Winter Haven Chain – Jan. 14, 2017
“…..Boat 30… Great….”
The first tournament is in the books and to say it was wild is an understatement. There were a total of 5 tournaments on the Winter Haven Chain that day and boats prefishing for 2 more on Sunday. Thoughts of fishing an entire shoreline without anyone in your way were gone and beating everyone to your favorite spot was the key. But I don’t think anyone of us had a complaint when we got to see our flag flying and were able to stand and take our hats off as the national anthem played. What a great moment to look forward to before each upcoming tournament. It just goes to show how great this club is and how well it is run. Anyways back to fishing.
To find out Rick and I were going to be boat 30 out of the 4th tournament to be released that morning had us a little bummed but we had a plan that we were going to try hard to stick to if we could manage it. One tournament had left by the time we were putting the boat in the water and we watched as 2 more left while we were sitting there. So far so good sense we could see our shoreline from take off. But by the time we were called we had to find an area down the shore because 4 or 5 boats were already lined up in the area we wanted to start. Before the fog rolled in we could see what looked like a red or green light every 50 yards all the way around Lake Shipp.
We went to work hoping for an early top water bite and had 4 fish for around 8 pounds by 8 am. Some of the boats had cleared out and we got to fish what we thought was the better area for a bit but fishing behind everyone didn’t pan out like we wanted. We decided to make a run up to Idylwild and Rick filled out our limit pretty quick with a 13” dink caught on a worm in the lily pads. Then on to Hartridge where we had multiple encounters with fish over 5 pounds in practice. But of course there were 2 boats on our shoreline. It was way earlier than we had planned on but we decided to make the run all the way north through the lock to the one bed we wanted to fish in Lake Haines. We knew a lot of guys had already made the trip through the lock and there was a tournament out of the north chain as well. We figured the bed might already be fished but with two fish on it that would help us out we just had to check it anyway.
Thirty minutes later as the sun was finally coming out we pulled up to our spot with a team fishing right past the bed. They told us they hadn’t caught anything and were leaving. We had a hard time not staring at the two bass just hanging out over the bed as they went by. When they left we power poled down and set to work. Rick flipped a couple times and I gave him some room but I couldn’t take it and had to get my worm in there. I flipped in and as I felt up on the line I felt that feeling we all love so much…Donk… I set the hook and pulled in a nice buck around 2 lbs. We ended up giving the female some time to settle back on the bed. When we came back around to check her she was stuck on it just like we were hoping. Rick switched from his dark worm to a pearl white Lunkerhunt craw fish that we had actually won in a raffle from a captain’s meeting the year before. She didn’t care for my bait but that white craw was ticking her off. I watched her suck it up and spit it out twice, each time taking it in a bit more. I could see better than Rick and on the third time I started to turn to get the net as I said, “set the hook.” I heard the fish shaking her head out of the water as I grabbed the net, then scooped her up. She wasn’t a giant but was over 4 lbs and we knew we had accomplished our plan that we had set the night before.
We didn’t have what we thought would be a winning pattern but we thought 12 to 13 pounds would put us in the top 10. We caught a couple more fish as we made our way back to Shipp but didn’t cull again. We ended up in 5th place with 13.49lbs and are excited to have started with a good finish and a decent position to build on for team of the year.