Lake Martin B.A.S.S. OPEN
Nov. 17 - Plan is to meet Chris and Todd at our usual spot on I85 in Charlotte, a Bojangles.  It's 11 am, and I've already been driving for 3 hours.  For them, its just starting.  Spirits are high as we greet and begin our travel.  It will be an interresting week for several reasons.  One, I plan on doing something that in the past has always produced on Lake Martin but is not something I like doing.  That is fish light line and small finese baits.  History on Lake Martin shows that small limits, around 5 to 6 lbs will go far.  Most are taken doodling little worms and jigs in deeper waters.  I am prepared to try it.  The second reason the week will be interresting is to see how the race for the Classic pans out.  I will have a first row seat because 3 who are in contention will be sharing the same lodging with me, Chris, Todd and Jason.  Chris is in 5th overall, while Jason is 4th and Todd is 12th.  Since we are all staying together, it will be interresting how friends and somewhat foe will handle it.  Only 5 will qualify, and this is the last B.A.S.S. Open for the season.  I wish them all good luck.  As usual, when we hit the Alabama line, it begins to rain.  I cannot remember a year when it has rained so much, specially during my drive time.  We arrive at our humble abode for the week, settle in, prepare for the week ahead.  A quick check of the weather forecast, which is for sun and cool weather, its in the sack.

Nov. 18 - First day of practice, I will go as planned, fish the lower end of Lake Martin, keying on deeper water.  The lake is down about 4 feet from when the Everstart Championship was here a couple weeks back.  I begin by casting a buzzbait shallow on the many shoals that dot the lake.  I immediately pick up a small keeper spot.  The wind is blowing slightly, so I decide to try a spinnerbait.  My first cast with it, I connect into a nice 2 lb spotted bass, which a limit of them will put one in the top 5, maybe win it.  We figure around 26 lbs for 3 days will be strong, with 6 lbs a day making the cut.  After working some docks up in the day with a small shakey worm, I have managed a limit, at best will weigh 6 lbs.

Nov 19 - Today I will concentrate on the middle lake area.  The lake is dropping about 5 inches a day, so the fish should be pulling out to the points, either directly in the creeks or close.  The weather man has changed his forecast, today it will be cold and windy, with a 30 % chance of rain.  I begin running points with a spinnnerbait and find quick success.  I manage a limit, its very small, maybe 5 lbs.  The water color is a little more stained, which means visiblity is only 4 foot instead of 6 foot, in the backs of the creeks.  I try flipping a jig on any cover that has any water on it, but find the going tough.  The conditions are worsening, with the rain really picking up.  If this is only 30% chance, I hate to see what the weather man calls 100%.
Nov 20 - I know I said I would not fish the river, specially since all my past visits to Lake Martin have proven fruitless in its waters.  But today, I cannot suppress the urge to go chunk some bubba baits.  With all this rain, more forecast for today, the water should have color.  I begin in a creek that is always popular because it is probably the best largemouth creek on the lake.  As suspected, it is crowded, and I hate crowds. 
I begin with a small crankbait on some of the deeper banks.  The water temps are falling, as is the air.  We have had a frost every morn on the boats, so slow cranking a smaller crankbait early should be best ticket.  I manage 5 fish, with 3 being barely over 12", a legal keeper.  I run up further in the river, begin flipping a jig on any wood or rock that has water on it to no avail.  After about midday, I decide to make one more run back down the lake and fish the clear water.  The wind has picked up, so has the rain, and it is forecast for the next couple days.  I pull into this one protected bay and immediately notice some schooling activity.  Not a large school, but rather 3 or 4 chasing shad here and there.  I tie on a spook and begin fishing for them.  My first fish is a good 2 to 3 lb spotted bass.  I continue on, have several nice 1.5 to 2 lb spots hammer the spook.  I decide to just ride and see if I can figure out where the schooling activity is more frequent.    I think I can do well in here, if they will school.  If they do, I can manage 10 lbs easy, a winning weight.  If they don't , it could be a long first day of competetion.  Its a short day, we have registration and pairings tonite.  During supper after meeting, we all are quiet.  I'm quiet because I'm not comfortable with what I have going, and Chris, Todd and Jason are nervous about the fishing, and how each will do.  If they are on anything really strong, no one is saying much to the other.  Its a tough position, you want to do well, and also see your friends do well, but the Classic is on the line.  With only 5 spots making it, its every man for himself.  Me, I just want to do well, make a check.  It is raining really hard as we head back to the room. It has got to have rained 2 inches or more just today.  And cold, it will be a chilly run in the morning to the schoolers.  The cold snap will probably make them school less early.
Nov 21 - First day of the tournament.  I had hoped for a late blast off number, thinking the schooling activity will be better as the day warms.  Instead, I got a early start, boat 49 out of 200.  My first day amatuer is Wayne Issac, a Ga. boy.  He's a drop shot fanatic, and with me fishing for schoolers, excited because he knows I will be in open, deeper waters, prime drop shotting.
Its a cool, no cold morning run, about 20 minutes to my area.  When I arrive, I notice a school already chasing bait.  It really brightens my spirits and lefts fear they would not be schooling.  The first few passes into the activity results in no strikes.   But soon a really nice spot creams my spook.  It makes two really frantic leaps, but seems hooked well.  As the spot gets near boat, I tell my partner that its just barely hooked, if I don't get it the first pass, won't.  I don't get the first chance, it pulls off.  I manage a couple more hits on the spook, but none get connected.  Wayne has several fish on the drop shot, but they to escape.  They are biting funny.    Someone in a Gambler boat comes running into the area and sits down within casting distance of me and the schoolers.  This is not good.  I manage two or three short fish, and the Gambler moves in closer.  I move toward him, plan is to block him, but for some reason, he suddenly pulls up his trolling motor and leaves.  Even my partner is baffled as this.  We had not exchanged words, or even glances.  Even as the fish was busting on top next to him.
Wayne manages a small keeper on the dropshot as I continue to chunk and work my spook.  Finally I manage a keeper.  As the day progresses, it becomes apparent that the schooling activity is short lived.  I decide to run up to where I had managed some fish off some deeper docks.  I don't have much confidence in this working since it is cloudy, and it does not.  The day fly's by when you are due in at 2 pm.  Its a dissappointing day, one I feared relying on schooling fish.  I have managed 2 small keepers at 2 lbs.  I had the bites to have limited out with a small limit, around maybe 5 lbs, which was in the money the first day.  Just didn't happen for me.
Nov 22 -  Day two, and I have decided to run up the river, pick up my flipping stick and hope for a big fish or two.  I'm not out of this tournament, well maybe, out of winning it since the day 1 leader has over 17 lbs.  Man, did he fish the same lake as we did !  But as in the past, 6 to 8 lb stringers are good, most caught finese fishing or on carolina rigs in deeper water.  Forecast today is for alot of wind.  I mean sustained at 20 with gust up to 30 mph or more, and falling air temps.  The schooling fish will not be the ticket for sure today, so to my trusty jig.  The first up river area I go into is the same area the leader is in, its obvious by all the camera boats and locals following him.  I will not get in his way, make my way to another area.
For the first time all week, the weather man has the forecast correct !  The wind is whopping and its getting colder as the day gets longer.  I have managed bites on my jig, but the size is small, very small.  I manage only two keepers, at around 3 lbs.  I know that just one good bite that the jig can give me will put me into the cut.  It never happens.  Today will be the tale of the tape for Chris, Todd and Jason.  All three managed a limit yesterday, and if they can make the cut today, will have a great shot at making the Classic. 
Nov 23 - Its by far the coldest day yet and I would love to be fishing today in it.  The frost on my boat is so thick it looks like snow.   But instead, today I will be driving home.  And unfortunately, Chris will be joining me.  Chris blanked the second day and not only did he not make the cut, but also fell out of the Classic hunt.  It will be a long, quiet drive home.  There is some good news though.  Todd and Jason both have made the cut, and both will go on to qualify for the Classic.  Both of them were fishing deep.  Todd was fishing as deep as 60 foot.  And even more good news., Wayne Issac, my first day amatuer partner will go on to win the Amatuer side of the tournament.  Maybe I should try that drop shotting alittle more,............. nah !!!!!!!!
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© 2002 Carolina Outdoors
1st day amatuer partner, Wayne Issac wins the Amatuer side