Confused by Lake Travis

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Steve Bowman

I’ll take a Top 12 finish any day, but I’ll admit, I’ve never been so confused by a lake as I was during last week’s Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Teax Parks and Wildlife Department on Lake Travis. Usually, whether I do well or not, I go home thinking I at least know what was going on. This time around, I drove home thinking there was still a piece of the puzzle missing.

I had a slow start with 10 pounds, 10 ounces on the first day and that put me in 58th place. Now, the good thing was I had a big Day 2 with 21-13 and that vaulted me 54 spots to fourth.

That made the whole tournament, but it was a great example of how random and unexpected it was. I mean I only had 8-11 the third day and 8-5 the final day. Ending up in 10th place was good, but I just wish I’d been able to figure out what made the big ones bite.

I committed to throwing a Spook the entire tournament, and it’s funny, sometimes you’d catch a 13-incher and you’d see a 4-pounder and a 3-pounder follow that fish to the boat. Other times you’d catch a 3-pounder and there’d be a 14-incher following it.

These fish were in little wolf packs that were mixed in size. I’ve never seen luck become such a factor in a tournament because there just never seemed to be any rhyme or reason for why you’d catch big ones or small ones.

You’d throw you topwater over a spot where you knew there were four or five fish anywhere from 13 inches to 6 pounds, but what determines which one will get the bait — I couldn’t tell you. The thing is, you only got one chance because you only get one chance. Once you catch one and you pull those fish out to the boat, they see the boat and they scatter.

I guess it was just the luck of the draw and Day 2 was the only day it really seemed to work in my favor. I had four big bites and with three of them, I actually had a small fish come up and get my spook, but when it jumped and came off, a big one would get it.

The third day it was the opposite. I’d have a big one jump over my Spook but then a little one would get it. This was one of the most frustrating tournaments I’ve ever fished because you catch so many fish in a day and you’re trying to target the big ones, but it’s so random. 

I tried throwing giant, full-sized Spooks to weed out the little ones, but they’d still get it.

I did have one cool moment that I’ll never forget. On Day 2, a 6-pounder and a little fish both jump out of the water and crossed in the air before coming down and heading in opposite directions. When I came tight I was thinking “Please let the line be heading toward the bank,” because that’s where the big fish was headed. As it turned out, it was the big one that got it.

This fish was part of a flurry that took me from having about 5 pounds to 19 in a matter of minutes. That’s how the tournament was for me, you’d go through a lull and then you’d come across a point and boom, boom, boom; you’d catch three. You just had to stay focused and keep moving.

Despite the frustration, this was a really good event for me because notching my second Top 12 in a row helped get me back on track after a bad finish on Grand Lake. There’s nothing better than doing good on your home lake and there’s nothing worse than doing bad on your home lake.

I kind of had my feelings hurt after Grand, but then to do well at Kentucky Lake and then Lake Travis; I guess you could say my feelings aren’t as hurt now.