Posted on July 14, 2016

If you happen to be reading this you've probably noticed the new more modern look of the website. The team at Brandirawks Productions worked really hard and did a great job in helping me keep up with the times and integrate the website into a total package of what I do. I really appreciate the feedback I've gotten on it so far!

Night tournament s have continued to kick my  butt, however we are going to turn it around. I do need to give some props to my Monday night partner Cameron Simot.  He has been learning a ton, catching them, and always has a positive attitude in the boat. He has never fished tournaments before so it's all new to him but he is definitely catching on quick. The other night on Muskegon Lake I purposely avoided something semi obvious to see if he knew I missed it and would clean up behind me. He promptly snatched a 2.5lber from it which was pretty awesome!         

It seems like it has been forever since the last D&R tournament but Shaun and I finally got a chance to redeem ourselves on Muskegon/White Lakes. In a tournament you can run I like it to be either flat calm or so rough it makes no sense (for me) to go. Unlike many others I was happy to see strong NW winds in the forecast. I immediately took White Lake out of the equation, but now we had to find a way to catch them good on Muskegon.

We knew we needed to have a really good finish to climb back in the AOY race so we were going to spend some time out there. I took the Wednesday afternoon prior to the tournament and poked around out there. I caught some good ones and shook off a bunch more, but most importantly I figured out the type of water we might catch a few good ones in.

Shaun and I hit the water again Friday hoping to expand on what I'd found. We went to an area neither of us had ever fished but seemed like it could be right. It was absolutely crazy in there, we shook so many fish off! It is so hard as a bass fisherman to not swing on them sometimes. Usually when this happens we don't ever get bit there again, but we had to take the chance that we might have fun on tournament day instead. There was definitely something going on though because the fish were just chewing, everywhere we went we got bit. We even caught a couple big smallies in the brief time we looked for them. It definitely could have been my best summer day on Muskegon ever. I'd seen two fish over 5 eat my bait and spit out as well as a bunch of other big ones. There is no doubt we could have won practice with 21-22lbs. We did laugh that after a day like that we would probably struggle to catch a limit in the tournament.

Tournament day we drew boat 50, which didn't concern us a whole lot. It does suck waiting 15 minutes for second flight to take off though. We decided to gamble on an area that normally produces a big bite or two right away. We hadn't practiced there or been in there all season, we only go there for big tournaments. We anticipated having a decent bag from there and a tiny spot nearby in the first 40 minutes or so, instead we had zero fish/bites. Oh well it was on to the next one, one of the areas we had a bunch of bites in practice. It didn't take long and we put a couple in the boat, we were fishing topwater and for some reason a comeback bait was the key early. But every time we had one blow up, we could catch it with a Nemesis Baits sicko or bullet craw. We got a couple of the bites we were looking for early, unfortunately one of them didn't make it to the boat. It was at least a 3.5lber and inexplicably just came off in plain view half way to the boat. We had a limit with one decent one, but there were a lot of people getting in our way. We were fishing much faster than most, so we headed towards some other water. We hit another one of those places we were saving next and cracked our biggest fish of the day, a 4.14. Things were looking a little better, but we had a couple that were right at 2lbs that really needed to go. We figured it wasn't going to be a big deal so we took a hot lap around the lake hitting all those little spots we thought we could upgrade. The bite really sucked for us for awhile, catching short fish or keepers that wouldn't help for awhile.

After all that disappointment we headed back to our main area and everyone had cleared out. It didn't take long and we lost another big one, heartbreaker #2. However we rebounded pretty quickly, putting two good ones in the boat. At this point we had 3 real good ones and two 2.5lbers, which typically is a good bag any day on Muskegon. I hadn't handled the fish at all so I thought we still had 13lbs in the box. But we both knew we needed 2 more good fish and we worked crazy hard to get them. Unfortunately, we only ended up getting one more good one. We hadn't run out of time yet, but the sun was shining bright and that shut them down. We didn't have enough time to run to another place we had some good bites due to idle time, but we weren't out of ideas. We kept working but unfortunately didn't find one more big one. I was pretty sure we had over 15lbs, so I wasn't going to be upset when we put them on the scales.

I hadn't really looked at any of the fish all day, so I was a little surprised (in a good way) when I went to bag them up. I was even more surprised when Myles announced 17.54 and new leaders! Knowing we were in 2nd flight and that a lot of bags had already come through made me optimistic. However that didn't last long, I knew that dream was over as soon as I looked in Marc Snyder and Steve Stier's bag and saw that 5lber. At the end of the day there were a ton of really nice bags weighed in, Muskegon is really pumping them out right now. Marc and Steve bumped us down to 2nd place which stung a bit knowing we had let it slip away, twice, and how hard it is to win one of these. We are getting closer though, two third place finishes and a second now! But Marc and Steve are good friends so we were happy for them. They stay at my house for these westside tournaments, so it was a good day for the Norton Shores crew. Now we just have to keep it going at the Grand River and Cadillac/Mitchell events.

Other than tournaments there are some exciting products coming to ICAST which is going on right now. The one with the most buzz is definitely the Minn Kota Ultrex which has the responsiveness of a Fortrex but also with Spot Lock capabilities. Bass fisherman are definitely going to want to take note as more details come available. Dobyns will have their new Sierra series (replacing the Savvy Series) and also the upgraded Champion XP line. Lew's will be rolling out some new reels as well, so keep an eye out for that. There will also be a ton of other tackle debuting so if you see something you absolutely have to have make sure you check with ClearH2O Tackle.

In non-fishing related news, Hutch and I are both going to be celebrating birthdays soon. Hutch is going to hit 1 and I'm going to hit the big 3-O. The nice part about that is Amanda took me out on another scavenger hunt for my birthday after the tournament Sunday, this time to the Spring Lake/Grand Haven area. It was a ton of fun exploring new places and visiting old, as well as really wracking my brain to figure out the clues, because my brain was fried after the tournament Saturday.

Next up is the Shoreline Bass Open on White Lake and the D&R on the Grand River. Hopefully I'll have good reports from both of those and maybe even a weeknight tournament too. Until next time, see you on the water.