Spent this past weekend on a very cold and windy Lake of the Ozarks being a boat captain for the Major League Fishing high school tournament being held out there this past Saturday. I didn't make it down to the lake until right after 6pm Friday night, so I got to prefish with them for about a hour. Enough time for me to catch a dink on a jerkbait on my 2nd cast, and then a 4.5 pounder to end the night on a Ned rig.
Water temps were around 44-45 and had a nice stain with 2 feet of visibility most areas we fished.
Saturday morning was very cold and windy. 15-20mph from the NW had whitecaps rolling first thing in the morning, 18* with a feels like temp of 5*. We made a 20 minute run in it to a spot that one of the boys was told by the college guys the day before had a huge school of fish. I tried to talk him out of it, because I hate chasing someone else's bite and depending on schooling fish is so undependable, and this time was no different. There was very few shad and fish in the area. So after about a hour, we strapped everything about down and bounced back down the lake to where we had fished the night before. Our first stop produced a dink on a Ned rig, not a keeper but a sign of life. The next couple stops had nothing but followers on a A-rig. We moved to a cove near the ramp with a little dirtier water around 11 with pretty low spirits. After working 1 side, we were halfway on our way out when Gavin caught a super skinny but just long enough keeper on the A-rig. That got them up and going and 20 minutes later, Lucas caught another just barely keeper on the Ned rig. 2 keepers in the boat in 30 minutes felt like they were putting something together but a hour later, no more bites. So we moved to a spot I suggested on the bridge, and at the very end of it, Gavin caught their 3rd keeper on a Ned rig. There was 61 teams and they were taking 6 to Nationals. With 3 keepers in the boat, things were getting interesting with less than 2 hours to go. They fished down that bank and turned back around, working slowly with 2 Neds now. Right when they got to where Gavin caught the last keeper, I saw his rod twitch and he set into a heavy looking fish. Knowing how big another keeper could be, we all scrambled, just to disappointed when we saw that sad, gray face of a drum hit the surface. With 30 minutes left, we ran to the back of another cove they'd caught fish in during practice. When we got there, Gavin suddenly didn't feel well and stayed sitting down (he ended up with a 102* fever when he got home), so Lucas fished alone at the end. He was dragging a Ned slowly on the gravel when his rod loaded up. It was a heavy fish, fighting slow, looked like the fish they needed, and again, we all got heartbroken by a drum. Gavin pulled himself up and caught 1 more short on the Ned right before time ran out.
At the end, they weighed in 3 small keepers, good enough for 14th out of 61 teams. Didn't make it to Nationals, but they fished through conditions that not many adults would have and caught 3 keepers on a day when only 28 of the teams even weighed a fish. I was frozen, I'm sure they were too, but it's still a great experience. If you ever get the chance to boat captain for some young fishermen, I highly suggest it.