Mike Hughs likes a lake that fishes tough.
The Operations Manager at Lone Star Outdoor News spent the past week on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, where he arrived to find howling winds, low temperatures and a “should have been here last week” attitude from the locals.
But Mike knew he could find big fish during the state club championship, where he was representing Century Bass Club in Dallas.
“Practice sucked,” he said. “It was cold-front conditions. The spawn seemed to have been completed, even with a full moon. I found a flipping bite, and figured I could grind out a limit everyday during the tournament if I had to. It really helped to have the Legend Boat to punch through the high waves and have steady fishing in the high winds.”
Mike began the first day flipping a tube bait and caught three bass — all about 2 pounds. At noon, he changed strategies and headed south to a main lake point where he had had success in years past.
“I was throwing a Carolina rig with a Mardi Gras-color Trick Worm and caught a 4 pounder,” he said. “It was getting windy, so I decided to put on a heavier weight, and while I was doing that, my non-boater caught a 4.5 pounder. Soon after, I caught my biggest fish, which was a 6.5 pounder.”
Mike finished day 1 with 16.46 pounds; good enough for third place.
On day two, he started at the same spot where his big fish from day one came from, but the fish did not cooperate. He left that spot with lots of bites, but only small fish.
“We started deep and then moved shallow later in the morning,” Mike said. “I caught a 4 pounder, then another, and then a 2 pounder. I had four fish by noon. We went to another point and fished the same pattern, and I put another 5.5 pounder in the boat.”
Mike ended the afternoon with 20.46 pounds, the “big bag” of the tournament and good enough for the lead heading into the final day.
“I went back to the same spot and fished there all morning, and ended with three small fish,” he said. “Around noon — I seemed to switch patterns everyday around noon — we went to several points and the mouth of a cove. I found some fish in some buckbrush and caught a few throwing a lipless crankbait. I caught my fourth fish. We then worked the inside of the cove and my partner caught a 4.5 pounder.”
Mike finished his day by catching his fifth keeper on a flipping tube. He knew he needed one more big fish to secure victory, so he headed back to the point where he had caught his 6.5-pound bass the first day, hoping for one more bite.
It didn’t come.
Even so, Mike was able to bring an 8.63-pound sack to the weigh in, which was good enough for a third place finish individually, with a total of 45.55 pounds.
He led his 6-man team to the state title and won his region, earning another trip back to Sam Rayburn in June for the Divisional qualifier. If he beats out the 11 other Texas division qualifiers, it is on to Nationals with a shot at the Bassmaster Classic.
“I had a great week and phenomenal non-boaters,” he said. “They let me fish where I wanted to and they didn’t have to do that. I owe a lot of my success to them and my club team this week.”