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Everstart Championship Recap

Posted by casey on November 20, 2012

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The EverStart Series Championship was scheduled for the Ouachita River in West Monroe, La. Having looked at past events there I knew the bite was going to be extremely tough

 I left Friday morning and after a quick stop to get my fishing license at the local Walmart I checked into my hotel. The weather was changing drastically when I filled up in Meridian, Miss. The weather was 82 degrees and hot and sunny. Two hours later I pulled into West Monroe and the temperature had already dropped into the 40s – eventually dropping into the 30s overnight.

The first day of practice was brutal on me to say the least. I ran as far up Bayou D’Arbonne until I made it to the dam and worked my way back down the Bayou. In 14 hours of practice I had two bites flipping, an 8-pound mudfish and a swing and a miss on the other.

On day two of practice I decided to change up and try some stuff on the main river. Prior to the tournament a couple sponsors had sent me some new baits to try out. One was Picasso who had sent some prototype Alabama rigs called the “Bait Ball,” a finesse rig with some blades added. The other was a Boing topwater lure custom painted in a snakehead color. The second day of practice I started throwing the Bait Ball and immediately caught three fish at the first stop on the main river.

Although they were just barely keepers it was something I needed to expand on. On this day I covered most of the river down to about 50 miles south where the other dam is. I found the bite to be tough everywhere but the only thing I could really get bit on was the Bait Ball and a drop-shot.

On day three I decided to expand upriver from Monroe and actually caught them decent on the Bait Ball running a pattern and thought this was my best opportunity to get a limit. I never thought a limit of 12-inchers would be so hard but on the Ouachita River it was. I got off the water at dark and headed back to the hotel. On the way back to the hotel a car pulled out in front of me and hit my truck causing a bit of a hassle; I had to take the truck in for some minor repairs and had to start looking for a truck to borrow for day four of practice. Luckily the co-angler that was practicing with me had a truck and was able to tow the boat to the ramp for me.

Day four of practice was real tough; the weather was warming and becoming stable so I decided to try the Bayou again thinking maybe the fish would turn on. The only thing I found was that the bite was still tough and everyone that caught them in there in the tournament had aluminum boats and had to access areas that my Ranger Z520 couldn’t get into. With about two hours left of practice I abandoned the Bayou and decided to find a couple of areas on the main river. I found one spot where I caught two keepers and my co-angler had another two in a quick amount of time. There was a bunch of shad in the area and thought this spot could have a bunch of potential.

Day one of the tournament was pretty tough. I pulled into my starting area and the fish weren’t biting. I could see the shad on my graph but there was no activity at all. My co-angler caught two keepers but after two hours on my best spot I decided to run around like a chicken with my head caught off – hitting every current break on the main river until I pulled into one cut and was able to get five keepers in about an hour. I was spun out for a while because up until 11 a.m. I never had a bite. I caught six keepers from that cut and decided to save some there for the next day. I went back to my starting spot around 1 p.m. and noticed the shad activity had increased and on my first cast caught a pound and a half fish (a decent one there). From there it was on. I caught fish on every cast for the next half hour to 45 minutes. As quick as I could cull and cast the bait ball back out there I would catch a fish. I really wish I could’ve managed this spot but I saw three other boats in the area and I knew if I left they would catch them. I ended up culling up ounces at a time up to 8 pounds, 2 ounces. I just never got a good bite over 2 pounds.

Day two was a big struggle for me. I caught a couple little ones on my first spot but I think those fish were used to seeing the Bait Ball so I switched to the drop-shot with a Zoom finesse worm but again I only had three little fish at about 1 p.m. I ended up heading back to my best spot and every once in a while the fish would come up busting and you would be able to catch a couple but not many. I tried pretty much most of the topwater baits that I had but finally settled on the Boing topwater and was able to get two good bites on it – a 3-pounder and a 2 1/2-pounder. I only had six keeper bites but they weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and moved me into ninth place and into the top 20 cut. 

Day three was my toughest day. I made the mistake of thinking that since there would be less pressure in my main area that the bite would be better. They hardly bit at all; I should’ve adjusted but I just kept trying to wait out the school to show up. Needless to say they never did. I was able to scrape out 6 pounds, 6 ounces and I had one about 2 pounds at the end of the day that really helped on the topwater. That clued me into something. I snuck into the top 10 cut and was given the Chevy boat to use for the final day.

On day four I did the pretournament interview and mentioned I had nowhere to go but up in the standings and decided to throw power baits to move up as much as I could. Towards the end of day three I noticed that the topwater bite seemed decent. I had a couple quick bites and dedicated my day to covering water with that and a crankbait since a front was moving through and thought the bite should be decent, well at least for the Ouachita River. I just covered as much water as I could and every move I made paid off. I caught a couple on a Rapala DT10 and had my biggest bass, a 3-pounder, again on the Boing topwater which hit right at the trolling motor with the camera on cue. I finished the day with 8 pounds, 13 ounces, which moved me up to fifth place.

The top-five finish made me enough money to be able to cover my deposits for the2013 Walmart FLW Tour as a boater next year. I am still looking for a title sponsor to help cover the expenses of the Tour and although there will be a learning curve I look forward to fishing from the front side of the boat.  Keep an eye out on FLWOutdoors.com where I will be writing a professional tournament recap where you can follow my rookie season on Tour.

Until next time, Casey. www.caseymartinfishing.com