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May 19, 2003

The Diary of Douglas Detherow and Blake Ellison Prefishing and Competing on Northeastern Oklahoma Lakes

By: Douglas Detherow

“We are just a couple of young fishermen limited mostly by our equipment, on a limited budget, with limited amounts of time, but the only limits we really care about are limits of bass!!!”

Vol. I:

Lake Hudson
Tulsa Metro Event
April 5, 2003

Early spring on Hudson. WOW, this is a great time, and a great place to be a bass fisherman. In my opinion Hudson was the least affected by the LMBV of the three Grand River lakes. Hudson has been releasing healthy stringers of bass while Grand and Ft. Gibson are really suffering. We live within 30 minutes of both lakes Hudson and Ft. Gibson, so I guess they would be considered our home waters.

Last spring, in April on Hudson, we witnessed one of the most spectacular sights a bass enthusiast could ever see. 2, 3, 4, and even 5 + pound bass laden with eggs cruzing the shallows searching for a place to spawn. AND THEY WOULD BITE!!!

Blake called me at work one day about noon from the lake in Hysterics…. “You gotta get out here!!! You won’t believe this!!! They are everywhere!!”

“What are everywhere?” I asked.

“Big bass are just swimming around all over the place!!” he shouted.

I told him to leave the carp alone and get back to finding us some fish; we had a tournament coming up that weekend. Despite my doubts, I took off work and met him at the ramp. I’ve always been a sucker for a good fish story.

It absolutely blew our minds how many big bass there were in places we’d never even had a strike. Seeing a sight like that really made us question our fishing abilities. Those big fish were always there we had just never caught them. We easily caught, and of course released, 17 to 20 pound limits of bass apiece that evening. That probably wasn’t a smart move considering we had a tournament in a few days, but bass fishing like that doesn’t happen very often and we took full advantage of the offerings at arms reach. That day really opened our eyes to the possibilities that lie in wait just out of site, under the surface of the water in Lake Hudson. We began to focus our efforts there a little more seriously.

Wednesday, March 26:

Blake doesn’t work or have class on Wednesday, so he’s usually pre-fishing for us. He had some things to do that morning so I went to work, and then met him at noon to go to Hudson and look for some bass. The fish were just starting to bite as the waters began creeping over that magical 50 degree mark. We felt pretty good about catching some fish as Blake had fished a little Inola Bass Club tournament that previous Saturday ,alone because I was out of town, and won First Place and Big Bass. He caught a giant 7 pound 8 ounce bass that day, his biggest to date.

We decided to put in at Bass Haven a run up the river towards the Pensacola Dam. Typically the bite has been better for us in the river, earlier in the year, if they aren’t running water anyway. Blake obviously already knew where a few fish were, so we opted start in a small creek that a friend had mentioned to us, rather than harass the bass he had already located.

The weekend before, when Blake did so well, the water was still and quickly warming into the 50’s. Today however, GRDA was releasing water from Grand; it was running and had dropped to 43 degrees. Not looking good for the home team. This kind of dramatic change early in the spring means Lock-Jaw City!!!

Noticing the conditions, we left our beloved spinnerbaits in the rod box and re grabbed our tubes and jigs. We got out of the current and headed into the back of the creek looking for warmer water. Sure enough the further we trolled into the creek the warmer the water was. 47 degrees was the warmest we could locate, so we began fishing.

There are several large lay downs, starting shallow and running out into deeper water. There was already a boat in the creek but they were crappie fishing and hadn’t had a bite they reported as we went around them to the next tree. We simultaneously flipped to opposite sides of the big log were it hit the bank and began slowly working our lures toward the boat. I was pitching a tube and Blake a jig. We sat there and threw at that tree at least a dozen times, as we expected the bite to be slow and knew we would have to take our time.

On what I had decided would be my last attempt before heading to the next target, instead of throwing up shallow and working the bait deeper, I tossed the tube parallel to the deepest portion of the tree into open water working it back through the branches. As I came over the first branch it felt like I had picked up a leaf. Not heavy but definitely different, so I set the hook. “There’s one!!” My line came ripping out of the tree and I could see a nice broad bass on the other end. The bass was surprisingly feisty considering the cold water. He headed for the surface and I swung him into the boat.
It was a really healthy 3 pound Spotted bass.

All right! We’ve only been on the water a few minutes, adjusted from our original plan of spinnerbaiting the warm river water, and have a solid keeper in the boat. We headed down the bank to the next tree, this time anticipating a bite. Again we worked the tree out thoroughly to no avail. Then, just as we floated past, Blake pitched his jig from a little different angle and whammo!! Another 3 pound bass, this time a largemouth that came barreling out of the water. Both of these fish were very healthy and fought surprisingly hard. We had seen enough and decided to run down the river, into the lake searching for warm water.

As we ran into the lake, away from the running water of the river, the temperature gauge began to rapidly climb. We were in 55 degree water in no time flat. Excitedly we entered a large creek in the mid-lake area and began fishing along deeper rock banks that the channel touches as it winds its way to the spawning flats in the back. The fish should be staging on these types of banks all over the lake. This is the pattern we expect most of the competitors will be keying on, so were looking to find a few discreet areas to hit that would harbor a few bites on our way to the nice fish in the river. It really is a good feeling to have a couple of keepers in the live well before committing to “your fish”.

Blake dug his spinnerbait out of the rod box and began paralleling the bank in front of the boat. I grabbed a small rogue; I had affectionately named “Rusty” after catching several keepers on Grand the weekend before, and began paralleling the bank a little deeper. Halfway down the first bank, I felt Rusty collide with a rock and immediately stopped my retrieve. As the bait lay there suspended motionless I felt the ever familiar “tick” and set the hook. Soon I was holding another 3 pound Kentucky.

The wind began to pick up as we headed to the back of the creek making a nice chop across a shallow point. The water was now over 60 degrees and we knew it was very likely that the fish in this area had already migrated past the channel bends and headed to the back. My second cast with the rogue across the little point produced another keeper bite. This time however, the 2 pound bass jumped and threw the bait. Rogues are great early in the year, when the fish are dossal, but a fish that will go airborne will often come unbuttoned. Four casts later the same thing happened so reluctantly put Rusty down and grabbed my spinnerbait rod. We ended up catching 4 more keepers in the creek, 2 on a spinnerbait, 1 one a tube and one on a crank bait. We finally had our spinnerbait bite going. The females were in the warm water at the very backs of the creeks.

We finished the day applying the same approach in several different areas to no avail. We had stumbled on to a group of solitary females that had migrated to the back of the creek and were feeding among the hordes of sand bass. These aren’t patterned fish. They will move in and out all day feeding at different times. Or not at all! We noted the time frame in which they were biting and moved on knowing we couldn’t rely on them come tournament day. With the tournament still a week away, and warm temperatures in the forecast, the fish could possibly commit to the shallow backs and would be more reliable.

We spent 3 more days fishing Hudson prior to the Metro event looking for big females that had moved into the shallows. Instead of the warm weather that had been predicted, it turned cold and cloudy. The fishing seemed to get worse every day. We had caught some nice fish, and knew a few areas that they had been. All we could really do would be to hope for the weather to straighten out before the tournament and go fishin.

April 5th
Tournament day
“The Blake Ellison Show”

You ever just have one of those days??? Mine on April 5th , 2003 started out bad, and got worse from there. 3 A.M. I leave my house to pick up Blake. After driving the ten miles to his house, I notice something dangling from the side of my boat. I had forgotten to unplug the extension cord that I was using to charge my batteries. I had drug the 100 foot cord until it was no longer its original orange color, but a glistening copper. OK, things like this happen, not a big deal, but while the cord was flailing behind the truck at 70 miles per hour it had whipped one of my tail lights, shattering it completely. Let’s start a tab here; that makes 1 ruined 100 foot extension cord, and 1 busted tail light before I even pick Blake up to go to take off.

It was extremely cold the morning of the tournament. We had just gotten my boat back from the marina, after having some repairs done, and I was driving. Even behind the console with a face mask on, the cold air made my head hurt before we finished making the short run to our first spot.

There was already a boat there, it is a fairly popular hole, but has given us several quick keepers in the past so we just went down the opposite bank. My second cast of the morning, I threw poor ole Rusty into a tree overhanging the laydown I was intending to fish. When I jerked my rod trying to retrieve the bait, I heard a loud snap followed by a z-z-z-z-z! What the??? I had taken apart all of my reels the night before and oiled them. On this one I had forgotten to tighten gear cover all the way. There was stuff coming outta the side of that reel I didn’t know they could fit in there. I my frustration, and desperation to get a lure in the water, I bit my line and left Rusty for dead hanging there in that tree. I had full intentions of returning for him later in the day but things didn’t work out as planned. 5:45 AM: add a lost Rogue and a gutted Shimano Curado the list of debris that would lay in my wake after the day was done.

We jumped from cut to cut hoping for some keeper bites but none ever materialized. Finally around 8:30 Blake set the hook and a good bass came out of the water. I quickly netted the fish knowing full well that it would keep. 13.9995 inches long! No matter how we positioned that fish, or contorted its poor little body could we get it to measure? Blake regretfully returned the fish to the lake. But we had gotten bit…Broken the ice…. Surely we were off and running now.

At 10 A.M. our pre determined cut-off for down lake producing for us, we secured out gear and ran up the mid-lake creek where the females had been in the back feeding with the sandies over a week earlier. We started fishing on the deeper channel bends where I had caught the big Kentucky on the rogue, thinking that all the cold weather may have move the fish back out. It was very windy, but the sun was shining and it was warming rapidly. The water in the creek had only dropped a single degree. I threw Rusty II and a Carolina Rig while Blake used a slow rolled spinnerbait, and a jig. We fished 500 yards of bank without a bite. We were now further back in the creek than where we had caught the fish while practicing. I looked down at my temperature gauge and was amazed to read 63 degrees!! Blake was tying on anther variation of spinner bait, adjusting to the crystal clear water, while I stuck with my rogue.

I had no more got, “Boy they outta be in here!”, outta my mouth when Blake set the hook. I could see the bass in the clear water and there was no doubt it would measure. He fought the fish to the boat and I slid the net under it. Whew!! That was a long time coming. HIGH FIVES!!! 10:50 and we put our first keeper in the livewell. A good solid 2 pounder, just what we needed. All right the pressure is off, now we just need to settle in and catch 4 more keepers.

I still had the net under my arm from the first fish and I was getting a dip when I heard him grunt and felt the boat move. I turned around just in time to see an even bigger bass jump 2 feet out of the water with Blake’s spinnerbait in its mouth. “OH MY GOODNESS!! Keep him down!!!” I was already standing there with the net and scooped her up. This one was pushing the three pound mark. HIGH FIVES!!! At 10:55 we’ve got 2 keepers in the boat. Boy this day is turning around. This time I got my dip in a hurry, and tied on a small crankbait trying to offer a different look to the fish than he was. While making my first cast with the crankbait, I see what looks to be a 5 pound bass come out of the water three feet in front of me with a stinking spinnerbait in its mouth. WHAT THE??? I turn to see Blake’s rod bent like crazy. I scrambled for the net, numb with disbelief. She made a run next to the boat giving me time to get around into position. For the third time in 10 minutes I am scooping a keeper into the boat. This one was over 3 pounds easy!!! HIGH FIVES!!!! We had officially found our pile of females!!! He caught our first keeper at 10:50 and before 11:00 he’s landed 3 bass that weigh around 8 pounds. MORE HIGH FIVES!!! I’m scared to put the net down now.

Even though the creek was choked with boats as we fish our way in, there are none in sight. We’ve got these fish to ourselves!! I was thinking that we should easily be able to camp on the spot and finish out our limit. Well, that’s what I get for thinking. All three of the fish had been holding on a windy 30 yard stretch of bank littered with chunk rock and an occasional boulder. As we circled to make our second pass down the bank, the wind completely died. I mean dead. Like someone had reached up and flipped a switch. We didn’t get a bite during the second pass so we moved further into the creek. Blake caught a few short fish during the next 30 minutes but nothing to take with us. We had run out of water. It was crystal clear and less than a foot deep. As we were turning the boat around to head back to our bank, I saw Blake’s spinnerbait disappear. I could see ever pebble on the bottom, in the six inches of water to which he had cast and the spinnerbait had simply vanished. He was as puzzled as I, but did what should always be done when anything happens out of the ordinary during a retrieve….he set the hook. From nowhere a nice bass appeared as he jerked it sideways. I again grabbed the net and dipped what I hoped to be another keeper bass from the shallow water. It was going to be close, I thought as I put the fish on the board… 15 inches, our fourth keeper. HIGH FIVES!!!!

As we fished our way back to the bank where the first keepers had come, I tie on small craw pattern crank bait. I was retrieving it fast bouncing it off the rocks trying to draw a reaction strike from the now inactive school of bass. On my second cast I got what would be my first and last bite of the day, a gargantuan 8 inch Kentucky. Bad and getting worse!!!

We went up and down the bank several more times without a bite. Blake was throwing the same little spinnerbait as I tried several different presentations. It was now 12:45 and weigh in was at 3:00. We had four keepers out of the same water, and were sure more were there but we were running out of time. We had to either commit to where we were, or gamble and make the long run up the river to the creek that had produced the two three pounders during practice. We decided to abandon our water and gamble on the fish in the river that we hadn’t caught in over a week.

At 1:30 PM we arrive at the mouth of the creek to find the same boat there crappie fishing. This time he was having better luck. The crappie had begun to migrate into the creek. This was good news, as it seems, the crappie and bass often make their move to the shallows around the same time. We carefully fished our way into the creek without a bite. Blake then mumbled something and cut the spinnerbait that had produced all four of our keepers off his rod and tossed it into the bottom of the boat! “Water is dingy here.” he said as I stared at him with a confused look. He grabbed a larger, brighter colored, spinnerbait with two large willow leaf blades out of his tackle box and shook his head “yes” as he tied it on. I was in no position to be questioning his tactics as he had been carrying my dead weight throughout the day.

He brought the new bait out to the very end of the next letdown, fluttered it and let it fall. I watched as a big fish slowly came from its hiding in the shadows and engulfed the lure. Blake laid in to him and had him to the boat quickly. This one didn’t shrink as I put it in the net. He still looked to be a five pounder laying there at our feet. 1:45 our fifth keeper and a kicker fish to boot!! This should put us around 15 pounds. HIGH FIVES AND A COUPLE OF HOLLERS!!!!!! The crappie fisherman must have thought we had lost our minds. The day has gotten a lot better.

On our way out of the creek, Blake catches a sixth keeper but it wouldn’t cull anything we had. It was now after 2:00, and we were all the way up by Pensacola Dam. We decided to make the long run back to Snowdale, to be safe, and finish the day there. As we fastened our lifejackets, I spouted off, “Watch the boat not run!!” Well, it didn’t. It would start and run, but a temperature alarm was going off and the motor limits itself to fewer than 3000 RPM during alarm conditions. This means we can’t get on plane and we are 25 miles from the ramp and less than an hour to get there. We tinkered with a few hopeful remedies to no avail. Our only prayer was to run as fast as we could, (probably 15 MPH), down the river to find someone else that was fishing the tournament, and catch a ride to weigh in. There was no one in sight!!! We had gambled and made the late run up the river and it paid of tremendously, but everyone had already been up there and started fishing back down lake. Needless to say, Blake was getting more agitated by the minute. He had fished his butt off and caught us a really nice limit of bass and my piece of %%#&??* boat was going to make it all for nothing. GETTING WORSE IN A HURRY!!!

It was now; 2:30 and we were approaching the mouth of Big Cabin creek. In the distance I could see a boat along the bank. We headed directly for it. It was a guy by himself. As we got closer, he began strapping his rods down and putting on his lifejacket obviously preparing to head to weigh in. We yelled and waved our arms frantically. Thank goodness he saw us and came over. We quickly blurted out what had happened and asked for a lift. He said absolutely. Blake began throwing him the fish like at that salmon market in Seattle they show on TV, and jumped in his boat and was gone. It was going to be close! He left his cell phone and said he would call to let me know if they made it or not. I kept plugging down the river towards Bass Haven where he would trailer around and pick me up.

It was 3:15 when Blake called me with good news. Not only had they made it to weigh in on time, we (or should I say he), had a total creel weight of 14.74 pounds with a big fish of 4.95. That was good enough for 2nd place and a nice check. A great Start for us in the Tulsa Metro Team Trail.

I would like to take this time to thanks Mr. Joe Erwin for giving Blake the ride to weigh in. He is a great competitor and a fine man that reflects the positive nature of sportsmanship that we should all portray while on the water or off. We owe him one!!!

We always try to learn something from each of our experiences on the water that we can refer to at a later date when need be. This day on Hudson provided us with many lessons. First and most importantly, to remember that even though we are all competing against each other during the tournament, we are all on the same team in the end. Secondly, no matter what happens during the day, if you’ll stay focused and never give up until the tournament is over anything can happen. And lastly, I learned that the easiest way to catch a limit of bass and cash a check is with the net!

-Tight lines


100 ft extension cord: $39.00
1 truck tail light: $80.00
1 rogue- $5.00
1 reel- $119.00
1 eight inch bass while Blake catches 14.74 pounds- humiliating but $0
Boat repairs- $561.00

Expenditures: $804

My half of 2nd place check- $220

Gains: $220

Grand Total: -$584?????

And I want to do this for a living??? Gotta love it!!!!!