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InsideLine – Hawk Talk – Toledo Bend Elite Series Event

Category : HAWK TALK

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Toledo Bend

I’ve always had a difficult time committing to fish either shallow or deep during tournament practice, even when I know I can’t effectively do both. On bodies of water I’m familiar with I can get away with it and sometimes it’s advantageous for me to do so.  However, I often get burned on unfamiliar bodies of water.  That’s why before arriving to Toledo Bend I told myself I’d stay shallow.  I felt with the season still behind schedule the largest population of fish would still be in the pre-spawn and spawning stages.

I launched near the Indian Mounds the first practice day and immediately noticed all the flooded vegetation around the shoreline.  Focusing on any irregularity in the grass line (points and indentations) I fished the vegetation thoroughly both on the inside and outside edges.  I caught lots of fish on a variety of baits, but nothing over three pounds.  Later that evening while eating dinner with my friends and fellow Elite competitors, Brandon Card and Chad Pipkens, I learned they each caught an 8 pounder in 20-25 feet.   Even though they both had big bites out deep, I still felt I needed to stay focused up shallow.

Usually my alarm clock wakes me up, but on the second practice morning I awoke to crackling thunder and rain.   As I drove to the ramp the thunder and rain intensified.  By the time I reached the ramp it was raining so hard I could barely see out my front windshield, so I waited for the storm to pass before launching my boat. Once on the water I started bouncing from pocket to pocket on the south end looking for fish holding vegetation.  I found several fish-producing areas, but struggled to catch any of the quality fish I knew I needed to have a strong tournament.  Brandon and Chad shared more big fish stories later that night.  They were only getting a few bites deep, but they were big bites.  I decided I’d spend my final practice day fishing deep.  Looking back this was a mistake, but after two unproductive days up shallow I was starting to panic.

The next morning I spotted a well-defined point dropping off into the river channel near a creek mouth as I idled away from the ramp.  I drove over to take a closer look with my Lowrance sonar and saw three big fish suspended a foot off the bottom next to the drop.  I marked a waypoint then turned the boat around and fired out my 3/4oz football jig.  When I picked up the slack my line was already tight, so I set the hook.  After a brief, but intense fight I pulled it alongside the boat and realized it was close to 8 pounds.  Excited and optimistic, I continued to look for more deep water spots.  The time passed quickly and at noon without any more success I should’ve moved back in shallow, but I couldn’t force myself too.

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Originally published over on the InsideLine online magazine

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