12th Place Finish out of 182 at FLW BFL Regional on Lake Chickamauga
Just got back from competing in my second Regional Championship this year on Lake Chickamauga. I didn't get time to head down before the tournament to practice so after a 7 and a half hour drive I finally got down to the lake the night before the tournament. The area surrounding Lake Chickamauga is really nice. We had the pre-tournament rules meeting at the local Rhea County High School.
At the meeting I met up with my boater for day 1. He said that he had been down practicing since Sunday and that he had a couple of different patterns that we would be fishing. I was pretty pumped because I thought the fishing was going to be really good. When you google search Lake Chickamauga all you hear about is that the lake is the land of the giants. Ten pounders frequently get caught on Lake Chickamauga but from the sounds of things nobody was really catching many big fishing in practice.
Day one started off with my boater catching a keeper and then me following up with one pretty quick. We each caught one on his first spot. I thought we might have a good day but we ended up bouncing around to a lot of different spots which didn't produce. I finally connected with another keeper 30 minutes before weigh in. It was a long day. My boater added one more keeper throughout the day and when I weighed in I was in 29th places out of 182. Not a terrible place to be after day 1 of the tournament. In these multiple day tournaments if you can catch a couple each day and not zero you at least give yourself a chance.
Day two I drew a boater who had motor issues the day before. He wanted to make a big run down to the South end of the lake but couldn't make it there on day 1 because his boat wouldn't run. I didn't know what to think because we were going to have to limp around with a blown motor the whole day. We ended up not going too far on day two and I was able to put a keeper in the boat really quick. It was on our third spot in the morning that I boated another keeper. All on the same bait I used to catch my fish at the end of the day 1. We went to a deep hole and you could see the fish beneath the boat on the graph so I ended up dropping my bait down on top of them and I was able to connect with a solid 3 and a half pound fish to end out my day. I weighed in 8lbs and change and that jumped me all the way into 12th place.
I actually tied for 12th place with another guy but this time luck was on my side and I won the tie breaker to fish on day three. Day three was great because I knew I couldn't do no worse than 12th and could only move up. I drew a guy that was in 12th place on the boater side as well because they match you up with the boater who finishes respectively. That can be good or bad but we just were not on the right kind of fish to win the event. We ended up running to the spot that he fished the first two days and by then it was really beat up. Again my boater was having motor troubles so we didn't even know if we would make it back to the weigh in because he was running a boat that was as old as me that he had borrowed from a friend. When we put the boat in the water in the morning it was super hard to get it started but we got it going. It had some electrical issues but we figured it out. It had been a long time since I'd seen a boat with a stick steer trolling motor on it in the front in any bigger competition.
We ended up running down to his spot and he was able to put three keepers in the livewell in the first 10 minutes and I was able to add a keeper but the fishing really slowed up. He was on some schooling fish and his spot had died. We ran to about 4 other spots but none of those produced. We came back to his starting spot and he was able to catch a double on one cast to finish out his limit. The key was he had a specific bait that the fish just really liked. I had similar baits but for whatever reason the keepers didn't want to eat mine. After he got his limit fish he was nice enough to let me borrow his rod and I was able to catch 5 shorts in a row but as luck would have it none of them would keep. One things for sure I will be ordering that bait for next year. One of the hardest things to overcome as a co angler is how well your boaters might understand the spots that they are fishing and what baits to use. When you show up you don't really have much of a clue and when the fish want a specific presentation it can be a real challenge. In these mutli-day tournaments sometimes your boater knows exactly what they are hitting on and where they are positioned so you have to get them to bite right away or if your pro is any good at all he will catch them all.
We managed to get back to weigh in with our fish and I knew that 1 keeper wasn't going to do anything. I ended up finishing the season with a 12th place finish. I missed my shot at qualifying for the All-American because I failed to make the top 6. After looking at the results it felt pretty good to beat out the 170 other fisherman. I ended up cashing a check for 500 dollars which was nice but I really needed to win this tournament. I've got a couple of months that I'm going to be taking off of fishing to work on other things and get some time away so I can get back into shape and ready for the 2019 season. Fishing almost every weekend and being on the road takes its toll so I'm going to be ready to get some much needed time off the next couple of months so I can regroup. I will get out to fish throughout the winter but I'm ready for a break from competing and ready to just take it easy for a little while. I'm looking forward to a couple of projects around fishing this winter and I'll be sure to keep my blog up as there are new announcements.