This year has been one of the most up & down year that I've ever encountered. Coming off a disastrous weekend on Sturgeon & Scugog Lakes and getting ready to head to Pigeon for the 3rd joint CBAF qualifier of the year, I'd been lying if I said that I was brimming with confidence. Although I didn't get a chance to pre-fish and the fact that all the dock talk out there indicated that the bite was equally as tough on Pigeon Lake as the rest of the Kawarthas.
My game plan was to keep it simple, stick to Pigeon and not waste time in the 10 k zone going into Buckhorn. I also had a look at my draw and realized that my co-angler, Tom Carr from the Orillia club was a relative newcomer to the tournament side of fishing. The type of fishing (fishing shallow for hopefully 5 quality bites) that I was planning was not going to be easy on him. I started the tournament on a set of docks that has produced some quality fish over the years for myself & my partners. After working over most of it with a Lightning Series Flippin' Jig and only having 2 small keepers to show for it, thoughts of abandoning this plan attack and trying for some Smallies crossed my mind.
It's amazing how things can change in an instant, as I reached the end of the docks I noticed a small slop mat and pitched my lure into it. Almost immediately I saw my line jump and set the hook, I screamed "BIG FISH!" as Tom scrambled for the net. He did a great job getting it there just as the fish reached the boat, a 4.8 lbs. kicker. A fish like this can change whatever doubts that one might have. I said to Tom, I have a couple of other sets of docks that we could fish. Having a tournament on a weekday is great as boat traffic is drastically reduced and there is generally very little flack from cottagers!
After working the other 2 sets of docks thoroughly and only having 3 undersized fish to show for it, I decided that it was the slop & not necessarily the docks that was the key. I headed further into Pigeon to fish some cane & pads that usually had some slop in it. We fished some beautiful looking water and I managed to catch only 1 small keeper. I still believed that shallow heavy cover was still my best bet for a contending bag. We spent the next hour or so fishing heavy slop, undercuts, pencil reeds and cane with nothing to show for it. One great fish and 3 small keepers was not going to cut it!
It was decision time and I decided to stick with what I was doing, believing that if I could fish enough heavy cover that I would catch a couple more good fish. I had switched over to a Texas rigged Mizmo Quiver Stick pegged with an 3/4 oz. Ultra Tungsten weight in order to slide through the cover better! Finally I punched my rig through a nice looking slop mat, shook and lifted my bait. On the second lift, I couldn't feel my bait and instantly set hook. As soon as I set hook I knew that it was a big fish and scream for the net. Again Tom got there just as I got the fish to the side of my Charger and slipped it securely underneath the fish. This was the ultimate limit fish, a 5.29 lbs. beauty to complete our limit.
We grounded it out for the rest of the day, I managed to catch a 3 1/2 lber. and a 2 3/4'er and a couple of others fish that we couldn't use. Anyway it was a slow day, I managed 9 keeper bites and Tom caught 1 1 1/4 Largemouth but we weighed in 18.05 lbs to finish 2nd overall. Ryan Susanna & Majer Le brought in a great bag weighing in at 18.78 lbs. a super weight for a tough day! We also ended up second for big fish as Russell Watkins & Mark McKeown brought in a massive 6.04 lbs. Smallie as part of their 16.18 lbs. limit which placed them 3rd overall!
The game plan almost worked out but in the end we managed some valuable qualifying points towards making the TBF-CBAF team that will compete at the Eastern Divisionals in 2013.