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Author Topic: FLW Open Detroit River  (Read 2873 times)

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FLW Open Detroit River
« on: September 08, 2012, 10:49:45 AM »

I know it's a little late, but I kept a journal of my journey on my first Professional Tourney, it was written at the end of each day.

As I sit here at the Red Roof Inn ready to zonk out, I decided to give a report of my first day practice for my first ever Pro event. The Coach was not allowed to pre fish with me as they don't consider in-laws immediate family members so my dad drove all the way up from Arkansas to prefish with me.

Practice Day 1: We began the day on one of my "golden" cranking areas. It was not so golden today. I did manage to catch a 4-2 and a 2 1/2 pounder off of it and lost another. I then decided to run new water in search of where those giants are when they are not there. It ended up setting the tone for a very tough day. I managed a fish here and there but found no area where I could catch more than 2. My best fish of the day was a 4-11. He came on a tube in shallow water. I ended up burning $120 in gas and found very little to show for it. I truly believe the fish were in a funk as I did find an area with concentrations of fish and I did catch a few there but most of what I marked would not bite.

I ended up with only 7 smallies for the day and a few that jumped off my best five only going only around 17 pounds. I also landed 3 catfish, several sheepshead, and 3 walleye. I hooked into the Lake Erie Monster as well, I tried to snap shot my drop shot off the "rock" that I thought bit several time when it finally began moving. I then followed it around for about 2 minutes staying on the bottom til finally it pulled off. I assume it was a monster catfish, but I will never know. I hope to report better things tomorrow if I am awake enough:)

Practice Day 2: Today started out much earlier than yesterday. My dad and I were on the water as the sun was rising. It has been great weather wise for my dad who has never experienced the rough water and I don't think he would like it much as he has complained about the bounciness of Erie when it's calm. I decided today would be a day of checking known stuff period. On our first stop of the day we quickly had 5 bites and put two 3 pounders in the boat and decided we better leave after yesterday. I knew that 3 pounders would not be what I wanted, but after yesterday I need to save as much as I can.

We then hit some areas that should have been holding them as they were similar to the first stop. It was not to be and only a rock bass or two came to the boat. It was then a milk run of cranking spots and deep structure. It was similar to yesterday as we would catch one here and maybe another there but no consistency. You simply could not find a place with multiple bites. At about noon I hit a place I had been holding back on due to the fact other boats were around it. It was then I got to show my dad what erie has to offer as it was one bite after the other for about 15 mins and then I had to take him away from it.

It was then back to mostly no bites, but a few here and a few there. My dad did catch his best smallie ever at 4-2. We ended the day with around 12 keepers, but still not those that produce $100,000 paychecks. Those darn erie fish just don't wanna play the game the same every year. Even though it's tough I love every minute of it. God Bless everyone will try to report in tomorrow!

Practice Day 3: Well, my 3rd and final day of practice is over. Wednesday is off limits and Thursday is the big day. I put all my eggs into Erie this week and it may have been the wrong move. Fishing is as tough as I have seen it in 17 years of fishing that lake. The fish we have caught are packed full so they must be eating!!! We spent the day checking spots I don't normally fish just to try something new. There wasn't much happening on this stuff either. We did catch a couple off a new spot I tried because it was similar to another area holding fish, but they were not monsters each one in the 3 pound class and I had to work for them.

I know a few of the Erie sticks and have talked to a few of them and they are saying the same thing that it is tough. However this is the smallmouth capitol of the world and the bags will come in. My Dad did get to experience a little bit of chop today as we had a SE wind at about 10-15 mph, he didn't like it much:) I could bail and try to get a check by running to some stuff I know on St Clair, but it's just not in me. I am gonna grind it out on Erie and hope for the best. I am definitely not on anything resembling $100,000. I am gonna do my best just to try to get a check. It has still been a great experience and a dream come true just to be doing this. God Bless Everyone!

Tournament Day 1: Well, my nerves are totally shot!!!! I honestly don't know how these guys can keep it together. My stomach will not untangle from the knots that started a day and a half ago. I am sitting in 11th place with 20 pounds 11 ounces and I am still in shock. The good Lord blessed me today. I made a short run into the mouth of the river this morning and began throwing a rufuss poop tube with a 3/8 oz jig head. It was completely void of boats in the mouth, there was not another bass boat in sight. There were very few areas holding fish out there in practice, but I had one little golden area that just never gets any pressure that was stacked with them. I quickly began getting bit and at 28 minutes had a 13 pound limit in the box. I had lost several fish that felt heavy so I stuck it out for a few more minutes and a half hour later I left that spot with an 18 pound limit.

I then made a longgggg run out into Erie. I began drop shotting at the next stop and on my third drop I put a 5-5 in the 'well. A short time later I put a cull fish in the box and about an hour went by and I culled another fish with a few ounces. This area was loaded with fish and there was not another boat in sight. I knew I had over 20 and decided I better leave them alone. I left this area at 11 and bounced around heading back towards weigh in looking for a one of those here and there fish, but was never able to catch one to cull. I figured 21 a day would put me right up there and though I had limited areas holding fish I knew they had enough on  them for a top 10.

Tournament Day 2: It's 10:20 am Saturday morning and as most of you know I am sitting at home in my bed and not on the water. I honestly couldn't get out of there fast enough yesterday afternoon as sometimes you just need to get away from a bad day.

I actually got a little sleep on Thursday night only waking up for a short time between 1 am and 2:30 am to sort out in my head my game plan for the next morning. Somehow I was able to drift off again and was awakened by the 4:30 alarm. I met my partner at 5:30 at Elizabeth Park and at 6:30 blasted off down the river. My gut actually told me to bypass my previous morning's starting area in the river mouth and head straight to Erie, but I had caught them so quick the morning before I felt I had to give them at least 30 minutes. I had two bites one of which came off under the boat and I never saw it. It felt like a good fish in the 3+ class but I never saw it.

One thing that I have found, especially on Erie is to watch the gulls. They will tell you how the bite is gonna be. The previous morning they were circling all over over and on the prowl, this morning they were all sitting on the water being lazy. I have learned that when fishing the river mouth the fish will speak loud and clear quickly if it is gonna happen. My coangler lost a fish as well, but after 30 minutes and 3 bites I decided I better head for Erie. I made my long run across a rough chop, which I call a 50 mph chop, so really the run was pretty good.

About 25 minutes later I arrived at my primary spot to find a boat sitting dead on top of the sweet spot. The previous day the entire area was barren of boats, the only boat in sight was my teammate Chad Pipkens who was about a mile away. It was a person I knew and I pulled in fairly close and began fishing. I talked to him a bit and explained that this is where I had caught them the day before. He told me his previous day's fish had shrunk and he decided to hit this area to try to guarantee a check. I know he had not seen me here the day before so I really couldn't say much I figured if he gave me some room we could at least share it.

It was not to be, this spot is about a 100 yard circle and I tried getting a little piece of it buy trolling circles around him, but he was very effective at blocking me out, I actually got so close it made his coangler upset. He never said anything, but you could see he was upset. I tried fishing off of him for a bit and caught a short and a sheepshead and watched him put a 4 pounder and a 3 pounder in the boat.

It was then that the wheels fell off and it was nobodies fault but my own. I had a decision to make and knew that it would decided me being in the top 20 or me just getting a check. I had a few spots that I could run to and catch a 12-15 pound limit fairly easily and my head was spinning with this decision, I figured I needed at least 17 to make the cut. I decided to fish a couple areas close by to see if he would move so I went shallow and started cranking.

The first spot we pulled in that was very close by had a 14 foot boat with 2 guys trolling live minnows for "pickerel". About 3 casts into it I hook into a good fish which turns out to be a walleye at the same exact time the 2 guys trolling hook and land a solid 3 1/2 pound smallie! A few casts later and my coangler catches a big eye and once again the 2 guys catch another 3 pound smallie!!! This seemed to set the theme for the wheels coming off a very poor day. The guys were combing the shallow rockpile very effectively so I decided to make a couple short runs to some other rocks close by and never got a bite.

I was literally torn on whether to "go for it" or to just try and get that check. I had an area that was 15 miles further that was holding big fish, but not a lot of them and making a decision to head there would seal my fate for the rest of the day, or should I just head closer back to the ramp and try to salvage the day. I decided before heading out that I would once again try to work into my key area one more time. I nosed in several times, but I simply could not get my bait into the productive area without bumping boats with him. This is not my style of fishing and I realize when this much money is on the line sometimes it just has to be, but it was then that I made my decision to head out and go for the lead.

I made a couple stops on my way which I should not have made and knew I shouldn't have made them, but I finally arrived at my destination at 12:00 without a single fish in the 'well. It was an area that consisted of very large boulders in 8-12 fow. It is not a well known area and I have never seen anyone there. If anyone is wondering it is not the area that I caught my fish last year this same weekend to win a BFL and the Wonderland this area is actually 6 miles further.

We began cranking our butts off and I do mean our butts off. The prime area was loaded with floating weeds which is a problem I have never encountered here and I was only getting 1 out of 3 clean casts, which made an already frustrating day even more so. My coangler set the hook instantly broke off a fish. A few seconds later a 4+ went air born with a shiny new crankbait in his mouth. He then hooked into a 2 1/2 pounder which came aboard. A few minutes later I catch a solid 3 pounder and finally the skunk was off.

We turned around to make another pass when Mark yells for the net once again only to see a walleye coming to the boat. Just as he realizes its a walleye my rod bows to a solid fish. It jumps to reveal that it is a 5+ Mark has the net trying to get his eye when I tell him to freespool the eye and try to get my fish. He stayed in the back holding onto his rod and had one hand on the net and was going to have me bring the fish to him, unfortunately 5 pound smallies go where they want.

I had her to the boat once, but when I tried to bring her back to the net she surged under the boat. I brought her back up and she jumped missing the rub rail by an inch and threw my crank bait!!! Mark hooked into two more solid fish that jumped off and then it slowed.

I decided to troll to another sweet spot a few hundred yards away where Mark quickly jumped off another solid fish and caught a walleye. I then hooked into another giant and this time it worked out and I put her in the net. A few casts later I hook into another 3+ only to lose her on the jump. The action then slowed again.

I trolled back to the sweet area and after at least 60+ casts without a clean one due to the weeds I decided to try a tube. I could not get them to bite the tube they wanted the crankbait period, but you simply could not get it in clean the spot was more suited for a frog!!!! We tried several different techniques to no avail, but the south breeze just kept pushing those weeds in and piling them up along the edge and made fishing it impossible.

At 1:30 I made a decision to hit my starting area to see if they were going and knowing this was my best chance to fill the livewell in a hurry. I had 2 bites the rest of the day one of which was a 3 pounder that was missed with the net. It was a day I would just as soon forget and one of my worst ever on Erie. I weighed in two fish for 8-13 my big one at 5-8. and finished an extremely disappointing 86th. This sport is truly about decisions and execution, both of which I struggled with. I was not mentally prepared for all the obstacles that this day presented, but I will take it as a learning experience. It was truly the experience of a lifetime and one I will never forgot. The "punched in the stomach" feeling will soon fade and I will be ready to go fishing once again. Thank you all for your well wishes I hope you enjoyed traveling along with me. God Bless everyone!!!!

A look back: It's now been a couple weeks and I have had a bit of time to reflect on my tourney. I will tell you that it is still not easy to grasp the second day and I can honestly say I have no one to blame, but myself. I have had several people ask how is it possible to not finish a limit on a lake as phenomenal as Erie.

The fishing was definitely a grind without the two areas I had found. One simply didn't produce the second day the other was covered up. I made a decision to "go for it" knowing it could cost me a check. I had a few spots within 12 miles of takeoff that the fishing was a lot better, but the size varied. I could have literally caught 12 pounds and possibly 20 pounds. I let the decision kill me as I took way too long to make it and as I stated stopped at a few areas I had no business stopping because the urge to go get that limit was so strong. When I finally got to the area that I had planned on hitting if something went wrong I simply did not leave myself enough time to figure out the whole pattern and was not prepared to deal with the weed problem. I had the bites to make the cut and did not execute. I have even more respect for the guys that do this for a living, this level of the sport can really get into your head. Don't get me wrong I loved every minute of it! I am looking forward to another opportunity if one should come up.

The last few years I have really enjoyed fishing the BFL's and have not had the "pressure" I experienced in this event, I have simply been having fun. I truly believe that you have to do the same thing no matter what the entry fee is or the winning purse.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2012, 12:51:12 AM by djkimmel »


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Re: FLW Open Detroit River
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2012, 08:39:42 PM »

Heath - thanks for the tx report.  I was pulling for you and sure was excited when I saw day 1.  I watched you online walk across the stage on day 2 - felt really bad for you.  Why do those kind of days seem to happen on the biggest stage? 

See you next year at the BFL's!  This year I fished the Open's and it was a disaster - every day was like your "day 2" next year it is back to the BFL's. 

Team houston

Re: FLW Open Detroit River
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2012, 02:47:25 PM »

Thanks for another great story Heath. Thanks for writing it even after a bad one. We love reading them.


Re: FLW Open Detroit River
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2012, 10:44:56 PM »

Thanks guys, there are days when I wish I would just fish conservative every once in a while, but its just not in me. It's funny the place it was won was my backup spot, well at least they were fishing less than 100 yards away. A buddy cracked 23-15 off it on Saturday while Nixon and crew were not far away. I was literally on my way there when I turned back. I didn't handle the pressure of day 2 well at all period. I'd like another chance though ;D.


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Re: FLW Open Detroit River
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2012, 12:56:15 AM »

That's the right spirit! Thanks for sharing with us rufus!

Tournament day decision-making is an art, and just one part of being a successful bass tournament angler. You seem to make a lot more right decisions than wrong the majority of the time.

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 The Bass Federation of Michigan.
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