Going catchin'

Last we talked about going fishin'. This week we'll talk about going catchin'. I had a really good tournament on Pickwick. It wasn't perfect, but it was darn good, and I'm driving to Toledo Bend with a smile on my face.

It's especially gratifying after getting off to a tough start on the first day. What made that day so hard to swallow was that I was doing the right things. I had three patterns going, and they were all producing. I'm not exaggerating when I say I caught over 60 keepers on Wednesday. I just couldn't hook one over 3 pounds.

I thought about it that evening and decided that I'd give it some more time the next morning. I wasn't willing to commit the whole day to it, but I was going to give it at least another couple of hours. When I say "it," I'm referring to my staging pattern where I'd found bass stopping at various points on their way to the spawning beds.

That turned out to be a darn good move. On my first cast on Thursday I caught a 4 1/2-pounder. That reinforced my idea and didn't hurt my mood one bit. I felt really confident at that point.

The staging pattern worked for me through Friday. I was pulling up in the standings every day — from 68th place on Wednesday to 27th place on Thursday and into the top 12 by Friday night.

That's the good part. The bad part is that my staging and bigger fish bite — they were hitting Rapala DT6 and 10 crankbaits — disappeared on Saturday. I'd shift patterns for a while and then go back to the crankbaits thinking I could still catch a heavy sack. It didn't work. I caught 11 pounds, 1 ounce, and finished in 11th place.

In hindsight, I should have given up on my staging pattern and just fished my other two options. But, that's hindsight. When you're fishing on the last day and you're down near the bottom, you try to swing for the fences. It really doesn't make much sense to be careful or try for a few ounces more. There's nothing to lose, so why not go for it?

That's all over and done with now, though. It's time to keep looking forward. I can't wait to get to Toledo Bend and start fishing. It's my kind of lake with lots of offshore grass and emergent vegetation. I love that stuff.

Besides, the one thing I know I won't have to do is try to catch bedding bass. I won't pass one by if I see her, but I won't have to find and catch her to win, either. That's a real relief, a big load off my mind. As you know I like to be off the shoreline a ways. I understand those fish more than I do the homemakers.

Hang in there and keep fishing.

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