Although the calendar says Spring, Mother Nature had her own agenda, dialing up a 36 degree start for the season opener. Thirty-seven anglers from across the state gathered at Holleman’s Crossing boat launch in an attempt to accrue points towards the angler of the year race. The grand prize, a Native Watercraft Slayer 14.5.

 Shearon Harris can at times be a gold mine for big Bass, other times; she can be a stingy grinch, reluctant to give up the goods. Today, she showed both sides, offering up a number of quality big fish to some while on the flipside held a tight fist to others.

Overcast skies set the stage for the 7am start. Because of construction on the only other boat launch for the lake, powerboat traffic was thick at Holleman’s. I had never fished this area of the lake but just by studying the map wanted to cross the lake to a main, long point. I didn’t ask Shelly if he had the same plan or not but he got there first. Giving him space I worked my way around the point and just out of sight when the holler came out. Turned out Shelly found the big fish for the day at 23.75”. Despite the forecast for light rain there was a brief glimpse of sun and its warming goodness. Clouds soon choked out the rays, bringing a breeze and the accompanying cooling effect.

Fish were caught in a variety of depths and on a variety of baits. Most often it’s about putting together the pieces, where they are, what they’ll bite and growing from there. For the most part, Shearon Harris is void of any dramatic variations is topography, leaving little structure to attract fish. The lake has an extremely healthy population of shad with some schools the size of a small house. With water temps hovering at 52 degrees we’re right in that transition period of Bass holding deep from the Winter to moving into spawn staging areas. I spent some time checking out the shad schools but didn’t see anything of size. Next, I worked shallow to deep with out even a bump. Next was to work in-between the shad and points. Trolling a Rapala X-Rap at 8’ brought my first and only fish at 12:30pm. A little too late.

Coming unglued: To compete with a fine bunch of anglers you have to be on top of your game. Possessing knowledge or skill isn’t enough. You have to be sharp mentally and physically. For this event I physically just wasn’t there. For four out of the last seven days leading up to today I was excavating a 20 ‘x 25’ 7” deep area for a concrete pad. Sore shoulders, arms, elbows and split skin on thumbs and a few fingertips were a hindrance to casting and gripping a reel. Too much shoveling combined with degenerative knee cartilage didn’t feel great even lightly pedaling the Mariner. The cold weather actually helped lessen the feel of the split skin on my fingers, which was being held together by super glue. An unusual and awkward thing happened when I landed my only fish. After getting it onboard and swinging my leg over the gunnel for a place to rest the measuring board, a deep thigh cramp set in! For a split second I thought I would have to slide off the kayak and into the water to alleviate it but managed to roll sideways for relief. Damn, I was feeling old. After a photo and release and the skin splits opening back up I was content letting the breeze carry me back to the launch which I never lost sight of the entire day.

At the end of the day it was great to see a few anglers that have consistently come out to fish the series in support of the beneficiary, Heroes on the Water, who to my knowledge haven’t done particularly well in the past place in the top ten. In particular was Jeff Ratliff who was so excited about catching an “easy 10 lb’er” he paddled it in a net all the way across the lake so he could be photographed with it. Nice fish, Jeff!

 

Congratulations to the top five anglers and their three fish limits

1st Brian English with 56”

2nd Jeff Ratliff with 52”*

3rd Mike Langer with 52”

4th Joey Benevenia with 50.5” – winner Get:Outdoors gift certificate

5th Nathan Raycroft with 48” – winner Get:Outdoors gift certificate

*Tie-breaker with largest single fish of 21.25”

Shelly Efird won the Big Bass with a 23.75”

For all angler standings and a list of the remaining three tournaments see Carolina Yakfish