Bassmaster Weekend Series Championship “Lake Norman”

Tournament Trail: Bassmaster Weekend Series Championship Angler: Maine’s Dave Barnes

Lake: Lake Norman, NC

Date: November 9th to 15th 2008

Maine’s Professional Bassmaster Angler Dave Barnes struggled, managing to carry only three small 5-bass limits to the scales in three days of competition; Barnes compares his Tournament Weigh-in Performance to his Pre-Tournament Predictions for Bass East.

Q. Do you feel your practice and preparation for this event went as planned?

A. Yes, my first day of practice I located lots of shad suspended. When the sun was out I could entice them with top-water baits, when the surface bite ended I worked a small crankbait through them. As the practice session continued I established my normal 5-6 spot milk-run within a few miles of each other, and concentrated on deep water drop-offs and a few docks. However, all of my areas had to have rocky bottoms.

Q. Playing the “Monday Morning Quarterback”, what changes if any would you make, after your 51st Place finish?

A. The only change I can possibly consider would to have spent more time around one of the islands in my milk-run. It had everything in one area that seemed to produce. Rock piles, brush piles, deeper water and now as I give it more thought it also had the largest concentration of shad.

Q. You originally predicted Top-Water, Shaky Heads and Jigs would be the prevalent pattern, and that most bass would be caught on Top-water or Finesse Baits. Was this true and which type of Top-Water baits, and Finesse baits worked at what depths were most productive? Also, did color make a difference? And, what were your color choices?

A. There was absolutely no top-water bite!!! All of the bass I found were either on deep rock piles, brush piles or suspended 20’ down over a 35’ depth. In my opinion it was definitely a ‘Finesse Bait Tournament’. Shakey heads and jigs along with Carolina Rigs were the techniques I utilized predominately throughout my entire practice and tournament time. As for colors, I utilized a green pumpkin Zoom Finesse worm. However, one of my partners seemed to be catching more fish on a black Zoom Trick Worm, so I decided to cut a black Trick worm back to 4” and give it a try and it worked for me as well. Basically I alternated between these two colors and baits throughout the entire event, except for running a small Shad Rap occasional for suspended bass.

Q. Your forecast of 12-15 lbs a day turned out to be high, even during the final fourth day! However, your prediction of needing between 45-50 lbs to win the Championship was quite accurate. Still many anglers struggled to get a limit, the Leaders Board reveals17lbs placed 50th was this where the cut-off was for the payouts? Do you think that the Weather conditions play a major role in the results of small weights at the scales?

A. I missed collecting a check by only a few ounces, and ‘YES’ I drop a better bass on two occasions during the tournament that would have placed a check in my pocket! I believe the weather did play a role in the tournament, but this time of year you have to be prepared for quick changes and cold fronts, so I really do not want to fall back on the weather as an excuse! Lake Norman has a tremendous population of ‘Hybrid Stripers’ and these fish have decimated the shad population, resulting in Lake Norman becoming a small fish producer. An excellent example is there was a 40-team tournament and the winning weight was just over five pounds for five bass!!!

Q. What final notes will you make in your ‘Fishing Log’ under Lake Norman, November 2008 in preparation for the next time you compete there?

A. Few bites, deep rock piles, suspended bass in the 20-25’ range over deeper water up to 35’. Best baits, Shakey heads, Carolina rigs, and Shad Raps for suspended bass. Best areas Middle-South sections were most of the rocky bottoms are located. Best cover: Rock piles and Brush piles.

Q. What’s next on the Bass Fishing agenda for Triton/Mercury’s Dave Barnes?

A. I will be competing on the Bassmaster Northern Opens, which start in May 2009. Until then Dave Barnes can be found in the thick woods of Maine Hunting.

The Bass Bureau