Wednesday, June 24, 2009
South Long Lake was the location of my 2nd Baxter Bass Snatchers Bass Club tournament of the year. The weather forecast for the day called for overcast with showers arriving in the late morning and continuing into the afternoon with 10-15mph SE winds building in the late morning. The actual weather was pretty close to the forecast although the sun came out from about 9 to 11AM and the winds seemed to be lighter than predicted. At the end of the tournament day there was light rain that got a little heavier around weigh in at 3PM. I never put on rain gear and was saved at the weigh in because there was a tent set up for us. We were fortunate to be able to weigh in at a home on the lake.
My boater Dwight and I launched on the North end of the lake around 6AM and then we had to make our way South to the Public Access where we would have the blast off. On the way South Dwight pointed out some docks that we would hit first thing if a lot of boats went to the South end of the lake at blast off. Dwight and I were last boat to blast off out of 11 boats so we would see where everyone else went first.
I think we had blast off around 6:50AM and all but 1 boat went North, so Dwight and I went back to the original plan which was to go to the South end of the lake to start the day. On our way South we hit some docks that we pulled some good fish off of when we pre-fished. Nobody was home and so we made our way to the South End of the the lake just to the North of where the river flows out. The plan was to spend the morning and possibly most of the day working the slop in the South end of the lake. I started out throwing a white Zoom Horny Toad and had a fish blow up on it right away but I missed it. It wouldn't go after the Horny Toad again, so I followed up with a bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke which was promptly slashed at by the fish which turned out to be a pike. We moved on.
As we made our way North Dwight had a blow up on his Spro Frog and it was a good fish that we got a good look at when it jumped. Unfortunately it buried itself in the lily pads and got off. I think that was the only bite we got working North in this particular run of slop. When we got to where the slop ended there was another tournament boat so we headed across the bay to work some more slop, predominated by pads. While working this stretch I had a big blow up on a yellow Zoom Horny Toad that didn't hook up and I didn't get anything with my follow ups. We went for a long stretch without anything but when we got close to where the river flows out I had another blow up that didn't hook up. I threw right back and let the toad sink and there was a swirl so I set the hook and landed 12.5" keeper. As we kept moving North we were now reworking the water we started on. As we were passing a dock with a pontoon I made a nice long cast with a bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke beyond the pontoon in front of where a short section of dock came out. Sure enough there was a swirl and I set the hook. The fish moved to my left behind the pontoon and my line got caught up with a rope on the pontoon and the bass completely came out of the water. Dwight quickly moved us over there and netted the 12.75" bass. That would be the last fish on the far South end of the lake. After running pretty much to the end of the slop run we decided to move out of the area.
Once again when we got to the narrows we hit the docks that gave up good fish when we pre-fished. Dwight pulled a small keeper off of one of the docks. We ended up running a lot of shallow docks moving North and didn't get anymore bites. We moved out into some reeds and didn't get any bites. We moved on to a weed flat and didn't get any bites. We moved into some slop/pads and Dwight pulled a solid 2 pounder on a black/blue jig and beaver pitching in the pads. I was throwing a Horny Toad and not getting any bites. We worked the area without any more bites, so we decided to head to the North end of the lake to some slop where we got some hits in pre-fish.
The area we went to on the North end of the lake had junk weeds, pads, and some docks. Near a dock I spotted a 2lb bass close to the boat and cast to it with the yellow Zoom Horny Toad. It started swimming towards the Toad like it was going to take it, but then veered off and disappeared; none of my follow ups would find this fish. As we were moving along Dwight spotted a solid 2+ pound fish that had a lure in the side of it's mouth but all the fish did was swim right by the boat. We got to another dock and I had a blow up on a black Zoom Horny Toad but once again I didn't hook up. Dwight flipped into some weeds by this dock and had a pick up but he didn't hook the fish. I immediately threw back to the spot of my blow up with the bubblegum Super Fluke and was rewarded with a 14.25" bass. We kept working this area which looked awesome but couldn't find anymore fish.
Dwight conferred with me and I suggested we go hit an area about mid point in the lake where there was reeds, pads, maidencane, cattails and slop and so that is where we went. Dwight was working us into some docks before we would go into the reeds and pads when he connected with a 2lb bass on a white spinnerbait. I sent a short fish flying on a hook set with the black Horny Toad. As we got into the reeds there was a pontoon fishing to the South of us and Dwight spotted them pull in a dogfish and two bass on spinnerbaits, so he threw his spinnerbait and was rewarded with keeper bass that filled his limit. I started throwing a gold/white Brovarney Swim Jig with gold glitter 5" Action Plastic Super Mag grub and caught a 12inch keeper. I threw the swim jig into an opening in the reeds and something bit at the jig but didn't get it. I threw back and it was fish on. As I was reeling it in it jumped way out of the water and then dove and pulled off. Dwight thought it was a 4lb+ fish; I didn't get the greatest look at it but it was a 3lber minimum. Missing this fish really hurt me. I continued to throw the swim jig and caught a 14.75" and another fish that was just over 12.
Dwight culled a couple of times pitching a black/blue jig in the weeds. I tried a black/blue jig without success and then went to throwing the black Zoom Horny Toad with which I culled a 12 incher with a 12.75" and a 12.15" with a 13.5". We went back and worked over the most productive stretch of water but couldn't get bit so once again we headed South to the pads where Dwight pulled the fish on the jig. I was throwing the Horny Toad and had a couple of fish that had to be small swipe at it. It started to rain and conditions seemed perfect for the fish to get active so we worked ourselves into a reed bed but couldn't get bit.
We were running out of time, so we headed across the way to some sparse pads. I had a big dogfish follow my Horny Toad, but there were no bass to be found and it was time to head to weigh in on the North end of the lake.
At weigh in my big bass was a measly 1lb 10ozs and my 6 fish bag went 7lbs 12ozs which put me in 15th out of 22 anglers. My partner Dwight had 10lbs 15ozs and captured 9th place. The winning bag was 14lbs 3ozs and big bass was 3lbs 15ozs.
Due to the low club turn out, the 15th place finish tied my 2nd best placement in the club this far to date. Had I caught the big one that got off I probably would have moved up 3 more places and possibly as many as 6 if it was over 4lbs like Dwight thought.
Post Tournament Thoughts: This one was a disappointment in that the fishing wasn't nearly as good as I expected it to be. The quality of the fish I got on the Horny Toad was a let down. My execution on fish that bit was a bit of a let down especially due to the fact that my opportunities were limited. The size of the fish I am catching so far this year is a let down. Basically I am now scrapping the bottom of the barrel among those who have fished both tournaments and weren't disqualified. I am not fishing as well as I did at this point last year even though I actually have 1 more point than I did at this point last year. Bottom line is that I expect to fish better than the level I have been performing at this year in the tournaments.
Our next tournament isn't until July 18th and is at Lake Ida North of Alexandria. I have never fished the lake and don't really know much about it other than it has smallmouth in addition to largies. I am thinking that my partner draw in this one is going to be especially crucial to the outcome for me. My partner draws so far this year are better than my results should indicate. If any Bass Pundit reader wants to fill me in on Ida my email is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Friday, June 12, 2009
(My boater Dwight with a 4lber)
I'm going to try not to say to much in this pre-fish report because we had what would seem to be a pretty successful pre-fish. Had today been tournament day, my boater Dwight probably would have won things going away and I had enough bites to keep me interested even though the fish I caught were not huge, but they weren't Cedar Lake like short fish or barely keepers either. I also pre-fished a lot of the time in such a way that I wasn't going to hook the highest percentage of fish that bit.
I arrived at the lake a little before 2PM and club member Herman who I fished with at Farm Island lake last year was just pulling his boat out. I don't think he caught a fish and he said he only had two bites. He seemed to be a little disgusted with the amount of slimy green moss in the lake. About 10 minutes after Herman left, Dwight showed up and we were on the water by 2:20PM. There was at least 1 other club guy out pre-fishing today.
We did fish some good looking water and didn't get bit like we would have liked, but we found plenty of good looking water that was holding fish. One surprise is that we didn't really seem to run into lots of little northern pike, which was nice. I was hoping to tangle with a few nice dogfish but none of them made an appearance.
The way things are shaping up I think I am going to really like fishing this lake. South Long has a lot of water that is tailor made for fishing Zoom Horny Toads, slop frogs, and lighter swim jigs and I am all about that. Hopefully the weather and fish will cooperate with our primary game plan.
Monday, June 01, 2009
Originally this tournament day was slated for Gull Lake, but due to the Minnesota Teen Challenge Tournament, they switched to Cedar Lake West of Aiken. I wasn't at the meeting when they made the switch and when everything was out on the table I was not happy about the switch. All that was left was to make the best of it and I didn't.
Going in our plan was to fish cabbage weedlines/weed beds and hit lots of docks. The forecast called for it to be sunny and mild but with 20-30mph winds out of the NW. A front came through the night before tournament day, so it was high pressure, post-frontal conditions. The tournament was from 7AM to 3PM For the 1st hour of the morning the winds were manageable and we were able to effectively fish a weedline/weedbed that was in the wind. I started out throwing a salt and pepper Zoom Trick Worm and got the first fish of the day for our boat, unfortunately it was a rock bass. Actually my partner Adam had the first bite of the day, it was a pike or muskie that bit him off on the strike. I got the second fish of the day and it was a small Northern Pike. I got the 3rd fish of the day and it was an 11.75" in largemouth bass. The minimum size is 12" so back in the lake it went. My partner Adam then got on the board with a solid keeper. On this weedline I would land 3 more largies that were just a little bit short of 12". We basically worked through the area one and a half times and stopped getting bit so we went to some wind protected docks. I believe Adam landed 1 good keeper off the docks. Next we went to some docks that were in the wind, but the wind wasn't terrible yet, and didn't get anything. Next we fished a cabbage weed point and Adam got a couple more keepers and I landed a couple more that were just under 12", I also had a bite that stripped the Zoom Speed Craw off my Brovarney Swim Jig. The wind really started whipping when we fished this spot.
Next we went to a point/cabbage weedline/weedbed that was in the wind. The spot looked great but to fish it effectively in the strong wind it called for horizontal presentations and the fish if they were there were having none of it. I don't think we even got a bite on this excellent looking area. Next we hit some more docks that were pretty much wind protected and I picked up 2 keepers on a bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke. I felt really fortunate to get the fish because by now I had learned that Adam is excellent at skipping jigs at docks with a baitcaster, very accurate and efficient.
We went to fish some more semi-wind protected docks and Adam picked up fish so he started culling. I got on the trolling motor while Adam was culling. I was coming around the end of a boat lift when I made an errant cast and got hung up. Not wanting to disturb the spot I broke off. Before I knew Adam was back fishing again he had a nice bass in the boat that just nailed his jig when he fished it in the spot that my Fluke should have been. Basically blowing this great opportunity to add a 3rd solid keeper would really cost me because for the next couple of hours things got really slow for me. Meanwhile Adam was catching an occasional keeper and also got a 30+ inch Muskie on a dock. At one point I believe Adam was culling so I was on the trolling motor and I got a bite on the Fluke and pulled in a 12 inch rock bass.
We were running wind blown docks in some serious waves when Adam added a nice bass in between docks. While he was culling I got a fish on brown Strike King Pure Poison Chatterjig and thought for sure I had a keeper bass, but it was a pike. A couple of minutes later Adam tied into a 40 inch class Muskie which we did land and Adam took pictures of me holding, which he hopefully will email me.
We were on a stretch of semi wave protected docks when Adam got a couple more keeper fish not under the docks but near them, meanwhile I landed a fish that was just short of 12" at around 11 7/8ths. Adam told me to clip it and hoped that it might grow a little in the livewell as he had seen that happen to fish before.
Basically we re-ran a bunch of water we had already fished for most of the rest of the day. I missed one good opportunity with the Fluke and I think Adam maybe picked up one more key fish and got 2 or 3 keepers that didn't help. While we were re-running a bunch of docks in the wind and waves I got my 3rd keeper and best fish on the Pure Poison chatterjig on the last dock in the line.
In the last hour we fished a new wind protected inside weedline with cabbage. I landed yet another 11.75 fish. A little later on my Fluke disappeared and when I set the hook, I thought the line had broke but actually the Fluke just got stripped off the hook. Adam got a keeper that didn't help him under a dock that had just been fished by another tournament boat.
In the last 20 minutes we fished a the wave protected spot that we had some bites off earlier. Once again Adam got a bass that didn't help. Our last stop was on a wave protected shoreline that I don't remember hitting. I got a solid hook up on the Pure Poison but it turned out to be a 25 inch pike and that was basically it.
For the day I got 3 keepers for 4lbs 2ozs which put me in 23rd out of 26 anglers. I landed 8 bass that were over 11" but short of 12" and a couple that were under 10", 3 pike, and 2 rock bass, so it wasn't like I wasn't catching any fish. My partner Adam got 2nd Place with 13lbs 10ozs.
Other than the fact that the fishing wasn't so great for me, I had a good time on the water with Adam who is a really good guy and excellent fisherman. My choice to not to take the front of the boat other than when my partner is culling probably more than anything cost me a shot at a limit, but it also had to be a factor in Adam getting 2nd place. He has come very close to being club Mr. Bass/Angler of the Year for the past couple of years. I hope he can show the old timers how it's done this season.