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Overcoming Adversity at the Big O

Posted by blake on February 10, 2016

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Day one of the first FLW Tour event and they call out for boat ninety eight.  I’m in a brand new Ranger looking to head out on Okeechobee when my motor locks up right after being called.  My motor blew before I could even make one cast.  In the past, I would have freaked out and it wouldn’t have ended well, but I stayed calm.  Instead of freaking out, I started doing tackle while I was waiting for it to be fixed.  It took awhile, but the Mercury mechanic got me back out on the water.  I start idling out and faced my next problem; the lock was closed.  I had to call get permission for them to let me through which took another thirty minutes.  I made it out to meet the nasty side of the Big O.  It was blowing hard and the lake was pretty darn rough, but I had to go out there and fish even though I hardly had any time.

 

My practice was tough.  I spent a lot of it looking for that deeper hydrilla bite which had produced a lot of top finishes in the last few years, but never found it.  I committed to the Harney Pond area, but didn’t have much going on there.

After getting out on the big lake day one, I headed towards the Harney Pond area.  The wind and waves did a number on it as well as on my trolling motor.  When I picked up my trolling motor, it wouldn’t do anything.  I must’ve knocked a wire on the rough ride over, but once again I didn’t panic.  I went and fixed the problem.  With the dirty water, I knew I needed to make a run to a different area.

I decided to go to an area I had fished in the past and just bear down on it and grind them out.  I got in there with not a lot of fishing time left, but once I saw that clearer water I knew it would be on.  I started off losing a five pounder and then my co-angler caught a six and a four.  That was three good bites in the area, so I put the brakes on and started picking it apart.  I lost another fish that was about a three and a half pounder soon after.  It was 2pm and I didn’t have a fish.  I pulled out that Boxer Swim Jig and somehow scrounged up a limit.  A couple years ago, with all that went on that day; I never would have been able to do that.

The next day a front blew in and I’ve been there enough to know when that happens you need to slow way down.  I went and fished very slow, flipping and throwing the Boxer Swim Jig around.  By 10:30am I didn’t have a fish in the well, but I slowly started putting keepers in the boat and put together a slightly better limit than day one.  I wish I would’ve had that morning bite day one, but to come out of Okeechobee without shooting myself in the foot is a big deal.  I made one of the last checks and that keeps me well within contention to make the Cup at Wheeler.

This tournament on paper doesn’t look like much, but to me it’s the best check of my career.  During tough times that would have spun me out in years past, I was able to stay calm and make good enough decisions to survive it.  It feels good to know that I’ve made that kind of progress as a fisherman in my career.

Now, I’m looking towards Lake Hartwell.  I like the lake.  I’ve had a good tournament there and a bad one, so hopefully it’s time for another good one.  I like fishing during the prespawn and that’s what it’s shaping up to be.  There are some giants in that lake and it fishes similar to some of the lakes I fish back home.  I’ll be heading there soon to get in some pre-practice before the off limits period.  I’m hoping it will pay off and I can make a move up the standings to make the Cup.