Mississippi River Pools 3 – 5, Alma, WI
After winning the first event of the 2009 BASSMASTER Weekend Series last month, I was more than stoked to get back on the Mighty Miss and attempt to go back to back. Since my 29th birthday is only two short days away I couldn’t think of a better birthday present for myself.
I was able to get out and give myself ample practice time and really felt I had found some good areas. The other thing I spent time on was learning the vast backwaters that line the main river channel. Running these areas can be as difficult a task as actually locating and catching fish. A guy’s really got to know where he’s going when running at high speeds and idling isn’t always an efficient way to get around. It just simply takes to long to get from one area to another and makes it actually impossible to get into some of the best areas. Since the backwaters are littered with sand humps, stumps, weeds, wing dams, rocks and whatever else floats down river, it’s essential to know what your doing.
Every day of practice I was able to locate good fish but finding them grouped up was a bit difficult. I did manage to catch good largemouth and smallmouth each day and figured I would just have to run lots of water and I’d be in good shape. I didn’t have any one lure that was always working and I was truly junk fishing the entire time. At one point I counted 21 rods on the deck of my boat all equipped with different lures that where all somewhat catching fish, everything from topwater to bottom baits and everything in between. Do you have any idea how much Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon I went through preparing my rods for game day? It’ll make you cringe, but better safe than sorry. Good thing it holds up for a long time and I won’t need to change it until my next major tourney.
Unfortunately I drew boat 72 out of 78 and was forced to wait a while tournament morning before I could got to work. My plan was to lock down to pool 5 right away and try to be back to pool 4 by 11 o’clock. Since I was one of the last to take off, I wasn’t able to lock through with the first group and had to burn even more time waiting to get into pool 5.
Finally I got through and quickly arrived to my first stop. On my second cast I loaded into a nice smallie going 3 to 4 pounds, but because of a bad hookset the fish came off. Not the start I was looking for, but before that smallie could get back to the school and snitch me out I made another cast and hooked up with a nice smallie that weighed 3 pounds 11 ounces. That got me back on track and after a few more casts with no results I headed to another spot that I had caught some real good ones at in practice. One my first cast I managed to hook up with a HUGE smallie going well over 5 pounds and after about a good 30 second fight my line snapped and what was easily the biggest smallie I have ever been hooked up with disappeared. This was a hard pill to swallow, not only would it have been a personal best but it would have really put me in awesome shape to repeat a win. I looked at my line and saw it was tattered up and looked like shredded cheese, I had been fishing around rock and shells and must have had my line pretty beat up before I even made that cast. I maybe break off a fish once or twice a year, sure they get off but they don’t break my line that often. I should have checked before I ever made that cast, but lesson learned, it was just horrible timing, but I can easily say that I won’t make that mistake twice.
I needed to build some momentum so I decided to go do some flipping for largemouth in an area not to far from where I was and attempt to put together a quick limit. After loosing two giant smallies in the first half hour of actual fishing, I needed to start going in the right direction. It didn’t take long and I put a 16” largemouth in the box. I also caught a few more but they where in the 13″ range and where not past the mandatory 14′ mark to keep. After about an hour or so of flipping I decided to head back to my spot that I broke off that toad. I was able to catch a nice 17″ smallie but that was all. I guess when you send the queen of the school back with a hook still in her mouth, things tend to get a bit “spooky” in that area.
At about 11 o’clock it was time to lock back through to pool 4. I had a few areas that had coughed up a couple 4 pound largemouths in practice and figured this would be a good area to fill a limit. I knew I had to fish fast and just started chucking and winding a Super K Swim Jig and was able to fill a respectable limit.
I weighed in at 12.42 pounds and tied for 27th place out of 78 boats. Not horrible but disappointing none the less. I couldn’t help but think what could have been had I landed those two smallies early in the day. I was less than a pound away from cashing a check as it was and with those two I would’ve had the chance to take the win. But what if’s surely don’t cut it and I tilt my hat to those that made it happen. To be at the top of the leaderboard in one of these events means you had one heck of a good day on the water, limited your mistakes, and was better than the rest. Congrats to those that did!
I’m currently sitting in 4th place in the Angler of the Year points with the next stop in July at Prairie Du Chien, WI. I can’t wait!
Congrats to my good buddy Rich Lindgren for his solid 8th place finish! That a boy Rich!