Well I had a great time being home after that long stint on the road but I was also looking forward to starting the northern swing of my events this year. So in mid June it was on the road again from Texas to the James River of which I had fished Northern Open events for the past 2 seasons. My record on the James is much less than desirable but I had felt I gained enough knowledge to have a solid performance… after all I had just missed a check there in 2012, the year I re-qualified to fish the Elite Series through the Northern Opens.
June 13 – June 15 James River - B.A.S.S. Northern Open Event #1
As most lakes and rivers in 2012 they had experienced a late spring in Virginia and the fish were just coming off of the beds and I was expecting the weights to be higher this year since it wasn’t in full blown summer patterns as it had been in the years past. Practice for me started slow but gained momentum as the week went on. I found some cooperative fish biting buzzbaits and small poppers in the early morning hours and, when the cloud cover stuck around during the day, the bite would extend into the afternoon. I even caught a few James River lunkers, fish over 4 lbs, in the process. I felt I had some very solid areas located if the conditions were overcast. I was struggling to catch bass during high sun conditions until finding a finesse pattern with a weightless wacky rigged stick worm in the backs of creeks. I thought I had a great 1-2 punch going into the event. Tides always play a critical role on the James River and I felt I would be able to move down the river as the tide fell which would also put me into some of my prime areas with the correct tide as the day progressed. Typically on the James River a 10 lb sack is respectable and I knew it would make the money again this go around and I felt 11-12 lbs was doable as my practice period progressed. The key for my strategy this year was to stay in a particular section of the river in practice to be sure I made the most of my time and not get to spread out on this large body of water.
Event Day 1: 5 Bass / 8bs 8oz – 90th place of 170
I had a late boat draw on day one and hoped I could capitalize with the extending fishing time to boat a solid 12+lb sack. I arrived at my fist location in a large creek and found very little boat traffic. I was excited about that. As I began fishing I caught a small keeper in the first hour and really felt like I was behind the curve already. I was on a prime spot at a great tide and the fish weren’t biting my topwater offerings. I attempted to change to some subsurface techniques like spinnerbaits and the conditions seemed to be perfect… but still no bites. After several hours I decided to go to an area I felt I could get my limit and ran up the Chickahominy River. Within an hour I had boxed a small limit and was able to relax and look for a bigger bite in the last couple hours. My first area not producing as I had hoped really set my back for the day. I fished several techniques I thought might produce a quality 2.5-3 lb fish but with 45 minutes remaining I had the same small limit and had a long run back to the launch. My day ended with less than expected results but I knew I was still within striking distance on day 2 while I just 2 ½ lbs out of check range.
Event Day 2: 1 Bass / 1lbs 5oz – 141st place of 170
I began Day 2 far up the Chickahominy River hoping to get a few big bites on topwater frogs. This is a known technique and area you can make a move on the James River. I caught a small keeper in the first ½ hour of the day and held my confidence that this was the place to be. I was one of the first boats in the area and quickly I noticed several other boats moving in that had exceptional first day catches. That grew my confidence even more. I fished hard with my head down and focused on my task at hand. One hour passed and no other bites. Another hour passed with no strikes. I am still confident because I have that quick limit spot and can then go back to big fish tactics. I work my limit area with several techniques for about an hour with nothing to show. I was getting discourage at this point. I had a short day because I was in the first flight and decided to go back to my day 1 morning area to try and make something happen. No dice. I roll back in to the launch area for check-in at 2 pm with 1 bass in the well. This place got me again.
Awfully disappointed I have to leave immediately for the Mississippi River Elite Series event in Wisconsin as I have a 2 day drive and practice will begin on Monday. One of the most difficult things in professional fishing is to have a short memory… you can’t bring negative thoughts into your next event but when they are less than 48 hours apart it is mental warfare.
Event Total - 6 Bass / 9lbs 13oz / 141st place of 170
Next blog… Bassmaster Elite Series #6, Mississippi River - La Crosse, WI June 20-24.