My tail got kicked at Winyah Bay

Throughout my tournament fishing career in the U.S., I have fished a few tournaments on tidal waters along the east coast and my results have not been very good.
These rivers that flow into the Atlantic Ocean like the Potomac in Maryland, the St. Johns in Florida and the ones we just fished at Winyah Bay in South Carolina are all influenced by the Oceans tide so their water levels fluctuate by a couple of feet every six or eight hours.
These tides influence how fish position around cover like weeds or docks and they create feeding windows, usually when the water changes from incoming to outgoing and vice versa.
Changes in current direction seem to cause bass in these rivers to bite at specific times. Clearly, I struggle with figuring it out because I have never cashed a cheque in a tournament on one of these waters.
This past weekend I fished a tournament out of Winyah Bay on the South Carolina coast where we took off from salt water and had our choice of half a dozen rivers to look for bass.
After a good event last week at Lake Hartwell I was feeling good heading into this event. This area has not held many large bass tournaments in the past, but Bassmaster did hold any event here in 2016 where most of the anglers that did well made a 100 mile (160 km) plus boat ride to the Cooper River.
It was apparent that the Cooper River has the best fishing in the region but the long boat ride was a gamble because there would be a limited amount of fishing time.
We only get an eight-hour day to fish and making that ride there and back would eat up over half of our fishing time.
My boat and motor have been very reliable and have never really caused me any problems but you run the risk of mechanical failure by making that long ride as well. I decided I would spend my time fishing closer to the take-off area and take my chances.
My first day of practice went pretty well. I caught several fish and found three or four small areas where I was confident that I could return and get a few bites.
The thing that excited me the most was that there were only two or three other tournament anglers fishing in this area. I spent the next day in the same area and decided I would look for some odd-ball, inconspicuous spots to fish.
When I got on the water the next day there were 25-30 tournament boats fishing this area and these guys found all of the places that I had. I decided I would spend that last day of practice fishing a different river, in hopes that I would find something additional to what I already had.
I did not even get a bite in the new area I checked so I was stuck with fishing the areas that I had found.
In the end there was too much traffic in the areas that I fished and while I was happy that I caught my five fish each day, they were both small limits and I found myself with a 58th place finish. Not good.
Fellow Canadian angler Cory Johnston, one of my travel partners made the run to the Cooper River and landed himself a third place finish, earning $30,000.
In addition to the tough fishing, this area was loaded with all kinds of critters that I’m not that fond of. The plentiful alligators did not bother me at all, but the dozens of snakes that I saw every day did.
There were also several huge wasp nests built in trees over the water, something I had never seen before, so I spent half of my time keeping my eyes peeled for trouble instead of focusing on fishing as much as I should have.
After four events I find myself sitting in 55th place in the points standings.
The goal is to make the top 40 at the end of the year to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic so I have my work cut out for me.
There are still five events remaining so I have plenty of fishing left to make up some ground. The new few venues should suit my style of fishing a little better so I’m looking forward to them.
I’m excited to get home after being on the road for a few weeks. I’ll probably get out ice fishing a couple of times this week.
I really enjoy catching giant pike during this late ice period and I’ll probably try to find a few crappies or a lake trout to eat as well.
The Bassmaster Elite Series resumes the first week of May at Lake Fork, Texas, one of the best big bass fisheries in the world, so I’ll be ready to get back on the water again when that comes around.