A Little Extra Info...
If you haven't been out on the water in last couple of weeks, you have really missed some great fishing...
Our tournament on Douglas took place during the early stages of the spawn and made for some decent fishing. There are some important signs to look for during the Spring to help you identify the state of the fish. As we where rolling home from Douglas the sides of the interstate were overwhelmed with the sight of Red Bud trees in bloom. The other thing to notice from our time on Douglas was the powder of yellow that began to lay on everything that lay exposed.
These sights connect us to changes that are taking place above the water, but more importantly what is taking place under the water. The same ingredients that trigger the Red Bud trees and the massive amounts of pollen from other budding plants also trigger bass to hit the beds...now...this doesn't mean that every bass will move shallow at this time, nor does it mean that bass will wait this long to hit the bed. Bass spawn in waves and how many waves there will be is a question that I can't answer...what I can say though is that the biggest girls typically go first and I feel like we were seeing one of the first or second waves moving up.
Lets use these two bass as our example...every fish tells a story or provides a piece to the puzzle and it is important to pay close attention to the details. Both of these fish were caught on the Thursday before the tournament. First, look at the female on the left...she was caught on a shallow point back in a creek. You can see the extra girth in her belly and also the tail is very bloody and beat up from working her bed. Now look at the bass on the right...she was caught on a steep limestone bluff in 15' of water. Notice that her tail has mush less blood and fewer abrasions and she doesn't have the girth in her belly. The bass on the left told me that there were fishing currently on the beds and the bass on the right told me that a wave had already bedded and moved back out to deep water to heal.
I can't speak for everyone, but man was the top-water bite short lived. When we got to our first spot in Caney Creek we had about 15 minutes of top-water action. We caught our first bass on a black buzz-bait. After the top-water bite disappeared we roamed the shallows for a while without any luck. The Carolina rig bite that we had on Thursday was non-existent, but what is funny is the fact that Shaun and Wes caught some of there better fish on the Carolina rig. The main difference that we found out later was the fact that we were throwing a lizard and Shaun and Wes were throwing a salty crawl. Shaun and Wes were also fishing the upper section of the lake while we were fishing the middle section of the lake. (Typically the upper section of the lake has spawning activity sooner and the spawning activity moves down the lake.)
Around 9am and after the shallow bite had not panned out dad and I moved to 45 degree banks and focused on deeper pre-spawn fish. We really started fishing Douglas like we were fishing South Holston. Our main focus was on dark shale banks that form ledges. We were throwing a green pumpkin finesse worm on a 1/4 oz. Spot Remover head. The key was fishing the bait deeper in the 10' - 15' depth range. Shaun and Wes also reported catching a lot of their fish on finesse baits such as the Ned Rig.
The majority of reports pointed towards a finesse pattern being the strongest pattern. As bass move onto or near beds, they really lose that interest on chasing and it becomes more important to get finesse baits in front of their faces. This is why it is sometimes easier to focus on pre- and post- spawn bass, instead of going after spawners. As we move on through the next couple weeks the spawn is going to be winding down and we are going to get into that early post-spawn funk as they make their move into deeper water.
Douglas proved to be a finicky puzzle for the TNCBA. 11 out of 13 teams caught bass, but only four of those teams caught a limit. Individually 18 out of 25 anglers brought bass to the scales, but only five of those were limits. While that might not point to a tough tournament on Cherokee, that is a tough tournament on Douglas where there is a 12 in. limit.
As we move on to our out-of-town tournament, it is time to get your post-spawn attack ready. There are going to be dig girls shallow and deep, and more than likely there will be some sort of shad spawn or bluegill spawn occurring.
I hope everyone had a great time out on Douglas and thank you for coming out to join us!