Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson
Stop four on the 2013 FLW Tour took place this past weekend at Alabama’s Lake Eufaula. For me, this event was a humbling experience to say the least.
My Dad was down with me for this event and fished his first tournament as a co-angler. I did little research for this tournament prior to launching the boat on the first morning of practice. My approach to fishing these new lakes is to get the boat in the water and try to break it down as quickly as possible to get some sort of pattern established. Instead of doing a bunch of research like I usually do, I decided that for this one I would just try to fish the moment and figure it out as things were happening. We basically launched the boat and started fishing: starting shallow, then trying some deeper water, then moving to shallow water again. We fished the main channel of the lake as well as several creek arms.
We caught a good number of fish on the first day of practice, including several in the two- to three- pound range by casting crankbaits on main lake points in three to six feet of water. My best bait was a Jackall MC/60 MR crankbait in the Ghost Bluegill color. My Dad was throwing this bait and was laying a beating on me so we quickly figured out that this was a lure that the fish wanted. We probably caught twenty keepers that first day—which was a great start.
The second day of practice was tougher, we stayed with the same pattern and tried to cover a little more water in hopes of finding as many fishing spots as possible. We didn’t catch nearly as many fish so I wasn’t sure if my pattern was dying or if I had just found a good area that first day. I generally don’t like to fish the same places in practice because it’s so important to keep looking for new water all the time in order to find as many areas as possible.
On the last day of practice we went farther south on the lake and tried a large creek arm that I had not been into over the first couple days. Almost immediately we started catching fish, including a couple of large four- and five- pounders. Now I was getting excited! I had a large area that had what seemed like good numbers of big fish in it so I was ready to get the tournament started. We caught these fish on a wacky rigged Jackall Flick Shake 5.8″ worm. They wanted a slow presentation and this worm was out-fishing everything else that we tried.
The first day of the tournament I caught a few fish on the Flick Shake worm in the morning and managed to catch a couple of big ones at the end of the day on a Jackall Iobee Frog. I caught these fish during my last twenty minutes of fishing and they helped me out significantly. My co-angler also caught a five pounder, which helped him land a tournament leading catch of 15-03 in his division. My limit of 13-06 landed me in 38th place, which I was very happy with. More importantly I felt like I had learned a lot heading into day two. I was optimistic there were more big fish in the shallow grass area where we caught the big ones at the end of the day.
Day two turned out to be a nightmare. The weather was not significantly different from day one—it was hot with a light breeze. For whatever reason, the fish just didn’t bite. I caught a bunch of “short” fish (under 14”) and had two big blow ups on the frog which I didn’t connect with. After a while I started running around to some of the places where I thought I could catch numbers and just couldn’t make it happen. When you don’t have fish in your livewell the day goes by quickly, so before I knew it, it was time for weigh-in. I fished my butt off all day long and just didn’t get the bites.
So, I’ve decided to absorb what I’ve learned here, move on to the next one and forget about this event. Next stop on the schedule is Grand Lake, Oklahoma, June 6 – 9.
Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the Walmart FLW Tour representing krugerfarms.com and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/gussyoutdoors).