The KBS North Open on Table Rock Lake is in the books and it’s time to head back home. It’s always intimidating hitting a new body of water. Especially since this particular lake is so deep and full of cuts and creek arms that go on for days. I’ve never felt so confident one minute and so confused the next.
Friday’s practice took place under cloudy skies and rain followed by a full moon that night which meant a drastic change from Saturday’s weather of sun and warmth. I used to think practice meant fine-tuning the gameplan, honing in on what the fish wanted, and setting waypoints to return to the next day after catching a good enough stringer to compete. How wrong I was. I learned a lot this weekend and one of the most important lessons to take home is to not be afraid to eliminate water if practice doesn’t go the way you like. I wasn’t happy yesterday. I caught four largemouth, three smallmouth, and two pumpkinseed (on Strike King 3XD’s). None of them would get me in the top thirty let alone the top five.
Kayak anglers have to plan a different way than boat anglers. We have to choose our launches to get us close to the waters we want to fish. I had a gameplan in mind and launched at the nearest ramp for practice. However, after I decided to ditch that gameplan for a more promising area, that meant finding a new spot to launch. I knew going in to Saturday that this drastic change from fishing secondary points to main points would either land me in the top twenty or I’d go home with my tail between my legs. If you see the leaderboard, I have zeros across the row. I did, however, catch fish. They were fish that should have put me in the top ten. Due to circumstances not understood, my fish were accepted during the tournament and then rejected after it was over. I managed to submit three fish for 54″.
Sadly, I went most of the morning without a bite and when I finally established a pattern, it was too late to bridge the gap. It’s funny how certain bits and pieces of advice from anglers along the way come into play. With warming water, I banked on the fish spawning in certain places and I just couldn’t find them. When the depeest location on your home water is 30 feet and you go to a highland reservoir that’s over 150 feet in some places, it can be intimidating. Especially since one cast away from the bank will land you in 40-50′ of water, it’s a different ballgame.
All but one of my bites came on a Strike King 5XD and 6XD in the green gizzard shad pattern. The bass were chasing thread fin shad and while I didn’t match the size of the forage, I got pretty darn close with the green gizzard pattern. Deep cranking helped me cover a lot of water and I have confidence in getting a reaction strike versus chucking a heavy jig in 60 feet of standing timber.
Even though the leaderboard shows I “blanked”, I caught some great fish, learned a lot about Table Rock, and have valuable lessons that will carry on. As disheartening as today was, valuable lessons are sometimes costly.