Folsom Lake (April 16)

If you’re not here to win, than why are you here?…….. Big Ed

It rings in my head every time I start a tournament, a mantra that keeps me grounded. The game we play is more mental than physical, inner strength allows you to stay with the plan you laid. Mental toughness tells you to stay when your gut says go.  Mental awareness tells you to trust your gut sometimes.

3.5 on a deep bush on folsom during pre-fish


This year has started a chapter for me. New, final, or next will be determined later. I had to let my old partner go start his life, learn responsibility, and grow up. So I went with a grizzled old veteran as a partner, we’ve been friends for over a decade so the trust is there and he comes with lots of experience.

The Saturday prior to the event Jeff set out to gather information we could construct a plan from. Unfortunately the fish he caught were scattered and not leaving any evidence of where to start. On the following Thursday I took my shot at it, I was able to find about twelve to thirteen pounds of fish. I knew this was nowhere near enough to win however I also discovered bass moving onto beds. Thursday was the first really nice weather day, seeing fish on beds was not much problem. The fact that there were very few up was a concern. With Friday forecast to be warm, my conviction was more bass would move up by Saturday. I found the north fork to be the most productive, past history and my gut told me to explore the south fork since a lot of tournaments are won from that arm. I fished in New York creek and a few other areas in that arm but it was dead. That night Jeff and I discussed my findings, the north would hold our fate.

Tournament Day

The weather was cooperating light wind, blue skies and warm air. The next Question was whether the fish would cooperate. With my second cast of the morning I received a resounding yes. On a small clay bank next to a spawning cove my s-waver swim bait worked its magic, producing a dramatic strike from a four pound smallmouth. Great start to the morning, we fished the area awhile longer only picking up a small keeper.  We started working spawning areas with reaction baits before the sun broke on the water hoping to land another quality fish. Unfortunately the grind of bed fishing would come without the luxury of another kicker.

The first area we chose produced a song lyric that would resonate in my head all day “Should I stay or should I go”. A two and a half pound largemouth was nestled next to a lay down locked on a bed. It was the four and a half pounder trying to move up that would define my day. Theories run wild in bed fishing.  Do you take the buck and hope she moves on, leave him then hope she locks on? I made the decision to leave him, that decision was nullified when another angler started in to the cove as I was leaving. I went back landed him making sure they saw the catch. Now it was up to her, I knew this move would keep other anglers off her but would she follow the lead and lock on.

We decided to go to a small saddle on the back side of an island, where I found fish during practice. I cast the s-waver out; as I retrieved it five large spotted bass followed the bait. I immediately turned to Jeff and said “throw a bait into deep water”. He chose a senko; I picked up a drop shot cast into sixteen feet of water shook it twice the rod got heavy. I set the hook I knew instantly of the massive size, she moved up the water column, broke through the glassy surface, and shook her head heart break followed. Don’t lose focus, stay smart, and compose yourself these are all statements I’ve heard time and time again after watching some pro on TV lose a good fish. Its harder than it sounds, I knew this fish would have put me over the top at the weigh –in maybe not a win but top ten.  We continued to fish the area for another hour, no takers. Now was the moment, the choice we made to leave the bigger fish would it pay off or fail miserably. With a half hour left in our tournament day we made the run. Was she there, did she set up, did someone else catch her, it’s a long ride when your head is spinning.  Upon arrival she was right where I needed her to be. I positioned the boat next to a tree readying myself to make accurate casts. The first cast landed on the bed she flared then swam off, she made her way back just in time to see my second presentation land she engulfed it.  Seconds later she was in the net and we were on our way to the weigh-in. In the end we finished one place out of top twenty with 14.89.

I can look back and beat myself up for losing that fish but what would that accomplish. There was no one thing that caused that fish to throw the hook it just happens. So I’ll focus on the positives like catching the bed fish that I waited all tournament to catch, the decision to stick with our plan all day, and last but not least we knew when to stay and when to go.

Two 4+ bass from folsom

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