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Author Topic: Anglers Choice National Championship - Grand Lake Oklahoma  (Read 466 times)

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Flippin222

Anglers Choice National Championship - Grand Lake Oklahoma
« on: March 21, 2017, 12:14:20 PM »

Last week we participated in the Anglers Choice National Championship on Grand Lake in Oklahoma. For those that have not fished Anglers Choice or are looking for a National Championship then this trail is for you. The national championship awarded 3 fully rigged bass boats (including a draw boat) with a total purse of nearly $300,000.

Now for the fishing.... (sorry in advance but this is a little long)

For those that have never been to Grand Lake, it is an exceptional fishery with more 4 lb fish than you can shake a stick at. The area had experienced an above normal temperatures for most of the winter and the three weeks leading up to the event the day time temps were between 60-80 degrees. This had the bass and the fisherman heading to the shallows in droves.

However Mother Nature can be cruel and she must have hitched a ride with us on the 13.5 hour drive to Grove OK. We arrived on March 11th around noon and the temperature was 37 degrees with rain turning to sleet. We decided not to go out that day and instead took the time to do a little grocery shopping and getting the cold weather gear ready to go. Plus there was a Okie BFL going on that day with 189 boats. We figured they could have all the fun on the lake that day.

March 12th we made it out on the water around 8:30am and the temperature was a blustery 28 degrees with a forecasted high of 38. On this day there was a Nichols Tournament going on with 289 boats. Throw in there was 250 teams there practicing for the AC tournament and the lake was a little crowded, but not too bad really.

We found the water temps to be around 51 degrees on the main lake and around 53 degrees in the back of creeks/pockets. Not too bad right.... well it was reported on the previous Thursday the temps in the creeks were 59-60 degrees. The bass did not appreciate the 6-7 degree drop in water temps either and seemed to have vacated the shallows. We new they wouldn't go far so we concentrated on the points nearest the back of creeks or the last of the bluff walls leading back to the creeks where they transitioned to flatter banks. We fished until 5:00pm and managed to catch about a dozen fish with only one keeper. We could not get bit on jerkbaits, crank baits, or spinnerbaits... nothing was biting on moving baits. The only way we could get bit was on small jigs or shakey heads. We were counting rocks with the baits....S-L-O-W-L-Y!!!

Days 2-4 of practice were pretty much the same. Temps starting out in the high 20's and getting into the high 30's with day 4 of practice topping out with a beautiful 45 degrees. Throughout practice we finally settled on the 8-10 foot range on longer points leading into creeks. We found that we could get consistent bites in this depth on the small jigs and shakey heads. There was 2 problems (1) we had to fish incredibly slow so each spot took a significant amount of time to fish and (2) getting quality bites as about 1 out of every 5 was a keeper. Rumors had it that the bite was tough and that even a limit of small fish on day one would go a long way in the tournament we went into day one hoping this was true and that we could scratch out a limit and just hang on....

Tournament Day 1

The tournament day dawned with a temp of 42 degrees and after the week we had, it felt like a heat wave. We ran to our first spot, a long tapering point near the mouth of a major creek. We had been able to pull a couple of keepers from it in short order in practice and it was our best shot to get started on a good note. The water temp had dropped another degree but we figured it would hold the fish there. We fished it for about 40 minutes and we managed to catch 4 short fish.

From there we started to move around to various points, bluff walls, and some deeper brush piles. Each stop produced the same results, short fish. We couldn't get on anything throughout the day and it ended as it had begun.... with zero fish in the livewell.

After the tournament our group was at dinner and with a high tournament finish out of the question, I was still trying to figure out what went wrong and what we needed to do differently. After studying the map, we decided to start at the same point for day 2. If that didn't pan out, then we were going to fish the backs of a couple of major creeks in the mid to lower lake area and just have some fun.

Tournament Day 2

Well the major cold front had finally moved on and the temp was 58 at blastoff. After the first 210 boats blasted off, we were on our way for a 25 minute run down the lake. I will tell you that the run was much better in 58 degrees that it had been all week, I didn't even have to wear the stocking cap!!!

We arrived at our starting point and let the day begin full of hope. Unfortunately that is all we would get on the starting point.... hope. After spending about 30 minutes there without a single bite, we decided it was time to try something different.

We headed to the back of the creek and decided to fish a 45 degree bank with a channel swing near it. The water temp was 50 degrees and the water was a little dirtier but on the second cast we hit paydirt.... a monstrous 14" line burner but a keeper none the less. We spent about 30 minutes seeing if we could find any more but that was all we could muster. So further back we went....

We followed the creek channel until it swung near a spawning pocket as it pulled away from the bank. We started on the point and worked into the pocket. On the third cast the shakey head felt a little mushy and as they say hook sets are free... so away I swung and the rod loaded up. After a short fight we added a nice 2.75 pound spotted bass to the livewell. We started singing and dancing.... not really but you get the idea.

We moved around in the back of the creek for a little bit but couldn't connect with anymore keepers. So we decided to move to the other creek and follow the same pattern, creek channel swings near points leading into spawning areas.

At the next stop we caught 10-12 short fish. No keepers but the shorts seemed to be moving back shallow and were likely ahead of the bigger fish. We made a move to the other side of the creek and a short bluff wall with spawning flats on each end of it. Near the leading flat, as the shakey head walked down the drop, I felt something pick it up. I set the hook and the rod loaded up nicely. A short fight later and fish number 3 went into the livewell, a nice 3.75 lb largemouth.

We idled around some docks and hit the other end of the bluff wall where the creek channel swung out and formed a point. On the point there was an old boat ramp that looked too good to pass up. Near the end of the ramp, the shakey head began to move sideways. I set the hook and it didn't budge. It pulled off to deeper water and under the boat. I told my wife "I hope its not a catfish". Up it came and into the net and into the livewell went keeper #4, a nice fat 5.75 lb largemouth. Now we were getting somewhere....

Alas, that is where the day ended - 4 keepers and 13.41 lbs. Not too bad all things considered.

We ended up in 62nd place out of 249 boats, 1.8 lbs out from getting a small check. So as it turns out, we were right on day one. A small limit of fish would have went a long ways towards a high finish.

The winners of the tournament had just over 31 lbs and second place had just over 28 lbs. Both of the teams won fully rigged bass boats for their efforts.

While the fishing was tough this week on Grand, it would have been tough anywhere with a cold front that size leading up to a tournament. We have fished it before when the weather was stable and it was a blast. The community was awesome and enjoyed having all of the teams there for the week. If you ever get the chance to fish Grand Lake, I suggest you take it and have yourself a blast.
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Team houston

Re: Anglers Choice National Championship - Grand Lake Oklahoma
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2017, 09:09:55 AM »

Great write up, thanks for the read.
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dartag

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Re: Anglers Choice National Championship - Grand Lake Oklahoma
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2017, 10:22:57 AM »

Good write up.   
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djkimmel

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Re: Anglers Choice National Championship - Grand Lake Oklahoma
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2017, 07:34:23 PM »

Congratulations on making the best of it. Does sound like a fun lake. Though maybe not during a major cold front...
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Help stop invasive spcies. Don't move fish between unconnected bodies of water. Clean, drain and dry your boat before launching on another water body.
Unless clearly stated as such, opinions expressed by Dan Kimmel on this forum are not the opinions or policies of Michigan BASS Nation or TBF of Michigan.
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