Returning to the tournament trail

After a nice break at home last week and some quality time on the ice, fishing with friends and family, I was back on the road this past weekend headed to Alabama for stop No. 2 on the FLW Tour.
This week we’re fishing Lewis Smith Lake in northern Alabama, a place we visited in 2013 so I have a little bit of experience on this water.
I had a decent tournament here last time and snuck out with one of the last cheques, so I’m looking to improve my finish this time around.
Smith Lake is uncharacteristic of many of the lakes in the south in that it is very deep and has clear water. It has a good population of spotted bass, which act like a cross between a largemouth and a smallmouth, and some largemouth bass.
Last time we were here, I caught my fish the first day on a suspending jerkbait, then caught them deep on a Northland Puppet Minnow the next day.
This time around, we’re a little bit later in the year so I expect more bass will be up shallow, looking to start spawning.
Through a couple of days of practice, the weather has been nice and fishing has been okay. I’ve been finding a few spots each day, so hopefully I can expand things a little bit more before the tournament starts tomorrow (March 26).
After my poor finish in Florida a few weeks back, I’m looking to get back at it and turn things around.
Meanwhile, I had a great time on the ice back home last week. Ice-fishing in March, when the snow is gone and the weather is nice, is one of my favourite things to do.
Conditions were great because there still was a lot of ice so we easily could go anywhere we wanted.
As much as I want to see the ice go out of our lakes in Sunset Country, I’m kind of looking forward to getting out a couple of more times next week when I get home. It’s such a great time of year to catch big fish of all species.
Over the last few years, I’ve caught my biggest pike, walleye, and lake trout during the last week or two of safe ice.
If you are going to venture out, however, don’t take any risks with the ice conditions. My friends and I check ice conditions constantly and either will walk out or just do something else once we feel like the ice is not safe anymore.
It looks like a hot walleye bite could be shaping up on the Rainy River this spring after not really happening before the close of the season on April 15 the past couple of years because of the late winters.
Reports that I’ve heard have the Rainy River just about wide open, so walleyes from Lake of the Woods should be starting to pile into the river next week.
It’s not every year that it works out that you can get out on the river but when conditions are right, it is some of the best walleye fishing you can imagine. If you have never done it before, I highly recommend getting the boat out and getting in on this awesome fishing.
You will catch numbers of fish and have a legit shot at eight- to 10-pound walleyes.
But I should get back to thinking about bass fishing. You can follow the tournament this week online at www.flwoutdoors.com

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