"In the Boat" presented by Jewel Bait Company
Tournament: Fisher’s of Men National Championship
                   March 26-28, 2009
                   Red River- Shreveport/ Bossier City, LA

Anglers: Adam Starks and Philip Starks
Place: 4th Place- 15 fish- 43.06lbs

Practice & Thoughts:

We headed to the Red Sunday evening after the Mr. Bass Tourney on DeGray.  Hopefully nobody
noticed how I finished in that one but that is a story for another time but let’s say motor problems
played a big role in that finish.  

We had three days of practice.  I knew fish management was going to play a huge role in this 3 day
derby so I set a few goals.  Goal #1- to increase my weight day over day.  Goal #2- DO NOT stick a
lot of fish in practice.  Goal #3- WIN!!! We spent Day 1 in Pool 5.  We found three areas with
concentrations of fish on Practice Day 1.  Day 2 we spent in Pool 4 and boy was that a downer.  I
found one area known as “Sullivans” that had some fish and not the quality I was looking for so the
45 mile run downriver was out.  Day 3 we spent in Pool 5 looking for some more fish but never
really found what I was looking for so knew we had to manage these spots well, especially with all
the boats we were sharing the water with.
      
March 26th- Day 1: 25th- 12.29lbs
      
Tournament day began with us being boat #21 out of 141 boats.  With an early draw and being in
the first flight we made the decision to start in the “Bobo Hole”.  We made the 10 minute run and 10
minute idle ( by the way did I mention there are stumps everywhere) and was the first boat in the
hole.  I picked up my War Eagle Spinner Bait and started chunking and had put two keepers in the
box within the first 5 minutes of the tourney.  As dad is shutting the lid on the live well from putting
the second keeper in the box I look at the entrance and here come some other competitors.  It was
another team from our division in Arkansas that had qualified as well.  Funny how us Arkansas boys
found the same water.  Anyways, dad and I make a quick loop around the 5acre hole and don’t get
another bite.  Then we start watching the other guys whack em’.  They ended up catching 20lbs
right in front of our very eyes…..that can play tricks with your mind bad!!!  We finally finish out a
small limit in there and left to go hit another spot known as “McDade”.  We mad the 15 minute idle
into McDade and joined the 15 plus boats in there.  We catch several small keepers in there on
Baby Brush Hogs and Lizards.  The sun had come out and I was noticing several stumps that had
bass fry around them.  I started dropshotting a Roboworm around the stumps in there and started
whacking them.  We culled up to a little over 12lbs for day one and ended up in 25th place.

March 27th- Day 2: 13th- 14.73lbs
      
We started Day 2 in “McDade” seeing as how the flights were reversed and we were going to be
one of the last boats out.  Dad sticks our first keeper of the morning, a 5lber, on a Baby Brush
Hog.  We knew there were some big fish in there because on Day 1 the big fish came from there; by
the way it weighed 11.70 lbs.  I catch another keeper on the drop shot but really need the sun to
position the fish and it was cloudy and spitting rain.  We make a move and hit the “Bobo Hole” we
catch two keepers in there and then move to my big fish area I had been trying to save.  We pull up
at an area known as “Goose Pond” and had about an hour and a half to fish before we needed to
head in.  It took us about an hour to find where the fish had moved to.  Dad caught another keeper
on the lizard and that gave us 5 for the day but three of them were small.  I pick up my Jewel Eakins
Jig and start working the stumps and laydowns over.  I catch another keeper close to the 5lb mark
and it culls a 12 incher.  With time running out I stick another fish close to 3lbs but it comes
unbuttoned and we had to go.  We finished the day with 14.73lbs and moved us up into 13th.

March 28th- Day 3- 16.04lbs Tied 4th Place
      
We started the day running back to “Goose Pond”.  I told dad the night before that Day 1 may have
took us out of contention for the win but that I thought we could get a 20lb plus stringer in the
“Goose Pond” area if we stuck it out and fished hard in there all day.  Well the winds were rocking
at about 20 miles an hour at blast off and I knew there were several other local derbies going on so
we might not get a shot at those fish but I had to gamble.  When we arrive we find about 6 locals in
the area.  We work our way in and within the first 10 min I catch one that will go about 4 and a half
on the Jewel Eakins' Jig.  I am working along and another one slams the jig.  I set the hook and am
fighting it to the boat.  It gets about 3 feet from the net and I see my line just snap towards the tip of
my rod and watch the 3lb plus fish swim away with my jig.  The tip of my rod had broken and caused
the line to break……well I threw a good ol’ Adam Starks temper tantrum on the water and before I
could finish dad hangs another good fish off the same stump.  I jump back to the back of the boat
and net the 3lber.  I gather my composure and we start trying to work the area but the winds were
coming straight out of the east and had picked up close to 30 mph.  It trashed the area so we
scrapped it, I had the Minn Kota 101 on 80% and we were sitting still (Got to invest in a Power
Pole).  We run to an area called “Caspiana”…..no luck there.  We decided to finish the day in
“McDade” because the sun was coming out and we thought if we could just get 5 we would maintain
or move up a little.  Immediately when we pull up I have one get off on the drop shot.  Dad then
catches a keeper on a Baby Brush Hog.  I miss another one on the drop shot…they weren’t eating
well with the cold front having passed through and the clouds were building.  I switch over to a
Texas rigged Speed Craw and I have one slam it.  I set the hook and the anti-reverse goes out in
my reel and line goes flying every where.  I reel down real quick but the fish was gone.  Another
temper tantrum……then our spirits start to lift as the clouds gave way to bright sun shine.  I pick up
the spinning rod I had in the boat from DeGray and rig up a drop shot on 6lb test….I had been drop-
shotting on my 7’6” flipping stick with 20lb fluorocarbon but decided with all the pressure that week
that I needed to really finesse them.  I pitch the drop shot by a stump….keeper number 4 in the
boat.  Time was running out and I told dad we were just going to fish out the steep bank where the
channel swings before heading back.  I pitch the drop shot to a log that comes of the bank and
ends up in about 12 foot of water.  I get ¾ of the way down the log and my line gets that classic
drop shot spongy feeling and starts to swim off.  I reel down and pull up and my line surged to deep
water.  I fight the fish for about two minutes not really knowing how big it was but I knew it was
decent.  Then she just gives up and floats up to the top right by the boat.  She is just laying there
and my mouth drops wide open….I look at dad and say net her.  In the boat is keeper number 5, a
6.08lb “brute” that takes the big fish honors for day three.  We head back to the ramp and can’t
believe what had just happened in the last few minutes of the day.  When the scales finished
jumping we ended up in a tie for 4th place.


Keeper Count:  15

3/8 Ounce Black/Blue Jewel Eakins’ Finesse Flipping Jig
Zoom Baby Brush Hog- Watermelon Red and Watermelon
Zoom 6 inch Lizard- Watermelon
3/8 Ounce War Eagle Sun Perch Spinnerbait
Drop shot- Hand-poured 6 inch Roboworm (Aaron’s Magic w/ red flake)

Final Thoughts:

Well I bet there are a lot of guys echoing the what if’s and had I done this like I am right now.  We
were that close but yet that far to taking home the title.  I think I played this tournament a little too
conservatively.  I should have visited my big fish spot earlier.  I am however extremely happy with a
4th place finish in a National Championship.  It is an extreme honor to finish that high in a field of
141 of the most talented teams in the country. I was also proud that I accomplished two of my three
goals in a changing weather environment and on a river system that was constantly rising as I was
on it.  It is hard to manage fish and something you have to learn to do when you are used to fishing
one day derbies. Lessons learned…..until next time…..
      
Fish Hard,

Adam Starks