Wednesday, October 27, 2010

End of Season Reflections and Next Years Aspirations

Fishing season is coming to a close for me fast. Tournaments are over, the weather is taking a change for the colder, and I have a lot to do at home that has been neglected all summer.

Time for a little reflection on this season. I think I did decent for my second year of tournament fishing. I stuck with each series and fished every event I set out to. I made the fish off in the club and the regionals in the BFL. The money I made was not great. I'm starting to see that unless you are an exceptional fisherman you'll be lucky to break even. I made just about enough to pay for my entry fees this season. The expenses were more than the entry fees and I had to eat that cost.

I'm not disappointed though. I got to fish almost every weekend from the end of April through the end of October. I saw a lot of different lakes and fished a lot of different types of water. The most important factor is the amount I learned and the confidence I gained this season.

I'm kind of happy winter is coming this year for the first time in years. I'm ready to take a short break from fishing. I'm sure by Thanksgiving I'll be complaining already that winter is taking too long.

Next seasons plans are already being decided. I thought I had some time, but just saw that registration is open for the American Fishing Series next year. I wanted to enter the Central Division if I made the top 40 in the BFL this year. I did that, now I started crunching the numbers. My wife and I have decent jobs but decided to overspend coming out of college. Now I have about 50.00 a week spending money. I usually put it all back for fishing the next year but it would not come close to what I need for next season in 22 weeks. I estimate that between entry fees and expenses I will need to have 5430.00 saved by spring to fish all the events I want too. That amount would be sleeping in a tent or in the van at the overnight events and eating pbj sandwiches.

My plans are to fish the BFL's again. I will also fish the club tournaments. I also made plans with a guy in the club to fish the Wednesday night tournaments here in town. With just those tournaments I am estimating 2330.00 between entry fees and expenses. The American Fishing Series is the one in question and the one that needs the soonest decision. With the payout structures they have next year it is hard to pass up. I would love some experience on the lakes they fish as well.

The main drawback I have - it will take all of my vacation to fish all the tournaments in the series if I make the Championship. My family is in Kansas and I am in Ohio so I need some time to visit them. My wife and I are also trying to get the last of our debt cleared out. That money would clear a good chunk of debt. We are looking at having all of our debt besides the house paid down by the end of next year.

There is still a couple weeks to register before they open the registration to everyone. I have already pulled the money out of savings and am real close to entering the AFS. Christina has given her approval and said that I should do it. At the same time, she was talking about getting a part time job in the evenings to help pay down debt.

I am barely an amature in fishing. I can't imagine what pro's have to go through. This is something that I don't want to put off for a year or two. Unfortunately, I'm not getting any younger and I have aspirations to keep moving up, so there is no better time than now to get started.

Kentucky Lake BFL Regionals

The last tournament of the year for me is now over. I fished the BFL Regional at Kentucky lake this last weekend. The conditions were tough. Going down there I thought there was no way you could not catch fish in that lake. I was partly right as I caught quite a few short bass but the keeper size was harder to catch.

Christina and the kids came down with me to go on some adventures of their own while I was fishing.

Day 1: I drew a great partner that said the fishing was tough and every bite counts. He couldn't have been more right. We started out fishing a cove with a sandy flat. He had one fish blow up on a topwater and miss it. I didn't have any bites. We moved to a marina break wall and I caught 1 short fish on a roboworm. Then we moved to a feeding flat and he caught 3 keepers. I caught 1 fish on a chatterbait. He was only 14 inches but must have weighed well over 2 pounds it was sad putting him back.

We moved to some other areas and I ended up catching a keeper pulling a bomber past the edge of a boat dock in about 8 foot of water. He slammed the bomber and headed straight to wrap me around a post. I pulled him back out from under the docks and got him in the livewell. In a spot close to there we were fishing some bridge rocks. I had a good bite and set the hook with a 10" powerworm. The fish didn't have the hook in its mouth but took half my worm. My boater said he usually only pulls giants off those rocks so that was a little devastating. My boater also had a huge fish pull free from his hook on the same rocks. Shortly after we moved back to the feeding flat where I continued to catch short fish after short fish. It was fun but would have been a blast if they would have been keepers.

At weigh in I had 1 fish for 2 pounds even. I was around 50th place after day 1 with a good shot to move up the next day.

Christina and the kids went to land between the lakes and did some hiking/sight seeing. I took the kids fishing inside the marina break wall once I got back from weigh in. I had spoken to the tournament director's to ensure it would be o.k. to let them fish. They said it was o.k. since it was not tournament waters inside the break wall.

We went out to eat at Oasis Southwest Grill afterwards. I got the surf and turf and Christina go the chicken fried chicken. The steak was cooked perfectly and was of generous size. The pacific shrimp were huge. It also came with 2 sides and rolls for appetizers. Christina's chicken fried chicken was tender and delicious. We had ate there several times last year and we both love the chicken fried chicken.

Once we got back to the lodge I tied on a few lures then went to bed.

Day 2: I drew another great partner for day 2. Unlike several of the other boaters he had located a lot of fish in practice. He had only caught 1 the day before but said he was getting 20 pound bags during practice. We decided to go South to swing for the fences where he knew some good bass were.

We swung and swung until my arm was cramping then swung some more. I caught a lot of bass but no keepers. He said he couldn't believe how many short fish were eating that 10" worm. He caught 1 keeper and I didn't have anything to weigh in.

It was a long ride back North knowing I had nothing to weigh in. Christina and the kids were at weigh in and I really wanted to bring in some fish. My boater offered to let Leo and Gavin carry his fish up to weigh in from the boat. That was pretty awesome of him and the boys really enjoyed that.

Christina, Leo and Gavin did some more hiking on a trail that had a lot of signs with details of the area. Leo was really excited telling me about it. They also went to a safari like area and saw buffalo, fox, owls and some other animals that had sustained injuries and would not be able to survive in the wild.

When I got back to the room, I decided I wanted to drink later and put beers on ice. Then I took the boys down to fish of the courtesy dock at the lodge. I caught a shell cracker and put it on Gavin's line and cast it out so he could reel it in. He got off when I cast it though. We didn't catch any more fish but a couple guys at the end of the dock caught a nice catfish and let Leo and Gavin admire it.

We went out to eat Chinese buffet after that. We got back to the room at a decent time but I was wiped out and went straight to bed instead of drinking any beer.

The next morning we got up and packed the van so we could go get some breakfast. I wanted a nice restaurant breakfast but didn't find a restaurant on the route home so the kids won and we ate McDonald's.

On the way home we drove by Fort Knox and stopped at Patton's museum. It was really informative and free. From there we booked it home. I was feeling pretty bad the whole way home about placing 95th out of 151. Four more pounds and I would have been in the top 12 cut and in the money.

It was still a fun tournament and I learned a ton. I now know how 20 pound bags can be caught even though we didn't do it this tournament. I think all the conditions at the time of the tournament collided and made it tougher than it ever should have been. There was a full moon, so the fish could have been feeding at night. There was a cold front, no moving water, the lake had just been drawn down 6 inches, we had bluebird skies and no wind. I'm sure there were other variables in play.

Somebody will always figure it out though, and I was happy to see Jacob Wheeler figured out enough to get him a check and make it into the All American next year.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lake Erie Perch

This weekend we put about 500 miles on our vehicles. Saturday Christina, the kids and Gene and I went to King's Island. Christina got free tickets from her company and had a company picnic in the park.

We got back around 10:30 Saturday night and the next morning Gene and I were up at 3:00 to drive to lake erie. Gene's brother Glenn also came with us. We had reserved a spot on a head boat from the Drawbridge Marina to go perch fishing.

They took us out close to Canadian waters. We caught quite a few perch, but only ended up keeping about 18. We found out after the trip that we should have been keeping the small ones instead of throwing them back. They just seemed so small and couldn't have had much meat on them. Eighteen fish of the size we kept was plenty for eating and will provide several meals.

As far as the fun factor goes, perch fishing is not as fun as walleye. We were using a 1 1/2 oz. weight on the spreader to reach the bottom and most of the perch we caught just felt like some added weight when you were bringing them up.

If I were to go out again, I would take an ultralight rod and a lot smaller weights to increase the fight. I would also try to figure out how to catch the great big ones. Those are fun.

We waited several hours for our fish to be cleaned once we got back and had a walleye dinner at Jolly Rogers in Port Clinton. Their dinners are awesome and come with a ton of fish, slaw and waffle fries.

Completely stuffed we went back to Drawbridge Marina and got completely schooled by Gene on how to catch fish after fish on a jighead with a piece of worm. He caught rock bass, bluegill, gobies and bullhead over and over, while Glen and I caught a gobie a piece. I also got 1 bluegill.

The fish were finally cleaned and we headed back home.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Twin Rivers Bassmasters Fish Off Results

The weather cooled off for us this weekend. On Saturday the warmest part of the day was when we arrived to the lake. The wind picked up early. We fished several different areas and I stuck to a roboworm most of the day. The fish were somewhat active at the beginning of the day and I was able to pick up about 1 keeper every hour and a half. Then it got slow.

It started to Drizzle and the temperature dropped more. The fish stopped co-operating. Finally, I started deadsticking the worm. I would cast it and let it sit on the bottom next to the bank for 30 - 40 seconds then real it in and cast to the next spot. I picked up my last 2 fish towards the end of the tournament doing that.

I was in 2nd place after the first day with my 5 fish.

The next morning was cold. We started out the tournament at 46 degrees and it ended at 52. It was raining most of the day and blowing all day 10-15 mph with gusts of 25. It must have been gusting all day.

Fishing was tough on a good lake. There were close to 100 boats going out of the ramp we were going to start at, so we switched ramps. We started out a little later than that tournamnet and squeezed between boats to fish our first spot.

I was casting a buzzbait to start but it was too windy so I switched to a storm swimbait in chartreuse. I had 1 bass chase it so I cast out a similar colored roboworm and caught it. It was a little short. I cast the swimbait some more and had a nice hit. When I got it to the boat it was a nice white bass.

We worked quite a few more areas with no luck. We hit grass, shoreline, rocks, wood, and even a nice ledge with a drop shot and a carolina rig but couldn't get a keeper. I had 3 short fish by 2:30 and no keepers.

With 1 hour left I switched to a purple D.C. finesse worm. I cast next to a lay down and my rod loaded up. I set the hook and pulled in my first keeper. The wind was blowing us down the bank pretty fast so Ken turned the boat around to go back over the three laydowns that were next to each other.

We made it back to the laydown I had caught my first keeper on and I cast back to it. My rod loaded up again and I had my second keeper. The fish were tight to the laydowns. We hurried and fished a few more laydowns in similar types of water. Laydowns next to deep water. We didn't have any luck.

My 2 fish were enough combined with the weight of the first day to keep me in 3rd place. I got 3rd place fish off money plus 3rd place tournament money. It was about as much as I won for 1st place and big bass at another club tournament so I was happy. I wish I had figured out a pattern earlier in the day to win the tournament but just being able to place after my 2nd day was a blessing.

On the way home we decided to take a different route back home to avoid a stop light and traffic in Washington Courthouse. I had thought I came in on highway 50 the first time. I was wrong. Highway 50 took us through Cincinnati and cost us an hour on the way home. I'm sure the guys in the club will have a good laugh on that one.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fish off Details

Twin Rivers meeting was at 7:00 at the Donato's on Polaris Parkway. I arrived around 6:55 and was the last one to get there. There was pizza along with the drawing and I had a few bud lights too.

All of the fish off qualifiers put in their votes for the lake they wanted then we ate pizza and talked about the lakes. Lake Erie was eliminated due to possible windy conditions this weekend. John the tournament director called it off as it would be unsafe.

After we finished eating we had the waitress draw the lakes. Delaware lake was first so it will be on Saturday. Rocky Fork was drawn second so it will be on Sunday. There will be a big bass pot both days and will be a standard tournament as far as the buy in goes. Anybody in the club can still fish it but only 8 of us will be fishing for the fish off money. If I can squeek out a win that would result in several hundred dollars.

After the meeting a few of us went to Quaker Steak and Lube where another club member was working the patio. We kicked back a few beers and visited for a while. Ken and I agreed to fish together during the tournament. We are using his boat the first day and possibly my boat the second day. It will be more fun and we will be able to get in the side pot both days this way. The side pot is 10 dollars a boat and the boat that brings in the most weight for the day wins the side pot.

They had Lienkrugel (spelling??) Octoberfest on tap, so I tried it. It was one of my favorite beers I have had in a long time. It had a medium full flavor and a nice sort of spice to it. It was better than soda! I would love to try one with a steak and baked beans.