Adam Michael Wright and Secody Howard pick up the win on Wheeler
Bama Blues Catfish trail staged their 6th event of the season as the Battle of Lakes Pickwick, Wilson, Wheeler, and Guntersville. Anglers could choose any of the 4 lakes to fish but had to return to Ingalls Harbor in Decatur, AL for the weigh-in by 4 pm.
Twenty boats fished the tournament in inclement weather that rolled into the area on Friday. The rain and colder weather appeared to hamper the bite according to many of the anglers.
First Place/Big Fish
Team Salt and Pepper, Adam Michael Wright, and Secody Howard, teamed up to bring 94.75 pounds to the scales and claim top honors at Bama Blues. Their bag included Big Fish of the tournament at 47.70 pounds.
“We started our day on Friday by discussing the weather and conditions we expected,” reported Wright. “We knew there were going to be thunderstorms followed by a major cold front coming in this morning. We decided to approach the fish with a variety of baits from big to small and to target them with a slow approach. We opted for stationary anchor fishing and Spot-locking.
As they began the tournament Wright and Howard, noticed large numbers of gizzard shad and skipjack jumping in the harbor. That led them to go try a dredged out slew that they knew of.
“The depth ranged between 13 to 15 feet,” recalled Wright. “The slough was loaded with bait so we pointed the nose of the boat into the wind turned on the Spot-lock mode on our trolling motor and cast lines in all directions.”
The team started with a variety of baits in various sizes of cut skipjack and cut gizzard shad. Their first fish was a 10-pound channel cat that hammered a large chunk of gizzard shad. They were about 20 minutes into the tournament.
“After that channel cat, we went through a 45-minute lull,” continued Wright. “Another rod went off on the opposite side of the boat and ran hard towards the river channel. We landed a blue cat around 20 pounds that ate a small skipjack head. We cast back out and a few minutes later we caught another blue that was around 12 pounds or so.”
Another hour went by when they noticed the large amounts of bait had moved out of the slough. So, they made their way back out to the main river where they started scanning the ledges for bait and active fish.
“Just half a mile upriver we found the shad piling up into tight balls” explained Wright. “We were seeing long streaking returns that appeared to be bass or skipjack feeding actively on the shad. Directly below those balls of shad, we were marking several good looking catfish returns.”
“We knew these were active fish because we have seen the pattern many times,” continued Wright. “Blue Cats love to stage under bait balls and wait for the wounded and weak fish to fall to the bottom to be picked off as easy prey. So, we set up and began throwing baits. Within five minutes of setting up, we caught our second fish over 34 inches. It weighed around 22 pounds.”
They continued to catch fish over the course of an hour or so. None of them were the size fish they needed to cull, so they made another move. They moved to the mouth of a different creek hoping to find some larger active fish. As they were reeling in rods and preparing to move Howard’s rod doubled over and they boated a 30-pound blue before moving on.
“Over the next three hours we tried some other nearby creek mouths and sloughs,” Wright said. “They had similar features and depths ranging from 10 to 25 feet. “With no success, we decided to return to the only area where we had marked lots of large active fish earlier in the day. The only question was just how to get them to feed.”
They returned to their original area and anchored up about 100 yards off their first spot. They cast out and began the waiting game. They committed to waiting out the bite, relying heavily on the constant large fish making their way across the sonar screen and moving up and down the river.
“After an hour or so the wait paid off,” said Wright. “We heard the drag screaming out of a rod we had cast off the front deck. After a short tough fight, we netted our biggest fish of the tournament at 47.7 pounds. We continued to wait it out and caught two more solid fish in the 20-pound range but not enough to improve the limit of fish we currently had.”
All of the team’s fish were caught between 10 to 25 feet of water. Most were caught on skipjack heads. All of Salt and Pepper’s fish were caught while anchoring along the mouths of creeks and sloughs near the channel ledges.
“The 10 to 15 mph NW winds made it a real struggle to anchor the boat,” concluded Wright. “The cold front made the fish bite finicky and extremely picky. They just wanted to play with the baits all day. We decided to stick with what we felt confident in and wait out a better bite. That decision paid off and gave us just enough to win!”
Team Salt and Pepper is sponsored by Slimecat Rods, MulTBar Rod Racks, Pipeline Tackle, Fish Bite Rod Holders, Spread Em Planer Boards, Big Wills Outfitters, TNT Catfishing, and The Heart of Dixie Trail which Wright directs/manages.
The runner-up spot went to Team REEL EM UP, LLC. Ron Goucher, owner of REEL EM UP, LLC, and Ray Nix had a bag that weighed 90 pounds to earn the second-place check.
Goucher and Nix were fishing out of a G3 Sportsman using Slimecat Rods and pulling Parks Planner Boards. They rigged with Cat Dragger weights (Goucher’s own), and Dale’s Tackle 12.0 hooks. They baited with skipjack from Yammer and Sons.
“It was a good day for us,” reported Goucher. “Even though the rain and wind made tough fishing conditions, Ray and I fished Wheeler Lake. We were dragging in 35 to 40 feet of water. The winds were bad coming out of the north so we had three drift socks out. The socks helped, but we were dragging sideways most of the day.”
“We didn’t catch any blues until there were only three hours left to fish,” recalled Goucher. “Other than that, it was a normal day of trying to catch fish. Some days you do good, some days you can’t get a bite. We were very blessed today. Pipeline does a great job running their trail. We are very blessed to be able to fish these great tournaments.”
Team REEL EM UP, LLC., is also first in the points race and a sponsor of Bama Blues. They are sponsored by Slimecat Rods, Yammer and Sons, River Rats Reel Repair, Dales Tackle, Wrap Stars LLC, Fusion Custom Apparel, Yeti, Dry Creek Marine, LLC, D&T Customs, Exist Outdoors, and Planet Ink Tattoos.
Third place went to Team Dewitt. Nooner Hall and Jimmy Burton, teamed up to bring 81.90 pounds to the scales and earn the third-place check. They are also tied for third place in the points race.
Hall and Burton fished Wilson Lake. They had intended to fish Wheeler but since they didn’t get to prefish they decide to fish Wilson Lake instead. They went to a spot where they had fished in a previous tournament, thinking the fish would be there.
“The weather conditions were not ideal,” reported Hall. “It made for a tough bite. The wind had the waves rolling and we didn’t know if we could fish the place we wanted to fish or how we wanted to fish it. We ended up making some adjustments and we started catching fish.”
“The adjustment we made was slowing the boat down,” continued Hall. “That created a better bait presentation. We also let more line out to get our Spread Em Planer Boards farther from the boat. That allowed the boards to ride more smoothly across the rough water.”
They were using skipjack for bait. They started out with different sizes of bait until they noticed that all their fish was coming on big heads. They made a switch and skipjack heads were all they used for the rest of the day.
“We dragged baits all day,” Hall said. “We were using the Reel Em Up Cat Draggers so we could drag through the structure. We were hoping, with the weather conditions the way it was, that the fish would be holding tight to the structure.”
“We caught three fish right at 30 pounds,” recalled Hall. “We also had a decent under at 15 pounds. We knew it was going to take more weight than what we had to win so we decided to go big or go home. We ended up catching a 40.10 pounder for our big fish of the day. We caught 8 fish total.
Team Dewitt is sponsored by Dewitt Company, Grizzly Jigs, Big River Cats, Smackdown Catfishing, Tomlin trucking, Drury Hotels, and DlS Worldwide.
For More Information
To keep up with happenings on the Bama Blues Tournament Series follow them on Facebook, visit their website at https://www.thebamablues.com, or contact Chris or Cory Ramsey at Pipeline Tackle.