“It was a good day at the lake,” Lee said. Sounds more like 2 okay days, then a good day, then a day of sheer big bass ketchin’ insanity! Stick a Fork fork in the other guys cuz Lee was on ’em! Did I mention Lee’s a Fork guide? Sounds like an advantage BUT it rarely is at the top even tho it was this time. Here’s what went down.
> “Practice really wasn’t that good. …with the full moon coming, I knew the fish were going to change…knew it would get right eventually.
> “…the gizzard spawn – gizzards pull up on that full moon and spawn on those shell beds…. There’s a difference between the threadfin spawn and gizzard spawn on the lake. Gizzards spawn in the main lake in the more-shelled areas. Those big gizzards like big open-water points and shelled hard bottom and wind. Threadfins are more in the pockets – on the bank, grass, docks, rocks….
> “[In practice] the main lake stuff wasn’t that great. …little threadfin spawn further up north…knew I could get up there and survive off it. Whether it was 2nd or 50th I didn’t know.”
> “The first 2 days I started up the lake a little bit…right inside of a major creek – one of the major creeks they spawn in, real clear water. About 20 guys were in there bed-fishing, but there’s a little secondary point on the mouth of it…overlooked because it’s so little. A bunch of fish were schooling on it – a lot of 1-lbers, but every now and then you’d get a big one. …14 1-lbers and then a 5-something.
> “I caught 2 big ones on a jerkbait, [some on] a topwater but none I weighed, 1 on a Carolina rig…. I left there and went to a main-lake bar, a little deeper, and caught a 6.5 and a 5 on a big magnum squarebill.
> “The 2nd day [he went to the same place and] caught 4 on a jerkbait, then went around and caught a couple big ones on a topwater….”
> His baits were a Megabass Vision 110 [I think it was “French pearl US”], a 6th Sense MiniMag Squarebill [I think it was “shad scales”] and a Heddon Super Spook Saltwater Series (bone).
> Squarebill gear: 7′ 6″ M H Halo HFX Cranking Series Rod, 20-lb fluoro (“super-thick timber”). The parabolic rod was “huge for being able to bomb that thing and keep ’em pegged.”
He made the 1st cut and:
> “I was kinda like, Okay I’m in, now it’s time to take your shot…. I’m not going back to any of that [days 1-2] stuff ever again. Now it’s time to catch a bag.
> “We had weather coming in – clouds, rain, NW wind… I know where to adjust and how to catch them with the wind…bed-fishing [peeps] don’t know where to go….”
> “I was comfortable. I was like, Let’s go swinging. I went to where you saw me on the final day, that island on that bar.
> “I caught some good ones on top on the Spook and saw some whales. I left…after lunch I made a pass and boom, boom [couple bigs].”
He then fished some points “but didn’t catch anything,” then hit another point and landed a big one, then caught another big one on the next point:
> “Then I go back to where I started on the island and caught 6-7 on a Rising Son [swimbait] and culled the last one out for the day.”
> “I knew it was on at that island point. I went there and caught a 3-13 on my first cast, then caught a 3-10 on my 3rd cast. I was way out on the end of it…[further in, the fish] started coming up on top and they kept coming up.
> “[So] I positioned as far to the right off the point [island] as I could, fired the Spook and caught a 9-02. Then I caught a 4, a 7-something…then an 8-15 on the Rising Son swimbait. …fished there for a while longer and caught more but nothing helped.
> “I ran a bunch of points…nothing. I went to another shell bar on the west side of the lake and caught an 8-15 on the topwater and lost a big one on a glide bait. I went to the same spot later in the day and caught a 7-15 on the topwater.
> “Then I lost a 8-9 lber in the last 10 minutes on another spot….”
INSANE DAY! 42-03, the 3rd-heaviest limit in B.A.S.S. history.
> Saltwater Spook: “The deal was the rod – I didn’t lose a fish all week. I’ve been waiting on this rod, a 7′ MH Halo HFX Cranking Series…good parabolic bend, was hooking those fish…40-lb braid, throwing it a mile and hooking them way out there. They were surging, jumping – the rod bent enough that [the hooks] wouldn’t pull out….”
He replaced the stock hooks with 1/0 Gamakatsu trebles (he calls ’em “meat hooks”) and used a high-speed reel.
> 8″ 3:16 Lure Co Rising Son Line Thru Swimbait (dirty shad, stock hook): “It’s heavy but it’s real buoyant. When you reel it you see most of them hit – it stays about 4 inches under the water.” 7′ 9″ XH Halo KS II Elite Rod (“the same exact frogging rod I used at Chickamauga”), 20-lb fluoro.
> “…slow, steady retrieve. Throw it as far as you can, then slowly crank it. Just keep reeling because sometimes they bump it. Reel, reel, and when it starts loading up, jack ’em. They don’t come off….
> “I’ve been doing [the big swimbait thing] before it was cool. …10-15 yrs ago…we started doing it at night at first, then transferred it to the daytime.”
Electronics and Raptors
> “I had [his electronics] off the whole time. I didn’t even have my trolling motor in the water most of the time. The fish get so much pressure, they’re so smart and mature – if they hear a trolling motor that shallow, they’ll swim off 40 yards and wait on you to leave.
> “…Minn-Kota Raptors…had them down the whole time. Every big one I caught the last 2 days they held me in the same spot…being quiet and making long casts.
> “I’ve won 2 Elites with my trolling motor up and my Raptors down, being patient [and quiet].
> “Lakemaster mapping…showed little points, little secondary bars, high spots – it’s the deal. It shows detail like crazy. I knew most of [the lake] already, but where I caught the 2 big ones on the squarebill I’d never fished there in my life. The Lakemaster map showed a little bitty jut-out on a spot I’d never fished before….”
> He fished the threadfin spawn the first 2 days, and the gizzard spawn the last 2 days.
> Has he ever had a bag like that before on Fork: “I’ve probably had 100 days over 40 lbs. When it was low in 2014 we’d catch 40-45 lbs every day on big baits. It was hard to get over 43, but 40-42 was very doable.”
> “I had a ton of fish marked on beds but I never looked – I never had to.”