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Bluebasser86

Weekend tournament

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This past weekend was the end of the year tournament for our little Thursday night group. It was scheduled to be at Milford Lake near Junction City, KS which is one of the best smallmouth bass lakes in the state. Mother Nature had other plans, dumping nearly a foot of cold rain and even some snow in the area a week before we arrived, raising the lake over 9' and turning the water to coffee with cream color, dropping the water temp over 10* in the process. To say the bite was trying in practice was an understatement. @gardnerjigman and I got there Thursday morning full of excitement and hope. Those feelings died and were nearly gone by the end of the day, having boated 2 drum, 1 small wiper, and 1 non-keeper smallmouth. Being the tournament director of sorts for our group, I broke the bad news, but 3 more boats were arriving the next day and we were hoping that something would be found and at least show that some fish could be caught. By noon the next day, with all of our combined efforts, a drum and 1 white bass had been caught, I'd caught both of them on back to back cast on a deep crankbait and only one other boat had even seen a fish. An emergency meeting was called for lunch at the cabins and we all decided to eat our money we'd spent on the cabins (which was relatively little), and fish a couple lakes closer to home in hopes of better fishing (it couldn't have been much worse). 

 

Day one we fished Lake Shawnee in Topeka, KS, a 400 acre lake with big largemouth and smallmouth but lots of pressure. This day was no exception as there was another small club fishing and several weekend anglers in boats and kayaks, close to 20 total on the water fishing. At take off, everyone zoomed down the lake while GJM and I idled 100 yards to the back of the launch cove and started fishing the shallow water in the back of the cove. The water temp was showing to be in the high 50's and I'd noticed lots of shad in the back of the cove. The bitter cold air temps said slow down and fish main lake, my instincts and Garmin was telling me to find shad eaters up shallow. 5 minutes into the morning as I was fishing my homemade shad colored bladed jig around shallow clumps of grass, a fish blew up on a shad inside a broken pond dam that use to be a water park on the lake. I fired a cast into less than a foot of water, the wake of my bait was intercepted by a much larger wake and I quickly had our first solid keeper of the morning in the boat.

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We caught 2 more small keepers in the back of the cove, and I missed solid feeling fish in the middle of a big laid down tree on a jig. The next back end of a cove produced 2 more small keepers to give us a limit in the first 1.5 hours. That really let us relax and just fish. I had one spot in the back of a big, flat cove that everyone overlooks, but it's very hit or miss. We had a limit so we thought it was alright to try it and see what happened. We ended up culling out all 4 of our small fish in that cove, first with a jig fish in a lay down.

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Then 3 more in the very back on bladed jigs, only one ended up still in our bag by the end of the day.

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We bounced around a lot from there, catching quite a few fish but all small. For some reason the east side of the lake seemed to be the better side for quality bites. The missed jig bite from the morning was bugging me, so we ran back to the tree. First pitch, almost the exact same result, thump and nothing on the hookset. I flipped right back in and pinned her this time. Kind of a big head, skinny body fish, but still our biggest of the day and the overall big bass of the day.

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Only about 45 minutes left at that point, we thought we might as well bounce around to a few more lay downs and try to cull one more time. There's not many lay downs, so it's kind of a rough pattern for the guy in the back, so GJM tried to make the best of it and picked up a Ned rig to try to win the big trash fish pot for the day. One of his first cast he set the hook, but instead of the slow thump of a big drum, there was instantly a solid smallmouth streaking across the top. The last minute Ned rig miracle culled out our last fish under 2 pounds and gave us 11.12 pounds for what turned out to be a brutally tough day. We were the only team with a limit, and in the lead by 4.5 pounds going into the second day.

 

Day 2 was on a much bigger lake, Clinton Reservoir in Lawrence, KS, which is about 7,000 acres. It's not well known for it's bass fishing but the population is doing pretty well, both largemouth and smallmouth and good sized versions of both. 

Knowing we had a good lead, our number 1 concern was to get 5 fish before we worried about getting anything bigger. With that in mind, marinas are great places to catch bass so we started right in the marina to fish a few places I'd caught them before. This morning started much like the day before, maybe 5 minutes into the day, I ran my spinnerbait down a wave breaker dock and caught our first solid keeper of the morning before the other guys were even to their spots.

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A few cast later, I really shocked myself by catching another small keeper on a crankbait. Further back in the marina, on what was really a nothing bank, GJM got his first bite of the morning and put #3 in the boat on a spinnerbait.

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50' more we were in the very back and I caught #4 on a beaver next to a stump, which would prove to be our only bite on a slow moving bait of the day. As we rounded the secondary point, I caught our smallest keeper of the morning, but we had #5 in the boat just over an hour into the morning. We hopped across the cove and GJM culled out that little one with a slightly larger fish before we jumped out into the already churning main lake, that's when I knew we had really made the right call.  

I was hoping to find some of the quality smallmouth I'd be finding in small numbers down the lake, but those banks were crawling with big, hungry white bass that would not leave our spinnerbaits alone. As we worked down a usual flyover bank that I decided to fish because it has a few lay downs and stumps with a channel swing, I pitched my spinnerbait next to a lay down and thought I had hung up instantly but had actually thrown it right on top of a hungry fish. It tried hard to get back in the tree but quickly had a nice cull in the boat.

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Just around the point from there are 2 boat ramps with slide in docks that I love fishing on all our lakes because the fish seem to love hiding by and under them. First pitch with my spinnerbait next to them, I caught the twin to my last fish that fought like it was twice it's size.

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It was about 11AM at this point, and this would prove to be one of the last bass I would catch for the day. It seemed the white bass hit the banks in mass and I could catch nothing else. I did finally catch my first ever wiper from Clinton a spinnerbait which won us the big trash fish pot for the second day in a row.

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The next little boat ramp launch area we stopped at produced two fish, GJM caught both of them, one was a dink, the other was our last cull of the day.

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I was nervous at weigh in, knowing how tough this lake is, it still has the potential to produce 25+ pound bags. As it turned out, there had been a total of 2 bass caught by the other boats. One was a very nice 4.96 pound fish, which was funny because we were motoring to the spot with 20 minutes left when they came around a corner and were obviously going to get there first so we left it to them, and that's when they caught it. So as it turned out, all my worrying was for nothing as we could have stayed home and still won, but we ended up with 22.97 pounds over 2 days and won by over 13 pounds. Sometimes you just make all the right calls and then fish clean on top of it, and I feel like we really did that both days. Felt really good to end the tournament season on a high note. 

 

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Great morning read, thanks and congrats 

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Sweet

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Awesome read. 

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Congrats on the win. 

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Great job and thanks for the detailed write up!!

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Turned out to be a good trip out of what could have been a horrible one. I really think that was the cleanest we fished all season. I guess if you are going to pick a tournament to be clean in... this was the one!

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I have heard some crazy things about when the water level fluctuates on Milford. No matter how good the body of water is, nothing can overcome bad conditions. Glad you guys were able to salvage your weekend!

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awesome year ! ending in grand style! great big congrats

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I believe y'all had fun!!!  Excellent write-up.

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On 10/27/2018 at 12:32 AM, SuperFluke said:

Good write up Mr. Director.  😁

I'm more than willing to hand over that coveted title to whoever wants it. Let one of the guys that is always critical of every decision get to be the one getting criticized for once. You know the ones I'm talking about.  

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11 hours ago, Bluebasser86 said:

I'm more than willing to hand over that coveted title to whoever wants it. Let one of the guys that is always critical of every decision get to be the one getting criticized for once. You know the ones I'm talking about.  

I'll be sure to make it clear in my year end performance review with you that I'm not looking for a promotion 😉

 

It's a thankless job, but thanks for doing what you do and creating the group!

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Good Job!!!

 

 

 

 

Mike

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