CHASE’N A CHECK
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!!!”
Tulsa Metro Event
April 5, 2003
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
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
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
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.
“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
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
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.
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!
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
Boat repairs- $561.00
My half of 2nd place check- $220
Grand Total: -$584?????
And I want to do this for a living??? Gotta love it!!!!!