Had another good weekend with the club at Vermilion Lake, the fishing wasn't spectacular but some fish were caught. The lake was just starting to come out of cold front conditions on Saturday with the air temps in the high 60's and the water temperature on the north end of the lake sitting at around 64 degrees. Water was stained but I had no issues with that. A little rain mixed in as well so conditions were not consistent for practice which made it a little harder to get a pattern going. Seemed like most of the active fish were towards the mouth of the river at the north end and a little ways farther up into the river itself. A lot of short fish were caught, but no 15" keepers that we were looking for. Had a nice bonus crappie inhale a Berkley Chigger Craw that was 12"...my boater Scott Sheets had one as well that smoked his spinnerbait. I was really surprised though that we couldn't get a a decent bite going with all of the shad around...unfortunately that cold front played a big factor.
Sunday morning was nicer with temperatures in the mid to high 70's with blue bird skies. Water temperatures held about the same from Saturday. Would have probably helped out more if we had some cloud cover, but the high pressure day was all we had to work with. The water was a little muddier than Saturday from the river, so loud and bright baits were what I was focusing in on. Had most of my fish come on a Revenge 3/8 oz double willow spinnerbait with a shad color skirt. The size of the willows and color of the skirt matched the bait fish really well but all of the bass caught were too short. We went to the mouth of the lake where a lot of lilly pads were and chucked around a frog for a good part of the day, but they were just not cooperating. A few members had luck with frogs yesterday with Mike Pena hooking up with a 5.5 lb bass, but unfortunately topwater wasn't working for them either. I finally settled on mixing things up between a spinnerbait and a jig. We were out by some of the lilly pads at the north end that was mixed in with a lot of lay downs and stumps. I tied on a 1/2 oz black/blue rattle back jig with a zoom super chunk in saphire blue. Took about a dozen or so casts until I flipped next to a pretty big stump and got my first decent bite of the day. I didn't realize I had one on at first until my line started darting away from the stump. Tried to set the hook as soon as I saw what was happening but it was too late and I missed the fish. I can almost guarantee it was a keeper with it being able to hold up a 1/2 oz jig and swim away with it. Oh well, just had to keep trying.
Without having any more luck we headed up farther into the river. We worked a lot of shoreline and we finally started getting bit on one stretch. Scott caught a couple shorts on a brown jig he had so I switched to a similar color. I had one of my custom California Reservoir living rubber jigs in the "Rusty Craw" color, so I tied that on. I also put on a Net Bait Paca Chunk in Alabama Craw which had a bright orange and green pumpkin color to it. The water wasn't as stained as the main lake so the color combo was pretty visible in the water. We worked the shore over pretty well and we both were pitching right into the wood and little islands of grass. I threw the jig right into a little pocket and sure enough the line started taking off again...luckily I reacted quicker this time and set the hook. Finally had a keeper in the boat! Caught a few more shorts, but couldn't come up with any more by weigh in time at 2 o'clock
My keeper ended up weighing only 1.72 lbs but was good enough to get me 8th place in the tournament. The rest of the field pretty much fared the same with one keeper a piece, Chris with 2 keepers, and a few others with no keepers. Pretty much boiled down to whose keeper had the most weight. Chris Gaertner stole the show with a massive female that he picked up further down the shoreline that Scott and I were working. He also took 1st place with his two keepers. We knew he had a good one because we saw him put it in the boat but didn't realize how big it was until we saw it at the weigh in. The fish tipped the scales at 5.70 lbs which claims big bass bragging rights for the year so far.
Ryan Boswell ended up in second place with one keeper that also weighed a good amount at 4.5 lbs. Mike Pena took third then with his 1 keeper along with everyone else down the line.
I can't say that I am frustrated that I only showed up with one keeper because the rest of the field did pretty much the same. The changing conditions and cold front really put the pressure on all of us. To think though if I wouldn't have missed that first jig fish I might have been in the top three...but that is the breaks with tournament fishing and I was lucky to have at least the one. We'll get 'em next time!
If any of you get the chance to head down to Vermillion do it! Pretty neat little lake with a good mix of structure and different types of water to get some good practice in on.
Special thanks to FSA Custom Rods...the flippin stick he built for me helped me catch my only keeper. Crazy sensitive blank and a really well built rod! If you want one built just like mine shoot Ed an email at...
Until the next tourney, tight lines!