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Bad weather means great fishing

The 2013 open bass tournament season will cast off next weekend, Saturday Feb. 2 on Lake Bruin.

Eddie’s Marine and Tackle of Vidalia will host the 27th Annual J.R. Roberts Team Bass Challenge out of Lake Bruin State Park. This is a non-profit event.

Normally the memorial is plagued by extremely bad weather, which means great fishing but this year may be different. The long distant weather forecast looks promising.

The event was created by longtime friends Jim Hargon and Ted Hinson in memory of my father, the late J.R. Roberts. Dad was an avid fisherman to say the least. He loved to fish no matter the conditions. Once you boarded dad’s boat as the sun was just coming over the horizon, you were not going back to the bank until the sunset.

Some days he would not bring my brother and I off the water until dark. I recall one January day when the air temperature was well below freezing. We had propane heaters in the bottom of the boat.

I would remove my boots and thaw my feet out, so we could keep fishing. Dad and I had located some huge slab white perch, striped bass and some fine largemouth bass holding and feeding on huge schools of shad on a submerged sand bar on a sharp bend in the Saline River which is Toledo Bend Reservoir.

This river bend is located in the widest part of this 182,000 acre reservoir. The submerged river channel was about 85 feet deep. The sand bar sat in 35-45 feet of water. We were using 3/4 ounce jigging spoons and locating the fish using an old school round flasher sonar unit.

It was so cold when we caught a perch all we had to do was drop the fish in the bottom of the boat where they would freeze. The boat was tied off with the bow, where dad sat, in 45 feet. I was on the back deck with 35 feet of water under me. Dad was catching huge perch one after the other, while I was catching largemouth bass on every drop of the spoon in the 35 feet range.

That was nothing but fun. We never saw another boat near that area for three days. Maybe that’s why I would rather fish in the rain, sleet and high winds than on a bright, sunny day. Those pretty days are good for fishing, but they are certainly not good for catching. Dad taught me that.

The best fishing is on the worse days to be on the water no matter where you fish. We were jig fishing near this same area when he noticed I had a funny look on my face while looking where my line enters the water. He asked what I was doing. I told dad, “I think a bass has hit my jig, because it just doesn’t feel right.”

Dad said, “If your line went slack or moved, set the hook. Fish have no hands, nor pockets so if a fish hit your lure it is in his mouth.”

That is just one of the many things dad taught me about fishing that stuck in my mind. Lake Bruin will go off limits to all contestants competing in the 27th annual memorial on Monday Jan. 28. That allows the fish to rest.

You can enter the event Monday through Friday of next week at Eddie’s Marine. I will accept entry fees on tournament morning at the State Park Landing with a $10 late fee.

I firmly suggest entering before that day to avoid the crowd that will be signing up Saturday morning. The record turnout is 114 teams, 228 people, but we usually average between 70 and 80 boats.

We are looking forward to seeing all out friends next Saturday on Lake Bruin for the 27th Annual J.R. Roberts Memorial. Stop by Eddie’s Marine for a visit, and I can give you some tips and tell you how this event has been won over the past 26 years. The very best of luck to all.