Oneida Lake Northern Open 2013

The second Northern Open of 2013 is over, and I can tell you that it’s probably gonna be awhile before I can fully get over the sting that still exists from not having had done as well as I know I should have.  I had very few bites, I knew the lake would fish like that going in, but I didn’t deliver.  I really needed to stay focused, not miss fish, and I didn’t.
Day one I fished with Randal Tharp, FLW legend.  We began out deep, targeting smallmouth.  I really needed to do a better job of trying to get those fish to bite.  We were hovering over them in 25 feet of water, and I didn’t do enough to fire them up and get them to eat.  I saw them on the screen and I threw all the things that I would normally throw, but when that didn’t work I really needed to dig in and start going through everything else until I found what it was they wanted.  I didn’t do that.  Instead I sat there for almost two hours, waiting for them to bite the things I’m really accustomed to catching them on at that lake.  It’s almost as if my knowledge of the lake betrayed me, because it prevented me from doing what I do best:  finding what the fish want to eat.  I did the one thing I always pride myself on not doing:  I was stubborn, and I only used what I was used to using.  I wish I could have it back.  I didn’t manage to get my first fish until noon, I missed two fish flipping grass, and caught my second fish on a drop shot at 1:30.  Although I was lucky enough to catch two good fish, one of which was the big bass up until the last 10 minutes of day 1 and have my picture taken and posted here on Bassmaster, not having the third fish I needed left me 4 pounds off the lead.  Had I been able to bring in any of the fish I missed I might have found myself in the lead or in the top five.
Day two I was paired up with Greg Pugh.  We began the day targeting smallmouth and I did the same thing:  I threw the same things, with the same results.  None of the fish we saw on the graph ate the things I threw at them, and I didn’t try to throw anything else.  We left those fish after two hours, flipped grass, again I didn’t catch anything.  We left there, flipped docks, I got frustrated and shut down a little, my knowledge of that lake and drive to win it got the best of me because it was noon and in my mind I was already defeated.  I caught my first fish at 2 pm on a drop shot, caught a good fish at 3 cranking, and lost (sadly) what might have been the biggest fish of the tournament with less than ten minutes to go on a crankbait after the fish buried me in some deep weeds.
Both of my boaters were great guys, and I had an excellent time fishing with both of them.  All my fish were caught on soft plastics made by Bass Attacker Lures.
Probably the highlight of the tournament for me was getting to see my friends I’ve met this season.  I got to spend a lot of time practicing with John McGoey and we even got to have a special evening at a local bait shop where we were fortunate enough to meet some great people.  We talked fishing, shared stories, and gave away some gear to some really deserving people.  The looks on their faces was incredible, and it made me feel really great to be able to share my love for this sport with men and women and children.  I also got to spend a little bit of time with Brandon Palaniuk again after meeting him at the James River when we were paired up on day two.  We didn’t get out this time, but I’m sure we’ll fish together again.  Probably not out of the same boat in a tournament (this is my last year fishing off the back) but we’ll get out again.
With just one tournament left (Northern Open #3, Lake Erie, Sandusky Ohio, September), it’s really important to me that I thank all my family, friends, and sponsors for their support:  Dobyns Rods, Citizens Bank, Rahfish, Schuler-Haas Electric, Bass Attacker Lures, and Quantum Fishing.

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