Tim and Michael Tadlock finished a very close 2nd at the recent Potholes Open.  In fact they were only a few tenths away from winning and that is without a limit on the final day (6 fish limit at the Potholes Open).  It is a refreshing look at what can happen if you feel like your fishing gets stuck in a rut and you want to remake yourself as an angler.  What follows are the words of Tim Tadlock on his successful tournament weekend shared with his son, Michael.  

Prefish

I have fished the Potholes Open for about 6-7 years now and have always done well and gotten a check.  I have always fished for smallmouth though and never put any emphasis on largemouth.  The winning team always had largemouth or a combination of both.  This winter I decided I was not going to prefish for smallmouth at all and focus on finding the largemouth.  After spending hours on Google Earth and hints from GOA, I set out to put something together.  I prefished for two Saturdays before the event.  I had lots of areas to search out from my downloads from Google to my Lowrance.  The first trip went pretty good and I found a lot of key areas.  I did not worry about sticking fish as I wanted to get confidence in what I was doing.  I would only stick one or two from an area before moving on.  I ended up with 12 fish that day but nothing over 5 pounds.  Before the following Saturday, I was able to refine my approach based on reviewing where I had caught fish (using Google Earth) and then marking new areas to try based on that.  I did not get as many bites but the quality went way up with a 25.7 five fish bag.

Tournament Strategy

The first day of the tournament was forecast to be sunny with little wind which was not what I had in prefish.  I was also in the 2nd flight of 132 boats with blast off at 10:00.  I knew I would have to make adjustments due to the number of boats and weather.

Recap of the day

The first day went really well.  We caught 9 fish and lost three with one being a 5lb at the boat.  Lesson here – retie.  We ended up with 22.37 for the day.
The second day, we blasted off at 6:00 and it was really cold.  Our first spot rewarded us with a solid 5lb fish and we thought it would be on – just like Saturday.  However, we struggled to find any more fish for the next 1.5 hours. We thought about backing off and going a little deeper and finding dunes that had a little deeper area close by.  We started to do that and were paid off by some really nice fish.  Then our fifth fish was a 6.92lb largemouth at about 10:45 with weigh in at 12:00.  For the rest of the time were in panic mode to get that 6th fish in the boat but it never happened.  We still knew we had a good bag and weighed 23.7

Equipment

We relied on only a few baits both days.  We caught all our fish on a Black/Blue Dirty Jig No-Jack Swim Jig (3/8oz) and a homemade Green Pumpkin Jig (3/8oz)
Dirty Jigs swim jig, GOA Bait of the Year
The main weapon ended up being the early leader in the GOA “Bait of the Year.” – Dirty Jigs “No Jack” Swim Jig (3/8 oz, Hemotoma) with a Keitech 4.3 Swing Impact Fat.

Influences, motivations

I was really motivated to change things up and fish for largemouth this year.  I put in a lot of time learning Goggle Earth, reading on the internet and here at GOA.  One thing that really stuck in my head from GOA was “Eliminating the Potholes wander”.

Lessons learned

We had one key area where we caught most of our fish.  I think we should have stayed there more on the second day to find that sixth fish.  Instead we panicked and started moving around to much.

Anything else

I started fishing because I wanted to spend more quality time with my son.  We have both been very busy lately and not had the chance to get out as much together.  I look forward to every chance I can get to get on the water with him and doing well at Potholes is just icing on the cake.
Also wanted to congratulate Doucet and Eidson for putting in two great days for the win.

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