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Small Stream Trout fishing in Michigan

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Reeds Lake, August Night

I fished another Reeds Lake bass tournament with Mid-Week Therapy GR group. It was a cool evening with wind blowing out of the east which made it tricky keeping the boat in place with the trolling motor. I caught the first bass with my the second cast at Rose’s Restaurant docks. So I knew I had to work the docks for a while even though I told myself to explore the lake. (Last tournament I couldn’t start the outboard because of a bad battery. This week I was ready.) Still, the docks have fish. There’s a nice drop-off in site of the docks near a small stream inlet but every time I looked over there there was a boat parked on it. So I didn’t fire up the outboard. I did OK though, four bass for 10.94 lbs. Another bass, large, may have helped but probably not enough – there are some seriously good fishermen in this group. Figure five fish / 18 lbs to finish in the money.

The moon was up for the 9:15 finish and weigh-in. I pulled in a couple minutes early so I could get a spot right next to the dock. Fishing alone has it’s challenges including loading the boat. Most teams have one guy back the trailer in while the other guy motors on which is quick and easy. I back the trailer in then need to wrangle the boat around the dock and onto the trailer. I hate to slow things down but if I can park right on the outside of the dock it works pretty smooth. My one complaint is the city turns off the flood light at the boat launch as soon as it is dark. We need that light to load up! It helps to see the docks when backing up. Maybe I can write to the city park commission about that. If they left it on till 10:00 it would be a great help to fishermen (and pleasure boaters). That said, it was a great night for fishing. What a fishery.

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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