Ever since I found out at the end of the 2022 Bass Pro Tour season that I had qualified for General Tire Heavy Hitters 2023 Presented by Bass Pro Shops, I’ve been excited about returning to Louisiana with a chance to fish Caney Creek Reservoir again. For one, those lakes are full of big ones, and it’s the perfect venue for an event like this, where the big bass prizes are so big.
But I’m also looking to get back on Caney Creek and have another shot at advancing to the Championship Round. Last year when we started the season there at Stage One, I was the first guy out in the Knockout Round and never got to fish Bussey Brake. And boy do I ever want to fish that lake.
Last year we started our season on Lake d’Arbonne and then worked our way to Caney for the Knockout Round. It was extremely cold that week and fishing wasn’t very good for most of us – as a matter of fact, it was pretty tough all the way around.
I knew I’d advance if I could just put a football jig in my hand and go to work on Caney. But, you know what? I didn’t do that right away, even though I knew it was my best chance. I got out there during the Knockout Round and tried to make some other stuff happen and it never did.
Then, in the last period, I picked up the jig and caught a 7-pounder. With 20 minutes to go, I caught another that was almost 4 pounds. I only caught three fish that day and ended up one bite away from advancing.
Heading into Heavy Hitters next week, Caney Creek is my main focus, but you can’t help but think about the chance to go after those big fish on Bussey Brake if you can make it there. I know that little lake has some really big ones from how the guys did last year, but it’s also gotten a lot of pressure since then. The locals already knew about it, but we let the world know about it after that event.
I had a buddy make a trip down there to fish it and there was no place for him to park. It’s a very popular lake right now and gets a lot of pressure, but the big fish live there, and I’m sure we’ll see some nice ones caught during the Championship Round.
My first thought on the fishing side is that Caney Creek will be a tough nut to crack. It’s a small lake – you can fish it all in a day. Plus, it gets a lot of fishing pressure because it kicks out so many big fish.
Most of the fish will likely be done spawning, but there’s a chance of a couple of stragglers on the bed. Add in the clear water and postspawn conditions and things could get tough. This is why I think Heavy Hitters may be a spinning-rod tournament.
Basic finesse stuff like a Ned rig or a Strike King Ocho on a wacky rig will be good. If the bite goes that way, that or a Strike King Filler Worm on a drop-shot should do a lot of work for me.
On the other hand, it may be a bite where a big topwater or glide bait, maybe even a jerkbait, will be the key. Either way it turns out, it will not take a lot of bites each day to advance. It’ll really surprise me if the numbers of fish caught are really good.
We’ll make it up with the size of the bass we catch and this will make a great Heavy Hitters event because any one of us can hook into a true giant on Caney Creek or Bussey Brake with any cast. I can’t wait to get after it.