Well we finally got the party started! This is the first time I can remember water temps still in the low 60s around the Memorial Day opener. It’s been a whirlwind with 3 tournaments in a row, 2 down and 1 to go at the time of writing this. Let’s start with the Tom Cook Memorial day tournament on Muskegon.
With the low water temps, I knew this year would be a little different. However Cameron and I located the right ones to do really well in this event. The problem was we didn’t have much to back them up if we got out of rotation. It was going to be all or nothing depending on whether the college tournament weighed them in or another competitor got them first. We had great weather for the event with some sun and calm conditions, it looked like it would be a great day for sight fishing.
We had a middle of the pack boat number so who knew what was going to happen. It didn’t take long for some disappointment to set in when a boat was sitting right on a cluster of them. However there was no one on the fish I really wanted and it was an absolute giant. So regardless we were going to try and get that one and have a shot a big bass. We spent quite a bit of time blind fishing the bed, you couldn’t actually see what was going on there. We’d caught a bunch of rock bass off the bed which was not a good sign. Part of me wondered if the other boat got it super quick or if it just wasn’t there. Eventually I had to give up but I’d given it too long and the other cluster of fish I needed was occupied. We were hosed at this point, it is so important to be able to get that first one. If it is gone or it takes forever you get out of rotation and it’s going to be a struggle. I’d have started on that big one no matter what so I can’t really be too frustrated about how it went down. It just didn’t work out and we were in an uphill battle the rest of the day. Long story short we never got a single fish we wanted and struggled our way to 14.68 and an 18th place finish. We just didn’t have enough fish picked out to overcome a bad rotation and sometimes that is just the way things go.
I was really looking forward to the next one just because I was going to get to spend a few days on Grand Traverse Bay. It had been a long time since I’d gotten to fish a tournament with my buddy Brent Wheat so win, lose, or whatever we were going to have fun. We had fished some college tournaments together way back before college tournaments were cool. We decided to ignore the community stuff and focus only on west bay, which turned out to be a mistake! Practice was solid, we had some schools out away from everyone and they had been pretty consistent. We also had a good game plan to get some bigger bites as the day went on, however that bite was right on the cusp of happening so we were really rolling the dice that it would be game on by tournament day. Smashing trout and ciscoes was also a blast during practice. You never know what you might catch up there throwing a blade bait in the spring. We caught lake trout, ciscoes, whitefish, walleye, smallmouth, and even snagged a lamprey somehow. I actually let the lamprey suck onto my hand which was a weird experience. I would not want to be the fish that they are using as a host. Seriously though it was just a ton of fun, I hope we get to go back there next year. I know I’ll be making a trip regardless and it won’t be only smallmouth fishing. I also got a chance to get my buddy Kyle who lives up there on the boat. We used to fish a ton in high school but it had been quite a while since we fished. He showed up with a million rods, 2 coolers, and a backpack so we could hardly move around the boat, there was stuff everywhere. We had a blast though and filled the livewell with whitefish, ciscoes, and our 1 fish per person lake trout limit. So not only did we have a good time but he got some fish dinners out of the deal.
Brent and I knew we would be at the back of the pack with boat numbers so like I said earlier we pretty much mistakenly wrote off community areas. I would have fallen over if someone was sitting where we were going to start so if they were still there it could be good. Sometime between take off and spot number one the display on my front graph went out. Not a great start to the day but I wasn’t going to let it get me down. Humminbird customer service is all over it so I will be back in business with it soon! Despite those fish being there for 2 days they had left town today. One 11 inch bass is all we could come up with. Area number 2 was bigger and had more fish so we headed off towards there. I hit some floating debris on the way there and ended up busting one of my Minn Kota Talon tilt brackets. Things weren’t going great but it could have certainly been a lot worse. It would have been pretty easy to get frustrated at this point but we weren’t letting it get to us.
There were a few boats in that area but it was big enough that we had some space to fish. We noticed a pretty significant drop in water temperature which wasn’t going to help things. Brent immediately hooked up and lost it, that bite seemed sort of trouty. The next couple fish we caught were trout and walleye and that pretty much confirmed it. With the cold water temps and no bass sitings we weren’t going to give it long in this area. I expected to have a good bag before starting to hunt for some true bigs but that wasn’t going to be the case today. We went shallow for a bit and instantly caught one, but it was tough to navigate those areas without the GPS. We kept at it for a while but could only come up with one other bite. At this point we could have really let things get to us but we kept after it. We had a few areas close together where I really thought we could get some fish, but I didn’t think they had 5 pounder potential. However it was our best chance to get some momentum rolling in the right direction. After a couple more moves we hit those areas and we were culling in no time. We never ended up getting any big ones but worked our way up to at least having everything in the box over 3 pounds. The quality wasn’t coming so we heading back to looking for big individual fish.
It never worked out but at least we got to have a little fun during an otherwise frustrating day. We ended up weighing in 17.84 and finishing in 24th place which was disappointing to say the least. However it was an awesome few days fishing up there and it was good to hang out with the Traverse City crew. Thanks to Brent’s Dad Brad for a spot to sleep, looking forward to the next trip up there!
Shaun and I are on Muskegon for the D&R this weekend and I don’t really know what to expect. It should be an interesting one with fish in all stages of the spawn. I’ve got no idea how we are going to approach it just yet but time is running out to get out there and see what’s happening. Hoping to right the ship on this one and crack a few big ones. Stay tuned for the next blog to see how it turns out.