Last week was a very special tournament for me, fishing as a Co-Angler in the FLW Tour event on the Harris Chain. I was fortunate to draw two pros, on day one, I fished behind Jimmy Houston and we had a blast and caught fish all day!
We started off fishing a flat with eel grass and hydrilla scattered on it and because of my practice, I had an idea of how to attack it. During practice I was throwing a ChatterBait on a 6’10” Medium Power Shaman Series rod. I noticed I was able to get quite a few bites and that it would be a good way to fill a limit if fishing was tough.
On tournament day, I started with a Kahuna Series 7’ rod to throw a Yo-Zuri Flat Minnow Jerkbait. I quickly started getting bites and knew I was onto something. I put together a limit by 10:00 and had my first cull of the day with a bass falling to Gambler Fat Ace on a 7’2” Medium Heavy Shaman rod.
Over the next two and a half hours we kept catching bass upgrading slightly. I was able to get my kicker fish by using my Surman 50G series 7’ 2″ rod to fish a Yo-Zuri Rattlin’ Vibe; this 3 1/2 pounder helped me out greatly in the standings!
Day two was much tougher fishing for my partner, Chad Randles and I. We had a slow morning, but Chad said that it was a timing deal and large school of fish roaming on a hydrilla flat would turn on at some point. The fish finally turned on in the early afternoon and it was fast and furious action!
The only thing that worked me was fishing my Yo-Zuri Flat Minnow, which produced a limit around 8 pounds for me and ensured that I would be getting a check for the tournament.
I knew that I needed one or two good bites to have a strong finish and possibly make a run at the win, but those bites didn’t come.
With three minutes left before we had to make the run for check-in, I decided to change what I was doing and grabbed my 7’6” Medium Heavy Shaman rod with a Gambler Burner Worm on it.
I made three casts before Chad announced that this would be our last cast before we would take off for check-in. I made one final cast. I figured I would milk it for all it was worth, so I threw it out as far as I could and let it sink to the bottom.
I slow rolled the bait back towards me trying to stay in contact with grass as much as possible. After about 30 seconds, I felt a big bump and the line started to tighten. I set hard knowing this was my last shot and hooked into a good one.
The Shaman did its job just like it had all tournament, the backbone and the hook set on this fish was critical. I played him towards the net and Chad bent down to help me scoop him up. A 4 1/2 pounder, the best fish I’d caught all tournament. I quickly culled and we took off like a bullet to make sure we weren’t late.
When it was all said and done, I ended up in 22nd place. I caught some great fish and had 12 pounds the first day and 11 pounds the second.
I am currently sitting tied for 8th place in the Co-Angler of Year race and attribute my success to the great equipment I’m able to use and all the time I’ve gotten to fish behind seasoned anglers. When you watch the best guys in the world fish, it only makes you a better fisherman.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have some incredible fishing experiences in my life. I’ve fished as a Co-Angler behind legends of the sport, Larry Nixon and Jimmy Houston. I’ve had David Dudley come up to me and wish me good luck before takeoffs and have gotten to practice and bounce ideas off of Clark Wendlandt, and this is all because of one man.
All these experiences make me cherish the time I’ve gotten to spend with my father on the water even more than I ever could have imagined. He has taught me everything I know about fishing. He has owned a bait company (Gambler Lures), where I would bag weights and try all the products in our backyard with him when I was a kid.
Most baits we would try in the pool first to watch the action and then out to the backyard honey hole for a field test. He’s been involved with the creation of so many baits that I use today religiously. He helped launch Bang fish attractant which is still a great bait scent product sold today. He’s afforded me all of these opportunities and I can never thank him enough for him.
So to end this blog post, I will leave y’all with my dad’s old tag line from his fishing show. “Take a kid fishing, they’ll enjoy it and so will you.” Wise words I will never forget. Love you, Pop!