Grand Lake, Martin’s Landing, OK
I was pretty confident when I arrived at registration. I had my boat all ready to rock and relined all my rods and really felt I had a solid game plan for the tournament. I took a small setback when I drew boat 85 out of 92. This is a factor that can potentially hamper ones odds, especially in a tournament where bed fishing was going to play such a factor because it can be a first come, first serve deal. I started to change my tone when I instead decided to redirect my focus and use the fact that I didn’t have to be back until 3:45 and the bigger fish where showing up later in the afternoon.
We awoke to cloudy skies and more rain in the forecast. It had rained all through the night but nothing to heavy. I wasn’t really sure how this would effect the bite as I’m really not that experienced as a bed fisherman. I decided I would start just a few miles from the take off and try to capitalize on a quick bite and it really only took about a half hour and I caught a decent 16″ largemouth and got the quick skunk out of the boat. I fished for about another hour and did manage to break off on a good bite but after not putting any more keepers in the box, I decided to make the run down lake.
The fishing still remained relatively tough as these fish really weren’t interested in a meal. Instead they had mother nature on their minds and were not going to bite a bait unless they felt they had to. I knew eventually the bite would pick up, I stayed the course and by noon I managed 4 keepers, only 1 short of my limit. I had switched to a texas rigged Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a small pegged 1/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Worm Weight. These bass weren’t much to brag about, but I knew I needed to fill my limit and I’d be putting myself in the thick of it.
With only a couple hours left in the tournament, I decided it was time to start heading back, I had a few more spots I thought I could catch my limit fish and maybe even pop a kicker. As I was idling out of the cove, I noticed a real nice laydown on some rock that I hadn’t even checked in practice. It just looked like it had to have a bedded bass on it. As I approached it slowly, I couldn’t see the bed and instead started pitching the laydown and as I got to the other side I noticed a pretty nice bass spook from a bed and head to deeper water. What to do here was a real gamble. I had spooked a female bass off a bed and have no real true sight fishing success to my credit and could be wasting valuable time putting in the effort. Though if I stayed and I did it right, it could be a HUGE momentum swing and really give me a chance to make a couple key culls and put me high in the money.
You can’t succeed without taking a chance, so I decided I’d let the spot rest for a couple minutes and instead used the time to retie my bait, no need for any added drama if you know what I mean. I slowly creeped my trolling motor to about 20 feet from the bed. I crouched down and waited another minute or two and finally the bass came back to the bed. I didn’t want to spook the fish by letting the bait smack the surface of water, so instead I pitched the bait a good 5 feet over the bed, onto the bank itself. I carefully pulled the Beaver onto the bed and the bass at first swam away. I repeated the process and the bass started showing that it was getting annoyed with the bait and started to focus her attention. I couldn’t really see my bait to well so after a couple more pitch’s, I ripped off the Beaver and instead threaded on a white tube. On my first pitch, the bass instantly showed extreme displeasure, she started fanning her fins and was nose to nose with the bait. I could really tell I was getting close with this fish and knew I had to stay calm and persistent. On the next pitch, she got nose to nose with the tube again and then turned to her side and I tapped her with the tube. Instantly she turned and just barely smacked the bait with her mouth. I was really working this bass’s nerves and knew I was getting close, kinda like when I try to purposely annoy my wife Bri. I reeled in, pitched the tube again and for a split second my white tube disappeared, I set the hook and I saw her mouth open at the surface and a second later I boated my fifth keeper, going 2.8 pounds. I cannot express how cool of an experience that was, I listened to myself, trusted myself and was rewarded with a limit. That was the first time I had ever truly sight fished a largemouth successfully and I thought I wasn’t any good at it, when in fact, I just wasn’t that experienced at it. Minnesota protects the spawn, so I can’t practice it year after year, though that was by far one of the most addictive catches I’ve ever had. I’ve caught thousands of bass in the 2 pound range, but that sole fish is easily in my top three catches ever. I was shaking for a good half hour after that, it was awesome!!!
**Above Picture: Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver, 4/0 MiHatchii and a pegged 1/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Weight.
**Above Picture: 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig and a 5/16 oz. Picasso Shakedown Jig with a 5″ Amp Lures Mimi.
After making the run back closer to the weigh in, I was able to make two small culls on a riprap bank by slowly working my shakey head. With only 20 minutes to go, I ran back to the spot where I had caught that 5 pound toad the first night. I pitched a Tru Tungsten Jig (Fall Craw), meanwhile I was envisioning my line cutting to the side and setting the hook on a 5 pounder just like my first night of practice. I knew a kicker like that would catapult me into the money. Just then my line starts running under the boat, I set the hook only to boat another 2 pounder, not exactly what I was envisioning, but hey it was still a cull.
We weighed them in and I ended up with a respectable 12.27 lbs, good enough for 37th place out of 92. I sign up for tournaments to win paychecks, yet my main goal is to always be in the thick of it. This event tested me and really forced me to fish outside of my comfort zone and I know I left Oklahoma a far better, more confident angler. That can prove to be more rewarding than a check. Then add in the time spent with my Dad and the look on his face when I weighed in, it was a great trip!
Now back in Minnesota, I’ll be headed down to one of my favorite fisheries, the Mississippi River, to start practicing for the St. Jude. This tournament means a lot, it’s for a great cause and the best of the best will be there. I’d really like a strong showing at this one. Wish me luck!!