We all approach tournament day differently. Some guys have rituals or superstitions that they follow. Some have lucky hats, shirts or trinkets that they carry with them for luck out on the water. Some guys have their gear laid out days before a tournament and packed and ready to go the night before. They probably sleep like a baby that night, as well. Others, like myself, constantly are scrambling to gather, assess and sort through a mess of equipment just to narrow things down to a manageable amount of gear and tackle that will fit on a kayak. And, if you’re like me, you have trouble sleeping the night before a tournament. It may be nerves. It may be anxiety. It may be, as in my case, excitement. Whatever it was, I was up and out the door at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 19th for the Kayak Anglers – Western PA – Major Presque Isle in Erie, PA. ??I loaded up my Bonafide SS127, YakAttack gear, and launched out of Misery Bay. I was hoping for bright sun and calmer water like I experienced a few weeks earlier, so I had my sunglasses ready. But, after 30 seconds on the water, I threw them in my Bonafide’s dry pod, tightened up my PFD and made a long, 20 minute paddle across the bay to an area I knew had fish. I tried to duplicate the pattern I found a couple weeks ago, but the wind didn’t want to cooperate. After 10-15 casts, I was 100 yards down the shoreline and second-guessing my decision. I looked to a smaller cove to try and hide from the wind, but the area was being hit heavily by 8-10 other anglers. I just couldn’t fish comfortably in these locations, so I decided to make the long paddle back across the bay to the safety and seclusion of the Lagoons, a better protected area with less wind and smallmouth and more largemouth. ??After spending all but 20 minutes of the first two hours fighting the wind and paddling to locations, I finally settled in the lagoons. At 10 a.m., I was sitting without a fish and worried about a skunk. I moved to another location in the lagoons where I had found success in previous tournaments. I tucked myself tight to shore an began an incredible 45 minute stretch of fishing. I was able to hook up in cast number 1, 2, 4, 7 and 10 I was able to put up a 5 fish limit in 25 minutes. After uploading my 5th fish, I was sitting in 13th place. I ended up culling two fish from the same hole over the next 20 minutes. After a few fellow anglers moved into the location, the fishing slowed down, so I decided to make one more run to try and find bigger fish. ??I, again, battled the wind in Misery Bay the last couple hours and managed to cull one more fish with a 16.5 inch smallmouth at 1:51 pm. With that, I was happy and pulled my Bonafide SS127 up on shore at 1:57 p.m. All told, I grinded to a 76.5 inch limit, good enough for 33 place out of 111 skilled anglers. Overall, I just couldn’t find the big ones but am happy for the AOY points that I received. I was very impressed, with the Bonafide Kayaks SS127. The rough chop brought plenty of water into the boat, but with eight scuppers, everything drained instantly. The wind gusts made for some interesting moments out in open water, but the SS127 felt pretty safe in some uncomfortable conditions. Each time I am out on the water, the SS127 delivers more and more.
In hindsight, I again prepped and took way too much gear out on the water, considering I used two setups the entire day. Every bait, my phone, my pliers and everything I needed was conveniently kept in my junk drawer under my seat, and I never would have thought how much of a game changer a feature like that would be. In the end, I should have stuck with my initial decision, as both areas that I tried to fish early in the morning ended up producing a lot of quality fish for a bunch of anglers, including four of the top ten finishers. Regardless of the outcome, I was fortunate to spend a day fishing a world-class fishery with a fantastic organization in Kayak Angler of Western PA. Thanks to the charity raffle that day, we were able to raise $1585 for Project Healing Waters – Erie PA. ??Again, while everyone approaches tournament day differently, I got what I was looking for out of the event. Not a win, not money, not prizes. I got to spend a day out on the water with some great friends and anglers while being able to give back to the local community. To me, that’s what fishing your local club tournaments is all about.
YakAttack and Bonafide Kayaks