Well we had a long break in the Elite Series AOY (Angler of the Year) events since my debacle at Lake Dardanelle. In the meantime I had a BASS Open event at Lake Douglas, TN in late May where I cashed a check to regain some momentum. In early June I participated in BassFest at Lake Chickamauga, TN which was a mediocre performance as I finished in the middle of the field. And most recently I attended a BASS Open at Lake Champlain where I just missed cashing a check. With two Elite AOY events remaining at the Delaware River and Lake Cayuga I am sitting in 85th place. Mathematically I am still alive to make the AOY Championship (top 50) but I am really just trying to focus on getting back on track and have 2 solid performances to close out the year. My goals have switched from how high I finish in the AOY to cashing a couple checks to close out the year.
Delware River At Dawn
Aug. 7-10, Delaware River, Philadelphia, PA – BASS Elite Series #7
I grew up fishing tidal waters so my comfort level on the Delaware was high even with a 6 foot tidal swing… which is amazing! It had been a long time though since I needed to solve the puzzle of finding bass on these types of systems so I did research prior to the event. Bites would be tough here and fishing was going to be slow, but I knew I would be able to get in some of the right areas at the right tides to capitalize on my tidal water knowledge.
The best tides early in the event were going to be way up the river near Trenton, NJ very early in the day. During practice I would have to be sure and monitor the area during those prime tidal periods to locate the best specific areas to fish. That first morning I fish around Philly and target some industrial cover. The tide was going to be high until late in the afternoon and then get low down-river in the evening. I catch a solid keeper while fishing and felt if I could capitalize on fishing the hard cover on high tides and the vegetation on low tides that would be a awesome 1-2 punch for success in the event. After spending 5 hours I begin to understand there was tons of this industrial cover and I was unable to find enough bites to feel confident.
My 3rd option was to run as far up a creek as I could get as tidal water bass like these areas in the summer months. I worked a creek for nearly 5 hours that afternoon with basically no success other than a few non-keepers. My mind again wandering so much during practice that I missed getting up river to Trenton to check out the low tide possibilities where I knew I needed to start the tournament. Gosh dang-it! Once again I was trying to cover too much water and wandering around the river on the wrong tides during the entire first 2 days of practice. When will I stop making the same mistakes! The final day of practice we would never see a prime tidal period up river so I opted to fish hard cover around the Philly area again with no success.
In 3 days of practice I had 3 keeper bass to show for it with little knowledge of the best areas to run except for the areas I located in pre-practice near Trenton. Once again the fishing was going to be tough so just a couple bites were going to go a long ways in this event.
Event Day 1: 1 Bass / 1lbs 1oz – 99th place of 105
I run my Skeeter/Yamaha as hard as I can to get up river fast so I am on that prime time low water tide. I started at the mouth of the most productive creek I found in pre-practice. The hydrilla lined the banks and I worked them with several lures… a small iMA crankbait, plastic Texas rigged craw and a topwater. Within the first 15 min I had a small keeper in the live well… I gotta admit I was pretty pumped up. I knew If I kept my head down and fished methodically in the area and grinded out another bite or two and then run back up to the industrial cover near Philly this could go just the way I planned… even though I spent my practiced period running around like an idiot. I wish there was lots more to report other than a bunch of nothing. I never had another keeper bite. I fished several areas, some slowly, some fas,t looking for the next fish for weigh-in. I tried hard cover… more vegetation… nothing worked. I caught 1 non keeper the rest of the day. Gosh this place was tough and I was never around an area where I thought a few fish would congregate. I left day 1 as lost as I was in the practice round. I was sitting in 99th place going into competition Day 2, but still just 4lbs 13oz out of the top 50 to make a check.
Event Day 2: 1 Bass / 1lbs 12oz – 99th place of 105
Day 2 the tidal conditions would favor the Trenton area again and actually give me more time to fish the prime tide, so I opted to begin the same creek were I caught my keeper early on day 1. Once I arrived within my first 5 casts I catch another keeper! Off to a quick start again! This time determined to make it pay off! Instead of moving from the creek and running down toward Philly to fish hard cover, I decide to stay up and run more vegetation on Day 2. I quickly catch another short fish on the second place I stop and can feel some momentum going my way. I flip the edges of grass on the main river and there is another tap… I set the hook and it’s on for a quick second… it feels like a nice bass and Snap! There goes the line! It was my fault… I short lined the fish and set up way too hard on it.
When you’re not getting bites and you finally get one, not capitalizing is hurtful… but I re-rig and fish on. Just a ½ hour goes by and another bite… I set the hook, flip it in and another catch, short of the 12 inch min. Boy oh boy, this is tough. The tide is now rising rapidly and the prime conditions for getting bites are fading fast, unfortunately is was my confidence. Although I would fish hard and look for new opportunities the last 3 or 4 hours of the day I knew my chances were getting slim. The results were negligible. I fished new water hoping to make something positive happen. I stayed in two areas, very slowly and methodically, and managed just one more non-keeper.
Event Total - 2 Bass / 2lbs 13oz / 99th place of 105.
I pack up my boat and try to brush it off, but honestly I am totally pissed! I am just not fishing up to my potential and it’s killing me. I am off to do a few appearances at Bass Pro Shops and fish a couple days on the St. Lawrence River with one of my business partners, Dixie Electric. In the week off we have until the final event at Lake Cayuga I am solely focused on having fun!
Next blog… Bassmaster Elite Series #8, Cayuga Lake, Union Springs, NY – Aug. 21-24