Noah O'Reily 08/10/2016 | Posted in Event Coverage, Events, Fishing, Fishing Tournament, River Bassin Tournament, Wrap Ups
As some of you know, my mom and I go kayak fishing together as much as we can. She loves the sport just as much as I do. In the last year, we have really been interested in competitions. We are big fans and members of our local club, Kayak Fish the Great Lakes, and they host multiple tournaments every year that we try to clear our busy schedules for. The next tournament on our schedule for the season was from the River Bassin’ tournament trail on August 20. We both had a very busy week leading up to the tournament, so busy that we registered the night before! We both had little to no river fishing experience from a kayak, so I decided to stay up late to pack up the truck and do research. I picked a stretch of the Flint River that I thought would be best; taking into consideration water levels, water clarity, and the success of other anglers in the area.
The next morning we packed my Orion 55 cooler and hit the road. We took separate cars so we could float down the river instead of having to be restricted to one part. We dropped off my car at the pickup location and drove the truck to the launch point. Next, we took some time to unload our kayaks, pack up our gear, and get my cameras ready. When we launched our Big Rig and Cuda LT into the river, we were overwhelmed. The current was a lot stronger than we had expected, so we found ourselves floating down the middle of the river casting chatterbaits and squarebills towards the banks on each side. This method proved to be ineffective for most of the morning.
As we floated down the river, we couldn’t help feeling discouraged by the lack of fish we were seeing. After about two hours, we came across a highway bridge that ran over the river. My mom wedged her Cuda LT against a branch right before going under the bridge and made a cast. Her first cast in this area yielded a tiny smallmouth bass, but her excitement did not match the size of the bass as she was overjoyed to reel in this fish on her brand new rod. She ended up catching two more before I had to ask her what her secret was! What we ended up doing, was moving to the other side of the bridge and casted under it, reeling our squarebills downstream. We reeled the baits far enough down that they skipped off of the bottom. This seemed to be the ticket as we smacked fish after fish. We caught our three keepers each from that bridge and decided it was time to move on.
We made multiple casts towards the shore again while drifting down the river. Once again, this led to no fish. We began to get a little discouraged again until we saw another bridge coming up! This time we knew exactly where to position our boats and what to do. My mom was hanging back trying to get her rod untangled, so I got into position. First cast, bam! I had a nice smallie on. The fish fought hard all the way until it got to the boat and then shook my lure loose and swam off. This stung a bit, because that fish would have helped my overall length. Next cast sure enough I hooked into another nice fish. This one I got into the boat and had him on the hawg trough ready for a picture, but it had other plans as it jumped off of the trough and into the water. At this point, I was starting to wonder what I was doing wrong. The next few casts I was hooking into fish and losing them almost immediately. Until finally, I hooked up with a nice sized smallmouth and got it on my kayak. It started flopping around and snapped my line with the lure still in its mouth and hopped overboard. Are you kidding me?! At this time, my mom had gotten her tangle out and we decided to regroup and think of a game plan.
Since only one of us had the means to an anchor, we decided to work together and take turns casting, or in this case, catching. I paddled up to the bridge almost until I was directly under it and I dropped down my park n’ pole. My mom then came up next to me and rested her foot on my kayak so the current would not take her. The next half hour or so is very blurry to me because everything went so fast. All I know is that we were catching fish one after another. Instead of swinging fish into the kayaks, we took turns netting our fish. While one of us was taking a picture of a fish, the other was casting, hooking, and landing a fish. We were very excited when we looked at the scoreboard and saw where we were sitting. I then got out my phone to check where we were on the river. We were about halfway with little to no time to get back. So we paddled the entire way back almost without stopping and we made it to the truck on time.
While we made our paddle back we noticed how beautiful the Flint River is. Of course, you don’t see this in the news. The water was moving quickly, the weeds were healthy and abundant, there were plenty of fish, and the amount of wildlife was unreal. We saw so many different kinds of birds like herons, sparrows, and we even had an eagle fly 20 feet over our heads down the river! We truly had an amazing day and we feel very blessed to have so much support. At the weigh in, my mom was awarded Top Lady Angler and 9th place overall with 49.75”. I was awarded with Top College Angler and 5th place overall. Drew and Cristina Gregory do an amazing job with the River Bassin events and we hope to meet up with them again next year!