Small Stream Trout fishing in Michigan

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Reeds Lake Monday

Sign-up at the Boat Launch

I fished a bass tournament over at Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids yesterday. First time I had the boat out which is always a head scratcher because there are so many things to remember and I usually forget something. Not just what to bring, but the order of things to do before launch and loading up to go home. Let’s just say I did get home OK and the boat is fine.

The fishing was good. I weighed in 5 bass for a total of around 12 lbs. I kept hoping for a lunker bass and lost a couple fish but can’t say they were of any size. I fished the docks mainly, at Roses restaurant and the other large dock to the north. When I signed up to pay the entrance fee the tournament director asked if I was going to start my big motor. It was his way of asking if I was fishing the docks – without saying as much. He remembered me from the last time…

It was a great night to be out on the lake. Shortly after take-off a band started playing in the park. I understand they have live concerts there every other Monday. So I listened to the band and caught fish off the docks. If you can imagine, some boat owners that rent slips at Roses just sit in their boats without taking them out on the lake. Especially the pontoon boats which host small drinking parties. Partiers always ask how I am doing and offer encouragement. When I caught a fish in plain site of folks dining out on the back porch at Roses and I heard some applauding. Happy crowd, good food, good drink, poor entertainment!

The tournament was sponsored by West Michigan Bass – check out their website if you think you would like to try a tournament. Mainly what I want to say is the tournaments are run by nice people and everyone has a great time. Weigh-ins are exciting, you never can tell what will happen and someone usually weighs in a trophy bass.

I ran in to a relative that I met at a family reunion a year ago, Josh Martin, who had a funny story about getting approached by some folks from Tibet that wanted a boat ride. They had never ridden in a boat before. He has a small boat so he encouraged them to ask someone with a big boat but they were adamant, they wanted a ride in his boat. So he took them for a ride out on the lake and they loved it, hooting and hollering the whole time. This happened just before I arrived. They gave him ten bucks which he didn’t want to take. Josh and his fishing partner finished outside of the winnings, like me, but Josh ended up with a great story.

Fishing update: Fished Reeds Lake again (7-17-19), this time with the Mid-Week Therapy Grand Rapids group. Finished 7th with 5 bass, 13.26 lbs. My big bass 4.46 which was 3rd largest for the night. So finished out of the money. Still, a fun, hot night.  I installed a new pump on my front live well but it didn’t work. Also, my front fish finder didn’t power up so I suspect the two are jinxed by a related wire problem. That may help track the problem.  I missed that fish finder – not to spot fish but to find the drop-offs.

My Short History of Bass Tournaments

Reeds Lake 1951, Jake Lucas (Not just a trout fisherman!)

My neighbor knew I was a trout fisherman and asked if I’d be interested in fishing some bass tournaments. This was back in the 1980s. I jumped at the chance. He had a nice bass boat, something completely foreign to me, and I knew he did some local tournaments regularly. He was a master with plastic worms and taught me the basics. As a team, we didn’t do that well the summer we fished together and I blame myself -I should have been experimenting more. (He got me started on plastic worms and there was no turning back.) He eventually dumped me for a guy that should have gone pro. That was a brief letdown but it didn’t take me long to get back into tournaments.  Generally it is a team fishing sport – two guys in a bass boat. There was no rule requiring two guys in a boat – anyone that paid the entry could fish alone if it came to that, and being a bit of a loner anyway, I decided to try it. I had a twelve foot aluminum boat, a trolling motor, and a Subaru station wagon to put it on. I rigged up a cooler as a live well and started entering tournaments – against guys like my old neighbor and his talented semi-pro friend.

The start of a tournament is pretty macho. I would pull my aluminum v-bottom out into the mix of overpowered bass boats revving their engines and smell the gas fumes and try to hang on as their wakes rocked my boat. As soon as the water settled I’d point my boat to the nearest shore and start tossing whatever made sense. I kept up on the latest BASS news so my arsenal was current if not overwhelming. Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids was my main tournament. Wednesday nights. The tournament was three hours ending at 9:00PM. Next to the boat launch is an elaborate expanse of docks jutting out behind Rose’s Restaurant, and that was always my first stop. Other anglers hit these docks too, but I had a nice advantage – I could maneuver my little boat inside the jutting structures and fish very quietly, backing the little boat around. I took my time and that can be a good thing.

The tournaments usually paid three places, but sometimes five places if there were a lot of boats. Winning was based on total weight brought in. They had a giant analog scale and basket to load the catches so you could watch the dial swing around and jitter on the weight. Weigh-ins drew a crowd, not just the anglers.

I placed just often enough to break even over my tournament lifetime which was pretty good. It was always a thrill to go home with fifty or a hundred bucks and slap it down on the counter to my wife’s surprise and glee.  The other cool thing was getting respect from those teams of fishermen who shook their head at the guy in an aluminum boat. It really wasn’t about the money. It was somewhat about the competition. But mainly I just like to go fishing.

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