A crisp mid-fall morning greeted us when we arrived to a very foggy Upper Barton's ramp in the low 40s at Falls Lake. Falls looked to be setting up for what you'd think would have been a great day of fishing and potential for heavy sacks...water temps falling steadily from the low 80s just a couple weeks earlier to just shy of 70 at blast off and a strong low in the guise of what's left of Tropical Storm Nestor approaching from the south. After a fog delay, we eventually decided to "ooze off" with conditions not conducive to running on plane. The fog finally lifted mid-morning to partly cloudy but steadily graying skies and a high in the mid-60s.
All of our anglers brought fish to the scales except one. When all fish had been weighed, Leesville rookie Gray Williams chalked up his third win in the last four tournaments with another five fish limit weighing 9.68 lbs anchored by a 4.05 lbs chunk that also took big fish honors for the day. Following in second was Tom Robertson (5 fish, 7.32 lbs), and fishing in his final tournament as a Leesville member was Duke Bevard (4 fish, 6.90 lbs). Gray's fish were caught junk fishing with no discernible pattern and the rest of our anglers said covering water was the name of the game, picking up a fish here and there.
Our final tournament of the year takes us to High Rock on November 16. Going into our last derby, Mark Cannon leads Wes House by just 3 points. With only the top 10 finishes contributing to year-end scores, it's possible Wes could surpass Mark if he finishes four places ahead of him in our last tournament. Falls also helped separate the field for the bottom three money tournament positions, although there's also still some opportunities for movement depending on participation and performance at High Rock. Stay tuned!
Stingy. That's the word that comes to mind after Leesville BASSMasters ground out two days from the Wittenberg ramp at Lake Hickory in Hickory, NC on October 5 & 6. Most of the Leesville BASSMasters arrived during the day or evening Thursday to pre-fish with temps well into the 90s both Thursday and Friday. Saturday, an overnight front brought overcast, temps nearly 30 degrees cooler with a high in the 60s, intermittent drizzle, and a stiff breeze at times. Water temps were in the low 80s at launch.
All of our anglers brought fish to the scales on Saturday, although sacks were light. After weighing all fish, our Day 1 leader was Gray Williams with 3 fish weighing 5.19 lbs, followed by Jeffery Kinney (2 fish, 3.89 lbs) and Duke "Woody" Ellis (1 fish, 3.57 lbs). Woody had the big fish for Day 1. Afterwards, we headed back to the house for some college football, Texas Hold 'Em, and Tom "Chef Tell" Robertson's traditional away-tournament Saturday night spaghetti dinner. Needless to say, no one walked away hungry.
Day 2 brought an overnight low in the upper 50s, a much lighter breeze, and a somewhat lower water temp that ranged from the upper 70s to low 80s depending on where you were. All of our anglers brought fish to the scales on Sunday. After all fish were weighed, Duke Bevard emerged as the come-from-behind winner, weighing in three fish for a Day 2 total of 5.88 lbs and a combined two day total of 4 four fish weighing 8.81 lbs. Tying for 2nd place were Jeffery Kinney and Gray Williams, both with a combined two day total of five fish weighing 8.55 lbs. Dukester caught all of his fish cranking a SPRO Little John on secondary points in Gunpowder Creek. Woody held on to big fish for the tournament with his 3.57 lb fish caught fishing on the Dukester's back deck on Day 1. Hickory was certainly a grind, but it was apparently a pretty consistent grind. As a club, we weighed in a total of 17 fish both days. Our Day 1 & Day 2 aggregate weights were also within 0.42 lbs of each other, at 28.09 lbs and 28.51 lbs, respectively.
Our next tournament takes us to the Upper Barton's ramp at Falls Lake on October 19, and we've got us a real horse race going for 2020 Money Tournament eligibility. While the top 3 slots are already locked in, the three bottom spots are all up for grabs. Woody, Sheldon Godfrey, and Tom Robertson are all tied for 4th place with 103 points each, while Craig Koefler, Gray Williams, and Jeffery Kinney are all tied in 7th place with 102 points each. Scoring points in the next two tournaments will be crucial to securing eligibility for the money tournament. While we fish twelve tournaments, only the Top 10 finishes contribute to each angler's overall score for the season. Stay tuned!