1. Stick to our game plan. The night before the tournament, my partner Dave Nelson, otherwise referred to as "Buzz", and I established our game plan with specific times set in place as to when to move spots, almost regardless of what we had in our livewell.
2. Catch our limit as early as possible. Obviously, catching a limit is the whole point of a tournament, but our game plan almost required that we catch our limit early so we would have time to visit deep water structure to hunt for those pigs.
3. Work as a team. This also may seem obvious, but often teammates compete against themselves without really knowing it. This goal included being on point with the net and landing each fish, making observations and relaying them to the teammate, and being flexible and open to using other techniques if more success is found on one particular bait than another.
4. 15 lbs Bag. We were shooting for a minimum of 15 lbs of fish. In the past, some bags on this lake easily made it over the 20lbs mark, so we figured if we were in the 15lbs range, it would give us a decent opportunity to be competive and be in the top 10.
5. Make a solid hookset and successfully land each hooked fish. This was a personal goal of mine as I have had a few misses on nice fish this year and have been really frustrated at times. I want everything I do on the lake to have intention, so by setting this goal, I'm able to consciously intend to have solid hook sets, which means that I need to take into account the bait and presentation that I'm using in order to set the hook with the right force, direction, and leverage to be able to land the fish successfully.
Clear to partly cloudy skies.
74.5 degree water temp.
Water clarity- Clear down to 6-8ft.
5-10 mph winds later in the day.
Our game plan was to start in the southern portion of the lake and fish the emergent vegetation, lily pads, with frogs or plastics. We would stay at that location until 8:30 am (start time was 6:15 for flight 2), and then move to a steep weedline dropoff on the east end of the lake. Depending on our fish at that point, we would either head to another deep water spot or head back to the shallows to fish the pads again when the sun got higher in the sky.
After blastoff, we headed straight to the southern end and started working the pads in 0-5 feet of water. We started around one of the islands in the bay, with Buzz pitching a t-rigged lizard and I was throwing a Spro Bronzeye frog. Our first fish came when I was working the frog and a bass swirled up and bumped it twice without taking it down. I told Buzz to immediately pitch his lizard into the opening in the pads where the fish had surfaced on my bait. Within a few seconds of making an accurate cast, Buzz hooked into the fish and we successfully landed her. It was a 19incher, estimated at around 4 lbs. We were pumped that this was our first fish of the day in a location where very few boats were traveling to. This was a great first fish, but in the end, I feel that this fish may have been our downfall....
We continued to fish that area, catching 2 more fish by 8:30am. Since our time was up and we wanted to stick to our game plan, we left that area and moved to the east side of the lake where there is a weedline with a steep break directly off of it. Here we threw jigs, DT 10's and 16's, and rat-l-traps. Nothing. After an hour and a half, we decided that we should stick to where we are confident and decided to move back into the southern part of the lake.
Back in the southern part of the lake, I switched from a frog to a t-rigged lizard. The topwater bite was not there, so I moved to a more finesse approach. I was using a Quantum Accurist baitcaster, 6 ft medium action rod, 10 lb Berkley Trilene Mono, 1/8 oz bullet weight, 5/0 EWG Gammy hook, and a 6" lizard with a red belly and watermelon green back. We ended up getting our limit quickly once we got back into the pads for the second time. We made a few location changes in the same environment and ended up culling out a couple 12 inchers throughout the rest of the day.
We weighed in at 10.75 lbs. This put us right in the middle of the pack, and I believe we placed 22nd or so out of 49 teams. I believe that our biggest downfall may have occurred when we caught that 4lb fish early on. This fish led us to believe that we could stick it out in the shallows and have a chance of getting a really nice bag. We pulled about a 3 lber out of there as well, but for the amount of fish that we caught, we just weren't getting the size that we needed. I think that if we didn't catch that fish, we most likely would have committed more time to deeper weedlines like the rest of the field. Largest bag was over 18lbs, with a bunch right in the 16lbs range. Largest bass was 6.17 lbs and that was a treat to see since that is the largest bass I've seen in person. As always, the Fisher's of Men tournament was well ran and we had a great time fishing and competeing, with a few lessons learned and experienced gained for our next tournament.
I'm looking forward to my next tournament with my Bassmasters club on Rush Lake. This is another lake that I have never fished before, so I'm pumped as always to try to locate fish on unfamiliar waters.
Check out this video that I took just prior to takeoff.
Thanks for reading!
Carl aka "Skip"