April 17, 2014 by Dave Lefebre
Editor's Note: The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW.
Professional tournament fishing is normally a rollercoaster ride with plenty of ups and downs, but this season so far is nothing but downs. I've never experienced anything quite like this before in my 12 years on the Walmart FLW Tour. It all started on the first tournament day of the year on Okeechobee with a mechanical breakdown, and it has snowballed from there. Now here I sit, with two events remaining, officially out of the Forrest Wood Cup for the first time in my career. It feels really bad, but I'm confident something great is about to happen, or at least something good will come out of this mess.
Speaking of mess, my performance at Beaver Lake this past week was pitiful. On the last day of practice, I found a point up the river that was loaded with spots of a better-than-average size. My game plan going in was to stay close to takeoff; what I was even doing up the river doesn't cease to amaze me even now. Regardless, this find tainted my plan of attack, and I made a last-minute decision on Thursday morning to start on that point upriver.
I was the first boat there despite being boat No. 82. I spent about 30 minutes trying to get a bite and then left, but instead of heading back toward Prairie Creek, I started running around in that area. I finally came to my senses, and once I got back close to takeoff I started catching some fish. Unfortunately, I lost a 4-pound largemouth with about 10 minutes left in the day, which turned out to be my kiss of death for this tournament.
About three years ago at Beaver Lake I lost a bunch of huge fish on a crankbait, and I've never forgotten that. I should have weighed about 22 pounds, but only took about 10 to the scales that awful day. So, remembering that, my plan this year was to fish a Terminator swim jig and try to figure out how to get the fish to bite it in place of the crankbait. In practice it worked out great; my first bite on the perch-colored swim jig was a 4 1/2-pound pig. In three days of practice, without even fishing a lot and leaving all the key areas alone, I had 17, 14, and 17 pounds again. It was so good that I actually told a friend at registration I thought I was going to win, lol. It's been awhile since I felt this good going into an event.
After screwing up day one with only 7 1/2 pounds, I put aside my crankbait concerns, picked up a Storm Wiggle Wart and headed back into Prairie Creek and stayed there the entire day. I never put it down and could basically follow anyone fishing a worm and catch fish. I caught more than 20 keepers, but none of them was much help. I only weighed 9 1/2 pounds with four largemouths and one smallie. I climbed from 103rd to 82nd in the standings after day two, tying Andrew Upshaw for the very last $4,000 check ... whew, that was close!
My Wiggle Wart was a new model, despite my having thousands of dollars of vintage ones ... don't buy the hype. My swim-jig trailer was a green pumpkin purple copper Yamamoto Fat Baby Craw.
We hit Beaver Lake at a perfect time: prespawn and warming. The weather was unstable and different every day, causing us to have to adapt all the time to get bites. Actually, the conditions and situation were perfect for me, so it stings to leave there with a bomb. The guys who capitalized are the ones who went on to fish the weekend. I noticed some talk among the guys with better bags about getting five to seven bites per day. I also noticed that the leaders were fishing the same type areas and baits that I was. I think transitions in rock, bluff ends and points were the main deal for most, or just getting into a creek, putting the trolling motor down, and simply fishing everything, is a plan that always works on this lake.
Our next and final two events are all about the Tennessee River, and obviously I like that. I've had several top-10 finishes at Pickwick and won the last time we fished Kentucky Lake. I've also got another derby on Chickamauga in the mix. I'm looking forward to nothing but another win soon! Next up, Pickwick Lake. Anne and the kids are coming to that one, and we always look forward to heading down to McFarland Park in Florence, Ala.
Maybe I'll see you there.
Hear more from Dave Lefebre by following him on Twitter at @DaveLefebre or liking him on Facebook at facebook.com/DaveLefebre.