The James River was definitely a challenge for me as this was only the second time I had been on tidal water. I started practice as usual and tried to break the water down fairly quickly. From my studies I had decided to devote most all of my practice in the Chickahominy River based on past tournament history. I done most of my practicing with crankbaits, some pitching, and topwater baits and did not find any strong patterns during the official practice and wasn’t too sure of what to expect.
I made the long run from takeoff to the Chickahominy River and began to go to work. I immediately caught a 5lb. flipping pads with a ¼ Reins tungsten weight accompanied with a junebug Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver and got the day started out right. Although this was the only fish I would catch flipping it gave me a clue as to what the fish were doing. I came across some water of the same makings and picked up my Brains Bees Crankbait in Citrus Plemmons color and caught the rest of my limit. I had a great day 1 and ended the day in 9th place with 14.10
I headed back to the same water where I had left off. What I had discovered was the last 1 ½ hours of the outgoing tide and dead low tide had the fish pulling out of the pads and onto the grass lines that had milfoil along the edges. I had to make sure I was there to capitalize on the perfect timing. I threw my Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver and nothing, picked up my Brains Bees Skinny B2 Crankbait and still come up empty handed. I had covered to spectrums of the water column and there was only one left, the topwater bite was on. I picked up my TrueSouth VTwin buzzbait (3/8 Black) and went to work. The fish were still in the same area I just had to adjust. I weighed in 12-5 and moved into 7th place. This put me in the first top 12 cut of the year and I was eager to get day 3 started.
The final day was still teaching me things I did not know about tidal waters and I hope that this helps some of you. The winds were coming out of the East and blowing right into the Chickahominy River which had a huge impact on the outgoing tide. It was to forces working against one another and caused a stale mate, not very much movement at all. The fish I had been on had no reasons to return to the places I was catching them but instead stayed deep into the pads and arrowheads. I did manage to catch two more on the TrueSouth VTwin buzzbait and two on the Brains Bees Skinny B2 Crankbait. My fifth keeper never came but I felt I left it all on the table. As I traveled to the Bass Pro Shops in Ashland, VA, I reflected on the lessons learned and cantell you one thing, TIDE DOES MATTER. This has been an enjoyable and humbling tournament that has taught me a lot in a week. I approached the scales and weighed in 6-11 for a total of 33-10 and finished in 9th place.
Good fishing Shane Lineburger