Well I didn’t get the top 10 finish I was looking for at the Indian Lake BFL tournament last Saturday, but I did finish in the top 20 and earned a check. I finished in 19th place with a limit that weighed in at 7 lbs 7 ounces. The overall winning weight was just over 10 lbs. The good news is that I moved all the way up to 29th in the points standings, which is well within the top 40 cut to qualify for the regional tournament on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. With three tournaments to go in the series, all on the Ohio River, I have put myself in a pretty good position.
Going into this tournament I knew that the majority of the field would be crowding into a couple of the popular areas of the lake, and concentrating on flipping pads and throwing topwater frogs. There is a reason why certain areas of lakes are popular…the reason is that they hold a LOT of fish! Those areas at Indian are the Nature Preserve and Blackhawk. I decided that rather than fishing in crowded areas and competing for highly pressured fish with 90 other boats I would fish to my strengths and concentrate on less-popular areas. When I say fishing to my strengths, I am referring to power fishing. I am a power-fisherman through and through. Methodically fishing pads all day is not my strong suit. It kills me to have to slow down and pick apart every inch of every piece of cover that I encounter. My philosophy is to cover as much water as possible, making as many presentations as I can with the thought that during an 8 hour tournament I will come across at least 5 active fish that will bite. Sometimes when conditions are really tough this style of fishing burns me. But it seems to work out most of the time.
During practice I found some solid fish by power fishing areas that I had never fished before. I marked around 10 areas on my GPS where I got decent bites. My game plan for the tournament was to hit every one of those spots, making 20 to 30 casts in each area. If I got a bite, I would fish the area more. If the fish didn’t let me know they were there quickly, I would move. Anytime you are power fishing the weather plays a critical role in your success. Clouds and wind are a power fisherman’s friend. I had my fingers crossed that tournament day would bring favorable conditions.
After launching my boat on tournament day I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to get the conditions I was hoping for. The air was stagnant and the sun was rising quickly. Fortunately I was able to capitalize on the morning bite and boated two small keepers off of my first spot. I stuck with my game plan and began moving from area to area, only to find that the fish were not biting. I was feeling pretty panicked by the time I pulled up on my 8th spot. It was already 10 a.m. and I only had 2 small keepers in the livewell. However, spot number 8 came through. I quickly boated 2 fish in the 2 pound range, and lost a third that was slightly bigger right at the boat. After milking the area for another 30 minutes without a bite I continued to rotate through my areas. Around noon a storm had formed out of the West, and begin dumping rain on the lake. I picked up a buzzbait and was able to finish out my limit and cull one fish before it was time to check-in at the dock to weigh my fish.
The Indian tournament reaffirmed a strong tournament philosophy that I try to always abide by. That philosophy is to fish to my strengths. It is easy to get caught up in “dock talk” and the general opinions of others as to where the fish are biting and how to target them. But if you remain confident in your abilities and stick to what you do best, you can locate and catch bass by taking the road less traveled.