It has been a good trip to New York state.
When I left home a couple weeks ago for my back to back Bassmaster Elite Series events on the St. Lawrence River and Cayuga Lake I knew I needed to have a couple of good tournaments to turn my season around.
After a 12th-place finish at the St. Lawrence, which I was happy about, things went very well this past weekend at Cayuga Lake, located just south of the city of Syracuse in the middle of the state.
After a decent practice where I found a few spots with schools of deeper largemouth and smallmouth bass I was confident heading into the tournament that I could have a decent finish.
My plan was to catch a limit of largemouths and then go try to catch a couple of smallmouths that I thought would be bigger fish.
The first day of the tournament I ended up catching a limit fairly quickly which took the pressure off, then as I moved from spot to spot I started putting some big four- and five-pound largemouths in the boat.
By the end of the day I had compiled a limit weighing 23 pounds, 11 ounces to land in second place.
I had no idea that I was going to catch big fish like that.
Things went even better the second day.
I upgraded my catch several times throughout the day and ended up catching the largest single day limit of the tournament, weighing 25 pounds, 6 ounces. This gave me a three-pound lead heading into day three of the tournament.
It really felt like I could do no wrong and was well on my way to winning the tournament.
Something changed on day three, however. Instead of catching four and five pounders, I was catching two and three pounders.
It took me a lot longer than it had been to finish off my five fish limit and for some reason I just couldn’t catch a big fish.
I ended up bringing in a limit weighing 15 pounds, 4 ounces.
When I was on my way back to check in I figured I would have fallen back to fourth or fifth place and would be need to play big catch up to have a chance to win the tournament on the fourth and final day.
Instead, it was a tough day for all of the top anglers and I actually increased my lead to four pounds heading into the final day.
I really couldn’t believe it. I was excited but at the same time I knew that there was a good chance that either my spots were out of fish or they had moved.
Still, I had to fish one more day with a good chance to live out a lifelong dream and win one of these pro level tournaments.
I was optimistic heading out on the final day that my spots would kick out a couple more big fish.
If that happened and I could put together a decent limit I would win.
I felt like a 20-pound limit was the magic number. Instead, I quickly realized after fishing my first few spots that it was going to be a repeat of the third day.
The big fish were gone from the spots that were so good to me the first couple of days.
In addition to the tougher fishing, I had eight to ten boats following me around on the lake to watch me fish.
It was humbling that people wanted to watch me but at the same time it was adding to the pressure.
After a slow morning I took a chance and ran down the lake to look for some smallmouths that I had found in practice.
I hadn’t caught any throughout the tournament so I didn’t know what to expect but I saw a few big ones so I knew they were out there. I ended up smallmouth fishing for about an hour and a half and upgraded three fish to get me over 15 pounds.
I felt like I needed to catch a big one and the tournament and it’s $100,000 first place prize would be mine. I decided to run back up the lake to spend the last couple hours fishing my good spots from earlier in the tournament but could not upgrade any of my fish.
One by one, the top ten anglers weighed in while I waited to weigh in last. Jamie Hartman, a New York native who won one of our tournaments in Alabama back in June took the stage and weighed 22 pounds, 4 ounces.
My heart sunk because I knew I was going to be about a half pound short of his total.
My 15 pounds, 14 ounce limit ended up being ten ounces short of Hartman’s catch and I finished second.
It was disappointing but at the same time it was a good couple of weeks.
I made some money and am looking good for making the Bassmaster Classic with two events left later in September.
It has been a good trip to New York state.