Battle on East Harbor KBF Tourney put on by Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trail had build up starting weeks and weeks out excited anglers were posting and messaging each other furiously, have not seen so many messages since the Hobie Open. Some were reaching out to me personally over Facebook and it was great meeting all of you we had a special guest in the form of 2016 National Champ Matt Ball a super nice guy and amazing stick he also had a couple of good sticks from WV with him. This event drew people from all over 4 or 5 states and Canada came for the event giving us a big and competitive field.
Arriving to pre fish East Harbor we found a killer little place there that had their own dock which made it really convenient for fishing. There were a few of us staying the same place Michael Gunder, Bert Guthus, Joe Ruwoldt, Dan Bell and Josh Gallimore and all I can say this was a great group of guys to stay with lots of laughs and lots of good times.
After driving up we start our searching around on Wednesday looking in the in all the places I would normally go, any irregular looking geographical feature I can find on my Navtronics and my first impression of the Harbor was how different it was from Cedar Creek lake that I had just finished a tourney on the weekend before. Cedar Creek lake was 94 degree water and close to 100 degrees air temp East Harbor was 74 degree water and low 80s air temp, the other major difference was weeds, weeds, weeds and their are a lot of weeds but underlying those weeds were some weed edges that had something different about them that would hold the fish in keys areas and those spots held a lot of fish. Finding plenty of small bass and one really fat big one back in a corner by a bridge. Ended the day with 30 something fish and with that big one my feelings about East Harbor were at easy.
Thursday started out with weed edges and the fish were there and in numbers and quality it always comes back to finding that thing that is different, a bump out or a depression. The frog bite was on for those who were partaking in the frog I am one who does not frog no real reason but I just almost never throw it. After watching Bert get 6 good hits in one patch of lilies had me back at the hotel tying one on. Hanging out that night and talking fishing around rigging up some new baits Gunter wouldn’t stop talking frog so of course I had thoughts of lilies and frogs.
Friday is frog day! I started out with nothing but frog and I frogged till my arms hurt and all I got was two like limp ass bites, I mean like totally the weakest thing I have ever witness. I decide to go look at the weed lines again and I begin to refine my spots and finding the reasons the fish are biting the way they are. They are actively feeding and ambushing so the biggest problem is finding them and they seem to be eating two things really well a small green pumpkin craw texas rigged ¼ oz and then switching to a goby colored tube, I was getting bites on swimbaits but they were annihilating those two baits. I know the day before a tourney you shouldn’t stick every bass you can but just enough to get a idea. In one spot i was overtaken with bass fever, it had it really bad, more like two spots but they were close together and in 50 casts I had 50 bites! All I had to do was cast it next to this depression and next to a weed line that had a small bump out in it and pop the bait a couple times and WHAM! I literally stuck 80 plus fish the night before a tourney almost all of them were 17 inches but I just couldn’t stop I just had to do it, I tried and tried to leave but I just had to catch them, just one more than just one more than i was at 80 fish. This had me a little nervous about the tourney but things always seem to work out and I was having so much fun I didn’t really care how I place, just roll with it.
Its Tourney time and after a quick captains meeting all the anglers hit the water with 20 mph winds luckily I have the Hobie 180 Mirage drive giving me the precise movement and positioning I was going to need to fight the wind and keep me over the fish. Using all the info that pre fishing had given me I go to my first spot and begin the day with my limit in the first 20 minutes (big smile) all small but it’s a limit, So the cullying started and slowly but surely the bigger ones came, a ¼ inch at a time but they came. It was a complete slug fest all three of my friends and I were catching fish but that brought a lot more anglers over it quickly got crowded and I counted 10 people in a very small area. Finding the right presentation kept the bites coming for me even after the bite slowed, for me it was a long lined slow drift along a weed line that was getting me all the fish I submitted. Achieving this long lined slow drift with precision along the weed line was really touchy with the crazy wind and waves. I was really using my Pro Angler to the fullest and I owe that boat a lot for the fish I caught no other boat was able to get that precision. This made it a hammer fest and honestly it was so much fun that it should be illegal.
At the end I found myself in 3rd and I was super pumped to make the top three with the list of anglers that did the tourney I was very fortunate to be able to put it all together. Joe Ruwoldt, Josh Gilmore and Bert Guthus all placed well enough to get their tickets punch for the National Championship in 2018 with a $100,000.00 pay out, with that said I am going to not make it easy for them. 🙂 Congrats to Russel Johnson for 1st place and big fish and Brad Lehman for 2nd place.
Big thanks needs to go out to my sponsors Strictly Sail, Hobie, Torqeedo, and Cal Costa please check them out and give them your support they all have done a ton for our sport.