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The Eliminator Series Allatoona Bass Diary

Mark Massey wins on Sinclair & Steven Phillips five spots are enough at Allatoona as the first two matches in The Eliminator Series are in the book. Clarks Hill and West Point this month.

GON Staff | April 28, 2006

Mark Massey and Steven Phillips are both one win away from a guaranteed check for $1,000. Both anglers won their first-round matches in The Eliminator Series and look forward to round two, which will take place in the early fall.

The Eliminator Series is GON’s head-to-head elimination bass tournament where the winner takes home $2,500 and the runner-up pockets $1,000.

After winning at Sinclair, Mark Massey will take on the victor of this month’s first-round Clarks Hill match between Dave Krantz and Jessie Rodgers. See brackets on page 17.

Mark’s round-two event will take place in October at Eufaula. Mark said he likes Eufaula, but he’s got an eye on Dave Krantz, a 13-time BFL regional qualifier from Albany, who is very good at Eufaula.

Steven Phillips, our round-one Allatoona winner, will be watching this month’s first-round West Point event between long-time tournament angler David Millsaps and 17-year-old Micah Frazier, the youngest angler to ever win a BFL event.

Steven’s round-two event will be on his home lake of Lanier in September. He knows David Millsaps has a reputation for big sacks at Lanier and that Micah has never fished it.

For all Eliminator matches, a GON editor climbs aboard to bring you the minute-by-minute action of what anglers did when they went chasing the best five-fish limit they could find.

Round 1: Sinclair
Mark Massey vs. Jim Beavers
After a seven-hour battle between two of the state’s hottest tournament pros, Mark Massey beat-out Stren Series tournament angler Jim Beavers with a sack of five that weighed 9.81 pounds.

Throwing a Rapala DT6, Mark’s limit came in 23 minutes on a point up the Little River. Mark’s bag of fish was anchored by a 3.88-pounder.

Mark is a regular on the R&R and Berry’s trails, and he and his partner, Scot Carnley, finished second in GON’s 2005 Team Power Rankings.

“I like the competition in tournaments,” said Mark. “My favorite way to catch a fish is to flip a jig under a dock or in a laydown, feel the thump, set the hook and hardly move that fish (a good one)!”

Jim Beavers of Manchester finished second last year in the BFL Regional on Clarks Hill. He is fishing the full Stren Series and BFL circuit this year. You’ll notice Jim if you see him on the lake — he’s the one “dancing” as he steers the tiller handle on his trolling motor with his thighs.

Jim went fishing with a Chatterbait, a bait he said has really been good to him. Even though he only brought in four fish that weighed 4.24 pounds, he made it interesting right down to the last second. Jim put two bass in the boat in the last two minutes of the tournament.

At Sinclair, Brad Gill rode with Mark Massey and Daryl Kirby went along with Jim Beavers.

Here’s a detailed look at how each angler approached a day on the water.

Mark Massey, Sinclair
6:56: Mark’s first stop was in Rooty Creek, on a main-lake point where two creeks come together. His first cast was with a firetiger-colored Rapala DT6. Water temperature was 56 degrees.

“It’s a small point, but there’s a pile of rocks on this thing,” said Mark.

Next, Mark threw a black-emerald Trick Worm on a Carolina rig. Then, he switched to a 1/2-oz. bone-colored Nickels Rat-L-Trap.

“I like the big treble hooks on this Trap, you don’t have to change them out,” said Mark.

7:07: Mark began working into a small creek.

“The wind has been blowing in here all night — the graph is black with shad,” said Mark.

He fished docks with a 1/2-oz. homemade jig that had strands of red, orange, black and brown in the skirt.

In between docks he chunked the DT6 and a Norman’s Fat Boy crankbait, designed to dive about four-feet deep. The Fat Boy was chartreuse and had a black back. Mark also took time to throw in the middle of the pocket.

“I like to check everything,” he said. “I think there’s a lot more fish in the middle than we think.”

Mark picked up the Rat-L-Trap and yo-yoed it back to the boat.

“A lot of times you can get a big one to eat it on the drop,” said Mark.

7:56: Mark moves up the Oconee River to fish a long pocket.

“This area is protected and warms quicker,” he said. “It’s now 56.3 degrees.”

Throwing a DT6, Mark catches a 10-inch bass off a small, pea-gravel-lined point. The fish bit at the boat.

Fish must be 12 inches to keep.

“I fish to win,” said Mark. “That’s why I throw a crankbait, spinnerbait and a jig. At R&R on Oconee last week I did that and we had five bites, but they weighed 19.1 pounds.”

8:14: Mark missed one on a DT6 in 13 feet of water

8:23: Mark catches another 10-inch fish in six feet of water in front of a dock, nearly in the back of the creek.

On the way back out, he threw a spinnerbait inside a pocket at a blowdown, hoping for a better fish. The 1/2-oz. bait had double, white, willowleaf blades. It had a white skirt, with a few strands of orange in it, and a Zoom chartreuse trailer on it. On his retrieve, Mark often pops the bait, giving it a slight pause, which can trigger a bite.

“Somewhere there’s a spinnerbait bite,” said Mark. “This is the only pocket in this creek, you think there’d be one laid up.”

8:55: Mark ran up the Little River above the train trestle and fished just inside a creek mouth on a point that topped out at four-feet deep and dropped quickly into 12 feet of water. The point was covered with stumps. This part of the lake had a heavier stain.

“This is good color,” said Mark. “It keeps the fish up shallower. Plus, when it hits 53 degrees up here the bite turns on.”

9:00: Mark missed a fish on the DT6.

9:01: Mark connected with his first keeper, a 13-incher that bit the DT6. The fish was on top of the point in four feet of water.

“It’s a start,” said Mark.

9:05: The little Rapala crankbait entices keeper No. 2 to bite. Mark said the 14-inch bass hit as the bait dug its way across the point.

“The wind is blowing right over the point — it’s perfect,” said Mark.

9:10: Mark had another bend in his rod, this one from keeper No. 3, a 13-inch bass.

“I may get my limit here, and then I can go catch a big one,” said Mark.

9:13: Mark missed a fish on the DT6.

“That was the first good bite, the rest of them have just felt mushy,” he said.

9:15: Keeper No. 4, a 13.5-inch bass, was the fourth fish to eat the DT6.

9:20: He picks up a 3/8-oz. spinnerbait with double No. 4 chartreuse-colored Indiana blades. The bait’s skirt is chartreuse/white, and he’s running a white twin-tail grub on the back. He said he was hoping that a change in baits would produce a big bite.

9:23: Mark switches back to the DT6.

“I want one more,” said Mark. “I have pulled a 5-pounder off this point.”

9:25: Keeper No. 5 bit, and it was a good one. Mark netted the fish just as the treble hooks pulled from the fish’s mouth. The fish later weighed 3.88 pounds.

9:28: Still throwing the DT6, Mark put another 13-incher in the boat and culled his first keeper.

9:55: Mark rounds the point, goes into a creek and down a seawall with a spinnerbait.

10:12: He goes back down the same wall with the Fat Boy.

10:30: Mark runs into Potato Creek and fishes deep-water docks.

“There’s nine feet of water on the front of these docks,” said Mark.

He threw the Fat Boy around the docks, a jig under the docks and a spinnerbait in brush between the docks.

At this point in the tournament, Mark said he was looking for a fish that would go over five pounds.

10:58: Mark hit a short pocket in Cedar Creek. The water was heavily stained. Mark flipped a few docks with a jig and then fished to the back of the pocket with a spinnerbait.

“If you could get a bite back here today it would be a good one,” he said.

11:18: Mark runs back down Little River and fishes both sides of a creek. He was flipping docks. “This is another short creek that warms faster, and the fish move into it quicker.”

11:59: Mark runs back up the Little River to the point where he caught his limit. “A lot of times you can give it a break, come back and catch a fish or two,” said Mark.

He threw a DT6 and the jig, but he never got bit.

12:37: Mark heads back down the Little River and pulls into another creek. He fishes only the deep side with a DT6 and the Fat Boy. “There’s a lot of rocks all down the bank and there’s a spawning flat in the back and stumps here and there,” he said.

12:56: Mark fishes a main-lake seawall in the Little River. “It’s got a lot of rocks on it,” he said.
1:04: Mark takes a chance and fishes a nothing-looking flat that he said could give up a big fish. “There’s nothing particular about it, it just holds fish,” said Mark. “Again, it’s a place that warms quicker, and that’s what brings them here.”

He worked a jig around the isolated docks and threw a spinnerbait as he went to the back.

1:33: He finishes in a deep creek and works a jig and a Fat Boy around a few deep docks.

Jim Beavers, Sinclair
6:58: Heading up the Oconee River arm, Jim pulled into a medium-sized pocket. First, Jim cranked the docks with a chartreuse Spro Crank 25 as he headed into the pocket. “This is a good cold-water crankbait,” Jim said. “It doesn’t run that deep (eight- to 10-feet deep, according to the Spro website.) You can fish it slow. ”

After about five casts with the crankbait, Jim picked up a Chatterbait, a hot new spinnerbait design that’s tough to find, and it’s even tougher to find a tournament fisherman who’s willing to talk about it. And it was access to this type of information — in this case a hot new bait — in GON articles that allowed the editors to talk the publisher into ponying-up the money to preset a 300-percent payback structure in The Eliminator Series.

The Chatterbait has a small, flat blade that produces a ton of vibration and action. On the right side of his casting deck Jim had three rods rigged with a couple of crankbaits and a jig. On the left side of the deck, he had four rods — all rigged with various colors of Chatterbaits.

Jim fished to the back of the pocket with the Chatterbait, casting it to the bank and pulling it back with a reel-stop-twitch retrieve similar to swimming a jig.

“I haven’t really caught any running it on top,” Jim said. “They like it on the fall when you stop it.”

No bites in the first pocket. The surface temperature was 54.8 degrees.

7:14: A very short boat ride out of the pocket, around the point, and into the next tributary, a bigger creek. Jim pulled into a small cove just inside the mouth of the creek, and he picked up a Chatterbait and began casting to a stretch of bank that had some very old and scattered rip-rap rock. Jim noted that he was seeing some shad for the first time that morning. The surface temperature gauge read 55.1 degrees.

7:20: First fish, a 13-inch keeper that hit a chartreuse Chatterbait. Jim fished down the stretch of old rip-rap without another hit.

7:32: Ran to the back of the creek. Jim picked up the Spro crankbait and began running it along the side of a boat dock, the last dock before the very back of the creek. The surface temperature was 55.5 degrees. Jim fished one side, then the front, then moved to the opposite side and fished the walkway and back dock posts.

7:35: Second bass, a 13-inch twin of the first. It hit the Spro crankbait when Jim ran the bait next to a rear dock post.
“There’s something about the last dock in a pocket. The bass hold on them,” he said.

Jim continued fishing to the back of the pocket and out the other bank, alternately picking up the crankbait and a Chatterbait while fishing the bank and docks.

“Trust me, there’s always fish shallow. I can catch fish deep, but I just like this kind of fishing,” he said.

8:11: Jim cranked up and headed farther up the river, stopping on a steep bank on the main lake, and he began pitching a brown Arkie jig with a brown pork-chunk trailer. The steep bank dropped off quickly and had lots of big rock. The surface temperature here was 53.4 degrees. No bites.

8:25 a.m.: Jim ran straight across the lake to a shallow, flat pocket, starting at the mouth and fishing all the way to the back and out the other bank. He alternated between the Spro crankbait and the Chatterbait. It took until 9:06 to fish the entire pocket, and Jim didn’t get a bite.

“I might need to be throwing a crankbait a lot more,” he said.

Early on, Jim must have mentioned “big fish” a dozen times as he stuck with the Chatterbait. Now you could tell he was thinking he’d like to get a limit in the livewell.

“I usually fish this Spro instead of a Shad Rap because it’s a better big-fish bait to me,” Jim said. “To get a limit, a Shad Rap is good this time of year, and so is a Model 6A Bomber, especially in Gable Green.”

9:10: Jim ran back across the lake and hit another steep bank with the jig. After 10 minutes and no hits, he cranked the engine and headed north.

9:27: Jim pulled up to the rip-rap at the bridge at the mouth of Crooked Creek. The surface temperature was 56.6 degrees. He picked up the Spro crankbait and started bumping it down the rocks.

9:32: A small bass, probably not a keeper, is hooked, but gets off.

9:35: Jim catches his third bass, but it measures 11 3/4 inches and goes back in the lake.

9:37: The fourth bass, and Jim’s third keeper, hits the crankbait.

9:39: Jim makes a cast along one of the bridge pilings, and he sets the hook when he gets a hit, but his line instantly goes slack as the fish breaks off.

9:42: Jim gets another hit, but the fish doesn’t hook up.

10:13: Jim heads father north and fishes another pocket. After fishing some docks and along the bank with the Spro crankbait and Chatterbait, he pulls a rod out of the rod box.

“No. 5 Shad Rap. Time to catch a limit,” he says.

After about 15 minutes, he switches back to the Chatterbait and the Spro crankbait. Jim fishes to the back of the pocket, which he calls “100-fish hole” because that’s about how many he caught there during a Sinclair tournament that he won. No bites.

11:06-12:30: Jim packs up, and he heads farther up the river, stopping first to fish a jig on some rocks on the main run. For the next 90 minutes Jim hits numerous spots, ranging from main-lake blowdowns to rip-rap to shallow pockets. He’s looking for one good fish, but he doesn’t get a bite.

There’s no current at all, and the sun hasn’t popped out the entire day. Jim wonders how much this is keeping the bass from turning on… and whether it’s also hurting his competition.

12:43: Back to the rip-rap at Crooked Creek, Jim hopes to catch a pair of keepers and fill his limit. Bad news — another boat is fishing the rip-rap. Jim fishes the other side of the bridge for 12 minutes before cranking the outboard.
Only 52 minutes remain before the tournament is over.

1:08: Jim arrives back at the very first pocket he fished. The water temperature here has warmed only to 57.2 degrees.

1:25: Keeper No. 4 — a 13-inch bass hit Jim’s Chatterbait.

“He hit it on the drop just like they always do. That’s a little one for this bait. I don’t usually catch little fish on it,” Jim said.

1:48: With just two minutes before Jim has to stop fishing, he gets a hit on the Spro crankbait. As he’s reeling in the bass, Brad Gill calls on the phone to make sure our watches are in sync for the end of fishing time. Jim needs a limit, but the bass measures 11 3/4 inches.

1:49 and :30 seconds: Jim hooks up again — with just 30 seconds of fishing time left — but again the bass is just short of the 12-inch minimum. Jim heads back to the weigh-in with four keepers.

Round 1: Allatoona
Steven Phillips vs.
Bill Chandler

This Allatoona battle between Steven Phillips and Bill Chandler, a couple of Lanier guys, was a close one back at the weigh-in, but Steven will be the angler moving on to round two at Lanier this September.

A short pocket, a ton of shad and a jerkbait, allowed Steven to put together a limit of five spotted bass that weighed 6.96 pounds. His best weighed 1.76 pounds.

Steven, 31, of Jefferson fishes with the Tournament Sports Bass Club. He has spina bifida and has only been fishing big reservoirs for two years, but don’t count Steven as an underdog in The Eliminator Series — he’s already earned a trip to his home lake for a Semi-Final match.

On Bill’s Eliminator application he said, “I can fish wherever you need me.” When we said he’d be on Allatoona, he gave the usual response. “What! The Dead Sea?”

After practicing and fishing in the tournament he said, “I probably won’t come back for another 18 years.”
During The Eliminator, Bill missed several fish, including a 5-pounder. Bill only brought four to the weigh-in. When the scale settled on 6.31 pounds, Bill put his head down and knew he had missed his chance to advance to round two.

Daryl Kirby rode with Steven while Brad Gill took notes from the back of Bill’s boat.

Steven Phillips, Allatoona
6:47: It was a short ride from the Red Top ramp to Steven’s first stop, a small pocket off the Allatoona Creek arm of the lake. It was only the second time Steven Phillips had ever been on Lake Allatoona, and on that first trip the day before he hardly made a cast.

“I just rode a lot and looked. I was looking for pockets with a lot of rock and sand, and I was looking for bait,” he said. “They get on these flats and gorge themselves before the spawn. It’s basically the same on any lake.”

Steven started at the main-lake point, throwing a shad-colored Rapala X-Rap suspending jerkbait. He worked the bait slowly, reeling a bit then making long, methodical sweeps of the rod. He fished into the pocket, making casts both to the rocky bank and also over deep water in the middle of the pocket. The surface temperature was 56.4 degrees.

7:00: Toward the back of the small pocket, Steven gets a solid hit on the jerkbait, but the hook-set comes up empty.

7:13: At the back of the pocket, the jerkbait gets smacked twice on one retrieve — still no hook-up.

7:14: Next cast, Steven hooks and boats his first fish, a 13 1/2-inch keeper spotted bass.

7:24: Steven switches to a Lucky Craft Staysee jerkbait.

7:32: After fishing the back of the pocket and out the opposite bank, Steven catches a 14-inch spot at the opposite main-lake point from the point where he made his start. The bass hit the Staysee.

There’s very little sun popping through the clouds yet, but the surface temperature has warmed to 59 degrees.

8:08: Steven stays on the trolling motor and fishes down a rocky, main-lake bank with no hits, then works into the next pocket.

8:23: At the back of the pocket, Steven makes several casts with a red Rat-L-Trap.

“I’m hoping to catch a largemouth,” he said.

8:39: He now alternates between the Staysee and a hand-made crankbait called an Ole Woody that is made by Georgian Ken Mize.

“We’ve been killing them on Hartwell and Russell with these crankbaits. I figure the bass haven’t seen them here,” Steven said.

Steven continues working down the bank and into pockets.

9:07: At a main-lake point at the mouth of a small pocket, Steven tries a junebug Carolina-rigged Trick Worm.

9:39: Steven gets a hit in the back of a pocket on the Rat-L-Trap.

10:15: With the trolling motor on auto-pilot, Steven works quickly down a shallow flat into a big cove. In his new Triton, he hasn’t set the boat up to suit him yet. For Steven, who has spina bifida and can’t feel his feet, this is a hinderence as he steers the trolling the motor with a foot control. Soon he’ll have a remote-control that he wears on his wrist.

11:12: Working up the opposite bank in the same big cove, Steven is mainly throwing the Ole Woody crankbait, but also the Rat-L-Trap and jerkbait.

11:22: Steven begins fishing a Carolina-rig on a rocky main-lake point at the mouth of the big cove.

11:26: After making five casts on the point with the Carolina rig, Steven picks up the Ole Woody crankbait, and on the first cast to the point with the crankbait a bass slams the plug — the 13-inch spot is keeper No. 3.

“I about beat that point to death, but I just had a feeling there had to be a bass on it,” Steven said.

11:36: For the first time since running to his first spot that morning, Steven cranks the big motor — but only to idle toward the middle of the main lake where linesides are rolling on bait and the birds are working.

“I’ve caught some huge spots that get in with the linesides when they’re working bait like that,” Steven said.
Several casts produce no hits, and Steven is contemplating a move back toward the dam when he notices bait working in the very first pocket where he started the day.

11:50: Steven is back at the first pocket, starting again at the point. A shower of tiny threadfin shad simultaneously skip out of the water, and Steven begins working into the pocket throwing a perch-colored Bomber Thunder Stick Jr. jerkbait.

11:59: A cast to the very back of the pocket produces a strike, and as Steven is fighting a 14-inch spotted bass he excitedly says there is a pack of spots following the hooked bass back toward the boat.

12:05: Steven tied on a Swarmin’ Hornet jighead with a fluke. “I don’t know about this lake, but they love this thing at Lanier,” he says. After a few casts he hangs up and breaks off the jighead, the only one he had in the boat.

12:31: A miss on the jerkbait.

12:51: Steven had moved out to the mouth of the pocket and fished the points for about 20 minutes to let the bass settle down in the back of the pocket. When he saw bait skipping, he headed to the back again, and on the first cast he caught a 14-inch spot and filled his five-fish limit.

1:15: The jerkbait produces keeper No. 6, a 13-inch spot.

1:25: Steven ties on a No. 7 Shad Rap, hoping to tempt one of the bigger spots from the pack that had been following hooked fish to the boat.

1:31: Steven makes his last cast in the pocket, then moves to the next pocket toward the dam, one he hasn’t fished yet. He has just nine minutes, and he works the pocket over with the Ole Woody crankbait and the Bomber jerkbait, but he gets no bites.

Bill Chandler, Allatoona
It’s not standard policy in reporting on The Eliminator Series to publish specific locations where anglers are fishing, but with Bill’s permission we’re doing it here. Bill brought his fishing partner, a 4 1/2-year-old Jack Russell Terrier named Miette.

6:55: Bill fishes a small rocky point one-quarter mile from the back of Stamp Creek. Water temperature is 54 degrees. His first few casts were with a 1/2-oz. Rat-L-Trap in electric blue, but he quickly opts for a Booyah jig.

7:05: Bill moves 100 yards upstream and stops along a 40-yard stretch of rock bank across from the Upper Stamp Creek ramp. There are a half-dozen irregularities in the rock that Bill thought were holding fish. We were far enough back in Stamp that water was flowing.

Allatoona was about eight-feet down, but the lake was coming up. “The theory is fish follow rising water. I caught three spots on this wall in practice,” said Bill.

Bill starts with his Booyah jig.

“It’s a good little jig, they’re only like $1.79,” said Bill. The small-profile jig had a green pumpkin skirt and a Castaic-colored trailer.

“I use the Zoom Brushog trailer, and cut it down,” said Bill.

7:14: Bill missed back-to-back strikes in a crevice on the rock wall. “I can’t believe I missed him,” said Bill.

Bill adds some “Kick’n Bass” attractant to his jig and tossed it back to the same slack-water area.

7:23: Bill connects with a 13-inch fish in the same crevice where he missed two strikes. “It must have been the juice, whatever works mentally for you,” he said.

7:37: Another fish strikes Bill’s jig, but he misses again.

7:40: Bill picks up a Yamamoto jig with a cinnamon-pepper colored twin-tail grub. “I’m going to try something different,” said Bill. “This jig is bulkier and has a slower fall. It flutters on the way down.”

7:55: Bill goes back to the Booyah.

7:56: Bill leaves the rock wall and starts a mission to get to the back of Stamp Creek. Miette began to cry, begging to see another fish.

“Calm down girl, you’re putting too much pressure on me,” said Bill.

As we neared an island on the right we noticed cleaner water, and the water temperature had dropped to 51.5 degrees. Approaching a new set of rocks, Bill flips the Booyah jig along a steep drop at the bank.

8:20: Fishing behind a rock, out of even swifter current, a fish picked up Bill’s jig but let go.

8:25: Bill spent five minutes fishing the same area, trying to get that fish to bite again. It worked. He caught a 14-inch spotted bass, keeper No. 2.

9:10: Bill goes back to the rocky bank where he caught his first keeper of the morning and throws the Booyah.
“I’m going to try ‘stroking’ this jig,” said Bill. “On Lanier the spots will hammer it on the drop.”

Stroking a jig is reeling hard five or six times and then letting the jig fall for a few seconds before reeling again.
Next, Bill picks up a Lucky Craft Pointer 78, a small jerkbait. “The bait I’ve seen has been small,” said Bill.

10:00: Bill runs several hundred yards down Stamp Creek and gets ready to fish the mouth of a short pocket. Bill picks up a white, Zoom Horny Toad with the idea of chunking it into the back of the short pocket, where the 55-degree water is a foot deep. “I had one come up on this thing yesterday,” said Bill. “I like to throw topwater in the prespawn. If that fish is sitting shallow he’ll swirl at it. Most guys throw topwater later. When you just hear about the buzzbait bite getting strong, you missed the best topwater bite.”

I watched Bill sling the plastic frog all the way to the back of the pocket and start it out on top. Halfway back a big fish swirled and missed the toad.

“That was a 5-pounder!” said Bill. “I’m fixing to hit every little cut on the way out of Stamp.”

10:55: Bill was on his fifth short pocket. While pulling his 1/4-oz. Booyah jig over a Christmas tree into six or eight feet of water, a largemouth nailed the bait.

“That’s a good one,” said Bill.

Bill scooped his biggest bass so far, a 2.78-pounder.

11:27: In another pocket two fish bust right on the bank. Bill grabs his sunglasses, wondering if a buck bass is up guarding a bed. The water was 57 degrees, and it was a few days after a full moon. “I’m sure there’s some fish on the bed somewhere,” said Bill.

The water was a little too dirty to really be able to see very well.

11:52: Bill pulled up on a point right below the no-wake zone in Stamp Creek. He threw his jerkbait, which is actually one of Bill’s preferred lures. Bill is used to fishing over 60 to 100 feet of water at Lanier and having spots rocket to the surface after topwater plugs. “You’ll catch 3- and 4-pounders a lot doing that,” said Bill.

Bill’s plan of attack for The Eliminator was to put together a deep-water pattern, but this didn’t materialize in practice.
“I tried to find a dock pattern, too, but I couldn’t do that,” said Bill. “Some locals said the fish were moving back, so I ended up practicing in Stamp, Illinois, McKasky, Cooper and Kellogg creeks.”

11:58: Bill breaks out a watermelon-red Zoom French Fry worm fished on a Carolina rig. He never got bit.

12:26: Bill was in the back of Illinois Creek hoping that lightning would strike twice. “I caught a 7-pounder in this blowdown yesterday,” said Bill. Efforts with the jig and spinnerbait weren’t rewarded.

1:07: Bill goes into the Atlanta Yacht Club cove. “I watched a guy catch some small fish off this subtle little point,” said Bill.

1:08: On the very first drag, a 13-inch spot nailed the Carolina rig. Miette jumped at the bottom of the net.
“I guarantee you there’s another one up there,” he said.

If a fish was there, it didn’t bite the French Fry worm.

1:28: With only 15 minutes left Bill makes a move to a line of Christmas trees halfway back in the cove. He ends the day with the Carolina rig and four in the box.

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