To say there was a lot on the line here would have been an understatement! The biggest thing was AOY for sure but also staying in the All Star week was a big goal too. A bad tournament and I can fall out of that too. I had never been to Oneida before but I had done some research and checked weights from previous tournaments so I knew 14-15 pounds a day would do real good. This would give me what I would need to get to fish on Sunday here.
Practice: It was a cloudy kind of cool morning starting out, the perfect kind for top water, you would think. It was after 10 before I got my first bite, but it was a dandy! It was a largemouth about 4.5 pounds that ate a Rapala Skitter Pop. This was in an area that had a depression with some grass clumps down in it. I had another bite in this area flipping before I left. I spent some time running the banks looking for fish but never saw many. I spent a lot of the next day flipping deeper grass and got a few bites but never a concentration of them. These were usually good fish though that were set up in any thick clumps near 6-8 feet of water. The last day I tried to catch some smallmouth out deep but never did. I did find an area that had a lot of bait ad caught 2 good smallmouth and one good largemouth real quick. I knew then I wanted to start here.
Day 1: I started in the bay with all of the bait and to my unbelief I never had a bite! I left after about an hour and went to the depression and caught a 3 pound fish right away flipping a Pit Boss with a 1/2oz Reins Tungsten. I added 2 more keepers pretty quick from here. I left here and hit a couple deeper grass patches that I had bites in but never caught any bass, did catch some toothy fish though! About noon I went to an undercut bank and caught one decent keeper here. I finished my limit out flipping the area I was in earlier. I returned to the undercut bank as my last stop and had a good fish on that wrapped me up and came off. I ended the day with the only 5 keepers I caught that weighed 12-5 and in 59th. I was very worried about the next day, but ready to move back up the standings!
Day 2: I decided to start at the depression area to try to get a top water bite today. There was too much wind today though and it made that impossible. I went over to the bait bay and nothing was happening here either! On my second pass through the depression area I caught my first one, about a 3 3/4 pound fish! It was already 10:30 and I only have one. I knew those fish that were in the bay hadn’t left so I decided to give them one more try. I’m glad I did! My second keeper came from under a dock, about 2 1/4 pounds, my third was by a log, about 3 1/4 pounds. Then I worked down a stretch of docks and found a good one. I caught 9 fish in a row from under one dock, 2 of which were keepers. On down this bank, I caught a good one under a grass mat that culled a small one. I knew now I had a good bag. I kept running and caught one more that helped another 1/2 pound. This put me up to a little over 15 pounds and all the way up to 23rd place.
Day 3: I figured I would go straight to the flat that was so good the day before, this was a great call! It was a little overcast and windy and the smallmouth had shown up again. I caught the first one, a 3 1/4 pounder, on a Skitter Pop. Then I missed the next 4! I switched to a Gulp Jerk Shad, and that was a help too. When I saw one chase shad I would throw this over there and catch one every time! It was awesome. By 10:30 I had 15 pounds and felt good about my chances of making the top 12. I did cull one more from under a dock that helped about 1/4 of a pound. Even though that doesn’t sound like much, it was the difference in about 6th and 10th place after the 3rd day. I ended the day with almost 16 pounds and in 6th. Which I was happy to be fishing on Sunday after the way my first day had went! We also knew then that Brent Chapman had won AOY. Even though I would have loved to win, I am very happy for him and his family. They are great people and very deserving of the title!
Day 4: I had pretty much the same plan as what I did the day before since it worked so well. It was very sunny on this day though and the smallmouth weren’t biting as well. I did catch a couple on the Skitter Pop but I missed several too, same on the
Jerk Shad. They just wouldn’t commit as well with the bright skies. At times I could actually see the school of them swim by, but I couldn’t make them bite. After this, I went over to the overhanging bank and caught one then lost a good one here. I finished my limit off of docks and did catch one close to 4 doing this as well. It was a struggle today but I ended with 5 for 13-6 and moved up to 5th. This was my second 5th place in a row! I also finished the year in 2nd for AOY! I am so blessed to have had the kind of season I had again this year.
Added edge: There were so man things that helped me in this event to make it a good one. My boat, motor, trolling motor and electronics have all been flawless this year. The Lithium Pros Batteries were a big help here because I was running on 80-100% most of the day. Then the baits that got it done, Pit Boss, Jerk Shad and Skitter Pop were all big players this week. It has been another great season and I’m already looking forward to making the next one even better!