Open thoughts from Douglas Lake

I’m in Sevierville, Tenn., practicing for the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open later this week. It’s Tuesday. The temperature is pushing 100 degrees, but I’m not complaining. As nasty as it is, it beats the cold of last winter, for sure.

The fish must agree with me. They’re everywhere. I found some shallow water way up the river that touched the 90 degree mark and caught bass from it with a buzzbait and a frog. I also found a good bite in 40 feet with a drop shot.

I wonder how long the shallow bite will hold, though. The water’s dropping fast. That’s pulling the bass out, away from the bank like it always does. I suspect most of the big sacks will come from deeper water. We’ll know positively come Thursday and Friday.

Douglas has an interesting rule concerning smallmouth. You’re only allowed to keep one, and it has to be 20 inches. That’s a big smallie, guys. I’ve caught several good ones the last couple of days, but nothing that would come close to measuring 20 inches. It’ll be interesting to see how many of them cross the scales. I’m betting not very many.

It’s no secret that Tennessee protects their smallmouth fishing. They’re serious about being one of the best smallmouth states in our country. I just didn’t know how serious until I read that rule.

This is a nice place. The local businesses — a carwash, gas station, tackle shop, convenience store and a motel — near the ramp asked me if we needed them to open early for the tournament. That’s really helpful. Not everyone is so accommodating.

There are some places we go where those things are a real inconvenience. It’s sweet to have them close by and open early in the morning. Thanks, Sevierville!

Gas prices are really low around here, too. Mostly they’re below $3.50 a gallon. That’s 50 cents, more or less, under what I’ve been paying around Columbus for the last couple of weeks.

A writer friend who’s familiar with the area told me Sevierville always has cheap gas compared to everywhere else. Nobody seems to know why, though.

I just received a text about the Arkansas River. It said we should be careful because it’s really rolling. I guess they’re moving a lot of water through to try and get it back down to normal levels.

That’ll affect the fishing, no doubt. But I’m not exactly sure how. Right now, I don’t care. I’ll worry about that once this tournament is over. Hopefully, that won’t be until Saturday. Nothing would make me happier than to have a long, tough drive into Little Rock on Sunday.

I sure would like to have a win. That would get me where I want to be — in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.

Wish me luck tomorrow and Friday — and Saturday, too!