To say this years spring weather has been a bit wacky is an understatement. The spring here in the midwest like most of the country was extremely cold and wet. Here locally the wet weather has caused a myriad of issues with record high lake levels on Lake Erie and some of the surrounding lakes. This Spring has been humbling at times and also a great learning experience!
My First day out
With the wild spring weather my season got off to a late start.I usually start hitting lake Erie the mid to late April to target those big smallmouth. With the incessant rain, wind and cold i wasn’t able to hit the big lake until a day before my first tournament on it and Presque Isle bay. Unlike my usual open lake spots Presque is relatively sheltered from lake churning waves and outflow of swollen rivers that causes so much of the rest of the lake to be pure mud. Being much swallower it also allows for the water to warm much quicker. These factors had my hopes high that my first trip would be a good one. The chance for showers were there but with milder sixty degree temps I wasn’t worried about them. I arrived at the launch in a heavy downpour which quickly moved off but a heavy overcast sky remained. I launched at a spot I was unfamiliar with figuring I would mess around for a little while before stopping by the spot I had the utmost confidence in from years past. After quickly working my way through the area for about a half hour with jerkbait yielded no results. I decided to pack it up and head to “the spot”. When I launched at my next spot I noticed those heavy clouds had started to drop right on top of me, causing a dense fog to cover the bay. Attaching my safety flag to the BigRigFD I set out with the supreme confidence that those big mama’s were just waiting for me. Then as often happens optimism meets reality. I fan casted my favorite rock pile with a deep diving jerkbait, then a crankbait and finally a ned rig. I ran down weed lines,drop offs and deeper water,nothing,nada, zilch. I ran back to the rock pile and finally bam! A good fish slams my jerkbait. I scoop her up in the net and low and behold its the wrong color! A nice healthy largemouth,on any other lake I’d be happy to have her. But you don’t come to Presque in May to catch largemouth. I begin second guessing myself, “Maybe they’re out deep, maybe they’re in closer, maybe I don’t have a clue what i’m doing!” I began running out deep zig zagging back and forth with nothing to show for it. At this point I’m feeling pretty defeated I’ve been out here for hours with nothing to show for it.I start to head back to my take out. As i get closer i notice an area where the water drops very sharply from 12 to 18 feet. I make a couple casts with a jerkbait and came up empty. Throw the Ned rig out there and bam, i bring a 16 inch smallie to the boat. Next cast bam another 16 inch smallie comes to the boat. At that point I was ecstatic just to find anything! I dropped a waypoint on my Raymarine and headed for the take out thinking a limit of 16 inchers tomorrow is better than nothing.
Arriving at the launch I had the lowest of expectations, things certainly had not gone as planned and I was preparing myself for an all day grind to get my limit. To make matters worse the lake was still covered in a dense fog which seems to get worse by the minute and a strong wind was blowing up the bay. 6 AM came and I shoved off and headed for my waypoint. From my first cast to my last it was probably my best smallmouth fishing day for numbers. I quickly found out that the ned rig needed to be dragged extremely slowly on the bottom on the edge of the drop off. Using my flexdrive i was able to battle the wind and move up and down the contour edge which seemed to zig zag along. The most productive areas were where the contour cut in sharply toward the shore. These were automatic and as soon as I put a bait in them it was fish on! Every so often I would notice on my graph that the fish would start suspending. Throwing a jerkbait yielded a fish on every cast until they returned to the bottom. The action was nonstop the entire day with fish between 16-19 inches. Checking the leaderboard at 9 AM i saw that i was in 1st place but with a 100 angler field and the giants that live in Erie I knew I would need a big kicker to hold it. As the day went on rain came and went but the wind and fog remained constant. I fished my little 200 yard stretch all by myself catching fish after fish but was unable to find that kicker. I slowly watched as I dropped down the leader board as monster after monster was turned in. My fall stopped with a nice 19 inch smallie that brought me into a tie for 3rd place. I lost out on the tie breaker because of my fish submission being later and was able to hold on to 4th place for the day with 92.50 inches. The whole day was an incredible whirlwind.From the wild weather to the wild fish it was one I won’t soon forget!
This spring taught me a lot about keeping an open mind. That for one reason or another the fish while close were not in their usual areas. I started expanding my search areas. When in the past if I wasn’t getting them in my usual areas I’d chalk it up to just weather or “lock jaw”. The results Surprised me from catching smallies in super dirty water to catching them a lot deeper and of the flip side a lot shallower than usual. Keeping an open mind and putting in more leg work has definitely paid huge dividends and made every catch that much more rewarding! As this wacky weather seems to continue into summer I look forward to what these crazy fish will teach me next!