SO CLOSE

Posted on August 20, 2016

It has been an eventful last couple of weeks. Our last regular D&R Sports tournament isn't until the end of the month and there has been some time off to jump into some other circuits. We did move up to 3rd in the points for D&R but the first and second place teams are really going to have to stumble and we would probably have to win Cadillac/Mitchell to have a shot at it. Even though Shaun and I have very little experience there, it is the tournament we have been looking forward to the most all season. I feel like we are due for a "W" and that would be an opportune time.

The beauty of west Michigan is it's not hard to find a 60 plus boat tournament with great anglers to fish against. Shaun and I had been planning on doing the West Michigan Bass tournament on Muskegon for awhile but the BBT with Dave Hoeker was kind of a last minute decision. Neither of us had been out there much in awhile, but Doug and won on Thursday there so maybe it would be worth a shot. I knew a couple areas that had some fish, but we were definitely going to have to fill the gaps with some other stuff. We didn't take my boat on this tournament (and Dave has another big tournament out there), so I'm going to apologize for being pretty vague on what we were doing throughout the day. We started in an area that produced some big ones on Thursday, and fortunately they were still around. Our first bite was an absolute giant, you could just see it wallowing around on the surface heading towards the net. Unfortunately this one just came off for no apparent reason, just one of those deals where it wasn't meant to be. The next 3 bites were Nemesis Bullet Craw stealing fish, so 4 bites right away and empty livewells to show for it. I've seen losing a kicker like that just ruin people, but all you can do is just keep fishing. Mental focus and the ability to block heartbreakers out for the remainder of the day is so important in tournament fishing.

Fortunately for us our next bite was another giant, having a 5lber swimming in the well before 8 O'clock is a confidence boost. It didn't take us long to fill our limit after that. We put a heavy 4, a 4, a 3, and a 2 1/4 in the boat to round out our limit. We had a lot of time to cull out the 2 under 4lbs. It didn't happen fast the rest of the day but we kept alternating between flipping and moving baits to catch a few more of the right fish. We added another 4 and upgraded the 3 by a little bit by the end of the day. We didn't handle a ton of fish but they were definitely the right ones. But you know when the big ones decide to bite like that, you aren't the only one catching them on White Lake. I wasn't in the bag line long when I heard the Jackson brothers weighed in 21.0. I knew we didn't have that but it did end up being closer than I anticipated. We weighed in 20.82, so at least we gave them a little scare! If you are going to win fishing against 70 boats, you've got to fish clean. The beast that came off first thing definitely hurt. There were some spectacular fish/limits weighed in though. Big bass was a 6.3 and there were 5 limits over 18lbs. That lake just has so many big fish in it, it is definitely worth checking out if you like catching big largemouth out of weeds.

Tournament number 2 was the HOTD on Muskegon. I signed up for the early draw, knowing I was going to do this event and hoping I would get a good boat number. Shaun and I had takeoff number 4, which is the only good boat number we have gotten all season. There were 3 places I had considered starting, 2 I knew would be consistent and the other was a gamble. Once again we chose the gamble and it didn't even produce a bite! Oh well that is the risk you take looking for a giant first thing, it has paid off in the past and it will pay off again at some point. We weren't sure how area number 2 was going to show out either since I had only practiced for half a day and never checked it. Things weren't really right when we got there but it didn't take long to snatch a nice one. At least we knew there was still some quality in there not long after another decent one missed a buzzbait and we picked up a small keeper. The remainder of the first pass we picked up another small keeper and finished our limit with 2 good fish over 3lbs. One of the good ones was caught flipping into a cattail clump, creating some tense moments. He got hung up the cattails half of his body in the water and half out. He was pretty well pinned so rather than wrenching him out of there we just trolled over there and scooped him up in the net.

We figured it was best to run some other stuff before other people did so we got on the move. Unfortunately we never got the bites we expected in those places, but we had a ton of time to make some good culls. Getting rid of the rats wasn't too difficult, but finding a big one was. We did make a cull with our biggest fish of the day a 3 and 3/4 pounder and were culling by ounces with fish just under 3lbs. One of them somehow was hooked in the bone of a gill arch, but Shaun was extra careful getting the hook out and it hardly bled. A little mountain dew on the wound, to stop any remaining bleeding and the fish was fine. The fish had a ton of black pigment, no doubt it was a nasty swamp bass. But on one of our last stops of the day we traded him out with another fish over 3lbs. This fish was barely hooked on a sour cream C Flash, which is not what you want to see boat side. He was under the boat and we went for a risky net job. The moment that fish was in the net the crankbait went flying, and it completed our day of not losing a fish that would have helped (first time all year).

Despite our best efforts we never found that kicker but had 17.85lbs of solid ones. I assumed we would weigh at least a couple big smallmouth in this tournament. But conditions really never called for it, so we didn't spend much time trying to force things even though it was tempting at times. We ended the day in 3rd place thanks to 2 monster Muskegon bags. But at least we got some cool pint glasses for 3rd place, although the 1st and second place mugs were a lot cooler. I'm very grateful for all the big bites we've gotten this year, but it is getting a little frustrating too. That makes 3 2nd place finishes and one 3rd place finish in tournaments over 50 boats this year. I'm not sure what I've got to change to get the job done, 2 of them we definitely had the fish on to win so those are a little more frustrating. It would be great to seal the deal on at least one big tournament this season though, and I've only got a couple more chances. But it has been a good year so far and I'm grateful for the bites I've gotten, I just want some icing on the cake!

I also want to pass along that my 2006 Skeeter ZX200 with a 200hp Yamaha is for sale (Minn Kota Talons included). I'm excited to be getting in something newer before next season! So if anyone is interested please get a hold of me via the contact portion of the website. I'd rather sell it to someone outright than trade it in.

Until next time I'll be hoping for a lake flip to bring the Kings into Muskegon Lake (and thinking about Cadillac and early waterfowl season). I'm pretty busy until September so I hope it is delayed a little bit. Going to try a few different tactics on them this year in addition to the regular jig, I cant wait!