Good finish to the FLW season

The 2013 Walmart FLW Tour season came to an end this past weekend at Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee.
There was a lot on the line for many anglers fishing this event because the top 35 in points accumulated over the six regular-season tournaments qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup—the annual Tour championship where anglers are fishing for a first-place prize of $500,000.
Qualifying for the Cup is the goal of every angler fishing the FLW Tour because you win at least $10,000 just for qualifying and there is no entry fee.
I was not in the running to qualify for the championship because of a few bad tournaments that I had over the course of the season, so my goal here was to try and have a good tournament and cash a cheque.
I had left my boat in Tennessee after the last tournament, so I flew down the day before the practice started on Chickamauga. The drive to these southern lakes is just too extreme to make back and fourth so flying is a lot easier and cheaper when you consider the price of gas and a few meals along the way.
I had spent four days at this lake in late May, so I had a good idea of how it looked, which gave me an idea of what I wanted to do when I arrived there to start practising.
On my first day of practice, I ran around to a few places where I caught fish when I was there earlier to try and get a feel for what the fish were doing, were they deep or shallow, and what was their activity level like?
What I found were that some of the places I caught them at before had fish on them and some didn’t. I also found that there were some numbers of fish in shallow water but the better quality seemed to be deep.
As the three-day practice went on, I settled on an area of the lake about 15 miles from the take-off area, where I had a few deep spots and some stretches of boat docks that seemed to have decent numbers of fish on them.
I had one deep spot, in particular, where a shallow flat dropped from seven feet of water into 25 feet along the main river channel.
Though it is called a lake, Chickamauga actually is part of the Tennessee River system, so it functions more like a river than a lake. It has a steady current through it that sets up the fish in specific locations.
Day 1 of the tournament went really well for me. I started on my deep spot and caught three big bass, including a five-pounder and a pair of four-pounders. I rounded off my limit with a couple of decent dock fish with gave me a total of 18 pounds, five oz.
I sat in 21st place after Day 1, so my goal on Day 2 was to try and move up at least one spot into the top 20, which would give me an opportunity to fish a third day.
The second day of the event was a little tougher for me. My deep spot only produced one three-pound bass and several smaller fish, so I had to scramble around the rest of the day and managed to get five decent fish for 13 pounds, 14 oz.
I caught fish on a variety of lures over the course of the two days, including a deep-diving crankbait, a football jig, and a drop-shot rig.
I ended up finishing in 26th place, which was my best finish of the season and earned a cheque for more than $10,000. This salvaged an up-and-down season for me so I was happy with the final result.
Fishing these southern reservoirs is quite different than the fishing we’re accustomed to on our natural lakes at home in Sunset Country, so I had to go through a few bumps on the learning process.
But I learned a lot and should be able to use these experiences next year when I’m faced with similar situations.
Overall, I had a great experience fishing these tournaments over the past few months. I made several new friends and was able to visit some cool places in my travels.
The biggest negative to fishing these events is the extreme distance I have to travel to compete. I ended up flying back and fourth in-between tournaments because the drive was just too far.
I made the drive home from Chickamauga by myself and it took me about 26 hours’ total drive time, which I did straight-through after fishing the second day of the tournament.
I took a couple of naps along the way when I started to fight keeping my eyes open.
I can tell you that I’m sure happy to be home now for the summer, and look forward to getting the tournament season started in Sunset Country this weekend at Lake Despair.