Renegade Pro/Am 2009
July 4th had my good friend JP Ostiguy and I launching the 20-foot power cat Talking Fishing Boat on Big Rideau Lake along with 37 other professional Bass anglers and their amateur partners for the day. The annual Pro/Am event is meant to allow those new to the tournament scene the opportunity to fish along side a seasoned tourney professional. JP, being a Bass tourney vet with tons of experience, and myself having the boat and being new to the professional tournament fishing scene, were offered the opportunity to join in on the day.
JP and I also drew first place on the launch, which meant we led the parade of Bass boats through the 750 meter no wake zone after which we were passed by about half the pack – the other half having elected to go the other direction. The world’s first Talking Fishing Boat may not be the fastest vessel on the water, but she’s probably one of the most comfortable boats to fish out of and, no doubt, the only one that talks.
We elected to start in on the shallow weed growth, but our plans were sketchy at best given the number of storms that had blown through the region in the past three days. I hooked up on a largy on my second cast of a spinnerbait, red/green 3/8 oz with double Colorado blades. It was just shy of the size limit. I missed the next bite though, and by then we had moved in to the heavier weed cover so we switched to frogs.
JP next boated a 3lb Bass on a frog, and about 30 minutes later I contributed to the live well with a 2 pounder. That’s all the area would give up though, and we left the area in search of better waters with two fish in the live well.
The next few hours proved difficult as we worked deeper water around an island that was being blasted by high winds. We first tried the windward side, as wave and winds are usually accompanied by feeding fish, but after blanking, we moved to the leeward side – still to no avail.
Our next stop was a bay which held water between six and 10 feet, and tons of signs of recent Bass nests. The nests were empty and weed growth was minimal. However, in about 8 feet of water with patchy weed growth we boated another 10 or so Bass using stick baits rigged Wacky. The Bass were reluctant biters and we needed to slowly move the baits along the bottom being ever on guard for the slightest resistance as these Bass were in no way taking the baits with any measure of vigour.
My first experience on detecting this bite was a total flop as JP watched from the casting platform as I tugged the bait from a large Bass’s mouth thinking that I had loaded up with some weeds. JP saw the flash of the fish given his vantage and polarized glasses, and thought it would have been a good size. That’s when I switched from my Carolina rig to the straight Wacky rig and things improved from there.
By the 2: pm weigh-in time we had culled about four fish from the live well, but no big bruisers. Most of the other competitors experienced the same level of success as us, but one or two faired better.
The Bass had recently come off the spawn, but had already begun to feed up. All the fish caught were shaped like footballs – large and small. The weather had cooled things off though and the fish were dormant. A very subtle presentation was the ticket.
The winners used jigs in ten feet of water to entice 19+ pounds of Bass to leave their weedy beds. JP and I finished in around the middle of the pack, and after the weigh-in and official BBQ, we called it a day.
Every day on the water is a different story. It all comes down to time and place. I don’t think luck has much to do with it, except for the weather. The same place may need to be fished differently according to the time of year or day, and a technique that works well in one place may bomb somewhere else a few minutes later. Time and place means constantly scanning the environment to make the necessary adaptations to ones approach. The more one gains experience with reading the signs, the better the results achieved.