Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day Five of COTR

     After a map session the night before, and comparing what we'd found for fish the night before, Rick and I dropped his Champion in at the Washington Street ramp in Prairie Du Chien, and headed out to spot check some of our more productive spots. The day before a tournament is an interesting time because you can use this opportunity on the water for a variety of purposes. Some tournament anglers will take the hooks off their crank baits, bury the hook inside a tube, or creature bait, and put a piece of plastic over a spinner bait hook just to prevent accidentally hooking the fish they are checking. Some anglers will use the day before to search almost exclusively new water insisting on leaving the fish they have already found untouched. Others will employ a combination of these theories. We were not going to one extreme or the other, but we had every intention of making sure we didn't hook many fish in any of the existing spots we had fish on, but were also going to use every minute of time we had to keep searching for more quality fish. With 106 boats in the tournament, 212 fisherman would have a line in the water on Saturday and we needed every spot we could find.
     We decided to check an area first thing in the morning that we'd both failed to check during the week, but given the current conditions, we felt somewhere in this backwater lake should hold fish. As we idled through some shallow water, we decided to give a little area a few casts to start the morning. Lilly pads, current, and a shallow flat spilling into deeper water. Sounds productive I know, however, not a single blow up on a buzz bait, pop-r, spinner bait, or swim jig. So we quickly made our way to this intended area. As we arrived, I was pleased to see we were the first ones in the area, but after about an hour I realized why we were alone. Not a single bite except a pesky hammer handled Northern Pike that tackled Rick's spinner bait along some wooded cover. Disappointed, and wanting to use our time the best we could, we decided to check a few spots up river. Arriving just down stream from our next targeted spot, we almost immediately started getting bit on a main channel transition spot going from rip rap to wood. The bites were consistent, and we figured out why quickly. The small largemouth were hitting the beavers and brushhogs as they were falling down on the initial presentation behind the larger trees providing the current breaks. Not able to get a solid fish out of this stretch, we decided to move up to the spot around the bend where Rick had managed some solid 2-1/2lb to 3lb fish earlier in the week. As we arrived, Rick explained the topography of this shallow bay with flooded pads, cattails, and timber. All the pieces seemed to fit together with one unexpected surprise. A Ranger boat appeared from the flooded timber, passed by us without a word, and headed out of the bay. We both hoped they hadn't found a pile of willing fish and left disgusted and cursing the time they spent in the area. But the sad reality was they probably caught some fish and were headed out not wanting to burn too may of them in case they had to come back to them later in the tournament day. Rick and I began fishing swim baits, swim jigs and spinner baits on the outside edges of the structure, with Rick catching a few shorts on the swim bait. It wasn't long into fishing this area when we heard the familiar noise of bait fish being fed on in the flooded timber. This sight, coupled with another bass boat entering the cove and starting to fish around use, we decided they were still here and we'd leave the spot alone.
     As the day wore on, we checked a few other spots with relatively little success with the exception of Rick catching a solid 2-1/2lb fish on a Live Action Frog, and a solid 2lb fish on a secondary channel point that yielded several bites that I couldn't manage to hook up. Early afternoon, we decided to make a long stretch of backwater with wood and weed cover our last stop of the day. Once we got past the initial entrance without a single bite, we made our way along the flooded timber and began throwing frogs as it became increasingly covered with weeds. Our first pass took us all the way back to the end of the cut without a blow up, but on our return pass, we had a surprise waiting for us back in the flooded timber. As Rick pulled his frog through the weed bed just on the edge of what would be the original bank in normal pool, his frog was absolutely crushed by a what I initially thought was a very big Nothern Pike. As the battle ensued, I said to Rick, "that is either a Nothern or a really big bass", and as I finished the statement, we both realized it was an enormous largemouth that had been hiding in the tree line. Moments later, the fish spit the frog and Rick and I were left speechless. The only thing I could think to do in that silence was to continue throwing the frog into the tree line. And on the first cast, just yards away from where Rick's frog got crushed, my Spro frog was engulfed by another enormous fish. This fight lasted 5-7 seconds and again, the bait came loose. We quickly realized this specific section of the tree line was holding good fish and ended the day knowing we had late day fish to go to on tournament day.

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