Well opening weekend has come and gone. After a long spring of anticipation building for the real deal, some walked away satisfied and others did not. I settled down nicely into that not satisfied category, in fact it was a downright disappointing disaster.
I absolutely love a sight fishing tournament and there was no question that would be the deal at the West Michigan Bass Tom Cook Memorial Day Open. There have been few sight fishing tournaments I've ever really struggled in. I've had mentally exhausting days before but I've always gotten them in the end, this one would be different. Shaun and I had a good run of fish lined up, enough that we should finish well .But we also knew we would need to find a new one, a female, or catch another big one just fishing to win. We had a full moon going on and things were right to come across a female. So we figured that was our best bet to find a difference maker. First we would have to snatch the sight fish we knew about.
We got a good boat number but I knew the boat directly behind us would be heading to the same exact spot. It was time for a race which I was probably going to lose since I was going against a boat with a 250. I hammered down from the get go and barely lost the race however the other boat took a wrong turn and went to the wrong spot. Bad for them good for us, so we set down and we had to idle to the area which was only big enough for one boat. As in so small I could pitch to the whole area from one location. So you can imagine I was a bit surprised when the boat came in behind us and assumed we were going to let them fish one of the beds. I just figured I would watch and see what would happen, I mean this wasn't even a random person, it was one of my buddies. Now there are multiple lines in one bed at this point. I still can't believe I'm watching this happen, it was easily the most ridiculous thing I've seen in tournament fishing by a long shot. I'd have much rather had them not made the wrong turn at this point then be involved in something this dumb. Because we would never in a million years ever follow a boat in there, it's plain as day for a bit of an idle there isn't room for 2 boats. We could have gone about our day and caught whatever we caught. Without being involved in whatever you want to call this, and felt a lot better at the end of the day regardless the outcome. Anyway I think they realized how silly this was and left after a few minutes. I had that 4lber bite on my second cast before their boat drifted on top of it, but then things shut down.
After they left I moved my boat into position so we could work the 4lber and the big fish at the same time. That's the beauty of a bed fishing team tournament if you have close enough beds you can both fish them. It wasn't long and Shaun had him on but our hearts sank when he was hooked in the side of the face. We turned him loose and Shaun kept casting to it. A boat was parked over the big fish so that made things difficult. We also couldn't see anything at this point so it was total blind fishing. You are just hoping the fish is still there and your casts are going into the bed. It was probably about 40 minutes before I finally felt the big one bite. He just poked it but it confirmed he was there. It was probably another 20 minutes before he bit again. Amazingly he was also hooked in the side of the face, so back he went (I would hope the rest of the field would throw these fish back too, but after some recent happenings and the differing opinions regarding that I don't believe we all play by the same rules). There is nothing more frustrating that smallmouth poking a bait and getting hooked outside the mouth. Usually it's not a big deal because they'll bite again pretty quickly. But on this day that would be all they would give us. Typically you won't have this problem with smallmouth unless you are dealing with fish that have been caught many times. You could see the big one had definitely been abused. After spending 3 hours there we went to check on some more big ones hoping we could get back to them later in the day. We picked 3 nice ones and found a bunch of our other ones were gone. Probably picked by other competitors, but at least we had our filler fish. So back we went to the 2 big ones. We would be fine if we could snatch these so we set up shop the rest of the day and never made it happen. I have never in my life been so frustrated with a fish before. But there was no point to going to get a couple more 3 pounders. 15-16lbs is not what we were after and the beauty of an open is there are no points to make sure you get. There was no point in putting our fish through the weigh in stress so we dumped them and headed back in. I do wonder how things would have went if we could have approached the area the right way at the start of the tournament. We will never know the answer to that, but I think we are both glad that day is over with.
While tournament season is definitely the most exciting going on I've been busy with everything else. We all recently went up north for a weekend with my parents and Amanda's parents. We all had a blast up there and did get a little bit of fishing in. I took my dad and father in law out for some smallmouth fishing in the rain. We headed to a numbers lake to do some bed fishing. The fish were up and it was time to try and get them some fish. I will say it super difficult for me to watch inexperienced bed fishing. However if you are new to it I've got a couple tips for you. Almost everyone I've introduced to bed fishing makes 2 mistakes repeatedly at first. One is that they start fishing after a bad cast, if the bait isn't going to go through the bed don't keep fishing. Just reel in and try again until you get it right. Two once the cast has made it through the bed reel it in and make another. Once again since the bait is off the bed there is no reason to keep fishing it out. Keep it in the spot that fish wants to defend. Eventually I started to hammer this through their heads and they got better and better with each fish.
A couple other random thoughts that are worth a mention. One thing that has always been a major worry of mine is going to head back to the weigh in with a big bag of fish but the battery won't crank the motor. I've had a dead battery before and DEKA 31 trolling motor batteries still couldn't jump my Mercury off jumper cables. Granted that battery was drained pretty bad from leaving my Humminbird SOLIX 15 on for a few days. I needed something better and lithium jump packs came to mind. I settled on the NOCO GB40, it is super small and packs a lot of power. I haven't had to jump the boat with it yet but did jump start a truck at the weigh in on Monday. Needless to say it is a nice piece of mind (got one for Amanda's vehicle too). I got mine at ClearH2O Tackle and they've got a great price on them if you are looking for something to avoid being stranded.
I've also gotten to use a few other new things this spring one being the Dobyns 736CB Glass. I've always read all the top chatterbait guys are throwing them on heavy glass rods to maximize their hook ups. Well Dobyns designed a rod specifically for this application and I needed to check it out. I'm much more likely to throw a bait if I have a dedicated set up for it (this rod will be great for big topwaters too). Anyway I did a fair amount of chatterbait chucking while looking for beds last week. I was amazed at how well it just loads up when you get a bite. It's weird you'll be working the bait and then all of a sudden it's loading on its own. It's not something you even have to think about and there is no doubt I caught more fish because of it.
Last but not least, have you guys checked out Blackfish Gear? Ever since I had a spot cut off my ear in college I've been big on sun protection and these guys have it going on when it comes to that. They've got a full line of UPF rated clothing and some softshell weather resistant clothing for the colder months (look for the rain gear next year). Blackfish UPF clothing features coolcore technology which also helps to keep you cool on hot summer days. I've only gotten to wear it to the lake a couple times but that sun hoody is the deal. It allows me to put my hood up and see better in the shallows even on super hot days as well as keeping my neck protected at all times.
That's all I've got for now, look for another one after the Lake Charlevoix D&R Tournament!