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Small Stream Trout fishing in Michigan

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Reeds Lake Bass Tournaments

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.

Gathered for weigh in, 9:30 PM at Reeds. Thirsty Thursday.

Fishing update 2: Fished Reeds again, this time with the Thirsty Thursday division (a name I can appreciate!). Had a lot of competition fishing the docks but managed to catch four bass, all small so a total of only 7.69 lbs. Thought they would weigh a bit more but it is what it is. It was a smaller tournament, 13 boats. The winners brought in five fish / 19.3 lbs, so they had a load of giant bass. At some point I should have fired up the Nissan 90HP and scooted to some other spots on the lake. I thought about it a few times. Must remember to listen to that voice in the back of my head.

Trout Fisherman wins Bass Tournament

Luther heads to Reeds lake

If you read the post “My short history of Bass Tournaments ” posted in October of 2011 you’ll see I have some bass tournament experience. In the late 1980’s a neighbor, Dave Hedburg, invited me to fish a few tournaments and taught me plastic worming. He eventually partnered up with a semi-pro named Dick Courser but by then I was starting to enjoy competitive fishing. So I started fishing open tournaments, alone, with a 12 foot aluminum boat, a 1950’s Minnkota trolling motor and an ice chest live well. And did OK. But that was a long time ago. I went back to my roots, trout fishing, which I’ve have been doing since age 10.  I am good at trout fishing small streams. Lake fishing is a different animal.

Mid-Week Therapy – Grand Rapids Division of West Michigan Bass held another tournament last night at Reeds Lake. I fished there a couple weeks ago and did a post (scroll down to see it). Met some great people and had a blast, but caught only one keeper which I even hated to mention because Reed’s Lake has a lot of bass, including some lunkers. Fast Forward to yesterday.

I always figure everyone has a shot at big bass. Winning the tournament is a different story. Many teams in this division bring in 5 fish bags consistently. My goal for the tournament was two keepers, hopefully one of those a big bass.

Right away, things started happening. One hour into the tournament I had 5 fish including one I guessed at 4 to 5 lbs. I have two live wells in the boat, and only one of those works but the pump is so noisy I brought a bucket to keep refreshing the water. I put the big bass in the forward live well figuring if I caught another good one it would be easier to figure out which bass to cull from the rear live well. Every ten minutes I filled the bucket and poured it into each live well – I wanted these bass healthy and weigh-in was a long ways off.

I wormed the docks and fished the flats out past Rose’s restaurant. Fishing alone is a two-sided coin. A partner can bring in some fish, but if you are alone you can move at your own speed, in my case painfully slow, with plastic worms (Culprits and Berkeley Power Worms). Normally you can feel a tap as the worm drops but that was the exception, not the rule. Most fish were caught letting the worm sit on the bottom and tightening the rod just enough to see if anything was happening. Spooky fish, is all I can figure.

So two hours to go and the search was on for bigger bass (to cull the 14/15 inchers in the rear live well). And the bites slowed down. It took an hour to get another one, but it was huge, over five pounds. I culled the smallest fish and put this in the front live well with the other nice one. Then I lost a really good bass which was a good lesson. It went straight up and jumped out of the water, shaking off the hook. From then on I held the rod tip down in the water and reeled hard to keep the fish from jumping.

Fifteen minutes to weigh-in I was fishing the docks on the park side and felt something touch the worm. I couldn’t believe it, another huge bass. I culled a smallest bass and added this one. Plenty of time to park the boat by the ramp.

I weighed in right away. I grabbed what I thought was the biggest bass and it weighed 5.490 lbs. Then I pulled the other 2 lunkers out of the weigh-in bag and laid them on the ground in order to make sure the one weighed was the largest. It was, but it was close. The total five fish bag weighed 19.220 lbs. Pinch me. I never imagined a haul like this. And I forgot my camera!

Screen capture, tournament results

So what explains the difference between the two Reeds lake tournaments? There was another tournament there on Monday and maybe, just maybe, the fish released from that tournament were still holding in the general area. Not to discount the win, it took some skill and luck, but that might explain it… My best night of bass fishing ever.

Reeds Lake Bass Tournament

It’s been decades since I fished a bass tournament so it is safe to day I’m not up on the latest lures and techniques. As a much older guy without a workout routine another concern was stamina. Don’t laugh – 3.5 hours of standing and guiding a boat with a foot pedal while fishing is not easy. A third concern was backing my bass boat down the ramp without destroying my neck. So I had a couple reservations but signed up anyway.

West Michigan Bass, a local club, has tournaments all over west Michigan. Week nights and weekends. If you are a member ($40/yr) you can fish any of the tournaments. You can also join/fish a division which has lakes in your local area. It is all well organized. Their website westmichiganbass dot com automates membership and explains the rules, and posts the results of tournaments next day. Check out their website – it is really well done.

So last night I fished a Reeds Lake tournament. Reeds lake is located in the middle of East Grand Rapids and has a nice public park. There’s no beach but residents have a nice spot to just relax and enjoy the lake. The public boat launch does not include parking so you need to launch your boat then find a spot on the street for your vehicle and trailer. I arrived early and it was not hard to find a parking spot.

I received a few comments when I launched my 1980 Nissan bass boat. (In the foreground of the top photo). I think the boat is older than most of my competitors and may have been a novelty to them. The boat still looks good and is fully functional. I did carry a bucket, though, in case the live well pump failed. It did, glad I had the bucket.

I started out fishing a cluster dock in front of Rose’s Restaurant. I caught a small fish, just under the size limit and tossed it back. Then fished a weedy flat, more docks, then returned to Rose’s. I never fired up my 90HP Nissan outboard, but should have, just to clean out the cobwebs. I caught one keeper. 2.6 lbs or so, and weighed in at the scales as proof I didn’t get skunked, and actually finished the tournament. The West Michigan Bass website this morning shows: L. Rude placing 14th out of 18 boats in the “Midweek Therapy – Grand Rapids – Evenings” division. I actually weighed in more bass than four 2-man teams so there is some small consolation in that.

I’m a bit sore this morning but feel good about getting out there and competing. WMB ran a great tournament – so a sincere thanks to the guys that organized and ran the sign-up and weigh-in. It couldn’t have been more professional. I have my eye on a Jordan Lake tournament coming up, been years, but that is another great West Michigan bass lake. May go trout fishing in the mean time, more good exercise and a trout dinner reward.

Reeds Lake Revisited

Reeds Lake, East Grand Rapids

Contrary to the above photo, Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids is bustling with activity on a Saturday morning. It’s a different sort of community. The streets are filled with morning joggers. Two girls drop off their kayaks for a morning cruise along the shore. Rosie’s Diner, to the left, has a series of docks jutting out holding all manner of ski and pontoon boats. Two ladies sit in a pontoon boat, no need to fire it up, they just sit and drink coffee and enjoy the lake. I watched a guy catch a ten inch perch standing on the boat launch dock. I made plans to meet Mike at 9:00 AM and standing there, soaking it in, wished I would have said 8:00 or maybe 7:00. The lake is calm. I came to fish.

Mike was right on time. I used the trolling motor to move us over to the drop off along  Rosie’s docks. I tossed plastic worms and Mike tossed soft plastic minnows. The water was a bit muddy and I wasn’t sure the fish would see the worms. Mike picked up a small bass and then lost another right at the boat. Jigging the flashy minnows was a pattern. Mike commented on all the baitfish he was seeing, some following his lure. That’s a good sign the lake is healthy.

 

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Mike, the philosophical fisherman

We eased out on some some shallow flats and I tossed a top water, a Rebel POP-R, and caught a small bass, appreciating the fact I finally caught something because I was beginning to wonder. I get a little to caught up in the fishing sometimes, like it’s very important to be productive. After a bit we started talking about life, movies, politics, and also a blog Mike’s been thinking about writing. Kind of an advice for intelligent living blog centered on treating others like you would like to be treated, that sort of thing, and no doubt he has some interesting things to say. He spent most of his working life as a divorce attorney and has seen the worst of behavior and what it does for people. So some sage advice from one who knows might make an interesting blog.

Suddenly the sun was like a spotlight so I put on some sunscreen and fired up the boat motor, a 90 HP Nissan, and took a short flight to the other end of the lake to cool down. I needed to burn the carbon off the spark plugs. That’s my excuse. Actually, it might be a need for speed. The sixteen foot Nissan bass boat really cranks and it’s fun to drive. Had it up to about 50MPH, which is literally flying when you hit the wakes from other boats. After picking up my tackle box which went end over end we motored slowly along the shoreline and admired the beautiful homes on the lake. Estates might be a better word. Some people do pretty darn well.

Reeds lake is a great fishery filled with bass, pike, perch, and panfish. My only complaint might be the boat launch which forces you to back up on a busy street. The park committee could have put a turnaround at the launch and saved fishermen a lot of hassle. You need to park your vehicle and trailer on the street but there’s lots of parking.

So it was a great Saturday morning with a few bass, interesting conversation, and a nice boat ride. Thanks Mike! Coming soon – more trout stories!

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