Backseat bound for Norman

I’ll be leaving in a few days to fish the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open #2 as a co-angler at Lake Norman near Charlotte, N.C.

I’m hustling to finish four articles before I leave. If I can pull it off, I’ll be free to concentrate solely on fishing and good times during the tournament week.

I haven’t made a cast since the first Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open I fished last January at Florida’s Harris Chain. As usual, I’ll be throwing my tackle together at the last second before heading south from Ohio.

I fished the Southern Open at Norman in 2011 as a co-angler. Most of the top finishers in that event were sight fishing for bedding bass. The exception was the winner, Fletcher Shryock, who is now fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series.

This year’s tournament happens about a week later in the spring than the previous event. We’ve had a warm winter and an even warmer spring.

I checked the water temperature at Lake Norman on March 18. It was nearly 67 degrees at 6 a.m. It was well into the 70s that evening. I just checked it again. It’s 8:30 p.m. on March 27; the water temperature is 68.7 degrees.

It appears that the water is easily warm enough for Norman’s bass to spawn. I suspect that this event will be a full-blown bed fishing tournament. That’s the worst scenario for a co-angler.

I’m hoping there will be some postspawn bass on the prowl. And that I draw boaters who are targeting these fish.

So, what kind of tackle and lures will I need for whatever I might face at Norman? I always start with my pet 7-foot, 6-inch, medium-heavy Dobyns flippin’ rod, no matter where I’m fishing. I’m not likely to need it at Norman. But, if I do, I’ll be severely handicapped without it.

This rod has enough flex that it also doubles for some casting applications. The Shimano reel is filled with 50-pound Spiderwire braid. I’ll tie it to a YUMbrella, an Alabama rig.

YUMbrellaIf I have a chance to fish open water, I’ll sling the YUMbrella for all I’m worth, at least during the morning hours. I’ve been hearing reports that A-Rigs have been winning tournaments with big catches across the country.

If a flippin’/pitchin’ opportunity comes my way, I’ll snip off the YUMbrella, add a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader, and go with a jig or maybe a Texas rigged tube.

The next must-have outfit for Norman is a medium-action spinning outfit for fishing shaky head worms. This lake is loaded with spotted bass, boat docks, brushpiles and rock outcroppings. It is tailor-made for shaky head fishing.

I already have a spinning reel spooled with Berkley’s new NanoFil super line. Unlike braided line, NanoFil is smooth. Since I’m a writer, Berkley sent me a sample spool of NanoFil last summer.

Will my YUMbrella rig produce at Lake Norman? I intend to find out.

The line comes with a 2-inch strand protruding from the package. At first glance, it looked and felt to me like fine dental floss. I wasn’t impressed and never tried it.

Then, last fall, I attended a Berkley media event at Sturgeon Bay, Wis. We were given spinning outfits with 10-pound NanoFil and sent out with fishing guides to catch smallmouth bass.

I knotted a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader to the NanoFil and drop shotted a Berkley Gulp! Leech. I didn’t catch any of the giant brown bass that live in Sturgeon Bay, but I did land a good number of them up to 4 pounds.

I figured that the smallmouth fishing would be first rate. What truly surprised me was how well that doggone NanoFil performed.

NanoFil casts much farther and with less effort on spinning tackle than any monofilament, fluorocarbon or super line I’ve ever used. And I have fished with braided lines as light as 10-pound test.

Nanofil is also the most manageable line I’ve ever used on spinning tackle. It lays calm and quiet on the spool, and I never had a single issue with it.

Add to this the low stretch, sensitivity and longevity of a super braid. NanoFil is costly, but it’s worth every cent.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, tackle for Norman.

I’m also going to bring a medium-heavy spinning outfit. I’ll fill its reel with 12-pound NanoFil and add a 12-pound fluorocarbon leader. This will be good for casting and skipping Strike King’s Caffeine Shad and YUM’s Dinger under boat docks and around other shallow cover.

I’ll also have a baitcasting outfit for jerkbaits and topwater plugs, and another baitcaster for shallow to medium running crankbaits. These rods will also handle a wide variety of other lures should I need them, such as spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, swimming jigs and chattering jigs.

I am so enamored with my Dobyns flippin’ stick that I now own seven more Dobyns baitcasting rods. I’ll experiment with them during practice and choose the ones that best handle the selection of baits I’ll be fishing with.

I’ll be staying with the same crew I shared a house with at the Harris Chain, comprised of North Carolina's Lee King, Pennsylvania's Jeff Stoner and South Carolina's Jarred Nelson. They’re a fun bunch, and I can’t wait to see them. There will also be a newcomer named Jason Rice.

This time we’re staying at a house right on Lake Norman. Now, if I can just finish these stories.

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