Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Shake and Bake, Teaming up for Tournament Success

Shake and Bake 

           As I sit here in front of the monitor, I come to you in reflection of a very humbling and gratifying tournament year. Entering this past week we were on a streak of four tournament placements in a row and we looked to add on to that number. For the second time this year we had two tournaments scheduled to fish in less than 7 days. We planned to capitalize on the opportunities.

            First up was the Team Erin Benefit Tournament, hosted by Yakattack out of Farmville, Virginia. It was a tournament to help raise money for Erin Massey, a 17 year old soccer player at Armurchee High School in Rome, Georgia, who in April of 2014, was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myloid Leukemia). Erin and her family have undergone a lot of physical and mental stress throughout the past few months; this tournament was aimed directly at aiding the Massey family with their financial burdens in this trying time. I am proud to say this tournament alone raised over $2,000 to help Erin and her family and we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it all. From what I can see Erin is a fighter and she is determined to make it back onto the soccer field for her senior season. We wish her the best of luck in the recovery process and look forward to hearing more positive feedback from her moving forward! If you would like to help aid Erin and her family please visit her page www.gofundme.com/teamerin as well as her Facebook support page www.facebook.com/pages/Team-Erin/235526806648057.

Fishing wise, the tournament dealt us some brutal conditions.

            Fishing the same waters as the spring Yakattack tournament in which we both won/placed in multiple divisions, we felt pretty confident in our chances at duplicating the previous results. The tournament was the largest combined length of a Bass, a Crappie, and a Sunfish, making it more interesting that your run of the mill Largemouth tournament. We were blessed with a beautiful day for a picnic, yet, sickened with horribly high pressured conditions, making fishing quite the task. Luckily, we had found a solid Crappie hole the day before which helped us get on the board early the morning of the tourney. With the more difficult species out of the way right out of the gate we went in search of a Bass….. and searching is about all we would do. Most of the big fish shut down with post frontal, high pressure and it made for a grind out on the water. In the end, we both got our three species and made our way back to the weigh ins. I ended up edging out Grant by a few inches to take home second place, he got third, but we both got beaten by our buddy Carter Clevinger. Come to find out it was a rough day for everyone, the biggest largemouth caught was a massive 11 ½ inches, just to give you an idea of what it was like. Like always, Luther and the gang from Yakattack put on a great event with a lot of great people. We can honestly say we look forward to every single tournament they hold, never a dull moment, always a good time.

(Biggest Bass)

(Biggest Crappie)

(Biggest Sunfish)

(2nd and 3rd place Powerteam Lures prize packs)

Fast Forward a Week

            I’m blasting Biggie Smalls while sitting in I-64 traffic trying to cross the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel on my way to meet up with Grant for the 10th Annual TKAA kayak fish for Charity Tournament benefitting Heroes on the Water. With Grant aiming to defend his Redfish division title from the previous year, and myself aiming not to roll my kayak this time around, we were both looking forward to keeping our streak alive in the 5th and final tournament of the season. I would fish the freshwater division targeting Largemouth Bass as I am not a very experienced saltwater angler. Grant however, had a solid game plan for the salt up until the last remaining hours before launch. In true Virginia fashion, the wind and weather prediction for tournament day changed about a dozen times in the few days prior, that along with a few other unforeseen variables, really screwed up whatever solid chance he had at executing what he had practice in the weeks leading up. In TKAA tournament tradition we hit up Aberdeen’s Steakhouse after the captains meeting for our pre-tournament dinner. After crushing some quality Virginia shellfish and discussing battle tactics one last time, we turned in for the night, doing our best to let our minds rest for the long day ahead.

3:30 A.M. came pretty quick

We checked our rigs, loaded up the trucks, bid each other good luck and hit the road. I had about an hour’s worth of driving to account for, burning up I-64 to fish Little Creek Reservoir, the farthest north I could go within the 50 mile radius allowed. LCR is a place I have fished a decent number of times, its Largemouth are of a smaller average size than most of the lakes in the area, however, with a straight forward, clear water approach, it can be relatively easy to fish if you are patient. It has enough fishable water to allow for a big fish to be caught… you just have to be prepared because you usually only get one shot at any particular fish.

I had an eventful morning full of baitfish schools getting blown up within an arm’s length of my kayak and many fish that seemed to be chasing bait. However, I would never get a chance to really capitalize on the feeding frenzies that I was witnessing. I threw just about everything I had at these fish, and yet, all I could get them to consistently hit was a drop shot. Needless to say drop shotting is painfully difficult and slow when you know the fish are active and on the prowl. I never got that one big bite I was looking for but I did manage to pluck a 17 ¼ incher from directly underneath my kayak in about 20 foot of water with the aid of my depth finder and a well-placed Roboworm.

 I made my way back to the tournament headquarters with about 9 minutes to spare thanks to the looming and annoyingly consistent HRBT traffic congestion. Grant and I met up at the weigh ins and he had a painfully unproductive day as he feared he may due to all the changing variables. He managed a very respectable 27” Redfish, which, in any other year, would be a solid fish worthy of a podium spot. Unfortunately for him, the Bull Red run just happened to coincide with this tournament and the top three fish were 51”, 48 ½”, and 48” which is just absolutely mammoth. Fortunately for myself, my 17 ¼ inch largemouth was enough to help keep our streak alive. Although it wasn’t what I was gunning for, I pieced together a decent third place finish. The bass fishing apparently wasn’t all too great throughout the tidewater region due to the constant high pressure conditions, which led to the top three fish being relatively mediocre in the eyes of the bass fishing tournament world. First place was 19 ¾”, Second place was 17 ½”, and my fish manage Third at 17 ¼”…. Missed it by that much!

(Grant's Tournament Redfish)

(Stressing over a raffle ticket) 

(Chow Line and Trophy Kayaks)

(My trophy for Third in Largemouth Division)

            All in all it was another great tournament with friends to help raise money for the Heroes on the Water- Tidewater Chapter. HOW is an organization that helps mentally and physically paralyzed vets rehab their body and spirit through the miracle that is nature, fishing, and brotherhood with their fellow man. For more information on how you can help volunteer and contribute to your local HOW chapter please feel free to visit their site at www.heroesonthewater.org.

            Well ladies and gents that about does it for this year’s tournaments. We’ve helped raise a lot of money for many awesome causes. To date we have six straight podiums through a variety of species dating back to the 2013 TKAA tournament, all of which have been a blast and we highly recommend you sign up to join in them next year!

They Include:

·         2013 TKAA Tournament
(Grant 1st Place Redfish)

·         2014 MS Shad Shootout
(Grant 1st Place Slam and 1st Fly Division)

·         2014 Yakattack Tournament
(Grant 1st Place Slam/ Josh 2nd Sunfish, 3rd Crappie)

·         2014 Jackson Kayak, River Bassin’ Tournament Trail
(Josh 5th Place Bass)

·         2014 Team Erin Benefit Tournament hosted by Yakattack
(Josh 2nd Place Slam/ Grant 3rd Place Slam)

·         2014 TKAA Tournament
(Josh 3rd Place Largemouth Bass)

            Needless to say we’ve been consistent over the past year and that all anyone can ask for. A lot of it has to do with having a partner you can discuss things with, it helps keep oneself from overthinking things…. It also helps when that person happens to be one of your toughest competitors. Teamwork makes the dream work… Maybe one day I can win one of these damn things! HAH!
Fish Hard or Stay Home,
Josh Dolin