We are nearing the end of the season for me. One tournament left on one of my favorite bodies of water. Let's hope this one goes better than my last 2 fishing outings. The last 2 trips I've taken have been less than stellar. One was no big deal since it was just some fun fishing, but falling flat on our faces during the D&R Classic stung a little more.
Before I get to some frustrating fishing stories, let's get into something fun. Waterfowl has definitely been my number one focus this fall. Getting my pup as many experiences and retrieves has been a huge priority of mine and I don't have a bass boat right now. While Hutch still has a lot of puppy in him, he is nowhere close to the same dog as when the season started. He knows what the deal is when the shock collar and neoprene vest go on. His eyes are on the skies and the prize now. It has really made hunting even more fun. We've been on hunts all over the spectrum including some real good ones this year. We've also been on a couple where I never pulled the trigger. I was worried this would affect his focus initially, because there is no "fun" for him. Turns out he likes to go just as much as I do, whether we are covered in birds or are on a quick little hunt just hoping for a couple opportunities.
Let's get to the fishing, Shaun and I had high hopes for catching them on Charlevoix. We never made it up to pre practice so our official practice was going to be it. Of course since we were in northern Michigan in October it was going to be blowing. That made practice a little difficult especially since we knew it was going to blow even worse the next day out of a different direction. We didn't light the world on fire but we did catch some fish. Swimbaits shallow/deep and dropshots out deep were what we got our bites on in practice. We had other places we had lots of fish marked on the Humminbirds as well and we planned on visiting those in the tournament. There was also some obvious stuff we would go to if we got a good boat number.
We ended up middle of the pack so some of the obvious stuff was out. We were off to our first spot a shallow windblown point. Unfortunately there was a boat sitting there, so it was off to some deep fish. There are few places to hide on Charlevoix with a strong west wind and this place was pretty out in the open. The fish were still there, but it seemed like it was impossible to get them to bite. Conditions seemed right for working the shallow stuff for awhile. So we started running windblown points and shallow structure. Figuring if we made enough casts on that stuff we could catch a solid limit and at least be in it for day 2. I won't bore you with the details but we fished all day and only had 1 bite. Even worse is that it was a perch. Pretty embarrassing to do, especially since we had a day of practice!
Fortunately for us there is a 2nd chance tournament for all the teams who didn't have great days on day 1. There was a lot of teams who had rough days and some who caught them pretty good. Still there were no 25lb bags like we thought we would see leading up to the tournament. Things got started off a lot quicker on day 2. The first fish we saw on the graph we caught, while it was only a 2lber it was at least a keeper. Unfortunately when trying to fizz this fish we hit an artery and it started losing a lot of blood. Not wanting to risk it dying in the livewell and us being forced to weigh it in, we turned him loose. After that we caught some shorts in the same area and then things slowed down. Finding fish wasn't really the big issue, it was just getting them to bite. They just had a crazy case of lock jaw everywhere we went. It was much calmer this day so we stayed out deep for the most part. We ended up catching 2 more keepers and one that we just didn't think it was worth getting the measuring board out. One of them was at least a good one and we ended up with 7lbs for the day. From what we gathered from teams who were getting bites is you had to deadstick the bait down there. That is something we didn't do much of. The tournament was definitely a bust for us, but we did learn a few things. It is crazy how light the weights ended up being, it only took 34lbs to win the boat. Congrats to that team for figuring out an ultra tough bite! We are hoping to do a lot better at next year's classic, and hopefully it won't be on opening weekend of duck season next time. Big thanks to ClearH2O Tackle and Nemesis Baits for getting me set up with the stuff I have confidence in up there, hopefully next time I'll use it correctly.
I've got one more time to fish for bass left though. This weekend I'll be hitting the annual fall Portage Chain tournament. I'm hoping they will be biting out there Saturday morning. It is always fun to mix it up between finesse and power out there. I know the jerkbait will be in my hands a bunch and I'll compliment that with a darter. Speaking of darters this is one of the best times of year to grab a long spinning rod, 8lb line, and a 3/16 ounce jighead. This rig just flat out catches them both numbers and big ones, plus it doesn't discriminate between largemouth and smallmouth. If you haven't heard Nemesis Baits is pouring a darter now, so it's easy to get them locally and in the colors you want. It will be interesting what kind of bass we weigh in this year. It is usually a mixed bag, but last year it was all green. I hope those smallies want to bite this year!
Once that tournament is over I'll be waiting for whitefish season. If you want to keep an eye on when it starts be sure to keep an eye on my social media accounts. The way the weather is looking I wouldn't be surprised if it is late again this year. I'll be crossing my fingers for some cold nasty weather to get it going, and once the fish come in a ton of wind.
Until next time I'm going to continue to enjoy the outdoors here in Michigan. I'll also be home a little more than I was during the month of October so I plan to get some more frequent blogs out. Stay tuned!