2014 Lake Eufaula, GA Outdoor Writer's Conference
Turkey Shoot: The last day of our writer's conference introduced a new twist. Instead of business as usual with writers swapping boats every two hours and working on gathering information for our respective publications, our hosts organized a co-angler style turkey shoot. At the conclusion of dinner the night before, each pro drew from a hat, the name of a writer with whom he'd be paired.
Even a fun turkey shoot is serious business for these pros as they prepare the night before.
Blast off from the launch was scheduled for 7:30am and weigh in of our 3 fish limit was 11am. We were supplied with a box of soft plastics from Big Bite Baits, and several new in package baits and hook products from Spro and Gamakatsu. We could choose to use all of the products or none at all. There were no tackle restrictions. However, included in the box of plastics were some pink Big Bite Baits Jerk Minnows. As a bonus, if we managed to catch a fish on that bait, we would be allowed to weigh 4 fish instead of 3 but that fourth fish had to be caught on the pink Jerk Minnow.
Russ Lane with big fish for the tourney weighing in just under 7 pounds.
I was paired with Spro and Sunline pro-staffer Mike McClelland. McClelland had a very good season in 2014 with the Elites winning at Table Rock in April and finishing 26th in the AOY standings. Our strategy? Hunting with a buzzbait early and then punching matts of hydrilla once the sun came up.
Todd Ceisner from BassFan with his Kodak moment at the weigh in.
Fueled with his favorite, a liter sized cup of unsweetened iced tea, we headed out of the launch area and travelled to a location where Mike had success earlier in the week. Once there, he pulled out a selection of Falcon rods outfitted with Cabela's reels all spooled with various Sunline product. Of course, all these reels were right hand reels.
Scott Petersen and Mike Valster keeping tally of the weights.
Now that we were in competition mode fishing the turkey shoot, it was all business with Mike. I stopped a couple of times to take photos of the beautiful sunrise on Lake Eufaula, and he chastised me each time to get back up on deck and fish! It was a first hand look at how serious an Elite Series Pro takes even a friendly competition.
Mike Neal and Todd Ceisner showing off their limit.
In the end, of course, it was still all in fun. After our failed attempt to get a topwater bite early, Mike spend most of the time switching between a punch rig and a swim jig to catch and cull through our limit while I spent the majority of time punching the pink Jerk Minnow searching for our bonus fish to no avail.
Shay Baker of BASS and Jeff Kriet with their sole catch of the morning.
Weigh in time came before we knew it as we packed up our gear and headed in. One by one each team pulled out of the water and around to a make shift weigh in station where we pulled our limits out of the livewell, into transit bags, and right onto the scale. After each limit was weighed, the fish were released right there at the launch ramp. Of the 7 teams that participated on this
inaugural turkey shoot, only three of us weighed in limits of fish and of those three only one team was able to manage the bonus fish to make it a 4 fish limit.
Dean Rojas and Stephen Quinn from InFisherman with their winning four fish
That team? The pairing of Dean Rojas and
Stephen Quinn from InFisherman. That fourth fish made a difference as Mike McClelland and I came in second place losing by a healthy two pound margin. To the winners went a lot of healthy hand shakes and pats on the back and a tentative automatic
invitation to next year's tournament!
Mike McClelland and I managed a three fish bag but couldn't score a bonus fish on the pink Jerk Minnow.
The turkey shoot was a great way to cap off a good week of work gathering information and reconnecting with the pros and their sponsors. Stay tuned in the coming months for full on product reviews, new product announcements, TackleTour tournament style interviews with the pros, and an inside look at nearby factory that makes product for one of our host manufacturers!
On behalf of TackleTour and our community, I'd like to thank the folks over at Big Bite Baits, Spro, Gamakatsu, Sunline, and Gill for inviting us to participate in this event and going the extra mile to update us on news about their products. It's a really unique and fun, hands on experience and one that certainly helps to facilitate our review process.