Fishin’ on instincts

Game on at the Arkansas River.

We’re in the second day of the crucial Elite Series Diamond Drive, the next to last event and one that will have a major impact on the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of Year race.

This tournament is shaping up to be a power fishing tournament which plays to my strengths.

Although the river was under flood conditions a week ago, it is stabilizing now.  Fishing has improved as the week has progressed, and I went into yesterday’s first round with confidence since I tend to do well under tough fishing conditions.

In practice, I ran from one end of the river to the other, covering a lot of territory and assessing numerous options. Even though I trailered my boat to different ramps, I still burned $300 of boat gas during practice and will probably spend $150 each day of competition.

Most anglers will do the same, and I don’t expect many to stay in the Little Rock pool. Locking through the dams adds to the complexity of this fishery, since you lose a lot of time in the locks.

Another wild card here is water conditions; they can change hourly.

A foot difference in water level – up or down – can make a huge difference in what the fish do. When the dams are generating on most rivers, the water comes up. Here, it often goes down. To compound the problem, it can be different from one pool to the next.

So, you have to keep a watchful eye on the water level and adjust accordingly.

These fish move around a lot, too. They never go far, but they rarely sit on one spot for very long.           That makes it challenging to put together consistent catches for four days.

I also expect the river to fish small with a lot of anglers pounding the same areas. I plan to fish different places each day and will be making a lot of long runs.

I will be fishing on instincts and will go out each day with an open mind. If I run into an area and see three or four other fishermen, I’m going to keep moving.

That’s why I am spending more time than usual getting my tackle ready the night before each competition day. I will have multiple rods rigged with the same baits so that I spend more time casting and less time tying or re-rigging baits. Every second will count.

During practice, I tried to locate several places that held fish and focused on the less obvious patterns. It can be a gamble, but that’s how you win tournaments and Angler of the Year titles.

I’m staying with Davy Hite at Scott Rook’s house. Scott is one of the tourney favorites since the Arkansas River is his home water; and like me, Davy is in contention for the AOY title. We don’t share a lot of information, but we are good friends and have respect for the competition.

We had an informal birthday party for Scott’s wife Kathy the other night and Scott presented her with the present she’s always wanted. Be sure to wish her Happy Birthday and ask her about the gift.

And remember: It’s all about the attitude.

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