Tough conditions at Tenkiller Lake

After a long season that started way back in February, the final Bassmaster Elite Series regular season event took place this past weekend in Oklahoma on Tenkiller Lake and it was the toughest test that anglers faced all year.
We were supposed to fish Oklahoma’s Fort Gibson Lake back in May but extreme flooding caused the cancellation of that event.
It was rescheduled for mid-September but as the tournament dates neared, flooding was still an issue on the lake so it was moved at the last minute to nearby Lake Tenkiller.
The change in schedule made me happy because Tenkiller is well known for being the clearest lake in Oklahoma and it has a good population of bass, including smallmouths.
Gibson had really high, dirty water and many of the bass would have been living in the flooded bushes.
That kind of fishing would not have been up my ally so I was fine with the change.
When I arrived in Oklahoma at the start of the week, the temperatures were quite a change from Northwest Ontario.
It was still hot down there, with daily temperatures in the mid-30 degree Celsius range.
I was jumping in the lake several times per day during the practice days to try to stay comfortable, it was really hot.
The water temperatures were still in the high ’80s, which we never see in Ontario.
Across the south, the fishing this time of year is really tough just about everywhere.
The hot weather seems to just suck the life out of these lakes.
Further adding to the challenge on Tenkiller was a 16 inch size limit on smallmouth and largemouth bass.
Tenkiller has spotted bass as well and they only needed to be 12 inches to keep, which is the normal standard for keeper fish on most waters. The problem was the spotted bass don’t get that big on this lake so the small keepers didn’t weigh very much.
After three days of prefishing, it was apparent that there were a bunch of fish in Tenkiller but it was not really easy to catch keeper fish.
I spent most of my time fishing deeper structure, like points and humps and was catching a couple of “over” fish each day and some spotted bass to fill out my limit.
The tournament ended up being tougher than I was expecting and I ended up with a 34th-place finish.
The entire 75 angler field fishes the first two days, then the top 35 fish on day three.
I managed to slide into 35th after two days, which was lucky, so I snuck into the third day.
Anytime we make it to day three, it makes for a good week because the top 35 anglers get paid pretty good and we’re earning solid points.
I went out on day three and tried some different things to attempt some sort of comeback but it didn’t really materialize.
I managed to bring in four keeper fish each day of the tournament.
In seven years of fishing these pro tournaments that was the first time I think that I’ve cashed a cheque without ever catching my limit. I’ll take it though.
The event had a really good finish for all fans of bass fishing as Australian angler Carl Jocumsen won the tournament.
Carl is one of my best friends out on the circuit and one of the guys that I share fishing information with during our practice days.
He has had a tough year so it was so awesome to see him win, thanks to a huge catch on the final day.
If you didn’t get to see any of the action, it’s worth checking out the Bassmaster website and watching some of the video from the day and the winning moment.
He proved that if you have a dream, you can accomplish it with hard work and determination.
After Oklahoma I drove up to Michigan where we have out final event of the year, the Angler of the Year Championship, this coming weekend on Lake St. Clair.
It is one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the World so it should be a fun week.
The top 50 anglers in points from the season get to fish this week, where the Angler of the Year will be crowned and the Bassmaster Classic qualifiers will be figured out.
The top 42 anglers will qualify for the Classic, which will take place in March 2020.
I am currently in 30th place in points so I’m in good shape and I think if I can weigh-in one bass I’m going to make it so that is a good feeling.
We work all season to qualify for this tournament and it will be a life-long dream for me.
This tournament will run Sunday through Tuesday and you can follow along at the Bassmaster website.