James Kiser of Texas, the runner-up at last week's Table Rock Bassmaster Central Open, is in his first year competing as a boater on that circuit. He's pumped about his finish, which kept him in contention for a 2013 Elite Series berth, particularly because it came as a result of an observation he'd made while fishing as a co-angler a year earlier.
He wanted to share his story with BassFans, and we've printed it below.
The week before I left my home in Cypress, Texas (just north and west of Houston), I watched the massive storms tear through northern Arkansas and that got me to thinking. Being from the South, I'm accustomed to very turbid water most of the time. During the Table Rock event last year I was amazed at how clear the water was.
I decided that I was going to try to find the dirtiest water on the lake and target largemouth in shallow water. With the help of a local guide before the official practice, I was directed to the backs of two creeks – Long Creek and Yokum Creek. Both of these creeks run well across the state line into Arkansas. It was there that I found the dirty water I was looking for –and quality largemouth relating to rocks and laydowns in less than 3 feet of water.
I pitched a Berkley Havoc Pit Boss to those rocks and laydowns for a limit by 9 a.m. on both of the first two competition days, but it was the secondary pattern that I found during practice that anchored my strong showing.
My secondary pattern was something that I'd wondered about for almost a whole year. While fishing as a co-angler in last year’s event, I noticed something on my drive to and from the launch every morning and evening. I took note of the massive rockslides along the roads that had high bluff sides to them. What intrigued me was the way the trees fell with the rocks and piled up like massive brushpiles on the edge of the road.
While I was on the water with my pro each day I saw the same type thing on the lake, except the massive brushpile portion was under the water. I knew there had to be fish relating to that stuff, but I couldn’t convince any of my pros to give it a try.
I tried it on the second day of practice and almost gave up on them. I threw crankbaits, jigs, dropshots, swimbaits – you name it, I tried it, with no bites. I knew the fish were there – I could see them on my electronics. I opened my rod box to get another rod and I saw a spinning rod that had a Texas rig with a No. 2 hook, a 1/4-ounce weight and a 4-inch Senko that I used in a small pond next to my house. I picked it up made one cast, and the bait was inhaled and my line broken immediately on the first run.
I retied and on my third cast caught a 6-pounder. I moved to a second slide and caught one over 8 pounds. I caught two more quality fish on two other slides and knew I had a viable secondary pattern.
I caught all of my big fish, including the 6-15 that was the big bass on the pro, side doing this. On day 3 I arrived in the back of my creeks to find that the water had cleared up and the bass had shut down. I left the spot at 10 a.m. with one small keeper. I went out on the main lake to my rockslides and caught a limit and culled twice.
I believe an angler should learn something every time he or she goes on the water. I learned several things while competing in this event. Anglers should always pay attention to the effect that weather has on the body of water they are fishing and try to use that to create situations that allow them to fish their strengths. I also learned the importance of paying attention to the topography of the area you are fishing, on the water and on dry land around the water. And finally, although I know this is important, I reinforced to myself as an angler how critical it is to have more than one thing working in a multi-day event.
I love this sport – it has taught me self-confidence and discipline and it kept me out of trouble when I was younger. If you have the chance, pass it along to a young person and the world will be a better place!