Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Frustrating Day at the Hardcore Invitational Tournament - October 9th, 2010

After a LONG week of midterms, assignments, and other complications I left Durham late Friday night, headed for Mt. Holly, NC. Saturday was the 2nd Annual Hardcore Kayak Fishing Invitational 2010 - 'Back in Black' edition. The Inaugural Hardcore Invitational was my first ever tournament in October of 2009. However, it was based on a 5 fish limit (I ended up 7th). This years event was a big bass tournament, so each angler submits their biggest fish and crosses their fingers.

Back by popular demand is the format I used during my last post, so here goes:

Friday - October 8th:

9:05 PM - Leave Durham and head toward Mt. Holly/Charlotte. Pause in the parking lot and think more than twice about spending the night in Durham and leaving at 3:30 AM. Decide, although torn, to hit the road.

9:08 PM - Realize I forgot the directions. U-turn!

9:15 PM - Debate again, but leave Durham a second time.

9:30 - 11 PM - A little open road music and good conversation. Thoughts of giant fish drift through my mind.

11:20 PM - Stop at McDonalds for a strawberry shake!

11:45 PM - Get to Stu's in Mt. Holly....exhausted.

Saturday - October 9th:

12:15 AM - Time to crash - in the car. Get a little good luck before I drift to sleep.

4:45 AM - Hear Gary and Don talking outside. Time to get up....uuuggghhh!

5:30 AM - Show up at the launch on Upper Lake Wylie, just below Mountain Island Dam. Ridiculously enough, we aren't the first ones there.

5:35 AM - Start prepping my gear. For those of you less familiar, the back of my car smells of garlic and other scented baits, old sneakers, sweat, fish, and is covered in gear, soft plastics, and rogue hooks.

6 AM - People are really starting to role in. The smack talking begins.

Trip Rogers playing the national anthem

7 AM - Launch time. Trip Rogers tears up the national anthem on his guitar and we paddle away.

A bunch of us at the launch

7:10 AM - I stop at my first spot, a pipe and two pillars that drop from 2 to 8 feet of water. First cast, first fish - a 12.75" spotted bass caught on a watermelon colored 9" Zoom worm. Second cast, second fish - a 12" spot that hit the same bait. At this point, I knew the bite was going to be hot and heavy.

My first fish of the day - 12.75" spotted bass

7:30 AM - Paddle across the river to another spot, but find another guy there. Fish behind him and land 2 12.5" spots on a Lucky Craft SKT MR.

8 AM - Move to another area with docks. Land a 12" bass on a point using the Zoom worm then fish the docks for 15 minutes with no success.

8:15 AM - Find a pattern on a small ledge that dropped from 2 feet of water into 4-6 feet. Catch 5 bass in 20-30 minutes on plastic worms.

8:30 AM - Continue with this pattern and land a 13" largemouth that gave me a very slight upgrade. Lose a 15+" largemouth within feet of the boat....uuggghhh.

My slight upgrade of a LMB - 13"

9 AM - Catch 3 more spots on a crank and pass over numerous spotted bass I could see cruising that weren't going to help me upgrade. Did I mention that I hate northern spotted bass!

9:15 AM - 11 AM - Continue catching fish regularly, but I just can't buy a decent sized fish. I switch to big baits - a large bodied Strike King jig, a 10.5" Zoom plastic worm, and a 5" Tru-Tungsten swimbait. The fish still continue to bite and continue to be small!

Noon - Haul an exhausted recreational kayaker to the dock. I am not sure she was going to make it back without a tow.

12:15 PM - My good deed is slightly rewarded as I upgrade with a 14.25"/14.5" largemouth. I know this fish won't hold up....just ONE bite!

My best fish of the day - a 14.25+" LMB

12:30 PM - 2 PM - Fish really hard and keep catching fish, although the bite has slowed a little. I hit the dock with an expected 14.5" and a lot of frustration.

2:15 PM - Find out that 14.5" may actually put me in the top 6. Get fish 14.25".

2:20 PM - 2:45 PM - We eat some tasty BBQ, shoot the bull, and hear the winners.

I ended up in 7th place for the day (out of 39 anglers) and was a little frustrated walking away. I did get a sweet Jackson kayak t-shirt and some other gear from Deep Creek lures. The tournament really made me think about life as a tournament fisherman. I caugh at least 25 bass today and passed on numerous others - a day which would have thrilled most people. But, I walked away frustrated and a little deflated. There is only one more tournament this year, and I have a ton riding on it. So until then I go back to fun fishing and remember exactly why I love this sport so much. River trip anyone? Tight lines!