It’s time to catch up on some tournament news/details. I’ve got a couple to go over, the Payback Bass event on the Grand River and the D&R series event on White Lake. You are probably thinking why Shaun and I would go back to the Grand after the beating we took. We just can’t help it!
The Payback tournament is a little different than most, 400 dollar entry fee with a 5000 dollar guaranteed first place. Also you have to have your money in ahead of time, so no one is pulling out of the event because of a bad practice. I was hoping to get some more practice time on the river that week, but we ended up going to Lake Huron for work. We did get a day in right before the tournament and tried some vastly different things than we are used to. We had some decent fish going in 4 areas, so we had high hopes for the next day. We started in an area we don’t really have much experience in but had a bunch of fish in it. To start out we had a recreational fisherman sitting right where we wanted to be, so we headed on down toward an area we never touched in practice. Our expectations were a couple decent fish with a quick limit. They were on it right away, picking up a 15 incher on a buzzbait and 2 super quick frog fish. The second frog fish took 2 casts to catch and unfortunately he got it right in the tongue somehow. Even worse it was a 2.5 to 2.75lber, which is a solid fish for the river. Going back to my last blog we were going to have to keep a close eye on the fish. It lost a lot of blood and the G Juice wasn’t working either, after about 20 minutes we could see it was really struggling. Instead of being stuck with the fish we elected to let it go, since it was likely going to take more weight to win.
Things started to go downhill from there, we picked up one more but couldn’t get any bites on the stuff we expected to get bit on. We headed to a cranking spot next and got no bites there, clearly our timing was off there. From there it was time to hammer down with the flipping sticks and rat rods. We had a few misses on the rat and connected with a quality fish flipping a Nemesis Baits Bullet Craw. Unfortunately that one didn’t make it to the boat. We filled our limit in the next area with 2 keepers on a frog. The limit fish actually followed the rat out to open water and missed it. However I could still see the fish sitting there and a couple twitches of the rod coaxed him into biting again. It was still pretty early so we had the rest of the day to hunt up some big ones.
We headed to the bayou we have the most confidence in and settled in to spend some time there. Hours later and we still hadn’t gotten a bite, it was just brutal. We had some difficult decisions to make at that time because the grand is full of no wake zones. Unfortunately you can’t just run the river, so you really have to factor those no wake zones into having an efficient plan out there. We did make a couple upgrades but never had a true quality bite and ended up with 12.33 and 11th place. Not the outcome we wanted but it was par for the course anytime that Shaun and I had been fishing together this year. It has been pretty easy to put together good bags on weeknight tournaments this year but weekends have definitely been a struggle.
We had really been looking forward to the next one because White Lake is always a good time, except when it’s not. I spent a day up there before the tournament and found ok fishing. Nothing crazy, but we were going to get some bites. I spent a lot of time trying to find something off the wall, but that never happened. It was time to pick up the Dobyns flipping sticks and go to work.
Things started off incredibly slow once again, we picked up 3 fish in the first couple hours (nothing we wanted to weigh in). We did have quite a few bite it and drop it which was driving us crazy. We couldn’t find a combination of things that they would eat well. We headed shallow for a minute and spotted one cruising. Turns out it was aggressive and ended up in the livewell. I’ve been on a roll with that lately. A couple weeks ago on a night tournament on Muskegon I had one miss a bait shallow but I was able to keep an eye on him. I followed him for about 30 yards and when he set up on a piece of cover I pitched in and caught him. I love sight fishing them no matter what time of the year it is!
We rolled up to an area that has historically produced some big bites for me in the past. Shaun stuck a 4.79 on the flipping stick, that fish was a real game changer for us. It was 10 am and we had lots of time to trade out the rest of them. Typically rounding up 2.5-3lbers out there isn’t that big of a deal. But we struggled like crazy, missing fish, culling by ounces, and never getting another quality fish in the boat. We finally had that difference making fish and couldn’t put anything to go with it. As the minutes ticked off the clock, a major opportunity was slipping away. It was a huge disappointment as we finished 13th and first out of the money. That 4.79 did end being big bass of the tournament and a 1200 dollar fish, so that took the sting out of things somewhat.
We have a few more chances to really put something together this year. So hopefully we can get it done, or at least fish a tournament that isn’t such a grind. I haven’t had any of those days on the weekend yet this year where you just roll in and catch quality fish all day. It just hasn’t been an easy year as far as that goes, but it really doesn’t matter what you have at the start of the day. It’s what you have in the livewells at the end that counts. That certainly was true of the Thursday Nite Bite Classic with Doug this year. It’s a 6 hour tournament and we went the first 3.5 hours fishless. Luckily the big sticks ended up bailing us out and we caught 14lbs to finish 4th in the last 2.5 hours. Days like that are always good reminders to stay focused and to not let any failed spots/techniques/lost fish impact decision making, confidence, or listening to your instincts. It really teaches you to be unphased by the failures of the day.
A couple more things that have nothing to do with bass fishing and then I’m out. I’m starting to get a touch of salmon fever already and the kings are HUGE this year. Captain Kyle from Great Lakes Guide Service just put a 41 pounder in the boat out of Muskegon! I can’t even comprehend a fish in the 30’s let alone a 40. Anyway most of us bass guys are either going out with a charter captain like Kyle or are going to try and get them on a jig once they hit the harbors. I know there is always some confusion on which jigs are best. So ClearH2O Tackle is going to make it easy on you this year. We are going to offer a package of my favorite spoons for jigging Muskegon complete with some quality hooks (absolute necessity). Stay tuned for that, we should have it available here in the next week or so. Also if you do make it out here to do some jigging, you’ll want to bookmark my latest recipe. It is by far my favorite way to do salmon and it is super simple. You can find it in the news section of the Reel n Smoke website. The rest of August is sure shaping up to be exciting! See you out there!