Now that I am back from my trip to Lake Havasu for the FLW Rayovac event I have had some time to reflect. This was my first big event fishing as a "professional" and I had a great time and learned quite a bit. We were able to drive down there fairly quickly and in time to get four days of practice before the event. Considering how my practice went, an 88th place finish out of 152 boats was about what I expected.
Throughout practice I was consistently getting big smallmouth and largemouth to chase my A-Rig, crankbait or swimbait. Each time I had a follower I would save the waypoint and be gone. In that crystal clear water you could really see how big they were and how many were following the bait. I was focusing on long rocky points as well as the thousands of artificial cages in the water. I probably should have spent more time seeing if those following fish would actually bite a drop-shot or if they were just curious of the moving baits. As tough as it was, I didn't want to hook too many so I decided against it.
|Artificial fish habitat|
We also spent half of a day up the river by launching around 30 miles from the ramp and fished towards the lake about 15 or so miles. The water looked great but I didn't get a bite the whole time and I wrote that off. Looking back, I should have spent more time in the river closer to the main lake.
|Topock, Colorado River|
On the last day of practice we were fishing by the main marina and my pratice partner had a giant smallmouth follow his swimbait to the boat and then I had two bites on the dropshot in no time. That had me feeling great and I had a potential starting spot to catch a quick fish or two.
I was boat number 143 out of 152 so I had no hope of beating anyone to my spots so I started right next to the ramp. 10 other boats had the same idea, but I stuck it out. After most had left I caught a 3lb 4oz smallmouth on a drop-shot with a 4" Folkestad Special Roboworm. I battled the wind in that open area for another hour or so without a bite. Then I ran every single one of my waypoints from there until the south end of the lake without a single bite. I scrambled and decided to run all the way back to the area by the launch to beat the crowd of anglers fishing there the last part of the day. I spent close to three hours there, lost one and caught a 12.75" fish that was below the 13" minimum. I ended the day with that single smallmouth and was in 114th place...ouch!
After the first day I really had nothing to lose. Even if I zeroed I wouldn't fall too much and catching one more fish on the main lake would have done nothing. My Day 2 Co-Angler zeroed on the first day so I had no worry of feeling guilty for messing someone else up. I decided to run up the river without practice to some areas I remembered from about ten years ago. About five minutes after my first stop I had a fish in the boat on a Norman Middle N crankbait. I knew right away I messed up by not coming there the first day. About 15 minutes later and I had another one in a backwater off of the main river, further confirming my bad decision for the first day. I spent the rest of the day looking for similar areas and with the low water I was out of luck getting into some of my old favorite areas, I even got stuck on a sandbar trying to leave one area and the fast current just made it worse. Luckily, a mutual friend from the Northwest was right there and quickly pulled me off and saved the day.
With about an hour to go I found a series of very small cuts that were very shallow, but I fished them anyways. All the other boats were fishing the deeper openings to the main river and focusing on current and these shallow backwaters were ignored. I saw a log right next to the boat and grabbed my black jig, pitched it in right next to the trolling motor and set the hook. I boat flipped my biggest fish of the day in one motion on the first pitch with the jig. I went to the next cut and caught another but ultimately just ran out of time. I wish I would have figured that out sooner because I really believe I could have done some damage and maybe even moved up into check range. I ended the day with four fish for just under 10lbs.
Looking back I have to be ok with my first pro event. It wasn't the best finish but I was happy to catch a few more fish the last day. I'm really looking forward to my next chance to fish against these guys and I'll be sure to check out all of my options during practice.