You may ask yourself what information might be derived from a guy who only caught one fish in two days of a Lake Mead fishing tournament?
Well, first let me say that tournament fishing occurs during a sliver of time when an angler’s only goal is to best the other competitors. And there are two schools of thought during a day of tournament fishing to achieve that goal: catch numbers of bass to fill a limit or catch quality fish (and hopefully fill a limit). I chose the latter—and hindsight being what it is, perhaps it wasn’t the best decision. Nonetheless, the choice I made was based on what I had discovered during practice.
The weather upon my arrival at Mead was post-frontal with an ambient air temperature of 28 degrees, but a warming trend was forecasted to be on the way. The lake was fishing very tough, so much so that merely catching a single bass was difficult.
The only recent information I had was that the fish were staging in the main lake, just outside of coves that contained spawning flats in the back.
Lake Mead Fishing Tournament: Day One Practice
As I launched, I measured the water temperature and clarity. The water in the main lake had about 20 feet of visibility. It was flat, calm, and cold.
I proceeded to hit points on the main lake leading into coves as described above which I assumed would be high percentage areas. Starting with reaction baits such as a crankbait, spinnerbait, and jerkbait, I then switched to finesse presentations. I tossed a Yamamoto Hula Grub, wacky rigged Senko, and drop shot, targeting depths from a couple feet down to 25-feet.
I fished nearly a dozen points before making a move and targeting the back end of these coves with the same reaction and finesse baits.
After fishing the ends of another dozen coves without a bite, I decided to try the steep side of big boulders. Voilà! I caught a 1.5-pound smallmouth. Believing I had found something, I then tried another dozen areas with similar features, without any luck.
Knowing that I needed to find something resembling a pattern, I ran into ‘The Wash’ which is an area with stained water and is well known for good bags. It looked decent. The water temperature was 52-degrees and there was a ton of cover. I tossed a crankbait in and around the flooded brush before trying an umbrella rig and a Senko. Still no bites. Knowing the weather was at the beginning of a warming trend, I decided to come back on the last day of practice, hoping the fish would have moved in by then.
Lake Mead Fishing Tournament: Day Two Practice
I began my day by running to Overton, which is about 20 miles from where I started on day one, fishing the area the same way as I had in the main lake on the first day of practice. This arm looked good as well, with 52-degree stained water and a ton of brush. I tossed a crankbait, chatterbait, and jig around the brush without a bite. Not one single bite on day two of practice.
Lake Mead Fishing Tournament: Day Three Practice
Launching at Temple Bar, I decided to focus on this area as I had done well there in the past. I knew precisely where the bass would spawn and assumed I could work the staging areas nearby. But again, I didn’t get a bite working 10 to 15 different spots.
At this point I ran to the end of the lake and again found flooded brush. I started with a crankbait and caught a largemouth. Finally!
I went down the bank catching several more bass around the 2-pound mark. Now that I had a clue, I worked several similar areas while moving toward the main lake and caught nothing more.
Believing this to be a “move-up area” – a place to which fish with spawning on the mind will locate – I knew I could return and catch some fish.
Lake Mead Fishing Tournament: Day Four Practice
Launching close to ‘The Wash’, today’s goal was to check the area again, hopefully validating my theory that the fish would have moved in during the recent warming weather. The day dawned with a good amount of wind and got me thinking that it might be a reaction bait kind of day.
Fishing wind-blown points near the ramp, I started catching bass—good bass in the 3- to 4-pound class.
After working a couple of coves, I felt I had a good thing going. I then went out to the main lake, directly into the wind, looking to expand this pattern. I started with the umbrella rig and caught a number of 3- to 5-pound bass. The first day of the event called for the same strong winds and based on everything I had found to this point, I needed to pursue that pattern. If I could get two to four bites a day, it would be possible to win.
Lake Mead Fishing Tournament: Day One of the Tournament
The tournament organizers decided to make off-limits the area I had chosen to be my starting spot (only to later open it for day two after several anglers had fished there on day one). Though my first spot was off the table, I still had the area where the umbrella rig had produced during practice, and the wind was howling as it needed to be. I was working a two-mile section of points on the main lake and just knew I could catch a few fish.
By 9 a.m., with zero bites, I started mixing in the crankbait and landed a 4-pounder.
I decided to recycle through the entire area twice more and only got one more bite. Unfortunately, the fish jumped at the boat and came unbuttoned.
Lake Mead Fishing Tournament: Day Two of the Tournament
With the wind laying down and knowing that the umbrella rig bite would be done, I ran 50 miles to the end of the lake where I figured it would be easy to catch a limit of bass. I arrived and proceeded down the bank, tossing the crankbait in and around the brush. I hooked up once, but the fish came off. My non-boater ended up catching three bass from the area on a small worm, moving him into 11th place. I ended the day without catching a bass.
Knowing what I do now – that most of the anglers who cashed a check, including the tournament winner, were fishing in the Overton area – I should have worked that area more thoroughly with reaction baits during windy periods, and flipped in the brush on the one calm day.
Fishing and catching is all based upon the information an angler has at hand. At the end of the day I feel I made the best decisions based upon the information I had at the time. With tournament fishing, decisions are not always the easiest to make, especially when there’s a good chunk of money on the line. The best takeaway from this recap is to continue to try new baits and new areas when tournament fishing.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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