Friday, March 11, 2016

First Fish of the Year Title is Mine This Year

The family tradition of first fish of the year went to me this year.  It was a late start to to the fishing season this year.  We made the decision to move to Northwest Kansas at the end of 2015 and I stayed on with my employer to train my replacement through the third week in January. 

We had some strange weather this winter.  The ice never got thick enough to go out on but it kept enough ice on the lakes to keep people from fishing. 

Finally a few weeks ago I started fishing.  The first two trips were flops, but I started hearing that there were some fish being caught at a lake near my parents. 

On one of the nicest days we had in February I drove over to check out the lake.  I called my mother on the way.  She decided to meet me on the dam and fish with me.

It wasn't long before the hearsay became reality.  I had caught my first fish of 2016.  It was 14 1/2 inch saugeye.  My 3 year old daughter was fishing right beside me.  I continued to catch 2 more saugeye  before Mom showed up. 

We spent the day basking in the sun, casting, and catching.  My daughter got to reel in several fish. 

Then it came.  I made a long cast, waited for the jig to hit the bottom and as soon as I lifted the rod, BAM!  This was a harder hit than the short fish we had been pulling in.  The fish came straight to the surface like a bass.  I held my rod tip low, just like I would if a bass was trying to jump.  Instinct I guess.  We saw the fish a good ways out swirl at the surface.  It was a good size saugeye.  Keeper for sure.  My heart was racing as I kept the fight going. 

Mom thought I lost the fish when it swirled.  Fortunately, I had not lost it.  I scanned the rocks I was standing on for the best place to land a big fish.  Something flat with shallow water.  I have lost a lot of walleye at the end of a fight when I have went to grab them in the rocks.  You are in and awkward position.

I found my spot and brought the fish in.  I bent down and grabbed my line to get the fishes head up.  My line snapped.  Like a cat I lept for the fish.  One foot went into the cold water and my hand grabbed right between the dorsal fin and the gill.  I gripped and pulled the Saugeye out of the water. 

He went a good 5 inches beyond my 18 inch measuring board.  Fish was on the menu.

We caught a crappie, bass and tons of other short saugeye throughout the rest of the afternoon. 

It is great to have fishing season back in gear for 2016.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lots of Fishing Little Catching

Last weekend I went to the FLW BFL tournament at the Arkansas River out of Muskogee.  I went down early to pre-fish Friday before the tournament.  It was cold that morning and I could not warm up even though I had layers of cloths on. 
I didn't catch anything pre-fishing, but the guy I was with caught 2 barely keepers.  Everybody we talked to said they did not catch them.  It was looking like it was going to be a rough tournament.
That evening at the pretournament meeting I was talking with a guy, we introduced ourselves, talked a little more, then I went on about my business.  Crazy thing is I drew him as my boater. 
On tournament day we went to an area that looked completely awesome.  The whole river looked awesome, but this place really stuck out as a bass hole.  We didn't catch any fish, but saw a couple caught out of there.  We made a move to another area and started to fish it.  It looked great too, a lot like a spot I used to fish back home in similar weather conditions. 
My boater caught his first fish and I missed one.  I got my worm back to the boat and the tail had been curled around and re-hooked on the point of the hook.  Nothing I could have done about that missed fish other than possibly to set the hook harder.
We fished that area some more and my boater picked up one more fish.  Then we made a move a little further.  This would be our final move as my boater got on a pattern here.  I tried to mimic what he was doing, and even tied on the exact same lure.  I tried everything else I could think of.  He was getting his bites on the first pass over small grassy patches in shallow water.  After he tried them they didn't want my stuff.
I did have 2 bites in a laydown where my boater pulled 2 good fish out of.  I missed the hook set on both of them.  They weren't hanging on to the bait at all.
On the way back to weigh in my boater spoted a boat in need of help and turned around to see what he could do to help.  They were in the same flight as us and had boat problems and needed to get back to weigh in.  The co-angler had a good bag and a shot at a decent check.  My boater told them to hurry and we would take them to the weigh in. 
We checked in with only a few minutes left.  The co-angler that we picked up won the tournament and had big bass.  My boater continued to help out the other boater well after the weigh in. 
This was the first tournament where my boater did really good and I skunked.  It was pretty disappointing.  I would still go out to fish with my boater any day of the week.  He was a super guy.  He tried to get me some fish, he was just too thorough at picking apart pockets.  It was kind of awesome to see somebody fish the way he did and grind out a limit when lots of others struggled to even catch one bass.
I probably learned more this tournament, than I have in any one tournament the last 3 years.
When I got home I got all of my tackle out and started reorganizing for the new boat.  I will be going from one little tournament bag to a whole boat full of tackle.  Most of the time I will use the same things I always use, but I will have more choices of colors or variations.  It will be nice to have a few more options if I need them.
I was looking for tournaments to do with a buddy of mine from Oklahoma City.  As I was looking I found a series that I can fish with my 9 year old son.  This weekend will be our first tournament.  All of the tournaments are on Eufaula lake.  I looked at the weights from last year and there are some major sticks fishing this trail.  We will need around 19 to 20 pounds or more to win one of these.  My biggest sack ever is not even close to that.  Oh well, we are going to get out there and try anyway.
I tried hitting the walleye spawn a couple of times the week before.  I went to Canton lake and the walleye spawn was almost over.  Then that weekend we were 4 hours north at my wife's Mom's and the walleye were just getting started.  I saw them swimming around the rocks at both locations but did not come across an aggressive one that would bite my lure.
I have been fishing a lot the last month, but I have been doing very little catching.  I'm coming off a cold streak and now I've got to run the boat and try to find the bass.  I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The New Boat

I have been thinking about it and commenting for quite a while that I wanted to buy a different boat.  A bass boat to be precise.  In my last post, last fall, I mentioned what I was looking for in a boat.  I have been looking since then and came across this one finally.  I had to make some sacrifices to keep the cost down. 
I was getting ready for my first tournament of the year at Grand lake and saw this boat a few days before I was leaving to fish as a co-angler.  I decided to go out of my way on the day of the tournament registration to check it out and possibly trade in my Nitro Fish and Ski. 
I got to the boat dealer and saw the boat parked out front.  It looked nice from a distance, but as I got closer I saw some imperfections.  The carpet was tore in a couple of spots.  There were some stress cracks, and there was a spot on the back corner of the boat where the previous owner had apparently hit a dock and starred the fiberglass. 
This about deterred me from purchasing the boat.  Reselling it could be tough in a couple of years.  It was also only 1 year newer than my current boat.  I was wanting something a little newer than a '99. 
After hem hawing around most of the morning, the salesman said that we should take it out for a test drive.  The motor fired right over.  The boat ran good and glided through the 2 foot waves without banging.  It felt solid.  Then we stopped and put down the trolling motor.  I ran along a bank for a while adjusting the speed and staying in a perfect line with the bank even thought the wind was blowing hard and waves were crashing into us.  I was sold.
This boat may be a little beat up, but it will fish great, I won't have to worry about banging it up, and the price was right for a bigger boat.
They didn't offer half of what my Nitro booked at low value from what I had checked the night before, so I decided to keep it for a family boat.  This way we can still ski and fish and all be in the boat together. 
I don't have the boat yet.  The dealership is doing a couple of small things to get it ready for me first.  I have another tournament in the meantime, that I will fish as a co-angler.  After that, I may continue as a co-angler in the BFL's this year, and fish some other tournaments out of my new boat. 
Last tournament I didn't catch a bass.  There were 220 boats and out of those only 75 co-anglers caught a bass.  It was tough fishing.  Some people found them though, just like always.  The winning weight on the boater side was 29 pounds.  That's a giant sack for Grand Lake.  I didn't even catch a short.  I did catch a big crappie.  It was disappointing when I got it to the boat and realized it wasn't a bass. 
Tonight I am going down to Canton lake in Oklahoma for the Walleye spawn.  It's fishing season once again.  This year I am going to fish any chance I get. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Time for a Change - Looking Into Buying a Bass Boat

This year was my 3rd year fishing as a non boater in the FLW BFL's.  The amount of bass fishing knowledge and confidence I have gained from that experience is unbelievable.  I have fished area's of lakes that I would have never tried on my own.  Some of them were successful and some were not.  I have used baits that I would not have tried had I not been shown how to use them.

It is always exciting getting to know a new person you have never fished with before.  It is fun to see their style of fishing. 

The more I have learned, the harder it has become to not be in control.  While I am in a tournament I see a spot that has just the right structure and depth and know that I could catch a fish there.  My boater looks right past it.  They have their game plan in place.  I am fishing out of their boat, their way.  For the first couple of years it didn't bother me at all.  I was learning.  Now I want to put all of what I have learned together in order to catch fish and do well in tournaments.

It is time for me to take the next step and become a boater. 

There is one problem.  I don't have a bass boat, and bass boats are relatively expensive.  After looking for the last several months, I have determined that there are several things I want in my boat.  Every extra item costs more, but I think each would help me to catch more fish and be able to fish more effectively.

In no certain order, I would like to have the following.  Recessed trolling motor.  GPS with contour lines.  Power pole.  Dual axle's.  21' boat.  200 hp + motor.  2002 or newer.  Under $20,000.00.  Deck and Console fish finders with 7" or larger screens.

I have came across several boats that have came close to having all of these specs.  Recently I found a boat that had all of my requirements.  I have a loan approved for up to $25,000.00.  The boat I found was right at $20,000.00.  It is hard for me to pull the trigger for that much money.  I haven't ever paid that much for a vehicle that I drive every day.  The interest rate I am looking at is really good at 4.6%.

I passed up on a really good deal earlier in the year when I first started looking.  Now that I have been looking for a while I realize that I messed up.  The boat had most of the requirements I am looking for at 1/3 of the cost. 

To be truthful, that is what I am waiting for again. If I can find a boat that has most of what I want at a great price, I would like to use it for a couple of years, then sell it and upgrade.  I would store the boat 4 hours from home, near the tournament waters I fish so that I save fuel on the drive.  I don't want to store a great boat that far from home.  I would want to go look at it all the time. 

If I don't find my boat by next spring or decide to buy a house by then, I will happily be a non boater again so that I can still get out and fish. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Still Have My Boat

A couple years ago I considered selling my boat.  That thought has been with me since then.  As I get more into fishing the BFL's I have considered buying a bass boat and storing it down around the water's that I fish the tournaments.

With my boys getting older and more into sports, we find there is less and less time to be on the water. 

The boat has been a great escape for quite a few years now.  It feels good pulling it down the road.  It's sharp looking still, and runs great.  As an added bonus, the taxes on it are relatively inexpensive.  And it's paid off. 

At some point I may sell it, but for now, my plans are to keep it for another year or 2.  We may not make it to the lake much now, but that could change, and if we do go to the lake it's nice to have a versatile boat that we can all get in and fish or tube or just scoot across the lake quickly.  A family boat.

Canton lake in Oklahoma is where I go the most to fish.  It is a fun body of water that I can almost always catch a meal's worth of fish.  It is still down pretty low and the last time I used the boat ramp I hit a rock with the motor.  It did not do any damage thankfully.  As long as it doesn't get any lower I will start going there more often.

Cheney lake in Kansas is another lake about the same distance away.  I have been hearing that the lake conditions have improved there and the fishing is good.  It is close to Wichita so I will probably only go there in the spring and fall when all of the fun in the sunner's are back in the city.

This summer I bought a Nissan Titan with the plans on buying a bass boat to match.  Since then we are in the process of buying a house.  I'm working hard to figure out how to get my bass boat by next spring.  I have been selling a lot of stuff around the house on ebay trying to come up with the money.  So far a month into it, I have sold about 1000.00 worth of stuff.  At that pace I will not have enough money in time.

It looks like if I want to be a boater next year in the BFL's I am going to have to figure something else out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lake Eufaula BFL Okie Division

The weather was cold yet again at our BFL Okie Eufaula tournament on May 17th.  It seems we have been hitting the lakes at the wrong times this year. 

I was looking for a good showing since I had dropped to 52nd place in the standings after the last tournament.  I got the monkey off my back right away in this tournament.  I caught about a 2.5 pounder in the second spot we tried, casting a Biffle Bug at a stick in shallow water.  There was a fish near the stick and he ate the Bug. 

We fished for quite a while longer catching short fish until my boater got his first and only keeper of the day.  We fished that spot for quite a while, but could not get another fish to move up.  It was the type of water where the fish should have been moving up on all day.  It wasn't going to be this day.

We moved across the lake and started fishing another area.  About half way through our pass, I hooked into a good size fish on a flick shake.  The fish came out of the water and I about lost my breath.  My boater got his line reeled in and to the back of the boat to net the fish right as I got it to the boat.  The hook fell out as he was lifting it over the edge of the boat.  Talk about a close one.  The fish was around 3.5 pounds.

We finished that pass and made another pass through that area picking up quite a few more short fish before moving to our last spot.  The last spot was a major community hole that probably had many different boats on it all day.  I had a different bait than any of them would have used and picked up more short fish.  I was thinking, "I need one more fish to get in the money." 

Finally, as the time ticked down, we made our run back to the check in boat.  At the weigh in I noticed that a lot of people had a really tough day.  We weighed in 3rd flight out of 5 flights.  When I weighed in I was sitting in 15th place with 6-1, my heaviest weight in a BFL so far.  I found out they pay out 25. 

By the time the rest of the field weighed in I had dropped to 30th place.  Not good enough for a check, but good for a bump up in the standings.  I moved from 52nd to 26th place overall for the year.  I will have a good chance to make it to Regionals at Sam Rayburn, and have a shot at winning a boat. 

The next tournament will be at Grand Lake in September.  It is a Super Tournament + it is at Grand Lake, the lake I have fished the most in Oklahoma.  I really want to cash a check in Oklahoma.  I have been learning a ton the last few tournaments that will apply to Grand Lake.  This could be my tournament.


Monday, April 28, 2014

2014 So Far

At the beginning of the year I made a resolution to make it outdoors more often this year.  So far I have blown last year out of the water. 

I have been in 3 Okie BFL tournaments and went fishing on 3 separate occasions on top of that.  Not bad for just getting out of winter. 

The first tournament was at Grand Lake.  It was cold.  COLD!  The fish had lock jaw and I did not catch a fish along with hundreds of other anglers.  They didn't even have enough co-anglers catch fish to fill all of the prize slots.  So, you could say I finished last or 22nd.  I'll go with 22nd, my highest finish in a Okie BFL so far. 

The next tournament was on the Arkansas River.  I caught 4 bass.  Two were just barely short and I had 2 keepers for 5.7 pounds and around a 35th place finish.  We were getting the bass dialed in again for the afternoon bite but started experiencing boat problems and needed to get a ride into weigh in so we could go retrieve the boat.  I caught a 19 inch crappie that weighed more than either of my 3 pound bass. 

The last tournament was this weekend.  Mizike was texting me saying he caught a bass, then another, then another.  I asked him where he was fishing and he said one of his farm ponds.  I called him and told him I was coming through that area and asked if he had time to goof around for a while.  He said he did so I stopped by on the way to the pairing meeting to fish for a couple of hours.

We had a lot of fun catching a bass on nearly every cast.  I caught the bass slightly smaller than the bass pictured above, then we went to another pond where I immediately picked up this lunker. 

In the tournament I did not fare so well.  We were at Fort Gibson Lake.  For the size of the lake it seemed to fish really small.  Every good bass spot had 3 or more boats on it all day playing merry go round with the rest of the spots.  I managed to pick up 1 keeper in a pretty common community hole that seemed like it would continue to reload all day.  My boater picked up 2 keepers there.  We moved thinking that an afternoon bite would pick up in another area. 

Unfortunately for us, the afternoon bite didn't happen.  We ran to quite a few different areas but only picked up some short fish and a catfish that I thought was my getting into the money bass.

I caught 5 bass on 5 different lures.  I couldn't figure out any specific pattern other than they were biting extremely light on everything I caught them on besides the first fish I had caught on a swimbait. 

I weighed in 1 bass for 3-2 pounds which put me in 74th place out of 143 boats.  I am currently in 52nd in points for the year.  I will need to do well in the next 2 tournaments in order to make it to regionals.  The competition is fierce.