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Clear Lake Top 10 Experience and missing the CUP... (no biggy)

Well... a Top 10 finally!!! I felt after falling from 30th in the AOY ranking to 35th at the Delta that I needed a Top 10 finish to make the FLW CUP... I did finish in the Top 10 but in 10th... so wasn't quit good enough and I finished 22nd overall missing the Cup by 2 spots! Still I feel good about the year but I look back at all four tourney’s and the missed limits all add up in some fashion to a 4-5 lb difference in 22nd and being a 20th place FLW CUP QUALIFIER! It’ll be alright..

Well, the Tournament started with some early 2 months out prep to include watching every You Tube / Google video of Clear Lake, reading fishing reports, maps etc.... Basically tried to get familiar to the lake seeming I had never been there before.

I decided not to buy to much tackle before this tournament due to lack of knowledge of Clear Lake. I mean everything you read about tackle choices for certain lakes can't be applicable to your style. From my readings you would have thought the tournament would have been won with a LV or some sort of reaction bait... and a Flipper won it so it is what it is…

Luckily I got to travel again with my annoying PRO "Ron Hobbs Jr." to the tourney for pre-fish. I learn more than you could imagine going through the tournament pre-fish with Ron. I've alway's said the learning curve is greatly accelerated fishing with a pro in general... but I think the pre-tournament thought processes benefit the most. I started out slow during pre-fish taking in as much about the water as possible. I keep saying that I should be throwing a tube around the rocks and Docks... but didn't! I threw a Crank around most of the 1st day, losing about 5 baits in the docks! I've been practicing in my boat around docks and from the back seat it's a totally different casting method unless you plan on hitting the big motor and wind shield many times and breaking your lures! Ron really gave me hell for the 1st day because I seriously couldn't cast anywhere without handing a dock! The next day I throw a combination of crank and Jig... I was catching fish but something was missing... THE TUBE! I started throwing the Tube the 3rd day and really caught some good fish... probably around 16LBS or so. I was excited! The fourth day I throw the tube most of the day and realized that would be my ticket for the tourney seeming I would have weighed 17LBS the last day of pre-fish! It was nice to catch good fish on baits I’m confident with.

Tuesday off limits and registration day is compiled of the most expensive part of my trip usually... "THE BAIT STORE!" I bought up tons of Tubes and Tackle for the tourney expecting to lose at least 10-12 a day if I was lucky because the intent of fishing the tube is to get hung up and then snap it free... sounds dumb but I got bit more popping the tube out of Rocks then just dragging it. I actually bought a few Cranks, cool looking Senko's and Line that I really didn't use but 275.00 total wasn't bad. I always carry extra line on the boat anyway just encase I Knot one up... it has happened in past tourney's and once in Pre-fish.

Wednesday morning... The Tourney begins and I drew Kelly Kellogg who actually is a friend of mine! I'm really excited and I figured he'd be fishing around the rocks I was finding success with... sure thing! I ended up catching 13-04 behind him that day throwing my “Go to Tube”! Great day on the water with a Kelly and I was in 25th I think!

Thurday- I drew RJ Bennett- I talked with him the night before and it got me a bit worried... he was not fishing Rocks at all...fishing Grass lines and really shallow. Hummm no tube I guess... Well I bring the Tube anyway and sure as the day is long, we were not in Tube water! Luckily I had some special Senkos I had experimented with during practice on a "NEKO" (CAT) rig. Basically it's a Nail head wacky rig. He's pitching and cranking some docks, grass lines and lay downs. I caught 5 pitching a Senko to outside weed edge and 1 one Drop-shotting a dock for 13-14 for that day. It's was a great day! We jammed to the radio all day long, RJ's a cool guy and I was in 14th!

Friday- I drew Jon Strelic- I talked with him the night before and he informed me he would be burning Trap all day! That's not a great place to be for a co-angler to be behind the fast moving crank baiter! Well, I figured I would take 7 rods and figure something out. The first spot we stop at I immediately catch two 4 lb's on the NEKO rig about 50 yards away from another buddy fishing on the pro side Sean Minderman who was catching some good ones also! It was pretty cool to catch a few good ones in front of a guy you know! He was sort of cheering me on through hand jesters... not to be rude to his Co-angler I think. So it's like 0800 AM and I have 8 LB's in the boat! I feel like I can at least scrap out 4 more pounds somewhere in the rest of the day for 13 or so pounds. WOW, what a crazy day... I catch a 2-11 lber in another 2 hours on a Drop-shot and a 2 lber an hour before weigh-in again on Drop-shot for a missed limit and at total of 12-11 for the day but moved into 10th place for my first Top 10!

My thoughts throughout the Tourney were I could catch 13-8 a day and make a top 10... Well I came really close to the 13-8 a day with a 39-13 total finish but the feeling of when preparation meets opportunity is unmatched in my competitive heart. I told myself to make a Top-10 and give myself a good chance at the CUP, worked hard and executed!

So I standing with the crew after the weigh in and they call out the CUP qualifiers and I started recognizing some names and comparing there ranking to mine versus the Clear Lake results and knew it would be close! Turns out 2 places close and I was disappointed for a few hours until “RON HOBBS JR.” gets back with way to much pizza and beer to worry about silly CUP qualifiers!

Once again thanks again to Ron for the travel opportunity, the Northwest Angler’s for befriending me over the last few years, my National Guard Sponsor and the Wafish pep’s!

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Comment by Johnny Walker on October 30, 2009 at 11:16am
I know they were Ron, I'm still laughing about it! Especially the one were you had to do one whole pull-up to get it down! Your physical prowess is unmatched! HA ha HA!

If you remember correctly the "Johnnyitis" was contagious and you had a few "attack from above" episodes the next day!
Comment by Steve Hastings on October 30, 2009 at 8:13am
Johnny well done, you've inspired me...... Nice write up too. Wish more of the guys would do so.
way to much pizza and beer to worry about silly CUP qualifiers ..... .nice finish.
Comment by Ronald Hobbs, Jr. on October 29, 2009 at 8:05pm
Jonny the docks were 20 feet in the air!
Comment by cody hampton on October 29, 2009 at 4:39pm
good report man

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