Even with all of my travel for work, I fished enough of the Media Bass Individual tournaments this year to qualify for the championship. It was held last weekend on Lake Whitney outside of Waco. I’d never been there but decided to enter the event and see what I could do.
I made one trip a few weeks before the tournament to spend a day driving around the lake and then spent two days practicing for the event. In all those three fishing days, I didn’t have a limit worth of bass total. It was pretty rough.
Even though I didn’t have much luck with keeper bass, I caught quite a few shorts and a handful of catfish and stripers. My confidence wasn’t too high going into the event, but I narrowed my areas to just a few spots. During my scouting, I covered the entire lake and up into the river and never saw too many places that excited me.
The lake is low, with no grass, and most of the lake appears dead right now, with no life outside of gar swimming around. I found a handful of areas with schooling activity in the morning and plenty of shad, and I decided to stick with those three areas for the entire event and it paid off with a 4th place finish on a very tough fishery.
The first day, I went to an area where I had caught several short fish and saw stripers blowing up shad everywhere near a marina the morning before. I knew there were baitfish in the area, which was a good enough reason to start there.
Right away, I caught a keeper smallmouth on a 2.8-inch Keitech swimbait and added two more on a drop-shot rig. I caught a few more shorts and had three keepers in the boat fairly quickly, which was much better than I expected. Then things started to subside and there was a lot less activity and I knew it was time to move to my next spot around 9:00.
Let me back up first. The day before, on a brutal day of fishing, I ventured into the back of a creek and to a small cut and saw tons of shad swimming around. I caught a striper and a solid 4.54lb bass on a drop-shot. It was practice, and I wish I hadn’t caught that one, but it told me the area had potential. So I went there anyway and caught two solid keepers right away. After things slowed, I left, returned a few hours later, and caught another to increase my weight and cull up.
At the end of the day, I went to a windblown bank with birds everywhere and culled once again on a small jerkbait, a Megabass X-80 Trick Darter. I’m usually always throwing the Vision 110, but the shad I saw were tiny and that was the smallest jerkbait I had with me.
After that final cull, it was time to head back in and see how I did. My 11.02lbs had me in 3rd, less than a half pound out of the lead, on a day when many anglers struggled to catch fish. I was shocked to be that high in the standings and had a lot of hope for the next day.
I contemplated my strategy the night before and decided to repeat the same rotation, trying to get a few quick keepers before moving on. I started by the marina and it was dead. No stripers, no shad, nothing at all. I gave it an hour and caught two short fish and that was it.
Then, I went to the back of the creek spot and saw fish blowing up everywhere when I got there. I made a cast to the activity with my Lucky Craft Gunfish and hooked up on one over three pounds, but lost it right by the boat. The loss was brutal, considering how tough the fishing was, but I shook it off and kept going without any luck.
I went and fished the two other spots and struck out before returning to the creek again and catching my lone keeper for the day on a drop shot around 11:00. That fish wasn’t even two pounds, but it was important as it kept me from dropping lower than 4th place. After that, I fished all my spots, including returning to the creek later and never caught another keeper.
Overall, I can’t complain about the week. I cashed a check on a brutal fishery during one of the most challenging months of the year to fish. I know the lake has more potential, and I hope to fish it again someday, but hopefully when the fish are biting a little better.