WESTSIDE KICKOFF

Posted on July 12th, 2020

We finally got the party started close to home, late is certainly better than never. There have been lots of weeknighters happening and some smaller weekend tournaments. But this would be the kickoff of the D&R Series on White Lake. White Lake may have been where we were but it was a totally new White Lake to me. After fishing there for a Monday nighter earlier in the season it was obvious I could trash most of my waypoints for this tournament and start over completely.

With so few weeds the place was almost unrecognizable. All the places that had been so good to us last year were completely barren of vegetation. Unlike a lot of the inland lakes the culprit wasn't weed killer. Instead it's the record high water and the fact that it has been pretty dirty most of the spring. No light penetration equals no weed growth. I'll expect to see another major algae bloom this year too. There aren't enough plants to suck up the nutrients like there were in the past so it will be right for another big time bloom.

Electronics were going to be a big deal for practice. Luckily when it comes to Side Imaging there is nothing better out there than Humminbird's MEGA imaging. It was going to be boring but a lot of driving around looking at SI was inevitable. There was lots of wasted time driving around looking for one of those really special and totally isolated spots, but from what I saw there just wasn't any of that there. However it did show me the right stuff and MEGA 360 helped us to dial it in even further. We knew we were going to catch a bunch of them by the end of practice if we could get on our stuff. With so little to go around we knew there was going to be a lot of crowds on the places with fish. We had bunch of places and some of it was pretty specific so there was hope we could get in on a few of them.  However a good boat number would certainly be appreciated in this one.

We ended up somewhere in the 40s with our boat number so we definitely had the possibility to get in a bad rotation. We knew a bunch of stuff we were going to have no hope of getting on right away if at all. I was unsure about one of the places we really wanted though, I thought it would likely be boat free. However with about 2 boats ahead of us in the take off line we called an audible and headed to an area we had high hopes for and could see it was open. We got off to a pretty fast start there boxing a limit and one fish we would end up weighing in. Typically White Lake really messes with us and makes us work for them. So it was a relief to at least have a solid start. There was a boat spot locked on the next place we wanted to go so it was onto the next area. No one was there and we had high hopes, it didn't take long to start kicking them out. About 2 casts into that spot we caught our biggest fish of the day on a chatterbait and culled a few more times with it. We ended up really pounding them on this spot several times throughout the day, lots of quality fish but no giants were to be had. The sweet spot ended up being 25 yards away from where we had initially found them in practice. We don't spend a ton of time in practice trying to really dissect an area. Get a few of the right bites and keep on going to find more of them. So we end up learning a lot about a particular spot during the tournament.

We had a solid limit at this point and a lot of time left. It was time to make a hot lap around the lake getting in on places that had them where we could. We had a few good areas that we just never could get on all day. Packed with boats and the same dudes sitting on the spot all day. They were catching them, we were catching them, everyone was catching them! It was a ton of fun, I don't know how many keepers we caught but it was a whole bunch. Unfortunately no matter what we tried the big bite eluded us. We knew we would need a big one or 2 to get anywhere on a day like this. A bunch of 3 plus pound clones wasn't going to cut it in this White Lake tournament. In fact 16.44 pounds barely put us into 12th place and the last check spot.

I certainly won't complain too much though because it was a lot of fun and I'm not really sure what we could have done differently. Maybe thrown some really huge baits is all I can think of. Maybe it would have been a good time to get the glide bait out but instead we just caught as many as we could and hoped eventually we would trick a big fish. It is crazy to come to weigh in and not even be excited with 16+ over here. It was such a letdown we didn't even bother getting a picture of them. We did get a good start on the points and we still walked away with a check and some bonus money. In fact we ended up with 500 bucks just for having birds and MEGA 360 on the boat.

What other tournament trail in Michigan can that happen at? It blows my mind that D&R didn't fill up this year. I know COVID had a lot to do with that but one look at the numbers and it's obvious where I'm spending my entry fee money. There are definitely some other good trails around like HOTD and Shoreline but the bonus money alone is a great reason to fish D&R. I sure hope things will be back to normal next year and there will be a waiting list for that trail.

Weeknight tournaments have still been going well despite playing the guessing game. Trevor and I saw Muskegon for the first time since the first week of the season. Things were looking really good but the fish had other plans. However we bounced around and fished whatever was looking good. We wasted a ton of time in the coontail and for some reason that bite just wasn't happening. But we did end getting a few decent ones (and a flathead catfish) and came in 4th. I think we may have jumped off the winning fish but that's just how it goes. The first time in a while though that every fish in the well was caught on a different style of bait though, junk fishing at its finest. Hopefully we can put together something out there this weekend for HOTD. Just going to go fishing and see what happens (and then I'm heading north for smallmouth). White Lake was once again on fire for our Monday nighter there. Similar story to before we probably caught 40-50 keepers and a bunch of 3 pounders. However the clone curse got us again and we never handled a big fish. 16 and change for 3rd place there but it was a whole lot of fun. If only all 3 hour tournaments were that action packed!

That's all I've got for now. Looking forward seeing how Muskegon pans out Saturday and what kind of weird stuff I can find while exploring up north. There's a lot of things I'm curious about up there and hopefully this will be a great time to answer some of those questions.

 

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