At that point, he fell back on a pattern teammate Gabe Bolivar had told him about involving patches of rock on slick mud banks.
“Most of the banks in Fort Loudoun are super-shallow flat banks with just sand and mud,” Ehrler described. “But every now and then there would be a little vein of rock that ran out off the bank into the water or a patch of boulders out off the bank just under the surface.”
Erhler then targeted the shallow rock patches with a 1/16-ounce Picasso Shakedown jighead and Net Bait T-Mac worm.
“The rock was only in about eight to 20 inches of water,” he said. “I couldn’t believe the fish were that shallow. But when the sun would come out, I could read the shadows and crevices in the rock and present my worm in those specific edges in the rock; that’s where all my bites came from.”
Erhler fished the tiny worm rig on 8-pound test, Sunline fluorocarbon line, on a Lucky Craft 7-foot heavy-action spinning rod.
The rock pattern produced a limit for the California pro on day two, weighing 8 pounds, 4 ounces, to allow him to finish the tournament in 32nd with 21 pounds, 1 ounce.
Finishing 100th was Gabe Bolivar of Ramona, Calif., with a two-day total of 14 pounds, 4 ounces.
“I’m not happy about finishing100th, I can tell you that,” Bolivar said. “Out of all the lakes I’ve been to in the East, this was the hardest one for me to figure out because it was so shallow, flat and stained. Being from out West, I’m used to lakes with more depth, breaks and clarity, so Fort Loudoun was a real challenge for me.”
Bolivar began practice in colder waters with a Real Skin Pointer 78.
“I found two groups of fish with the Pointer but by the time the tournament started, they had gone on beds,” he noted. “During the tournament, I had to resort to sight-fishing. While looking for beds, I would cast a 1/8-ounce Reaction Innovations Screwed up jighead shaky head around and caught a couple keepers that way. The rest came sight-fishing.”
When Bolivar sight-fished, he used a crappie jig on a drop-shot rig. He rigged the drop -shot on a 7-foot Lucky Craft medium heavy rod.
“I had a real hard time getting the fish to bite,” he said. “But when that little crappie jig got in their beds and started darting around, they couldn’t stand it.”
The 2006 FLW Tour Rookie of the Year got off to solid start on day one with a limit weighing 10 pounds, 2 ounces. But on day two, he caught just two bass for 4 pounds, 2 ounces.
“I really just ran out of fish the second day,” Bolivar said. “When I went to my secondary spot on day two, it had already been picked over pretty good.”