I’ll be the first to admit it, Lake Anna has not been good to me over the past couple of years. The lake fishes tough, but when the event is won with over 19 pounds, all I can say is I haven’t figured them out. No excuses, just complete humbleness for one of the largest freshwater lakes in the state. If you haven’t calculated that we did not do well, this week’s blog will put it all into perspective.
In hopes of getting the leg up on the competition, Jesse and I got started early this year learning the waters we would be fishing. In my opinion, pre-spawn to spawn tournaments are some of the hardest events to fish, and this year has been even more uncharacteristic. We did not get a bite on our first outing, with water temps in the low to mid 40’s. We did, however, locatea few places we thought would be valuable during the tournament. Unfortunately, the delayed season changes would leave these locations null and void.
With a week remaining before the tournament, Jesse and I spent some time learning a creek on which we had not spent the first day of practice. Cold weather and wind plagued us, unable to position ourselves in perfect position at any point of the day. The typically clear water was stained to dirty in the long creek arm, and confidence continued at an all-time low. At day’s end, the only thing we had to show was a single 12” bass caught in newly emerged vegetation; not what you would call a game-winning pattern.
The day before the tournament started out with a bang, beginning in a backwater creek, I quickly hooked up on what would be a female largemouth at 3.86 pounds. It’s a little bit humorous, but that fish was my largest bass on Lake Anna to date.
Not to stay in one place for too long, we got a bite here and there, and felt that we would be able to fill a limit of largemouth, an accomplishment I have never reached. A shower and excellent dinner at The Cove at Lake Anna, Jesse and I laced our rods and got to sleep early with dreams of scoring our first check of the season.
We got to the host marina super early, a routine that has allowed us to launch stress-free and mentally prepare for the event. To put the legitimacy of the VA Elite 70 into perspective, Woo Daves power poled down beside Jesse and me as we awaited takeoff. Star struck, I don’t think I said a single word to the Bassmaster Classic champion.
Taking off as Boat #22, we were fortunate to reach our starting position before any other boat had showed up on scene. After hooking the 3.8 just a day prior, we were hopeful more fish had moved up into the shallows. Shortly after entering the creek, I was startled by a bass exploding on the surface, not on my bait unfortunately as I worked my jig over a tree. Looking back, I think the bass was occupying the submerging grass, startled by the fall of my jig just over its head.
Fishing the creek to its interior limits, we were able to boat a small limit. This was when the day got tough! We went the majority of the rest of the day without a bite, running around the rest of the day trapped in a complex body of water. Time ticking, we began to stress at the reality that we had accomplished our goal of catching a limit, but without a big fish we were out of contention.
With hours remaining, we ran back to the entrance of the creek on which we started. The wind had picked up throughout the day, making boat positioning nearly impossible. After only a small non-keeper along the rip-rap bank, I began fan casting the area. Within a few casts of the square-bill that has caught a keeper or two early in the day, I hooked up on our first upgrade of the day. Although not a serious upgrade, our optimism rose exponentially. Another cast, and I hooked up on a large fish.
Head shakes, long runs and dives left Jesse and methinking we had a giant! After releasing the thumb bar more than four times, we brought the fish up to the boat. To our dismay, it was a large hybrid bass, a cross between a striped and white bass. Physically shaking, we boated numerous more fish but were only able to upgrade ounces on our catch.
At the scales, we weighed just under 8 pounds for five fish, accomplishing our original goal, but four pounds out of the check range. By the end of the weigh-in, we had finished in 38thout of 77 boats, a glass half full in a positive view, or pessimistically half empty. In retrospect, we had fished ahead of the seasonal pattern of the fish. I am driven to learn more about the lake, a goal I will be able to focus on this year now that I live less than an hour from the lake.
In a few weeks, we will quickly turnover to Smith Mountain Lake, home of my first and only tournament win. Although a different time of the year, I am excited for the opportunity to build the resume. Stay tuned as we head into the third event of the VA Elite 70. Till next time, never stop learning. Success is always a possibility when the heart is persistent.