It has certainly been a strange year for tournament fishing in west Michigan. I can't remember a summer where it seemed like there was a little break in the action, but this July was it. Great Lakes water levels are actually so high in places that launches are flooded and unusable. Such is the case with the Harbor Island boat launch in Grand Haven.
This has been a big deal in the tournament scene over here as the Grand is always a stop on the schedule. It's been fishing well with the high water too, I think the reduced pressure is helping a lot also. We already had one tournament altered for D&R because of it, it wasn't a big deal because it was just moved to White Lake. But who knew what was going to happen with the next one being scheduled on the Grand. I think everyone had a little hope that the water level would just go down because it's a river. But Harbor Island is so close to lake Michigan that it didn't matter how big of a drought we had, Lake Michigan levels were what was keeping that launch flooded. As with anytime a tournament organization has to make a tough call with cancelling an event there were some upset people. For what it's worth I'll give my opinion on the deal. Bottom line is that it's a bad situation that I don't think anyone saw coming at the start of the season. I never heard anyone who has been fishing over here forever mention something similar. Yeah it sucks we had to miss a tournament for a bunch of different reasons, but it's no ones fault. There was a kayak tournament on Muskegon, it didn't sound like White was a good option for several reasons, and it was super last minute to find a place to stay up north. Unfortunately there just aren't that many ramp facilities that are capable of holding an 80 boat tournament around so options are limited without significant travel. Could we have all known it was going to be cancelled sooner, absolutely. At minimum the weekend before so people don't waste time making trips to prefish or are able to make plans for the next weekend with their families. The money is still going to get paid out so it's no big deal. Hopefully they will split it up between the classic and the next tournament that way more people will have a shot to get some of it. I'm extremely grateful we have a series like D&R to fish and I'm looking forward to the next one!
As for the fishing lately it has been up and down for me. I had my worst weekend tournament on Muskegon Lake ever! I took my buddy Trevor out in his first tournament with high hopes of catching a good bag. Things looked right out there but they just weren't. Even with some pretty solid back up plans it was just impossible to get anything going. Then the pressure really got put on us when we had 3 little keepers at 1pm and Amanda texted saying that my nephew Ethan wanted to come to the weigh in and see the fish. We were finally able to fill out a limit and missed a couple chances at some decent fish but it just wasn't happening for us. At least we got to show Ethan a few bass and Trevor was able to see what a weigh in was all about. But after catching 9 pounds on Muskegon all I can do is smile and chalk it up as one of those days. It is amazing how fishing can be like that and there is no point in dwelling on it.
I did redeem myself somewhat at White Lake a couple days later as Cameron and I had a great Monday nighter. We caught an absolute ton of really nice fish but no real giants. Just a bunch of clones for 16lbs and the win. We caught a couple key fish that night by spotting bluegill beds on Humminbird Side Imaging and throwing at them. Humminbird MEGA 360 was just coming out at ICAST that week so it really drove home the fact that the technology is going to be huge. There is no doubt I'm going to have to have that on my boat next year. Seeing images with the clarity of MEGA in front of the boat is going to be just incredible.
With the Grand being cancelled there was a small pick up tournament thrown together by West Michigan Bass. I really waffled on going to fish it or not but decided it was in my best interest to stay sharp and go fish a tournament. I decided I was going to try something I never do in tournaments which was stay in Spring Lake. It would be a good opportunity to stay in there and try and learn how to catch them without much pressure. I called in the big guns for this tournament and got my buddy Mike Elkins to come up from Kalamazoo. Regardless of the outcome it was definitely going to be a good time with Mike in the boat. We caught a bunch of fish throughout the day but not the ones we needed for this tournament. We missed a couple opportunities at a better bag but never were on the fish to win (there were 3, 16 pound bags). However we did catch 13.46 with a bunch of solid clones, usually that's pretty damn respectable out there. Just about any of the big 75 plus boat tournaments out there that is going to put you in check range for sure. So anyway it was a moral victory and we definitely discovered some things about Spring Lake.
As we are most of the way through the summer this year I am definitely noticing one trend in the fishing on the lake shore. While I'm still seeing some, I am seeing WAY LESS fish that have been shanked by puncture style cull tags. I've got to give credit to West Michigan Bass for leading the way and banning puncture style cull tags (and also D&R for following suit in their trail). I'd also say just the anglers in general have been pretty supportive of treating their fish better. Plain and simple if you are still one of those dudes out there shanking fish, please stop.
I will say though that I have enjoyed spending time with Amanda and Mabel during this little bit of a break. We survived a mini camping trip with the 3 of us and Hutch. We've been to the beach a bunch and have just had a lot of fun during the last summer of it being just the 3 of us. That's right baby Elliott number 2 is coming this fall. Exciting times ahead!