You could tell it was going to be a hot and muggy Kansas Summer afternoon as we took off from the ramp Saturday Morning. There was a steady wind that had the Lake kicked up into whitecaps by 930 and kept it that way till it started to die off around 1 in the afternoon or so, with bright blue skies and only an occasional passing cloud offering a brief moment of relief from the heat with a bit of shade as we went about our business fishing stands of hedge trees looking for a $300.oo dollar Slab.
With it being my first time having my own boat down there, I decided to follow Bud and Bob through the stumpfields to the BNSF Railroad bridge I wanted to fish since they are very familiar with that area, and enjoyed the run as 2 Merc powered Rangers screamed across the water cutting through trees at 50 plus Mph as we followed the Channel to the area I wanted to start from.
Try as we might, my Tournament Partner David Sidel and I couldn't seem to buy a bite even though the electronics were telling me we were all over the fish. I went through just about every color of jig I had in the boat topped off with Brushpile Fish Attractants with my partner doing the same topping off with every color of Crappie Nibbles we had in the boat but it didn't seem to matter.
Wanting to make the most of it, I started to make mental notes of what the guys that call El Dorado home were up to in hopes of having better luck on Sunday. With the Club Tournaments being aimed at Family, Freinds and Fun, all of us are pretty quick to offer up tips if we see someone having it rough, and after a short chat with Jim Bybee, a local legend so to speak, and his Sons Tom and Cody, who would go on to dominate the weekend, I had a pretty good warm and fuzzy on some new spots to try and fairly sure Sunday would turn out better than Saturday proved to be for me.
It wasn't long before everyone out there was hearing buzz about a 16 inch plus fish that Tom Bybee had hauled in. With Shane Eustice of Hook Em Guide Service and several others also holding a 15 1/2 - 16 inch fish in the livewell as well, I knew we were going to be seeing some really nice fish at the scales, but it was Tom Bybee with a 2.07 that earned him Braggin Rights and $ 300 Dolars that won the Shootout.
Going into Sunday knowing we were going to be facing some really strong winds, I stayed within 3 miles or so of the ramp all day just to spare myself from a brutal boat ride as much as I could and still be on fish, even though that didn't mean we were catching them all as the Husband and Wife Team of Jake and Catie Wilson were in the bow of my boat trying to win a day at Timber Hills Lake Ranch.
By noon we were having a tough time just staying in the boat, much less catching anything. Trying to stay on the trees when your trolling motor is in the air more than the water is anything but easy, but that was the hand the Fishing Gods dealt us so we all tried to do the best we could and deal with it.
The wind seemed to kill the bite for everybody, We had some nice fish at the scales, but not like the ones we saw the day before. Father and Sons Jim, Tom and Cody Bybee owned the weekend at one of their regular haunts bringing in 7 fish that went 8.20 on the scales, with Bud and his Tournament Partner Bob Thomas finishing 2nd with 7.77 as well as winning a day at the range at TimberHIlls Lake Ranch by hauling in the Biggest Fish of the day with a 1.61, and 3rd going to Frank Haidusek and his Tournament Partner Phil Taughton, of " What's In" Outdoors with Phil Taughton on KVOE Radio out of Emporia, KS with 7.25 at the scales.
Even with the horrible forecast, we still gave it our best with all but 2 Teams entering for a shot at the Big Fish Prize offered up by TimberHills Lake Ranch, we managed to raise $130.00 dollars to give to NWTF and see some really nice fish, as well as catch up with some good friends, and learn a few things about a great lake for big Slabs.