Everyone needs a grinder of a tournament once in a while right? I much prefer to have the fishing good vs tough because it’s a lot easier to dial things in. Plus catching fish throughout the day is a lot more fun than constantly washing baits. However we don’t get to choose in tournament fishing and the Muskegon Lake D&R tournament was going to be one of those grinders.
It’s been no secret this year that Muskegon has just not been itself. Despite the fishing being on fire just to the north on White Lake it has been a challenge to really get things going on Muskegon. Weights have been down and many of the traditionally good areas are not producing (at least for me). My favorite program of digging around in the grass out there just hasn’t been clicking for me. That’s one thing about the lakeshore is it just keeps you on your toes. There is no just finding the good stuff and fishing it year after year after year. The grass and the water levels have just changed so much and it leaves you no option but to change with them. I really wish I could make sense of what the deal is out there but honestly I have no real good explanation. I’ve just accepted that bites aren’t going to come easy this year.
Trevor and I fished out there for our Monday night tournament that week and got a nice preview of how tough it was going to be. A couple areas did remain consistent with a few bites and then we really struggled. Every time we had a chance to get number 5 something would happen and we would lose the fish. Finally we got number 5 at the end of the night and finished in 3rd place with less than 12 pounds, another good indication that the weights are going to be tough.
Practice was absolutely brutal for the event. We came out of it with 2 spots that had them pretty good and a couple other areas that produced some shallow bites. One area is a spot we always fish and the other one was a place we have never caught them before but it has the right stuff. We got a crappy take off number again and I was definitely worried about not getting one of those spots. We knew our other areas were going to have people on them but I was hopeful we might get one of the places that had a school. Getting a good start when Muskegon is tough is absolutely critical because getting the big ones is often a game of hunting individual fish. It’s a lot easier to do that with 5 in the box no matter what their size is.
Unfortunately where we wanted to start had a boat on it and they got them. Spot number 2 which I was really worried about having a boat on it was empty. We pulled in there and immediately got a bite which came off after a couple seconds. Not the way we wanted to start things but a couple minutes later we put 2 in the boat on consecutive casts. We fished there for a while longer and put 2 more in the boat. No big ones, but one that was acceptable and another fish we would end up weighing in. We weren’t surprised when the next couple places we wanted to fish were covered in boats. But it wasn’t long and we picked up number 5 with a flipping stick. We had a long time to look for big ones at this point and were feeling pretty good about the day.
It’s a lot easier to just let the day evolve at that point and that’s exactly what we did. We haven’t done a whole lot of dock fishing the last few years but something felt right about a set of them and we went in. Out of the first 6 docks we fished we caught one good one and 2 other keepers. However the next 50 docks were a total waste of time. We just timed it right or whatever, regardless we will take it!
The next several hours were brutal not many bites and nothing to help our cause. Fishing started to pick up towards the end of the day but size was still an issue. In heroic fashion we put one more good one in the boat around 2 o’clock. That fish bit a jig and would be our last cull of the day. We caught about a dozen keepers on the day and ended up with 14.90. One small fish absolutely killed our bag, just a 2.5 pounder would have made a huge difference for us. However with such tough fishing we were grateful for what we got and ended up with a 9th place finish. I’m always impressed with how guys always catch them on that trail. I would definitely have put 14.9 closer to the top 5 after what we say in practice.
That finish does put us in 3rd place in the points but way back from 1 and 2. Those guys will be impossible to catch this year but we are going to do our best to bring some good bags to the scales in the next 2 events. I expect them to both be tough tournaments too. Muskegon at the end of August is never any fun and I’ve heard the bite on the river is slowing down.
I guess we’ll find out something about the river this weekend during the HOTD tournament. We haven’t spent any time out there this year so it should be an adventure at least. It however is going to be nice to finally fish there again. It’s awesome that West Michigan Bass found a launch capable of holding a tournament on the river again since Harbor Island is flooded. I also like this launches location more than Grand Haven because it eliminates a no wake zone unless you are heading to Spring Lake. I can promise you we won’t be heading to Spring Lake so it definitely benefits us.
That’s all I’ve got for now, hopefully the next one will have some good news about the Grand River tournament.