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Thread: RCBA Tournament Day Account

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Brandon, Mississippi
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    Default RCBA Tournament Day Account

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    My alarm clock went off bright and early Saturday morning, shocking me out of a deep and peaceful sleep. Rubbing my eyes, I couldn’t help but wonder why my wife was up at 4:00 am and why in the world was she turning the lights on and off so quickly. My questions were swiftly answered as the thundered rolled in. Shoot. The weatherman actually got this one right. No text from Paul or Clifford meant we were actually going to go through with it. I surely wasn’t going to be the one to call it.

    The next forty minutes were spent milling about in a drowsy haze trying to find any legitimate reason to bow out gracefully. I mean, my tournament partner was REALLY sick, I hadn’t prefished since the MCC Tournament the week before, and I did have some things around the house that needed my attention. Mother Nature was putting on a stunning light show, not to mention my mind had yet to forget how warm and comfortable my bed was. The aroma of the dark black coffee in my cup cut through the early morning brain fog like a machete through the brush and, standing over my boat, I resigned to the fact that I had committed to showing up. Character has its price sometimes. Plus, when it comes down to it, dang, I just love to fish.*Looks like I would be flying solo, today.

    With the boat hitched up and having gone through my gear with a fine-toothed comb the night before, I pulled out of the driveway as my windshield wipers beat out a steady marching rhythm. Straining to see the road ahead, I suddenly remembered that I had been meaning to replace these old worn out wipers. In minutes My headlights illuminated the parking lot at Pelahatchie Bay Trading post as I was topping off the fuel tank and putting a few extra minnows in with the ones I had picked up the day before. After the proprietor’s customary wish that my day be so very blessed, I fired up the Tahoe again and made waves up toward Brown’s Landing. The whole ride I was questioning my own sanity.

    The wind was already rocking the truck back and forth anytime you passed an opening in the big pines that line Old Fannin Road. Passing Tommy’s several long minutes later, I saw my first glimpse of the lake that morning. “What the heck are we thinking,” I mused as I made my way across the long expanse of open road at the north end of the lake. Lighting flashed across the sky and thunder boomed as the big, fat, cold rain pelted my truck. Rain drops so big you wondered if it were hail. It almost had the audacity to drown out the Allman Brothers “Soulshine”” that was playing out of the speakers. As Gregg finished lamenting about the words his daddy told him and Warren’s guitar slowly faded, I made the last turn into the ramp. I could already see Clifford’s truck and boat, Mr. Hulen, and the Walters (both Jr. and Sr.) were ahead of me as well.

    “”It’s almost over us, should be the last storm of the day. Here, come look at the radar!”” I heard Clifford’s upbeat demeanor and unmistakable voice cut through the morning maelstrom as I slogged through the wet parking lot. Clearly, his mind was on the big stringers of fish he put up on the board the week before, and he was eager to get back to where he left them. Pushing my wet hair out of my eyes, all I could see was a whole lot of green and yellow from Lake Charles to Mobile.

    Paul Hobson, ever the voice of reason, called for a meeting under the pavilion to discuss the current weather situation and have a gut check before blast off. A bunch of wet hollow eyes stared at each other as we discussed our options. Clifford, eager as he was to fish, was briefly silenced by a long walk up a steep hill. Well, silent is a poor way of describing it, but his focus was more on the meeting location than the current weather. All in all, we came here to fish and that’s what we decided to do. We couldn’t get much more wet than we already were, and the sky was beginning to look more irritated now than downright angry, but where then rain eased the wind took its place in much greater force. After a quick review of the rules, we broke camp and each made our way to our war wagons. It was time to go to work. Time to put up or shut up.

    When you can launch at Tommy’s at 6:30 on a Saturday morning with no wait line and your choice of the most convenient parking spaces knowing good and well least two bass tournaments are also scheduled for that day, there is no question what you signed up for. The commitment had been made, now it was time to focus. The weatherman said an east wind, but the spray that hit me in the face as I slipped out of the protected harbor was coming at me from the north. Any hard wind can make the lake tough to fish, but 17 mph winds straight out of the north makes Barnett shrink mighty quickly. Without having prefished, all I had to go off of was my fishing journal and a small list of places that I thought would allow me to make a half-decent presentation. In a 17’ aluminum hull boat, that is not a very long list. One competitor was already sitting in one those places as I eased under the bridge at hwy 43, so I continued bouncing my way south. Watching one competitor turn into Oil Well, I said a quick prayer for him. He was braver than I, but knowing that there are some big fish in that old hole, I knew I better be on my game. If they could make them bite in there in all this wind, we all could be in trouble.

    Having the weather and dropping temperatures to contend with now as it usually seems on tournament day, I knew that I needed some sort of a plan. For me, that plan was simple: Fundamentals. Do the little things well.* I knew I wouldn’t have very many chances, so I had to make each one count. Stay focused, keep alert, make good hook-sets, no double clutching, keep good pressure all the way into the net. The simple things we have all learned and worked on from day one of our fishing seem to be the first things out the window when the pressure mounts. Work on getting seven solid fish, and then try to cull up to a competitive weight. I knew I needed over 10 lbs to be competitive. Barnett usually requires much more than that to make any money but, given the conditions being as poor as they were, 10 lbs was the number I was shooting for to start with and a kicker fish or two on top of it and I would be happy. Big fish was going to be a mystery. Barnett has been putting out some studs and these guys are no slouches by anyone’s standards.

    Sitting down, I was greeted to a sharp crack of thunder. Oops, nope, that was just the seat of my Frogg Toggs ripping out. Well, who needs a dry hind-end anyways. I would only be fishing four poles. I did this to help keep the mess down in case of an errant wildcat turn with the wind. Spreading them out helped too, instead of a foot or two between tips, I had closer to three feet. This meant fewer* chances of one rig catching another, and it gave me a larger lane to fight and hopefully net fish by myself. I tied some of my special “windy day” rigs the night before, and they did seem to help. For these, I use the same Capps and Coleman style rigs, but I make the drops about twice as long. The theory being that as the half or three quarter ounce weight bobs up and down, the longer drops help cut down on the amount of movement transferred out to the bait. A shock absorber if you may. The downside is it makes the bite much more subtle. The extra slack that I am hoping to create can give a fish an extra few seconds to taste/think about the bait in its mouth. Instead of a traditional double bounce or sharp jerk on the rod tip, the bite comes as more of a resistance or added weight on the tip as the rod bows and dips.

    With all of that sorted out it was time to do the chain dance. Back and forth. Let a little out, pull it back in. Let it ride, and then do it all over again. Almost fifteen feet of chain had me moving about .3-.5, and I kept another few feet in reserve for when it really gusted up. When the wind would drop, my trolling motor set on low would keep me slowly shuffling along. I would line up for a drift and run it out as far from the bank as I could before the rollers became too much of a bother. At that point I would pack it up and circle back around for another go.

    One particular thing I have been practicing really paid off. I have been trying to refine my process of breaking down my setup quickly and efficiently. Over the course of several outings, setting up and breaking down my spiderrig set up over and over again shaved several minutes off of the process. I know some guys on the lake looked at me like I was crazy as I would sit there and break it all down just to set it up again several times over, but it paid off in spades today. Several hours and 20 or so fish later, the clock was telling me that it was time to make the long run up the lake. As per normal tournament standards I stayed fishing until the last possible moment. This would be no easy ride home.

    I beat, bounced, and banged my way back to the ramp. I lost a rod, a rain jacket, and an undetermined number of brain cells running head on into that heavy north wind, but we didn’t have time to waste. It was time to bury the throttle and let the rough end drag!

    All in all, I had a fantastic time despite the conditions. At the weigh-in, every team who showed up caught fish. Considering that everyone fishing today was in an aluminum hull boat of less than 18’, plus one 16’ fiberglass rig, that is quite a feat after dealing with 15-25mph winds blowing down the gut of the lake. More importantly, everyone made it back safely with a few new stories to boot!

    Whether you're new to the tournament scene or a seasoned angler, check out the RCBA Barnett Fruit Jar series. It is a great launching point to get involved in local fishing tournaments. Our focus is on fun and fellowship, in a laid-back environment. There are plenty of guys willing to help out, and you never who you will fish against. From average Joe weekend anglers to seasoned veterans of the tournament circuits. If you are interested and without a boat, get in touch with one of us and let us know. We will try to find an empty seat for you. Lastly, I have to give a shoutout to my man Mr. Bryan Wesley for meeting me at the ramp with an order of beautiful custom jigheads! They really did the trick.

    See y’all on the water!

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    Deck Officer/2nd Engineer - M/V Saint Charles.
    2004 Tracker 17.5' Panfish
    Tite-lok rod holders - PST and BGJP rods
    I fish, therefore I am!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    Anyone can get lucky once! See what happens next time! LOL
    Look for the old Carolina Skiff
    Loaded down with too much gear...

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