It’s springtime. That’s about as good as it gets in the fishing world. It’s a pleasure to be on the water. Everything is beautiful. The flowers and trees are blooming, the wildlife is active and the air is warming up. I will admit, though, that’s it’s been a little cold here on Douglas Lake in Tennessee for the last few days.
Cold or not, Douglas is one of the best places to be at this time of the year. They draw the water way down in the winter — down as much as 40 feet in some years — and then in the spring let it come back up. The bank is mostly barren until the water reaches the trees. It hasn’t reached them yet, although it is rising steadily. So, for the most part, the fish are holding off the shoreline, suspended and feeding on baitfish.
And because of the cold spring we’ve been having, the water is still down around 50 degrees. That’s killing massive numbers of shad. They’re everywhere, flopping on the surface and then fluttering down to the bottom. All the bass have to do is stay below them and open their mouths. There’s no chasing anything. It’s wait and eat. I suppose a bass would call that the good life.
For the anglers, though, it presents an interesting challenge. You wonder what in the world you can show them that will cause them to bite. I mean. How do you compete with Mother Nature when she’s providing them with exactly what they want? As of right now, I don’t know the answer to that question.
Some of the guys solved the problem last week at the PAA tournament here by throwing the umbrella rig. To give you an idea of what happened, consider the following: Fourteen of the top 15 guys were using it. At least 20 bags over 20 pounds were weighed in using some form of it. One bag was almost 30 pounds. That’s a lot of weight for a lake like Douglas. It should give you an idea of how effective something like that can be when the conditions are right.
Now, I’m not defending its use and I’m not criticizing its use. I’m just telling you what happened. I’ll also tell you something else, though. Since it emerged on the scene, this is the only event that I can remember where it made that big of a difference. Conditions have to be just right for it to work like that.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens come Thursday. It could be that the umbrella rig will rule the day. Conditions are basically the same between the two events. There’s no reason for the bite to change. But it could also be that the fish have seen enough of that rig. Maybe they’ll look up, check it out, laugh and wait for a shad to fall into their mouth. I don’t profess to know the answer. Let’s hope I figure it out before the tournament’s over.