This past Saturday, September 7th, Portside Marine held their second Hobie kayak bass tournament. You may recall that, due to weather, I chose not to fish the first tournament. Since learning of this latest event, my excitement to fish it has been off the charts.
This day shaped up to be much better weather-wise. We were greeted by a beautiful calm and clear morning with comfortable temps and no chance of rain. Throughout the day, the wind did pick up to the point where the water got pretty rough, but it definitely wasn’t a deal-breaker and was only bad during the last hour or so of the tournament. The turnout for this tournament was much better with 9 anglers showing up to try to find the fish on Morse Reservoir. For many of the kayak anglers out there, this may not seem like much, but considering this is only the second known kayak fishing tournament in the area, it’s impressive!
After launch, I headed for a flat I had had some luck on. This flat is marked heavily with rock and has a trough that runs through the middle of it. It seemed to be a good decision, as about 20 minutes into fishing I hooked into my first fish on a 5″ Yamamoto Senko (texas-rigged). After only fighting it for a few seconds, it seemed to have gotten me hung on one of the aforementioned rocks, but after paddling past the rock to work it loose, I discovered it was still on my hook, and I successfully landed it, got it on the board, and photographed. While it was only 13″, I was pumped to have some success this early in the day.
This is where I struggle in tournament fishing: spending too much time on unproductive water. I had convinced myself in planning for this day that this flat would be great, and it just wasn’t. I worked it, and worked it, and worked it. I threw the Senko, a football jig, crankbaits, and a buzz bait, with no luck. I finally decided it was time to move on, and headed to a cove nearby.
On the way, I fished some of the docks and water between docks where seawalls were built from chunk rock. After switching to a Yamamoto PsychoDad on a shaky head, I found another fish! This one was a bit bigger than the first, measuring right at 15″ on my Hawg Trough. However, this one was far less photogenic, and decided to start flopping and wiggled his way out from under my hand, over the lip of the measuring board, and back into the lake before I could take his picture. The roller coaster of emotions went from the peak of excitement of finding another fish to the valley of sadness knowing that one wasn’t going to count for the day. I pulled myself back up to level and plugged away, certain this roughly 30 foot of chunk rock seawall and slow drop-off (difficult to find on this reservoir) would produce a few more fish. Again, I spent too much time here, using 30 minutes working the area with the PsychoDad and a Senko with nary so much as another bite. After finishing up my conversation with a homeowner, discussing fishing, business, and the lake, I finally made my way to the cove I had originally set out to fish.
As I made my way into the cove, I pitched the PsychoDad along the concrete seawall marking the north side of the cove. After a few jigs, I thought I got hung up on a rock. No problem, this has been common all day, so I made my way to the opposite side of the rock to pop the jig away and go about my fishing. However, as my kayak got closer to said rock, I spotted a large carp sitting near the surface. I have never weighed a carp, nor caught one for that matter, but I’d guess this monster was over 20 pounds. I spotted him just as my kayak was a few feet from him, which is apparently the same time he spotted me, as he tore out of there like he’d just robbed a bank. The biggest surprise, though, was that my hook was attached to him somewhere. The sheer force of him heading for deeper water spun my kayak 90 degrees in a split second. He doubled my rod (a 6’9″ Medium Light) quickly, and pulled drag so fast that I’m surprised my reel didn’t start smoking. After a few seconds, though, my 7 pound test line finally gave up on me. I didn’t really care, but it took a few minutes for my heart rate to return to normal as I tied on another jig head.
I continued to explore the cove, again throwing multiple lures, and just could not find a bite. At this point, I decided to make my way back towards the beach to allow myself a little bit of time to hit the water where I’d already caught fish. I wasn’t out of the cove long before I realized that the wind had picked up considerably while I was fishing in the protection of the cove. It had picked up so much so that I found it difficult to spend too much time in one place. I made my way back to the original flat, allowing the wind to blow me through the area while I fished it. Nothing. With only 20 minutes to go until check-in, I kept drifting along the dam, working the PsychoDad setup on the rocky bottom.
Time was ticking away but I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. One more cast, right? I’m sure I’m not the only fisherman who says that. On what I was convinced should ACTUALLY be my last cast, I caught one! This one, too, was right at 15″ on my Hawg Trough. This one, too, hated cameras. I did it AGAIN. I allowed a fish to jump off my board as I was getting ready to take its picture. Very, very frustrated, I packed up, swung the transducer up and out of the water, and headed across the significant swells caused by open water, wind, and boat traffic.
As frustrating as my day had been, that one fish that let me take his photograph actually got me into third place. While it was definitely nice to win my entry fee back (and a little bit more), the real highlight of my day was getting to meet some new guys that share the same passion I do! A few of them I’d “met” online, a few I hadn’t. Most I’m sure I’ll see again on October 5th at the Fall 2013 Kayak Bass Classic, which can’t get here soon enough! It was also nice to get to visit again with some of the folks I’d met at the last tournament that I didn’t fish.
Congratulations to the winner, Dan Wheeler, who came in with 48.25″, including big bass with 18.25″! Runner up was my buddy Keenan Chamberlain who came in with three fish totaling 40.25″. I just barely inched out Greg Strother who had one fish for 12.75″.
GIGANTIC thanks must go out to Jim and the folks at Portside Marine and Hobie Fishing Kayaks for working hard to bring competitive kayak fishing to Indiana. I’d also like to thank the folks from Hamilton County Parks for coming out early to open the gates to the beach, which allowed us to use that as our launch point (and allow Portside to hold their demo day) rather than the rock-laden seawall. It may not seem like much, but it was substantially easier than where I launched in practice the previous weekend.
Time to go practice keeping fish on the measuring board long enough to take their picture…