UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Ohio River

Blog: What Might Have Been at Eufaula

Blog: What Might Have Been at Eufaula

Lake Eufaula is in the books, but ever since the tournament I haven’t slept very well. If you know me, you know I just “love” losing fish, but I think this latest event was the worst of my career. I finished 12th, which isn’t so bad, but the “what could have beens” got me again. On the last day of practice, I caught nearly 30 pounds, including one around 10 pounds and a 7 1/2-pounder, making it a day I’ll never forget.

Like most of the top contenders, I fished brush piles that I’d located using the good ol’ Lowrance StructureScan – truly amazing technology. In practice I focused on areas where I didn’t see other anglers, and I found plenty of good fish-holding stuff. I was employing a Terminator Jig and a Storm Pro Paddle Tail Swimbait in the brush, and as the event evolved, the jig became my main weapon for the bigger bites.

I had about 30 key piles in a five-mile stretch of the lake down near the dam. When the tournament began, I saw most of the top finishers each day also targeting that region of the lake. I wound up with 15-06 on day one and sat in 17th when the dust settled. The only crazy thing that happened came late in the day when I stopped on a deep pile on the way back to check-in. I caught four keeper largemouths in a row, though none culled. My co-angler and good friend David Lauer only had three fish, so I told him to go ahead and throw in there. Well, wouldn’t you know he hooked a solid 5-pounder, which jumped off near the boat. For sure, I could have used that one, and so could he.

On day two, just as at Beaver Lake, I struggled a bit. This time I had just enough to survive another day. I again fished the jig in the brush, but my key bite came on a new hollow-bellied frog by Gary Yamamoto. I happened to be passing a small patch of pads where I’d caught a 3 1/2-pounder in practice, so I flew over there and dug my frog out of the rod box. I caught a 5-pounder on my very first cast, and that’s the one that got me into the cut.

I was refining my jig pattern as the event rolled along, and it was becoming obvious that most of my bigger bites were coming deeper (17 to 20 feet) and from a certain creek, plus there was no one else in the top 20 fishing in there. I was also modifying my jig, basically going bigger, bulkier and faster. It seemed that the fish wanted it fast – it was definitely a reaction deal. I was snapping it around and inside the piles, many times dropping it straight down on fish I was marking under the boat, just like a drop-shot, but the bites were a lot more violent. I’ve got some great video from my iON camera vertically fishing the big Terminator, which I can’t wait to share. I basically went from a 3/8-ounce model on 14-pound test up to a 1-ounce size with 20-pound test on the third day.

My equipment for both was a high-speed (7.3:1) 13 Fishing Concept E casting reel. For the lighter jigs I was using a prototype Omen 7-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy rod and, for the 1-ounce jig, I was using a 7-foot, 11-inch heavy Envy rod because you really have to jack those fish with the bigger jig in deeper water. My jigs were all green pumpkin/blue with my favorite Yamamoto Double Tail Grub in green pumpkin. I also used a green pumpkin chunk at times for a different look as I was revisiting places repeatedly.

I ended day three with the same weight I had on day one, 15-06, and just barely missed the to-10 cut, which brings me back to my opening and losing fish. It’s getting really old, but I accept it. I have to. Obviously, it has something to do with the way I operate, and that’s just that!

On day three I had five minutes left to fish, and after three hours of trying to cull the one small fish I had, I went back to the area where I caught a 10-pounder in practice.  I’d fished it at least 20 times already since the tournament started, with no results. This time, though, I got the bite. It was a solid 7- or 8-pound fish. I was able to keep it down. It rolled on the surface, but thankfully didn’t jump.

I fought it under the boat, and it pulled drag. As I was horsing it up from under the boat with the net in hand, it just pulled off 2 feet from the rod tip. Just like that, it was gone. I was in disbelief. I had the net ready and was going to make the fish jump so I could catch it, but it escaped and nearly gave me a heart attack. I was in perfect position to make a serious charge, and to come in with 21 or 22 pounds with a shot in the finals. That would have been so awesome. I got to see the potential on that last practice day, and in the tournament it was definitely there. Unfortunately, I’ll never know anything more than “what could have been.”

All I can do now is prepare for the next one, which will be in Dayton, Tenn., on Lake Chickamauga. I did well there at the Bassmaster BASSFest last year and look forward to it. After Eufaula, I moved up to 15th in the AOY points, and though not probable, with a top-five finish in the last two events I could make a run at the leaders.

See you at the next one!

Tags: lake-eufaula  dave-lefebre  blog 

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