Smack Tackle TN River trip
Smack Tackle TN River Trip
Trip hosted by Todd McCollister of Smack Tackle, and his construction partner Dan.
I went along as a 'fishing buddy', THANK GOD!
We left Thursday October 18 2006 for the Tennessee river.
Arrived in TN late that night after driving for close to 6 hours in a fairly heavy rain, boat wagging the dog all the way!
Big breakfast at Shoney?s, then put in ramp below dam, take Grand off Rte. 11.
Went downstream just ? mile on left is dam, cast net for threadfin shad, couple dozen, get the Bonito on plane, up to dam.
We rigged up for live shad first, slide two 1 oz. egg sinkers up line, tie on barrel swivel, I used 4-5 foot leader, w/circle hook, Gamatsu Octopus 2/0 and 3/0.
Also Todd and Dan were using Gamatsu 2/0 and 3/0 trailer hooks, shorter leaders.
We drove the boat, a relatively heavy tri-hull w/120 horse Mercruiser, up to wall to the left of generator boils. The face of the generator wall was?? 100 ? 200 feet wide, with 12 10-12 foot wide gates, about the same high and deep, depending on water depth, and whether metal gates were partially closed,( which the second set of three from the left were.)
We cast our live bait rigs toward the gates into the quieter water between the boils (boils were about 25 feet off face of dam, with water from boils sweeping into the gates.) and let them drift with the current. I can?t remember if it was the first or second cast, but I went into immediate ?FISH ON!!!!!? mode!
Let me back up a minute: I had been called to a fishing ?fast? by the Lord Jesus just before Labor Day of this year. That doesn?t mean anything to some of you, but it meant I gave away all of my tackle, including fishing kayak, to honor my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I hadn?t wet a line for over 6 weeks. Todd and Scott of Smack Tackle were very supportive of my decision to obey God, but they really wanted me on this trip, so after much prayer and consideration, (and my wife reminding me, ?God didn?t say you couldn?t fish, just to give all the fishing stuff away!? Isn?t she great, that would be Kathy!:)) I got the day off Friday and participated in this fishing trip.
Anyway, I say all that to say this: FISH ON!!! After just the first cast, and with a great run, reel in some line, run, reel, run, reel, WOW, Personal best fish ever!
That was my first and last striper on live shad.
Dan had a hook up after that, fought him, he ran, BROKE the leader, 30#.
I can?t remember, but I fished w/live shad for a while (short while, believe me) and picked up Gizz4. Between the Smack Tackle Gizz4 and prototype crank blade I boated another 6 or 7 large, 12# plus stripers before we left for the hotel late that evening after sun down.
Todd boated 2 real nice 12-15# stripers on the Gizz4 and prototype, Dan hooked up 2 more times, broke another 30# leader, and finally boated a real nice striper to come home w/out skunkin? the boat up!
We watched 4 or 5 other boat loads of guys trying to fish the boils, they would run in fast, get close to the boils and cast either live bait or cranks/jigs, and let the current drift them back downstream.
Our technique was unique; we stayed in the boils, finding relatively calm and steady water between the turbulent boils. This worked when two generators were operating, when the 3rd was on, we had to settle for a little farther away from the gates.
The gates were the key, as well as the Gizz4 and crank blade plugs.
The idea was to cast into the gates, which took some distance AND accuracy.
We beat these lures up against the concrete many a time, they took a beating and kept producing results, we boated approx. 11 stripers over 10# that first day, weather was on the chilly and overcast side, w/approaching High pressure system.
I was able to watch a monster striper just absolutely ATTACK my Gizz4 as I jerked it out of the gate into open water, just a few inches below the surface, the Shad imitation lure scattering light everywhere. Then a 32? plus silver flash SMACKED that Gizz4 like I?ve never seen before! I was giddy by this time, catching striper after striper on the Smack Tackle Gizz4 and crank blade prototype. Haven?t laughed so hard in my life, that Smack Attack on that Gizz4 completely threw me over the edge emotionally, Todd, Dan and I laughed as I fought and boated that beautiful Striper.
We took the boat out of the water as the sun went down, and the boat was near empty on gas.
Anyway, we went back to the room beat and tired, but excited about the results of the day.
Up at 7 or so, breakfast, over to dam Saturday morning, narrower gate area, not near as boiling, and NO action whatsoever. Even Smack Tackle can?t catch fish if they?re not there.
So we drifted downstream, plugging the shoreline structure and cover, still, nada.
Back on the trailer, junk food lunch, and into the water below dam again by 1 or so.
Saturday the high pressure had settled in, a beautiful day if you like sunshine, bluebird skies and fish laying low.
We threw every thing we had at the gates at the dam, finally settling into a pattern of casting crank blades into the gates against the concrete walls, letting them sink w/finger on line to detect light bites.
Todd, Dan and I picked up some Blue cats this way, including Todd?s black and white Orca cat, and Dan?s award for the smallest (barely twice as long as the lure!) fish on the trip. Barely bigger than our live shad!
Dan finally coaxed a striper to hit his crank blade: ?it?s a little one? will go down in history, this bad boy striper took off THROUGH the boils and headed downstream. Todd is watching Dan?s reel, the spool is showing through the line as it winds down to NOTHING very soon. Todd tells me to chase it down (I?m driving) and I gun the engine as I point the boat into the boils to head downstream, and the engine bogs down, then finally catches, and we take off after this speeding bullet of a striper just before it completely spools Dan! I?d say we finally catch up to it about ? miles down from FISH ON! Point, Todd nets it, and Dan, within an hour, gets the award for the BIGGEST fish of the trip, after the smallest!
At one point Saturday we were fishing the boils, the engine would quit for no reason every now and then, which made for some edgy moments, one of which we slammed the rear corner of the boat into the concrete wall as the current swept us into it.
Other times, we?d just miss the wall as the engine would die, restart and catch just before the wall.
Wear your life jacket, this type of fishing isn?t for the faint of heart!
We didn?t catch anything of report after that, Dan?s striper was in the cooler, and we put in for the night. So we thought. A couple guys from NC were coming back to the ramp to put in after fueling up, we?d seen them rush into boils, cast and drift downstream many a time.
They told us they?d stayed until the generators shut down the night before, and the stripers were tearing the shad up on the surface, so we decided to go to room, eat and come back out.
We made it back to water by 1030PM; generators were due to shut down by 11.
The stripers and white bass were hitting on the surface when we got back to dam; I picked up a real nice striper on Gizz4, then another smaller striper. Both went into cooler.
We need a bigger cooler; tails hanging out of cooler just don?t look cool!
As the generators quit, there was some surface action, but not any takers of our Gizz4 or crank blade prototype.
We trailered the boat and went to hotel, even more tired, and not able to feel stable on level ground, the boils had given us a severe case of ?sea legs?!
Up early Sunday, overcast and a light rain had fallen.
Back to boils, not a bite. We went down river to explore live bait resources we were told about, when engine starts making horrendous racket.
We shut it down, get bilge pump working again, drain engine compartment, nothing to be seen that was broken, but awful racket from rear of engine. It was apparent the cooling system wasn?t working, engine was smoking pretty badly. Keep your fire extinguisher handy.
We were not sure if we?d get back to ramp, which was about a mile up river, with a strong current.
Trolling motor was not able to carry us far. We cranked engine up, and slowly edged up to the ramp.
The two guys from NC came alongside and escorted us to ramp, thanks guys!
We packed it up and had a great lunch at Ruby Tuesday?s, and headed home, no hassles!
Couple of observations as I close: The Gizz4 and crank prototype out fished live bait 10 to one, and EVERY one we talked to that was in a boat fishing on the river at the dam when we were, were NOT catching many fish. They all were excited about Smack Tackle and the Gizz4, because they?d seen us with ?FISH ON!? over and over as we fished the dam.
The Gizz4 has proven itself this weekend to be a definite advantage for striper fishing in tailrace waters.