The Great Lakes being at historically high water levels has really impacted a lot of things besides the fishing. One of the biggest impacts on the westside is that it's flooded the main access to the Grand River. It's where all the big tournaments go out of and it's impossible to use right now. That's providing some unique challenges for all the tournament series that had the Grand on the schedule. The bummer of it all is the buzz is the Grand is fishing awesome and White Lake was fishing terrible.
The D&R Grand River tournament was moved to White which meant I was going to get a few cracks at figuring out White Lake in a row. I hadn't been up there since before bass season started so I didn't really know what to expect. I anticipated things being way behind due to the weather this spring. I also assumed the weed growth would be way behind from temp, lack of sunlight, and a couple extra feet of depth. Things didn't start well considering Cameron and I caught literally one bass on our Monday night tournament out there. It was a good one at least, missing big bass of the night by .02.
Amanda and Mabel were heading back to the east side for a baby shower the upcoming weekend so it made sense to jump into the HOTD tournament. I figured it would be a good practice day for the upcoming D&R tournament. The cool part is Aaron Cash was actually coming over to fish it with me! He doesn't do tournaments anymore but he hasn't forgotten how to fish. It was going to be a good day of just going fishing with no pressure on us. If we caught them that would be a bonus but after Monday I definitely expected it to be a challenge. Goal number one was just to figure out how to catch a limit.
I had seen a few places where I thought I could get some bites if the timing was right so we started there. None of that panned out so it was time to just start running some stuff. The next couple stops produced a couple decent keepers on a jerkbait. With the wind blowing we kept the reaction baits going and gradually put together a limit and started culling. We mixed in a jig and some finesse tactics as the wind laid down which also produced a few. By the end of the day we had never gotten a big bite but had livewell with 5 standard White Lake keepers. One decent bite would have made a world of difference for us but we settled in at 13.19 and 18th out of 74. Unfortunately I didn't really find anything I could really use at the D&R tournament. There was one area that had produced a couple of our biggest keepers and just seemed like it might produce a big bite the next weekend. Other than that Shaun and I were going to have to figure something out.
I had an invite from my buddy Brian the next day to go do some trolling on Lake Michigan. I certainly wasn't going to pass that up with the girls out of town. While the fishing wasn't on fire it was great to get out and see how that all works. Not to mention it was an awesome weather day and extremely relaxing. It was sort of nice to have an "off day" before the D&R tournament the coming weekend. Cameron and I also had a Monday night tournament on Macatawa that was filled with cats/drum that helped mix it up from White Lake too.
It was apparent though that anything we like to do on White wasn't going to work really well. So if we were going to survive this one with some decent points we were going to have to get out of our comfort zone and adapt. Knowing this going into practice was huge because we knew it was worthless trying to force anything. We waited out the thunderstorms and got up to White Lake mid morning. It was dead calm, cloudy, and of course the fish weren't cooperating. The only good thing was the rest of the storms were breaking up over Lake Michigan and we weren't getting any real rain or any electricity at all. It was so bad however that we felt like we could be fishing over some of them so we docked the boat at Buzz's and grabbed some lunch. Refueled and hoping for some wind to kick up it was time to put some hours in. Things progressively got better as the day went on both for size and number of bites
But we also knew as bad as things were it could end up being one of those tournaments where you are stuck on 3 small keepers at 1 o'clock. We thought we had the potential to do really well or really have a disaster of a day. Regardless we knew spinning rods and finesse tackle were going to be locked in our hands most of the day.
We had a crappy boat number (54 I think) but weren't overly concerned. We were going to gamble on getting a big bite at the spot I mentioned from the weekend before. We never practiced it but knew the potential was there. I'm not sure if we did or not but we had a fish break a swimjig hook first thing. Definitely not the start you want when it could be difficult to catch 5. Another bite and one short fish further down the stretch was the rest of the action there. Next we headed to the area we thought we would be able to really work throughout the day. I've never really leaned on this area in a tournament before but based on the day before the quantity and quality was there. Someone was right on the juice from the day before so we stopped short and started making big circles. It wasn't too long before a decent one came aboard. Then we struggled to get another bite for a bit, we had other stuff that was good so we were going to pull the plug for a little while. I barely got the words 2 more casts out of my mouth and we had a double on. One was a 2 pounder and the other we almost just pitched but decided to measure it and it went by 1/4 inch.
I guess we were going to spend some more time there. The next bite was a good one, we got a brief glimpse of the 3.5 pounder before it just came off. Must have been skin hooked or something, either way it was a huge blow below the belt. 10 minutes later we caught our biggest one of the day at 3.70. It slowed down again and once again we said 2 more casts and caught another decent fish. Losing that big one was really hurting now because we would have a really good thing going. However it was a relief knowing we had caught enough to score some decent points so early in the day.
There were 2 other areas we really wanted to take a crack at. One of them it never worked out to get in on despite trying a few times throughout the day and the other never kicked out a bite. They were really similar spots so I'm not sure we really missed out on anything, but I wish I knew for sure. It was mid morning, hot, and slick calm. You can guess it the bite really sucked. We did some exploring but could never get anything going until the wind picked up again. We bounced around a bit and had a few flurries and made a couple culls. It's impossible to say but I think we had another good bite that wrapped us in some grass and got off (that is the problem with all this spinning tackle). We were going to spend some more time in our primary area and it was game on. We had a couple doubles and caught a bunch more keepers. I think we culled one more time out there but saved a little bit of time for one more area. Once again it was impossible to say but we got another drag ripping bite that bogged down in the grass and got off.
I didn't really care where we finished at this point we worked hard and caught a decent limit under brutal conditions. Let the scales and places fall where they may, I however would have been surprised if we didn't cash a check. I never really know what we have for weight but it's always nice to weigh in 5 solid ones. While we would always like to have 25lbs we were both pretty happy with 14.64. We saw it put us in 4th and didn't really think much else about it. I was shocked to see we were still in 4th as the weigh in was wrapping up. I'd like to know what we would have had if we had fished totally clean but it was a relief that the 3.5 pounder we saw get off didn't cost us a spot in the standings. Since the team that finished 6th at Muskegon won this tournament 1 point might make a big difference at the end of the year. Not to mention there are a bunch of teams that are going to be right after the next 2 tournaments.
I'd have never guessed that both of us would make 90% of our casts in a White Lake tournament with a bunch of Lew's spinning reels/Dobyns spinning rods (and we would actually finish top 5 with it) but it certainly paid off. It just goes to show that you can't get stuck doing the same things all the time or try to force certain techniques. Luckily the grass wasn't right for flipping because I'm sure we would have tried to force that. Instead there was a lot of grass with bluegill beds mixed in and finesse tactics worked best for us. Big thanks to the Humminbird SOLIX 15 Side Imaging for revealing those areas to us. I can't wait to see all the possibilities that the new MEGA 360 is going to bring. I've seen some screen shots and it is definitely something I'm going to have to have on my boat next season.
Lastly we finally had some nice enough weather to take the kiddo fishing! We dug a few worms, grabbed some snacks, and the 3 of us headed to the lake. The bluegills, rock bass, and perch were on fire. While she wasn't able to fully do everything on her own she could help me reel them in. But her favorite part was grabbing each fish and throwing it back with a "bye fishy". Somehow we handled a bunch of spiky panfish without ever getting spined which I'm sure is traumatic for a child who isn't quite 2 yet. Hopefully that will be the first fishing trip of many, I'm really looking forward to a brief ice fishing expedition this winter with her.
This coming weekend is the Russ Hirdes Memorial tournament on Muskegon. I'll be fishing that and then I think it's a couple weeks off for me. We are going to try and see how camping goes and then I think there's actually a weekend with no tournaments. Until the next one, see you on the water.