This one is more of a rant than a report (at least it starts that way).
Well the results are in and I came in 2 to 3 places worse than I thought I was going finish. I placed 21st out of 25 anglers. I think this one officially qualifies as a bomb. The last two tournaments are now my worse back to back tournaments as a Bass Snatcher and they also make for my worst two finishes in a single season. Right now it feels like I am off to a terrible start, but really I am in the exact same position after 3 tournaments as I was in 2008 and last year I had just a single point more whether counting two tournaments or three. The previous two seasons I really picked it up in the last 3 tournaments of the year. I wish I could say that gives me some confidence at this point, but I'm really humbled by how poorly the last two tournaments seem to have gone.
I was actually feeling somewhat OK about Cass until I saw the final results. 5 guys caught as many fish as me (3 bass) or one less and beat my weight. Honestly I'm not sure in this one what I should have been doing differently. It looks like a good number of the boats that were fishing in this area of the Chain struggled with catching fish. Maybe a heavier Title Shot Jig Head paired on a heavier rod would have helped, but my boater was in the front of the boat with something akin to that and he only got 5 bass all day. Counting rock bass, pike, and bass I didn't catch that many less fish than my boater although he did miss a few more fish than me that hung him up in the heavy cover.
Anyway here is how the day went. The weather was bright and sunny all day (Blast off around 7:45AM) with about 5 to 8MPH wind that was less than forecast. We went North and that's all I'm going to say. Right away in the morning I made several long casts with a Zoom Horny to some wood that was up by shore. On one of the casts I let the Toad sink and I thought maybe something picked it up (kind of hard to tell cause the boat was moving). I set the hook and nothing was there. So I thought it was nothing, but a couple minutes later I noticed the Toad was missing one vibe tail and there were a couple of rips in the Toad. In other words there is a pretty good chance that nothing was actually a pike. We were working down the shoreline in a combination of mostly pads with reeds or rushes right up by shore. I think my boater missed a bite then I had a small fish hit at the Horny Toad and did not get it.
We came to a spot where there was excellent looking weed transition and my boater Jake got nailed by a nice fish and got it in. We worked down the shoreline a little bit and then doubled back. On the 3rd time back through the weed transition I got hit aways back in the reeds on a 3/8 or 1/4oz Fin-Tech Title Shot Jig Head with a blue/black Strike King Rodent (beaver type bait). The fish hung me up on the reeds and got off. My Rodent had a chunk taken out of it and was ripped up in a couple of spots which leads me to believe it was probably a pike. I didn't inspect my line and I got hung up in the reeds a little ways down and my line broke, another clue that it was probably a pike. We worked this shoreline for quite a long ways and I pulled in 2 small pike and had another 8lb class pike or muskie rise at the Rodent.
I think we fished that shoreline for a little over 2 hours before we finally made a move. There were 2 boats in where my boater Jake wanted to go into next, so we went to a large field of maidencaine that was farther East. I think I might have gotten a rock bass and a pike in the maidencaine.
It was now about 11AM and a bit of a breeze was blowing so we went to fish some wind blown reeds. I started with a spinnerbait, but that wasn't getting hit so I switched to a brownish teal Lethal Weapon 2 Swim Jig with a watermelon Zoom Speed Craw. After about 5 minutes of throwing that I got yet another small pike. On the very next cast I got the skunk out of the boat with a 13" largie. A few casts later I got hung up in some reeds. I tried to snap it free and my 30lb PowerPro broke. I had recently run into mysterious line issues with this rod. I retied another Lethal Weapon Jig and started casting again. About 5 minutes later I noticed a major fray up on the line, so I retired that combo for the day. I retied on an identical combo, which I was pitching and casting the title shot jig with. By this point in time we had gotten into some thicker reeds. I got impatient and made an ill advised cast. I got hung in the reeds bad and when I tried to pull it free my line broke. That was my last Lethal Weapon Jig, so I tied on an Outkast Swim Jig in sort of similar colors, but I didn't get any hits on it as we worked back over the reed bed. Jake wasn't getting anything so we moved to the wind blown side of another large field of maidencaine.
I went to pitching the Title Shot Jig with a Rodent and I started getting bit by rock bass. I caught several rockies and basically went through the rest of my bag of Rodents missing one fish that Jake and I think looked like a pike. At one point I got hung up in the maidencaine and broke off my last dark colored head Title Shot Jig. Jake kindly gave me some black/blue Lake Fork Craw/Tubes and I put one of those a white headed 1/4 or 3/8oz Title Shot Jig. On a cast into the maidencaine where there were some pads I had a fish that I think was a bass, but could have been a pike, strike at the lure on top when it came off a pad. The fish didn't get the bait. I cast right back to the area and let it sink but I didn't get a follow up hit. After working the area for about 5 minutes I gave up.
We ended up working around on the backside of the maidencaine field. I was casting a white Zoom Horny Toad out into some reeds with pads when I had a fish blow up on the Toad. I let the Toad sink, my line jumped and Jake said the fish took it, which I couldn't see but he could, so I set the hook and brought in a 12.25".
Eventually Jake and I worked our way back to the first maidencaine field we hit and I got a 14" bass on the Horny Toad there. Jake caught a fish right after that and we thought maybe we were finally on to something or maybe the fish were getting active, but then it went dead again.
With about an hour left of fishing we went back to the shore we started on. I got one good hit on the Horny Toad but got hung up and the fish got off. The Toad was ripped pretty good so it was probably a pike. And that was our day.
My boater Jake was 1 short of a limit with 5 fish, but he weighed 13lbs 4ozs anchored by a 4/13 that tied for tournament "Lunker," which put him in a respectable 7th. With one more fish he could have easily been in the Top 5. My 3 fish went 4lbs 2ozs.
Final Analysis: I don't know if my fishing in the back of the boat is mostly to blame, but it's becoming pretty clear I have a small fish problem. Over the last two tournaments my average fish size is an abysmal 1.35lbs per fish. That just isn't cutting it, especially combined with the fact that I couldn't catch more than 3 bass on Cass. At Farm Island I missed chances to upgrade, at Cass I don't even know if I had any chances to upgrade. At least I didn't skunk.
Next Tournament: Rabbit Lake July 24th.