When setting out for this event, I was concerned with how tough the bite would be. A cold front had just moved through, and most of us figured it would be quite a grind to find some fish. 16 anglers were pre-registered for this event on Morse Reservoir near Noblesville, IN and 13 showed up to battle it out for this second event hosted by Portside Marine and Hobie Fishing. The morning was chilly and breezy with a slight threat of rain showers, so we were all bundled up before the launch but ready to take on the day.
Special thanks to ciceroweather.net for the awesome video from launch. Man, I need a Phantom drone for my GoPro!
I started out throwing a spinnerbait for a while with no luck. I slowed it down and threw my standard plastics trying to entice a bite, also with no luck. I moved to throwing a squarebill crankbait, banging it off of the scattered rock, and that seemed to be the ticket. Soon I had 3 on the board, though nothing of size. I covered a lot of water, lost my original crankbait when it got stuck under a rock and wouldn’t come loose, and found fish scattered through most of my travels. I made my way north to the bridge, the boundary of our off-limits area, and worked some of that rip-rap with no luck. However, one of my friends sure had some luck, and in doing so made my day!
My buddy Rob also made the trip up to the bridge and made his way around the area in the opposite direction that I did. Soon he was out of sight as I made my way into a nearby cove. Coming back out of the cove, I decided to work the shoreline again where I’d just caught a few fish, catching a few more, but nothing to upgrade my current 3 fish. It wasn’t long before I thought I heard my name across the lake. As I turned around, I saw Rob paddling at me across the lake and looking like there may have been something wrong. I put my rod down and pedaled towards him to make sure everything was alright.
“Hey, man. I had to come over because nobody is going to believe me.” He lifts a giant out of the water with his jig still in this fish’s lip. HOLY COW. This thing was FAT. So then Rob tells me the story. As he was photographing the fish on his Hawg Trough, the fish flopped and kicked his iPhone, tossing it into the waters of Morse Reservoir, complete with his photos of other fish he’d caught throughout the day. Originally he just wanted to show someone before he released it, but I wasn’t about to let a little phone release taint his day. You see, I carry my phone with me in a waterproof and floating case, but use my waterproof Fuji XP 60 for CPR duties. So, I took a few pics, then handed him my Fuji to use for this fish and the remainder of the tournament, since I could use my phone for any more fish I caught. This fish went 20″ long and nearly 6 pounds on his scale, a hog for sure! The big bass pot helped soften the blow of having to replace the drowned iPhone.
The rest of the day was relatively uneventful. A few more fish, still nothing to upgrade with. It seemed like everyone was catching them from the on-the-water reports, so I was anxious to see how the day played out for everyone.
Justin Long finished in first place with 3 fish totaling 48.75″, with a big fish of 19.75″. Two young anglers rounded out the top three, both with 45″. Using the “biggest fish” method of tie-breaking, Zane Bollinger landed in second place due to his 18.5″ bass, and his buddy Christian Brandt slid into third. In all, 27 fish were checked in, considerably higher than I anticipated at the start of the day. I finished in fifth place with 38.75″ behind my Hobie Fishing teammate Keenan Chamberlain’s 41.25″. It was another great tournament meeting a few new anglers (including some up-and-comers with a fantastic showing in their first event), discussing the day with friends, and participating in another event filled with nothing but love for the sport and sportsmanship all around.