Istokpoga stood out as an uncertainty for Rick and I basically from the moment we saw the 2017 schedule. Of course Bay Area usually fishes it twice a year so we knew we would have to put some time in to be able to compete for team of the year. After fishing my second tournament there and being able to put a couple days in practicing I’ve came to a conclusion. I hate that lake. It gives me the feeling of fishing in a flooded pasture that is drying up and going to be gone in a couple of weeks. Of course the weather was fine everyday except the 2 days we were there. Friday the temp dropped into the low 50s and tournament day it got to 48, barely a cloud in the sky, just perfect bass fishing weather…That being said, there are a ton of big bass in there.
We caught around 11 or 12 pounds Friday during practice. I had a 5 pounder come off on a frog, which I like to pretend was on purpose, and I finally caught a fish on a jig. Literally the first fish I’d ever caught on a jig. It came flipping the lilly pads around one of the islands and would have been a 10 pounder had it gotten off. I flipped the 1 oz jig about 10 feet back in the pads and watched as the line took off about 30 mph pulling pads down and freaking me out. It was a nice 4 pounder but I can see why Tom Craighead told me they are just more ferocious at Istokpoga. This fish went crazy when he decided to bite. The sad part was we spent around 3 or 4 hours flipping and that was our only bite. We weren’t near confident enough to fish that way during the tournament and conceded to work on our flipping skills at another time.
On tournament day we were mainly throwing swim jigs through the pads. The weather of course had the bite a little slower. Rick caught 2 quick and the second one was just over 4 lbs. I saw a patch of pads shake and brought my swim jig through them where my hook was promptly bent out by what seemed like a nice fish but was more likely due to an error I made by having a medium hook on the jig. Naturally I went out and bought a stock pile of heavy hooked swim jigs after the tournament. Then everything slowed down. It got really hard to get a bite and we didn’t catch another one until around 11. Then Rick had a good hit at the end of a long cast. The fish swam hard towards us and it was all he could do to catch up with it. When he finally did he was able to get the fish’s head up out of the water and was pulling it across the top. We could tell it was a good fish. The fish was to big to skip over the top and when he dug his head back into the water and turned to run off the hook pulled out. Heart broken, we tried to keep fishing. The fish was at least 5 lbs and more like 6. That was a tough one to shake off.
We had 3 fish in the boat and couldn’t get a bite to save our lives at around 1. It was the closest I’ve came to feeling like we weren’t going to catch a limit in a tournament. We felt like what we were doing wasn’t working so we just went fishing. We both switched to a senko and and went pitching and flippin in the pads where we were able to get some bites in practice. Once we switched to the senkos it wasn’t long that we caught a couple of fish. They were tiny, but filling out our limit was huge. At the end of the day we came in 18th place with 9.40 lbs. We survived, but we need to do well the rest of the year in order to stay in the top 10 for points. It looks like the top 5 teams might be pulling away a little too much for us to catch up, but that’s still the plan.
1st Steve Mekdeci & Ryan Mekdeci 22.47
Big Fish 7.56
2nd Jeff Crandon & Jared Crandon 19.24
3rd Bruce Young & Jared Young 19.02
4th Joe Hobson & Gary Ford 18.37
5th Brian Renshaw & Bobby Squires 17.75
6th John Cincotta & Perry Cincotta 15.59
7th Richard Anthony & Kara Anthony 14.68
8th Kevin Hebert & Ron Hebert Jr 14.36
9th Roy Raulerson & Ryan Cooper 13.06
10th Mark Kummelman & Kyle Stokes 12.90