Madison Chain of Lakes, Madison , WI
This tournament literally makes me laugh and not cause I was counting my money all the way to the bank, in fact it was quite the opposite.
Teaming up with me for this series is good friend Rich Lindgren. We both pulled our boats across Wisconsin to give our two days of practice the most potential possible. We did our research on the chain and broke up the waterway evenly deciding we’d adjust our game plan after the first day of practice.
I took Lake Monona and Rich took Lake Waubesa as well as some of the smaller lakes attached to the chain. His practice basically consisted of eliminating water as finding quality fish were close to impossible. I on the other hand had one of the best practice periods of my entire life. I was shaking off around 30 bites a day and the ones that I did check were all keepers with a few 4 pounders mixed in. We had previously figured that Monona would be the more consistent lake but it was easily exceeding my expectations by a long shot. Basically I was flipping three key milfoil areas that held both bass and their forage. All three areas sat out in front of shallow flats so baitfish were abundant in all these areas and the bass would use the milfoil clumps as ambush points. I was flipping small compact craw style baits on a 3/4 oz. Eagle Claw Lazer Tungsten Flippin’ Weight and a 4/0 Trokar Flippin’ Hook. I also was getting far more bites using 20lb. Seaguar Abrazx Fluorocarbon instead of Seaguar Kanzen Braid and the only downfall was the loss of precious tungsten weights to the many muskie that inhabit these same waters. My method of flipping was easy as I’d simply work the edge making a short flip into the visible milfoil, working the bait slowly trying to entice a bite. Working the bait slowly and methodically was important as I wasn’t the only one who had figured out the milfoil’s potential and pressure was setting in by the second. Still despite the pressure I had them dead to rights as whatever I was doing was getting the bites and good ones at that.
Tournament morning rolled around and we were able to get to our first stretch right away in the morning, things had changed in that we didn’t have sun nor wind like we had all of practice. Despite these changes our confidence still remained high even when we weren’t getting the bites I had come accustomed to all of practice. As the day wore on we’d get a bite about every 15 minutes or so but our hook up ratio was the worst I have ever seen. We had the bottom of my boat covered in craws that were missing pinchers as our hookup ratio was a disgusting 95% miss rate. I honestly felt like I could puke in disgust as the bites were there, quality ones at that but the livewell wasn’t filling at all. In the end we ended up with only three bass weighing just over seven pounds, a tough tournament to say the least and one that will bug me for quite a while. I joked in the opening paragraph that I laugh about this event and though I’m 100% sincere it’s not a conceded look, it’s the only way I can gut it. Looking back there’s obviously things we should have done differently as well as adjustments we should have made like adjusting better to the weather. The fish were on the outside of the grass with the lack of sun and we didn’t need to be flipping to them since they were on the edge and probably should have leaned harder on baits like jigworms and dropshots to get the job done. However, when you’ve had a terrific practice doing one thing and was getting the bites on game day doing the exact same but not hooking up it’s a real tough thing to abandon. It was necessary to adjust and would have been the difference between cashing a check and weighing three fish but all I can do now is acknowledge that I should have listened to the voices in my head, learn from my stubbornness, chalk it up to one of my worst tournament performances of my life and then laugh about it and move on.
There’s plenty more fish in the sea and plenty more opportunities to showcase my talents then to sit and dwell on a bad one.
See you on the water!