I've only got a couple tournament blogs left for this season. Seems crazy it is almost over but it means we've got a lot of other fun things about to kick off. We've got White Lake D&R, Grand Traverse Bay, Muskegon Salmon, as well as some other important news packed into this one. It's probably not going to be short, so here it goes.
The last regular season D&R Tournament was on White Lake and Shaun and I had really been looking forward to this one. Practice seemed to confirm that we should be looking forward to it as well. We didn't have anything really good to go on but we had seen enough of the right kind of fish that we knew it could be good. Plus we had the flipping sticks and heavy weights ready to go, that always gives us some added confidence.
We had boat 25 I think, which is a solid number when fishing against 78 boats. I wasn't too worried about anyone starting where we wanted to since I wouldn't call it one of the popular spots on White Lake. I don't really spend much time in that particular area either but we had enough bites there to make it seem like a good idea. Our first couple bites were swings and misses, one of them hooked up but came off shortly thereafter. We didn't pick up a single fish there so we just started working our way out. We caught 2 little ones on the way out, but we had a lot of really good stuff to get to. Unfortunately it all sucked, I mean sucked real bad. Sure there were a couple places we couldn't get to, but at 1 in the afternoon we were still stuck on 4 small fish. We had a couple opportunities where good ones showed themselves but we could never seal the deal with them.
Shaun and I don't get rattled by much but after the incredibly mentally difficult year we've had it was wearing on us. I'm telling you were hanging on by a thread, all that was holding us from falling off the mental cliff was our fingernails. We desperately needed a bite to get 5 and get something rolling. We had an area we weren't able to get on earlier that needed to be checked. It was all the way at the opposite end of the lake but it was the best chance we had. We caught a nice one shortly after arriving and things were looking up. Next up we hit another place that we couldn't get on before. Things were desperate and we even had a spinning rod out, it resulted in a nice fish on the spinning rod. It was getting better but we were running out of time at this point. We went on a spurt catching 3 or 4 keepers in a row culling 2 more times. Not with big fish but they were at least White Lake specials. We knew one good one would put us in check range and salvage what was a downright miserable, frustrating, and disappointing day. In the last 10 minutes we would get that bite. It was a true giant that fell for a punch skirt. No one had time to think, one second a hook was set, the next it was laying in the bottom of the boat. Unfortunately for us it was a skinny giant only weighing in at 4.5lbs, I wish it would have been at prime weight! Either way it was the hero moment we had been waiting for and seem to always be talking about and looking for at the end of the tournament day.
We came back from the brink of mental meltdown, had a hero moment, and weighed a respectable 15 and change. Surely we would get a small check right? No sir! Not today! 16th place and first out of the money is where we would settle after a ridiculous drama filled weigh in. Congrats to my buds Mike Elkins and Kendall Ulsh for dropping 21.5 on the scales and taking home the W. For us we were just glad it was over and time to focus on the classic and regroup for next year. Somehow despite all the struggles this year we still ended up in 12th out of 78 in the standings. Going to have to work really hard to improve on that next year. I still rank the year we won AOY at D&R as our greatest angling accomplishment and I would love to do that again. On to the classic at Houghton lake, it's been a decade since I've been there so we will see how that pans out.
Switching gears a bit it's time for the sea beasts to come in off Lake Michigan. Word is they are big this year, with 30 plus pound fish not being much of a surprise. I would love to hook into one of those beasts jigging with bass tackle. It is one of the things I look forward to most every fall. I did manage to snatch one during a small early push of fish. Things are looking like they could be prime for this weekend into early next week. But we will see, I just hope it doesn't come when I am fishing at Houghton. All the jigging tackle you need is available at ClearH2O Tackle just give the shop a call (they've got some awesome specials running on Lew's right now too).
We also tried to mix it up with some kings on a trip to Grand Traverse Bay over Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately there were very few fish around and we went 0 for 3 on our salmon bites. At least I didn't have to clean any fish. Not only did we have a great family vacation other than Mabel coming down with hand, foot, and mouth during the tail end of it but I experienced some phenomenal smallmouth fishing. I absolutely crushed them and learned a ton about something I rarely get to do. It isn't often 30-40 feet is the zone I'm targeting for bass and it isn't often I get to work on learning the intricacies of video game. No doubt I gained a lot of confidence in how to do that but also learned a bunch about how currents can predictably position them. It really opened my mind to a lot of big water smallmouth things I don't have much experience with. The Minn Kota Ultrex was worth its weight in gold on this trip. I could spot lock while taking waves over the bow and catch them on predictable spots while casting and then drift backwards and pick off the rest I could see on my Humminbird electronics. I also learned some cool stuff with the FishSens SondeCAM while I was up there. I found a school on an old net stake and the first drop produced a smallmouth. Despite marking a ton of them down there I could not get another one to go. I dropped the SondeCAM and discovered they were all suckers. It made sense now that I was marking them a little higher off the bottom and now I can much better understand what my electronics are showing me.
I know I'm not the only one out there who has had ice fishing creep up on their mind. Unfortunately I couldn't make Clam Pro Day because of a tournament again. But they unveiled a bunch of new products at it. I'm particularly excited about them bringing some boots back in the lineup. There is nothing more important than having warm and waterproof boots out there. Rubber boots are the only way to do that and the new sub zero boots will accomplish that. I hope we have a great season of ice after hunting season of course. I am definitely starting to get worked up into a fall frenzy.
One last thing that you need to check out is the first episode of Dock Talk Radio's new season. The College Bass Tour anglers of the year the Jump brothers are on there. I've gotten to know these two a bit over the last couple years and they are great guys (just hard to tell apart). Congrats to them and looking forward to part 2 of the episode as well as much more Dock Talk content throughout the year.
That's all I've got for now, hopefully I'll be about to tangle with some big nasty salmon over the weekend. If you are thinking about giving it a shot I would not hesitate to make the trip this weekend. Keep an eye on my social media for up to date Muskegon reports.