On Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, I fished in the first bass fishing tournament of my life! A friend of mine, Andy Kent, had invited me several times to fish with him in some small tournaments with bass clubs he was a member of, but fishing such events on Wednesday's were tough for me, as I have to work very early the next day. Since I've not done a lot of fishing this year, I decided, what the heck , and went along. This was not a fly fishing tournament, but rather one with conventional tackle and lures.
This was on the Chicamacomico River here in MD, a place I had fished many times before, and one of my favorite rivers, but had not been on in a few years. There were 6 boats total. The day started out fine, but it soon became very windy. Water temp at the 8AM start was about 58 degrees. It only got up to 61 degrees.
We had planned to flip & pitch, but the wind made that difficult. We did however, find some spots that we could flip. This river is shallow & tidal, with the deep spots only being about 4 ft. The channel in some places is 6-7 ft, but I've never caught a fish in the channel. All the fish holding features of this river are along it's edges, and at the two bridges that cross it. The fishing is pretty much limited to about a 2 mile stretch between the bridges because they're so low to the water. The one bridge, the one next to the launch ramp, does have enough clearance to allow the smallest boats, canoes, or kayaks to get under, but of the 6 boats this day, only one was small enough. The second bridge is so low, not even a canoe can get under it!
Andy caught our first 2 fish, both less than 2 lbs, one on a senko, the other on a spinnerbait. I managed only one fish of about 2 lbs the whole day, caught on a shad colored Karu VibraShock with a chartreuse curltail grub trailer. All 3 fish were caught within the first two hours of fishing and on a single stretch of shore where we found about 4 ft of water. Then we went for a few hours without a bite!
We moved around to several spots we both knew we had caught fish on before, but the tide had changed some & the wind was still blowing, making it hard to control the boat & our baits. We passed a few of the others and all reported catching some fish, but with the same difficulty & results.
Finally, at about 3PM, an hour before weigh-in, the wind died down some, and they seemed to turn on & Andy caught 3 more fish, all on a senko, which allowed him to cull one fish, and give us a 5 fish total.
At the weigh-in, the others reported that they had started to catch some fish just as we did. One other boat had 5 fish, the small boat that went above the bridge. I don't remember the exact totals, but that fellow got first with over 13 lbs, and we placed second at over 8 lbs. Andy's biggest fish was 3 1/2 lbs, and the lunker pot was split with two anglers both weighing fish at 3lbs 12 oz. One fellow had said he lost a nice fish that may have been over 4 lbs when he had a problem with a new reel.
I had a great time just being out there fishing, but the point of my post here is about another subject. Time on the water.
This event took place on a river that I thought I knew pretty well, and many of the features I recalled, were just as I had remembered them. However, since I had not been there in a few years, there were also many changes. Last time I was on this river, there was much more vegetation, mostly Spatterdock pads, this time there was very little.
River systems will always change, but the longer we are away, the more those changes will likely affect our fishing. Won't matter if were fishing with flies or other tackle.
Get out there as much as you can. Spend the time learning about the waters that you fish, even when the conditions are not the best. This particular day, with the windy conditions, I could have fished with a fly rod, although not in this tournament, but it would have been real tough to do. It was difficult enough with the much heavier lures. But, often when we only fish our favorite waters under the best conditions, we get complacent, so when the conditions & fishing get difficult, we tend to not be prepared! Learning about our fishing should be a complete process, which means we spend as much time on the water as we can, in all types of conditions. Of all things we can learn or do to improve our angling success, this one thing will make us better anglers!
Thanks for reading my post!