Quick turn around off a short holiday week to get ready for my 3rd BFL in the Great Lakes Division. My original plans were to head down Wednesday after work and get 2 full days plus a few hours on Wednesday for practice, but with other obligations, I didn’t get on the water until 1pm on Thursday. Based on my passed experiences and familiarity with the area, I launched in Stoddard. The first area I rolled into had good looking grass, clean water and a fair amount of bait, and I quickly caught one bass each on a swim jig, Nervous Walker Frog and Mad Mouse in a matter of 5-10 minutes. This seemed pretty promising, so I went not to far from there to a grass edge and quickly got a nice bite flipping a beaver and had some other bites. That is where the positive ended, as I spent the next 4-5 hours hunting for more grass and slop fish to get literally no action.
Mississippi River Largie choking a Nervous Walker
Friday morning, I launched at 5am from Clinton street to try for some smallies at the top of the pool. My first spot yielded nothing, the 2nd stop produced a 2lbr on a Yellow Magic popper, 3rd stop produced a 3-12 dandy on a Ike’s Custom Ink DT6. I bopped around until around 7am, catching a few other small fish, but decided if I got an early draw I would probably fish these areas on tournament day. Knowing that in this 3 fish limit tourney, a big smallie early would go a long way. I spent the rest of my Friday fishing with my buddy Bill who met me there down in Stoddard and Goose Island areas. I really only found a few cut bank spots flipping BassTEK Jigs to go with what I found first thing on Thursday, it was definitely tougher then I was expecting before I arrived.
Well at the meeting, I got boat #5 out of 128, so I was pretty much assured to get on one of the two smallie areas I found and I drew a nice guy named Paul from the La Crosse area. Morning of, I was the first boat in the general area, so I went where I had caught the bigger fish and moments later another competitor arrived on the other. We fished it pretty hard with a variety of baits for about 30 minutes with not a single bite. I hit one other rock point in the area and caught a couple shorts, so at that point I put away the smallie rods and loaded the deck with stuff for largies and headed to Stoddard.
I started flipping a grass line and sharing it with a boat that was already there. I put a decent 2lbr in the boat fairly quickly on a beaver. Working the area for awhile I caught a short, cut off by a pike and caught a 14.5″ largie to give me two in the well. We worked the area a bit longer, but the other boat was lingering in my best stretch so we left to try the flat where I started my practice, I caught two shorts very quickly flipping but that was it, hard to believe they would not chase a toad or a swim jig with overcast conditions. From there I hit my small section of cut bank, with two boats just leaving. Not bites flipping the bank and a couple small fish made feeble attempts on my frog in small duckweed mats. From there, I headed back to my flipping area, the other boat was gone but the wind had showed up, making it very difficult to fish and it just didn’t feel or look right any more. Back to the flat, starting with swim jigs until I saw some good coontail clumps. I quick jammed into a good fish and flipped a 3.5lb largie into the boat with my Dobyns DX745C. That fish got me super pumped, as it gave me my 3 fish limit at 11:30 and I figured one more good bite would put me in check range. I stayed in the area flipping for the next 90 minutes only to find pike and no more bass. With an hour left, I headed back up river to try for smallies again. I hit both spots and only got a skinny 14″ smallmouth on my last cast, no help and it was time to head in.
My 3 fish was only good enough for 7-12 and 53rd place dropping me from 4th in points to 11th. Very frustrating as I never got on much for this tourney, that extra practice time could have really helped for this one. Bummer, this snapped a streak of cashing a check in every tournament so far in 2013.
As of now, my next tournament I plan to fish is MFBA Summer Fling tourney out of Winona on Pool 6. No better time to start a new streak!