40 spawners that I felt I could catch.  I was anticipating 15-18lbs per day, if they just cooperated a little bit. 
I managed to scramble around on day one and catch 11lbs 11oz, I had one other area that had a few fish in it, I had marked them the day before, just no big ones.  On the afternoon of day one while looking for more fish I found a cove that had a bunch of fish in it, they wouldn't sit still, but they were decent ones.  I started in there on the moring of day two and managed a limit that weighed 11l bs 15oz (I lost 8oz due to a fish care penalty) and ended the tournament with 23lbs 2oz, 36th place.  It took 23lbs 0oz to get a check, yes you read that correctly, I snuck in and got a check by the skin of my teeth!  That was after losing all of my fish to "off-limits" areas. 
All in all, I feel very fortunate to have cut a check for several reasons, one being I had to scramble to find the fish I caught during the tournament due to my incorrect interpretation of the rules two, I caught all of my fish sight fishing, which was a first for me, I had never spent an entire tournament sight fishing, this was only the second time I had ever tried. 
So I'll leave Lake Ouachita with a good feeling, a little more confindence in my abilities to catch them, and a little more confidence in myself, by that I mean the ability to overcome some minor (or major) set-backs, and still be able to re-group, collect myself and still finish in the money.  My beliefs say that a "Thank you Lord" is pretty much the best phrase that descruibes this one.  I'll post pattern and baits information later.
'Til then, God Bless,


Chris Ricci said...

Great read and good job sneaking in for a check. That's what it's all about

Basspastor said...

Good Job Duke!!! Stupid Rules!!!

Duke Jenkel said...

Thanks Guys, next time I'll know to get a little more clarification when I read a rule I've never seen before!