BAINBRIDGE, Ga. – Robert Tindell of Leesburg, Ga., sat perched in the Ranger Boats “hot seat” at the final day weigh-in of the EverStart Series event on Lake Seminole watching intently as nine other pros tried to take his lead away. And as each local pro who fishes Seminole regularly mounted the stage, they would point to Tindell and say, “That man right there has taken a lot of my money in tournaments on this lake.”
Today, the well-known Lake Seminole local took a little bit more of their money by winning the third Southeast Division qualifier on his home lake with a three-day total of 73 pounds, 10 ounces worth $33,412.
Despite hard charges from Rodger Beaver and Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury, Tindell easily kept his leading distance with a 25-pound, 12-ounce bag of bass to close out the biggest tournament win of his life.
“This is great,” Tindell said. “As a local fisherman we all dream of having a big tournament on our home lake and competing against the guys we read about in the magazines. This week I was privileged to have the opportunity to fish against these guys. What an experience. I’ve fished this lake for about 30 years so I know a few good fishing holes out there.”
Indeed he does. This week one hole in particular produced daily catches of 27-2, 20-12 and 25-12 for the wire-to-wire win.
Despite its reputation as terrific sight-fishing lake in the spring, Tindell has never spent any time spying fish on shallow sand. Instead he prefers to fish “out” and catch big females in deeper water before and after they spawn.
“I’m an outside fisherman,” Tindell said. “I like to sit out there and cast and wind something in the ditches and drains that lead into the spawning areas – the same areas where other guys are trolling around looking at them.”
This week Tindell fished just such a classic staging ditch on the main lake that ran smack dab into a spawning flat. The drain bottomed out in about 15 feet of water and featured a clean edge of hydrilla along the sides. The only bait he used all week was a Strike King 6XD in a sexy shad color cast on 12-pound test fluorocarbon line.
“I was cranking the lure down to about 12 to 14 feet,” Tindell detailed. “I was trying to get it hung up in clumps of grass and then pop it free to trigger a strike, just like you might fish a rattle trap-type bait.”
Tindell noted that the place he was fishing is usually good earlier in the year but he and his son (whom he fishes team tournaments with) had not experienced much success there this year until this week.
“They were a little late getting there this year,” he added. “It’s normally a postspawn spot, but the first day I caught all prespawners there. The last two days were all postspawners. So it really turned on at just the right time for me in this tournament this week.”
Beaver second, again
Rodger Beaver of Dawson, Ga., finished runner-up at Seminole for the second year in a row. Last year he lost the event by one ounce.
Beaver saved the best for last this week, checking in with a 26-pound, 8-ounce limit to finish second with a three-day total of 64 pounds, 3 ounces worth $12,529.
Beaver is another well-known local on Seminole and this week he had to pull out all the stops to make a run at victory.
The first two days he sight-fished with a Zoom Baby Brush Hog and an Ultra-vibe Speed Craw.
Today, however, he went on the scramble, looking for a new program.
“I had some deeper bedding fish, and with the sun, I thought I would be able to see them today,” Beaver said. “But the wind yesterday dirtied the water up a little too much to see them. So I bailed on that and tried Carolina-rigging some sandbars. I got a little limit doing that. Then I checked some vegetation mats this afternoon and buddy, it was on. I culled everything I had in the well punching a big weight in mats.
“Those mat fish have not been there all year until now,” he added. “I‘ve been checking them the last few weeks wondering where they were. Well, today they showed up. They were in there big time – big prespawn fish with thick bellies. Everytime I’d drop that big weight through the mat, the whole mat would shake when they thumped my bait.”
Beaver’s punching gear was 1 1/4-ounce tungsten weight with a punch skirt and Speed Craw on the back.
Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., finished third with a three-day total of 62 pounds, 10 ounces worth $8,587.
Canterbury got off on the wrong foot the first day of the tournament when he tried to sight-fish and stuck with it just a little too long before deciding to bail on the peeping plan.
Late on day one he started running some staging spots in Spring Creek and got a couple of key bites that dialed him in.
On day two he started with his staging program and things clicked: he weighed in 27 pounds, 2 ounces. Today he checked in just four fish, but they weighed 20 pounds, 3 ounces.
His key baits the last two days were a ChatterBait and a Yellow Hammer umbrella rig adorned with Berkley Hollow Belly swimbaits fished on a Halo rod.
“The first day I sight-fished with a Jackall Sasuteki Craw and I caught all the ones I could see with my Typhoon sunglasses,” Canterbury said. “But once I realized a lot of my bedding fish were gone, I knew I had to get out deeper in that 6- to 10-foot zone where those fish that were done spawning were headed.”
Barry Wilson of Birmingham, Ala., finished fourth with a three-day total of 49 pounds, 13 ounces worth $7,518.
Wilson spent the week targeting postspawn fish in 3 to 4 feet of water with a Strike King Red Eye Shad and a Tightlines UV finesse worm.
“The area I was fishing was a big backwater off the Chattahoochee River,” Wilson said. “I think a lot of the fish I was catching were resident fish that had finished spawning. I was fan-casting the Red Eye Shad around in about 4 feet of hydrilla. If I got a bite and missed it, I’d fire that Tightlines UV finesse worm right back where I had the bite and could usually catch the fish that snapped at the Red Eye.”
William McKinstry of Loxahatchee, Fla., rounded out the top five with a three-day total of 46 pounds, 9 ounces worth $6,682.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Series event on Lake Seminole:
6th: Tony Davis of Williston, Fla., three-day total of 46-5, $5,847
7th: Bradley Enfinger of Colquit, Ga., three -day total of 46-4, $5,012
8th: JT Kenney of Palm Bay, Fla., three -day total of 40-10, $4,176
9th: Pete Thliveros of St. Augustine, Fla., three -day total of 39-5, $3,341
10th: Howard Poitevint of Bainbridge, Ga., three-day total of 36-2, $2,506