Casey Scanlon – The Bull Shoals Story

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ScanlonBlogHeaderWhat a great tournament! I made my first top 12 cut and finished third overall. My highest finish on the Elite Series. I’m very disappointed with not winning and feel I had it within my reach and let it slip away. The two anglers that beat me brought in nice limits on the final day. Congratulations to Jason Christie and Fred Roumbanis.

I want to thank Chris and Sarah Farnet for letting us stay at their place.

Also, I would like to thank all my sponsors.  Pro’s Choice Marine, Nitro Boats, Razr Rods, Luck “E” Strike, Bass Pro, The Morgan Nick Foundation, Costa, Tytan and Angler’s Advantage.  Without them I couldn’t do want I love to do.

And thanks to Glenn and Brenda Newell with Big Red’s Bait and Tackle.  They have a great shop in Lakeview, AR.

I also want to thank officer Dave Hotchkiss with the Lakeview Police Department. He had photos of missing children from the Morgan Nick Foundation on his vehicle. As we talked about the program I could tell he was very passionate about it. That was great to see.

You can see my day-to-day recap on my website, http://www.caseyscanlonfishing.com. Or go to my Facebook page to see photos of the event. Be sure to hit the like button when you’re there. Casey’s Facebook Page

Practice Days

Day one practice I started up the river quite a ways and hardly got bit.  The fish either weren’t biting or I was unable to locate them.

During the second day of practice is when I found the spots I fished in the tournament. Most were bluff ends with channel swings that transitioned into gravel pockets or flats.  This gave the fish deep-water access with shallower spawning flats not far away. I found I was able to catch fish using a Luck “E” Strike 3/8 or ½ oz jig head with a Luck “E” Strike tube.

Day three practice I explored the mid lake area more looking for the same type of terrain.  I was also on the look out for any spawning fish.  We fished Bull Shoals right on the verge of the spawn.  It all depended on the water temperature and the weather conditions. So I kept an eye out for any spawning fish, but was unable to locate any quality fish.

Tournament Days

The first day of the tournament I brought in 14 pounds 13 ounces and was sitting in 7th place.  I caught a total of 30 keepers and spent a lot of time culling.  What made the culling difficult was most the fish were identical in size, about 2 ½ to 2 ¾ pounds.  When I would cull it would be by ounces. But I was able to catch a couple three pounders that really helped out.  With the wind blowing on the first day I thought someone would bring in a good bag. But I knew my weight would put me around the top 10.

Casey Scanlon Day Two Bull Shoals Stage - photo by B.A.S.S. - Gary Tramontina

Casey Scanlon on the Bull Shoals Stage – photo by B.A.S.S. – Gary Tramontina

Day two I went through 35 keepers and kept trying to catch that three-pound fish. I was in 2nd place after day two with 15 pounds 5 ounces. Catching that many keepers sounds like a lot but my spots were loaded with fish.  I had about 8 schools of fish located in different areas of the lake and felt I hadn’t really “leaned” on them. My plan was to manage them to hold up till the final day.

My day three weight of 13 pounds 12 ounces put me in first place. I was feeling pretty confident about my spots. I had a couple schools of fish that I located during practice that I hadn’t really fished yet and planned to hit them hard on the final day.

Being in first place going into the final day was a pretty cool experience.  My phone was ringing off the hook with all the good luck wishers from family and friends. I was doing media interviews and photos. I was looking forward to having a TV crew ride along in the boat and having Mark Zona tag along for part of the day.

After fishing a couple spots on the final day, I realized something had happened to my schools of fish. One major change was I started seeing fish on the graph.  Which means they were starting to suspend.  This hadn’t been the case the prior days where everything I caught was on the bottom.

I think what happened was the water temperature started to warm up so the shad started to school together and move.  I think my fish left the area and followed the shad

So I went to plan B.  I fished shallow around some bushes and caught a couple keepers to fill my limit.  But they weren’t the size I felt I needed.  I figured I would need at least a 14 pound bag to win, so I needed to fish for bigger fish. So I headed back to my primary spot and was unable to get those three pound fish to bite.

Looking back I figured I caught almost 80 keepers from my areas in three days. Even with catching that many, I felt I didn’t fish some of my areas very hard.  I probably should have really pounded all the areas on the first three days and not tried to manage my fish. Maybe I could have had a bigger lead going into the final day.

With hindsight being 20/20, I only needed 12 pounds and some change for the win. I might have been able to get that fishing shallow on the final day.  But you never know and looking back is always painstaking.

Overall I had a great tournament. I cashed a pretty good check and earned some much needed points towards making the classic next year. I feel confident going to West Point Lake in Georgia.  Then we fish the Alabama River and I really like fishing rivers.  So I’m looking forward to getting back on the road and qualifying for the classic.