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Doug Vahrenberg's Journal



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Date:9/19/2007 - 9/21/2007

FLW Stren Event - Lake of the Ozarks

FLW Stren Series – Central Division – Lake of the Ozarks, MO 

   The Final Regular Season Event on the Central Division Schedules finds me located on a familiar fishery and close to home. Most call it home lake advantage but sometimes knowing more about a lake make you fish historical spots and patterns than actually letting you fish what the fish want. Follow me though my practice days and event days as I try to seal the deal on making the FLW Stren Series Championship.

 

Practice – Day 1:

   Today I got a late start as I needed to make a couple last minute stops on the way to the lake to acquire some needed extras – just in case. One being my spare lower unit that I had repaired after a meeting with a floating log on Truman. I like to carry some extras just in case something happens to me or one of my fellow competitors to keep us on the water prior to the service crews arrivals. I put in up the Osage River afternoon at Browns Bend Access. I started by checking the docks on flats and immediately started getting bit. Next I proceeded to check out a couple creeks and some bluff docks. It seemed the largemouth preferred the shallow docks on the flats – whether it was in a creek or main channel. The spots seem to prefer the channel docks in the creeks and main river. In the limited time I explored this area I felt very confident that I could catch a limit of good spots and/or a limit of good largemouths.   

 

Practice – Day 2:

   I prefer to break a lake down in sections and try different tactics in different areas to see which one I feel the most confidence in for success. Today my plan was to check out the Hurricane Deck area of the lake.  I started in the back of a major creek working a buzzbait and Luckycrafy Gunfish and G-Splash around the shallow docks and numerous shad schools. I never once got a rise and figured it was time to head to the main river flats and points. I kept hitting docks – deep and shallow, big and small with very limited success – except for a baby bass every now and then. I continued towards the west and up the river. I pulled onto a flatter section of docks and immediately hooked up a nice 16” spot. I proceeded around the point into a creek and picked up a jighead worm and had a big largemouth gobble it up. It was in the 6 pound class. I continued around the point and had another 4 pound class fish gobble up the jighead worm. Now this is starting to look good. But I hate to fish slow and especially on a jighead worm. But I will do what ever it takes to make the championship and succeed in this tournament. It was time to move so I sat down and checked out my Navionics Premium Map on my Humminbird 997c and started looking for similar areas. One thing I like about using the Navionics and my Humminbird is the ability to adjust the depth contour colors. It really helps to identify other areas of similar contours. I continued the day and seen several more nice largemouths on the jighead worm.

 

Humminbird 997c with Navionics Platinum – Shaded Depth

 

Practice – Day 3:

 Today I made a change in plans. I had located fish in the Hurricane Deck area and farther up in the Browns Bend area. I had a section that I had not fished in-between that would allow me to maximize my time on the water for the event days by having fish both to and from the weigh-in site at PB2. I headed back to Browns Bend and headed down river to the area I need to explore. This area was the first dirty water and many where shying from the colored water. I love fishing dirty water as I understand how fish relate to it. It usually means shallow and aggressive fish that are positioned tightly on structure. I started hitting the flats and had limited success. I continued on to some steeper channel banks to look for Spotted Bass and hooked up quickly on a nice 3 pound spot. I continued down the lake and hitting another similar area to where I just caught the big spot. I hooked up on an even bigger fish – after a tough battle I was able to get a grip on a spotted bass that registered 4.7 pounds on Cul-em-rite. That has to be one of the biggest Spots on record for me. I was feeling very confident I had a pattern for success. Big Spots and Quality Largemouth. I ran into good friend and master craftsmans of the Black Market Balsa, David Ryan. We shared some notes and insight about what we both were feeling. David was catching some quality fish in the backs of the creeks. He was fishing for the win and myself wanted to win but did not want to loose reigns on making the championship. We spent the rest of the day helping each other by covering water and helping each other eliminate unproductive waters. I have always appreciated the guidance and help David has given me to perfect my shallow water fishing. He’s a mastermind with countless years of using and understanding square billed crankbaits and how they make fish bite. He’s been a great help and his baits have been a major reason for my success on the FLW Stren Series and BASS Opens.   

 

 Practice – Day 4:

   Today is my final day of practice and I planned to spend it from PB2 up the river towards Hurricane Deck. I started trying some deeper structure spots with a football head and Flat CB D-20 Crankbait. I caught a few small fish but nothing spectacular. I tried some creek backs and shallow docks and was not impressed with the results. I next tried the deeper docks and had some keeper spots but nothing exciting. I was really scrambling trying to figure the lower lake fish out. But that’s not a bad thing – as I had confidence in what I had found previously. But it was good to know that I needed to get myself up the river in the dirty water. I decided it was time to put the Skeeter 20i on the trailer and head for the room and prepare for the Day 1.     

 

PB2 Hump - Sunken Boats to the West

TOURNAMENT - DAY 1:

   I drew boat number 26. Since it was cloudy this morning just like the second day of practice I decided to start near Hurricane Deck and work my way west up the river. Hoping that I did not need to visit the muddy waters to catch my fish. It started very slowly then my co-angler caught a nice 3 pound fish around the dock I had caught my six pounder from in practice. I kept the jighead worm in my hand frrling I could catch a quality largemouth at anytime. As the clouds broke I felt the need to be up the river in the dirty water. I fired up the Yamaha 250 HPDI and headed west. I started fishing some of the shallow docks and the fish were not coming out to get my square bill. This was strange I thought to myself but the only thing different today was lacking a little wind. I kept plugging and on one of the better isolated docks the rod loaded up it wasn’t the normal tug I had felt in practice – this one was stripping line from the Daiwa and was heading under the dock – deeper and deeper. When it rolled in the first stall; It was a giant largemouth and my best estimate in the 7 to 8 pound class. I needed this one badly. Just as I was about to get this fish turned it came unbuttoned. Man, you hate to loose fish like that. Those bites are hard to come by and they usually hurt you in the end. I kept plugging and chugging on – you can’t cry over spilled milk – you just have to redeem yourself. I headed to another row of deeper docks and quickly added a small spotted bass to the livewell. It was a start but not the kind of fish I needed. I kept cranking and finally added 2 more spots to the livewell but one was hooked tremendously deep in the mouth and bleeding badly. As I kept working dock after dock and hitting any piece of wood I could find. I had a few more fish come out and slap at the bait but not take it. On one jet ski platform my crankbait rolled up onto a jet ski lift and a 3 to 4 pound fish jumped up on the platform and missed the bait. I kept going knowing they would bite. I lost a couple other quality fish that just didn’t want to play with me. But that’s fishing. I ended the day with 3 small spots for 3 – 11 and lost 8 ounces for fish care penalty. This was a disastrous way to start the final event and trying to make the championship with only a 2 spot cushion.

 

TOURNAMENT - DAY 2:

   I drew the last boat today. I had extra time since I was in the last flight to get my head on straight and work hard and get the fish I needed to make the championship. I knew I had the bites on day one for a solid limit and the quality to place highly. I made the dedication to spend every possible minute in the dirty water. That’s my comfort zone and the way I wanted to fish. I headed back up river and ran to the back of a major creek to start the morning hoping to find shad and active fish. My co-angler once again quickly caught a fish on a jig and missed another that swirled on a spinnerbait. I picked up “old faithful” my Golden Bream Black Market Balsa and started working everything in site from the docks to logs to fan casting open water. As I was rounding a point I quickly hooked up on keeper number one a solid largemouth. This is a Bonus fish since most of the better fish had been coming later in the day. I started running more docks and started catching lots of short fish. I kept plugging and picked up a keeper here and there. Some would hang on long enough to get them in the boat and others would just come unbuttoned. It was another day 1 but none of these were the quality like I lost on day 1. I scrambled around and found 4 solid keeper largemouths before I needed to head back down. I finished the day with a little over 9 pounds. But I was still below the 100 mark and what I needed to make the championship. I needed a solid limit on day 3 to make the championship. After weigh-in I was approached by Greg Bohannan fellow Team Skeeter member that had lost an ear off hit prop on take –off caused him to bend a prop shaft. He asked if I knew where he could get his boat fixed and expressed that I had just what he needed. We proceeded to change his lower unit in the parking lot and got him ready for day 3. Greg was in position to win Angler of the Year and was wanted to stay in the top 10 to qualify to fish the FLW Tour. Greg is nothing but a class act and I was willing to help him in the chase to accomplish his dreams.

 

TOURNAMENT - DAY 3:

   Today I was boat 57 and a 3:30 PM weigh-in. I would have loved to have had another late flight but today I had a job to do. The weather called for light winds but stronger than the previous 2 days. I had a feeling that I had a chance if I could just get the fish in the boat. I made the decision that I had found the fish – I just needed to execute. I headed back up river and plans to travel a little farther and explore a couple new places early then come back when the sun got up and position the fish on the docks. As I was running up the river something came over me to stop and try for a limit a spots on the deeper docks. I quickly turned the Skeeter and headed to a bluff-end pocket. I started down a row of docks and quickly started catching some babies. Then I caught a nice largemouth, then a little farther another solid keeper, then another. Man was I having fun. As I approached the last dock I fired that crankbait down the side and with a few cranks of the handle another one was on and digging for deeper water, she came up to the boat and she was a big fish in the 5 pound class and was she hot. I let here explore under the boat for a little bit and tried to wear her out and get her in the net when all a sudden – my line went limp. Not again. I kept my head up, though. These were all bonus fish! I continued to hit several shallow docks and no prevail. Then I decided to check the deep docks on a bluff stretch – I caught a big 3 ½ pound Spot on the first dock, then the next dock yielded another big Spot . I had a solid limit and felt I was championship bound – maybe. I kept working the deeper docks and caught numerous fish and probably 10 more keepers. It was a fun day – the kind I had visioned in practice. My fish were a little smaller than anticipated but none the less a limit. I weighed 5 fish for 11 pounds and moved in 76th place. Which was close to the top 75, I calculated I needed to make the championship.     

 

"Coming Down the River - Final Time "

POST TOURNAMENT REVIEW:

   Friday and Saturday were very nervous days as the points would not be figured until the final 10 cut was done. I spent Friday night figuring every possible angler that could dethrone me. I had figured two angler that moved above me and one that feel. I was in 38th heading into the contest. I was on the bubble. Late Saturday evening I finally found out I had retained my 38th place position and was going to the FLW Stren Championship in Mobile, AL. My hard work and determination to not give up hope had paid off. I knew I had found something special, but mistakes were slowly taking my dreams away but I had to keep working harder and harder. Somebody above was watching over me on Day 3 and guiding me as he made me turn into that cove.  Maybe it was a repayment for helping others this week. But what ever it was: Thank you Lord!

 

"The Baits"

   Never underestimate yourself and second guess your thoughts. There is a reason why you choose to fish were you do. Believe in yourself and help put luck in your favor. And fish your Strengths! This is why I made the Championship. It has been a battle all year. The road has been very bumpy with lots of hurdles but if you work hard and believe in your abilities and the products you have and use them to the best of your abilities they can and will help you succeed.

 

Thanks for following me thru my FLW Stren Series Event this year and I hope you look forward to one more journal and news of great success from the Mobile Delta. As I chase my dreams.

 

Good Catching and God Bless!

 

 

 

 

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