It's always a special challenge when tournament organizers decide on producing events on bass season opening weekend. The Econobass series on the other hand, takes it one step further by not allowing any pre-fishing the week of the event. So with no practice and no indications as to how the water conditions were, my partner Max and I had to rely solely on previous experience and good old fashioned gut instinct. The result? A 13th place overall finish out of an impressive 65x team field with a modest 12lb limit. For the record, the tourney was won with only 16lbs.
Overall, the conditions were very tough. Water levels are significantly higher than previous years resulting in very little grass growth and potentially expanded areas where fish may be hiding. Furthermore, the water colour was much more stained than usual and a full field of 65 boats on a relatively small body of water such as the Richelieu made for some pretty cozy shoulder to shoulder fishing. So how did we attack this conundrum?
Max and I knew that the fish would most likely be in a post-spawn state with very few fish still on beds. We were also pretty confident that the obvious area that most anglers would target would be the canals in the St-Paul area. We felt that the better fish, that is the females, would most likely be looking for a resting zone, somewhere they could set up for a week or two to recharge after spawning. So we targeted main channel cover with the warmest water temp we could find. Fish ended up being really scattered and not very schooled up. In fact, we only had 7 bites throughout the entire day! We casted towards any visible cover or isolated structures we could find with Berkley Havoc Pit Bosses in June Bug colour. I had soaked them the night before in some Gulp craw spray hoping to enhance the presentation. With the water stained, I felt that the dark June Bug colour would provide a nice silhouette contrast and the action from the 4 appendages would really entice the fish into biting. Pitched it on a 7' 3" Heavy action Abu Garcia Villain series microguide equipped rod matched with a Revo STX and 25lb Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line. Finished the rig with a pegged Ultra Tungsten 3/4oz bullet and a 4/0 EWG hook.
This event also marked the first time my new Mercury powered Ranger 520c courtesy of Groupe Thomas Marine participated in a tourney and I must say, she performed famously. Her jumbo livewells kept the fish healthy and the precise boat control provided by the Motorguide Tour trolling motor and twin Power-Pole Blades made all the difference in boat positioning in the wind.
Next stop: The Lions de Lafaivre bass open on the Ottawa River with good pal Jonathan Belanger. The strategy: We have none! Time to freestyle it and swing for the fences once again...stay tuned!