The Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open on Douglas Lake was my first opportunity to cast for bass in 2013. I drove down to the Tennessee reservoir from southern Ohio, knowing that the event was likely to be dominated by the Alabama Rig.
That’s what happened the week before during a PAA tournament at Douglas. The continuing cold weather assured that the bass would stay put for the Douglas Open and hold off moving shallow for another week or more.
I brought plenty of A-Rigs with me, but I wasn’t looking forward to fishing with them. The A-Rig is cumbersome, plunges into the water like a 10-pound anchor and is practically foolproof. Aaron Martens calls the A-Rig the “stupid rig.” I’m not sure if that’s because he thinks the rig looks stupid or that stupid fishermen can catch bass with it.
I tolerate the A-Rig when the bass are slamming it. I hate it when I can’t get a bite with it. I hated it at Douglas. I fished it hard and never got so much as a sniff.
A host of Elite Series pros competed in the Douglas tournament, including Gerald “G-Man” Swindle, Rick Clunn, Chris Lane, Aaron Martens and local fan favorite Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn. DeFoe and Lane were the only Elite pros to qualify for the final round on Saturday.
Some fishermen may not like competing against some of the nation’s top bass pros at Open events. I welcome the Elite Pros, even when I fish as a boater. They add legitimacy to the Opens and make victory even sweeter.
My first day partner at Douglas was Dewayne Wilson, who lives 60 miles away in LaFollette, Tenn. This was his first Bassmaster Open. He was pumped but composed.
Wilson had been building custom rods as a sideline until the company he worked for moved away a few years ago. He started making rods full time and is doing well. His rod company, Dixie Custom Rods (dixiecustomrods.com), can make a rod to any specifications you wish, including the color of the wraps.
Several Dixie Custom Rods were on Wilson’s front deck that morning including one matched with an A-Rig.
A cold rain began before take-off. It never stopped and the temperature refused to rise. It was physically one of the most miserable days I’ve ever had fishing. My gloves were soaked all day. Every few hours I removed my shoes to dump water out of them. We made many high speed boat runs that had me kicking myself for not wearing the thermal underwear I had packed.
We started by fishing main lake points with the A-Rig. It wasn’t until our third or fourth stop that Wilson popped his first bass. We stayed in that area for a while and saw another competitor land a huge bass on an A-Rig.