A Three Week Workout

July 29, 2016 Scott Cooke

I have often wondered how someone could actually fish themselves out.  I have always seemed to have an enormous tank of energy when it comes to bass fishing.  I used to be able to leave my house in the evening, drive through the night, and arrive at a lake that morning bright eyed and bushy tailed.  I believe I recently experienced the near bottom of my tank.

Over a 3 week span I was fortunate enough to fish tournaments on Kentucky Lake, the Potomac River, Indian Lake, and Lake Champlain.  Just in case anyone was wondering I am very happily married and blessed to have a wife that supports my love for the sport.  However, when you try to get through a run like I had, the guilt of being away doesn’t subside the longer you are away.

Kentucky Lake – FLW Tour

I had the FLW Tour Co-Angler special on Kentucky Lake.  One good day, one bad, and no check.  I finished 94 of 160.  This was one of those tournaments where everyone expected to be fishing offshore ledges.  It just happened that we arrived during the transition.  Many Pro’s were scrambling to put something solid together during the practice and the talk was that the bite was tough.  My first day was spent primarily fishing 3-5 ft of water.  I drew Tom Monsoor and really learned a bit about fishing a swim jig.  I scrambled most of the day to try to figure something out that would work to no avail.  Tom ended up handing me one of his custom swim jigs and the I started to at least catch some fish.  I ended up getting lucky and catching 1 keeper with about 3 minutes to go not 50 yards from the check in boat.  The second day was spent primarily in my wheelhouse.  Fishing shell beds in 20 – 25 ft of water with Jason Reyes.  I caught most of my fish on a Zoom Brush Hog (Green Pumpkin w/ Blue Flake) rigged on a Carolina Rig.  I found that I was getting more bites by working the rig extra slow and really hitting them as soon I felt the lure do something that I didn’t tell it to do.  I ended the day with a limit weighing 12-13 for a tournament total of 14-8.

Potomac River – FLW Costa Series

This was the first event of the year for the FLW Costa Series Northern Division.  Having been to the mighty Potomac several times I was sort of aware of what to expect.  It had been fishing extremely well in the recent past and I was looking forward to a successful practice.  But as luck would have it the fishing had slowed down and there was more grass than I had ever experienced down there.  After three days of practice I was pretty confident that I had located several tide specific areas that would play well into the tide schedule that we would have during our tournament.  If you haven’t had an opportunity to fish a tidal system you need to.  It implements a level of difficulty that makes tournament fishing much more than just finding fish and getting them to bite.  I attribute my experience with fishing the Ohio River and Lake Erie to helping me get acquainted with the tidal puzzle (which I probably only have the outside border put together at this point).  Day 1 proved to be a grind.  I started the day not far from the launch ramp in Mattawoman Creek.  I hooked up with a couple of keepers on a Chatterbait and decided to start to run the tide.  My next stop was a community area that has a history of producing many check range limits.  Much to my surprise when I got there I was only sharing it with two other boats.  The first thing that goes through your mind in this situation is “not good”.  However, I knew with my expert abilities I could surely muster up a quick limit.  2 hours later without a bite convinced me otherwise.  My next stop was at the mouth of Pomonkey Creek.  I managed to limit out and cull a few times using a custom stick bait (black with blue flake).  I also ended up catching my first giant Snakehead.  It is state law that you must dispose of these fish if you land one.  Easier said than done.  That thing was so big that I was determined that I needed to weigh it.  My local buddy had told me that the world record (17 lbs.) was caught out of the Potomac and I knew that this one was pushing it.  It was 15 ½ and the closest I have ever come to breaking a world record.  Having only caught 4 and 5 pounders in the past this one was going to be tricky to dispose of.  I made do with the knife that I had handy but let me tell you those fish are resilient.  At no time did I feel that it was ever going to die and it ended up not giving me back the swim jig that it totally engulfed.  15 minutes later I was back in action.  Running a few more spots I was able to cull a couple more times and ended the day with a limits weighing 12-8.

Day two was very tough day.  I started the day fishing Pomonkey Creek with no luck.  I ran a few more areas with no luck as well.  It wasn’t until I had 2 hrs remaining that I began putting fish in the boat.  With 1 hr remaining I had landed 8 bass and was close to the weight that I had on day 1 (all on the same custom stick bait).  I ended the day with 12-1 and finished the tournament in 54 place (out of 144).

All in all I was very impressed with the comeback that the Potomac River has made.  The water looked great and the vegetation was more prominent that it has been in several years.

Lake Champlain – FLW Tour

This was the tournament that I had been waiting for.  Lake Champlain is my favorite lake and for good reason.  It is absolutely loaded with smallmouth bass and largemouth bass.  I was honestly hoping that I was going to draw someone that would finally help me to unlock the mystery of Ticonderoga.  Every tournament that I had fished there was won in the Ticonderoga region yet I have never been able to figure out what many Lake Champlain champions have.  My day 1 partner (Joshua Weaver) indicated that he intended to fish for smallmouth the entire day.  I ended up catching all of fish in the 15-20 ft range on a drop shot bait that I make.  I call it the “C-Worm”.  I ended day 1 with 14-15 and was inside the top 20 for the co-anglers.  My day 2 partner (Brandon McMillan) indicated that he was fishing for both, but we would not be making the run to Ti.  Turns out that Brandon was primarily sight fishing for smallmouth.  He put about 14 lbs in the boat before I had my first bite.  He turned out to be a vacuum cleaner.  I had to make long casts in order to try to catch the fish that he could not see and found a bit of success doing so.  About half way through the day we began flipping tires.  Yes I said tires.  There is a marine that constructed break walls using old car tires.  Hundreds of them I might add.  I ended up making a couple of calls flipping a brush hog style bait that make.  This was a major accomplishment to me as Brandon is quite well known for his flipping capabilities.  I ended day 2 with 13 lb limit and finished the tournament in 18th place (out of 160).  This was my personal best finish on the Tour so I was able to end my co-angler career with a bang.

My pro partners for this tournament were absolutely wonderful guys.  Most of them are.  If you really want to take your fishing abilities to the next level I highly recommend at least a year of spending time on the water as a co-angle on the tour.  It has really opened my eyes to some things that I just don’t think I would have picked up otherwise.