Another bass opener has arrived and along with it, the annual bass derby on Collins Lake. This year attendance was a bit low due to some health issues among the group, however we still managed to put a group together and proceed with the tournament.
As is typical, our tourney started with a meet and greet on the Friday evening with some sociables and poker. For some of us it is the one time in the year we get to see the group and there are always lots of stories to be told. Its always difficult to call an end to the night before festivities since its always such a great time and the quality of sleep a fisherman can expect the night before the opener is almost not worth the while. But hey, its bass opener and some would argue being sleep deprived only makes that first bass of the year that much sweeter.
The tourney itself has an interesting structure; competitors may weigh in two fish after the first morning and may cull them in the following afternoon. Two more fish may be weighed in after the next morning, at which point weights are tallied. As easy as four fish sounds, separating the weigh ins by days makes it infinitely harder. Mostly because on a small lake like Collins, Every weed bed gets hit hard on the first day, leaving shy and skittish fish for the second.
The weather ended up being a bit cold in the morning with some nifty fog which made for cool looking blast off. Eventually the sun burned off the fog and the fishing began. Fishing started off fairly well and several decent fish were caught off shallow weedbeds and shoals using senkos and swim baits. As most bass fisherman do, we slowly moved around the lake fishing weed beds. Eventually we arrived near a bed located immediately adjacent to deeper water. Once there we started connecting with much larger fish, with some in the 3lb + range. Immediately I thought of the old saying “Big water = Big fish”. We worked the deeper edge of the weedbed with a variety of tactics we managed to cull a few of our fish before deciding to move on to try a few other hot spots. The morning wrapped up and we finished with a two fish bag weighing 6lb 8oz for me and 4lb 12oz bag for Dave. The afternoon was mediocre at best with nothing bigger than a 2lber caught. We were in the running but there were lots of folks coming in close to us with one gent in the lead by 1lb.
The next day was a bit tougher since the shallows had been hit pretty hard the day before. The shallows were ice cold and we were forced to change up our methods to deeper water tactics. We did manage to fill each of our remaining two spots and our final bags ended up at 11lb 13oz for me and 9lb 9oz for dave. Great bags to be sure but not enough to take the win. We ended up coming 7 oz short behind the gent who culled up on the first day. Interestingly enough he culled up with one of the elusive smallmouth bass that inhabit the lake that weighed 4lbs 4 oz. Catching these fish is like winning the lottery; it rarely happens, and the pay off is usually big. All said and done the gent weighed in a four fish bag totaling 12lb 4oz.
(Above: The tourney winner with his 4lb 4oz bronzeback, being assisted by “Captain” Joe, the tourneys resident joker)
(Below: Dave and I even managed a double header with two decent largies)
(Above: The author with a couple of chunky hogs from the first day)
(Above: Jay holding a decent 3lb 14oz on the left)
(Above: the second half of my bag – not as impressive but solid fish weighing 2lb 14oz and 2lb 7oz)
In addition to some great bass fishing, we also tied into some very respectable pike and a ton of other species ranging from pan fish to an incidental bullhead.
(After a year of custody, I was obliged to give up the trophy to the next winner)
(The top three finishers)
Another year, another great tournament with some exceptional bass fishing. Not to mention some stellar competition with some big pushes by several anglers right at the end of the tourney. This tourney truly was a nail-biter right up to the end. Collins Lake certainly produced once again for everyone with quite a number of decent sized fish. Out of all those fish caught, I’m proud to say all except one was released to swim another day. What about the lone mortality? I understand, he promptly became dinner.
Cheers from the lake