The Balsam Lake tournament did not go as well as I hoped, but to be honest, it went better than I expected. I always seem to struggle at Balsam when the weather is unstable, and the massive cold front that blew through Friday night had me worried. Fortunately, our first fish clued us into a pattern that worked throughout the day.
When we prefished a week earlier, the weather had been stable and we found water temps in the upper 50's in the bays and lots of fish cruising typical spring shallows. We figured the fish would stay shallow and the spawn would start soon, so we decided to mark the areas that held the best fish and figure out how to catch them. After trying several different lures and catching some fish, we determined a weightless Texas rigged Mister Twister Comida in watermelon candy with the tip dyed chartreuse was the most productive presentation.
We hit the water again on Friday, the day before the tournament. After verifying the fish were still in the same areas and the same lure would work, we decided to check out a couple of my deep spots, both held fish but the quality was not there. So our game plan was set, we just had to decide where to start.
Tournament day arrived and we were greeted with 38 degree air temps, 15 - 20 mph NW winds gusting to close to 30 mph, and water temps that had fallen to 50 degrees. We decided to start in a small protected bay that had docks & weeds and held some good fish, but being boat #26 we weren't sure how many other boats would be there. Our number was called and after a blustery ride we were pleasantly surprised to find only one other boat in the bay, and they we anchored, which left us plenty of room to move around.
The first thing we noticed was no fish cruising like the previous day, so we knew we had to really slow down. I was skipping the Comida under docks & lifts with my Kistler 6'9" Helium 2, while my brother Scott was fishing the surrounding areas. On the third dock I stuck our first fish - a 15.5 incher, which told me the fish were still there. We continued around the bay and after a few more docks I caught a 17.5 under a boat lift. We now had a pattern - protected bays with docks & weeds. Next we ran to another protected bay and after fishing quite a few docks I finally hooked up with our 3rd fish - a 16 incher. We were now pretty confident we would have a limit since there was plenty of time left. We continued fishing the bay without any more bites and then ran to the next protected area. Again, after fishing a few more docks I caught our 4th fish, just a little over 14 inches but a keeper. By now we only had a couple hours left and had run out of protected spots, so we ran back to our starting spot and fished the docks over again without any bites. We then ran back to our second spot and again no fish. Now with only about 45 minutes left, we decided to end the day in the bay by the park and refish those docks. With only a few minutes left before check in, on the last dock in the row, I felt a bite and my line tighten up, I set the hook only to be broken off by what I am sure would have been keeper number 5.
We never did catch our 5th fish and ended up with 4 fish for 8.82 pounds, good for 10th place, but only missing the money by 3/4 of a pound.
Art Simms Bass Fishing
- Art Simms
- I started bass fishing after watching all of the fishing shows on tv. A few years later I thought I was pretty good, until I entered a few tournaments. I quickly realized that I wasn't as good as I thought and was only donating my money. In 1997 I joined the Viking Bassmasters of the Minnesota Bass Federation to hone my skills with some guys more experienced than me. Since that time I have learned a lot and had some major success. I have been Viking Bassmasters Club Champion three times and won sixteen club tournaments. I was the Fishers of Men Minnesota East division champion in 2006, along with a few money tournament wins and numerous top tens.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
The reels are cleaned and spooled up with fresh line, the new LMS520c is mounted on the bow, the trailer bearings are repacked and the motor is tuned up. Finally, I am ready to go fishing! I'm planning on going to Balsam lake Friday with my brother Scott to do a little scouting for the Full Throttle Outdoors tournament next Saturday. I'm not sure what to expect, but from what I have heard the fishing has been tough. I'm guessing the bass will be pre-spawn so I'll spend some time looking around, checking water temps and looking for new weed growth, and hopefully catch a few fish in the process.