Day One: I leave home wishing I could turkey hunt one more day. I got a big Tom been coming out late every afternoon to look for a hen. I've had two chances to get him, I need one more. Oh well, it will have to be next turkey season, I'm off for Decatur Alabama. I arrive at my hotel for the week, its really a nice hotel, one that a friend has a relative managing, so I get a discount. I pick at him, saying I'm not used to staying in such high class surroundings. It has a water fountain when you walk into the lobby. I'm used to Tom Bowdet leaving the light on for me.
Day Two: This will be a challenging tournament in more ways than one. You can go anywhere you wish on the chain of lakes. The heavy favorite is for most to go up a lock into Guntersville. But you can go to Guntersville, Wheeler(where the take off is), Wilson and even Pickwick. Each means locking at least once, even twice one way. Very time consuming leaving as little as 4 hours fishing time. Today I will stay on Wheeler. The water levels are low, and some stain. I will catch a small limit but not what will probably come out of Guntersville. I hate these kind of tournaments, its almost a crap shoot. Roll the dice to go, stay, lock, or run.
Day Three: Its suppose to get close to 90 today. What a change from most tournaments this year, most have been cold. I can tell I'm not use to the heat, I will get too much sun today and feel the effects. I chose to visit another lake today. The bite was off for me there. I can catch small fish but no size. A reoccurring theme this year. I know one thing, this is a tournament that my gas card will get maxed out. From making long runs on the water, to trailering to another lake, its getting expensive. And if you make the run during tournament day, well, I can hear the card burping. Tonite we see just about everyone I know at the steak house. Some are betting on making the long run to Guntersville, having spent all their practice there. Others are scratching there heads, some are pondering the ordeal of locking with so much barge traffic on this river. Me, I'm off to another lake tomorrow. I told Chris I'm getting a hat trick.
Day Four: Today the weather was H-O-T. Its forecast to reach 90 tomorrow. My practice today was slow. Now the big decision comes, do I run to Guntersville? Do I stay on Wheeler? Do I even go to Wilson? At the meeting, most I talk to say they are not going to make the run to Guntersville with the lock coming into play. Its a gamble. Word is that the bed fish have moved up on Guntersville.
My co-angler partner tomorrow is from NC. I tell him I will make the call in the morning if we run. I hate these kind of tournaments, its a crap shoot with the lock, the time limits on fishing if you run, and mostly, making the right zig instead of zag. All I can do is go fishing the way the boat points me. Fishing is all you can do. Time to hit the sack.
Tournament Day One: When my partner meets me at my hotel, he notices my NCSU emblem on my truck, making the comment, "Good to be with a fellow Wolfpacker"! He graduated from NCSU. The trip to the ramp is a short one. I'm still undecided on where and what to do. I'll make my decision at take off. As we set out on the water waiting for take off, some of us begin talking amongst ourselves. The main topic: Low Life Thieves. They struck at the hotels. One hotel, rumor was that everyone got cleaned out.............everyone, almost 20 reported hit. I have been there, it is not a good feeling to wake up to a torn up boat, and everything gone. If they would start doing something to these lowlifes, it would stop. Nothing I hate more than a thief.
The tournament day starts off with several just barely non keeper fish. I will go on to catch 4 keepers for less than 9 lbs. I caught alot of fish today, having one that would have given me my limit get off. The Guntersville fleet sacked them. And of all ways, sight fishing. Who would have thought the fish would be bedding on Guntersville in late May? The top guys mostly said they were sight fishing. The run to Guntersville, locking, and such meant that you made your first cast at 9am. Then it was back in the lock at 1PM in time to make it back to check in. Short day. But the day was perfect for the sight fisherman. Not a whisk of wind, no clouds and blistering sun, reaching 90. It felt more like August than May. The tops of my feet are blistered. The forecast for tomorrow is more of the same, cept closer to 95.
I need to bust a big sack tomorrow to even stand a chance to get a check. I'm exhausted from all the running. During practice, you drive an hour to the ramp, fish late, drive back to hotel. Time you eat, its late, then you get up early, do it all over again. Time to try and catch up on the sleep. It will be hard to rest knowing that such low life's are out breaking into our boats and trucks.
Tournament Day Two: We wake up to our trucks and boats intact. Its kind of ironic. The chief of police got up and made a speech before our pairings meeting on how there is no "crooks" in Decatur. If we have problems, they had to follow us here.
The day starts with a long run, locking and finally fishing. My co-angler today is a friend who was paired with me in his first ever Redman tournament in the early 90's. He remembers more about it than I do, even down to the boat I had. The fishing gets off slow but really picks up. Today I will catch more fish than yesterday. Most are just barely short fish. The better fish are biting, but not real aggressive. I will catch a keeper, land several non-keepers, then lose a good fish. This pattern will continue, while I seem stuck on 4 keepers. I have a good fish on, my co-angler goes to get the net, it gets hung on the boat, he can't get it off and decides to try and lip the fish. The fish will get off. At the time, I didn't thing much of it, just shook it off as fishing. But as the day goes, and I lose another couple good fish, it starts to haunt me. I will see a fish about 4 pounds on a bed. The fish is very spooky, and with the limited time fishing, I decide to leave it after spending time on it. I think I could have gotten the fish to bite if it would have settled down, but someone must have been fishing for it earlier, perhaps even hooking it.
At weigh in, the weights are about the same, with the Guntersville train ride still going. But alot will not do well in the limited 4 hours fishing. A couple good bags will come from the Decatur flats today. I will end up less than 2 pounds out of the money. Just one fish that got off. I know my co-angler feels bad about getting the net hung, but I tell him that the fish shouldn't have came off period, not that he didn't net it.
I am exhausted. The heat today was blazing. It reached 95. I hear some make the comment they had rather fish in cold weather rather than hot. I'm not sure about that, but it was just as bad to a point. Not much time to rest, its on to the Everstart on West Point.