Cross Lake Wrap Up
Tournament bass fishing being the complex sport that it is, rarely does an event play out exactly the way many of the anglers believe. In the case of the third event of the Ark-La Team Trail, the predictions played out like the best of movie scripts. The consensus about Cross Lake was the tournament would be won shallow, flipping and pitching techniques would dominate, and the Northwest area of the lake, with its abundance of cypress trees, would have the final say when the scales stop turning Saturday afternoon. Oh, how true it was.
Considering the average depth of Cross is only eight feet, the shallow water prediction didn’t require Nostradamus’ future predicting intelligence. However, the anglers were faced with higher than anticipated northwest winds which condensed the field down into the shallower, thicker areas of the lake. Even in such a scenario, when you have a field of anglers as talented as these teams are, someone always figures out how to catch them.
The team of Jonathan Brockwell and Buddy Harrod took first place honors with an impressive weight of 19.78 pounds. After a very productive practice period, the team of Brockwell and Harrod were full of confidence. Harrod admitted the team had “four really good starting areas, mostly on the west side of the lake, so we liked our chances.” As all tournament anglers can relate, to no avail their confidence at the start of the event would eventually give way to desperation as the 1:00 pm hour rolled around. Knowing a change was needed, the duo went back to the area where they started the tournament and did the bulk of their damage late in the tournament day. “We had to slow down, dig deep and nose the boat into the thicker shallow cypress trees and throw a frog as far as we could,” Harrod stated. “When we went back to our starting pocket there were several other competitor boats in there, but we were able to put a little something together there at the end, and it all worked out.”
Second place with a total of 16.54, went to Kevin Jennings and Jason Williams, who continued their yearlong hot streak and found Cross Lake much to their liking. According to Jennings, “We fished trees on upper end with spinner baits in 2-3ft of water. We landed on a small shad spawn early but only caught one fish from that. We finally settled into two small areas that were about 75 to 100 yards a piece and we just kept going in circles. It seems like almost every pass thru we would catch a couple.”
The father/son duo of Rocco and Nick Sylvestri capitalized on a strong flipping/pitching bite and finished third with a weight of 16.07. As it is often in fishing, lake ignorance can be blissful. As Nick stated, “We didn’t know anything about Cross, so we started in an area around mid-lake where I had seen grass on Google Earth, hoping to find a shad spawn. When that didn’t pan out, we started covering water looking for better water clarity. We stopped on an island, where I had noticed a bunch of birds, and caught a 5.77 on a chatterbait, but in typical fishing matter, never had another bite. We decided to run over to the east shore, which proved to be a good move, where the water seemed clearer, and we were able to finish off our limit with solid keepers flipping cypress trees with a Brushhog.”
The team of Josh Burroughs and Derek Davis kept their impressive season going by weighing in a strong limit totally 15.77 to come in fourth. According to Burroughs, it was anything but easy. “We started out chasing a shad spawn that we had found in practice but that bite didn’t work out. After that, we moved
to a small pocket that I had a couple bites flipping trees in practice, and started catching a few. Figuring we may be on to a little something, we just started running pockets that looked similar to the one we were catching them in, and pretty soon we had a limit. We continued doing the same thing throughout the day and culled up a few times and probably had 11.5 lbs. by about 1:30 and sure enough, I caught our big fish (5.31) at 1:45. It was pretty tough fishing until you came across the right set of trees and you could catch a few.”
Another team that has been consistently strong this year has been Morgan Jalaldin and Ray Albritton. These anglers rounded out the top five with a weight of 15.75, a shiner’s weight from place fourth. Albritton said they kept things pretty basic and other than one fish they caught on a frog, the rest of their weight came flipping and pitching in 1-4 foot of water using a Beaver style bait as well as a Brushhog.
After the halfway point of the season, the Angler of the Year race has begun to take shape. Josh Burroughs and Derek Davis, the fourth place finishers at Cross Lake, are currently the leaders in the clubhouse but any team within shouting distance of the lead has a chance to make things interesting, especially with the final two events easily being the most difficult of the five being fished.
The next Ark-La Team Trail event will be on the Ouachita River, May 27th out of Lazarre Park in West Monroe.