It may have taken 3 tournaments but we finally righted the ship and caught a few of the right ones. We recently had our first D&R tournament of the year and got off to a great start, grabbed some valuable points, and had a blast.
Timing was weird for this one because of the late spring. There weren't a ton of bed fish to bed had, the largemouth weren't ready yet, and the channel was fading. There were alewives in the lake which may have contributed to it being more difficult too. Either way I felt there was no clear thing that was going to win the tournament. But I knew if we were going to do well sight fishing would play a role in it. I was a little surprised when there were 3 bags over 16lbs at the Monday nighter out there. Cameron and I mostly eliminated a lot of water that night but got a bite around alewives going the last half hour. We scraped up the last check and won big bass with a 4.75. Immediately I knew I was going to try and get in on this first thing Saturday morning.
It looked like I could get back on the lake for a few hours Thursday and do some looking around. I didn't have much time but the sun was out so it was productive. I didn't find big numbers of fish or many big ones but I did come away with 3 fish I really wanted. One was obvious so I didn't have much hope for him but 2 others were pretty difficult to find. The rest of the fish I had found were split up between difficult ones and obvious ones. I was going to have to do a lot more work to find a winning bag of bed fish. Shaun had made it in by this time and he was going to head to the lake in the morning and see what he could come up with just fishing. I wouldn't be able to make it out until afternoon. While driving Shaun's truck that morning the alternator went out and everything but the engine shut down while driving down the highway. It is sort of weird to have no speedometer, window control, or power to anything. Luckily Shaun is the man at fixing stuff so he was able to fix it that day. It sort of jacked with practice a little bit but really wasn't too big of deal. In the hurry to get back on the water Shaun left one of the doors of my truck open. Luckily nothing was stolen and thanks to Mike for giving me a call and shutting it.
We stayed out and never really came up with anything great. Found a couple largemouth that may or may not have been holding on beds. They were both giants but of course they were gone come tournament day. We drew boat 48 so likely were weren't going to get to start on that obvious bed fish. I considered the other 2 I really wanted relatively safe. So we were going to gamble on catching the tail end of the alewife bite. Unfortunately you could tell it was done when we arrived. No surface activity, no birds, no bites. We caught one 2lber right before we were going to leave and headed right to the biggest bed fish. It was a relief when no one was there and it was time to get to work. There was no way to see the bed so it was total blind fishing. It took about 5 minutes to hit the right spot and it was game on. It was a heartbreaker when we broke the fish off on some sharp structure. 10 minutes later and we got him to bite again. This time his escape strategy was jumping but luckily it didn't work! We headed to the next one and on the 2nd cast it bit and we put it in the boat. We picked a small one that was nearby just to have another fish and went to check on the obvious one. We did some blind fishing for it and then tried to see it but never could. We did check again later but once again no one was home. We bounced around to a few other beds but they were either gone, people were in the area, or we could never see the bed/get a bite. We knew where some other filler fish were so we went to go get those. The problem is I really didn't take the greatest notes on these ones. I'm not usually concerned with fish 2.5 to 3lbs. But we needed them badly right now and if we could get them we would have a solid bag for the conditions. We went to one and caught it on the first cast, I hadn't given it enough credit before and it weighed 3-2. At least we had 5 now and in record time compared to how our year went last year. We went and picked a 2 and 3/4 and a 2 1/2 next. One was a 2 cast fish (actually bit on the first cast too) and the other took a little time. There was a female that was starting with that one which made things difficult. She wasn't much bigger but was pretty distracting for that male. At this point we had a solid bag of smallies and we had a decision to make. We really had nothing to go to that was just fishing. But we both felt confident that If we just covered water and fished a few key areas we could come up with a good largemouth or 2. We had quite a bit of time to do it so off we went with no real plan. About 40 minutes into it we caught one just under 3 and it gave us a little momentum that we could get bit winding reaction baits. We went another hour plus without a bite but with the way the wind was blowing I was really hopeful we would stumble across them somewhere.
Finally we got another bite, this one was around 3lbs. The best news was we ignited the school and caught 4 more really fast. All of them were right in that 2-15 to 3-2 range. Big thanks to the Minn Kota Ultrex and its Spot Lock feature for keeping us on the school. They were all so strong for some reason every bite it seemed like it was going to be the difference maker. We were really smelling blood in the water now and felt if we could add a 5 pounder to our bag we would have a good shot to win. Despite our best efforts that bite never came, we did catch a few more fish to keep things interesting though.
We were in 2nd flight and when I got to the bag line and heard only 15 and change was leading it I was extremely surprised. I didn't know what we had since I hadn't really looked at either of the 2 big smallies but I knew everything on the small side was over 3 pounds. I was a little more optimistic we would have a good finish at this point. Our weight settled in at 16.87 and somehow held up for the rest of the weigh in. It is always nerve wracking watching all these guys that can catch them head to the scales after you. It felt good to finally come on out on top at a D&R Tournament on Muskegon (Shaun and I have finished 2nd twice there). It is just so incredibly hard to win against that crew anywhere we fish. I think we could have actually won with all the smallies we had, however it would have been really close. We were definitely thankful to find a few largemouth, it's always fun to weigh in a mixed bag.
The coolest part about this one was idling into Fisherman's Landing and having Amanda and Mabel waving at us on the way in. Also my parents were in town to visit and they hadn't been at a weigh in since the Detroit Lions Charity Tournament so having them there made it even more special. All in all it was a pretty darn good day and it's going to be hard to top it the rest of the season.