Bassmaster Elite Series #6, Mississippi River - La Crosse, WI June 20-23
After the long drive to WI we got settled into our motel and I felt tired yet refreshed… you have lots of time to think during a 2 day drive. I was unable to do much research for this Elite event due to my tight schedule this spring but was feeling like this would fish to many of my strengths after hearing some talk of last year’s event and watching the Bassmaster’s TV show. Seeing all that grass made me believe I could fish as I did the Potomac River when I lived in Virginia. I was up early day 1 of practice and fired up to hit the reset button after last week’s James River event.
Unfortunately, I had absolutely no knowledge of this river system and I dedicated myself to finding fish in Pool 8, the pool the tournament would launch from, so I could maximize my practice period. Once again the river experienced a late spring and the fish were not in their typical summer behavioral patterns. As I boated around in practice I would find beautiful grass beds of milfoil and other types of grasses all over the river system. I was sure I would find an area with a good amount of fish to succeed in the tournament. After all, it was my right up my alley. I love to grass fish and I grew up fishing and excelling at fishing this type of cover. Around and around the river I would run, catching a fish here or a fish there but never 2 in the same area or stretch, but once again I just knew I would find them in that grass. Day 2 of practice I flipped and frog’ed similar to day one still finding more and more grass to fish but still never putting an area together I felt confident I could work over during the tournament for a successful finish. All of the sudden it’s Day 3 of practice and I have not been able to locate a decent stretch. Believing that it’s just a matter of time, I fish and fish with the intention of getting on the right grass patch. I occasionally fish some other cover and current breaks, catching one here or there but never satisfied with a location. Now I find myself at registration wondering how I am going to put 5 bites together in the event and weigh in a respectable bag. I’m caught clueless other than just trying to continue to grind out some bites in the grass. Not where you want to be the evening prior to Day 1 of an Elite Series event.
Event Day 1: 3 Bass / 5lbs 8oz – 97th place of 99
Still determined, I keep a closed mind and fish grass nearly all day. I watched two anglers - Kelly Jordan and David Walker - catch limits early in the morning just a few yards up the bank from my starting point on a current break. I catch one quickly but have little success after that. I never found that little sweet spot. I frog and punch grass the rest of the day and land some giant pickerel but not enough bass to take a limit to the scales. I fished hard too - I was determined to make something happen out of my miserable practice but I didn’t. I learned more over that day on the water about how most of the anglers were concentrating on current breaks to catch a majority of their fish and I am going to change up day 2 to make a respectable showing.
Event Day 2: 2 Bass / 3lbs 6oz – 99th place of 99
I ran way down river at the start of Day 2 with the intentions to learn about the current bite and really use the day to learn more about the river is case I ever have the opportunity to visit for a tournament again. My poor showing on day one really took me out of any AOY point battle to get some of the year end money. I figured this became a day to expand my fishing knowledge and learn from my mistakes. Within about 45 minutes of beginning to fish, the lower half of the river had a storm come through that destroyed my plans of fishing current breaks in that area. It got so bad I had to abandon the entire area. As I ran back up I saw many other anglers in the same position. I decided to run up to an area just below the pool 7 lock and fish current breaks up that way. Later I learned that this is where the tournament leader after 2 days was concentrating as well. I have little success, only boating 1 fish, and finally decided to spend the last few hours fishing around the launch area. This is where I see many more of the top contenders in the tournament. I caught a few fish and missed a few as I finesse fish the highly pressured Black River. Two weeks in a row… not good. I need to hit the resent button again.
Event Total - 5 Bass / 8lbs 14oz / 99th place of 99
This recent quote from fellow Elite Series angler Hank Cherry on bassmaster.com is exactly what happened to me on the Mississippi River.
“I can get so caught up in what I'm doing – and have so much confidence in it – that I'll stick with it too long when I should be doing something entirely different. I'm working on how I can better recognize those situations and switch gears.”
4 Events left on the schedule this year, 2 Elite Series and 2 Northern Opens. They will be dominated by brown fish. Smallmouth bass are fun to catch and that is how I plan to conclude the rest of the year… having FUN! Let’s see if that turns into dollar bills.
Next blog…Bassmaster Northern Open #2, Lake Oneida – Syracuse, NY August 1-3
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