Skeeter Eliminator Results From Seminole And Clarks Hill

Patrick Brown is on fire; he weighs in ANOTHER 16-pound-plus sack of Eliminator Series bass. Mark Holloway wins at Seminole, looks to Jackson.

GON Staff | May 1, 2007

Ask a man to produce a 16-lb. bag of largemouths on any given tournament day and he may be able to do it; ask him to do it again and the odds go way down. Patrick Brown from Swainsboro weighed in another 16-pound-plus bag of Eliminator Series bass. On April 10, he won his Round 4 Clarks Hill event against Mark Fortner with five fish that went 16.91 pounds.

In Round 3 — at Lake Oconee in March — Patrick brought 16.71 pounds to the scale. With 33.62 pounds of fish in back-to-back Eliminator rounds, Patrick should now be getting the attention of the remaining Elite 8 Eliminator contenders.

At Clarks Hill, Patrick used a Buckeye Lures Mop Jig to catch his fish. His opponent, Mark Fortner, put together a nice limit fishing a crankbait around blowdowns; his five went 8.59 pounds.

Patrick is now very interested in May’s Round 4 tournament at West Point that pairs Jim Windham and Butch Pitts; Patrick will face the winner of that event at Hartwell in June.

In other Round 4 action, Mark Holloway of Madison won his Seminole match against Eugene Stinson of Dry Branch. Mark caught three keepers on a Zoom Speed Worm in shallow grass flats that weighed 7.35 pounds. On the way to the weigh-in Mark was concerned that he didn’t have the weight to advance to the next Eliminator round. However, it was in the cards for Mark to move on — Eugene had a pair of bass that only went 2.87 pounds.

Mark’s three Seminole bass were good enough to qualify him for a Round 5 tournament at Lake Jackson in June against either Walter Green or Tim Vanegmond.

The Skeeter Eliminator Series is a unique head-to-head fishing tournament that started on March 7, when 64 boaters were trimmed down to the Elite 8 in just two days of fishing. Now, big money and serious bragging rights hit the eyes of the remaining six anglers.

For all Rounds 4-6 tournaments, GON editors are in the boats, taking notes and photos. The following pages contain diaries from Seminole and Clarks Hill about how each angler spent his seven tournament hours on the water.

Round 4: Clarks Hill
Mark Fortner vs. Patrick Brown

This Round 4 match-up took place on Tuesday, April 10. Morning temperatures were in the 30s, and water temperatures were in the mid to upper 50s.

Patrick, the winner of this Round 4 tournament, has some experience on Clarks Hill, although this angler’s claim to fame is river fishing. He practiced for several days and said the day before the tournament he found some unbelievable schooling action.

Mark lives in Dahlonega and knows very little about Clarks Hill. He fishes Lanier and several mountain lakes and is a member of the East Hall Bass Club. Mark also enjoys fishing weekly pot tournaments on Lanier.

Daryl Kirby rode with Patrick, and Brad Gill went along with Mark.

Patrick Brown, Clarks Hill

Listen to Patrick Brown, and he’ll try to convince you he’s just a southeast Georgia river rat, that those big reservoirs are still new to him. There’s some truth in that, because he’s still learning, but tournament anglers better look out if Patrick’s learning curve continues on its current pace. He’s a very, very good bass fisherman, and Clarks Hill happens to be the reservoir where he’s most comfortable.

“We need the wind to blow,” Patrick said as he idled out of Wildwood Park, getting ready for blast-off.

The day before Patrick had smacked ’em, catching dozens of bass, with his best five easily weighing in the high teens. The wind had been blowing into the pockets on the west side of the lake, and a Rat-L-Trap bite the afternoon before was on fire.

6:58: Blast-off, and Patrick steers his boat out of Keg Creek and into the Georgia Little River arm, heading northwest.

7:11: Patrick stops at a main-lake point. His first cast is with a jerkbait, a Lucky Craft Pointer 78 in the American-shad color. He keeps the rod tip down, making a quick jerk-jerk-jerk-pause retrieve.

7:15: After six casts with the jerkbait, Patrick picks up a big swimbait, a Jackall Mikey. It’s a hard, three-jointed bait that he keeps up near the surface, waking it.

“A lot of people throw soft swimbaits and get them down in the water column. On this lake, I like this one that I can wake on top,” Patrick said.

7:16: Two casts with the swimbait, and Patrick picks up a jig, a Buckeye Lures Mop Jig, “the same one everyone uses up here,” he said.

7:20: Patrick makes a few casts with a Rat-L-Trap.

7:21: Next he makes three casts with a tandem-fluke rig.

“This is just trying to get a big one early,” he says.

7:23: Patrick makes two casts with a spinnerbait.

7:24: After fishing the point with six different lures, Patrick moves inside the point to a secondary point that has some big rock on it, fishing it with the Pointer 78 jerkbait.

7:27: Patrick sets the hook for the first time. A small bass comes to the surface and spits out the jerkbait.

“That one wouldn’t have helped. If you have to stick ’em on that measuring board, you’re in trouble, especially here at Clarks Hill,” he said.

Skeeter Eliminator Series Clarks Hill, April 10
Place: 1
Patrick Brown
Fish: 5
Weight: 16.91
Average Weight:        3.38
Big Fish: 4.22
No. of Bass Caught: 6
No. of Keepers: 6
Short Fish: 0

Place: 2
Mark Fortner
Fish: 5
Weight: 8.59
Average Weight: 1.72
Big Fish: 3.21
No. of Bass Caught: 7
No. of Keepers: 6
Short Fish: 1

7:33: Patrick cranks the big engine and moves, staying on the south side of Little River, he makes a short run to another main-lake point.

7:36: He makes three casts with the swimbait, then moves quickly inside the small pocket to a secondary point and begins fishing the Mop Jig.

7:43: Patrick swings and connects on a good fish. He nets a solid 3-lb. bass that had enhaled the jig.

7:47: Still fishing the secondary point with the jig, Patrick sets the hook again, and bass No. 2 is almost a twin of the first, only a half pound or more bigger.

“This is a perfect jig point,” he said. “There’s healthy, green grass on both sides of it, and rock down the middle.”

Patrick fishes the jig aggressively, sweeping it up to pull it through the hydrilla.

8:00: A few casts with a jerkbait, then Patrick goes back to the jig, still fishing the same, small secondary point. He makes one final cast with the swimbait, then pulls the trolling motor up.

“It’s going to warm up nicely — might be too nice,” he said. “I like it nasty. Yesterday it was cold, and that wind was blowing.”

8:09: Patrick heads to the north bank of Little River where his Rat-L-Trap bite was so good the day before.

“If everything goes right, before we get to that point over there, we’ll have a fish or two. No wind though, that’s going to hurt it. I may have to pull out a Trick Worm or something.”

8:15: No hits on the Rat-L-Trap, so Patrick tries the swimbait.

8:18: Along the outside edge of a big blowdown, a fish “pushed” the swimbait but didn’t eat it.

“May have been a little one, may need to be throwing the Rat-L-Trap,” he said.

Two casts later, he picks up the Rat-L-Trap, bringing it back along the outside branches of the blowdown.

8:21: He casts a spinnerbait, bringing it back through the outside branches of the blowdown, and a fish hits. It’s a jackfish.

8:23: Patrick tries a Senko floating worm, rigged wacky style with the hook in the middle.

8:27: Back to the Rat-L-Trap, Patrick says, “I’m going to have to change my whole game plan if they don’t bite in the next three pockets.”

The surface temperature is 57 degrees, and there’s barely a ripple on the water as the wind still hasn’t begun to blow.

8:57: After making a short run to the very back of another pocket that has hydrilla, Patrick catches a 12 1/2-inch bass on the Rat-L-Trap. The fish was in 2 1/2 feet of water.

“I caught two at the same time here yesterday on a Rat-L-Trap, both 2 1/2-pounders. The first bass jumped two times before the other fish got on there,” he said.

9:42: After two more short runs to other pockets, Patrick says, “It ain’t working.”

He cranks the engine and heads back across the lake to the south side, straight to the secondary point where he caught the two keepers earlier.

“So much for the Rat-L-Trap fish,” he said as he cleared the deck of some rods, putting up the Rat-L-Trap, the tandem fluke, and a Sammy in the rod box. He pulls out a Carolina-rig.

“I usually use the Carolina rig not as a search bait, I use it as a finishing bait.” His first casts at the secondary point, though, are with the Mop Jig.

9:49: Patrick sets the hook.

“It’s a good one,” he says.

He takes his time, keeping the rod tip down, and soon has a nice bass in the net. “Ol’ Moppy Head! Mr. Roy Altman (owner of Buckeye Lures) will be happy to see this… YIPEE!”

The bass later weighed 4.22 pounds. Patrick now has four in the box, and three of them are good ones.

10:11: He tries the Carolina-rig on the secondary point for about 10 minutes.

10:22: Working into the pocket, Patrick fishes a rocky bank with a Mann’s Stretch crankbait.

“They’re sure not wanting to chase it down today, wanting it fed to them. Every one of those good bites have come in 10 to 12 feet of water,” he says.

11:11: Patrick moves to another pocket on the south side where the wind is now starting to blow in.

“It’s completely opposite of yesterday. I don’t know if there will be time for it to blow the bait and fish into these pockets,” Patrick says.

11:40: Another move, back to his first stop of the day, the main-lake point on the south bank of Little River.

11:50: After fishing the point, Patrick moves to the secondary point with the big, boulder rock.

“I just need one more good bite on this jig. That’s all I’m asking for.”

Literally on the next cast, Patrick sets the hook and boats a 2 1/2-pounder.

11:58: He misses a fish on the jig.

12:22: Patrick moves back into a bigger creek on the south side of Little River. He stops at a point at the mouth of two small pockets. His first cast with the jig produces, and another good bass better than two pounds goes in the livewell. Patrick culls the small bass. He has five very good bass. All five came on the Mop Head jig.

“All I know is if you aren’t pulling it through grass, you aren’t doing nothing,” Patrick says.

12:38: Patrick sets the hook, and a 3-lb. bass comes to the top and shakes the jig out of its mouth.

12:39: Another bite, but nothing on the hook-set.

12:55: He tries the Mann’s Stretch crankbait.
“I caught them on this last time, and I didn’t get a bite on the jig.”

1:20: He makes a short run to another secondary point back in the creek.

1:33: He moves and fishes the main-lake point — his first stop of the day — for the third time.

1:43: A final move back to the secondary point that has produced three of his keepers.

1:58: Patrick’s seven hours are up, and he heads back to the ramp with five bass that weighed 16.91 pounds, the second-best sack in Eliminator history, including a 4.22-lb. bass that takes the lead for Rounds 4-6 Big Fish honors.

Mark Fortner, Clarks Hill
Editor’s Note: Mark didn’t know when he’d get back to Clarks Hill and allowed GON to print where he fished.

7:10: Mark runs into Cherokee Creek and starts fishing the left-hand bank where the creek channel makes a 90-degree turn to the right. His first cast is to a point that had produced fish in practice. He is throwing a Rapala DT6 in a shad pattern.

7:21: Mark eases down the bank to a few docks and throws a Carolina-rigged Baby Brush Hog in green pumpkin around a walkway. The area is rocky and was holding fish two days before.

“I’d like to get a limit,” said Mark. “What I’ve seen in the first three rounds is that a limit increases your odds by a lot.”

7:36: Moving away from the docks and farther into the creek, he picks up the DT6 and targets blowdowns.

7:50: In an area where Cherokee Creek makes a hard bend to the left, Mark goes across the creek and fishes a long, shallow point that’s covered with grass.

7:57: A bass eats Mark’s crankbait.

“Stay on the line,” he says.

Mark pulls the 15-incher in the boat and is glad to have keeper No. 1.

“I was just steady cranking, letting it dig,” said Mark.

8:21: Mark goes around the point and heads into an unnamed creek and throws the DT6 at a blowdown. Keeper No. 2 makes it to the boat — a 13 1/4-incher.

8:38: Mark throws a white Accent Buzz B-2 Buzzbait with twin props around a short pocket full of grass.

8:40: He fishes a few docks with the DT6.

“I always change the hooks out on this bait,” said Mark. “I like Mustad Triple Grip treble hooks, size 6.”

The front treble hook was red, and the back hook was a long-shank silver hook, which helps increase hook-up percentage, Mark says.

8:44: Nearing the back of the pocket he switches to a shad-colored Rapala DT4, a shallower-running plug.

8:48: He switches to the buzzbait in the back of the creek. In practice he found fish on a 6-foot, grassy channel break. Even though the water temperature was 54 degrees, Mark was confident the fish were still shallow — since they had been two weeks earlier.

9:10: Mark returns to the point in Cherokee Creek where he caught keeper No. 1.

9:46: Mark runs up to Little River and fishes the DT6 along the rip-rap at the mouth of Little River Marina.

9:51: Mark catches keeper No. 3, a 13-incher, in three feet of water on top of the point.

9:56: He goes on the inside of the marina and targets the backside of the rip-rap.

“To me a small crankbait will catch numbers when the fishing is tough,” said Mark. “If I’m not used to a lake I can take a crankbait and get a limit.”

10:15: Mark goes behind the third marina dock and into a pocket and fishes a point and a dock walkway with the Carolina-rigged Brush Hog.

10:23: Within casting distance of one of the marina’s boat ramps, he chunks a buzzbait.
“There should be a female laying on that concrete,” said Mark.

10:25: He picks up a DT6 and heads out of the pocket.

10:38: Back in the creek, Mark gets a spinning rod out equipped with a Sworming Hornet jig head (shaky head) and a Zoom green-pumpkin Trick Worm. He skips it under and around a dock.

10:45: Mark connects with a fish on a walkway, but the fish only measures 11 7/8 inches and is thrown back.

10:50: He picks up a DT6 and fishes down a bank toward a run-down dock in the back of the pocket.

10:56: He fishes the shaky head around the dock.

11:03: Mark fishes a buzzbait in the very back of the pocket.

“Where’s that one big bite at?” he asks.

11:24: With about 2 1/2 hours to go, Mark makes a run into Chigoe Creek and fishes the last big pocket on the right. Inside the pocket, he opts to fish a smaller left-hand pocket that has some boat docks in the back of it. He fishes the shaky head around and under the docks.

11:37: While fishing under the front of a double-decked dock, Mark catches keeper No. 4, a 14 1/2-inch largemouth.

11:46: Mark idles back into the main pocket and fishes a DT6 along the left-hand bank where two ditches come together.

12:02: “I’d like to throw a spinnerbait and stand on the trolling motor, but I’d like to have a limit before I did it,” said Mark.

12.17: He works the shaky head and DT6 all around the pocket and gets about halfway out toward Chigoe Creek and fires the shaky head along the walkway of a small dock. Mark connects on keeper No. 5, a 3.21-pounder that would fill out a nice limit.

12:32: Mark makes his final run on the big motor to the rip-rap in the back of Keg Creek.

12:34: He throws the shaky head against the bridge pilings.
“On Lanier you’d be catching spots doing this — on a jerkbait,” he said.

12:40: He goes under the bridge and works his way down the northwestern rip-rap with the DT6. The bank beyond the rip-rap has grass and blowdowns all down it. He heads to the back of the pocket.

12:50: With 69 minutes left to go, Mark breaks out a Sworming Hornet, 3/8-oz. spinnerbait. It has one silver willowleaf blade and one gold Colorado; the skirt is white and green.

12:55: He picks up the buzzbait and throws it in the back of the pocket.

12:57: Mark switches back to the spinnerbait and heads down the opposite bank toward Keg Creek.

1:05: Back in Keg Creek, Mark fishes west with the spinnerbait, covering water quickly, really focusing on blowdowns.

“They’re just not on wood cover like they were Saturday,” said Mark.

1:33: Mark goes all the way in the back of Keg Creek but quickly fishes his way out and down the right bank.

1:52: With only seven minutes remaining, Mark catches his first spinnerbait fish, a small keeper, and is able to cull the third keeper.

“That’s a long way to travel for one bite on a spinnerbait,” said Mark.

Mark heads to the weigh-in, with the thought that Patrick could have a sackful.

Round 4: Seminole
Mark Holloway vs. Eugene Stinson

This Round 4 match-up took place on Monday, April 2 — the full moon. Even though April is generally a late bedding month on Seminole, several cold fronts that coincided with earlier full moons meant that a decent wave of Seminole bass was predicted to be bedding for this tournament. At blast-off the weather was cloudy and in the 50s, and the water temperature was in the low 70s.

Mark Holloway, who likes Seminole in February and March, spent 2 1/2 days practicing for this event, and he never saw a fish that weighed more than five pounds. In fact, the first decent fish he saw that indicated they were pulling up to bed was found the afternoon before the tournament. Mark gambled and went to those fish early; however, it didn’t pay off. After that he went power-fishing with a Speed Worm while looking for beds. Even though Mark was victorious, his dialog shows he was really worried about advancing to Round 5.

For someone who had seen Lake Seminole only once before, Eugene Stinson of Dry Branch had a tough draw going against Mark, but after an encouraging day on the lake prefishing the day before the tournament, his hopes were high.

“All I want are the ones I shook off yesterday,” he said, referring to several big fish he had on the morning before while fishing with a local angler — including one in the 8-lb. range. Their half-day catch had been in the 15- to 20-lb. range. The fish had come off grass flats along the river channel down the lake from Wingate’s.

At Seminole, Brad Gill rode with Mark while Brad Bailey went along with Eugene.

Mark Holloway, Seminole
Editor’s Note: Mark said we could print most of his fishing locations.

7:22: Mark leaves the no-wake zone at Wingate’s and pulls into a 30-foot-wide cut on the right. The afternoon before he had seen several good fish shallow. Starting at the mouth of the cut he throws a junebug-colored Zoom Speed Worm with a 1/8-oz. weight. He swims it back to the boat.

7:24: He spots a light spot on the bank and casts a weightless green-pumpkin Senko on a 5/0 Gamakatsu hook.

7:36: Mark heads to the back of the narrow cut throwing a Senko. There’s a bed in the back with a small fish on it.

7:43: He picks up a white tube with pink tassels.

“It’s just an aggravation factor now,” said Mark.

Mark throws past the bed and reels the brightly colored bait into the bed. The fish continues to swim off the bed but does keep coming back.

“He’s not acting like he wants it,” said Mark. “Usually there’s one place on the bed you can get his attention.”

The fish doesn’t bite.

8:10: Mark heads up the Flint and begins fishing on the edge of the river channel where it makes a hard turn to the right just above an island. The boat is in 10 to 12 feet of water, and he chunks a 1/2-oz. Blademaster spinnerbait into 3 feet of hydrilla-filled water.

“There was a pretty good shad spawn here yesterday,” said Mark.

8:17: Mark switches to a black/blue buzzbait that has gold blades.

8:31: Mark makes a run and goes into a pocket that has a 50-yard-long sandbar in it. Fish often bed in this area; however, cloudy weather is still making it tough to see. He makes casts with the buzzbait and Speed Worm.

8:36: Mark makes several long casts to the sandbar with the Senko.

9:13: Still looking for his first keeper, Mark runs down the lake into a backwater area just west of the mouth of Fish Pond Drain.

9:17. Mark keeps his trolling motor on and quickly moves down a reed-covered bank with the Speed Worm. The scenic area has lots of lily pads and averages 4 and 5 feet deep.

9:34: He tries the buzzbait.

9:37: Mark switches back to the Speed Worm.

9:40: Mark looks at his watch.

“I can’t believe I hadn’t had a bite; I knew it was going to be tough, but come on,” said Mark.

9:55: The sun finally peeks out.

“The sun puts them under the pads and in the grass,” said Mark. “When it’s cloudy they could be anywhere.”

10:02: Fishing a Speed Worm, keeper No. 1 bites and makes it into the boat. It’s a 14-incher.

“Three hours for a pound-and-a-half fish; that’s long enough,” said Mark. “We still have to catch five more; let’s hope that fish doesn’t make it to the weigh-in.”

Mark continues quickly fishing the Speed Worm.

“I’m just covering a bunch of water,” said Mark. “A lot of fish are on deeper sandbars in Spring Creek. Carolina rigs by the locals win a lot, but that’s not my deal.”

10:09: Mark catches an 11-inch largemouth and throws the non-keeper back.

10:14: Mark has a fish come off at the boat — it may have been a keeper. He continues covering water.

10:55: Mark is in Wingate’s canal, fishing a small pocket where he saw a small keeper the day before.

“I’ll take him now,” said Mark.

Mark spots a 12-inch buck bass guarding fry and spends a few minutes pitching a tube to it.

“It’s bad when you’re spending time on fish this size,” said Mark.

11:06: He leaves the fish and moves 20 yards farther into the pocket and sees a 2-pounder on a bed. He begins taunting the fish with the white/pink tube.

11:08: “He’s about ready,” said Mark. “He nosed up on it…. come on fish; I don’t have time for this.”

He throws past the bed and reels the tube into it, sometimes touching the fish.

11:17: “I don’t know if I can make him mad or not,” said Mark. “I’ve banged a dang sore in his side.”

11:33: “I’m going to let him whip me for right now, as much as I hate it,” said Mark. “Not good, 0 for 2 right there.”

11:39: Mark goes back in the 30-foot-wide cut where he started the morning. He fishes a Speed Worm and has a 12-incher strike and miss at the boat. In the next 11 minutes he makes a quick trip to the back but sees only one small bass that may not have been a keeper.

11:56: Mark makes a short run up the Flint and pulls into a small, man-made cut on the right that leads into a neighborhood oxbow. Mark throws a white Super Fluke on a 5/0 Gamakatsu hook. He spots a 3-pounder cruising.

“Those cruising around are hard to get,” said Mark.

12:09: Mark makes it to the back of the oxbow, picks up a white tube and heads back out flipping the bait to grass patches.

12:12: He makes it to the mouth of the cut, but he changes to the Speed Worm.

“We’re fixing to get out of here,” said Mark.

12:13: “There he is,” said Mark.

He puts keeper No. 2 in the boat, a spawned-out fish that would later go 4.11 pounds. The fish was right on the edge of a grass line in about a foot of water. For the next few minutes Mark heads south along the main lake fishing docks and grass lines.

12:20: Mark sees a good fish take off from a sandy spot.

“I should have picked up a Senko and thrown it to that light spot like I always do,” said Mark.

He picks up a Senko and continues down the bank.

12:26: Mark goes into the long pocket on the left just below Wingate’s canal. He quickly covers water with a Speed Worm and throws a Senko whenever he sees a white spot.

1:04: He’s back within sight of Wingate’s, looking for the 2-pounder that he left at 11:33. Mark is ready to fire the white/pink tube at the fish.

1:09: “I don’t see him; I couldn’t have run him off earlier,” said Mark.

1:11: He throws a black Zoom Horny Toad on an 1/8-oz. weight. He said the 1/8-oz. weight on the toad actually keeps the bait down and produces more hook-ups.

“I’m trying to stir the fry up; there’s fry all in that grass,” said Mark. “That sucker can’t be that far away. I had all intentions of throwing this (Horny Toad), but I couldn’t do nothing with it.”

1:12: He leaves and fishes docks in the back of Wingate’s. He alternates between a Senko and the Speed Worm.

1:32: With 48 minutes left in the tournament Mark begins to fish a break above Wingate’s. Mark keeps his boat in 9 feet of water and works a Speed Worm through some grass in 3 feet of water. The grass is barely sticking out of the water.

1:35: He pitches a black/blue tube to a white spot in the grass.

1:41: He throws the Horny Toad.

1:42: Keeper No. 3 bites, Mark swings and brings him aboard. The 14-incher was in 2 1/2 feet of water.

1:47: Still swimming the Horny Toad through the tips of the grass, what looks to be a real big fish blows up on the bait. Mark briefly hooks the fish, but it comes off. Both bites came from the more dense clumps of grass.

“I think I figured out what I should have been doing,” said Mark.

2:03: With 17 minutes to go, Mark returns to where he started fishing the break and fishes down the grass line.

2:20: Mark heads for the weigh-in worried that he doesn’t have enough weight to advance to Round 5.

Eugene Stinson, Seminole

7:30: Eugene pulls onto a 6- to 8-foot grass flat on the right 4 1/2 miles downlake from Wingate’s and picks up a rod with a Christmas-tree-colored Senko hooked wacky style using a No. 5 split ring. The split ring slides halfway down the worm, then the point of a No. 2 weedless hook is slipped under the ring, and the weedguard closed over the point.
“The split ring keeps you from tearing up the worm,” he said.

Eugene makes long casts to holes in the grass and lets the worm sink to the bottom.

“I am fishing the first break off the spawning flats,” he said. “I think most of the fish have finished spawning and have pulled off the flats to the first break.”

7:37: Eugene picks up a white, 3/8-oz. Booyah buzzbait and makes a half-dozen casts.
“It’s a little early for topwater, but I’ll give it a chance before I go back to the worm,” he said.

7:39: The wacky-style Senko goes back in the lake.

“I am letting the worm just sink, and then I let it sit there,” said Eugene. “The water is so clear that they can see it fall, and they will come to investigate. Then I’ll give it a little shake so they can find it. The bites are subtle. You lift the rod tip, and it just feels heavy.”

7:55: No bites yet. Eugene picks up a rod with a Texas-rigged Senko in a laminate color, half purple, half green on an Eagle Claw feather-lite No. 4 hook.

“This worm will fall a little faster,” he said. “I want to feed them what they want for breakfast.”

8:02: Still no bites.

“I am probably fishing too fast,” he said, as he lifted the trolling motor to pull a wad of grass from the prop.

Skeeter Eliminator Series Seminole, April 2
Place: 1
Angler: Mark Holloway
Fish: 3
Weight: 7.35
Average Weight: 2.45
Big Fish: 4.11
No. of Bass Caught: 4
No. of Keepers: 3
Short Fish: 1

Place: 2
Angler: Eugene Stinson
Fish: 2
Weight: 2.87
Average Weight: 1.44
Big Fish: 1.95
No. of Bass Caught: 2
No. of Keepers: 2
Short Fish: 0

8:05: He moves to the edge of the grass along the river channel.

“The fish may have pulled out a little farther,” said Eugene. “They aren’t on the bed. They’ve got to be out here somewhere, it’s just a matter of finding them. There’s also a few more holes in the grass to hit out here.”

8:20: One hour down, no bites. Eugene switches back to the wacky-style Senko, trying to fish a little slower. His reel is spooled with 14-lb. clear-blue fluorescent line.

8:50: Eugene idles 100 yards down the bank on the big motor.

“They are in this grass somewhere,” he said. “But I am debating running to the dam.”

8:55: Eugene makes a half-dozen casts with the buzzbait over a deeper hole in the grass, then switches to the Texas-rigged Senko and makes long casts parallel to the river-channel edge of the grass. He gets no takers.

9:06: He moves three-quarters of a mile back toward Wingate’s and pulls into another grass flat on the south side of the Flint River channel. Eugene goes to work with the wacky-style Senko.

9:19: Two hours into the tournament and no

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