The craziness of traveling to both sides of the states is always chaotic, especially when you are jamming 3 tournaments into one weekend. Travel logistics and trying to have fish pinned down on 3 fisheries with 2 days of practice makes it interesting. Fortunately I had better conditions to practice in than I were forecasted.
I started off on Muskegon Thursday with the wind howling but at least the sun was out. I decided 2pm was my cutoff to get off the water and head to the east side. The drive over went well and I got started for a day on Kent Lake on Friday. Both practices had me optimistic for the weekend, I knew I was going to have to mix things up a bit between fishing and looking unfortunately. I would much rather only be looking at them.
Saturday I was going in blind to fish a Katchem league tournament on the Portage Chain. I started trying a few things I've never spent much time doing before. But I had a good feeling I could catch a bunch of fish quick with a good opportunity for a kicker. I thought it was going to be a slam dunk for post spawn fish, but I was wrong. I caught a 15 incher in the first 10 casts then things calmed down from there. I kept moving just fishing around and caught 2 more keepers, one was so skinny and nasty I didn't even bother putting him in the livewell. Finally the sun was getting up enough where I could see a bit so I went looking.
It didn't take long to figure out there were still some fish either on beds or guarding fry. But finding ones worth weighing in was a challenge. I did end up finding a couple decent ones and after some frustration finally got them to bite. I had a small limit and it was getting to crunch time, I knew I needed a kicker to have a chance at anything. So I went back to gambling to see if I could come up with something. It was time to pull out the Nemesis Baits Upskirt Jig and fish for big bites. I did get some bites, but connecting with them proved to be tough. I also found one more bed fish that would have really helped, I worked him for 15 minutes, got him to bite, and lost him halfway to the boat. I didn't have time to wait for him to settle down and try again later so it was back to jig fishing.
At the end of the day I finished in 5th place with less than 11lbs. Not the day I was planning on having and one of my lightest bags out there in a long time. Congrats to the guys who dialed it in on a lake that was fishing tough! I had no time to get discouraged about my day, it was on to the Kent Lake Open.
This year was another good turnout at Kent Lake. I was fishing with Aaron Cash and our plan was to start the day sight fishing and see where the day went. Despite being boat 19 we were able to start on the fish I wanted to. You could barely see, but a quick check revealed he was still there. I got a poke from him right away and figured things would be over in short order. We spent an hour and a half on that fish, got him to bite 3 times and lost him once. Finally we had to bail and go snatch some others and hope the fish we were catching on bullet craws were still there. Neither went well, we either couldn't get to them because of other boats both tournament and non tournament or they were gone. We snatched a few and checked our other few spots where we were catching them just fishing. None of that panned out either which was surprising, I thought we could catch some decent ones on our just fishing fish in short order.
We did catch one ok fish where we caught a giant in practice, other than that we just pieced together things here and there. We went and looked at some other areas sight fishing and caught a couple solid largemouth. I could see things pretty well, and learned a couple of things that are going to greatly help in the future both on Kent Lake and beyond. On these tail end of these spawn fish, it is way more important to see the fish than any sort of spot that resembles a bed. Patience is a virtue when it comes to those fish revealing their spot.
We worked super hard all day but could only come up with 12.7 something which isn't anywhere close to our typical Kent Lake Open weights. I knew going in we were going to have to pull something unexpected out to catch a winning bag, but I was counting on having around 15lbs. I'm a little upset with it so next year I may have to spend an additional day out there looking around. We ended up finishing where we started off in 19th place. Once again congrats to everyone who figured out the bite and to my buds Brian McCarter and Jason Fowler for winning it for the 2nd year in a row.
From there I headed directly west to Muskegon. It was time to pull it together after a rough weekend. I had high hopes for this one, but I knew it could be tough to compete since boats were going to be running out into Lake Michigan and beyond. I had some good fish to go to, but one was going to be a difference maker. Ralph Blasey and I drew boat 21. This was one tournament I actually cared about having a good boat number. It could have been worse as there were 46 boats in the tournament. Turns out I could have been boat 46 and still got there first.
I got to the spot and threw right where I thought he was and it was on first cast. What seemed like the best start ever turned out to be a huge disappointment. Somehow he got hooked under the chin, so we turned him loose and hoped he would go back to the bed quickly. There was no question it was a giant though and we weren't going to leave him anytime soon. It was so deep you couldn't see if he came back or not. But after an hour of blind fishing we finally got him to go again! What a relief it was to finally get that one in the livewell. We kept snatching after that, picking up a good one here and there. We kept on them for awhile and finally decided to try and get a big largemouth. Maybe I set my sights a little high here, but I was after a truly big bite. But it turns out we didn't need to upgrade our smallest fish, a 3-3 by much. We did get some excitement for a minute when I leaned into one on a Dobyns DX 795 flipping stick that leaned right back into me. It was obvious it was either "the one" or I had something else. It's no surprise it was something else in Muskegon Lake, that place is full of the big toothy ones.
Time eventually ran out on us, and the largemouth deal never worked out for us. Probably should have taken a little different approach to that, but I figured we needed 21-22 to take home a win. When all was said and done we finished 2nd for the 2nd year in a row. We weighed in 19.91 and had big bass with a 5.33. Congrats to Don Watts and Ben Neilsen who narrowly edged us out with 20.01. I also had 4K accounting file my taxes and since I was the top eligible participant I got my entry fee paid by their contingency program. Thanks 4K and West Michigan Bass, little bonuses like that are always nice!
The last thing I've got is if you are a tournament fisherman, you need to get a pair of Solar Bat sunglasses from ClearH2O Tackle. I've got nothing to do with Solar Bat the but if you buy a pair and register for their contingency program. They'll pay your entry fee and give you a gift card to wherever you bought them if you win or place 2nd out of the money. The program is good for 2 years on a pair of sunglasses and I hope to accumulate some ClearH2O gift cards by the end of the season. Hope everyone is enjoying the year so far, I look forward to seeing you out on the water!