Finally made the trip over to L. Waveland for the afternoon. Stopped and chatted at the gate with the attendant and got the scoop on the new management as well as the improvements. Paid the money and purchased the season pass. It's the best lake in the area so I plan on hitting it quite a bit this year. Knew it was going to be crowded, but didn't think it would be as bad as it was. We counted 58 boat trailers as we made our way down to the ramp to launch a little after 2pm. I'm figuring many were tourney anglers, at least that was the hope. Launched the tin can and started looking around to see where guys were, and more importantly weren't fishing. Counted 13 boats on the dam alone :) Must have been a hot spot.
So we popped around for a bit, sneaking in here, motoring over to there. Started catching some fish right away, but they weren't stacked. Took some time to watch how the other tourney guys were fishing, as well as to do some graphing in a few spots. Got a couple new GPS waypoints out of that idle time. It's really neat when you're not in a tournament to just sit for a few and watch the guys who are.
Anyway, around 4:30 things finally settled down as the last of the tourney boats headed in to weigh and ramp out. From that point on we could pretty much go wherever we wanted without having to dodge boats. Back to the fishing though. We ended the afternoon with 17 bass, 11 of which were keepers. I've got a couple posted in the picture above. Had one or two on a jig, several more on crankbaits as well as the obligatory Rat-L-Trap fish. Never could get a bite on a Chatterbait despite throwing it for a fair spell throughout the afternoon. Water clarity ran from 1'-2' most everywhere, and surface temps ranged between 51-54 degrees.
Lots of these fish were very chunky prespawners. Bass have such a neat shape and coloration this time of the year. It looks like they've swallowed softballs, and the bellies tend to be very white. Spawn is still weeks away, so we'll get to enjoy these chunks for a little while longer. Best fish we put on the scale today went 3-04, but we had about 4 that were all within ounces of each other if I had to guess. The wind really didn't allow us to fish too deep, but there were a ton of fish suspended out in 8'-12' of water on the graph. Saw some guys drifting and catching crappie out in the open, so maybe that's what I was seeing.
Maybe someone will chime in here with some specifics from the tourneys, but the word I got from one of the participants was that the bite was pretty slow. I heard one boat got on them good and weighed a double limit, but after that it tailed off to just 5 fish and less than 10 pounds if my source was correct. Also heard that the word going around was that the other tourneys had a pretty light showing also. I know while we were just driving around listening to idle chatter as the bass boats were heading in that we heard a lot of guys saying they only had a fish or two.
One last neat thing from today's trip to share. Check out the pic below of the gizzard shad. This was one of 3 that we snagged on the day. These things were downright huge, as you can see the 1/2-oz. Rat-L-Trap in the pic for comparison. This is the reason why fishery managers don't like the gizzard shad - they simply grow so big so fast that there isn't much in the lake left that can consume them. Once they reach this size they're home free, barring an accidental run in with a giant flathead. I actually spoke with one person today who said the catfish anglers were paying $7 a piece for shad that size to use for cut bait.