Sunday, April 14, 2024

Tool Up! By Tim Grein


Douglas Lake

I just returned home last Friday from the first Northern Open of the year on Douglas Lake. I finished 48th out of 190, and with a little luck would have finished in the top 25. As it stands, I missed getting a check by 8 places. Douglas is a lake known for the deep bite. By deep I mean 25’-35+’. I spent the first couple of days of practice jumping from shallow to deep. The lake was 5’ high and there were lots of willows and bushes in the water. The only problem was the fish were smaller than the deeper fish, but they were plentiful! I knew the deep fish were going to win, but Douglas fishes small, and I really felt like I could probably catch enough fish shallow to have 12lbs-13lbs. The final 3 days of practice, I mainly graphed out deep and marked willow trees on my GPS. I felt like if I could get on a deep spot, I could catch them long lining a crankbait and have a chance to cull up what I caught shallow. While I was graphing, I made sure to log all of my sonar, so that when I returned to the house that night, I could upload it to Navico’s new program called Insight Genesis. This program allows you to upload sonar logs and create an exact map that shows all of the contours your road over, and also shows different bottom content. This is an invaluable tool when fishing offshore!!
The first day of the tournament came, and I had a shallow limit by 8AM. I saw one someone leave one of the deep spots where I had caught a 4.5lber in practice. I ran over there, and the first pass, I hook one. It never jumps and bulldogs down. I get it beside the boat and look down. It looks like a drum, but on second glance, it is a GIANT smallmouth that is foul hooked. I get the fish into the boat and am excited because it is easily a 4.5lber. My excitement quickly turned to disappointment though. There is a 20” limit on smallmouth and this fish is only 19”. This was a tall thick fish that looks like it came from Lake Erie, and I had to release it. Think about that. I had to release a 4.5lber. That would have culled a 1.25lber and given me atleast another 3-3.5lbs. I continued switching between deep and shallow the remainder of the day, but it was difficult to find a deep spot someone wasn’t sitting on. When it all shook out, I had 8lbs 11oz due to a 4oz penalty for a dead one that swallowed my Missile Baits D Bomb. This left me in 92nd after the first day. A testament as to how tough it really was. That smallmouth sure would have helped!!
Day 2, I knew I needed 14lbs-15lbs to get a check, but I felt like I my game plan from the day before was a decent one. I again went shallow in the morning and had a limit by 8:30. At 10am, I went by one of my deep spots and no one was on it. I drove over it, and there were two schools of fish on it. One in 25’ and another in 35’. I threw my DT 20 out and long lined until there wasn’t any line left on the spool. When my plug came through the shallower school it stopped dead in its tracks, and I had a big one. When I got her to the boat, she weighed 6.5lbs. That was a game changer. I put her in the box, culled, and made another pass. Again I hooked up with a fish, but it was a white bass. When I got it to the boat, there was another 4.5-5lb largemouth trying to eat the plug out of its mouth!! Had that white bass not eaten my DT 20, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have caught that largemouth. I had 2 really small fish in the box that I needed to cull, but I never could. I lost several more in the willows, and lost 1 more out deep. I didn’t have it on for very long, so I don’t know what it was. It could have been a white bass. That happens though when you have 200 yards of line out on a crankbait. When the day was over, I ended with 13.1lbs and moved to 48th, just barely missing the check. Had I not had to throw that smallmouth back, and caught the 4.5lb largemouth instead of the white bass, I would have been in the top 25. That’s the way this game is played though, and 48th isn’t a disaster. Sure I would have liked to have gotten a check, but I had a respectable finish and beat some great fisherman. The Insight Genesis played a huge role in my offshore fish, and I would encourage you to check it out. It is a game changer when it comes to mapping, as it can show hard spots on the bottom, vegetation, and accurate contours that will make your offshore fishing, dead on. So tool up, and go check it out. It will make you a better fisherman!!

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