Days that dont start with "Tournament"
My fishing partner, Jason Sain, and I have a lot of stupid inside jokes. We’ve been friends and fishing partners for so long, that I think we could communicate for days only using the word “Dude” with various inflections. When we fish team tournaments, we usually practice in separate boats and call each other regularly throughout the day to see how the other is doing, and hopefully help put a pattern together.
One Friday last May, Jason and I were practicing for Saturday tournament when I called him to see how he was catching them. He said, “Dude, this is a day that doesn’t start with ‘Tournament.’ ” He had boated about 26 pounds and it was only 11 AM. Since then, we have a running joke about catching big ones on days that don’t start with tournament.
This past Friday I got back on the water for only the second time this year. I was planning on fishing the BASS Weekend Series tournament on Kentucky Lake. Work has been busy, so I only had one day to try to figure them out. I put in about 6:30 with a good friend of mine and we headed south on Kentucky Lake. We have gotten quite a lot of rain lately, so the water was stained and on the rise. I was truly excited just to be out there fishing. We jumped around a little trying a few different patterns, checking water color and temperature and trying to find the mother lode. I really wanted to flip flooded bushes, but given that the water had just got up, I wasn’t sure if the fish would be there yet. We caught about six or seven in the morning doing various things, but we didn’t find a strong pattern.
About noon, we pulled up on a stretch of bushes I wanted to flip. I missed a fish, then Bill missed one, so I was beginning to be somewhat optimistic that they might be pulling up. I pitched my jig up to a buck bush and slowly worked it back to the boat. As I was dragging the jig, it just got a little heavy and started moving off slowly to the left. Wanting to see what type of quality was in the area, I set the hook. The fish was moving fast and felt like a good one. I saw her flash and told Bill that it looked like a five or six pounder. Then, she jumped. “Good grief,” I screamed, “it’s a giant!”
Bill saw her too and asked if I needed help. Of course, I didn’t have a net in the boat since it was a practice day, so I told him I’d get her. I almost got my paws on her giant jaw, when she surged back under the Triton. When she came back out, I could see how enormous the bass was. Fortunately, she opened her mouth and I put a vice-grip hold on her lip and wrestled her over the side.
The bass was about 22 inches long and about 22 inches around. It was ginormous, a gigantalasaurus, a pig, a toad! I put her on my digital scales and she weighed between 10-8 and 10-9. My biggest bass to date had been a nine pounder I caught last summer on a day that didn’t start with, well, you get the picture. Bill and I stared in awe at this beautiful fish. I put her in the livewell so that we could get our cameras ready. Bill took about 15 pictures before I watched her swim away. It was such a thrill to catch the bass of my lifetime with a good friend and on my favorite lake. At the same time, I couldn’t help but think what a fish like that would mean in a tournament. It doesn’t take long to get to 25 or 30 pounds when you have a ten pound kicker. Within a few minutes, I had sent a picture message to all my fishing buddies and spent most of the rest of the afternoon returning text messages. Of course, I still had a tournament to think about. One big bass does not a pattern make. I fished the rest of that area thoroughly and had two more bites. I decided that I would spend much of my day here tomorrow.
After a long brisk boat ride Saturday morning, I went back through the area where I had caught the big one yesterday. Unfortunately, I never had a bite. I ended up jumping around and scrounging up a respectable limit. But it wasn’t the dream bag I was hoping might happen. As I headed back Kentucky Dam, I was hopeful that I had enough to get a check. In case you haven’t noticed, fueling up a bass boat is starting to get a little expensive and a 180 mile round trip will put a dent in a fisherman’s gas fund. My limit weighed 15.61 and I was a little surprised to end up in second place. I guess it was pretty tough on everyone. My limit was good for a nice check and the Boat US ANGLER Weigh-To-Win contingency bonus (check it out at www.boatusfishing.com). On the two hour drive home, I felt pretty proud of how I had finished, but couldn’t help but think what could’ve been if I’d have caught that big girl on a day that started with “Tournament.”
Until next time, keep chunkin’ and windin’.
Boat US ANGLER Pro Staff
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