It's never fun to write these after a bad tournament, but I'm here to tell a story good, bad, or indifferent. I've had enough bad tournaments to know that there's no point to letting it get to you. Take what lessons you can from it and move on to the next one. I will say this ones got me wound up, disappointed, and embarrassed. Knowing I've got wait a whole year to maybe get another crack at it only makes it worse.
The tournament I'm talking about is the D&R Sports Charlevoix tournament and here's how it went down. Shaun and I got up there late for practice, Amanda had to work out of town so I had to get Mabel to daycare. We got on the water sometime between 10 and 11, it didn't take long to realize there were a lot less beds than we expected to see. We were all in on the sight fishing program that was for sure. Visibility wasn't great that first day but we found some good ones. No giants but several over 4 and quite a few heavy 3's. Nothing to feel confident in but at least we had a start. That would play out the next day too, we found the fish to do well but nothing great. We spent some time trying to unlock a prespawn bite and catch one of those big females that were cruising around. We did discover we could get some bites on a jerkbait, but it was nothing real consistent.
At the end of practice I assumed we could get 21lbs if things went well and 18 if it went really poorly. Boat draw is a critical element is these sight fishing tournaments but I honestly wasn't too concerned this time. We didn't have any real monsters to go for so the plan was to start on our closest 4lber if we could. We drew boat number 45 and no one was sitting on our starting fish. However we could never see it in the low light so we bailed to the next one only to discover someone was working that one. We had a big decision to make on whether to gamble going to some other 4s a long way away or hitting a stretch that had 4 heavy 3s and a 3.5. We went for the numbers game since it was a lot closer. The first 2 were there but super spooky. We got both of them to bite and promptly lost them both half way to the boat. We did add a 2.75 lber blind casting to an area while one guy worked the bed. The rest of the fish we wanted to get in that area were gone. No big deal we had a lot to run still but unfortunately those places were either covered up in dudes or the fish were gone. Finally we rolled up to one of them that had a fish. We put that one in the livewell in short order and went to some areas we hoped they were coming up in.
I wasn't going to be picky at this point so we put a couple 2lbers in the well to give us 4 and went back down to the 2 big ones we lost earlier. We knew at this point we weren't going to get any of the fish we really wanted, but we could at least salvage a check and some points. We lost both of those big fish again, it is extra heartbreaking when you can see them swimming away in that clear water. One just never came back and one may have gotten caught while we were letting it settle down again. To make things worse we finally got one of those difference making bites, a giant female. It was the first fish that jumped all weekend and the only fish I lost on the ned rig the whole time. We scrounged up a couple more decent fish after that and did some exploring in hopes we would wander upon the right fish. We also had a big one follow the jerkbait to the boat but not commit, I can live with that missed opportunity though.
At the end of the day we ended up weighing 15.86 which is pretty embarrassing for a Charlevoix spawn tournament. I know we had some tough breaks there, and if they all go our way we are over 20lbs. I'm a little bummed about the bad luck, but hey that happens. I'm just frustrated in myself for not having enough lined up to really overcome it. It's one thing to have things not go your way in a just fishing tournament. But there is no excuse in a sight fishing tournament to have an outcome like that. I learned a valuable lesson once again to take better notes and have way more fish lined up in these spawn tournaments. Some out of the way ones would be nice too, but I'll need to devote some more time to practice in the next go around up there. While it definitely sucks right now, it is going to make me a better fisherman in the long run.
Anyway that's how it went down, it absolutely sucked. One thing I did notice though was the ned rig was powerful there. If I'm not throwing a dropshot the Erie darter is my typical bed bait for smallies. However they responded much better to the ned than the darter for me. There were lots of gobies around the same size on the bottom of Lake Charlevoix, so I wonder if that had something to do with it. Also the bigger hooked ned rig was the deal, I think it is called the HD version. The hook is stronger and almost the same size as the bait. It wasn't nearly as easy for them nip at the bait and not get it.
The rest of the month is going to be pretty boring as far as tournaments go. I can't make any of the weekend tournaments until July so it will just be a bunch of fun weeknight stuff. July and August will be busy though, I'll be looking forward to that and hopefully some success stories to talk about next time!