I had one goal going into this tournament and that was to catch my 6 fish limit so I would have caught a limit in all 6 tournaments on the schedule. Accomplishing this goal would be a mark of distinction especially fishing from the back of the boat. Up until this year in the 31-year history of the Baxter Bass Snatcher Club, a total of only 7 different anglers had ever caught a limit in every tournament in a season and those 7 did it only 16 times. I was pretty hungry to achieve this goal and at 1pm with only 2 keepers in the well, I began to feel the pressure. Did I rally or fall flat? Read On
On my way to the lake in the morning, I missed a right turn and was headed North on the wrong road. I kind of sensed something may be wrong and I kept looking for a sign to tell me if I was on 3 or not. I finally got to a road identification sign and I was on 4, not 3. I immediately turned around and sped back the way I had come. When I got to 3 there were two bass boats that pulled in just in front of me and sure enough, they were Bass Snatchers, so I got to the access without any more problems. I met my partner Dennis Lothspeich and got my rods and tackle loaded into his boat. Dennis and I got the boat launched into a fairly heavy fog. It had gotten down below freezing this morning and that combined with the warm water made a world of white.
Due to the fog, Dennis decided to start on a weed point right at our blast off point in front of the public access on Upper Mission. As we were waiting for blast off the Lowrance was marking fish activity on the point. I thought maybe blastoff would be delayed because of the fog, but Dennis said: "not in this club." Before blastoff they made the announcement that it was idle speed only until the fog cleared. The boats had to gather closer in for the blast off.
I think Dennis just put the trolling motor in the water and started moving us toward the weed point. By the time it was our turn we were pretty much on the spot and started casting. On his second cast, Dennis tied into a good fish on a jignpig. He got her up and into the net and it was the days big bass at 4lbs3ozs. Dennis had an awesome head start on sewing up the title "Mr. Bass", which goes to the top placing fisherman for the year. Another boat started just to the East of us and they landed a fish right away too. I was throwing a black single Colorado blade spinnerbait at first but then switched to a black/blue jignpig. I don't remember if Dennis got one more fish off the spot or not, but I didn't get anything.
After about 45 minutes of working the weed point the fog had cleared a little and so Dennis ran us to the spot we would have started on if not for the fog. This spot was on the East side of a lake and was a weedline outside of some reeds and adjacent to a weed flat. It didn't take long and Dennis landed another keeper. Shortly after that, I got my first keeper on the black spinnerbait. I believe Dennis landed another keeper. I switched my jignpig to green pumpkin like his and also tried some topwater because we did see some activity on the surface. I did miss a hit on the Jignpig and on the spinnerbait. Eventually, we worked our way South onto the weed flat and Dennis picked up two good fish on a white spinnerbait. I got a little discouraged because my spinnerbait didn't come up with anything.
The fog was totally gone now and we had been fishing this second area for about an hour, so we headed back to our first spot. I think Dennis picked up his limit fish quickly on the weed point and I got my second keeper on the green pumpkin JigNpig. I was very glad at this point to see that I could come up with a jignpig fish. We worked our way West to towards an area where another boat (Chuck Steinbauer my North Long Partner) started. I believe Dennis picked up a couple more keepers along the way. As we approached the spot Dennis was really high on Mark Munson my Serpent Lake Partner beat us to it. I did catch a pike in front of them.
It was around 10:30am and so Dennis made a planned run down to Lower Mission Lake. Dennis had a stretch of water he was quite confident in and so we went there. I had something bump the spinnerbait good but not hook up. A little while later I caught a pike. Dennis was a little discouraged that we didn't get a bass on the first pass and took us back the way we came on a second pass, still no bass.
Next, we headed to a sunken island that has some awesome looking coontail clumps on it. The book says that bass and coontail in the Fall go together like pigs and mud. As we were just getting started on this spot Dennis told me that this area didn't hold any bass for him in prefishing but it was full of pike. Almost immediately after he said that I picked up my 3rd pike, and it was a nice one, on the black spinnerbait. We worked the whole sunken island with the beautiful coontail and came up with nothing.
Dennis made the decision around 11:30 to head back to Upper Mission. The first spot we went to was by another club boat. They were working the reeds and we saw them catch a fish. Dennis had us work the outside weedline but we came up with nothing. It was sunny and around noon when Dennis pulled up and went back to the 2nd spot we went to in the morning.
I believe Dennis landed a pike then had a couple of bite offs. I may have caught a pike to, but don't remember. Dennis did get a bass or two on the jignpig before we moved up on the flat. With the sun up Dennis figured the flat would turn on but it didn't. I tried the black spinnerbait, a Red Eye Shad, Rattletraps, Baby Minus Ones, Spro shallow runners all to no avail. It was now about 12:30pm and I only had those two fish in the box so I was off the pace to get my limit for the day and I could feel the pressure start. We worked a long way down the flat when Dennis finally hooked up with a spinnerbait fish. I took the front of the boat when he went to cull and immediately hooked up with a 12inch squeaker that barely made the line. Another boat came along and told us that the fish were biting in the reeds. We decided to work our way back North on the flat and I threw a buzzbait but it just was not happening. We headed back to our starting spot.
As we worked the weed point I got a thump on the jignpig and landed a solid bass. We started working our way West and I was rewarded with 2 more keeper bass on the black spinnerbait, so I did have my limit by about 1:30pm and I was relieved, though I did want to get rid of that 12incher just in case. It didn't take long and the 12 incher was gone in favor of a totally safe 13inch fish.
We moved to a spot that Dennis said used to hold big fish but doesn't anymore, but still usually holds fish. I got one bass on the black spinnerbait that culled up slightly, then Dennis got a bass on the jig. I got another hit and the bass came up to jump, when it did my line went slack and I reeled in with nothing but the knot. Apparently, my spinnerbait must have broken in two. I did have one more spinnerbait just like the one I broke so I tied it on.
As we both had our limits and were in need of bigger fish Dennis decided to head back to the lower lake on the area that he had confidence in. Once again we did nothing on this spot, not even a bite. We then went up and worked some docks, reeds, and pads. Dennis saw a 2lber swimming around in the reeds but we didn't get any bass. I had a good strike on the 1/2oz black spinnerbait and it was a pike that was over 5lbs. Instead of having Dennis net it I was going to try and handle it boat side which was a mistake because I ended up with the spinnerbait breaking in two. That was my last 1/2oz black spinnerbait. I put on a 3/8oz black spinnerbait.
We stopped working the shore we were on and tried the area close to the channel on the North side of Lower Mission. I got a couple of keepers that didn't help and I think Dennis got a pike and one that didn't help.
Next, we worked the reeds on the West end of Upper Long. My 3/8oz spinnerbait was not heavy enough to work in these thick reeds so I switched to a double Colorado blade 1/2oz spinnerbait. While I was getting it unstuck from some reeds the top blade and swivel came off of the wire. I then switched up to a jignpig, then a Zoom Horny Toad. I got another keeper that didn't help on the Horny Toad. Soon we came to a weed flat without reeds and I switched back to the black spinnerbait. I got a fish but I don't remember if it was a pike or a little bass.
Time was now running short, so we headed back to the reed line just West of the access. We worked that for a while with no success so we called it quits.
My 6 fish weighed 10lbs 3ozs which was only good enough for 20th out of 25, but I didn't care because I got that limit. Dennis ended up with 15lbs 4ozs and came in 3rd place thus winning Mr. Bass honors with ease. Even so, Dennis did not get a limit in all 6 tournaments, missing a limit at Serpent by one fish. There were 23 limits caught by the 25 anglers and the top two weights came from the same boat, 19lbs12ozs, and 15lbs 6ozs. So everyone pretty much got clobbered by Jake Hughes. Four other anglers this year caught a limit in all 6 tournaments, so the five of us that did it set a new club record for # of guys doing it in one year.