Yesterday I fished a tournament with the Steel City Bassmasters on Vandalia Lake. I took 6th place out of 40 anglers. The club has a unique tournament format in that the non boaters and boaters fish against each other without a heavy boat. I was partnered with Josh Bracamontes for the day. The lake had come up about a foot and a half from the rain we got this past week and it had muddied up even more. We both have fished this lake numerous times over the lastÂ yearÂ and we decided that with the cloud cover we would start in the grass with a buzzbait and a spinnerbait in the morning. We made a short run to a grassy flat and started covering water.
We came up on a secondary and I poped a short on a sweet beaver. After fishing all the grass without a bite we made the move to an area where Josh had caught 30 plus pounds of bass the week before over two days. We fished on down the stretch of bank without any luck. I was rotating between a crankbait, a sweet beaver, a black buzzbait, a Pig Sticker Baxter Jig, and white Pig StickerÂ spinnerbait. We each caught a couple of shorts but we still found ourselves in search of a keeper. Without any luck we made a move to another part of the lake which had both grass and wood.
On Vandalia lake sometimes the bass relate to the wood more than the grass and you just have to figure it out on a given day. We fished out towards the main lake and Josh got keeper number one in the boat on a sweet beaver. The fish came out of a good size bush.Â The fish have really been main lake orientated so this was no surprise. By now the wind had started to pick up and we fished some wind blown sea walls with a crank,buzzbait, and a spinnerbait without any takers. We decided to make the move back to the grass just to check it out because wind had been blowing on it for a while now. Without any luck in the grass we made the move to fish main lake wood.
The next bank we went down my rod doubled over and I thought I had a good size bass on only to find out that I had Mr. Whiskers. I guess catfish also like a Pig Sticker Spinnerbait. That catfish bite kind of clued us in for a little bit though because Josh picked up his crankbait right then and nailed his second keeper. I caught another short on the blade. It was getting to be around 11 or so and we made a move to another wooded area and I was able to get my first keeper on a sweet beaver from a dead bush. The fish went 15 inches.
We came into the tournament with the idea in mind of fishing main lake wood and it seemed to be working. We rotated the areas where we had caught our keepers in hopes of picking upÂ a couple more fish. This failed to produce. Â I had caught a couple of keepers cranking a series of mainlake points in practice that were just getting pounded with windÂ so we made the move to fish these. Â It was probably the 3rd cast on the first point that I caught a nice keeper that went 4.67lbs on that H20 crankbait.
The fish hit a ways out from the bank and just smoked it. We fished on down to the pocket and Josh hooked up with a keeper but it came off. We moved out to the other side of the pocket and I drilledÂ my third keeperÂ on the crankbait. After a tough day we were starting to think that maybe we could pull off some last minute heroics. The wind was so tough and I had a chance of cashing a checkÂ so josh decided to sacrifice his last 30 minutes in running the big motor so I could fish the windy points in hopes of getting a 4 fourth fish. I never got him and ended the day two spots out of the money.
At weigh in people were talking about an all day buzzbait bite in the grass. We had fished the grass a lot with a buzzbait and never got a single strike. It was a frusterating day but at least I was able to put a couple in the livewell at the end to save face a little. Looking back on the day I guess we should have experimentedÂ a little with different areas of the lake and fished a little more by the seat of our pants. I think we were fishing the right way we just didn’t hit the right sequence. One thing about these muddy water lakes is that the best Â bite seems toÂ be later in the day. Â On a lake like Vandalia if you don’t have a fish by noon don’t fret because you still have a lot of time to do some damage.
Pig Sticker Black and Blue Baxter Jig,Â 7 Foot AiRRUS Co-Matrix Medium Heavy, 15lb test, 7.1 reel.
Pig Sticker Double Willow Leaf Chart and White Spinnerbait, 7 Foot AiRRUS Co-Matrix Medium Heavy Rod, 15lb test, 7.1 reel
Black Buzzbait, 7 foot AiRRUS Co-Matrix Rod Medium Heavy, 15lb test, 7.1 reel
Black and Blue Sweet Beaver 6 Foot 9 AiRRUS Ultra XL Medium Heavy, 15lb test, 7.1 reel
H20 Crankbait, 7 Foot AiRRUS Copperhead Cranking Stick, 15lb test, 6.31 reel