What can I say but, HOT,HOT,HOT!
It was the warmest conditions I have ever fished in.
Fishing in Mobridge was awesome. The people were great. Driving down the main street, kids waving, people honking their horns waving. People just wanting to talk. A nobody like myself, I felt like a celebrity.
Where do I start? 70 miles of water to fish, from the North Dakota border to the Hwy 212 bridge, near Gettysburg.
I spent the first day fishing around Mobridge, both north and south. Hitting a lot of areas, not spending more than an hour in one spot. Catching fish in each area, but nothing big.
The second and third days I went south to Hwy 212 boundry. I was finding fish, but they were the same size fish I was getting by Mobridge. I decided after those two days that I would not be making the 40 mile run down there to fish.
I spent the last 1 ½ days of prefishing refining my presentations up by Mobridge. I had 7 areas that I could go to if I had too much boat traffic, or if my bite died. My best crankbaits during pre-fish were, Kaboom’s Mean Streak, and Winning Streaks.
This was a slot tournament, we could keep 7 fish weigh 5. 2 fish over 20 inches with the minimum length of 15 inches.
During pre-fish I didn’t catch any over the 20 inch mark. I figured I could weigh 10lbs a day without any overs.
The first day my game plan was to throw back everything under 16 ½ inches.
Going into day 1, I had my number 1 and number 2 spots right by each other. My best area was trolling lead core, number 2 spot was live baiting.
I would say ¾ of the boats before me were going south.I was boat 65, we had a 5 minute boat ride to the area. There was not another boat in the area. I thought great, I will have it all to myself. Which I did. In the first 5 minutes we had a 18 ½ incher. We made the trolling pass, which took about an hour. At the end of the pass was my live bait spot. I told my co-angler to pick up all the lead core, we were going to live bait this area. My fish on the trolling pass didn’t really take off until 9 a.m. We live baited for about an hour, and picked up 1 fish.
We now had 2 fish in the box, and started trolling leadcore again. We went the next hour without a fish. We picked up a 16, I put it in the box. That was my first mistake of the tournament. Right after that the fish started jumping in the boat. We picked up some 18’s, the last 3 fish were 19’s. I hadn’t caught any over fish during pre-fish, so that is why I kept the 18’s. We were done at 11:30 a.m. with 10.3 lbs. That is what I figured I could get without a kicker fish. I was happy.
I picked up my co-angler and told him we were going to stay in one area the whole day. I had the area all to myself.
Day 2 was my long day, and it was long. No wind and 100 degree heat.
My goal was not to keep anything under 18 inches. We picked up a lot of fish. We had 3 18’s and 2 19’s in the box. I wasn’t keeping anything unless it was over 20. My expectations were not very high, since I hadn’t picked up any fish over 20 inches as of yet.
All that changed just after noon. We had a fish on, I picked up the rod and I told my co-angler we had a good one on. It was, we got it up and 20 feet from the boat it came unbuttoned. I guessed it at about 4 lbs. My co was upset, I told him he did everything right, that it happens. I said we would get another chance. Sure enough ½ hour later, we got it’s twin on. Same exact thing happened. Same exact reaction from my co-angler. He was more upset than I was. I tried to comfort him by telling him we would get another chance.
Another two hours went by with some smaller fish. Then we got another big one on. I don’t need to tell you what happened again. I’m being conservative by saying this fish went 8lbs. This one came unbuttoned also.
That was it for big fish for the day. I ended up with 9.7lbs. I dropped to 41st place, but was only .70lbs out of the money.
After each day of the tournament, a friend of mine would call me to see how I did, and talk about the day. He really pumped me up for day 3. If I would have boated 2 of those fish. I would have been in the top 5. I was really encouraged going into day 3. I was going to go to the same area. I still had it to myself, for the most part. I would get company in the afternoon.
My expectations were high. Leaving the cabin in the morning, I told my wife I was going to get 12lbs today, and cash my first check as a pro. It wasn’t just talk, I really thought I could cash a check, and possibly get a top 10 if I could get two over fish.
I had a lot more boat traffic in the area, and the fish were slow to start. I had one fish in the box at noon. The last three hours of fishing were really good, we picked up a lot of fish. They just were not the right size. We ended up losing another good fish. At the time I told my co-angler, that fish just cost me a check. I couldn’t have been more right. I ended up with 9.8 lbs. I missed cashing a check by .60 lbs.
Overall it was a good tournament. It was exciting being close to cashing a check. To date it was my best finish as a Pro.
I did learn a few things. I did make some mistakes. Losing those fish, were a combination of mistakes. I normally change all my hooks on my crankbaits to Mustad’s triple grips. I received an order of crankbaits right before I left for Mobridge, and didn’t change the hooks. That and the combination of using leadcore with a no strech leader, I believe the fish were just ripping the hooks out of their mouths.
I also learned a valuable lesson from Gary and Chase Parson’s. I talked to them after day 3. I should have slowed the boat way down, or even stopped it, when I had the big fish on.
Going into this tournament I was starting to second guess myself. I was wondering if I belonged out there with these guys. If I would have only been able to weigh 3 of those big fish, that weight would have given me at least a top 10 if not a top 5. Now I feel I can compete with these guys.
I would like to congratulate Mark Courts on his win. He got choked up on stage, wishing his family was there to share it with him. Even though I only finished 38th , my family was there to share it with me. It takes a lot of support from our families to be able to do what we love to do.
Talk to you after our next tournament in Escanaba.