After the Grand Traverse Bay ice fishing trip and working the Ultimate Sport show with Humminbird/Minn Kota, I was pretty much all in on open water fishing. After so much talk about big fish, perch just didn't sound that interesting anymore. Fortunately I had the duck boat sitting in the garage just ready to go. Unfortunately my first opportunity to go fish involved 35 degree weather and constant rain. I was going to make the most of it and I was pretty confident I would have the lake all to myself.
These nasty weather days can produce some phenomenal largemouth fishing in the spring so I was optimistic I was going to catch them despite not knowing the water well. Things started off relatively quickly although not with a bass. I certainly wasn't going to complain about having an 18 inch coho to take home for dinner. I was shocked it bit a ned rig, however it made a lot more sense when I checked out it's stomach later. It was absolutely full of a scuds (a small invertabrate), literally hundreds of them! It was however the best tasting salmon Amanda and I had ever eaten. I worked around for awhile after that without much success. I was really surprised because I should have gotten bit off a few different areas. I had no clue what the water temperature was other than it was cold and because of that I was keeping typical cold water baits in my hands. I was at least getting my depth because I brought my ice fishing Helix 7 along.
After wasting about an hour of time I finally snatched my first bass of the year, a 3.5lber on a jerkbait. I started catching them on a jerkbait fairly regularly after that and was really hoping I didn't lose it because it was the only one I brought. I got them going on the ned rig next and that was the star of the show the rest of the day. Miraculously I fished with the same jig head and TRD the whole time (it actually almost made it through 2 fishing trips). They absolutely key in on that small profile this time of year and just can't help themselves. Check out one of the recent FishSens blogs for some more details on how I fish the ned. I never caught any real monsters but the biggest was a smallmouth that weighed in around 4lbs. It was a lot of bites and a solid start to the year.
I've been out a couple times since once more for largemouth and then an all smallmouth trip. The extended period of ice hasn't seemed to make too big of difference. They have seemed to be a little less schooled up so far. I also am going to have some down time before I pick my boat up (and I took the duck boat back to the east side). I feel like all my freedom is gone without a boat but thankfully I have friends who will take me fishing (thanks Dave!). I've been trying for some lakers of the pier intermittently but no luck so far. It has been fun bombing hardware out into the channel because you never know what sort of interesting stuff will bite in cold Lake Michigan water.
I've been extremely unorganized so far this year because of the extended ice season. But I'm finally getting it together and working on a list of all the goodies I need from ClearH2O Tackle. One thing worth noting this spring is that P-Line is doing a buy one get one on spools of Tactical fluorocarbon. It is awesome stuff if you haven't used it yet. I'm looking forward to spooling some of that up on the Team Lew's Custom Pro spinning reel, I haven't handled it yet but it is supposed to be the real deal. The last new thing I am excited about is the Dobyn's Extasy series. It's been a long wait for them to finally hit the market but if you can get your hands on one you will be impressed. They do have a premium price tag but if that is within your budget they are worth a good look (the 755c really catches my eye).
It's also time to get tournament plans finalized for the year. We've got a lot of good stuff going on in west Michigan. Once again Shaun and I are fishing the D&R Sports Tournament series. Unfortunately there is no up north tournament to start the year so hopefully we go somewhere cool for the classic. All local tournaments in that series does make travel really easy and it also opens up an opportunity to go fish the West Michigan Bass HOTD tournament on Grand Traverse Bay. I hope to jump into a few of the local HOTD tournaments as well. There are a few open tournaments going in the area with the WMB Memorial Day tournament on May 27th, the Russ Hirdes memorial tournament on July 6th, and the Dylan Compagner Memorial Tournament on August 18th. Russ Hirdes had been a fixture in West Michigan tournament fishing forever and recently passed this winter, I'm sure there will be a big turnout to celebrate his life. I'd encourage anyone who's wanted to dabble in fishing tournaments in west Michigan to check out one of these 3 events. I had also really wanted to get over and fish Lake St. Clair in a BFL but after seeing membership and entry fee go up while payout stayed the same. I scrapped that idea as it definitely wasn't worth it for one tournament. I'd still really like to make it over there and fish in the summer but I don't know if this will be the year. Possibly the Payback Bass event but who knows. Cameron and I will be doing WMB Case of the Mondays west this year, it will be fun to do the whole schedule. Hopefully I will have enough time to jump in with the Wednesday night crew for a few tournaments this year. I'm starting to feel like it might be busy with everything I've mentioned already.
In the meantime everyone needs to get out and enjoy this year round catch and release fishing we have now. Plus it's always fun to spend time on the water when the bites and the big ones come easy. We've got a couple months of that left, get out and enjoy it!