Lakecaster Online

Tournament Pathfinder
By John Presley

On December 2 - 5 the Alabama Bassmaster Eastern Invitational was held on Lake Martin in Alexander City, Alabama. Lake Martin was about 8 ft low during the tournament. Most of the structure was on dry land with very little cover in the water . The weather we had during the tournament was clear blue bird skies with low temps in the 20's and highs in the 50's. The low water levels and clear skies made for some tough fishing conditions. Lake Martin is a deep lake with lots of rocky shoreline and good drop-offs. The water is really clear and you could see the bass cruising in the shallow water . The lake was so clear I used 8 pound and 10 pound line except if I flipped I went to 17 pound line. I only got to get a few days practice in prior to the tournament. I had a late start getting to this one . This was my first time to fish Lake Martin so I did not try to run it all in a few days . I decided to take one area of the lake that looked good to me and fish it hard and try to figure out what the fish were doing. In the area that I decided to fish I found several brush piles that were holding fish . Also in the same creek I found some shallow water brush piles in front of docks that were also holding fish. The first day of practice I had several bites in the deeper brush piles using a carolina rig with a 10 pound leader fishing with a watermelon Zoom finesse worm. Lake Martin only had a 12 inch size limit but boy the 12 inchers were even hard to catch. On the last day of practice a friend of mine from Kansas told me that he was doing well using a mojo rig with 8 pound line in the shallow brush piles. The mojo rig is a type of carolina rig where you can use light line because you have no swivel and the weight won't slide up and down your line cutting it. The line is ran through the weight securing it with small strands of rubber ,this really works well on light line carolina rigging, better than split shotting because it won't damage your line . The mojo kits are available at most tackle stores and I know that Ann's Tackle in Jasper has them or can order one. The first day I went with my partner to his fish first. He was carolina rigging points with brush piles on them using a traditional carolina rig. Before he had a keeper in the boat , I had already three keepers using the mojo rig .The keepers I had were not very big but I was glad to have them has tough as the bite was. Later that day we went to my fish even thought I felt they were on early bite. . My partner caught his last two keepers on my brush piles and all I caught on them was two short fish. It was so tough that after the 1st day George Cochran of Arkansas was leading with only 5 fish for 12-02 and 55th place was only 6-07 . The first day I ended up with three fish that weighed 3-12. The second day I lost the flip and had to go to my partners fish first which was way down the lake . He was fishing a run and gun pattern targeting backs of pontoon boats that still had water around them. We must have fished 50 boats that day and he caught two keepers flipping the pontoon boats. That afternoon we went to my fish where I caught one keeper on a brush pile. The last day of the tournament I finally got to go to my fish first . It started great when the first brushpile I fished I pulled two keepers out in the first 10 minutes. It then got tougher I missed one good bite and only caught three short fish the rest of the day. I finished the tournament in 186th place with 6 fish that weighed 7-12 and got 115 points. Carl Maxfield of South Carolina and Rufus Johnson of Tennessee tied for first with 25-04 . They were sent back out on the lake that afternoon for a sudden death fish off for first place. Both were unable to catch a legal fish so they had to go back out the next morning from 6:30AM to 10:30 AM. Rufus Johnson of Srawplains ,Tennessee weighed in three bass totaling 3-10 to win the Bassmaster Eastern Invitational and the sudden death fish off. Johnson was in 133nd place after the first day with two fish 3-15 then he came from 48th place on the second day to weighin over 13 pounds to tie Maxfield for the sudden death fish off and the win. This was only his second BASS event that he had entered . Johnson won a check for $16,000 and the keys to a $25,000 fully rigged Ranger Bass boat with a Mercury Outboard. His winning weight for the tournament was 15 fish that weighed 28-14 , 2nd place was Carl Maxfield of South Carolina with 14 fish that weighed 27-09, and good for $2,000 check and a $25,000 fully rigged Ranger Bass boat, 3rd was Paul Hanley of Georgia with 14 fish weighing 23-05, good for a $25,000 fully rigged bass boat , 4th place was Chuck Economou of Florida with 14 fish weighing 22-11, good for $9,000 and rounding off 5th place was Jimmy Millsaps of Georiga with 14 fish weighing 21-10,and good for $7,000. A chartreuse Fat Free Guppy made by Excaliber was the bait that won Johnson the tournament . He was throwing the bait against the bank and ripping it back ,with most of his fish coming whenever the point dropped off suddenly. This tournament took only 14-07 to get a check in 55th place, that's tough fishing. .It was also the first fish - off B.A.S.S. has seen in four years .My next Tournament is the Florida Bassmaster Eastern Invitational on Lake Okeechobee in Okeechobee City , Florida January 20th-22nd, 2000 the first one of the new millenium. I will bring you the results and my experiences of the tournament in next months article. Big Sam produced some good bags of fish over 20 pounds during the December 5 Bass- Bucks Team Tournament while I was gone . I also heard of several 14 to 20 pound stringers ,all I can say is it's good to be home were you have a chance to catch stringers like that after some I the places I tournament fished.

By the way , when I am not fishing tournaments I am a full-time fishing guide on Lake Sam Rayburn. If you would like to book a trip please call me at 409-698-9713 or Ann's Tackle Shop at 409-384-7685.

Good Luck and Good Fishing.

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