This past weekend I fished a PA TBF district tournament @ Shenago Reservoir. My dad and I practice most of the day on Friday and we only managed 7 bites between the 2 of us and only 3 keepers. If that wasn’t bad enough there was no consistency on how we got any of the bites. The structure was different for each fish, the lures were different, the colors of lures were different and the end of the lake was never the same. Over time I have learned that I tough practice doesn’t always mean a tough tournament, or a bad finish.
Coming into the event I was leading the points race because I won the first district event, so I really wanted to do well again. Not that you ever want to accept doing poorly. After the bad practice I had one spot that I though I could run to and at least get one keeper so that is where I decided to start. My rider and I pulled up to the spot and started working the bottom. There was a slight about of baitfish activity and my rider switch to a top water lure. His popper was quickly eaten by a short largemouth. About 2 casts later he hooked up with a keeper that came off half way back to the boat. My fish had came from working bottom bouncing lures through practice, but I quickly changed to a top water sexy dawg. My 2nd cast I hooked up with the first and only keeper we would land. A few casts later I lost a keeper that was bigger than my first.
On a lake like Shenago a lost fish as a boater or rider can just ruin your day. The next spot we hit we each lost another keeper on topwater. I knew at that point winning the tournament or even contending would be difficult. We fished hard all day and never caught or hook up with another keeper.
Coming into the launch I didn’t believe that I would even be in the top 10 as a boater with 1 keeper. I had told my rider not to worry about his 2 lost keepers because it probably wouldn’t have cost him money. The truth to the matter is that both of us if we had landed those fish would have won. The winning boater weight was 6.16lb and the winning rider weight was 3.16lbs. The 3.16lbs was caught by my dad which he won lunker and the tournament as a rider with the 3.16lb largemouth. My single fish of 2.27lbs enabled me to finish in the top 6.
The lesson from this tournament that I learned was to never assume that you don’t have a chance in any tournament no matter what body of water you are on. The winning weight with 4 fish on Shenago should have taken 12lbs, but it only took half of that. As a rider only 1 fish was needed. Never release a fish in a tournament as you just don’t know.