This was a 21 day road trip. It has been so intense that my wife reminded me that I was only home three days in the month of June. I worked hard, gambled on decisions, and ended up with the Bassmaster Classic in view! I had a successful turn of events and I am proud of the outcome.
The first week I was in La Crosse, WI. The Mississippi River had the makings of the best Elite Event of the Season. Thirty days prior, I had spent five days scouting the area. It proved to be a great trip. I even won an evening tournament.
To say that I was ready for the event was an understatement. We had three pools we could fish. I decided to put my efforts in to the bottom pool, a huge gamble. A lock, a 50 mile run, and would the fish cooperate, were my thoughts.
I caught this bass at La Crosse on the Mississippi River. I named him "SPOT"
I found a better grade of fish in the lower pool. I had five hours on the pool and the instant my Skeeter Boat was off plane, the catching began. 40 keepers were culled to make a 13 ½-pound. limit. I locked back up to the La Crosse pool with 90 minutes of time on the clock.
Current breaks on the main river were key areas in the event. I pulled up on a point, pitched a black blue flake Strike King Rage Craw at five heads of grass in slack water and landed 3 ½ -pound. largemouth, I was pumped. I had 15 minutes left to fish so I made a quick move to a spot with rocks and heavy current. 10 casts with a Chart/Black Strike King 1.5 crankbait produce nothing. The next cast I change my casting angle, a 3 ½ lb. Smallmouth eats my crankbait and rockets into the air. This fish fought hard. It culls me up to 14lbs and 15 oz and puts me in 10th place. I had to do well to move up for a chance at the Bassmaster Classic.
Day two I was in the lock with two keepers in the livewell. It is a good feeling on the run. I need three more good ones to get to fish on day three. Ten local boats are in my area catching fish and making noise. I manage an 11 lb. bag that sees me slip into 45th place. A check is coming.
I have to move up to have a chance at the Classic. I gamble on not making the run on day three. I need more fishing time. I reeled in a 12lb bag and moved up to 31st place over all. The gamble paid me with 14 additional points. This was a real bonus.
The seventh event of the Elite Series is a mystery event. The location was revealed to us after the 30 day off limits period. Elite Anglers could not scout the area or get information from local anglers. Green Bay on Lake Michigan were the tournament waters. I’ve had some experience on these waters in the past. My practice period was thin. I ended up finding one stretch of smallmouth out in the bay and a group of fish in a small area in the river.
Landing the fish that payed me $10,000 at Green Bay.
My boat number was 15 which meant I could be the first boat to either of these areas. The problem was the commitment to either area would only allow me to fish one area during the day.
On day one, I headed out to the bay for a 35 mile boat ride. I gathered a 16lb 9 oz. bag of Smallmouth. With a 15th place for the day my spirits were high.
Day two was a different story. I landed two bass for a total of 5 lbs. I took a dive to 48th place. Which is only one spot away from elimination. The bare minimum was another $10,000 check. That took some pressure off of my shoulders. The bright spot was that I was at the bottom with nowhere to go but up!
I headed out to the bay again on day three. The clock moved fast when I noticed it was 11:30 am and there were no fish in my livewell. I made a decision that was a pure gut move. I cranked my Yamaha and ran back to the river.
In the first 15 minutes of cranking the same Strike King crankbait from last week. I landed a keeper largemouth. It crushed the bait on a rock. I felt as if the aggressive strike of this fish was a sign of more fish in the area. Within the hour, I had finished my limit. The days total was 13lbs 5ozs which pushed me into 35th place for the event. Day three’s effort rewarded me with 13 extra points for moving up. The Classic is still alive with one Elite Event left!
The next morning I am headed south around the tip of Lake Michigan towards the Detroit area. My wife and kids have flown in to her mother’s home. It is time for a much needed vacation! I pull in the driveway to see our whole family waiting. Welcome home signs are in the air! I drove an extra 600 miles to make for a family vacation. We swam, ate ,laughed and there was no fishing! My rig didn’t even move for the duration. Mental down time is such a treat for me. I was able to meet with family members and relax. I wish it could have been longer.
As I type this blog, my bags are packed. Monday will find me on my way to Orlando, FL for the 2012 I-CAST Tackle Show. I will be working for Lew’s at the show. Then, I get back in my boat for a couple of days of pre-practice for the second PAA event at Neely Henry. I’m looking forward to the event. I am trying to qualify for the Toyota Texas Bass Classic. It is a huge event that pays very well. Vacation is over!!