The 2012 Ouachita River Everstart Championship
I really suck at tournament fishing sometimes. My buddy Casey Martin, finished 5th place, running the same pattern, in fact, we stayed in the same hotel room for the event, and he whacked ’em to make it all four days and I went home a kook, again, at the Everstart Championship. The Ouachita River is like 70 miles of main river, and another 70 miles of other tributary creeks and rivers and bayous and backwaters galore. There were no less than 25% jon boat in this event. Guys came prepared for stump jumping and fishing in the extreme backwaters. I did not. I came to fish my game, and found a pretty decent pattern on the first day of practice, drop shotting 4.5″ Roboworms in Bold Bluegill in the mouths of pockets/backwaters, just off the main river channel. In fact, there were fish in the main river channel, on any point or rock pile and in the laydowned trees. Now, you have to understand that catching 5-7 keeper 12 inch fish right now is pretty much whacking them. It took 6 pounds per day to get paid. I caught 5 pounds per day. I had a good gameplan, and Casey just did what Casey does and it speaks volumes to his fishing versus mine. My practice became San Diego style worm fishing. However, it was a popular pattern, as many guys stayed close and fished around the weigh-in/release area and did well. I had the right idea, but what I will let Casey tell you for sure is that he found the better quality fish AND got them to eat. Umbrella rig for sure and Casey had a trick one, and the Boing topwater lure on Day 2 with a solid 3-4 pound fish that escalated him to 8 pounds per day, which he for sure was in the drivers seat, just because cutting to 20 and the 10 boats (in days 3 and 4 consecutively), he would have much freer reign on the mouths of creeks and pockets and his prime choice point/mouth which was at the intersection of D’Arbonne and the main river channel. Duh. Ask anyone about the Ouchita River and D’Arbonne is the most popular creek/bayou and it’s big and gnarly and is like 45 miles with 5 MPH zones and an abundance of stumps, logs and bayou. It’s where some fish got caught, but this tournament wasn’t dominated by back bayou water necessarily. Some main river played in bigtime, but understand, you have giant cypress trees and oaks and black or really dirty coffee with cream style water. Heck, this where the Duck Commanders live. Monroe, LA you were great, but man, you guys got some tough fishing around there. Especially when it comes to boat handling and navigation. Rivers are not generally what I like to see after the name of a body of water. I’m a lake guy, but as the White River, where I live and watch daily, I’m learning.
Great job Casey Martin, and the BETTER news is Casey just signed up for the 2013 FLW Tour as a Boater!!! Casey will update his blog about his tournament and he can fill in the gaps and day 3 & 4. I’m such a loser, I didn’t even hang around for Days 3&4 which I almost always do. I am a little lost and did sit still easily lately, but anyway… I am so stoked, pumped and definitely jealous that Casey and many others are fishing the Tour in 2013. It’s a great schedule and with only 6 tournaments for some guys and Casey is one. Fewer tournaments is less risk for some of us (me included), and the lakes are lakes I feel like I know pretty well (save Grand Lake), and Casey too. I’m just sick to not have my deposits in. Casey knows how to fish tournaments, and is just on fuego. He has fished the FLW Tour the last few years as a Co-Angler, which means, the non boater who gets partnered with the Pro for the day. Casey has won like $150K from the back of the boat, and does really well at the Everstart and BFL Levels as a boater, so it’s not like he can’t or doesn’t fish from the front of the boat well, he was just wise to take the education that fishing as a Co-Angler affords, and took that to off the chart levels, so this is a natural progression. Casey is up for the challenge and I know he will do really well. I am just so lost at times with where I’m at, and so addicted to tournament fishing, yet even more addicted to throwing bigbaits, and I love the blogging, but I’m just struggling financially and in no position to fish the FLW Tour in 2013, even though I’d like to. I asked Bill Taylor if he’d take 3 deposits (vs. the required 6) and a handshake, he just laughed. I have to laugh too. I’m crazy to be flirting with the FLW Tour. I’m just hoping to fish the Everstart on Okeechobee in early January, win the damn thing, and go from there!!! HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH. How is that for an addict?
Casey staked out the BEST mouth of a creek. The most major creek with the most history in it, he choose that one to focus on (I decided the ones upriver were less pressured and could be milked better), and what was key to him was it had better fish on it. And not only that, Casey had better tricks up his sleeve than most to catch them. He found an angle he could throw a prototype Picasso A-Rig called the ‘bait ball’ and he told me he had like 18 fish the Day 1 of the event fishing the exact same cast (uphill) with his umbrella rig that features tiny blades and a much smaller profile than most u rigs you see. That is how Casey caught 8 pounds the first day, and followed it up with 8 pounds on the second day. Guess what he caught the big fish on Day 2? A Boing Topwater bait. This is a new walking bait with a cool ball on wire noise maker rattle inside that gives it a strange ‘boing’ sound, but clearly the fish ate it. He caught one 3 pounds on it. The bait was thick all over the Ouchita River. I mean, you find and see bait everywhere. And occassionally fish would push the balls to the surface and could be caught. I caught fish on the Picasso School E Rig with 3″ Big Hammers (silver phantom), and J-Will Swimbait heads in 1/8 Ounce in the tournament. But my fish were squeakers. In fact, I didn’t have 5 fish on Day 2 either, so that really hurt, but ultimately one more fish I was on wouldn’t have helped. I needed high 12 pounds, like 12-10 to get paid. I had 10-2 for the event, and never caught one over 2 pounds in the practice or tournament, and lots of swimbaits got thrown. No swimbait bite to speak of, besides the U Rig. No backwater fish for most, but some did find good sacks. Is Brandon Medlock sick or what? Guy broke down on Day 1, comes back on Day 2 with 14 pounds and is like Top 5 and then sticks 15 on Day 3 before struggling on Day 4….but dang, a 14 or 15 pound sack for 2 days in a row, you gotta be bad to find that on the Ouachita River I saw! Some guys found some backwater fish, but the main river was a player for sure. Lots of guys cashed checks fishing within site or around the bend or two from the weigh in. I fished there myself some too. You will have to read Casey’s blog post to get the full scoop on his tournament. I yo-yo’d Red Eye Shads, fished umbrella rigs, and drop shotted the mouths of creeks mostly, but had a few good channel swings, clay points, and banks that seemed to be holding fish. The problem of course was many guys found the same fish, because the backwater were sucking and the main river became the clear choice, so it wasn’t easy friendly fishing all the time out there. You had to defend spots and try to manage water best you could. The wind was either blowing the wrong way for me, or not at all for my red eye shad bite. I had 2 sneaky spots I felt I could load up and get some good keepers, but they never panned out. Anyway, congrats to Casey and boo to Matt. Is it time to go to Florida yet? MP