Monday, September 27, 2010

Ohio River BFL Buckeye Super Tournament

I left work early Friday to make it to the pre-tournament registration early. I didn't run into any problems on the way there and actually registered an hour early. I was ranked 24th in the standings in the FLW BFL Buckeye Division as a co-angler. They mentioned at the meeting that to ensure a top 40 finish for the year I would probably need to catch at least 1 bass. I had already thought that but now I was really feeling the pressure.

After the pairings meeting I visited with a few of the other anglers, one of which was Jacob Wheeler. He's a super nice person and I have a feeling he will be a superstar in this sport eventually. He's already really good. We were talking about next year. I have been doing some thinking on it, and figure that if I can, I should use the FLW to fish some bigger waters. I will probably, if my job allows it, fish the American Fishing Series Central Division or Northern Division next year as a co-angler.

If I can sell my boat this winter and buy a new used bass boat I might also fish the BFL as a boater. I still have a little time to decide. I like being a co-angler but also like to be the decision maker on where to fish and when. In actuality I will probably remain a co-angler if I am fishing the American Fishing Series since I would not have the time off to pre-fish each of the tournaments.

I might go south this winter to fish a BFL tournament as a co-angler on a larger lake. I would like to try Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, or Oklahoma. It would give me a chance to fish for bass while the ice is still on the water here, and I could learn how to fish on some different waters.

I called Dad and talked with him as everyone was leaving the meeting area. I had plans on a place to stay but that fell through so I was thinking of staying at a campground or in the van. I decided to stay the night in the van and met some other cool people doing the same thing.

I ended up going out to get drinks and a sandwich for the next day and drive around to check the area out a little. There was a barbecue place down the road called Big Daddy's Barbecue and Lil Momma's Fixins, or something close to that. I decided to stop in. The pulled pork was great and came in a healthy portion on the bun. My stomach was stretched out from the pulled pork sandwich, onion rings and the 2 corona's I had so I decided to head back to the ramp to sleep.

The ramp area was unlit so I fell asleep pretty quickly. Dreams of poor fishing went through my head. In my dreams I would cast to all these great looking spots and not catch any fish. I woke up and was disappointed in my dreams. They were brought on by my previous experience with the Ohio River.

I got up and prepped my equipment for the day. My partner called and was entering the ramp area. I met up with him and were one of the first to get our boat put in. We were second to last boat to get to leave the area though.

We pulled up to a bank and waited as everyone got to pass us and leave to fish. Finally they called the last 2 numbers and we were off. We made around a 15 minute run and were fishing pretty quickly. My boater caught 2 keepers pretty quick.

I caught a few short fish then had one on that was close. Upon measuring the bass, he was barely short. I caught a few more that were just barely short. Then I was lifting my worm out of the water at one point and a huge bass came up out of the water after it. He just barely missed it and my side of the livewell was still empty.

It was getting later in the afternoon and I was still catching just barely short bass. I kept thinking any one of them could be a keeper but just couldn't bring one in. finally I had a nice bite next to a dock. I set the hook and the fish seemed like it wanted to surface and jump. I kept my rod tip down to keep the fish in the water until I got it to the boat. My boater dipped the net and I brought it up and into the net. It was about a 3 pound catfish. I felt devastated. I really thought it was going to be a keeper bass. I needed 1 bass for points in this tournament.

We continued fishing then my boater said we were going to hit a spot on the main river where he usually can get a keeper.

I had several bites and was getting low on the finesse worms I was having luck on. My boater brought in a barely short bass, and right after that I have a hook up that feels like a nice bass. I get it to the boat and my boater nets it. It was a 14 incher, 2 inches into the keeper category. I sigh of relief ran through me. Then the excitement hit. I was more than likely going to make the regional cut. I looked at the clock. It was 2:30. We had about an hour left to fish. I started working to try to catch a second keeper and try to make the 2nd day.

I caught 2 more nice sized catfish. One of them even jumped completely out of the water when I hooked it. The second 1 I caught came out of the same spot I had brought in the keeper. My boater was retrieving a lure he had caught up and I fought the fish to the boat and into the net thinking I had a big bass, again to turn out to be a catfish.

The time ran down and I weighed in my 1 bass. It was 1 pound 7 ounces, good for around 33rd place out of 72. The cut for the next day was a little more than a half pound away.

I had a good tournament. My boater was really fun to fish with. We caught a ton of fish, just not enough of the right size or right species. The Ohio river left a little better taste in my mouth this time. I look forward to going back now.

Thoughts After the Tournament:

1. The reason I think I caught so many short fish without keepers - the creek we were fishing was not a long ways from Tanners and is pretty well known. There are a lot of tournaments out of Tanners so a lot of the keepers probably get plucked out of there and hauled back to Tanners.

2. There was not a lot of water being pulled on the first day of the tournament. There was abut a 15 minute pull and that is when I caught my keeper. He was in a current break.

3. There were large schools of shad and fish blowing up in them. It might or might not have been a good idea to spend a little more time casting an imitation shad bait right under the balls of shad. Looking back it couldn't have hurt. It might have been a good time to try a swimbait.

4. I went through 2 1/2 bags of worms. It was good fishing.

5. I finished the season in 18th place overall. I'm within the top 40 cut so I get to fish the Kentucky Lake regional tournament October 21st through the 23rd.

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