E-Z Summer Tactics

Fishing in the heat of the summer doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience. As tournament anglers who fish all year long, Norman and I have had to adjust to the elements, reduce the amount of time on the water during periods of hot weather; learn to preplan strategy; and, adapt our fishing methods and tactics accordingly. Toledo Bend Reservoir is located on the Sabine River. This deep, clear water lake is surrounded by red rolling hills and piney woods. It is nestled in the heart of East Texas on the Louisiana border. The lake is 65-miles long, contains 185,000 surface acres and has 1,200 miles of fishing shoreline. The lake was impounded in 1967 and is one of the most well known and publicized lakes in the Country. The lake is very fertile, has a tremendous fishery and the lake record for Black Bass is 14.69, caught in March 1998. There is an abundance of grass and most all the bass tournaments are won on the south end of the lake because of the massive amounts of vegetation. As our tournament circuits are winding down, Norman and I approached our Toledo Bend tournament for the East Texas Anglers Choice Couples circuit with a great deal of hesitation. We had not been on the lake in over two months. We arrived late Saturday afternoon and opted to trailer our Boots Follmar Marine Pro Staff Skeeter 210 over to registration and then back down to a friend of ours camp on the South end of the lake. We had pretty well determined our game plan of what and how we were going to approach our tournament day and didn’t want to disturb the fish or get out in the heat and beat up on them before the actual tournament day began. Of course, this kind of thinking is either very confident or, at the least, very risky! After all, we went into the tournament in 8th place overall; and, in order to qualify for the championship, we were going to have to do good in that tournament. In year’s past, we were always out there in the extreme heat, practicing from sun up to sun down and never missing a beat . . . but this year, something changed and we decided that we could take a more sensible approach to the heat. Why burn yourself and your partner up and make each other miserable practicing all day in the heat, especially when you know exactly what your going to do, where your going, and what baits your going to use. Instead, we went back to the camp house and got our gear ready for the next day’s competition and went to bed early and got plenty of rest. Come Sunday, we were ready, a little nervous though as we had never taken this laid back approach before and were treading new waters. As luck would have it, our boat number was 1, and we headed to our first spot. We pulled up, put the trolling motor down and started throwing topwaters. Norman had several strikes but no takers and then the topwater action seemed to subside. We picked up our spinning gear and started to work our Zoom Trick worms along the deep water access on the edge of a huge grassbed located north of Pendleton Bridge. In the next hour, we boated nine bass, but only one was a keeper. We cranked up the Yamaha 225 and headed south. We went to our second spot which was a mainlake flat near Housen. We stuck with this spot most of the rest of the day because we had continuous bites there and because the grass was just perfect for the kind of fishing we were doing. We put two more keepers in the boat and thought we’d go to our last spot in hopes of landing a kicker fish or two (5 fish limit) to anchor our weight and cinch the day. It didn’t happen, so we went back to our number two spot and finished out the day there and stuck another keeper fish and caught several smaller fish. We must have easily caught over 30 fish that day, but only four of them were keepers. Even though we finished up with only four fish, we were quite proud of our accomplishment, especially in view of the fact that we had no practice and were just going on gut instincts and past experience. Previously, practicing in the heat has just killed us and by tournament day, we were always worn out and exhausted before the event ever started. This year was different, we were refreshed on tournament day and able to focus on the task at hand and it really made a big difference. We didn’t win our tournament, and we probably only placed somewhere in the top 20, but we did amazingly well for the little effort we put into it. You know, fishing tournaments doesn’t have to be nerve wracking, intense competition. Sometimes you just need to calm down, relax and let the conditions dictate your game plan, and just go with the flow. After all, Texas in August is no time to get in a big old hurry to do anything. Always respect the water and the elements and learn to work with them instead of against them!

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