Plenty of ups and downs in tournament fishing

If you’ve ever fished in any type of competitive event, you surely will have experienced the ups and downs that go along with this activity.
Tournament fishing can be highly-stressful when things don’t go right, yet they also can give you the highest of highs when things work out and you catch big fish.
I spent last week in Detroit, Mich. fishing in the second of four FLW Tour Open tournaments that I am doing this year.
This tournament ran out of the Detroit River and as I mentioned last week, this is a huge venue—giving anglers the opportunity to fish massive Lake St. Clair and gigantic Lake Erie, as well as the Detroit River, a 30-mile long river connecting the two lakes.
I had my dad along with me on this trip for the long drive down and for the three-day practice. We were pretty lucky to have some great weather during our time here.
It was sunny and hot all week, and the winds were light, which was good because it is such big water so we were able to run around all over these big lakes.
We spent our first day of practice on Erie and had an okay day. Our biggest five fish probably would have weighed around 18 pounds, which was pretty good.
The only problem was that we caught one fish here, one there. We didn’t find any schools and we didn’t really have a pattern we could duplicate. We caught a couple on crankbaits, a couple on tubes, and a few on drop-shot rigs.
The second day of practice, we went to Lake St. Clair and had a really slow day until about 3 p.m., then we found what I thought might have been the mother lode.
It was a large flat in 15 feet of water with scattered weeds and sand spots. We were casting deep-diving crankbaits and catching fish scattered around the flat.
We would just cover water and catch fish every so often, but most of them were 3.5 pounds and bigger, including one over five pounds.
My plan was to spend the last day of practice on whatever lake was better and I felt like St. Clair was the best option, so we spent the last day expanding the area that we found and caught some more nice fish.
I was really confident heading into Day 1 of the tournament last Thursday that I could catch a really good bag of fish and be competitive in this event.
Day 1 rolled around and I drew boat #8 to take off. I was able to take off early, but I also was in the first group to weigh-in, with a check-in time at 2:30 p.m., so it was a short day for me.
I arrived at my area and fished around all of my best waypoints without much luck. I did manage to catch a few small bass while my co-angler caught a few and lost a couple of big fish.
The only thing that I thought was different was that maybe it was a little bit too calm? There was little wind and I did have a few fish follow up my baits, but they wouldn’t bite.
Since it was such a large area, I was having my best luck catching fish on crankbaits like the Rapala DT 14 and suspending jerkbaits like an X-Rap.
We were seeing fish just often enough to keep us in the area and I really thought that eventually they would turn on and bite, so I didn’t leave. Besides, I really didn’t have anywhere else that I had a whole lot of confidence to go fish.
I ended up with 12 pounds on Day 1 and ranked in about 110th place, which was not really what I was hoping for.
I decided I had to change things up on Day 2, so I went the other way out of blast-off and headed out to Lake Erie. I ran about 15 miles to my first spot—a 12-foot deep hump—and experienced one of my most memorable tournament moments ever.
This spot just happened to be loaded with fish and in less than 20 minutes, I had more than 19 pounds for my five fish.
Over the course of the day, I was able to upgrade a few times and ended up with 21 pounds, four oz.
This vaulted me up in the standings to 49th place, so I just barely managed to squeak into the money. These FLW tournaments pay to 50th place, so you can imagine that I was pretty happy and lucky to end up where I did.
I stuck around Detroit for a few days after to the tournament to take some of my sponsor people fishing and was able to watch how things ended up.
Larry Nixon, one of the most legendary bass anglers of all time, ended up winning the event and $100,000! It was his 18th tour-level tournament win, which is pretty amazing.
Next up for me is the “Bassin’ For Bucks” tournament next week in Sioux Narrows, then it’s back on the road again for two more FLW tournaments in Alabama and Texas.