Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tennessee Valley Adventures

Kentucky & Barkley Lakes, KY, TN

On a recent trip to Kentucky Lake, I got the honor of meeting Mr. Randy Nichols and his wife Nora, owners of Tennessee Valley Adventures. My wife Bri, my dog Madison, and myself got the opportunity to stay at their fully furnished lodge, while I was competing in the BASSMASTER Weekend Series Regional championship. Even though Randy was so busy taking people out on guided fishing trips, we still had time to get to know each other. Randy takes southern hospitality to the next level. Every night I would get home from a long day on the water, the gate to the backyard was open, the grill was already burning, and the delicious smell of Nora's freshly baked brownies and cookies, were just the things needed after a long day. There is a lot of hotels and lodges in the area, but none that can even come close to competing with the service provided, and that are as affordable as they are.

Private Backyard Kitchen Lodge Living Room
**From left to right: The lodge living room, kitchen, a private backyard with more than enough boat hookups.

Tennessee Valley Adventures offers everything from hunting turkey and ducks to world class fishing trips for crappie, largemouth & smallmouth bass, and stripers. Day after day, Randy had his clients on fish and not just numbers but giants as well. I couldn't believe the size stripers they were bringing in. I just recently talked to Randy by phone and he had just got off the water, with his clients catching slab crappie, one after another. Randy could easily be touring the U.S. competing as a top level bass pro, heck he used to, but he enjoys taking people out on guided trips more. That says a lot about a guy, he turns every client into a fisherman with just one outing. Something very important in keeping our sport healthy for years to come.

Randy Nichols
**From left to right: Your guide Randy and some of his client's awesome catches.

If your planning a hunting or fishing trip to the Kentucky or Tennessee area, I highly recommend you contact Randy and set up not only an awesome guided trip, but an experience of a lifetime. Combine one of the best lakes in the country with one of the best fisherman in the country and your sure to have an action filled trip. I know for a fact that I will be back to Kentucky Lake for many more tournaments in my life and not only do I have a Kentucky Lake connection but I also acquired a new friend for life. Thanks for everything Randy!

Tennessee Valley Adventures
Specializing in Fishing, Hunting & "Adventures"
Randy Nichols (618) 315-5058 or email him at

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Chasing Fall Time - Small River Smallies

With my tournament season slowing down for the winter, I have had a lot more time do get out and do some fun fishing, chasing Minnesota's smallmouth bass. This time of year the smallmouth action can be at it's best and small rivers can be one of the best places to get out and really whack 'em. With Fall upon us and the water temp falling the smallies have been starting to bunch up and prepare for the upcoming winter. When I say bunch up, I don't mean four or five fish schools. I'm talking twenty or thirty good sized hungry smallies.

The key to catching them is to first find them and then trigger them to bite. A lot of the times if I can get one to bite, that will literally start a feeding frenzy. The bass will actually compete over my lure. It is non stop fish catching action. However the second I let one get off, it's over. The bite will shut down just as fast as it took off. Usually, I count on a finesse presentation to get the job done, as 95% of the time it will do just that. Although just a week ago, I can remember fishing with my buddy Rich Lindgren and doing better by doing just the opposite. I remember I went from 8 lb. fluorocarbon to 16 lb., setting my spinning rod down for a 7ft. heavy casting stick. Rich was throwing a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Sunfish) and I was going between a NetBait Paca Craw (Green pumpkin) and a Biovex Real Craw (Real Zarigani), with a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Sinker (Green Pumpkin). We went from a relatively slow day to a great afternoon.

Rich Lindgren Josh Douglas
**From left to right: Me with a nice smallie caught on a Biovex Real Craw and Rich with another beauty

To find these schools I usually start with throwing a mid running crankbait until I locate the school, then I'll position my boat so that I can make long casts. My proven cranks are a Rapala DT-6 (Red Craw), Storm Wiggle Wart, and a Biovex Amp and Mid Runner (Fire Tiger, Ayu). Once fish are found there is no better way to catch them then by slowing down and casting small soft plastics on light line. The last couple of days I've done really well by casting a 3" Biovex Real Craw (Green Pumpkin), a Biovex Kolt Grub (Watermelon Seed), and a YUM tube (Green Pumpkin). All of which I was applying with 8 lb. P Line Fluorocarbon and light wire Gamakatsu hooks.

The Setup Biovex Real Craw in water Weapons of choice
**From left to right: Weapons of choice, Biovex Real Craw in the water (there's nothing more realistic), and the go to setup for hog smallies

When the fish are real active I usually do well catching them off shallow rocky flats that are close to deeper water dropoffs. Once the bite slows down and the shallow bite dies, I'll start working the dropoffs. I also look for wingdams to hold both good numbers and quality sized bass. Topwater can also prove extremely productive in the Fall, given the right conditions.

Josh Douglas Josh Douglas Josh Douglas

Well as I'm writing this the snow is already starting to fly here in Minnesota. The extended forecast looks very favorable for some quality smallmouth fishing. I'm also trying to get out to Lake Minnetonka a few more times before it ice's over for the winter. I'll post a report next week. I also may be heading to South Dakota to do some pheasant hunting next weekend. I don't get out hunting to often it usually conflicts with fishing, but one of my good buddies promises an awesome time so wish me luck! Or better yet, I think it's the pheasants that need the luck!

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