Everyone has heard the saying if you ain’t first, you’re last, but is that really true? Sure, anyone can have a great day when they go out and the weather is perfect. Arriving at the spot they found in practice, with no one around and the fish are still there. They catch fish throughout the day and head in with the winning bag. Some may think that coming in with the winning bag and taking home a nice check is the only way to win, but this is just not the case.
A couple weeks ago I fished the Roland Martin Tournament at Lake Okeechobee. The talk around the town was that the fish were on the outside edge. While pre-fishing, this is where I focused. I fished for days and wasn’t able to figure out this pattern. Finally, I made the decision to fish the inside some and see what happened. Almost immediately, a huge fish came straight out of the water exploding on my lure. When I say huge, I mean nine to ten pounds. It was then that I realized I had found a spawning flat where six and seven pound bass were congregated like it was an amusement park. Not only a spawning flat, but the largest number of fish in one area I have ever found. After trying out a few different techniques, I reeled in five fish that would have gone between 25 and 27 pounds at the scale, I left feeling confident for the tournament.
Over the next few days however, the weather turned from bad to worse. On tournament day, we had a strong wind and the spawning flat I had located was all the way across the lake. I was facing 3 to 4 foot waves in order to get to my tournament winning spot. Despite the poor conditions, I still made it in a pretty decent time. However, pulling into the spot I quickly realized that it was not going to be as easy as it was in practice. The huge number of fish I had found seemed to have decreased dramatically. That’s when another obstacle came into play. The fish I had found had lockjaw and wouldn’t give my baits enough interest to even lick them. I ended up with only 9 pounds.
I may not have gotten first place, but I pushed my boat to new limits and expanded on my knowledge of what the boat is capable of doing. I fished different techniques than I normally would to catch that 9 pound bag in those tough conditions and left with more knowledge than I had before. When faced with a specific condition or conflict, knowing what to do to be able to catch those fish can ultimately lead you to a win. The only way to earn this knowledge is through practice and being faced with these problems first hand. Although I may not have gotten a first place trophy, I still feel that I scored a few wins in this loss.
As for the regular fishing forecast, the water levels are still dropping, making for great fishing throughout the canals and lakes. Fish just finished their last spawn. Stick to the outside edges and focus on your preferred choice of topwater and jerkbaits. This is the time of year where big worms can produce huge fish. Put your head down, put in your time and your day will come.
Till next time fish on!
Capt. Neal Stark
Fishing with America’s Finest, Inc.
“Changing Lives One Cast at a Time.”
501(C)(3) Non-Profit Organization, FEIN #45-5494005
American Everglades Guide, Inc.