When I arrived at Serpent Lake just after 7AM my partner Mark already has his boat in the water. I loaded up my gear and then we waited for the 8am blast off. When I was at the dock Bill Ludenia told me bass were on the flats biting on jig and pigs. When I was in the boat with Mark he talked about throwing spinnerbaits on the flats. I asked him if he was considering throwing a buzzbait at all and he showed me that he had one tied on. On the West end of the lake by the public access there was just a light breeze blowing and there was a slight haze, but not enough to call it overcast.
At blast off we were boat #11 out of 12 and when it was our turn we headed East down the lake as fast as the boat would go and that was pretty fast. We ended up stopping on the Eastern Edge of a weed flat on the North side of the lake where Mark had gotten a big bass once upon a time, as we were getting into position another Bass Snatcher boat came into the same general area.
I started off throwing a pumpkinseed swim jig with a Zoom Speed Craw trailer and I was quickly rewarded with a fish on. It turned out to be the first of many pike that I would catch this day. Mark started out with a spinnerbait but quickly put that down for a buzzbait in the calm conditions we were in. It didn't take long until Mark was rewarded with a nice bass. I switched to a white single spin Colorado blade spinnerbait and caught a rock bass, then a pike, then a 11 inch bass. As we worked our way west on the flat Mark caught another nice bass on the buzzbait. That was enought to convince me to go to topwater and I put on a Purple Berkley Frenzy Popper. I think Mark got another nice bass and shortly after that I caught my first keeper of the day which was a solid 16" fish. Conditions just seemed to be perfect for topwater and anticipation of a strike was high. Mark caught a couple of more fish on the buzzbait to my nothing, so I was thinking maybe they wanted a more active bait, so I switched to a white spook. The fish did seem to like the spook better than the popper. I had a pike launch itself after the spook and miss it. Then a couple of casts later something hit at the spook and missed, then hit at it again and missed, I paused the bait then started it up again and this time the fish got it and I was rewarded with another 16" bass. Mark caught a couple of more bass on the buzzbait and reached his 6 fish limit. I caught a couple of short bass which was a bit frustrating cause a spook is supposed to be a big fish bait. After much walking the dog I did get a 14" keeper.
The wind came up and the surface bite died. Mark started throwing a white spinnerbait and started getting a few bass and pike. I tried the swim jig and the white spinnerbait. I backlashed and broke my line at the spool sending the white spinnerbait into the distance. Easy come, easy Go! I tied on another white single Colorado blade spinnerbait and got back after it. That was not getting any hits so I decided to tie on a black spinnerbait with a much bigger Colorado blade. I caught a pike very quickly on that.
We headed back across the flat to our starting spot and I nailed a couple more pike on the black spinnerbait and also had a couple of hits that did not hook up. We were working the middle of the flat and I was throwing out to deeper water when I got a solid hook up which turned out to be a nice 16" bass. A little while later doing the same thing I nailed yet another nice 16" largemouth. Things seemed to shut down after that and I was not even getting bit by pike anymore. Still the good fish I got on the black spinnerbait gave me a lot of confidence to keep throwing it and persistance paid off as I landed my limit fish sometime around 11am. My limit fish was just a 13 incher. It was really nice to have a limit since my partner Mark's expectations coming in were quite low.
Things stayed kind of slow on another pass across the flat. Mark switched up to a jig and pig and got a bass on that. I think I landed a pike or two and then switched up to a jig and pig to give my back a break from the relentless casting and retrieving. I had a solid pick up on the jig and landed a 14" inch fish so I culled up a little. Not long after catching that fish Mark suggested that we hit some docks in search of a kicker.
We started off on some of the docks on the flat that we had been fishing all morning. As we were moving along we came to a short wooden single dock that looked like nothing. Mark casted at the dock and got a strike but didn't hook up. I made a cast at the front of the dock and saw the bass that Mark missed swim away from the dock then start to circle back in the direction of my Super Fluke. While I couldn't tell completely it looked like the fish picked up the Fluke and so I set the hook and sure enough the rod doubled up. I didn't realize it when I saw it swimming, but as soon as I hooked up it became apparent this was a bigger fish. It put up a good fight and didn't go into the net easy, but I did land the 4lb 2oz beauty which turned out to be the tournament big bass by an ounce. Sometimes you just get a bit lucky and things go your way. This success motivated us to run the lake and hit docks for a while.
We got a few keepers and several shorts on docks, but nothing that would help. Eventually we moved to the South side of the lake and started hitting docks there. The South side docks were pretty dead and we eventually headed out over a flat. I got a small pike, then tied into a good fish that I was hoping was a bass. It was a bass but not as big a fish as the fight it put up. The fish was 15.25 and I ended up throwing it back, which was a mistake because I still had a 14" fish in the well but I could not find it thanks to the fact that I got mixed up when a couple of my clip on cull tags came off of the fish. Mark has a walleye boat with one main non-divided livewell, so with 11 fish in there it was easy for me to not come up with the 14 incher after a bit of a search. I figured I had just measured wrong but at the end of the day sorting it was pretty obvious I had a 14" fish.
We headed back to the flat we started on and I caught yet another 15" bass that would have helped, but once again I did not find that 14" fish and so I let a bigger fish go. We worked the flat and caught a few more pike. With about 30 minutes left we headed back to the launch area and tried a weedy point but didn't get anything. We headed in about 10 minutes early.
Mark thought I had his bag beat by 2-4lbs, but it turned out that he beat me by 10ozs, so I ended up in 3rd place overall at 14lbs 6ozs. First place was 17lbs 6ozs. I got plaques for Lunker and 3rd Place. It's hard to say whether or not my culling screw up cost me 2nd place or not, Mark figured it probably did. Oh well, one place is no big deal, I am just glad it was me that got the big one.
The other rookie in the club this year did not fish for his second tournament in a row, so I locked up rookie of the year honors by just showing up.
Our last tournament is Oct 4th on Upper and Lower Mission lakes in Crow Wing County. Mark says they are great bass fisheries.