First let me say that the Hobie PA14 with the 360 Mirage Drive handled the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania much better than its owner. Dodging in and out of exposed boulders, drifting over those just below the surface…then allowing me to flutter pedal in any direction to maintain motion in the swift waters; an incredible kayak, simply incredible. Some said it was not the right boat for such a shallow and skinny river, but the only issues I had were with me…get to that in a minute.
Second, AJ Mcwhorter and Hobie always (always!!) hold excellent events on some of the best waters across our country. If you have not fished a Hobie Bass Open event you are missing out. They just get it right.
Now to the Hobie BOS tournament – or a lesson in how not to listen to the fish.
I drove 11.5 hours to the venue, went to my hotel, then napped for an hour (more about being old soon). Got up, drove to a location just down from the statue of liberty (yes, Harrisburg PA has one in the middle of the river); mostly because I wanted a pic of it – which I didn’t get because I am too fat, old (told you soon) and lazy to pull a kayak over boulders. While the kayak will outperform about all kayaks…it does need water to float; and the closer I got to the prize, it just ran out of water. At three inches, I called it.
I launched running the area just trying to get a feel for it all. I was tossing a 4 inch senko and catching a lot of small fish before pedaling around looking for depth. There were a couple of 5 ft holes, and I tossed a swim bait beside a rock and pulled it thorough the boils landing a 14.75 smallie and thought I had something. I assumed where the smaller fish were swarming there would be some parents early the next day, so, I decided where I would pre-fish day two.
Day two – I launched with a Whopper Plopper, 5 inch Senko and a Zara Spook Jr. tied on. I love fishing top water and was hopeful that it would work; the Senko is always my back up.
They were hitting the bone colored Plopper, but it felt they were just grabbing it on the back hooks (clue one).
I pulled the Spook out and they were crushing it in less than 6 inches of water. I would see a swirl, then twitch it one more time and they would blast it. So, they wanted the baby bass color Spook early. (clue two)
After the sun came up, I was chunking the 5 inch Senko against the front of rocks and catching enough to round out an 83.25 inch limit. (clue three)
Three very distinct baits, fished in certain ways. With different results. I had it!
Day one of the tournament….I started with the Plopper. (not the best choice based on 24 hours prior) and they kept missing it. I pulled out the Senko, rigged it weightless like a fluke and tossed it….nothing. I pulled out a white popper and my favorite a Rapala Skitterpop. Then I switched back to the Plopper and missed two more before tying on the exact same baby bass Spook that had caught them the day before.
But. it was too late.
I had ignored everything the fish and the river had told me. EVERYTHING. Before the day was over, I am ashamed to say that I threw a Ned Rig just trying to catch anything. I finally went back to a 4 inch Senko (even though 5 inch is what worked) and caught a 14 inch fish. Just like that…my tournament was over.
I started to abandon day two and leave for La Crosse early, but decided to fish the morning bite.
I pulled out the Zara Spook Jr and punched out a 78.25 inch limit (in the same area!!!!) before the sun came up good.
I passed Russell Johnson who said he had been tossing a Plopper and they were just missing it – I told him my story from day one, and how I had done what the fish told me on day two with success…still, too late for us both.
….I was off the water before 10…with my head hung low. I didn’t want to find more fish and be completely sick about the experience. I was beaten enough.
98th on day one….72nd at the end of my day two.
The fish and the water will usually let you know what to do if you only pay attention. When the river and the fish give you patterns, follow them. If only I had listened.
When the river and the fish give you patterns, follow them. When the river and the fish give you patterns, follow them. When the river and the fish give you patterns, follow them. 500 more times…maybe I will listen.