Duckett Perspective -Seminole Sunday Scorecard

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DuckettBlogThis past weekend at Lake Seminole in South Georgia, we fished the first BASS Elite Series event of the year, and it was a strange experience. I was prepared to have a good tournament, because I went into the first competition day knowing that I had found a lot of bedding fish. And that, my friends, is a path to successful fishing.

So the tournament was setting up nicely. I was going to hammer them – and I wasn’t the only angler looking for a big event.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to the dock. We had a cold front the night before the tournament started. And all the fish left. I mean all of them. They scattered – in my case – to points unknown.

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Before I get back to the tournament, let me catch you up on what I’ll be doing this year with these columns. They’re called the Sunday Scorecard.

The title is basically a catchy way to say that after a 2013 season when I fished conservatively, trying each week to merely make the cut and accrue Angler-of-the-Year points, this year I’m trying to win. Last year’s column was called the Saturday Scorecard. Fishing on Saturday meant that you made the cut.

This year the stakes are higher. The Sunday Scorecard means I’m trying to make the second cut, the cut to 12 for Sunday’s final round. I’m serious about winning this year, not finishing respectably. With the Sunday Scorecard, I’ll take a close look at whether I actually had a chance to fish on Sunday – and why and how.

Here’s the only problem with this approach. When you fish aggressively and aim for big fish, even though it’s a lot more fun, you have more to lose. It’s the classic higher risk-higher reward scenario.

 

Back to Lake Seminole. I thought – in fact, I think almost every angler in the event thought – we were in for a sight-fishing tournament. And it sure looked that way, because I absolutely saw them every day in practice. I probably had 75 waypoints to choose from.

But a cold front affects Florida bass in a different way than in other places around the country. And even though the lake is actually in Georgia, the bass in Lake Seminole are a Florida strain. They’re highly susceptible to cold, and the cold front sent them wandering.

We all saw it almost immediately, so those of us going after bed fish had a choice. We could check all the beds you saw in practice, in hopes that some of the fish are still there. Or we could abandon ship and just go fishing.

The boldest choice was to stay with the beds, because some of them were probably still going to be around. I chose to stay with the bedders, or maybe I should say the “alleged” bed fish.

The result was that I only got three fish the first day. By day’s end, I was out of the running, in 84th place. During the second day, because I don’t want to be too stubborn for my own good, I changed my game plan to a more conservative approach. I made a small comeback, picking up 21 points in the standings.

Here’s the weird thing, though. When the fish scattered, a lot of them went to the banks. That has never happened in the history of Lake Seminole, according to J.Todd Tucker.

J.Todd is on the Duckett Fishing pro staff, and Seminole is his home lake. He said it was the most confounding thing he’s ever seen.

He said it over and over. He told me, “I’ve fished this lake forever. I’ve never seen this.”

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The result was that Brett Hite, a rookie, just started trolling around and found fish on the bank. In fact, he found them every day and ran away from the field.

One of the most experienced guys on our tour, Mark Davis, did the same thing, and he made it sound like a piece of sheer luck. He couldn’t find any bedding fish, and he just started riding around. He happened up on a bunch of fish on the bank.

I can’t emphasize enough that the banks were the last places you’d expect those fish to be.

In retrospect, if I had taken the conservative approach I took last year, I would have finished way higher in the standings. I would have caught a limit on Day 1, and I would’ve made the cut.

Risk. Reward. Risk. No reward.

But, to be honest, I’m not disappointed. I tried to hit a winning pattern, and it didn’t work. I re-grouped and recovered enough on Day 2 to make up some ground.

Sixty-third place wasn’t what I wanted, that’s for sure. But it beats 84th.

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One last point that I find interesting about sight-fishing events. I’m getting some years on me now, and I can’t see the fish as well as the guys in their twenties. And, of course, winning is all about finding the fish.

On the other hand, I can catch them a lot better than I could when I was in MY twenties. In fact, I’ll say that if I can find the fish, I will catch them every time.

So it’s strange isn’t it? When you’re young, you can see them.

When you’re older, you can catch them.

Life’s not always fair.