So close but so far away.

It’s crazy how in fishing you can be right there, but still so far away. This go-around at Santee Cooper I was in the right section of the lake. There were multiple guys in the top 10 that fished near me. The only difference was I did not make the adjustment soon enough, and lost a couple key fish.

The first morning of practice yielded 24° temperatures and very tough fishing conditions. The second day was not much different. After the last day of practice the weather began to stabilize. There were some good fish on offshore brush, but there was a lot of fish starting to show up shallow and cruise around. It was only a matter of time before they locked down and were easier to catch. I knew this was going to happen, and just needed to be there when it did.

My first morning started off solid with a 5 pound fish on a jerkbait on a shallow edge. I then noticed the brush I was fishing had dried up. The fish had began to make the move. I had around 14 pounds by lunch, and failed to make the adjustments in the afternoon. All I needed to do was to get up shallow, and realize how many new fish had made beds and were starting to lock down.

Chad Pipkens with a big Day 1 bass at the Bassmaster Elite Series at Santee-Cooper Lakes 3/18/2022.
Chad Pipkens with a big Day 1 bass at the Bassmaster Elite Series at Santee-Cooper Lakes 3/18/2022.

Day two started very slow with no jerkbait fish and no fish on docks. I made a good choice just before 10 to start checking some shallow bedding areas where beds were empty. The first section I went to had multiple new beds, and I caught a 4-pounder on a bed that was empty in practice. I knew this is what I needed to do the remainder of the day.

Unfortunately I was a little bit late to the party. I did manage to catch another big one – almost 5 pounds – but I failed to catch a limit on day two. I had a couple other chances where I lost a four and a five-pounder, but the big mistake here was on day one when I failed to go up shallow and realize that the fish had made a major push.

Lesson learned! I Definitely needed to be more flexible here and not fish with such a closed mind the end of that first day. The outcome could have been waayyyy different – 77th place and a lot of points left on the table!