One of the most interesting tournaments of the year is in the books, the Grand River D&R Sports tournament. Anytime we fish the Grand things are interesting because it is just such a cool place to fish, but 75 boats on it definitely ups the interesting factor. This was going to be a pivotal tournament for us in the points race as we were sitting in 5th after our slow start at Hardy.
Typically I only fish the river a couple times a year, right around the time I have the one weekend tournament there. But this year since I've been fishing the West Michigan Bass COTM west division, I've actually done a few tournaments out there. So I was at least familiar with what the river looked like as well as gained some additional confidence out there. I wasn't going to have much time to practice before hand so that little bit of knowledge would help.
Shaun and I did get out there for a bit though, once again focusing on finding new water instead of checking old stuff. We committed to trying to find places we could get a big bite with a frog and flipping sticks. We knew we would find something, and if not we had lots of stuff we had fished in the past we could go to and catch fish. We had a couple spots picked out on the map to try first, it didn't take long and we figured out a solid pattern. We pretty much knew every time we found something that fit the description we were going to get bit. This held true literally everywhere we went in the river. However there were 2 areas that definitely seemed to hold the greatest number of fish as well as some good ones. We definitely ended practice with somewhat of game plan.
The beginning of that game plan was going to come down to boat number. A good one we were going to start by the ramp to pick up a quick limit. Anything else we would have to see what happened. We drew boat 30, not good and not too bad. Being towards the tail end of first flight I knew we would have some time to make a quick stop or 2 before 2nd flight launched. I was willing to take the risk that one of the 8 boats immediately behind us would leap frog us to our area. About the only advantage to all the no wake on the Grand is we could see second flight oozing towards us, so we knew when to leave.
We got 3 bites from the first stop, but only hooked up with 1. That bite randomly came off, which wasn't a great start to the day. We could see second flight idling so we left, to pleasantly find no one where we planned on starting. It didn't take long and one pulled the frog down in open water, unfortunately we never hooked up with it. Very next cast and we had our first keeper in the boat. We worked down about another 50 yards and noticed a reduction in life and no bites, so we headed back the way we came (and kept moving that direction). We stopped and flipped where we had the first frog bite and I'm pretty sure caught the same fish that previously blew up on the frog. Things happened fast for a couple minutes after that and we put our biggest fish in the boat that was a little over 3lbs and another keeper. Definitely a confidence boost to have the bites for a limit so fast especially when some came from water we hadn't previously fished.
There was another boat fishing the other end of it so we decided to just get on out of there and head to area number 2. We rounded the bend and of course Marc Snyder and Steve Stier were on the same fish. There were 2 sides to the place so we worked around each other and had some fun. There were a ton of fish and only a couple hundred yards were productive so we would be able see each other the whole time. Trading fishing catches and laughs was going to be entertaining. We started smashing them pretty quick, meanwhile they only had 1 fish (but it was a big one). Marc kept whining about it, but we would have gladly traded places with him and been stuck on one big one. He also ended up getting our 5 dollar side bet for biggest bass with that fish (and finishing ahead of us). Anyway we went through a bunch of keepers but never got the right bite, so we were off to run some water. We had a decision to make on whether to make a considerable run to water we hadn't checked or fish some places we knew had fish and run back through our areas. We knew we were around them so fishing time won over the long run.
Once again we got a crap ton more bites but never had a giant slurp up a frog or grab a flipping bait. At the end of the day we had gone through around 25 keepers, even picking up a couple on other places we hadn't fished on our way back towards Grand Haven. You could literally call your shots in the pattern it worked everywhere which was kind of cool. I love it when it works that way and it seems the Grand is really good about that. Another place I've found in my 2 trips there, that patterns extremely well is Lake Macatawa but that is another story.
We knew not getting that big bite was going to crush us, and it did. We ended up weighing 12.86 (link to standings) putting us in 10th place. We got a check out of the deal and some valuable angler of the year points. I hope we moved up a spot or 2 from 5th but I'm not doing the math, I'll wait until the standings come out. It was however a fun day on the river, frogging and flipping all day plus catching a bunch of fish. What's not to like about that? The big bite is just so critical out there and unfortunately for us we never got it. The winning team did though, weighing in a 6.24 river monster! That is definitely the biggest fish I've ever seen at a tournament in West Michigan.
Other than that tournaments I've been doing a little writing both for the FishSens Magazine and the Reel n Smoke blog. If you haven't checked out the Reel n Smoke blog it is worth a look. You'll find little snippets from me as well as other writers and Reel n Smoke themselves. My articles will mostly focus mainly on fishing tips/destinations, but we will go some other places too. The latest FishSens article focuses on smallmouth's interest in the camera. If you are a big water smallmouth guy, this is definitely something you need to look into. We will be going some different places with the FishSens Magazine in the future, more on underwater cameras and fisheries conservation. The downside to that is I won't be putting out any in depth articles on techniques or fishing for the time being. All fishing related content will be on the Reel n Smoke blog. However I would like to continue doing some longer articles about techniques but only time will tell if I can work out a good avenue for that.
I've still got a ton of fishing left this year, but it won't be long and I'll be multitasking. One thing fresh on my mind is king salmon. While the numbers aren't crazy there have been some giant fish caught this year. I can't wait to jig for them, bring on the beasts! Also in the blink of an eye September 1st and waterfowl season is going to be here. That means I've really got to buckle down on getting Hutch ready for the real deal. We did hit the water with the duck boat and decoys for a trial run. It went really well, but it definitely won't be the last time we go in the duck boat before the season. Another thing I'm excited about for duck season is having the very best in protection from the elements. There is no doubt Sitka Gear comes with a price tag, but it is hands down the most awesome hunting gear I've ever had my hands on. It's definitely going to have some applications with cold weather fishing as well, especially the Gradient glove.
That is why I love the mitten, there is always something awesome going on, something that just finished, and something about to get right. Speaking of getting right there is no doubt the fishing is on fire. Every tournament giants are being weighed in, Aaron Feeback weighed in one a hair under 6 in the ROI on Muskegon a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately I wasn't there that night to see it, but it seems every tournament they are popping up at the weigh in. It's been a good week of tournaments for me. 2nd on the River with Cameron and 1st on White with Doug. Hope to keep that rolling tomorrow with Dave on White for the BBT. Could be a lot in the next blog as I've got BBT on White, HOTD on Muskegon, and the ROI Classic on White. Hopefully it is a good report!