The Beautiful Grind

My participation in the KBF Great Lakes May fishing tournament is my first in my fishing tournament career.  It has been great.  TourneyX provides an easy-to-use, fair, and well-managed platform to submit and track progress in the catch-photo-release tournament.  I was previously in 3rd place in the tournament, then bumped to 5th.  Today I was then bumped to 7th and was determined to climb the leader board.

This morning I launched the Jon Boat (captained by a fishing partner) and my FeelFree Lure.  I was determined to move my way back into the top three.

The day started at a bitter 39 degrees, but the forecast was promising.  Temperatures were to be in the 80s with little-to-no wind.  Perfect small craft fishing conditions.  Shortly after launching, my fishing partner landed a nice 16"+ bass on his second cast (the first was a snag I helped retrieve).  We agreed it was going to be a great day.

The Wisconsin spring has made for tough fishing.  The temperatures have fluctuated significantly over the past few weeks, causing extreme changes in water temperatures.  This has confused the bass, and confused this bass fisherman.  My confusion persisted for several hours through the day.

We tried plastics, frogs, cranks, spinners, buzzbaits, and other usual suspects in our bucketmouth arsenal without success.  We even tied the boat to my kayak so I could pull it into the shallows where the bass were recently spawning.

To break the grind of fishing, we decided to explore and head upriver to pools we had been told about.  We left the 61 degree water for crystal-clear 53 degree creek water.  After numb feet dragging the boats in shallow stone creek beds, we found a beautiful fishing hold filled with thousands of Brook Trout.  A beautiful area mostly untouched by the average human.

After spending some time exploring and fishing, we decide to head back to the open water when another fishing partner texts me.  He is on the lake and doing well.  Our curiosity peaks and we head downstream.

After meeting up with my friend, he indicates fishing has been great.  He lost count of how many fish he caught.  They were caught on the frog.  Frustrated that I did not stick with my favorite lure, I tie mine back on and start throwing it.  My friend hooks up on a nice, fat, 18" bass.

Determined to get my frog inhaled, I continue fishing.  I'm able to stand-and-fish in my FeelFree Lure.  I spot several nice bass in the abnormally clear water.  They are not interested in what we have to offer.  As the day burns, we decide to give the shallows with weed mats one more try.

To ensure I do not get skunked, I stop at my favorite panfish crib and instantly catch a bluegill on a Panfish Plastics Chigger Fry.  I am satisfied and move to the shallows.

The shallows are active.  The water temperature has risen to 68 degrees.  Minnows are everywhere and the groups of water boils indicate bass are chasing the bluegills.  A few tosses of my frog and I miss a hit.  Frustrating, but promising.  We move deeper in the weeds and another fishing party member hooks up on a bass.  I'm also spotting them swimming around me as I stand and paddle.

Two missed hits later, I finally snag a largemouth.  Thankful for my 50 lb. braid, I haul it, and several pounds of weeds, into my kayak.  With excitement I pull my Hawg Trough out and adjust my Tourney Tag to ensure a proper photo for the tournament.  This bass is not in the mood to cooperate and nearly escapes during the photo process.  However, I'm able to calm it down enough to take a proper picture.

My fishing partners continue to miss fish due to the addition, and frustrations, of frog fishing.  I hook up on another fish.  As I'm pulling the fish into the kayak, I begin thinking, "This thing isn't huge, but big enough to get me back into 3rd place in the tournament.  He better not fall....".  The fish then flops loose and swims away.  If it had a middle finger, it surely would have been showing it to me.

As I shout a barrage of language fit for a pirate, we continue to work the length of the weed mat.  We then decide to call it a day and head towards the docks.

Today was a grind.  It was hot, the bite was slow, and we covered a lot of water.  However, today was a beautiful grind.  I love fishing and would love to do it for a living.  However, I proceed with caution.  Never do I want my passion to be a "job".  No matter the results, a day enjoying my passion with friends and family is a beautiful day.