Day 3, my partner convinced me it would be to both of our benefits to use his boat, as he had a ton of waypoints for good smallies out on Winnebago. It took some convincing and some considerable thought on my part before I gave in. We discussed, that we would go back and forth on our water which was actually close to each other if needed and that he would have about an hour to prove the worth of his smallies reefs, before I would go back and forth on my largemouth water.
There was a pretty decent wind from the Northeast coming down the lake, but we made it to our starting area. Chris worked the boat off the edges of his prime area trying to get some bigger bites for about the first 30 minutes or so, nothing doing. We then worked our way towards the sweet spot, he immediately boated a 14.5″ smallie and reluctantly put in the box. I then caught a smallie on a Green Pumpkin Copper Flake tube that only the slime of his tail touched and I tossed him back. I then caught a barely over 14″ and reluctantly boxed him.
Then we started whacking bigger fish, 15-18″ fish on almost every cast. We had a nice double where both of us had fish close to 3lbs. As Chris netted his 5th fish, I boated a skinny 16″ smallmouth, but decided to toss back to make up for that 14″ runt. I caught another 16 incher and convinced Chris to let me throw it back and try to get a little bigger one. Next cast I caught a fat 16.25″ fish and I was done. We both double counted out 5 fish limit in the well and then we left to find his WI team members to put them on the fish. Luckily we came across one of my team mates and practice partner Ryan Brant and I was able to send him to my are in South Asylum. Also, one of my other team mates was in the back of the WI boat we found first I was able to throw him my other tube that I had rigged. (He ended up getting 4 fish on that tube on that spot and his WI partner got none )
The tube I was using was about a 3/8oz Zone Bite Me rattle headrigged exposed with a 4″ Mizmo Tube. It seemed to be the deal that day.
After we found a couple more WI boats, we cruised through Miller Park bay to see if anyone else was tied up and done for the day. In just that short 15 minute ride through that bay we almost lost a couple fish. After some quick attention to the fish with fresh lake water, Rejuvenade and Ice we got them back in good shape. We then decided to moor up in the river in front of the Park Plaza as the water in the river would have good oxygen levels. After sitting there for 4-5 hours, we slowly made our way to Miller Park, got checked in and tied up a little early and waited to get our weigh bags. I must admit I was very anxious. I knew I had a decent bag, and that I had at least caught enough to keep Rick Billings & Bill Ludenia honest in the fact that they would both at least need a solid limit to beat me. That 14″ fish haunted me all day to, thinking what could have been if I had one of those 16″ fish instead of that one.
Day 3, John Stewart announcing I had taken team lead
We weighed early, I had 11lbs 4oz and that put me in first at the time, so now I just had to wait. It did not take long, Bill Ludenia brought 12lbs across the scale and put me in 2nd. I am almost glad that he put me out of my misery early, otherwise I would have had to wait until the bitter end to get told I was not going to Nationals. At the end Rick Billings had 10lbs and overtook Bill as well. Congrats to Rick Billings, he will represent MN at Nationals well. MN took remained in 2nd as a team, we passed OH, but WI leap frogged us both, much to thanks of Chris Johnson’s honey hole reef that produced a few additional limits after we left for his team. But we only beat OH by 6 ounces, so the fish that I was able to put my 2 guys on, was big there. I think we get to split $11,200 as a team, so that is not too bad. I ended up slipping one spot to 7th overall, not too bad. I was one of only 5 anglers out of 96 to bring a limit to the scales all 3 days.
In retrospect, I guess I needed to fish to win a little more, and thrown back the 14″ fish that I kept on both days 2 & 3 to have a shot. Live & Learn, good thing is, I am young and I will have plenty of more shots at Nationals. As soon as I congratulated Rick Billings, he said “Thanks, don’t worry you’ll get your National trip soon enough” Then I said, I know
Saturday, I fish the 4th Weekend Series stop for MN on Lake Vermillion. I got a total of 5 hours or practice on the lake about 3 weeks ago, so wish me luck!!!!