13 AND CHANGE

Posted on August 10th, 2018

A lot has happened since the last blog, 4 separate events actually. So unfortunately I won't have enough space to get into every little detail. I will do my best to remember the important ones though. A few of them weren't the typical events we have around here so that at least made things interesting.

Taking it from the top, Shaun and I had the D&R Muskegon event. It was going to be good opportunity to get things back on track and get things rolling in the right direction. That plan became a little more complicated when I visited the lake to get some practice in. All the things I normally like to do were  garbage except for one little flash of greatness. Even then that was fishing a favorite area with a much more finesse approach. That isn't really how Shaun and I like to do things, but the fish get what the fish want whether we like it or not.

We knew we could catch a really good bag or it could be a major struggle. Unfortunately finding quality was difficult for us. We never had a quality bite the entire day and if it wasn't for 2 culls late in the game it wouldn't have been pretty. It was a tough bite but guys caught them like they always do over here. Our 13.57 put us 21st place and down to 15th and AOY standings. Neither of those are good places to be. We've got one event left on White Lake and then the Classic at a location yet to be determined. Hopefully we can make some noise in one of those events.

That Sunday brought a new kind of event and one I was looking forward to. I'd been hoping to volunteer some time to an event this year and this worked out perfectly. River City Bass Club puts an annual kids tournament where kids battling cancer or have battled cancer can get out on the boat for a day. They make it a big event with rods/reels/tackle boxes for all the kids as well as a barbeque at the end of the tournament. The tournament was based out of Fremont and we could fish 3 different lakes. I chose Fremont since it was the only one I'd been to and that's where the picnic was. I hadn't been there in 4 or 5 years so I didn't really know what to expect as far as the fishing. I've seen the weights though so I knew it had been producing.

I got paired with Jared and within the first 5 minutes of meeting him, he made it known he really liked duck hunting. It was obvious we were going to get along just fine and have a blast. He also knew a bunch about fishing so we could try a little harder than I came prepared for. One thing that became evident really fast was that they totally nuked all the weeds in that lake. Another thing that became obvious pretty fast is that the patches with a little thicker weeds were holding some fish. Humminbird Side Imaging was the deal there. I didn't do a ton of driving around but the whole time I was fishing I was watching the SI on my front graph. This brings me to a little setup tip with your Humminbirds. Network your units together so you can pull from all transducers (and no you don't need an SI ducer on the trolling motor). I pull all my SI data from my transom mounted transducer and it works awesome! There's no constant twisting and turning like you would get from a trolling motor mounted SI transducer. Anyway back to the fun stuff, we started catching some nice fish rather quickly. We had 3 nice ones pretty quickly throwing reaction baits but then things slowed down. It was slick calm and we filled our limit on neko rigs. They really started biting for us the last hour and a half. We were having a blast on a jig, dropshot, and chatterbait. I was surprised they were smoking that chatterbait with absolutely no wind. I just wish we had more time, we had 2 schools just munching and I think it could have gotten really messy with another couple hours. Almost every one we were catching was a solid fish which made trying to cull a pain in the butt. We didn't put much effort into that though (who knows if we weighed the right 5), we were more focused on having fun and trying to catch a big one. At the end of day we weighed in 14.5?? or somewhere around there and won. It was a blast beating on some bass and a ton of fun getting Jared out. It was also cool to see how many guys volunteered their time to come help at the event. it sounds like every year there are more boats that show up than kids to take out.

The BFL was making a west side visit this year so that was up next. Who knows when they will come back again so I wasn't going to miss out on a chance to fish. Mabel came down with hand, foot, and mouth during the week and I had night work so we could catch mysis (a shrimp in the Great Lakes). So my practice consisted of about 4 hours on Thursday morning. I spent the whole time looking for something new since it wouldn't bother me just going fishing during the tournament. This tournament was open to run and I was cool with either staying or going. Although since Muskegon had been such a grind I was hoping I could run up to White Lake even though I hadn't been there in 3 weeks. The forecast kept flip flopping between good and marginal. My plan was to make the run under calm conditions in the morning and get back before it got rough. Unfortunately there was already a surge in the morning which meant a 35-40 mph boat ride on the way there. It also meant things were only going to get worse. If I could get a good start up there and leave by 11 I thought I would be ok. Things were further complicated by a 60 boat tournament already going on up at White. I had no idea where I would be able to fit in once I got there.

I made the run the last time I fished a BFL (finished 10th) and I'm still haunted by a fish I lost in that tournament first thing in the morning. It would have bumped me up a ton that day so I was hoping to not have issues like that this time. About my 4th flip of the day I cracked an ok fish, one that gave me some confidence anyway since I hadn't been up there. That was over as quickly as it started though with that grass bed only producing a pike and a couple short fish. I hoped to hit a bunch of spots quickly and then dial it in from there. Getting to those places was the problem as there were boats everywhere. I missed a couple bites and lost one on my next stretch. No big deal, I was going to hit a spot that almost always has a couple good fish on it next. But to my disappointment the grass was garbage on it. I hadn't actually planned on spending any time in the narrows but I popped in there for a minute. My co angler caught a nice fish and shortly after I put keeper number 2 and a 4lber in the boat. Things were looking better now, I just needed a couple 3lbers to fill my limit. The next couple hours produced only a few short strikes and one nice lost fish. Still thinking about that one too, it should have never come off but was just one of those weird deals. It starts to feel like the world is bearing down on you when you are running out of time and stuck on 3 fish.

I got one of those weird feelings to go fish something I don't think I have ever fished before. But it looked right from a  distance, however I did not have any time to waste on something random. But like I always say when instinct sends you somewhere you don't question it but instead put your confidence in it and go. It ended up being a good call as I put my 4th fish in the boat there. I was happy to have it even though it was just a 15 incher. I actually caught another fish on the very next flip but it didn't measure. The good news was there were other similar places to run however none of them panned out. I did have more places to hit in the lake but unfortunately I could not get anything going. I could tell it was getting windy (we took a beating on Lake Michigan) and I had to make the tough call at noon to head back to Muskegon. I really felt like I could get a big one out of Muskegon and knew of at least one place they would be set up on a tee for me. I raced right to there but could only pull short fish out of it instead of 4lbers. I'd have been thrilled with anything over 14 inches at that time. I hit a desperation spot next and at least put number 5 in the boat so I could at least maybe squeak out a check. I still had time and I was going to keep swinging the flipping stick like I had been all day. I made one solid cull with about 35 minutes left and that would be it.

I was relieved to have at least caught 5 but I was so disappointed in myself too. The scales settled on 13-3 putting me in 15th place out of 95 boats. A top 10 wouldn't have bothered me too much, but come on, I need to get it together. Good luck, bad luck, or anywhere in between there is no excuse to not catch them on the home lakes. I felt bad for my co angler too it would have been nice to get him a limit in his first BFL. Just frustrated with it all around, but I hope to get another crack at it next year. If not I might have to travel for one of them, it was fun to fish something new.

Shaun had been practicing Muskegon all day for the Payback Bass tournament on Sunday. So at least I would get a shot at immediate redemption. I will keep it brief for this one but when you don't have a keeper in the boat at noon it is not a good sign. We did end up catching 13.5 lbs off a new spot I found during that 4 hours of practice but it was just a consolation prize since we didn't get a check. Guess I should have stayed on Muskegon and spent some time there the day before. It was holding some quality fish but unfortunately they didn't all make it to the boat.

At least we kept with that 13 pound theme, we should get a prize for being consistent right? In all seriousness I feel like I have never had to work so hard to scrounge up 13lbs in my life. It's all good though, when one of those easy days come around again. I know Shaun and I are really going to appreciate it.

One more thing and I'll get out of here I know this has been a long one even though I've had to cut out a lot of details. One thing everyone needs to do in the meantime is check out the Dock Talk Radio Facebook page for details on a Lake St. Clair guide trip giveaway. They've partnered with Marcel's Guide Service to give away 2 free Lake St. Clair trips, sounds like there will actually be 4 winners and several different ways to win. Definitely keep an eye on that contest, prizes like that don't come around every day.