I was pretty excited about making the trip to Missouri to fish at a lake I had heard much about. So after a 15 hour drive, we get there the Sunday before the tournament and checked in to the Fort Leonard Wood Recreation Center. It’s 3 AM; I get all the gear and luggage out of the truck and in the cabin. I turned the heat up to take the chill off. We get a shower crawl in the bed and then the odor hit me like a ton of bricks. I wasn’t sure where it was coming from but I knew what it was, Cats! Apparently cats were living under the cabin and they had marked their spot. So later that morning I went to the office and asked to move to another cabin. I get back to the cabin reload everything back in the truck and we moved. We finally got all situated in the new cabin and got some rest.
Monday morning I finally get on the lake to start practicing. It’s a big lake with thousands of docks. I don’t venture far the first day but manage to catch about 15 fish which makes me feel pretty good about the tournament. On day two practice I decide to head up the river towards Truman Dam I got about 30 miles up the river and fished docks about half the day catching only 1 keeper bass. I decided that wasn’t where I needed to be so I headed back down the lake to an area close to the first days practice. I ended up with a pretty decent day. On day 3 practice I decided to head to the backs of creeks off the main lake to search for bait fish. I went to 3 or 4 places but no luck. Then I saw a place that looked good, I ran to the back and found the mother load of bait fish and the bass were busting the water everywhere. My favorite kind of fishing. I got out the Red Eyed Shad and started throwing it. Almost every cast I caught a good keeper. I spent the remaining day and a half of practice searching for more areas with bait fish. I ended up with 12 good areas and I was sure I’d be in the top ten come tournament day.
It was finally here, tournament day it was but when I got up at 4:30 that Friday morning, it was much cooler than it had been. I’m boat number 35 and ready to go. I fly to my first spot and where’s all my bait fish? They were gone, apparently they had moved to deeper water because of the cooler weather. I went to all 12 places I had marked and none produced a single bass. I managed to catch 2 keepers from a couple docks.
Day 2 came and it was a little cooler still so I abandoned my practice fish a began a day of pitching docks. Ended up the day with 3 keepers and finished the tournament in 81st place. The lesson I learned was always plan for what could happen. So even though I found fish during practice, I should have practiced at some docks as well.
I’m not at all disappointed about the tournament because I learned a lot. As I have heard many times; never give up.