Three weeks into the season and things have been going zero or hero. Which is pretty typical for me until the post spawn lull gets out of town and they start eating right. Unfortunately, one of those zeros was in a tournament that mattered. Other than that, I've hopped into a couple random ones and even got Amanda out for one last tournament.
While the tournament I took Amanda on wasn't the most successful tournament fishing, it was a nice relaxed night of fishing. We hopped into the Thursday Night Bite on Muskegon and just had fun. I wasn't driving anywhere fast with an 8-month pregnant lady on board so we even volunteered to be blast off boat. As for the fishing, I spent too much time chasing skittish bed fish or fry guarders and we only ended up with three keepers. However, I'm still glad we gave it a shot!
Next up was a good one, Dave Hoeker and I decided to jump into a West Michigan Bass Sunday Funday tournament on White Lake. Neither of us had been there yet this year so we weren't really sure what to expect. The grass definitely wasn't where I was hoping it would be, but we kept at it with reaction baits all day. Overall it was really slow fishing with a couple flurries of bites thrown in. In the end we didn't catch a lot of them but we caught the right ones and got the win with a little over 18lbs. Also since any West Michigan Bass tournament over 20 boats is Nitro money sanctioned I cashed in on that as well. The Nitro contingencies are definitely going to be a strong factor in what tournaments I fish for the next 3 years.
Now let's get to the dumpster fire, you know one of those awesome days on the water where all plans go up in flames. You never know when one is coming, but when they do sometimes you just have to go into survival mode. Anyway, I'll spare you the details on practice but we were committed to sight fishing for the D&R tournament on Muskegon Lake. We had enough bed fish to do really well and some places that were stacked up with fry guarders. Also, based on some of the fishing we had done, 15lbs just casting should have been pretty easy. However, I could also tell the sight bite was fading and I know to never count on fry guarders. But I figured it wouldn't be a big deal to get at least 4 sight fish over 3lbs and then fill out the limit with another good one.
Tournament morning, we drew boat 28, not great but there was a decent chance we would get to start on a bed fish. We did in fact get to start on one of the ones I wanted. I don't think it was the biggest one we had to go to, but based on its proximity to other fish we wanted and being able to find the bed under poor early morning visibility all play into it. I'll put it this way, you couldn't see crap down there. High, brown water and windy/hazy conditions made it impossible. But after a couple minutes of blind casting we had him in the livewell. There were a ton of fish in this area that were also guarding fry or just eating but they weren't active at all. We did some blind fishing on the other beds until the sun came up enough to catch a glimpse of something skirting off. All we found was a bunch of vacant beds and lost a 2.5lber just fishing. Not a big deal though because we had others to check on, so off we went. We did plan on making a return visit later when the sun got up higher (that turned out to be a waste of time). The next three or four beds turned out to be nothing. We would blind fish them for 10 minutes and then try and see the fish swim off. Visibility was just so poor that we either missed them or they were gone. Ok, not a big deal we had a lot of other good stuff to run. We headed to an area that has always been good to me in the past and we got a couple bites there Friday afternoon. I don't know if guys were right on it but there were too many dudes in the area for me to want to work my way in there so it was onto the next one. At this point Muskegon was starting to get windy, not terrible yet like later in the day, but if you have ever fished Muskegon you know the wind always blows and it doesn't matter what direction it comes out of because it makes it rough everywhere.
Here is where it became evident we were going to have to go into survival mode at some point. We had pretty much a whole pizza we had been saving for lunch. I had it stashed in the cooler in a plastic bag inside the Nitro sandwich tray. Well sometimes that tray likes to fall to the bottom of the cooler if it's rough. We ended up with a bag full of pizza/water, I wasn't hungry enough to get into that. We had a laugh about it and knew we were really going to have to make something happen. The next area kicked out several bites on a frog and a couple on a Nemesis Baits Bullet Craw. A couple were short fish, a couple we just never hooked up with, and one was a 3.5lber that jumped and threw the bullet craw back at us. That one stung a little bit but on we went and biteless we went for the next couple hours. Finally, we caught a 2lber and shortly after lost another nice one. But hey, two is better than one! We kept thinking we could catch them in this wind but it just wasn't working out. We did finally settle into an area and catch our last three fish. Even though it took us seven hours to catch a limit, the fact that we did was sort of a moral victory. It isn't very often we struggle that bad on a lake as good as Muskegon. We did have one bed fish that was still there and it was a good one, but it was skittish and roaming largemouth. I believe it was definitely catchable, but I also think it was going to take a lot of time. Often, ones that don't sit in the bed like that will give you a random bite or two when they make a pass through the bed, but it might only happen once in an hour and if you screw that up you are done. We dropped the Minn Kota Talon's and watched for a little while, but we did not have the luxury of waiting him out with time ticking away.
At the end of the day I was just glad we scratched out a limit despite the way the day unfolded. I knew those fish we lost were really going to hurt us, as it always does when you don't get a lot of bites. They cost us a top 10 and a check for sure as we ended up with 12.73 and an 18th place finish. That is going to be quite the hole to dig out of, but we are going to try our best. We did however cash in on the random drawing for Hydrowave Money. That is the great thing about D&R's tournaments, there are so many little bonuses to be had. I did get a little revenge later in the week in a Thursday night tournament with Doug Gray though. We caught a ton of fish and quite a few nice ones. We ended up weighing in a bunch of clones and winning with 14.68, which was a nice consolation prize after how bad Saturday went.
The rest of June is off time for me. Coming up I've got one of my best friend’s weddings, which Amanda and I will be traveling to the east side for (hopefully baby E won't make an early arrival while we are over there or during any of my tournaments in early July!). We also spent Father’s Day weekend on the east side. Amanda got to check out my brother in laws new restaurant, Gather near Eastern Market in Detroit. She also got to come visit me, Reel n Smoke, and Axle Brewing at the Filson Store. We had a cool little event going on down there for Father’s Day, complete with FREE BBQ and Beer. I brought the boat down for the event, let me tell you I was a little intimidated at the thought of driving a boat to Detroit, but the guys at Filson rolled out the red carpet for me and I was able to pull right up with no issues. Not only did I get to talk beer and BBQ , but we got into some fishing too. I even got some special visitors who happened to be in Detroit that weekend. The pulled pork sandwiches we were serving were amazing and the Axle brews were a huge hit. On a side note I did witness people turn down free beer, something I have never seen nor can comprehend!
I was really excited to have a little fishing outing with my dad and brother for Father’s day on Sunday too. We hit one of our favorite lakes early Sunday morning. I couldn't believe how much that place has changed since I last fished it. They've killed every piece of cabbage and milfoil in it. I had to stow the flipping sticks and start catching them other ways. My dad was doing work with a dropshot and my brother and I were catching them on jerkbaits. At the end of the morning we had caught over 60 fish but the size was disappointing with the biggest fish only at 3.5lbs. Unfortunately, you could see the decline in the fish due to no weeds. The big schools of bluegills were gone and the bass had big heads and skinnier bodies. They've got to work for every meal now instead of ambushing their prey. It was pretty sad to see, and it will only get worse. But we had a blast, it was great for the three of us to get out and fish again. We caught a bunch of doubles throughout the morning but never could get a triple on. It was a perfect day (other than maybe that 15 minutes of rain).
This one is getting long so I am going to shut it down for now. That post spawn funk should be on its way out here in the next week or so. It's about to be a great time to fish, summer patterns here we come!