First event of the year, a lesson in adaptation

This past weekend I was finally able to participate in my first tournament of the year.  This event, put on by Yak Freaks, was on Tucker Lake (aka Springs Valley Lake), located inside the Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana.  The lake is 110 acres and electric motor only.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  Very little information could be located about the lake and I had no topographical map available.

An early 3 AM start to the day

An early 3 AM start to the day

I was thankful that the tournament director, Chad Brock, met with me at a gas station on the way so that I could follow him the rest of the way to the lake, as this lake is buried pretty deep in the forest via winding roads and huge hills.  My central Indiana Trailblazer wasn’t sure what all those hills were!

Once we got on the water, I had decided to pedal my Hobie Pro Angler to the dam.  History has taught me that I can bang a squarebill off the chunk rock of a dam and put a few in the boat, so I figured this was a good way to get my day started.  As I approached the dam, though, I was disappointed to see that it was a completely earthen dam with no rip rap in sight!  Another note I made en route to the dam was the seemingly steep drop offs along the shore, almost like bluff walls.  This would prove to be interesting!

I made my way along the dam, throwing a buzz bait parallel to the exposed vegetation along the shore, but couldn’t scrounge up a bite.  Not far from the dam, though, I spotted some rocky shore line (again, bluff walls, but this time made of rock).  There were some large chunks of stone in the water, so it was finally time to throw the squarebill.  In a short stretch of this bank and in short time I had 4 small fish on the board.

The gorgeous Tucker Lake

The gorgeous Tucker Lake

Moving on from the rock I started finding a lot of brush and wood in water and noticing on my electronics that the vegetation grew deep, indicating the water is normally clearer than it was that day.  Due to the quick drops and the deeper structure, I decided to throw an 1/8 oz D’s Baits shakey head with a Zoom Baby Brush Hog.  I wanted the slow drop along the breaks.  It paid off, as I caught most of my fish for the day with this presentation. I would throw it up along shore or exposed vegetation, then slowly drag it out and let it fall.

I had two other patterns that worked out for me:  weightless Senko when I found shallow water laydowns and a buzz bait on the one flat I found, which was a silty bottom at a creek inlet, spotted with rock and wood.

My big fish for the day

My big fish for the day

While I went in blind and the only small plan I had didn’t pan out, I was still able to put together 72.5″ in 5 fish, with an 18″ kicker.  This was good enough for first place for the day.  I wish there would have been a better turnout, but tournament kayak fishing is still in its infancy around here and I believe many were leery of the predicted rainfall.  It definitely fell, but the beauty of this lake and the fantastic fishing made up for getting soaked to the bone.

The Hobie Pro Angler once again shined, allowing me to move and fish constantly and quickly, and position myself well when I needed to fish an area more.  Moving along the shoreline and using my electronics, I was able to ascertain that there were very few points and flats on this lake, at least in the significant amount of water I was able to cover.  For 2015, Hobie has added the H-Rail, a long dodecahedron rail on which to mount a plethora of accessories.  I think my favorite accessory offered is the Tackle Bin.  I position it on my right side, hanging off the outside of the boat, and it’s been amazing for keeping my camera, pliers, fish grip, and the plastics I’m currently using easily accessible and organized. I need to find a way to add one of these to my Ranger!

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