Saturday July 11th was the 3rd stop in the West Division of the Wisconsin Team Circuit on Clam Lake in Siren Wisconsin. Those who know me well, will quickly tell you that I hate fishing shallow and 99% of Clam Lake is less than 6' of water. I had been dreading this tournament for a while, and I was hoping that we could leave the lake with at least 91 points so we would meet the minimum of 300 points to qualify for the Wisconsin Bass Classic.
My team tournament partner Steve Crotteau and I didn't have a terrible practice - we caught several keepers each practice day, but the fish were skinny and looked more like walleyes than bass. We had a swim jig bite, a soft plastice bite and a slop bite going, and we had 5 key areas to fish, so we were cautiously optimistic that we could have a good points run.
This was to be our first tournament with The Skeeter Boat Center of Chippewa Falls Wisconsin as a new sponsor. Steve had just received a new Skeeter 20i that he had ordered only a few weeks ago. As if the red carpet treatment that Dave Markquardt and Dan Meyer of The Skeeter Boat Center offered with the sale and delivery of the boat was not enough incentive to buy a Skeeter, the Skeeter Real Money Program seals the deal, as you can win up to $3,000 for fishing in qualifying tournaments in your Skeeter Boat. In my 30+ years of tournament fishing and guiding I have been in a lot of different boats and you can tell that tournament anglers had input on the layout, design, and fishability of these boats. Add the fact that they go on plane quickly and do to to 70+ mph like right now, you have the ultimate tournament rig.
On tournament day we launched the boat at 4:30 am, as there was a single one lane ramp and 40 tournament boats to launch. It was quite a wait for a 6:30 am pre-tournament meeting but it was a good opportunity to discuss strategies and re-tie. We drew boat number 8 for take-off order, but with 40 boats on a 1400 acre lake, you know you will have people around you all day.
We chose to start in the Clam river on the very south side of Upper Clam lake - so did 10 to 15 other boats - yikes!! Our goal was to leave the river with 3 fish and finish out the final 2 fish on the main lake. We played bumper boats in the river for 2 hours and did have 3 keepers - a chunky 3.39 lb. largemouth, a 15" smallmouth and a 14.5" smallmouth - the smallies were very skinny and to have any chance at good weight, they really needed to be upgraded. By 10 am we chose to leave the river, as most of the key areas were covered with boats. Weigh-in was scheduled for 3 pm and how tough could it be to get 2 more keepers in 5 hours? Tough, real tough!!
Throughout the next 5 hours we fished hard in our other 4 areas, as well as several other areas. We managed just one more 14.5" largemouth, and fell one fish short of a five fish limit.
At 2:55 pm, we were pulling into the tournament host site, Jed's Laker Lounge, and we noticed that several boats were already loading up onto trailers. Since weigh-in never starts early, we knew other anglers has a tougher day than us.
At the scales, our 4 fish weighed 7.26 lbs. Our big fish of 3.39 lbs. was the second biggest bass of the tournament, which tells you how woefully pathetic our other three fish were (a combined weight of 3.87 lbs or 1.29 lb per fish average for the other 3). Keeping in mind that 2 of the fish were 14.5" and one was 15", you can get a true understanding of how skinny these fish were.
Hats off to Cory Hauk and Andy Bylander for the win with a five fish limit of 15.39 lbs., and big bass of the tournament @ 3.61 lbs. They also received a $1,000.00 check from the Skeeter Real Money program, as they won out of a Skeeter boat.
After everyone weighed in, Steve and I actually cashed a check, finishing in 7th place with our small bag of fish!! There was only 6 limits caught and 15 boats did not weigh a fish. What a brutal day of fishing!
For full results of this tournament click here.
As usual, Bill, Karen and Bear Schutts of the Wisconsin Team Circuit ran a first class tournament - it is easy to see why these tournaments fill up year over year! The comradery and competition is second to none!
Our bait choices for this tournament were:
Super K Swim Jigs
A special thanks to all of our sponsors!!
Grafe Auction Company
Props Sports Bar and Grill
Hauck Power Sports
Skeeter Boat Center
Super K Jigs
A&J Landscape and Maintenance