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This past weekend, the KBF southeastern trail series kicked off at the famous Santee Cooper Lakes in South Carolina, with a stacked field of 122 anglers. Would the fish be on bed? Or would the cold front conditions make for tough fishing? I’m sure these questions where running through the minds of many anglers making the journey.
I began pre-fishing on Thursday and decided to go check out Eutaw Springs on Lake Marion. The area has large flats, cypress trees, deep creek channel, backwater pools, and a main river channel swing at the mouth. Not having a good idea of where the fish are and choosing an area that has many options will increase your odds of developing a solid pattern.

As I launched from the back of the creek, I slowly made my way out to the mouth fishing lay downs, secondary points, cypress trees, and explored the backwater spawning areas.
Not having much luck in the bay, my focus switched to the main river channel swing. Here, the bass where feeding on bait in 12-20 feet of water. Switching to the Alabama rig was the ticket for the deeper bite. After catching a few quality fish my game plan started to develop.

On Friday, I decided to launch just west of Eutaw springs on the main river channel and make my way back towards Eutaw. I was looking for fish on main lake points and river ledges. With the wind blowing straight onto the points, I was thinking to myself, “they’ve got to be there”. To my surprise, none of the points were holding fish. The previous days fish had also disappeared, which led me to end the last day of pre-fishing without a bite.
It was the night before the tournament, and I didn’t have a game plan. It was back to the drawing board, google maps, and Navionics. Knowing some creeks were crowded with anglers the plan was to pick somewhere less congested. Choosing a small creek arm seemed to be a good idea. I could fish the entire arm and have time to go elsewhere if I desired.

Tournament day underway and I find myself launching from an unfamiliar area. After wishing a few fellow anglers luck at the boat ramp, it was game time! Following the creek channel and fishing the Alabama rig in 8-10 feet of water, the first keeper was in the boat.
As I reached the back of the creek, I put down the A-rig, and picked up the wacky rig. It was at that moment when I was able to land my biggest fish of the week and a boost my confidence by fishing in shallow grass. Slowly making way to back through the grass and weeding through the pickerel, I managed to fill my 5 fish limit. The remaining hour was spent looking for fish in main creek channel with no success.

With tough cold front conditions many anglers struggled to fill a limit. Only having 5 bites, a clean day of fishing payed off. I was able to take home a 12th place finish and gain valuable AOY points with a good start to the 2019 season.
Next tournament will be the KBF National Championship in Shreveport, Louisiana. This event will be held on March 28-30. Anglers from all over the country will compete to be crowned the next KBF National Champion.

– Josh Stewart