|The first few kayaks getting ready to go|
I was in the garage getting ready by 2:15am. Rods, reels, and tackle was ready to go but as I was checking batteries, I realized that my Power-Pole wasn't powering up. I knew I charged the battery the day before so it should have had power. I figured that I probably forgot to reconnect everything so I went to open up my rear hatch and couldn't get it open. Great...it's 2:30 in the morning and now I have to remove a hatch so I can get to the battery. Grrrrr
I grabbed my screw gun and wouldn't you know it; the battery on the drill was dead so I got a screw driver instead, undid the hatch, and got everything fixed within 15 minutes. The rest of the loading went much smoother. I finally hit the road and got my coffee! That helped get my brain working almost instantly and put me in a much better mood.
I arrived a half hour later than I wanted to so I felt a bit rushed and disorganized. It's definitely not a feeling that I like to have but it is what it is. I got the kayak down to the beach and was ready to go with a bit of time left to spare. Ultimately, I felt really good going into this. I have fished this lake multiple times before so I knew what I wanted to throw and where I wanted to throw it.
When I got on the water, I was a bit surprised at how clear the water was. At one point, I was in 20 feet of water and could see the bottom like I was looking at an aquarium. I guess since Saturday was "opening day" the water hadn't been churned up by the insane amount of boating pressure it gets. When I actually got to my first spot that I wanted to fish, the weeds that I had anticipated weren't there. Hmmmmm
As I moved around in the general area, I found the occasional weed patch here and there so I stuck to my game plan - chartreuse/white anything in the weeds. The target species was pike and I have caught them there every time with this combo. As I moved from spot to spot, the story was the same; not nearly as many weeds as I anticipated but I was actually seeing fish there as I passed over. Pike, bass, and even a musky were exactly where I thought they would be and exactly where I was.
For hours, I worked a mile or so stretch. I knew it was the right area because I saw the fish but I just wasn't getting hit. On multiple occasions, I thought that maybe I should downsize a bit and switch to dark colors. Based on my past experiences there, I simply ignored myself. "Eventually my proven pattern would start working" I thought..."It had to". After all, it has worked every time before.
As the day went on, I was running out of time and I was scratching my head. The boat traffic was picking up and the sun was getting brighter and brighter. Rather than switching up baits, I decided to move and check out some other areas that I though might be a bit more stained like I am used to on that lake. As I got to each spot, I regretted the decision to move. The water was definitely stained...too stained. It was either chocolate milk or crystal clear. I felt much more confident in crystal clear so I ultimately spent the last hour where I had originally started.
I was still seeing fish but not connecting with anything. By the time I decided to listen to myself, I was pretty much out of time. I had a twenty minute pedal back to the landing and only about a half hour left. I was defeated and I knew it. I knew why and I was mad at myself for not switching it up.
As the other anglers came in, many of them all had the same results as I did. Out of 36 kayak anglers, only 9 caught any pike. Of those 9, only 2 actually caught their 3 fish limit. The day was certainly tough but it wasn't impossible. As I talked with the people that had caught fish, they confirmed exactly what I thought...smaller and darker.
Congratulations are definitely in order to the winner of the event, Mark R. I have fished with Mark a few times and he is a fantastic fisherman!!
The optimist in me is looking at this as a learning experience. The lesson is simple - don't get stuck on what you think you know. Listen to your gut and change when you know you should change. To add one more bit of optimism to this story, I started off last year's series the same exact way - 0 fish - and I ended up winning the whole thing in the end. In other words, it's not over yet!!
The next stop is in June for bass. I placed 3rd at this stop last year and I have a few new tricks up my sleeve for this year. Hopefully they will come together and if they don't, I'll listen to my gut and switch it up if I need to.