|Thomas Stages Comeback at Smith|
With forecasts calling for severe weather and a 16-inch minimum size limit for the Citgo Bass Master Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake, all the anglers fishing the event knew going in that the conditions were going to be tough. Lucky Craft Pro team Member Joe Thomas was one of 62 anglers that failed to weigh in a keeper bass on day one of the tournament. At the end of day two, however, Thomas was in thirteenth place and missed making the Top 12 cut by only ten ounces.
During the three-day practice period Thomas fished a Lucky Craft Pointer Minnow 100 in Chartreuse Shad around bluff banks on the main lake.
The Pointer 100 was fished on ten-pound test fluorocarbon line. "I used fluorocarbon line because it sinks, and it allowed me to get my Pointer a little bit deeper," said Thomas. "I didn't get a lot of bites, but about every third fish was a keeper." One of the keys to Thomas's pattern was to pause the bait for five to six seconds in between jerks. "All the fish I caught hit the bait when it was sitting still," said Thomas.
Day one of the tournament brought with it heavy cloud cover. Thomas caught six bass on the Pointer 100, but all were short of the 16-inch size limit. "I really think that the heavy overcast prevented the fish from seeing the flash of my bait," said Thomas. He ended up being one of 62 anglers that had a hard time dealing with the ever-changing conditions, and now it was starting to rain.
By the beginning of day two, Smith Lake had
received four inches of warm rain. Thomas decided to make a major adjustment
to his strategy.
At the end of the second day Joe ended up catching seven fish, five of which were above the 16-inch minimum size limit. Thomas's fish weighed12 pounds even. This weight moved him form 96th place on day one to 13th place overall, just ten ounces from making the Top 12 cut.
"It felt great to make such a comeback," said Thomas, who credits his success to changing his technique to match the conditions.
|Another Solid Finish for Jordon|
into the Citgo Bass Master Tour Event on Lewis Smith Lake in Alabama, Kelly
Jordon, like all the anglers, knew it could be a really tough tournament.
With a 16-inch minimum size limit for fish and bad weather forecast for
the entire week, fishing conditions did not look good.
"I knew that it might be hard to catch a keeper. Smith is known as a Spotted Bass lake. A 16-inch Spot is a pretty big fish, and there are not a lot of them this lake," said Jordon.
During Practice Kelly concentrated on fishing two main patterns. One pattern was casting a shallow running crankbait around rocky points where the water was a little dirtier. The second pattern was alternating a Lucky Craft Staysee 90 in Chartreuse Shad color, or a jig. Both baits were fished on deep clear points, brush piles by docks and in the mouths of pockets. Jordon said that he caught several keepers and lots of short fish each day of practice. "I caught several fish the first day of practice on the shallow running crankbait, but after that I couldn't get a bite on it," said Jordon of his crankbait pattern.
Kelly caught four fish on the first day of the tournament, three keepers and one short fish. He got two of the keepers on the Staysee 90 and one on the jig. Jordon's three fish weighed in at 7-04, and put him in 12th place at the end of day one. The leader, Greg Hackney caught five fish that weighed 16-pounds even.
On day two of the tournament, Smith Lake rose nine-feet from overnight torrential rains, completely changing conditions. Still Jordon stuck to his game plan fishing the Staysee and the jig. He was only able to get two bites though. He caught one keeper that weighed 3-07 and lost one other fish. This gave him an overall weight of 10-11 and put him in 15th place in the overall standings. Day two's leader was fellow Texan, Lee Bailey who had a total weigh of 18-08 for two days.
"It was a really tough tournament, 62 guys didn't even weigh a fish the first day. I feel very fortunate to have done as well as I did," said Jordon of his performance.
|Smith Lake Not Good for Auten|
two days of fishing at the Citgo BASS Master Tour Event on Lewis Smith Lake
in Alabama, Mike Auten as well as one third of the rest of the field failed
to weigh a single bass. "I knew going in this was going to be a very
tough tournament. Mid-winter fishing in Alabama can be real tough,"
Going into the tournaments three-day practice period Auten expected typical winter patterns like deep spoon fishing, drop shoting, and jerk bait fishing to work if the weather cooperated. The weather however, did not cooperate. Tournament anglers had to deal with torrential rains, wind, snow and falling temperatures. 'It was just a miserable week to try and catch bass," said Auten on the weather.
Auten was only able to catch three keeper fish during the practice period. He caught the fish on a Staysee 90 SP and a Pointer 100 both in Table Rock Shad color. Mike fished these baits around many different areas of the lake, but the fish that he caught were around bluff banks and rock walls. Auten tried other techniques but the Lucky Craft jerk baits were the only things that proved to be successful. Mike was not happy with his practice period. The fishing was so poor for him that he just couldn't establish a decent pattern.
During the tournament Auten stayed with the only technique that had worked in practice. "I really did not know if I would get any bites that would keep, the 16 inch minimum size limit really hurt on a lake that doesn't have a lot of 16 inch plus fish." On day one of the tournament, Auten caught 5 fish but they were all below the 16-inch size limit. On day two, Auten said he just went fishing. He ended up getting two fish, but, once again, they were short of the 16-inch limit. "I started out real well at the Harris Chain Tournament, and hoped to be able to keep it going here. Now I have to play catch up for a while," said Auten of his finish at Smith Lake.
|Skeet New Going in That Smith Would Be Tough|
Craft Pro Team member Skeet Reese new that the Citgo Bass Master Tour event
on Lewis Smith Lake in North Central Alabama would be tough. "Any time
you have to fish a tournament in the dead of winter when the water is cold
and clear, it is going to be difficult," Reese said.
With bad weather forecast for the entire week, everyone fishing the tournament knew it was going to be a challenge. The pre-tournament favorites here were the locals and all of the western pros because of there experience fishing deep clear water. Since Reese is from Northern California, he was among one of the favorites.
During practice Skeet concentrated on two winter patterns that have worked for him before, fishing a jerk bait and fishing a small jig in deep water. Reese started by fishing a Staysee 90 SP along deep main lake banks, but this tactic failed to produce bites. Then he went to a Pointer 78 in Chartreuse Shad and started to pick up some fish. He also found some fish that were willing to bite the small jig. "The problem wasn't getting bit, I caught fish every day. The problem was getting keeper bites," said Reese. He believed that the 16-inch size limit was going to be a real factor in this tournament.
During the tournament Reese would fish the Pointer 78 in the morning and then switch to the jig in the afternoon. On day one he caught 8 fish total, four on the jerk bait, and four on the jig. The only keeper for the day was on the Pointer 78, and it weighed 2-02 and left Skeet in 77th place on a day when 39% of the field blanked. Greg Hackney lead day one with a five fish limit that weighed 16-00 pounds.
On day two Reese fished the same strategy, Pointer 78 in the morning and jig in the afternoon. The only difference was that the jig caught the keeper; a 5-03 Spot that Reese said was the second biggest Spot that he had ever caught. Kim, Skeet's wife, had called him while he was at the Harris Chain the week before and told him that she had a dream that he was going to catch a big fish. "I guess her timing was just a little off," Skeet said of his wife's dream. Of the 15 fish that he caught on day two, this big Spotted Bass was the only keeper Reese was able to weigh in. That one bite moved him from 77th on day one to 47th at the end of day two. "It's amazing what a huge difference one bite made on where I finished," Skeet said of the big Spot. "Smith Lake Sucked this week, I am very happy to get out of here in the top 50." It seems though that the Western pros did have an edge though, 15 out of the top 50 finishes were from the west including tournament winner, Charlie Weyer, who ended up with a total weight of 32-10 for the week.
|Swindle Makes the Final Cut at Smith Lake|
the Citgo Bass Master Tournament Trail decided to come to Lewis Smith Lake
in North Central Alabama, no one had any idea how tough the conditions would
be. From the start of practice to the end of the tournament the weather
seemed to change every day, and not for the better. Each day it got colder
and tougher. When the dust finally settled, however, Team Lucky Craft Pro
Gerald Swindle ended up in 5th Place. "While 5th place is a good finish,
I was still disappointed. I consider Smith Lake my home waters, and I really
wanted to win one for the hometown crowd," Swindle said after the tournament.
In practice Swindle focused on two main patterns, a finesse worm fished in 25-35 feet of water, and a Lucky Craft Staysee 90 fished along steep main lake banks. He caught fish each day of practice on the finesse worm and a jig, but never seemed to get the Staysee bite to go, even though he tried it each day of practice. He was not happy about his practice and figured he would have to adjust each days fishing based on the weather conditions, which really ended up paying off for him.
|On day one of the tournament Gerald stayed with the deep finesse worm pattern most of the day, but he was not getting any keeper bites. The 16-inch size limit for this tournament made it tough to catch keeper fish. With two hours to go on day one, Swindle abandoned the worm pattern found some docks with good water depth around them and managed to catch a keeper out of a brush pile on a jig. This fish weighed in at 2-06 and left Gerald in 67th place behind the leader Greg Hackney who had managed to catch five that weighed 16-00. That night the Smith Lake area received 4-5 inches of rain, which would again completely change fishing conditions.|
Day two of the tournament saw the water turn dirty as a result of the torrential rains. Swindles knowledge of the lake told him to go fish the runoff drains where the water was clearer. When he got to his first spot he managed to catch two keepers in just ten minutes on a Lucky Craft Fat CB BDS 3 in Fire Tiger. "I thought I might have it wired," said Swindle, "but I still had to scramble and fish a lot more drains to get any more keepers." He ended up getting one more keeper on the crank bait and one more keeper on a jig. Swindles four fish string weighed 12-01, which gave him a total of 14-07 and vaulted him up in the standings to 8th place, behind day two leader Lee Bailey who had a two day total of 18-08.
Weather conditions were still changing on day three, with snow in the forecast. Swindle went back to his deep finesse worm pattern in the morning, and managed to get one keeper to bite. In the afternoon he picked up a Lucky Craft Flat CB MR in Mad Craw and went back to the drains. He managed to catch two more keeper bass on back-to-back casts and then caught nothing but short fish for the remainder of the day. When the day 3 weigh in was over Gerald was in 5th place with 22-06, behind new leader Charlie Weyer who had a three-day total of 24-10. Swindle had made the cut and was fishing in the Super Six, on the fourth and final day of the tournament.
Day four of the tournament saw even colder air temperatures hit the area but the skies were sunny for the first time in six days. Swindle went back to his worm pattern because of the slick and sunny conditions and managed to catch 12 fish but all were too short to keep. In the end Gerald did not weigh a fish on the final day, but his three-day total of 22-06 was still enough to leave him in 5th place, behind winner Charlie Weyer who ended up with a total weight of 32-10.
"I fished harder, and tried harder than I ever have before. I guess a win just wasn't in the cards for me," Swindle said of his finish at Smith Lake. On the plus side, however, Swindle is in sixth place in the coveted Angler of the Year Race, behind teammates Kelly Jordan, in third.