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Beaver FLW

Jay Yelas – Competition
Friday, April 7, 2006

The standings won't show it, but this was one of those times when I was real close to having a good tournament. I felt really good about the area I was in and the pattern I was working. I was in a lot of the same areas that Takahiro Omori was in, and he's done really well. I lost some fish and I just didn't get enough bites.

I ended up catching five for 14 pounds (over 2 days). I was on the right fish to do well, and with another three keepers I probably would have made the cut. I was one or two good fish each day away from making it.

Looking at the standings, you'd think I bombed out, but I wasn't chasing those little dinky spots. I was going for the big largemouth. I was fishing up the rivers with shallow crankbaits and I threw a spinnerbait some too, just trying to catch the bigger fish. It was just a real challenge to catch five each day. If you did get five, you had a big stringer.

When you don't do as well as you'd hoped, you always look back and try to learn from what you did wrong. But if the tournament started over today, I'd fish the same way in the same areas. I was one or two good bites each day from making the Top 10, and I just didn't get them this time. But I was fishing for the right fish, and that's really what you have to do to do well in a tournament like this.

Chris Koester – Day 2 (Co-Angler)
Thursday, April 6, 2006

Today sucked. I zeroed.

I'm pretty tempted just to leave it at that and go to bed. I had a bizarre day – started running way up the White River to fish muddy water with about 2 inches of visibility. At Beaver Lake – are you kidding me? After about 90 minutes I had broken off seven jigs and an expensive Lucky Craft RC 1.5.

After about 5 hours my pro had caught two micro-bass, nothing close to a keeper, and I hadn't even had a bite. He finally realized that fishing his upriver practice stuff was futile, and we made an attempt to run back down to the main lake to try to catch some keepers. Unfortunately, on the way back his motor shut down due to an unexpected oil shortage. We managed to limp slowly to a marina and go buy some outboard oil, but this was just as a massive thunderstorm hit. Nice lightshow, hail, buckets of rain, all that good stuff. So we spent some quality time lounging at the marina until the air was a little less electrified.

We finally managed to get down to the mid-lake area and fish some spots close to the launch where I had caught fish in practice. None of the spots were really rocket science - they were all obvious stuff that has been beaten to death. I actually got a lot of bites in the last 90 minutes or so, but every one was a short fish. Really frustrating.

My partner for the day was South Carolina pro Chad Cook. He was a really nice guy whose upriver dirty water pattern just happened to fall apart. He also zeroed for the day.

I finished in 52nd place. I'm pretty disgusted. My day 2 curse lives on.

Two friends talked me into putting the boat back on the water after dinner to go fishing for 30 minutes before sunset. This, after fishing from dawn til dusk for the past 10 days straight. I must be insane. We went out and fished the off-limits area around the launch and caught 5 nice keepers really quick on flukes. Figures.

I'll be back here at Big Sticks for the Bassmaster Elite Series events at Grand Lake and Table Rock. See you then. As always, thanks for tuning in.

John Murray – Competition
Thursday, April 6, 2006

I only had one day of practice (after the Santee Cooper Bassmaster Elite Series) and I actually saw quite a few bed-fish that day, so I was somewhat confident. But then conditions totally changed. I stayed on those fish (on day 1) and tried to catch them blind-casting, but they wouldn't bite.

I ended up shaking a worm for a limit, but there was no size to them.

(On day 2) I threw a jerkbait around for awhile and didn't do much. So I went back and shook the worm and caught another limit, but they were about the same size as yesterday.

I saw some other bed-fish, but they just weren't biting. I also had a 3 1/2-pounder eat a swimbait, but I missed it.

This is 3 years in a row I haven't done any good on this pond. It definitely hasn't been kind to me.

Chris Koester – Day 1 (Co-Angler)
Thursday, April 6, 2006

Well, today went just about as I had hoped. My pro partner for today started the day fishing a pattern that had been very strong for him in practice, but was fairly difficult to fish behind. He was pretty amazed and disappointed to find that the pattern had completely fallen apart.

We burned through about 4 hours trying to make it happen, but he eventually made the decision to change to a high-percentage finesse presentation and started getting a few bites. This approach made it much easier for me to do what I wanted to do, and what I had confidence doing in practice.

I caught seven keepers for the day, and was fortunate to have some decent quality. I weighed in one largemouth around 3 pounds, two very solid spotted bass around 2 pounds each, and then two smaller spots. They totaled 7-15, which put me into 9th place for the day.

I lost a decent fish that would have helped me near the end of the day, when I made a quick change in what I was doing based on something I'd picked up on. It quickly paid off in the form of a nice bite on a Kinami Flash. However, when I set the hook and began reeling the fish toward the boat, my reel actually managed to pop completely out of the reel seat in my hand.

I couldn't crank anymore and couldn't keep pressure on the fish, and it got off. I've never had that happen - it was completely ridiculous, like something out of a bad Bill Dance fishing-show bloopers video. As it turned out, the ring that cranks my reel seat tight has a crack in it and had let things loosen up enough for the reel to pop out with the pressure of a good fish.

I still can't complain. I'm in a good position to make a run at the Top 10 cut right now. I was disappointed to find out that my day 2 partner isn't going to have us doing anything even remotely close to what we did today. He also only caught one fish today, and his co-angler zeroed.

We're headed to a part of the lake I've never seen, likely requiring techniques that I really haven't fished since last year. I'll be flying by the seat of my pants for sure.

It'll likely take a bare minimum of 12 pounds to have a shot at the Top 10 cut, and could be closer to 14. This kind of weight might be a tall order, given what it sounds like we're doing tomorrow. If I can catch two keepers I'll have a shot. If I can catch three I should make it.

I want to make this Top 10 more than I've ever wanted it in any tournament in the past.

Chris Koester (co-angler) – Practice
Wednesday, April 5, 2006

I apologize for my extended hiatus from BassFan Big Sticks.
I've been unable to fish many tournaments so far in 2006, owing to a
job change and a relocation from North Carolina to Arkansas. This will
be my only '06 FLW Tour entry, but I will be back for the Bassmaster
Elite Series events at Grand Lake and Table Rock.

My relocation to Rogers, Ark. has made it pretty convenient to
fish this Beaver Lake tournament – my new house is literally 1 minute
from the turn-in to the launch ramp. This has also made it pretty easy
to pre-fish for this event. I've put up a few anglers at my house
during the practice period, including Team National Guard pro Derek
Jones and Team Energizer co-angler, Matt Scheipeter. My good friend
and co-angler extraordinaire Patrick Wilson has flown out from
California for the event, and he brought his friend Gary Haraguchi
along as well.

I practiced about 7 full days for this event. Practice was fairly
inconsistent – I had some great days and some terrible days, and it
wasn't easy to predict which day would be which. My worst day I
caught only three keepers, and my best day (my full day fishing with
Patrick, of course) we caught probably over 50 total bass, with maybe
21 or 22 of those being keepers.

I never got onto any really big fish (no surprise here at Beaver). I
caught a 4-04 largemouth, a couple of 3-pound largemouth, and one
really nice meanmouth, also around 3 pounds. Catching them was pretty
random – not easy to predict when a big bite might come.

I feel very confident going into this tournament. The weather report
is looking like clouds and wind for at least Wednesday and Thursday,
and these are similar conditions that Pat and I faced on our great day
of practice. We figured a few little things out that day. I've got a
lot of confidence in two different baits, and probably three or four other things
I can do to try to catch fish if the situation is right and my
confidence baits aren't working out.

This is honestly the most confident I have ever felt going into an FLW
Tour event. Obviously, that doesn't mean I'll catch them – some
variables are beyond anyone's control – but I do feel certain that if
I don't do well, it won't be because I hadn't figured out a really
solid gameplan.

I'm paired with Illinois pro Robert Sherry for day 1. He sounds like
he's around at least some fish, and what he's doing probably won't
conflict much with what I'd like to be doing. Naturally, he's fishing
in one of the few creeks in the lake that I didn't fish in practice,
but I don't expect that to affect me too negatively.

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