This years fall BASS Federation State Tournament was held out of Dubuque, Iowa where the boat traffic is heavy and the fishing can be tough. Once again, I was blessed to be partnered with two great boaters for Saturday and Sunday and the weather couldn't have been better with the exception of a few patches of fog each morning. As the tournament approached, I had all but convinced myself whom ever I drew for a partner would either lock up into pool 11 or lock down into pool 13. Pool 12 was not yielding a lot of weight in recent practice sessions so I guessed most fisherman who prefished pool 12 were experiencing the same results. I was pleasantly surprised when my partner for the day, Jerry Mundt from the Northeast Iowa Bass Anglers (My club) said we were staying in the pool. As Jerry and I launched the boat in the caous of everyone using the same launch ramp, I was excited to get the day started and catch some fish.
After our brisk morning boat ride, we set down and Jerry began laying out the situation. Basically a secondary cut with a weedy shoreline varying from zero water to 3' to 6'. The weeds where just thick enough to make a buzz bait and a pop-r impossible to fish, but almost immediately Jerry had a blow up near the boat swimming a jig just below the surface. He and his prefishing partner had found fish on this stretch during the week and they were good fish, so we knew there couldn't be any mistakes once we got the fish to bite. We continued to throw a variety of baits along this bank and it became apparent the fish were not holding to the weed line in any great quantities. After about an hour of flipping the weed line Jerry smacked his first keeper of the day, a solid 2lb largemouth. As the cull tag went on the fish, I notice a few hundred yards above us on the opposite bank we had another boat fish the weed line. Honestly, Jerry expected this place to be crowded, but gratefully, it wasn't. We continued up the initial bank and as it came to a point, we continued across the open water to the bank on the upper side. This had a similar set of structure with a sharp weed line and access to deeper water. Shortly into this stretch Jerry had his second keeper of the day, again off soft plastic, and again, a solid 2lb largemouth. To this point, I had yet to have a bite. It appeared we would have to grind the day out pitching and flipping to weed lines and the occasional small brush pile or fallen log.
We decided to start slightly further down from out starting point and work our way back up the bank hopping to grind out a few more fish. This produced one more keeper for Jerry and sent us to the adjoining bank with hopes of finding fish on some untouched water. After about 50 yards up this new bank Jerry hooked into a solid 2-1/2lb largemouth on the outside of the weed line in about 5' of water. It was clear that the few fish we did have were sitting in water deeper than three feet. So we decided to keep searching for weed lines that had that kind of depth. As we skipped over to the the point we had already fished that morning, and approached a single patch of three little pads against the weed line Jerry noticed a swirl underneath one of the pads. He quickly tossed his soft plastic on top of the lilly pad and let it drop over the side into the water. The line quickly swam off and Jerry set the hook as I dropped my rod and got the net. The 4-1/2lb largemouth came into the net easily and we both stood there in awe over the size of this bass. That was a nice way to book end a limit for the first day of the state tournament.
As the sun got higher and the time shorter, Jerry and I decided to head up river a little and fish a stretch of bank that had weeds and some good size stumps bordering 8' of water. Initially we didn''t get bit, but as we started our second pass down the bank, I set the hook on a chunky 3lb largemouth that bit my tube as it fell down next to the stump. Finally, I had the monkey off my back and a reason to get a weigh in bag once we returned to the boat ramp. However, a few stumps later I had the exact same response when my tube hit the log and disappeared along side of it. Another solid 2-3/4lb largemouth. This got my adrenaline going after almost six hours with only a few bites. We fished this spot for the next hour, but couldn't recreate the quick action of the first two fish. And as the time grew later, Jerry and I decided to head back closer to the ramp and fish a few spots along the way.
As we stopped and made a few cast along the way, we passed a number of fellow tournament anglers fishing every point, log jam, and rock bank up and down pool 12. This late in the day, everyone was scrambling to improve their day one sack before weigh in. Jerry and I ended our day on a stretch of main channel bank that produced a few small fish and a lot of boat traffic waves that made the experience rocky to say the least. As Jerry dropped me off at the ramp to get his vehicle I noticed a great number of fisherman were already weighed in and either rigging their boats or standing around the leader board. We made quick work of loading the boat, got our weigh in bags, loaded the fish and stood in the line to see what we had. After the dust had settled, it turned out Jerry's 13+lbs of fish was leading day one of the fall Iowa State tournament. My meager 5.98lbs in two fish was not what I was looking to bring in, but I was grateful to have the fish I did. Between Jerry and I, we collectively had 12-15 bites all day. Jerry made the most of his bites and it paid off. It was a fun day on the water fishing with a fellow club member who I was genuinely happy to see have the day one lead.