Reports (Mike H.): ABA Tournament on 06/24

Mike H.'s report on his ABA Tournament, held on 06/24.
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Written by Mike H. - edited by Leo S.

Hey guys, I had a great tournament yesterday at the North East River, weighing in a total of 14.46 lbs with a big Bass of 3.90 lbs. Unfortunately, 3 of my Bass died in the livewell, so I was docked a pound and a half bringing my total from 14.46 lbs to 12.96 lbs. Apparently, I needed to bring ice to keep my livewell cool and my boater didn't have any extra ice to spare. As a result, I placed 11th out of 20 guys when I should have placed 9th. Next time, I'll definitely be bringing a cooler full of ice to keep my fish comfortable.

The boater and I left the marina at 5:30 am. We started by making a quick 10 minute run to some pilings that my boater, Jeff, said held fish. He began by pitching a jig while I was trying my luck fishing a spook. We fished there for 20 minutes without a bite, at the point that Jeff said we should run to a different spot. Our next spot was a grassy flat containing lots of Milfoil mats. Jeff and I threw a variety of lures including Poppers, Swim Jigs, shallow Cranks, Senkos, Frogs, and Spinnerbaits. The only luck we had were a couple needlefish and a small Bass following my Swim Jig. After an hour and half without bites, Jeff decided to make a 15 minute run to an isolated rock pile across the river. We fished Crankbaits and Tubes for about half an hour without a nibble. It was now about 9:30 and neither of us had a clue where the bass were.

The water temperature was 80 degrees, which is high for a Largemouth Bass, which normally prefers water in the 60-75 degree range. So, I suggested we fish some deep water. Jeff then took us to some deep bridge pilings ranging from 10 feet to 45 feet, and on Jeff's first cast with a deep diving Crankbait, he nailed what would be his biggest bass of the day - a 4 lb, 4 oz bass. Not 10 minutes later, I made a cast into the shaded side of a piling and connected with a solid 3 lb fish. After those two catches, Jeff and I spent another hour and a half fishing deep docks and pilings with Crankbaits and Plastics without a hit. It was now about 11:30, and we only had 2 fish in the boat and 4 hours before we had to be back for weigh in. Jeff told me that we should fish the grass some more, but he was not confident with that decision because he is not an experienced grass fisherman. I told him we had nothing to lose and we made a 20 minute run to a grass flat similar to the one we first went to. The flat was literally in the middle of the river, and there were over a dozen other boats fishing the flat. While fishing the mats for no more than 10 minutes, we witnessed two other boats pull in some solid keeper fish.

We knew the fish were there, we just needed to figure out what they were biting on. Jeff fished a Senko while I fished a Swim Jig. It wasn't long until Jeff hooked into a solid keeper on his Senko. After his catch, I switched to a baby brush hog, and within 30 minutes I had two bites, both of which I missed on the hookset. After seeing my bites, Jeff switched to a berkley crawfish type bait, and he hooked into another fish within 10 minutes. It wasn't until I missed another two bites that I finally landed a solid keeper. After my keeper, Jeff landed yet another fish while I continued to miss bites. More time passed, until Jeff hooked into his 5th fish. I helped him land another keeper, then, I went back and picked my rod up. My bait had been lying out in the water, and when I picked it up, I felt something heavy so I performed a monster hookset. I hooked into a big fish which I struggled to control. I feared that I could lose it as it got tangled in the trolling motor for 15 seconds. Fortunately, my 10 lb yo-zuri hybrid held strong and I landed what would be my biggest bass of the day, a healthy 3.9 lb bass.

Jeff and I spent the rest of our time fishing the flat, and we noticed more and more boats leaving, but Jeff and I continued to catch fish with our plastics. I continued to miss bites but managed to catch 2 more good fish by 2:40, almost an hour before we had to get back. That filled out my limit, but Jeff landed 12 keepers by 3:10. Throughout the day, I probably had over 20 bites, landing over 5, while Jeff probably had about 15 bites, landing 12. The difference in our success came from our equipment: Jeff was using braided line, while I had on a hybrid between fluorocarbon and monofilament. I really needed no stretch line, so I could drive the thick hook through these big Bass' bony mouths. It was a mistake that could have potentially prevented me from earning a check. Oh well, I learned a ton today, and I also have switched back to braided line as of last night. The next tournament is in another month, on the Delaware River, and I'll be ready to stick some pigs with my new line!

A very well written report by Mike H.. Hopefully this will give the readers some idea of how Tournaments work, and how it usually goes. The whole idea of "figuring out" where the fish is is certainly a challenge for all Bass Fisherman. I was very happy to see that both Mike and Jeff made some good calls while fishing (deep water, grassy flats), and both of them at least caught their limit! 

Way to go, Mike...I've never doubted your Bass skills, and I won't start now. Hopefully, you will do better on the upcoming ones! Living and learning - that applies for every single one of us.

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.