St. Joe River Tournament 8-18-18 & Video

Joined: September 2nd, 2009, 8:20 pm

August 25th, 2018, 3:58 am #1

I decided to try fishing the Mendon River Fest fishing tournament by myself.  I had fished this section only once before in the same tournament a couple years ago.  At that time the river was almost flooded and Greg and I decided to go upstream almost as far as we were allowed and drift back to the weigh in point.  It is usually really shallow upstream and we thought we would find fish that aren't usually pressured heavily.  But we couldn't catch any keeper fish in that tournament. 

For this tournament I planned to try going downstream and see what I could figure out.  I got there early, about 6:15 am, but before I got there I had to stop at Walmart and purchase a new starter battery.  My battery had been running down pretty easily for a few years and I've put up with it but after charging the battery the day before it was basically dead when I was trimming the motor as I was hooking my boat up to the truck.    There is no set start time for this tournament so I could start right away and only saw one other trailer at the ramp.  I wouldn't see another boat for about 3 hours!!!  I'm not complaining about not having to share any water at all but I'll admit a couple times I thought about how strange it was and wondered if I was the only person even fishing the tournament.  

On to the fishing.  Downstream reminded me more of fishing the St. Joe near Benton Harbor but narrower.  There was plenty of hidden logs and brush along the shorelines with a depth of 3-6 feet usually.  I started with a buzzbait and black spinnerbait without a hit, then tried a rippin rap in the middle of the river towards fish that were breaking the surface, although I suspected they were carp or suckers.  No hits on that so my next choice was a white chatterbait.  I was rewarded pretty quickly with a fish that almost touched 14 inches but I couldn't consistently hit the line so I tossed it back but now had a bunch of confidence in my bait choice.  But soon after I snagged it and worked hard to save it which I did, all day long I was able to save it.  First cast after freeing the bait I paused my retrieve for a reel issue and as soon as I started reeling again I felt weight and had a good fish pulling.  It was a 16 inch smallmouth!  Now I had a bunch of confidence in the bait.  Probably too much.  Soon after I caught a small one and had another chase the bait up to the boat.  

And then...nothing from 7:30 on for a couple hours.  I stuck with my chatterbait for most of that time.  I tried a couple frogs in pad areas.  Went through a good looking offshoot around an island.  Tried a jerkbait.  Maybe had a couple questionable bites before finally catching a little guy from under a pontoon with a senko.  I caught a couple little ones on a senko in another good looking little offshoot stream section.  I was near the first downstream bridge when I finally saw another fishing boat.  I fished around the bridge with multiple lures but still no luck.  I decided to motor upstream but stopped to refish the first offshoot I had fished.  This time I used a senko and my first fish was a 16 1/2 inch largie.  After that fish I caught probably 10 more little guys and missed multiple bites.  

After that flurry I decided to finally make the run upstream to the weigh in area to one spot Greg and I had caught a few last time.  I wasn't running upstream fast but I still ran my motor into some shallow water I kinda remembered but didn't avoid it enough since the water was a couple feet less than last time.  When I got to the spot I wanted to fish, which was just some rip rap along the shore at one house the rip rap was all out of water so that wasn't going to work.  I did see a couple bass that looked close to keepers in the shallow water.  I tried my senko around a couple docks and sea walls before picking up a Kietech swimbait and fancasting as I worked back downstream.  It paid off with another 16 inch smallmouth.  I had renewed confidence with about an hour remaining in my day.  I worked the swimbait around and threw a senko around brush and logs.  I caught a few little ones on the senkos around wood as I was refishing areas I hit first thing in the morning.  It was just after 1:30 with a 2:00 weigh in back upstream so I knew I needed to get going since I wasn't going to run wide open.  A couple last casts and I was rewarded with a last second keeper around 14 1/2 inches on the senko near where I had caught my first one of the morning.   

Even at close to no wake speed I still hit my motor in a couple spots.  I strolled into the weigh in spot at 1:58 along with about 6 other boats.  First thing I see is a basked full of carp and a cooler with a few catfish.  I saw one guy I talked to on the water and his kid and they still had just one bass.  I saw a couple other guys with one carp each and not much else.  They said they tried for bass for a while and then switched when they didn't catch much.  I weighed and measured my four bass and seemed people were impressed with my bag of fish.  This tournament allows you to fish for bass with a 5 fish limit per person, so your partner can weigh his own 5 fish and there is also a carp/catfish side and then a youth side.  You can try to win both bass and carp pots.  Maybe next year I throw some stinky bait and see if I get lucky with a few carp bites as well.  

So the guy with all the carp and catfish said his son caught them all so his son won the youth pot which was just his entry fee back.  I saw one or two other kids that I don't think had any fish.  So that left just the two guys with one carp each for first and second in the adult carp side.  Then on to bass, which was the guy with one, another guy I didn't see weigh in that sounds like he had two 15 inchers or so and that left me with four for first place and double my entry fee back.  There was a side pot of three dollars for longest fish which I entered but knew I'd loose to any carp, except I had forgotten it was longest combined length and it just so happens that the guy and his kid with all the carp didn't enter it, so that left me and my 4 bass longer than anybody else's combined lengths so I doubled my money.  Which I then blew on ice cream for the family once I finally got home.  It's nice to win for the first time but it's not a competitive tournament either.  I covered a lot of water and made some decent decisions on an unfamilar section that I now look forward to fishing again sometime.  Here is my winning bag of fish and video of the morning.

IMG_2368.jpg
Last edited by Triton Man on August 28th, 2018, 4:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
2016 Big Fish
Largemouth: 21.5" 6.46 lbs. Secret Lake Mar. 26


Smallmouth: 22" 5lb 4oz Kalamazoo River


Pike: 31" Paw Paw Lake
Muskie: 
Walleye: 
Brown Trout: 20", Delaware River, July 30
 
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Joined: December 16th, 2006, 11:45 am

August 25th, 2018, 10:30 am #2

I've never fished the Mendon area and don't know how I missed it.
Sounds like you learned a few things from last year that bought your family some ice cream.
Good job.
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Joined: July 23rd, 2006, 3:45 pm

August 27th, 2018, 12:54 pm #3

Nice pic and report Kevin!  Great job!
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Joined: September 2nd, 2009, 8:20 pm

August 28th, 2018, 4:46 am #4

I added the video to the original post if you are interested in that.
2016 Big Fish
Largemouth: 21.5" 6.46 lbs. Secret Lake Mar. 26


Smallmouth: 22" 5lb 4oz Kalamazoo River


Pike: 31" Paw Paw Lake
Muskie: 
Walleye: 
Brown Trout: 20", Delaware River, July 30
 
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Joined: July 23rd, 2006, 3:45 pm

August 28th, 2018, 4:52 am #5

Nice video Kevin.
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Joined: December 16th, 2006, 11:45 am

August 28th, 2018, 7:32 am #6

If that wasn't in a "T" it would have been a fun day.
Nice vid with plenty of action.
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