Seems crazy we are at the halfway point of tournament season right now. Summer is going by in the blink of an eye. One thing that is consistent about summer is there is always at least one Grand River tournament. It always ends up being one of the most challenging tournaments for Shaun and I. It seems every time we think we have something figured out there it changes, not to mention the river is always in a state of change. I don’t know if we will ever truly dial it in like some others have but one thing is for sure, we are going to keep trying.
After our miserable performance at Charlevoix we were pretty determined to rebound at this D&R tournament. I had one look of the river during a weeknight tournament and was blown away at just how much water was out there. There were so many more places fish could hide and while I think it can make fishing more challenging right now I think it will be a great thing for the fishery in the future. With all that water we decided it was in our best interest to bring 2 boats. Shaun hit the river Thursday and found some very encouraging things in both numbers and size. We both hit the water Friday and found the cold front had really shut things down. We found a few new places we could get bites but nothing really exciting to go on. It definitely prepared us for the tough fishing that would occur during the tournament. Our hopes were that some of the places Shaun found on Thursday would still have some fish that wanted to eat.
We had one area in particular we really wanted to be in, but we knew a good boat number would determine if that was possible or not. Unfortunately our boat number was in the high 30’s. 2 other places were fairly large and had the potential to kick out some fish so we had to choose between the 2. We ended up going with the one that we felt had the best big fish potential and we had some history there. We were ready to go to work flipping and frogging to start the day. Our first bite came flipping and got us wrapped in the vegetation. Coming up empty handed on that one was disappointing, but it was still super early. The next bite was a good one that loaded up on the frog and then just came off. Definitely was a weird deal and we would have really liked to put that one in the boat. We would lose 2 more good bites flipping before it was time to pull the plug on this area. We had spent some considerable time in there and managed to pull some of the right bites but I’ll tell you it was frustrating to still have not turned the livewell pumps on. To survive on that river you can’t miss those opportunities because they just don’t come around all that often.
We made a stop on the main river next and missed a couple fish in the vegetation and caught a couple shorts. I figured that area would be good for at least a couple 2lbers, but not today! Onto our next confidence area and it took about 5 minutes to get a 3lber in the boat flipping. That was a confidence booster for sure. We were pretty hopeful with a good fish right at the start of the area, however things fizzled quickly. We did end up catching a bunch of shorts and a super skinny 15 incher. A lot of time has ticked off the clock at this point, but hey we had 2. We had a tiny little place they were set up on a tee for us not far from there. The fish were savage there the day before so we had really high hopes for it. We hadn’t even gotten all the way up to it when a solid Grand River fish choked the frog. Ok we are about to turn things around and start heading in a positive direction here right? Next up was another short on the frog and then another keeper bite flipping. The only problem is it was in some brush and it was suspended in the air at this point. Not a big fish but a 2lber would mean a lot to us right now. It came off before we could get to it and was another opportunity down the drain. We made another cast to something similar that the first keeper we caught there was relating to. A big one slurped the frog and we got a solid hookset and had the fish in open water. This one was a done deal so we thought until it just randomly came off. That one was absolutely crushing! Instead of having a 3 good fish and a full limit we were stuck there in the pit of misery. Not much to do but keep fishing, however that bite clued us into something so we decided to ride that out a little longer. Going with the flow and fishing some new stuff in the tournament works for us. We did catch another solid fish doing that, but we just ran out of places with the right ingredients to run the pattern. It is definitely something I will look for on my next river trip. We struck out on the next couple spots that typically kick out keepers, but we were going to run back through that little hot spot. Sure enough we hooked up with number 5 flipping and it once again got stuck out of the water on the bushes.
We had a few hours left and really thought we could get a good one out of our starting area. So back we went with hopes of getting number 5 and getting rid of that small fish. Bites were tough to come by but we did snatch a 2.5 pounder out of some pads, unfortunately for it came unbuttoned as soon as it cleared the pads. We never had anything else really going on in that spot. We definitely weren’t going to die there so we started working our way back toward Grand Haven. There was one more small place we had a lot of confidence we could get a couple keepers at. No bites there, but I was wishing I had stopped in there first thing in the morning and tried it then. It was getting down to the wire now and we were still stuck on 4 fish. We checked one more area that we had some bites in practice with no luck. But we had a feeling a nearby place just looked right. However we never got a bite in all the juicy stuff. We had another cast or 2 before it was time to head back to the no wake zone and hopefully get that last keeper. Then we finally had something go our way, a big one slurped the rat and got into the boat just like they are supposed to. I’m not sure I even looked at the fish other than to tell it was over 14 inches. We were pretty excited but I wish I would have listened to Shaun about it being a 4lber to enjoy the full excitement of it. We had just enough time to fish a couple more areas quickly but unfortunately none of them panned out. We knew that super skinny 15 incher was going to crush our bag. We were however extremely thankful to have 5 with a couple solid ones given all the tough breaks we had throughout the day.
Once the scales said 13.3 I assumed we were going to be in the top 10. 13lbs in a big tournament on the Grand is almost always good for that. But the weights in the 13lb range were extremely tight and we slid to 13th (still in check range). We couldn’t help but be a little disappointed because they were so many solid fish that could have made a big difference. I won’t soon forget one of them in particular. But at the same time we are very lucky to have overcome so many missed opportunities on that river. Knowing we fished well helps a lot too even if the standings don’t reflect that.
It continues to be one of the most mentally challenging years I’ve ever experienced. But there’s no doubt it’s only making Shaun and I better fisherman and a better team. We wouldn’t mind it if we got an easy one thrown in the mix at some point this year though. But if not we are unfazed by whatever else happens throughout the tournament day. Next up is the Muskegon D&R, but we took a little time in between to do some relaxing up north with the families. It was a blast but it is crazy how fast the weekends go by when you are having fun. Back down state, back to reality, and back to trying to figure out how to catch some bass. That is definitely on my mind for Muskegon right now since none of the things I prefer to do out there are fishing very strong. I’ve got some work to do to figure out what the next best thing is going to be. Wish us luck, we will need it!