April 12th Lake Erie, aka Big Walleye Time!
Anytime I see Erie on the schedule I get excited because it’s basically a Walleye fishing vacation for the practice period.
This time Lake Erie was a little different. Weathe is always a conversation piece of any Great Lakes tourney, and this one was no different. 5 days of big winds, and rain had the entire lake a sloppy, muddy mess. Each evening of practice was spent observing the satellite image if it was available, finding any glimpse of cleaner water. The fishing in the western basin was so slow, it prompted me to try the 2nd last day of practice 75 miles away in the Detroit river, searching for any type of 30 lb bag. My fall back plan was to put myself smack dab in the middle of the biggest school of Walleyes I knew of , and pray 5 of them would find my crankbaits throughout the day.
The rules meeting confirmed how tough the bite was, it was obvious that a 40lb. bag would involve some Luck, and was almost impossible given the current state of the Lake.
As Day one of the tourney approached I realized that the weather would be conducive for the 75 mile run to the Detroit River. I’ve always been a sucker for an adventure, so I pointed the 250 HP Evinrude G2 NorthWest on full tilt boogey mode. 90 mins later I arrived in downtown Detroit, with hopes of jigging up 5 big fish. The Water had muddied severely, and I knew it was going to be a different day.
After a few hours, a couple different spots and zero bites I headed to the gas dock with my tail between my legs. Back on Plane I blasted back to the reef area with 1.5 hrs left to troll. I was able to troll up 2 decent fish and lost another good one using Bandits high in the water column, in the 10 inch visibility water. As I heard bag after bag of one fish, or 2 fish cross the stage, I had a sinking feeling that I didn’t properly analyze how good of a trolling pattern I was on compared to the rest of the field. If I would’ve been able to troll for 6 hours, I would’ve had a limit for sure. I ended weighing 2 fish for 11.25 Lbs.
The second day brought some serious east wind, which was supposed to increase to 25 plus MPH by the afternoon. I decided to hide from the huge waves on the west side of the Bass Islands, knowing that Walleyes aren’t huge fans of Surging baits with water temps that cold.
There was a lot of tourney guys in the North Bass area, and we got in line praying for a couple big bites. The day flew by, with one good 28 inched, and a couple 3 lbers to go with it. the the time came to get closer to the landing , I headed through the Put in Bay channel navigating 6fters. I decided to stop at Kellys Island with what I thought was 30 mins left to troll. with an hour left my Lowrance unit told me I had 14 miles left to go to Huron. I started the journey in what was definitely the biggest waves Ive ever been in. The nice thing was I was able to trough the huge waves, having to angle into them just a little bit. It never ceases to amaze me what our Ranger 620FS boats are capable of, at no point did I ever feel uncomfortable , just annoyed by how much maneuvering I had to do.
57 mins later , we made it in on time just barely. I weighed 14.33lbs. for 3 fish and finished in 53 place.
Lessons learned: This was another example of knowing the field. A person can think that it is you against the fish, but in a tournament you can win by 1 oz and having an idea of what that number is to win can help make good decisions during tourney hours.
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