My 2015 tournament season did not start exactly as I planned. The first stop on the Mid Atlantic Kayak Bass Fishing Series tournament trail started at Lake Anna in Virginia. The lake is divided into two sides. There is a “cold side” and a “warm side”. Water discharged from a power plant creates the warm side. This side consists of three pools connected by a series of channels. As the water travels through the 3 pools, the water temperature slowly decreases. Pool 3 is where the warm water begins mixing with the cold side of the lake, eventually making its way back to the plant.
The tournament director decided to rent a couple of houses that would grant us access to the warm side. Not only that, it allowed anglers to get there a day early, get ready and get some pre fishing in. I was not going to be able to make it down a day early so I had to think of a way I could pre fish. After a good bit of research and gathering intel from other anglers, I decided to give the cold side a shot. The warm water discharge in to the cold side would be my focal point. I launched with another angler at a public ramp on the cold side exactly where the two waters met. The water temperature was around 50 degrees, there was an abundance of bait fish and what I believed to be striped bass. This lake is known for its striped bass population. Landing three big fish was my goal. I started my day dragging a black and blue skirted football jig. After yielding no results, I attempted to throw a drop shot but the wind and current was a little too strong to fish this technique effectively. By the end of the day, I had caught no fish, left a rod on the bottom of the lake and had no clue what I would do the day of the tournament.
Over the next few weeks, I tried to make it down to Lake Anna for a little more pre fishing but Mother Nature did not allow that to happen. The tournament was a few days away and it was time to make a decision. After a lot of messaging back and forth, my pre fishing partner and I decided to drag our Wilderness Systems Ride 115's over the guard rail at pool 3 and launch into the warm side. This would get us away from the crowd fishing in pools 2 and 3.
We were hoping to find water temperatures in the mid 50’s and a few hungry fish. With most of the cold side frozen, we were also hoping this would push bait down to this end of the lake. That was not the case. For almost 3 hours I paddled and paddled just looking for bait, yielding no results. Not only was there no bait fish in sight, the water temperature was below 50 degrees. We had to find warmer water. At 10 am we decided to load everything back up and head to pool 1. This would use up a good bit of fishing time but would provide the warmest water possible. We were back in the water around 11 and quickly discovered water temperatures between 50 and 55 degrees.
I started out throwing a football jig and a lipless crankbait along shoreline rip rap. I was attempting to cover as much water as possible with the little bit of time I had left. I glanced down at my watch and realized it was 2:00. The tournament was over in 30 minutes and I had almost no chance of winning. I ditch the crank and the football jig and get back in my comfort zone, finesse fishing. I tied on an 1/8oz shaky head rigged with a Roboworm and start fishing a dock near the launch. The water around the dock was pretty deep and was the last area I would be able to fish for the day. I glance down at my watch and see it was exactly 2:26. I take a deep breath and say, “This is it, last cast”. I tossed my bait to the deepest part of the dock and stared at my hi-viz Power Pro braid hoping to see it move. After what seemed like an eternity my line started to move and I set the hook. I could feel it was nothing more than a “dink” but avoiding a 0” score in the tournament was now my concern. Luckily, our series adopted an online scoring system and it allowed me to get my fish post before the 2:30 deadline.
Looking back at this tournament I wish I would have followed the crowd and fished the warmer water. The tournament was won in pool 2 on a lipless crankbait and a skirted jig. I believe both were fished around shoreline rip rap. A three fish total of 48.5” won the tournament and a nice 19” greenie took home the big bass prize. I am glad I stuck it out and fished to the very last moment. I may not have won or even placed in the tournament, but that 10.75” largemouth gave me some sense of accomplishment.