The first season of the new American Bass Anglers Top 150 Solo Tour is in the books and the Louisiana contingency showed just how good they are. Five of the top 11 spots at Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma, was from Louisiana as fishing conditions took a turn for the worst two days before the tournament started.
For me, I finished in 22nd place as fishing was very tough but I was able to find clean water and catch a few fish but did not catch the size needed to win.
Let’s start with practice which began for me at noon on Tuesday when I arrived at Lake Eufaula. After checking into my cabin, I hit the lake looking for good water that was holding not just a few bass but quality as well. After a couple of hours of riding and searching, I pulled into a pocket located in the Longtown arm of the lake.
After trying several different baits, I decided to pick up my favorite spinnerbait. This was just what the doctor ordered as I began catching quality fish immediately. A 4-pounder here, a 3 1/2-pounder there and another 3-pounder had me a little excited. So, at this point not wanting to catch or hook anymore fish before the tournament, I put on a hook guard so I would not be hooking anymore fish. Within the next hour, I had another 11 bites on that spinnerbait, and I left that area feeling really good especially since I never saw another boat come into this pocket for 4 hours.
But this is where things went south so to speak…Wednesday, day 2 of practice. Wow, I have now had the honor and privilege of witnessing two major storms in Oklahoma and let’s just say that Oklahoma storms are on a different level than what we have here in Louisiana.
Heavy rain, hail and tornados blessed us with their presence as more than 5 inches of rain fell in 12 hours. The lake rose over 5 feet in just three days as parts of the lake went from clear to stained to chocolate milk overnight. The storms rolled through from 6 a.m. until around 2 p.m., when at that point there was a slight break in the storms that allowed us to go out see how much the lake was affected. But it wasn’t until Thursday morning that we really saw the impact as parts of the lake muddied up really bad.
So, finding clean water was really important in order to find fish that would be willing to bite. Rattlesnakes made their presence known as rising water forced the snakes to higher ground. You had to be aware of where you were walking when launching your boat especially in low light conditions.
Fast forward to Day 1 of the tournament on Friday as the fish being weighed in were few and far between. There were only 7 anglers out 61 who weighed a five-fish limit.
There was also 21 anglers who had zero weight to show for their efforts. Day 2 (final day) was not much better as Zack Clark of Center, Texas won the event with a two-day total of 32.31 pounds which was enough to take the first-place prize of $11,000. Brett Hortman of Natchitoches (my roommate) finished second with 24.38 pounds of fish and was the only angler to weigh a five fish limit both days. Winnfield native Cole Garrett finished third with 24.01 lbs.
I have to give credit and a big “thank you” to ABA Tournament Director Chris Wayand and his awesome staff for a job well done in this inaugural season of the ABA Top 150 Solo Tour.
This is a circuit that will definitely grow in 2021 as the new schedule will be released by October 1st. There’s just no way to beat this circuit as anglers pay a $600 entry fee for a two-day event with 80% payback. This new pro tour allows anglers to fish by themselves with no co-angler for a chance to advance to the Ray Scott National Championship. But hopefully starting in 2022, there will be a separate national championship for this new circuit as more Top 150 Solo tours possibly pop up in other areas of the country. This is still the best bang for your buck in terms of schedule and payback.
I truly look forward to seeing the new schedule for 2022 as this circuit continues to gain momentum and draw more anglers.
Until next time, don’t forget to set the hook!
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