I headed out Thursday morning after working all night and got to the lake around 1 pm. I had a day planned with the Anthony’s that Friday on Kissimmee and needed the last couple hours of Thursday to make sure there was enough water in the river to be able to fish where I wanted to for the tournament. Needless to say I was exhausted and only stayed on the water for about two hours before heading to Camp Mack to get some sleep.
The next morning was a big day for me. Rick wasn’t able to make it because of work and it was up to me to not make a fool of myself while fishing with Richie and Kara. I had never caught a fish on the lake before that day but was pretty confident the Richie would be able to help me out with that. We took my boat out but I never saw the driver’s seat as I was chauffeured around and given a guided tour of everything you need to know about the lake. Well we only stayed out until about 1:30 so maybe not everything, but I definitely know a lot more than I did at the beginning of the day. The fish were biting and the weather was perfect. I had a great time and was able to finally catch a couple nice fish along with a bunch of little ones. Thanks for the help and a great day on the water Richie and Kara!
Naturally, the weather wasn’t going to cooperate on tournament day. I figured I would stick to my original plan and go south to the river where I could stay out of the 20 mph winds that they were calling for.
Everyone was sick at Rick’s house and I found out that night he wasn’t going to make it for the tournament. I was a little nervous about fishing against everyone and making a 20 mile run by myself, but it was exciting too. I followed everyone out as boat 51 and was making great time until I hit the fog. Running 30 – 35 mph I made a big mistake. I had no idea it was so shallow in front of Grape Hammock and I ran up onto the sand and my motor shut off and I was stuck. No more worries about catching fish, now it was just how am I gonna get out of this situation. Sitting there I watched 6 or 7 boats drive by in the channel so I knew how far I had to go to get out. After my miniature panic attack settled down I was able to start the motor and push myself out of the mud far enough to float and trolled out to the channel where I shook it off and made my way down to the lock.
The lock was another story. I was the 5th boat of either the 2nd or 3rd group through. A lot of teams decided to try the river. I struggled and probably looked silly holding on to the ropes and trying to keep the boat straight. But then it was time to fish. My spot looked great but I noticed there wasn’t any current and was nervous that it wouldn’t fish as well as usual. After one long pass through my favorite half mile of shoreline I had one small keeper, a dink that wasn’t big enough, and I had missed another small one. By this point I should have had a limit for around 10 lbs if my spot was fishing right. I was a little frazzled, I had the previous day’s catches running through my head, and I bailed. I literally ran back north, through the lock, and all the way to the north side of the lake. The wind was completely different from the day before but I was able to to catch one nice bass on a crankbait before I gave up and decided to spent the rest of the day flipping.
It was 11:15, I had 2 fish in the livewell, and had been flipping for about 45 minutes. Nothing felt right. I didn’t have any confidence and the wind was making it difficult to fish exactly like I wanted to. I made another decision, this time though I think it was a good one. I had a good 4 hours before I had to weigh in, and maybe an hour of running time if I left now. I pulled the trolling motor and headed back south through the lock.
By 11:45 I was back in my comfort zone with my confidence bait in hand. It wasn’t long before a big fish came off a tree and smashed my toad. I flipped a 5 pouna in the boat and just like that, my day turned around. I knew I was going to catch a limit and it might even be decent with that big fish. Rick called me right after and told me to put my head down and fish and it wouldn’t take long. I caught my fourth fish on the first cast after we hung up. I ended up catching another nice fish around 3 lbs to fill out my limit before it was time to head back.
I was watching Richie as he brought his bag out from the livewell and as he stepped to the front deck the bag split and 3 lbers went flopping all over the place. Everyone close showed great sportsmanship and did a great job of grabbing the fish before they got to the water but the fish definitely put on a good show. He ended up finishing 11th with 15.47 and turns out I could have used him to loose one of those fish sense I came in 22nd with 12.35.
The Crandon’s had a rough day and only managed to win by a little with 20.73 lbs. The Young’s came in 2nd with 20.25lbs. I talked to Jared afterwards about missing 2 tournaments this year. He said they plan on making all the rest and that it has enabled them to go all out in each tournament they have fished and not have to worry about points. I’d say its working considering they have 2 top 3 finishes in the 3 tournaments they’ve fished so far. As we were taking off in the morning I saw the Mekdeci’s working on their motor. My thoughts went to thinking about how bad that sucked for them and how that’s not the way you wanna make up points. But they some how still caught 20 lbs! That’s crazy and just goes to show how good they are even when having to overcome that type of adversity. They had 2 dead fish and ended up 3rd. Jeremy Knepper and Jane Freeman brought in the big bass that went 7.86.
1st Jeff Crandon & Jared Crandon 20.73
2nd Bruce Young & Jared Young 20.25
3rd Steve Mekdeci & Ryan Mekdeci 20.46 2 dead – (19.96)
4th Roy Raulerson & Ryan Cooper 19.22
5th William Mickler Jr & Thomas Williams 18.58
6th Billy Alstrom & Clyde Alstrom 17.82
7th Greg Allen & Lee Allen 16.73
8th Joe Hobson & Gary Ford 16.60
9th John Cincotta & Perry Cincotta 15.97
10th Chris Neatherly & Steve Gallette 15.92
Full Tournament Results at link below
Rick and I started doing a fantasy fishing type situation with this tournament. We picked teams from the team of the year standings. Groups A 1-8, B 9-16, C 17-24, D 25-32, and Group E is everyone from 33 back. It was fun so let me know if you are interested in playing just for fun for the rest of the year and maybe we can do a small $5 or $10 entry starting next year. (This is for Bay Area Members Only)
Rick’s Picks Chris’ Picks
Group A Crandon/Crandon- 75 Crandon/Crandon- 75
Group B Walters/Walters- 54 Hobson/Ford- 68
Group C Boyette/Roberson- 64 Boyette/Roberson- 64
Group D Gonzalez/Terkoski- 52 Gonzalez/Terkoski- 52
Group E Herbert/Herbert- 23 Baker/Carter- 58
Total 268 317