2012 Bull Shoals Lake, Arkansas
B.A.S.S. has held six previous events on Bull Shoals, but none (other than a 2006 WBT tournament) since 1991. Despite the small number, Bull Shoals has a big place in B.A.S.S. history. Dee Thomas, the inventor of flippin’, introduced the world to his technique by winning the 1975 Arkansas Invitational here. With the victory — and a subsequent series of features in Bassmaster Magazine — flippin’ became the hottest technique on the Tournament Trail. It still is, really, and Bull Shoals is where the story broke.
Day 3 notes and quotes
Apr 21, 2012 - 10:14 PM
"I really haven't found a bad place to fish out here." - Edwin Evers
"It's truly amazing the number of fish in this lake." - Cliff Pace
"The first day I caught 42 keepers. I've never caught 42 keepers over 15-inches." - Rick Clunn
"I'm taking a lot of conservative risks." - Brent Chapman
"Today was my worst day and I still caught 30 keepers." - Ish Monroe
"They're all talking about remedies for sore hands back there." - Ish Monroe on his fellow competitors waiting at the holding tanks.
Day 2 KVD quote
Apr 20, 2012 - 11:16 PM
"If he lost that much fishing time and still caught 24 pounds...the boy's on em'." - Kevin VanDam after hearing leader Brandon Palaniuk missed part of his fishing day in the emergency room, to remove a hook from his finger
Day 2 notes and quotes
Apr 20, 2012 - 9:17 PM
"I caught five fish in six casts this morning...that's how I started out." - Kevin Short
"I've never been any place that has so many fish, that I didn't know nothing about." - Gerald Swindle
"The guys we fish against today are a total different breed on angler." - Rick Clunn
"You can't win it today, that's for sure." - Bobby Lane when asked how he could overcome Brandon Palaniuk's eight-pound lead.
"Usually the way to screw up some good fishing is to have a tournament. This just keeps getting better and better." - David Walker
"I can't even talk about it much." - Aaron Martens after failing to make the cut
"I'm feeling the rookie blues right now." - Michael Simonton
"I'm driving the big yellow bus to California." - Skeet Reese after failing to make the cut
"I just don't want to finish last." - Steve Kennedy
Day 1 video preview from Bull Shoals
Apr 19, 2012 - 11:49 PM
KVD on day 1 at Bull Shoals
Apr 19, 2012 - 11:28 PM
This week’s Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on Bull Shoals is the kind that tests your patience, your wit and your inner strength.
Don’t get me wrong. I love this lake. It’s a great place to fish, and the bass are really biting this week.
However, there are times when that can pose some unique problems, like it did for most of the field on Day One.
Take a look at the numbers. There were 95 limits caught by 99 guys in the field. Yet, two-thirds of those limits weighed in were less than 14 pounds.
If you’re gonna win, that’s not going to cut it. Just about every guy in the weigh-in line lamented that they caught a lot of fish but couldn’t get the big bite in the boat.
I was one of them. I can’t even guess how many fish I caught overall, but I know I had at least 30 keepers. Unfortunately, I didn’t boat enough of the quality bites I got to lift me into the upper echelon. My 13 pounds, 4 pounds is respectable, but left me in 48th place.
I had my chances. I hooked several good fish but lost them. It happens, especially when you’re fishing around the spawn season when so many fish are slapping at the bait and not trying to eat it.
I didn’t do anything wrong and I feel good about the way I fished. You just have to learn to deal with it. You can’t stomp around in the boat, throw your rod or let it get to you.
A tournament like this can build a lot of tension that will work against you. It’s easy to start second guessing yourself but that’s only self defeating.
You can’t let that happen; turn those misfortunes into positive experiences and try to figure out what made that bigger fish bite and then duplicate it.
That’s how I’ll approach today. I know I’m doing the right things. I know the larger females are setting up on very specific banks I’m targeting. I trust my instincts and realize days like Thursday are going to happen and the next day will be better.
I’m sure several anglers are fighting the temptation to make changes in lures. You think, “If I change from a crankbait to a jig or spinnerbait, maybe my hook-up ratio will be better.” There’s nothing wrong with that but you can’t stray far from your strengths. I’ll keep throwing what I know works and keep grinding. The fish are there. I know it.
Rain and colder weather will be a factor on Day Two and that could help. You never know how the fish are going to react to changes; you have to keep an open mind. I’ll fish my way and let the bass tell me what they want. Those first few bites will help me determine whether they are aggressive, and I can adapt from there.
The good news is we’re all getting a lot of bites. We’ve had events where we all struggled to get bites, and that’s extremely challenging and can make it harder to keep a good mental attitude.
And like I say…it’s all about the attitude!
-- Kevin VanDam