Mississippi River Pool 2, St. Paul Park, MN
Today was the first tournament of the year with the Gopher Bassmasters. In practice I was finding largemouths in much of the river’s backwater areas. Catching wasn’t much of a problem, with most largemouths coming on anything from jigs and tubes to spinnerbaits and swim jigs. Smallies where also abundant and I was very pleased to find a few areas that where consistently holding good ones in the 4 pound range. Most of these quality smallmouth came off rock that had just the right amount of current sweeping past it and wasn’t to far off the main river channel. I felt pretty confident heading in and knew I had that right areas to produce a winning bag.
There was one interesting twist in that this pool of the Mississippi is strictly catch and release. Which meant that this would be a paper tournament and whoever you got paired with would verify the fish’s length. Since the other angler is technically fishing against you as well, you know it makes for an honest competition. Then back at the “weigh in”, the tournament director uses a conversion formula to get the fish’s weight, which then gets added for your 5 fish total. For this tournament I drew first year member Paul Coffey.
My first stop of the tournament was to a shoreline that had a lot of laydowns and was holding both largemouth and smallmouth. After making a few flips with a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig with no results I picked up a 1/4 oz. Super K Swim Jig (Tequila Blue) and quickly stuck my first bass, a 14.5″ smallie. Continuing to work down the shoreline, I came across a nice laydown and pitched my jig and instantly noticed a nice bass roll on it. After a poor hookset, I carefully managed to get the nice 4 pound largemouth to the boat but as I was reaching for her she came unbuttoned. That stung a bit but I convinced myself it was still very early and new I would have more opportunities at a few more that size.
After a few more casts I started seeing more and more tournament anglers working into that area and since Paul and I only had one bass a piece after a good hour I decided to split and run to another area that held some real nice smallmouth.
I pulled in and quickly starting casting a tube up to a nice rock wall. After a few casts I hooked up with another 4 pound fish except this one a bull smallie. As I was getting the fish close to the boat I saw her come up dance around and spit my hook. Without even a moment to think about what just happened I quickly grabbed my Super K Swim Jig and fired it back to wall before that bass could get back to the school and snitch on me. As soon as I starting winding in the jig my rod loaded up and again I was hooked up with another 4 pound smallie. I get this one to the boat quickly and just as the fish was all but in the net I saw my jig pop free of it’s mouth and the smallie dive back out of sight. Ouch. That stung. I really don’t loose fish that often, in all of last year I can remember loosing fish like that maybe only twice. Never two in one tournament.
After talking a second to regroup and let the area die down for a minute, I made a few adjustments to my tackle and far more importantly my attitude and went back with the thought now of just putting together a limit.
I caught four bass in the next hour, 3 smallmouths and 1 largemouth, with one smallie measuring 19″ and change. Paul also managed to boat some key keepers but really couldn’t seem to get that big bite to really bring together a solid limit.
As the sun got higher the smallmouth bite slowed and instead fish like sauger, crappie and drum moved in. With only an hour or so left in the day I figured the largemouth bite would be heating up so we ran back to the original area that we started. I quickly managed to boat a nice 16.5″ largemouth on a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver and culling nicely by getting rid of a small 14.5″ bass that was really hurting my overall bag. On my very next cast i noticed my line cutting to one side and instantly set the hook into another good one but before I could manage that thought my lined snapped! When it rains it pours.
Back at weigh in I totalled 13.89 lbs and finished in 6th place. A respectable finish but I couldn’t help feeling pretty disappointed in the outcome. If I could have boated three of those four fish, I would have had the winning bag. In the end, “what ifs” don’t cut it and the best learn to overcome it. Hopefully I got it all out of my system for the year. Paul finished in a very respectable 8th place, even better considering it was his first tournament with the club. Paul also managed to throw a couple nice bass, one being a toad largemouth that surely would have moved him up a few spots in the final standings.
Up next is the first stop of the Bassmaster Weekend Series held on Mississippi River Pools 3 thru 5. I plan to get out there a few times in the next week to get in some good practice and hopefully piece together a winning pattern. After that I head straight out to Green lake in Spicer, MN for the first stop of the Silverado Pro Tour. I can’t hardly wait!!