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Tim Kelly

Tournament bags?

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A friend of mine recently moved to a lakeside house and we were talking about the quality of fishing one the lake. He hasn't had much time on the lake to explore yet, but has been finding it generally quite stingy, and he's a very competent angler. I suggested looking up the club tournament records for the lake to see how people generally do on there, which was interesting. A 130 team buddy 2 day tournament this time last year had 5 teams limit both days and 32 teams blanked both days. I thought that sounded pretty bad, but then realised I didn't really know how the results generally look in club competitions. In your club tournaments, what sort of percentage of boats typically blank or limit? Kind of intrigued to get a metric on it.

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The club I'm in is nowhere near that big, but it really depends on the day and the lake. The majority of the time everyone has at least something to weigh in. By those tournament results, it sounds like a pretty tough fishery. If you think of it this way 1/4 of the field did not catch a legal fish in 16 hours on the water. That's a pretty brutal stat. On a better fishery, you might see 1 or 2 boats blank both days. You might not always see everyone with limits both days but usually they will have weighed in fish both days and at least had a limit one day.  

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Toledo Bend 04/2016: 337 anglers entered, 190 skunked!

Toledo Bend 06/2016: 259 anglers entered, 143 skunked!

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At some of the locations we visit it's not uncommon for nearly every angler, boater and co-angler, to weigh a limit.  Some places it can be the opposite and there will only be a few limits weighed.  Depends on the conditions, time of year, and the fishery.

You also have to understand that in many tournaments a lot of guys will simply dump their fish.  Happens all the time at big events, guys will come in and see/hear the weights being weighed in just dump what they have if it wouldn't be competitive...If there's no points or other year-long goals it's common practice.  Even with points and/or similar goals, not everyone will be in the running and those guys are apt to dump before weighing.  The tournament you described and Catt's examples might fall into this category since they seem to be much much larger than any typical club event.  

Tournament results are a good resource in general, but they don't always tell the full story ;).  

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Up on Champlain I'd wager with a team tournament 65% limit (six fish), 25% get something (5 fish or weigh in one for lunker), 10% blank. 

With Boater and Non boater tournaments (locals, Not BFL, Costa, FLW, BASS) I'd nudge the limits up to 70% and blanks down to 5%.

I understand we are sort of an anomaly as far as the sheer # of bass we have.  Our lake is so big that it doesn't have a time when they aren't biting all over it.    If Ti is dead, guaranteed there are Smallies up north or mid lake.  Shallow fish are off, there are deep ones biting a run away.

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I agree with Logan in that results doesn't show the whole picture.

With Toledo Bend being voted the #1 bass lake in America two yrs in a row & the huge payouts offered in these big tournament you get weekend warriors thinking they can compete against guys who fish the lake almost daily.

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1 hour ago, Logan S said:

At some of the locations we visit it's not uncommon for nearly every angler, boater and co-angler, to weigh a limit.  Some places it can be the opposite and there will only be a few limits weighed.  Depends on the conditions, time of year, and the fishery.

You also have to understand that in many tournaments a lot of guys will simply dump their fish.  Happens all the time at big events, guys will come in and see/hear the weights being weighed in just dump what they have if it wouldn't be competitive...If there's no points or other year-long goals it's common practice.  Even with points and/or similar goals, not everyone will be in the running and those guys are apt to dump before weighing.  The tournament you described and Catt's examples might fall into this category since they seem to be much much larger than any typical club event.  

Tournament results are a good resource in general, but they don't always tell the full story ;).  

That's a very good point that I hadn't considered. As it was a two day competition I would have thought everyone who caught would have weighed in the first day though?

 

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11 hours ago, Catt said:

I agree with Logan in that results doesn't show the whole picture.

With Toledo Bend being voted the #1 bass lake in America two yrs in a row & the huge payouts offered in these big tournament you get weekend warriors thinking they can compete against guys who fish the lake almost daily.

This will hold true on any body of water 

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The small tournaments I fish that average around 8 boats, it's very rare for a team not to weigh a limit. It's been 3 years since my boat didn't bring in a limit, and we had 4 fish, big bass, and 1st place that night. 

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16 minutes ago, Tim Kelly said:

I think you're on a better lake. :)

 

It's several lakes but yes it sounds like it. 

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The lake I fish is small, 800 acres or so. The tournaments I run just about everyone gets a limit on all but the worst days. Average # of boats is around a dozen, with most of the anglers being locals who know the lake really well.

On tough days 14-15lbs wins, 10-13lbs cashes, a 4+ lb fish will take lunker

On average days, 16-18lbs wins, 13-15lbs cashes, and an upper 4lber to low 5lber takes lunker

On above average days, 18-20lbs wins, 16-17lbs cashes, and a low to mid 5lber takes lunker

When the place is on fire it takes 20+ to win, often 18-20lbs to cash, and a high 5lber to over 6lbs to take lunker

You can win with both largemouth and smallmouth, and often the biggest bags are a mix of the two. I have seen far more 20+ lb bags of all largemouth than all smallmouth, but all smallmouth 20lb bags have happened. More than one 20lb bag in a single tournament are rare. The only three I remember, have all come in the last 2 years. One was in early october last year in my two day classic tournament. The day one leader (and winner after two days) had a 23lb bag of smallmouth on day one, and I had a 22lb bag of largemouth on day one. The other was this past July, the winners had 21lbs of largemouth, and 2nd place had 20lbs of largemouth. The third was in late June this year, the winners had 23lbs of largemouth, and 2nd place had 22lbs of largemouth.

Every other tournament outside these 3 that I have run, or been to that has been won with 20+ lbs, 2nd was 18-19lbs, and a lot of 16-17lb bags were not cashing.

Lunkers closely follow the quality of fishing for the day too, as it seems on this lake, when they are biting they are biting, and when the ain't, they ain't. Usually during  a hog fest, lunker is an upper 5+ to a 6+, and usually a largemouth. Every year at least one or 2 6lbers gets lunker. Since I started tournament fishing (about 12 years ago) the biggest lunker ever brought in, in any tournement, was a 6.68 largermouth...........caught by me. I have seen two 6lbers brought in that took lunker that bucked the trend of the lake being on fire when the big ones are biting, the last time was this past August. I won a tournment with 19+ lbs, and 2nd only had 12, but they had lunker with a 6lber, negating the 3 cookie cutter 5's I weighed for lunker LOL.

Smallmouth will often take lunker too, I have seen low to mid 5lb smallmouth often  win it. I have never won lunker with a smallmouth, but several other people have. Personally I have won lunker (always with largemouth) with fish ranging from a 3lber (on a super tough day) all the way up to that 6.68.

It's very rare to have a tournament where one guy runs away with it, where everyone else struggles..........but it does happen. The most recent examples are:... This years two day classic. The day one leader had 22lbs, and most every one else, including me struggled badly. Another one in recent memory is the one I mentioned earlier, where I won with 19+lbs, and 2nd only had 12, and after him few guys had a limit. A third time I remember well was a couple years ago. I won with 15lbs, culled many times to get to 15, and thought "well, they must be biting, we'll be lucky to cash"...........it was exactly the opposite. 2nd place had 8lbs, and only four fish, and no one else in a 15 boat field caught much of anything.

 

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my best bag is only 16 pounds for 4 fish

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On 11/3/2016 at 8:33 AM, Catt said:

I agree with Logan in that results doesn't show the whole picture.

With Toledo Bend being voted the #1 bass lake in America two yrs in a row & the huge payouts offered in these big tournament you get weekend warriors thinking they can compete against guys who fish the lake almost daily.

I agree with this, I fished Clear Lake and our club turned in limits both days, but then the lake was over run with 1.5lb fish and there was a huge difference in the top three as well as the field.  Then other lakes we fish the conditions are tough and only half or a thrid of us come in with fish. Unless their are points involved in a big tournament, it's tough to weight a 8lb limit of 5 fish when the winning bag could be over 25lb's and there are a bunch of 15-18lb limits being weighed.  So it may be easier to dump the fish and put the boat on the trailer and head home opposed to weighing in for some.  

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Sometimes the fishing is just plain tough.  I've seen where a 25 boat field wins with 6 lbs. , on Pickwick.  I have also seen where a 20 lb sack didn't place.  Regardless of how good we think we are, mother nature always holds the upper hand.

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