By Marty Dixon/Staff Correspondent
It’s been a couple of weeks since you last heard from me. I’ve fished when I could and watched bits and pieces of the Bassmaster Open this past week. It is a struggle in our local waters. We had 172 of the best bass fishermen around, and the three-day tournament took in an average of only about 11 pounds a day to win the whole shooting match. From what I’ve read and heard, it was a mixed bag of tricks to catch fish. In other words, a junk fishing bonanza.
The winner, Cody Bird, said that during one of the tournament days he made over 100 stops to catch his fish. I don’t know about you, but that is covering water to the extreme for 11 or 12 pounds of fish. I did talk to one of the good guys in fishing, Keith Poche, via the internet after the tournament was over, and was nice enough to give me his rundown for the week. Nearly all of his fish came on a square bill crankbait around wood and a Berkeley pit boss. Keith experienced severe boat trouble the last day of the tournament and had to fish relatively close to the ramp but still managed a limit of fish. Most of the guys threw shallow crankbaits and chatterbaits or flipped something around wood cover.
On to my (mis)adventures in fishing. I got out on the lake with U.S. Army Captain Derick Smith this past Friday afternoon while trying to avoid any of the 172 boats participating in the bass tournament. Derick is a former player and student of mine when I was teaching and coaching basketball. We started off with very little luck, other than the bad kind, before finally managing to run into a few fish that were avoiding the tournament. My strategy was simple: throw out everything that was laying on the boat deck. We mostly stayed around some sort of vertical wood, docks, blow downs and brush. Our spinnerbait caught the largest fish at three-plus pounds. Derick pulled a sneak attack on me in flipping piers. I had one fish pick up my pit boss and swim to the boat, but I was too slow and swung and missed. While I was fixing my bait, Derick casted right in the spot where I lost the fish and caught it. We ended up having a good day with several fish, and actually had as much weight as the tournament leader.
I got out early on Saturday so I could watch some of the tournament finals from the water while fishing a bit. Like an idiot, I did not keep a good check on my radar and ended up downriver when the storm hit in full force. It felt like I was getting stung over and over again while trying to get my rear end back to the house. I took on a ton of water and got soaked to the bone. I was so wet that I had to strip down to my underwear on the porch so that I would not soak the floor of house. I hope the neighbors were not paying attention. My buddy, Hammerin’ Hank Hallmark, fished through the monsoon on the lower end during the tournament and landed 13 pounds of fish. Hank said that he should have had more but had two good-sized fish jump off on him. He shared that he was fishing wood somewhere on the lake. No serious fisherman provides too much information, including Hank.
On Sunday, Brother Butch and I got out for a couple of hours, post-storm. We mostly stayed close to home and were rewarded with zero bites and one Coosa River Cut Off. You can’t expect to avoid a few cutoffs when the lake is busy, but we could see no one for a half mile in either direction and this nimrod pulls 50 yards in front of us in the direction we were headed! Come on; we’re the only two boats on the water and you got to cut me off? I considered throwing a giant musky jitterbug into their boat, but I let it go and chalked it up to ignorance.
On Monday, another fishing buddy, Honest Eric Hubbard from up on the mountain, called and carried me out in his boat. I found out that he and I had a lot in common, going all the way back to high school. We caught our fish by cranking some and flipping around with some plastic and a jig. Eric has been on some fish lately, until he took me along. I swear I can kill a good bite anywhere right now. We managed to land a few fish and missed a few catches while reliving some of the high school days. In some cases, we discussed a few things that neither of us wished to remember.
Eric is a class act and a good fisherman. I’d be glad to fish with him anytime, but we do need to focus more on fishing than flapping our guns about all the crazy stuff we did back in 1982.
I must give a big shout-out to my wife, who as of this week has endured my madness for 37 years. Happy Anniversary, Texann!
Until my next fishing trip or misadventure, here’s wishing everyone tight lines and big catches.
Marty Dixon is a 1982 Sardis High School graduate and retired high school educator and coach. He was head coach of the Gadsden State women’s basketball team from 2015 to 2019. He and his wife Texann live in Gadsden. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and the Neely Henry Bass Fishing page on Facebook.
Casting on the Coosa: a wet rear end and a Sunday afternoon cut off
By Marty Dixon/Staff Correspondent