As a tournament angler, there are so many things that go through your head leading up to an event and during that event, items such as river conditions, weather patterns and ultimately what the bite is like. Well over the last two weeks, my mind and body has gone through so many things, many of which no one would’ve predicted.
After returning from a vacation to FL, in which I caught my first bass of the year, I got the boat and truck packed up and headed down to the Mississippi River for a nine day stint, consisting of two tournaments. The first tournament was the UMBCS event held on April 28th. I only had one day of practice, so I began looking at typically areas that were close to their wintering areas and pre spawn transition spots, as the water temps were still in the mid 40’s and right away I caught a nice 2.5 lb. fish on a jerkbait. This was a good confidence booster, as I know the bite had been tough and figured this was an area I could milk all day the next day to get our five fish limit. I then made a run to an area where I knew there would be warmer water, which there was, but after fishing for several hours in this area, I had no bites.
So come tournament day, my partner and I fished the two areas where I caught my two fish on Saturday and at 2:00 I finally put a 2.4 lb. fish in the boat, this was it for the day. WOW, this was the most difficult fishing I had ever seen, but like the saying goes, “someone always catches em,” and catch them they did. The winning bag was over 19 lb.’s for five fish and there were several 17 and 18 lb. bags brought in.
My takeaway/mental lesson of this event, I knew where the warmer water was and that tournament day was going to have the most sun and warm temperatures the area had seen in sometime, so those fish were going to be moving into that area, so in hind-sight I should’ve rolled the dice and fished that area where I never got a bite during practice.
Now comes the point where things get weird…as I started to pre fish for the annual St. Jude Bass Classic, the weather man had some sour news for us anglers. I snuck out on the water Tuesday afternoon and was in shorts and sandals, on Wednesday I was bundled up like I would be in mid-April, then on Thursday we got 14″ of snow, yes on May 2nd. Despite being stuck inside while the road was plowed, we did get out for a few hours and fished in this blizzard, pretty crazy stuff and yet my partner did catch two fish in it!! Then on Friday, it was fishing in freezing rain and sleet, not fun at all! We definitely wouldn’t have been out on the water had it no been for our Onyx Pro Tech Rain Gear, we stayed dry and warm despite it being December like conditions. The other key piece of gear that allowed me to stay on top of the ever changing weather conditions was the ScoutLook Weather App on my phone, this helped me better utilize my time on the water.
My partner Nick and I started the first day of the tournament on pool 4, we had two spots, in which we were hoping we could get a few quick bites, but the water temperature had dropped 14 degrees in three days, so nothing panned out. We then locked down to pool 5 and right away I put a fish in the boat and for the rest of the day we worked one area and ended up with five bass for 12.08 lb.’s., putting us in 16th out of 72 teams. We knew the area we were in had the right fish, as another good bag came out of this area. On Sunday, we started and fished the same general all day, using RC Tackle Spinnerbaits and Swim Jigs, is what proved to be our best lure choices, the issue was that the bass weren’t moving up as fast as we had hoped and at the end of the day we managed four bass for 9.39 lb.’s. Are two day total weight of 21.47 lb.’s put us in 27th place out of 72 teams, not to bad, but what was frustrating for us, is that the 2nd place team and us shared the water, what the difference was is they made a strategic 200 yard move at noon on Sunday, when each boat had two fish.
With a start to the year like this, things can only go up and the way Nick and I looked at our St. Jude experience is that we found the right fish, we just didn’t execute, this of which can be changed next time. So here’s us to hopefully finding the right fish throughout the 2013 season.