Green Lake, Spicer, MN
Every fisherman has a bad outing on occasion and finds themselves saying “the fish just weren’t biting today”. I have never agreed with that way of thinking. In actuality, the fish are always biting somewhere on the lake. The likelihood is that the fisherman didn’t have them patterned correctly by making mistakes to seasonal patterns, presentation, location, the list goes on and on. So really 90% of the time it isn’t the fish weren’t biting, it’s the fisherman wasn’t catching.
I’ll get to my point later. This tournament was held on Green Lake, in Spicer, MN. A trophy smallmouth fishery, that also has a ok population of largemouth bass. The lake is a clear, deep, and rocky lake. I had practiced the week before and managed to do pretty well. I caught a bunch of descent sized largemouth and even stuck a four and a half pound smallie. I spent most of the time checking out the lake and putting together a game plan. My pre tournament strategy was that the majority of the largemouth had already spawned and that the smallmouth were in the spawn. Meaning that sight fishing and shallow water was going to claim the biggest bags. I decided right away that I should concentrate all my efforts in the tournament on smallmouths because it is highly unlikely to do well with a bag of largemouths on this body of water.
The club format is that you are paired with another member of the club and split time on the trolling motor. It’s not a team event, your actually competing against each other, but still bounce ideas off one another to give both a good shot at a nice limit. My game plan was to search out the rock flats, in 5 to 10 feet of water, for smallmouths. I had one area in practice that held a nice weed clump that I figured I could possibly get some nice post spawners from. I knew the lake had being getting a ton of tournament pressure and it was getting a little late into the spawning season for the to still be on beds. So just in case I had some back up areas to fish.
At take off my partner John informed me of some nice post spawn smallies in the three to four pound range that he was on just days before the tournament. The weather was great except we were expecting 20 to 30 m.p.h. winds, so we decided to hit his area first. Arriving at his spot I have to say it looked great. It was a nice weedy shelf in about ten feet of water and was surrounded by deep water. It also had some mixed rock piles along the edge. I started throwing a Amp Lures Pop topwater bait, but quickly decided it was already to windy for it to be effective, so I switched to a 5/16 oz. hand tied Jewel Jig (Brown) and started tossing it to the weedline. On my second cast my rod buckled and I knew I had a good fish on. The smallmouth surfaced, danced, and threw my jig! I couldn’t believe it! Your not supposed to loose a fish like that on a jig!
The worst thing about it was that smallie was well over four pounds! That hurt. I was pretty worked up about that but found some excitement in the spot we were on. After spending another half hour or so in the area we decided to give it a rest figuring that fish may have spooked the school, and go run some of my water. We pulled up to a nice rock flat and only spent ten minutes there. No excuses but that damn fish was still in my head so I said we should go try my deeper weeds and try for some post spawners. We arrived to the weedline and I caught a couple quick largemouths but they were to small to keep and John hooks into a nice three pound smallie. That did it. That convinced me that the fish were in the post spawn. So we abondoned the area and spent the rest of the day fishing deeper water, that held nice weed clumps, in search of a good bag.
Arriving back to the area where I lost that good smallie, John starts catching them right away. A few small largemouths, but still keepers, and another good smallmouth. I caught a couple two pound largies as well. We continued to work similar areas and next thing you know it was time to head to the weigh in. I weighed in at four fish for 6.0 pounds and John had four weighing 6.7 pounds. I finished in 12th place, my worst performance in a club tournament to date. My good buddies Ryan Brant and Rich Lindgren took first and second respectively, fishing wouldn’t you know it, rock flats for spawning smallmouths. Needless to say it was a long drive home for me. I understand that I will have bad tournaments, sometimes you just never got on them, but to be on them and make horrible game time decisions is a hard one to swallow. So back to my earlier statement. On the way to the weigh in I remember saying to myself “they just weren’t biting, they must be in a post spawn funk”, instead the truth to the matter is they were indeed biting, I just wasn’t catching.
Mid way thru the season and I find myself in eighth place in the Angler of the Year standings. The good news is this tournament will serve as excellent motivation to do real well in the last four events and make a run at club stick. I have a lot of confidence in the bodies of water that we will be fishing, Lake Minnetonka and Lake Pokegama. Both lakes are capable of coughing up 17 to 20 pound bags. I have every intent at trying to do just that! There are so many skilled fisherman in the Gopher Bassmasters that it takes excellent fishing to be at the top. Now my plan is to put this one behind me and concentrate on the next.
This weekend I am heading up to the Whitefish Chain, in Cross Lake, MN, to do some prefishing for a BASSMASTER Weekend Series event held there in a few weekends from now. I had a nice start in the first event at the Le Homme Dieu Chain, where I walked away with a sixth place finish. I have been doing a lot of studying to prepare so I give myself every opportunity at having a great finish. Wish me luck!