John Gothia subbed for his son, Hunter, this past Saturday and he and Trey Smith teamed up to capture both third place money and the big bass pot in the final Budlight event of the year. With the collegiate tournament circuit about to kickoff, Rayburn was off limits for his usual partner, Hunter Gothia, so Trey sent a call out to the bull pen and Hunter’s Dad responded in a big way.

With the lake level still dangerously low and a stiff breeze adding to the difficulty, the twenty-five teams that fished the tournament found the catching to be very much on the tough side.“We basically fished only two baits most of the day,” stated Trey, “but we fished them all over the lake over every type of structure imaginable.”

Had they been able to cull their smallest keeper, a bass that just made the 14-inch mark, they could have just as easily won the tournament. “We covered a lot of ground and only caught five keepers,” said Trey, “and we caught our last keeper bass only minutes before the three o’clock weigh-in.”

The Gopher Industrial sponsored duo weighed in 15.39 pounds. All of their fish were caught on either a Carolina rigged Baby Brush Hog or a Strike King Red Eye Shad.“John really got us over the hump with the big bass he caught on the Shad,” added Trey.“It was a 6.32-pound kicker fish that not only proved to be a difference maker, but won us an additional $240 as well.”

Trey and Hunter have already set their schedules for the upcoming year and will fish at least three different circuits in 2012. Starting in January they will fish Bass-N-Bucks, Bass Champs and Anglers Quest.In addition, Hunter will be fishing for Lamar on the collegiate level. One thing about it….if the occasion arises, they’ve got a heck of a reliever waiting on a call!

I have seen a lot of the bass fishermen that fished Jonathan Simon’s popular river circuit this past year all over the river this past week. I haven’t seen many of them catching bass, but at the same time I haven’t seen many of them trying to catch a bass. Just like everyone else, they have been taking advantage of the absolutely incredible redfish bite of late.

The numbers alone are mind boggling, but the most impressive thing about this seemingly non-stop bite is the average size of the redfish. If you are catching only undersized redfish it is because you are addicted to getting a bite on every cast and just refuse to try another spot!

The past two days we have easily exceeded the fifty fish mark on reds by noon and that includes spending part of that time limiting on trout still working under the gulls in the middle of the ICW. We have just worn them out from the mouth of Phoenix Lake all the way to East Pass.

In the mornings we have done best fishing shallow flats and the smaller drains emptying the marshes. In the evenings, the reds are stacking up on straight runs of shoreline on both the upstream and downstream side of major cuts like Burton’s Ditch or some of the larger drains in Black’s bayou.

The same thing is taking place in front of Bridge, Whiskey and Willow bayou, but most folks see no need to make that run right now. There has been no special bait needed to exploit this bite. I have seen a lot of local anglers doing well with Rat-L-Traps and Hoginars as well as GULP, but this is a good opportunity to use up all of those old tails that never worked as well as you hoped they would.

We have caught redfish and trout up to seven pounds this week fishing four inch Sea Shads and Flats Minnows in Bug Juice, Chicken on a chain, and Stinky pink, but everyone has their own favorite color. When the tide is pouring out we are fishing a 3/8ths ounce head, but for the most part a ¼ ounce head gets the nod. I have been fishing the Yellow Mouth jigs with the ringed shank a lot lately and, as advertised, they have saved us a lot of plastic.

The one exception to fishing tails exclusively, thus far, has been that we are still catching our largest trout fishing the deep breaks in the river with the Maniac Mullet or a Swim Bait. We only had three specks over six-pounds the last three trips, but all of them were caught deep on one of those two baits.

It has been a little on the cold side most mornings, but the bite is worth a little shivering.

Remember…..Don’t pass up those birds in the ICW in your rush to run to the lake. They are working over some very nice trout both early and late!