Running down Beaver Lake, Austin Terry couldn't help but think how much the topography reminded him of Lewis Smith Lake in north-central Alabama with all the steep banks and bluff walls.
That's about where the similarities ended between the two most recent FLW Tour venues.
"It fished a lot shallower than Smith," he said after catching 37-08 to finish 11th at Beaver, his second straight Top-15 effort following a miserable opener at Lake Okeechobee.
While the umbrella rig got plenty of attention (and use) at Beaver, he worked his way to 2nd place after 2 days working a crankbait through pockets where largemouth had pulled up before heading back into spawning areas.
"In practice, I started throwing it and I caught a 4-pounder and another solid keeper in one pocket," he said. "It was the best thing I'd figured out so I ran with it on day 1 and caught a 5 and another keeper. I thought maybe I was onto something. I tried to duplicate it in other areas and caught two more big ones.
"On day 2, I did the same thing on new water. It was a very specific thing. I was fishing staging pockets and areas where they were pulling up to spawn. All of my big fish came out of pockets near the last steep bank. It needed to have trees and wood real close in the 8- to 10-foot range. If it was too flat or too steep, they weren't there."
After averaging about 15 pounds over the first 2 days with a Norman Deep Little-N (chili bowl), he figured he'd need another 15 to secure a Top-10 finish or stay near the top of the leaderboard. He continued with his crankbait strategy, but the wind slacked off from the previous days and the fish didn't seem to be in a feeding mode.
"I think it was the wrong weather for the largemout to bite," he said. "It wasn't windy. It's hard to get anything to bite 3 days in a row on that lake. There were other guys fishing for largemouth in the same general area and they didn't catch limits."
He punted and ran to the other end of the lake to scrape together a small limit on a shaky head, using a Reaction Innovations Flirt to catch 7-05.
"The only thing I could've done differently was scrap the largemouth pattern earlier and just fish for fish," he said.
The Big Bite Lookback, which focuses on the angler who's first out of the final cut at each tour-level event, is brought to you by the great folks at Big Bite Baits.