Saturday, August 13, 2011

COTR Tournament Day Part 2

     As the morning sun quickly climbed into the sky, we continued to catch fish, but no more size than what we'd been averaging. With our fifth keeper came a subtle relief that we'd caught our limit, but that was early in the morning and we'd been searching for bigger fish for almost two hours managing to only upgrade an ounce or two at a time. It was getting to the point in which we needed to leave this spot in search of bigger fish, so we decided to pack up and head up river a little to some fresh water. The spot we had in mind was a slight cut back off the main channel with an underwater rock jetty that came out from the shoreline dropping off gradually into 8' of water. We'd caught fish in this spot earlier in the week, and in years past i've stumbled onto a mixed bag of largemouth and smallmouth bass in this spot, so anything could happen. Rick positioned the boat just off the 8' depth range and I began casting a crankbait and Rick started slow rolling a spinner bait down the rock ledge. Quickly disappointed that no agressively feeding fish jumped on our presenations, we both switched to a plastic with Rick throwing a baby brush hog and I stuck with the 4" Watermelon with red flake beaver. Now, what makes this spot so good is also what makes this spot a pain in the butt to fish plastics, or a jig. There are varying sizes of rocks on this ledge and it it didnt take long for both of us to become snagged. Rick manuvered the boat and eventually we both retrieved our lures and kept fishing. Rick managed a few shorts and I managed a short and one more keeper roughly the same size as our previous keepers. Throughly covering this area and the back of the boat docks adjacent to the point, we decided to head to our larger weed fish we knew were possibly still in that area. With another short boat ride, we entered what would be our last stop of the tournament.
     Having had the results we did the day before in this area, I couldn't help but get a little excited as we rolled quietly up on the moss covered tree line. We both knew we would need a good hook set, and a quick fight back to the boat if we engaged any of the qaulity fish we knew were here. We began casting at the flooded tree line and brush piles sorounded by a thin layer of moss, but our lures didnt recieve any attention. As we began casting in and around the 15 yard stretch where we'd hooked a couple huge fish the day before, my excitement grew in anticipation of what could, maybe, happen! But the frogs passed over the weed mat time and time again from almost every angle we could cast to only to return to us for another ride. The designated "hot spot" came and went and we quickly found ourselves turning around for another pass. Again, everything was as quiet as the first time we'd passed through, so we decided to fish up to another large brushpile covered in the same vegetation. As we blanketed the northside and made our way around to the south side, Rick and I began talking while I cleaned the moss off my Spro Frog, and Rick's Live Action floating frog was sitting in the water next to the boat. In a split second of water splashing and Rick raising his fishing pole, there was a keeper largemouth in the bottom of the boat. This fish was either sitting under the mat at that exact spot, or had followed the Live Action Frog back to the boat and when Rick stopped the lure, decided it was a good time for lunch. Regardless, it was not something your going to experinece everyday, and it gave us something to chat about for a bit.
     It was getting late in the day and we decided to blanket every inch of the area in search of fish deciding to keep the lures in the water versus burning time running to our other fish. Rick took a few minutes to check on the fish, and untangle the cull tags while I took the trolling motor and contiued to fish. We knew we'd better leave a solid half hour before our weigh in time in case we ran into a rough main channel, engine trouble, ect.
We were just approaching our target area one more time and suddenly my frog was attacked just on the weed edge. I set the hook and thought I had the fish we were looking for as I told Rick to "get the net this is a big fish". As Rick netted the fish, I was slightly embarrased by what I saw. The fish was only a 13/3/4" largemouth and needless to say, I took a little ribbing from my partner. As the "monster fish" jabs started flying Rick reminded me that it was 1:43 and we needed to finish up and start idling out of the back water. Just then our largest fish of the day enhaled the frog and was quickly loaded into the boat. Rick tossed our smallest fish over board replacing it with the 2-3/4lb fish and we both went back to casting as fast as we could remembering it was just about this time the day before when the bigger fish began to bite in the flooding trees. However, we couldn't get a flurry of large fish going and time simply ran out on our tournament day.
     The ride back for me was more satifying than I expected considering the weight we thought we had. We'd fished hard, didn't make any mistakes, had no fish come off, and most importantly, had a really good time on the water. The marina was packed upon our arrival and the crowd at the weigh in was a pleasant suprise. We idled in, looked for a place to pull the boat into, and after Rick grabbed a weigh in bag, took our fish to the scales. 11.33lbs was the result of our tournament day, with our largest fish weighing in at 2.75lbs. Respectable, yes, what we wanted, no. Rick is as competitive as I am and our goal was to cash a check at this years Country on the River Tournament. The last checks were handed out to weights in the low 13lbs, so we knew we were one large fish away from our goal. But we fish these tournaments for alot of reasons including competition, comrodery, and the love of the sport. This years COTR tournament satisfied all of those for me................. 

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