Finally we are starting to get this thing rolling. Bites are coming easy with a few grown ones mixed in. While techniques and areas change I didn't make a major change to my attitude or approach. Things are just starting to fall into place a little better.
That is one of the most interesting and challenging things about tournament fishing. Maintaining the confidence you are going to catch them no matter what. Whether you had a crappy practice, didn't practice, lost a giant, have never seen the lake, or only have 1 fish in the livewell at 1 o clock. If you let any of those things bother you or even creep into your mind for a second, you are nothing more than a sheep thrown to the wolves in tournament fishing. It can be hard to maintain that attitude after a couple bad tournaments. But it's something you absolutely have to do if you want to stay in the game.
Probably the most frustrating thing for me is just a bunch of challenging tournaments in a row. Where things seemingly should have gone right, but for whatever reason it just doesn't work out. It's incredibly easy to spin out, start over thinking, and stop listening to your instincts. The most important of those 3 things is your instincts. I have learned that I really don't care how weird or stupid a feeling I have towards an area/bait/whatever it may be is actually seems. I'm going to dig that rod out of the rod locker or motor over to that spot. I will never not listen to my instincts, even if it doesn't work that time. Because maybe next time it might and the second you start ignoring those feelings you lose the intangibles in fishing. Keeping in mind we are chasing a fish that does not always make sense or do what it is supposed to according to the text book is something to never forget.
I'm not really sure where I'm going with that or how to exactly convey it well but just know it is important. For instance Cameron and I were on the river the other night and something just caught my eye. I didn't really have a plan, I actually didn't even think we were going to be able to fish that night. Anyway I'd never fished there before in my life, but it looked right. We went over there and had 4 bites losing 2 keepers. Anyway it clued us in to what to look for and we caught a limit off of similar stuff including a couple nice ones. We ended up winning the tournament and even though we didn't get all our weigh in fish that way, we certainly wouldn't have won without it. However we have done stuff like that many other times this year and for whatever reason it didn't always work out. More than often that is how it goes, but when that starts clicking look out because the bites come easy.
One thing I never do after a bad tournament is spend a bunch of time second guessing myself. It's easy to say well maybe I should have done this and I would have caught a bunch of 5lbers. Look back on the decisions you made and pick out the things where maybe you could have used your time more efficiently, or made an adjustment, or abandoned what you learned in practice, or maybe just not been so stubborn thinking they would bite. I can promise you if I have gone fishing regardless the outcome, species, or conditions I am going to learn something every single time out there. We all experience some absolute disasters out there and the best thing to do with them is at least learn something.
I could go on and on about confidence, instincts, and learning. I believe it is the most important thing in fishing without question and I get pretty excited about it. So I'm going to cut myself off before I keep ranting about how important it is and switch gears to a tournament I fished on White Lake over the weekend.
The stars finally aligned for me to fish a tournament with the founder of Reel 'n Smoke. It wasn't anything major just a local open, the Shoreline Show me the Money tournament. I'm surprised it isn't more well attended, it has a great payout and is well ran. But only 23 boats showed up for it this year. The forecast was for an interesting day and that definitely did not disappoint.
The morning was pretty normal weather wise luckily and the added bonus was I got to start where we wanted too. We hit a grass patch in 18-22 feet of water and began dunking Nemesis Baits bullet craws with a 3/4 ounce tungsten down in there. To my surprise we never got bit either, so we moved up top and lost one on a swim jig right away but couldn't get anything else going. So it was on to spot #2, where we hoped things were going to go a little better.
It didn't take long and things were getting better. Billy put 3 in the boat really quick 2 on a swim jig and then one on a Nemesis sicko. Since his bass fishing experience wasn't really much I was starting to wonder what was going on. I lost one good bite on a swimjig, but nothing was happening on any of the other silly stuff I was throwing. It was calm and Billy had just caught a 3lber on a sicko so I picked mine up and we started going to work. We filled out a limit and started culling, they were really on the sicko. Which however boring it may be to fish, if they are biting it good I can live with it. The only problem we were having is about every other fish Billy had on would take him into the weeds and get off. We have got to work on those "owning the fish" skills and get him off that trout fishing stuff so we can get more bass in the boat! Anyway we caught a crap ton of them and had a really nice bag, so it wasn't a big deal. We were chucking Green Pumpkin Candy (about the only color I use in them) 5 inch sickos, but that was only because I did not have any of the 7 inch version. This was literally the absolute perfect scenario to be throwing that bigger sicko. Offshore weeds, hot weather (high bass metabolism), and around a school of fish. Often that triggers 3.5lb bites out of the school vs 3lb bites and that could have been a game changer for us during this tournament. So whatever you do make sure you remember that and have some on hand whenever you are on the water in the summer.
I had intermittently been flipping waiting for that to turn on. Well one of the times I picked up the B2 bullet craw they had decided it was time to start biting it. They were on fire with and we made some more culls pretty quickly. We were culling 3lbers but we couldn't get that big bite. I did bow up on one fish flipping I would have liked to have seen but who knows if it was a big one or not. But we had a good bag and over half the day to hunt for a kicker. Then things changed drastically.
It had been raining some and there was a little breeze. But as soon as the front pushed through things got crazy. The wind was absolutely ridiculous. I don't mind fishing in strong winds, but when it is trying to blow you out of the boat we have problems. We had no choice but to try and hide, which since it was blowing right down the lake was going to be challenging. I had hoped it would be calmer in the narrows but unless you tucked into a marina good luck. I was actually surfing waves when we came into the narrows, not what I expected on White Lake.
It was not easy to find water we could effectively fish but we kept working and despite our best efforts. Unfortunately we never came up with that big bite, but we still had a solid bag of fish. We ended up weighing 16.30 for 5th place, but it was kind of a kick in the balls that 4th had 16.32 and 3rd had 16.40. I'm sure we had our opportunities at that one at some point throughout the day. However mission accomplished on getting Billy hooked on tournament bass fishing, he hasn't stopped talking about it yet. Also I just wanted to say for someone who has never done it before he worked super hard all day, stayed positive, and learned a ton!
Other than fishing I did make a quick trip to Fairborn, Ohio to finally get a firsthand look at FishSens/Fondriest Environmental. It was very cool to see exactly what the shop is like. They employ around 30 people and I was very impressed at the whole operation. Everything about the facility, projects, and the way they do things was top notch. I also got a chance to check out there recently completed research pond. It has a bunch of bass, bluegill, baitfish, and a few surprises. It will be cool to see the pond mature.
Next up is the D&R on the Grand River, it should be an interesting one. Crossing my fingers we get that big bite again. See you on the water!