McDonald overcomes problem to take tournament win

Tim McDonald did all the right things preparing for the tournament on Lake Douglass located in Kentucky.

Douglas Lake features a lot of standing timber.

The battery was charged, the gear double-checked, and the plug was in. He was set for an epic first day in 2022 on the water.

As the saying goes, all the best-laid plans, fell apart at the ramp. While launching the boat a major malfunction appeared-the motor’s steering was frozen. No amount of finesse would allow McDonald to turn the motor. So much for a challenge-free tournament.

He managed to get his rig off the trailer and beached so the fifteen or so boats waiting to launch could get in the water before the 6:30 AM start.

Now was decision time. Does he put the non-steerable boat back on the trailer or does he do the best he could use the trolling motor for the duration of the tournament? McDonald went with the latter. At the start of the tournament, he slowly made his way to the first area he had targeted to fish. That’s when the dark clouds of problems began to dissipate.

McDonald fished his way into first place overcoming his motors unresponsive steering.

Using a 1/8 oz. Slider Football Head rigged with a four-inch Slider Shad he boated four keeper bass in less than two hours. McDonald noted he could not keep the fish off the Slider lure combo catching around fifteen bass. He modified the plastic bait by dipping the paddle tail in chartreuse dye. “I have had great success with a Slider Shad plastic swimmer rigged on a Slider Football Head. That’s why I started with the lure combo. I was catching a fish on almost every cast but not the keepers I was looking for,” he recalled. “I did manage to catch four keepers amongst all the shorter bass I was catching and went looking for number five to have my limit.”

Keeper fish number five was a 2-pound 8-ounce spotted bass. “I was trolling to another area and met another contestant,” McDonald recalled with a smile on his face. “I was talking with the guy, and he mentioned that he had seen a good fish but was not able to catch it. He pointed to the place on the water about ten to fifteen yards away. He continued in the other direction while I moved over to the spot he had pointed out and grabbed a rod with a topwater lure tied on. The evasive spot slammed the lure on the first cast!.”

A little time afterward, dark clouds began to approach the lake and the wind began to get significantly stronger. This was before 9 AM. McDonald said, “I had a limit in the livewell, and I knew I could have major problems getting back to the ramp with the steering problem and wind. So, I decided to head back in even though there were several more hours left to fish before check-in time at 2 PM.”

Safely back at the ramp and boat on the trailer, he talked to a tournament official about weighing his catch early. The

A Slider Shad was instrumental in McDonald getting a limit.

official agreed, checked him in, and weighed the catch.

McDonald had no idea what the other twenty-four anglers had brought in at the 2 PM weigh-in since he had come in early and had left to address the steering problem. “I thought I had very little chance of winning the tournament due to the other contestants being able to fish for much longer than I did,” McDonald recalled. However, he received a phone call later and was told he had won the tournament championship by ounces. He said, “I was very surprised! The Slider Head and Slider Shad came through for me even though my motor steering cables did not.” He said the “big” spotted bass hit a chugger and put his weight just heavy enough to win.

The moral of the story is always to make the best of a bad situation and don’t give up.

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