Well it's been an interesting ride to say the least so far this year. Things appear to be trending in a positive direction at the moment however its still been weird. But at least we got our tournaments back and that means I'm going to get to fish a little bit more.
You would think with Amanda and I working from home I'd get to fish a bunch more. However balancing work and the girls all day has meant the least I've ever fished in the spring time and that's ok. It will end up being the most time we will ever spend with the girls in their entire lives. It definitely was a challenge watching all my friends out there smashing them on the super nice days. Then Saturday would roll around and it would be a high of 42 degrees and spitting rain all day (but at least the fish were still chewing). It's almost July and I still haven't fished a full day without wearing Blackfish foul weather gear.
I've held off on doing much writing lately because for one I haven't had much time and 2 I haven't had anything positive to say. It is pretty easy to get carried away with a couple things I feel strongly about and that's what has happened every time I try and write. I hate to do it here but I'm definitely going negative for a minute. To say I'm still a little salty about the "motorboat ban" would be an understatement. The implications of that are far greater reaching than just being "told" not to use a motorboat for 2 weeks (even while fishing alone). The DNR already struggles gaining public support on many issues regardless of if they are right, wrong, or just doing the best they can. I don't think they did themselves any favors to get any support from the boating/fishing/outdoor community. The actions of their administration certainly didn't seem to be pro hunting and fishing. Along with an FAQ being the best they could do to spell out the "rules" and conservation officers parked end to end blocking launch ramps and turning people away wasn't a great look. Good thing there were still some sneaky launch ramps around. I've got a lot of respect for the people who are in the public eye and really put it out there (Mark Zona was our champion for sure). Also big thanks to MUCC for putting the pressure on as well. I joined MUCC as soon I saw they were going to take a stand for us to go boating/fishing by ourselves or with our families. I still can't believe I lived through a time where I was told I couldn't go fishing by myself in my own boat.
I'm not sure what happened this year but maybe it was the lack of tournaments at the beginning of the year or maybe people are really just that desperate to make a social media post with more than 1 bass. Just to be clear before I start, fishing for spawning bass is one of my favorite ways to catch them and I will snatch them without hesitation if I'm fishing a tournament. I am 100 percent totally in support of sight fishing. I don't care if those fish are going to a weigh in, getting eaten, going to the taxidermist, or just getting caught and released. But it was so disappointing this year to see many social media pics of fish being caught off beds and put in a livewell all day for a hero shot at the end of the day. I'm not sure how it makes sense to pluck a fish, drive it around all day, and destroy the nest. Population wise, no it probably won't make much difference but the principle of it is just ridiculous. I'm not sure what we've won here other than a couple Facebook or Instagram likes. No one got fed, no one got paid, and no one proved anything. If you're a tournament fisherman keep the dang things out of your livewells (especially pre spawn and spawn) unless you are fishing a tournament or are going to eat them! There are plenty of opportunities for hero shots all summer long at weigh ins and those are way cooler because you proved you could catch the bigs with other boats on the lake.
Alright let's get to the good stuff, I've at least been able to get out and fish West Michigan Bass COTM west. It guarantees me one night to fish a week even if it's just for 3 hours. Cameron ended up moving to Lansing for the time being so I've got a new partner this year. Trevor and I have been catching them decent despite going to 3 of the lakes without even being on them yet this year. Things don't even look the same on many of the lakes right now so figuring out something in 3 hours has been a challenge. We are definitely looking forward to more of that summer bite and eventually spending some time on these lakes while practicing for weekend tournaments.
Speaking of weekend tournaments we finally had one. The much anticipated West Michigan Bass Grand Traverse Bay tournament. As is typical of anytime I fish this year, I will bring a massive cold front and wind lots of wind. Shaun and I were fishing this one and it was going to be his first trip up there. Luckily he got to experience everything the bay has to offer from trout and ciscoes to big smallmouth and wind/waves. Fortunately for us I have some good friends that let us invade their homes up there for the weekend. That makes for a good time off the water too and much more comfortable than staying in a hotel. Word was lot's of fish were up and making beds however a big wind flipped the water and 60+ degree water cooled down to in the 40s. It was so foggy from the cold water when I arrived that I could barely see to drive while out on the peninsula. The next day brought a bunch of wind and we got destroyed out there. We got about 10 minutes of productive practice fishing in for the tournament. But we did do some fun fishing and had a blast with a bunch of lake trout on a weed bed in 12 feet of water. Winds were more favorable the next day and we got some stuff done. We felt pretty good about what we had found and knew if we could replicate the bites we had gotten in practice we would be right there.
We have bad boat numbers in HOTD because we decided to fish last minute. That's fine it makes it easier to decide what to do come tournament day most times. There was a boat on our starting spot, but luckily we had a lot of water to run. The big problem was winds/currents had moved cold water into our areas and we were going to have to wait for them to show up. Our first fish was a 2 pounder and then we couldn't keep the ciscoes off of us. We could definitely tell it was going to be a frustrating morning early on and it would be tough waiting for the afternoon bite. Especially when you are only sitting on 3 fish at 11:30. At least one of them was a big one, however the 2 pounder and the 3.25 pounder needed to go. Then like tournament fishing can do it all changed fast. Fish number 4 was a 5 pounder than a couple casts later we had another 2 pounder to fill a limit at least. Lot's of time and all we needed was 3 more big bites. Within 10 minutes we traded one of the 2 pounders for a 4 and things were definitely looking up. We made a little run after that and shortly caught another big one and traded the 3.25 out for a heavier 3+. We caught them pretty steady the rest of the day but just never came up with the big bite. We kept culling 3 plus pounders but could never do any better than one right at 4. We desperately needed a couple of those 5 3/4's from practice or a true GTB giant. However we still had 22 and change and that was pretty cool even though it only put us in 9th place out of 60 some boats. I really enjoy those tournaments we have up north that are basically smallmouth only. It forces us to learn new things and try different techniques. Plus it takes away any temptation to go try and find largemouth.
Other than the bass fishing I got an opportunity to grab some buddies and head out for a relaxing and incredibly fun big lake trip. We headed out with Unsalted Outfitters out of Holland in search of salmon and trout. We hit some dense fog on the way out but an experienced captain and radar kept us safe and heading out toward the fish. The weather could not have been more perfect once we got out there. The fog lifted and it was calm, sunny, and a great temperature. One of those trips you could plan in advance 100 times and the weather might work out that perfect once. In between all the laughs the captain and first mate kept us busy reeling in fish. There wasn't a whole lot of down time and we landed steelhead, kings, and lake trout. I'd definitely recommend getting out with these guys if you are looking for a good time on the big lake.
We'll be kicking D&R off this weekend on White Lake, which from what I've seen is a completely different lake this year. I might as well delete all my waypoints because the grass has changed that much. That's all I've got for now, wish us luck!