A week to remember

Last week was one that I’ll remember for a long time down at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.
The second event of the 2016 FLW Tour took place last weekend on the 60,000 acre reservoir and things went my way en route to 4th place finish, my best yet in one of these pro bass tournaments.
In my column last week I mentioned that I was happy with my three-day practice because I had several options for catching fish. I had several shallow areas located where largemouth bass were preparing to spawn and I had a few deeper areas that were holding large schools of spotted bass.
Over the course of the four-day event I caught fish different ways each day and in the end I was able to move up the leader board on the weekend cut days. While I was expecting to have a decent tournament I didn’t expect to finish where I did but I was fortunate to catch a couple of big fish at key times that allowed me to keep advancing to the final day.
Things started out as great early on Day 1 when I caught a bass that weighed almost seven pounds on about my fifth cast in the morning.
I have never had a bass make me shake like this one did after I got it in the boat that early in the day.
It took me about 10 minutes before I could get back on track. I caught a limit pretty quick and had a great start to the tournament. I ended the day in 15th place and was in good position to stay in the top 50 and cash a cheque.
Things started off pretty good again on Day 2 as I put my five fish in the boat pretty quick and was confident that I had enough weight to stay in the cheque range.
The focus then shifted to trying to make the top 20 and get to fish a third day.
I caught a bunch of fish on Day 2 but never did connect with a big one so I wasn’t sure if I would have enough weight to stay in.
Fortunately I squeaked into the top 20 in 18th spot so I got to fish a third day without any pressure.
Over the first two days the weather was awesome with hot sun and little wind.
I spent most of my time fishing shallow and actually saw many of the fish that I caught.
On Day 3, clouds moved in, the wind started blowing and the temperatures started dropping.
Most of the anglers that made the top 20 were sight fishing in shallow water and these conditions were not conducive for what they were doing.
I started out on one of my big schools of spotted bass and quickly caught a nice limit on a Jackall Dowzvido suspending jerkbait.
I ended up catching between 40 and 50 fish on day three and managed to work my way into the top ten to fish the final day.
Heading out on Day 4 in eighth place my goal was to move up as many spots as I could.
I had another great start on day four and quickly put a really nice limit together.
The weather deteriorated even more on day four so I knew that some of the other anglers that were fishing shallow were going to have tough time so I fished hard trying to hunt down a big fish or two.
While I caught a good number of fish I was never able to make any significant upgrades on the initial limit that I put in the boat.
My catch of 14 pounds, 11 ounces moved me up to fourth place in the end. There wasn’t a whole lot more that I could do because the anglers that beat me had a large lead heading into the final day so I’m ecstatic with the great finish.
After two events I’m in sixth place in points for the Angler of the Year race and qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup, the season ending championship.
At the end of the season the top 35 anglers qualify for the championship, the goal of all 170 anglers fishing the Tour this year.
Next up on the schedule is Beaver Lake, Arkansas in mid-April.
In the meantime I’m coming home to get in one last hurrah on the ice!
Thank you to everybody who sent me messages of encouragement over the past weekend they were all appreciated!