BASS Northern Open #3 - Lake Erie, Sandusky OH
A week or so off between the Lake St. Clair Elite event and my last tourney of the year at the Lake Erie Bassmaster Northern Open was a good thing. My wife and I again spent that week in Pittsburgh at my in-laws… almost as good as home in TX or VA. I was able to get some things accomplished on the business side of the industry and regroup. I did have some sense of good mojo going into this event as I finished my last day at St. Clair on a high note.I was ready to get back after those brown monsters!
Sept. 12 - Sept. 15, BASS Northern Open #3 - Lake Erie, Sandusky OH
This western basin of Lake Erie and I had once been acquainted before back in 2011 at a BASS Northern Open. I finished 5th in that event and was ready to improve on that this week. I rigged up one rod and committed to it for almost the entire practice… I was hoping to find the big smallies off-shore and exclusively relied on a drop-shot rig. Sure, I tossed around a few baits up shallow… some top-water, crankbait and spinnerbait… but it was pretty haphazard for a few hours one afternoon. I wanted to catch them deep.
I targeted areas with hard bottom in the 19-24 foot range to locate most of my bites. I never caught any giants in practice but did manage a few in the 4-4.5 lb class. I had about a 30 mile run so knew if I took my time to get the fish in the big waters, I would be able to capitalize. In practice for the tournament I never found large concentrations of fish on a single hard area but just a few here and there.
I was going to have to hit several areas to catch enough fish to weigh a good bag… but taking my time in covering the areas slowly was critical as well
Event Day 1: 5 Bass / 19bs 0oz – 28th place of 123
Wind is always a major factor on the Great Lakes but I have learned over the years that when you take your time you can get just about anywhere and back in a tourney day with plenty of time to fish as long as it’s not more than a 60 mile run in the big open water. Wind was a slight factor on Day 1, but for the most part it was a pleasant day. I headed directly out to my area of hard bottom and began catching drum after drum… they are annoying but a big part of fishing on the Great Lakes. You just have to work through them sometimes. I didn’t get frustrated and stayed with my areas and began picking up a solid smallmouth here and there. I was grinding all day to keep my head in the game and stay focused. I didn’t get a lot of keeper bites but the size was quality as I had anticipated from practice. I was confident I had a decent bag but fished up the very last minute trying to upgrade.
The ride back was bumpy but my Skeeter/Yamaha is probably the best riding bass boat on the market so I felt safe and comfortable heading back to weigh-in. My 5 fish limit weight of 19 lbs even put me in 28th place which I was actually really disappointed with. I was amazed at how many anglers caught 20+ lb bags.
That’s Erie for ya… you gotta catch’em big here every time to compete for the win. I had Day 2 to rebound and improve my standing.
Event Day 2: Cancelled
Well day 2 of the event was cancelled due to high winds. BASS officials felt the waters would be way too rough to be floating around in a bass boat… I agreed with them. Running around in 5-7 foot waves is not what I call fun. BASS decided all the anglers would be fishing the final day, day 3, and the angler with the most weight would win the event. I was glad they decided to cancel the day but knew it was also going to be tough to catch the leaders. I was all-in for the best finish I could put together and a shortened tourney didn’t play to my advantage. My tourney plan was refocused to just make it a great day and see what I could come up with… after all my bank account needed the biggest check I could get!
Event Day 3: 5 Bass / 19lbs 9oz – 20th place of 123
Due to the high winds the day prior, there were lots of big waves still rolling out on the lake and I had to take my time getting to my area. It took me about 1 hour and 20 minutes to navigate the typical 45 minute ride. Once again I started off with tons of drum… one after another I set the hook and a drum would surface next to the boat… frustrating. My co-angler that day caught a few bass early though so I knew it was just a matter of time. I caught a few much smaller fish this day and was getting troubled by the size and time between bites… but sure enough I would hit a good one here and there. Finally with about ½ hour to go I had 4 solid smallies and knew I needed one more good one to cull a 2.5 lber that had been in my live well all day. Sure enough I drifted over another hard spot and the fishing rod loaded up… it was another solid smallmouth and this fish would be the one to catapult me into a top 20 finish.
Event Total - 10 Bass / 38lbs 9oz / 20th place of 123.
After the tournament I felt good knowing I did all I could to capitalize on my practice strategy. It worked out OK. I was happy to end the season with another top 20 finish.
Wow what a year! It has been a year of several great days but many opportunities that I left unfulfilled. I look forward to spending some time at home fishing Amistad this winter and looking at where my travels with BK Racing, BoatUS ANGLER and Bassmaster will take me in 2014.
Thanks to everyone for all your support and I’ll stay in touch!
Next blog...Off Season Preparation for 2014, coming this winter!
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