Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NE Iowa Bass Anglers....Guttenberg Open Tournament

     The morning of the Northeast Iowa Bass Anglers Guttenberg Open didn't start off with a beautiful sunrise complimented with idling bass boats eager to blast off in search of large bags. Instead, as we all rigged our equipment and staged our boats, we were greeted with colder temperatures and rain. However, it didn't dampen the spirits of the 25+ teams signed up for the tournament. As some members of our club signed up late arrivals, others started directing traffic near the boat ramp, and I checked live wells and informed the teams of the staging area, limits, and check in time. Eric, a fellow club member, was my partner for the tournament and as the last of the boats put in, we joined the masses waiting in the marina for take off. Within minutes of putting Eric's Triton in the water, our number 14 was called and we were quickly heading down river to our first spot of the morning.
     After a short, but somewhat chilly ride, we entered a secondary channel only to find another bass boat sitting on the spot Eric had in mind to start on. So, with a slight change in plans, we headed to a wooded bank and began our tournament day. It was a quiet first 20-30 minutes as we tossed crankbaits and spinner baits at the cover, and followed up those baits with jigs and tubes. Eric managed our fist keeper of the day, a cookie cutter 14-1/2" largemouth, after about 10 casts at a terrific looking brush pile. Regardless of its length, it was a keeper and the skunk had left the boat. After a few more bites that didn't materialize into fish and 75 yards of bank behind us, Eric and I decided to move to another area close by with shallow wood and less current. It was only seconds after we dropped the boat down and removed our life jackets when a boat who had been fishing just upstream from our starting spot, blew by us and headed to the back of the cove. Normally this wouldn't bother me but he had made the pass a little closer than edicate dictates.
Regardless, Eric and I began fishing a fairly open looking bank on our way up to a narrow shoot buried in timber. But we began pick up fish every few casts and had a total of three keepers in the live well before long. We both had high hopes for some bigger fish as we inched closer to the timber in the back of the shoot.
     I wish I could say we finished our our bag in this area with 3lb largemouth, but as we all know, fishing doesn't go to plan very often. We did however, fill our our limit very quickly and caught a great number of fish from 8"s to 14"-15"s. Long and skinny seemed to be the type of fish in this area and they were hungry biting on tubes and other plastics as well as crankbaits, spinner baits, and rattle traps. Regardless of how good the bite was in this area, Eric and I both agreed we needed to find bigger fish in order to compete for a check in this tournament. So we packed up and headed to a few other spots close by. As we covered water, we couldn't seem to catch the fish we needed to increase our weights. The fish were were they were suppose to be, but the big ones seemed to be playing hard to get. We did manage to cull a fish or two on these short distance spots, but only gained an ounce or two per fish. As the morning quickly got away from us, we decided we needed to make a run in order to fish completely different water to try and find a few heftier bass that could put us back into contention.
     As we dropped down into some deeper water with heavier current, Eric immediately caught a smallmouth that was legal, but not enough weighed to help us. This was a positive start to this spot, but this late in the day, we were both sure this area had seen its fair share of pressure throughout the morning. After a 20 minute stretch without a bite, we decided to move across to the other side. As Eric lifted the trolling motor, a situation I had not had the pleasure of experiencing unfolded. One of Eric's rods had gotten lifted up with the trolling motor and fell over the side of the boat. As quickly as the rod fell into the water and started to sink, Eric reached overboard for the rod and tumbled out of the boat. The saving grace in this situation was the fact that he had not let go of the side of the Triton and as the current brought him toward the back of the boat, Eric tossed the rod back into the boat and I pulled him out of the water. This was one of those situations where you know something unthinkable could have happened, but at the same time, I couldn't help but get a slight grin on my face as my partner sat on the front deck of his boat totally soaked in 59 degree water from his neck down. The fact is he was safely back in the boat but was going to fish with a slight chill for the remainder of the tournament. Possibly holding that rod a little tighter than he had before. :-)
     Knowing Eric like i do, I knew the competitor in him would brush that insident off and get right back to finding fish. So, once he was dried off, we headed out to find a few last minute fish that could help our overall weight. We both agreed we should check a few spots we'd caught fish earlier in the day to see if the bigger fish had moved up. But as we fished some of these spots, we quickly figured out the same size fish were still there and eager to bite. Regardless of the location, the fish were certainly active, eating both plastics and hard body baits. With time running out we made our last stand on a shallow point that had all the characteristic of great fall fishing. But with a dink here and there, and time runnning out, we had to pack up and head to the check in.
     Being as competitive as we both are, it wasn't the bag we wanted to bring in, but it wasn't from a lack of effort. We had fished hard and made decisions that helped us find and catch fish, however, they just weren't the quality we needed. As our bag of 11+ lbs of fish quickly got left behind as the bigger bags came in, Eric and I both agreed we'd done all we could to compete. It just wans't in the cards for this particular day. I had a great time fishing with Eric as we have the same fishing styles and competitive nature. So, it wasn't the easiest pill to swallow as we watched the weigh in, but regardless of the out come, we both learned more about the river and the crazy fish we chase than we did before the day started.

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