With Rick’s blessing and Joe’s help I will be posting a short narrative on each of the bass tournaments I fish this season… win lose or draw. My plan is to highlight both the pre-fishing days and actual tournament day. The blog will start off slow and then increase in frequency, as we get deeper into the tournament season and I start fishing weekly local tournaments. As it sits now I will be fishing 20 to 25 tournaments this summer and hopefully get a post out on each one of them. So let’s get started.
Okoboji Open 2012 Bass Tournament:
· One-day tournament.
· Five fish limit, Smallmouth or Largemouth.
· 15-inch minimum length to be legal.
The tournament was held on May 6th and according to Dave Vogel (tournament director) they had 40 teams registered. My team partner for this tournament was Mike Daloia. We put in two days of pre-fishing (May 3rd & 4th). Mike and I pre-fish in separate boats, as we can cover more water and we both break down a lake differently. On Saturday, May 5th we just had a day of fun fishing on Center Lake. Which was fun but less than spectacular, as we caught as many walleyes as bass.
Day one of pre-fishing:
The first day pre-fishing was spent on West Okoboji. Of the lakes on the Okoboji chain, West Okoboji is the largest, clearest and deepest. It has a strong Smallmouth and Largemouth population.
I launched at 7a.m. The weather was great; sunny and warm with a moderate wind and it stayed that nice all day long. The morning main lake water temperature was 64-degrees. I elected to check a series of docks that extend out into 6 to 8-feet of water. These docks have produced fish for us before. The first dock I pulled up to held both bass and panfish and some of the bass were quality fish. I noticed something that I had not seen before this early in the morning on docks in deeper water. The larger bass were suspended just a couple of inches under the surface on the deep end of the docks. Apparently soaking up the warmth from the sun. I scooted along a 100-yard stretch of docks, not fishing any of them, just looking. You could clearly see that the bigger fish had expanded sides and bellies. Either from munching on all the panfish or they were full of spawn. No matter what, it looked good. Now the fun part, seeing if I could get a couple of the bigger fish to bite. My go to dock bait is Lake Fork Ring Fry in pumpkin/pepper. I went back down this line of docks, just targeting the suspended fish, not one taker. They would charge the bait, then veer off and head towards deep water. After a half-hour of changing baits and colors I decided to target the shallow water end of the same line of docks. Again, with the Ring Fry, bingo! Each dock produced one or two fish from less than 2-feet of water. The downside was that the shallow fish were only 15 and 16-inch fish. You would think that shallow fish in this clear water (you can clearly see bottom in 8-feet of water) would be extremely boat shy, not the case. You could almost pull right up on top of them and still get bit…go figure. The rest of the morning was spent checking docks that had produced fish in the past.
I did spend a couple of hours cranking some grass/sand flats in 10 to 12-feet of water in front of the more productive docks, with a Strike King 2.5 and Red Eye Shad. Both produced lots of fish, I had northerns, silver bass, walleyes, drums and a musky decide to eat those cranks, but not one bass.
The afternoon was spent checking a couple of very shallow bays for spawning fish. To say these bays were holding fish would be a major under-statement.
The first bay I pulled into (here after referred to as bay 1) looked pretty barren in the front half, which is 3 to 4-feet deep. But the shallower I went the more fish I was seeing and when I got to the back of the bay in 1-foot of water or less, it was amazing. The water temperature was 66/67-degrees and I was seeing good numbers of fish in that 2 to 2.5 range, but no pigs. I also saw a number of smaller fish fanning beds. I then spent 20-minutes moving around in the back of the bay actually fishing. I was making long casts with a Strike King Zero (Blue Moon) wacky rigged, with no weight. I caught a number of fish in the 16-inch range and two 17-inch fish. So there was some good fish in this bay.
The second bay (now referred to as bay 2) has more water in the 4 to 6-foot range than bay1, then ends in the shallow end with a number of docks. I fished my way into the shallow areas, again making long casts with the Zero. I did pick up a couple of 15-inch fish going in, but was surprised by the lack of bites. But once I got to the docks in the back of this bay, it was a different story. These docks are shallow, only having 3 to 4-feet of water at the deep end. Plus, you could see multiple fish under every dock. And they looked like quality fish. The water temperature in the shallow end of this bay was holding in that 66/67-degree range. As I scooted along the docks I was seeing good numbers of fish, but no beds or bedding fish. I decided to fish a couple of the docks, when I saw what I believed to be quality fish. I like to catch one or two to get a true measurement, so I can get a more accurate idea about how much they weigh. Again, the go-to dock rig came out with the Ring Fry. I stuck three fish and got measurements of 17-inches, 17.25-inches and 18-inches, all quality fish.
The remainder of the day was spent on the trolling motor checking Hiawatha Point, Gull Point, Eagle Point and a couple of others to see if any Smallmouth had moved up. I saw good numbers of small Largemouth and also good numbers of small Smallmouth, but no quality fish.
Mike spent most of day one checking out various rock piles for Smallmouth. He didn’t catch big numbers of fish, but did catch some quality fish. He measured three Smallmouth, two at 17-inches and one that was pushing 20-inches, this one blew up a 6 to 7-inch perch as he landed it.
Day 2 pre-fishing to follow.