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The day started off well enough. A lot of new anglers had come to try us out. I hope everybody had a fun day.

I got the last boat called out, and stepped down to hit the key on The Tin Can. CLICK! I thought about grabbing one of the batteries out of the truck, but I didn't want to waste my morning photo period wrenching. Instead I dropped the trolling motor in the water and went fishing. Amazingly, that "dead" cranking battery had enough juice to cycle the live well properly all day long.

From the ramp north there was a a lot of bait moving, but very little chasing it. A combination of frogging, popping, and senkos produced nothing in open water or over the grass beds. Nothing up against the hard bank either. As I moved further along I hooked and lost one back in the tulies on a frog. Looked like a 3 pounder. At the end of the day I would remember that fish. I worked the entire north bay of the main lake all the way up to the shallow shelf, and managed to boat two on a frog, but nothing else drew a strike. Both of my frog bites were way back in the brush, and the bigger one (about 3 pounds) wrapped up. I had to force the boat back in the trash to get it. Even worming and cranking the shelf didn't put any in the boat for me. I did get one pick up worming out off the shelf, but wasn't able to connect.

I've got a few places on Mittry I like to fish and its not a big lake, but it will take a while to travel from one end to the other on the trolling motor. I put the TM on high and headed back for the ramp. After moving all the tournament junk off the back seat of the truck I dug my jumper cables out and used them to jump from the lead trolling motor battery to the cranking battery. The motor fired right up and I was off.

I motored over to a deep (horizontally) pocket that I have caught some good fish out of before, and fished my way up to it. I should have just gone straight to it. I didn't get any incidental bites all day long. Every bite was from the "spot on the spot." I worked my boat 8 or 10 feet back into the tulies so I could work the little cut I discovered on a previous trip. At the very back corner of the cut I stuck my big fish of the day flipping a plastic bait. I got a good hook set, but it wrapped me up quick. I wrapped the trolling motor rope around my arm so I could hold it up to skim the surface and still hold my rod with that arm. Keeping tension on the fish and the wrap up I forced the boat another 20 feet or so back into the tulies. When I was close enough I eased down holding the rod over my head to put a lip lock on that fish. With a death grip on his lower jaw I popped the hook out and dropped my rod on the front deck. I wasn't sure how big the fish was. I knew it was easily over 3 pounds. After tagging it and checking the live well again. I had the chore of untangling my line from the brush. Somehow with fish number 3 in the live well it didn't seem like that big of a deal. I poked around in that pocket a bit more, but I was pretty sure I had burned it up for a while after forcing my boat 25+ back through the brush.

When I fought clear of brush I jump started the big motor (if you can call 50HP big) and head off to the spot I had originally planned to start my day. Again I wasted some time looking for a few incidental bites. I did flip a short, but it was no help. The whole area was choked with grass, and the tulie clumps were hard to punch into, but I did it. As I worked further and further back into the morass of grass, both attached and floating I started to get a few bites. My first one was an aggressive 2.5 plus that came up and whacked my flip bait as I was pulling it off a grass mat. It had been so long since I'ld had a bite that he caught me napping, and I did not react properly. Two pitches later I had one bust like a topwater strike on my bait while it was sitting on top of another grass clump. Again I executed poorly and jerked the bait away before making sure he had it.

I looked up and saw Billy Skinner and Ed Reeder headed towards me, but they were frogging. I figured it would not hurt my flip bite to go right by them and continue flipping. With about 15 minutes left to fish I missed another one and still only had 3 fish in the live well. My anxiety started to build, but then I told myself I was going to slow down and fish my last fifteen minutes like it was the first 15 minutes of the day and I had all the time in the world. Almost as soon as I did I got bit again and put a 2 in the boat. With about 5 minutes left I stuck a 2.5 and boated that one. I figured I had a solid 11 pounds of fish. Probably not enough to cash a check, but at least enough to be proud to weigh my fish at the scales.

I jump started that little motor again and headed for the picnic shade to get the scales setup, get out the paperwork, and get the raffle prizes setup for after.

It was no surprise that Billy and Ed took first place. It did surprise me that they did it with 12.84 pounds. I wound up with second with 11.8 pounds, and then I remembered that frog fish I lost first thing in the morning. That one alone would have been enough to make Billy nervous. They other two I missed late in the day certainly would have done it. I absolutely can not complain. Fishing solo I gave those two a run for their money, and the only reason I didn't do better was my own execution. Something I can always work on improving.

My big fish was a 3.85 and it was the big fish of the day so I pointed dead even with Billy and Ed, but Billy is so far ahead for points I would have to win and get big fish October, November, and December to have a chance of catching him. Craig Johnson might catch him though. He is only a couple points behind Billy, and Craig does really well in the winter months.

I guess the day did reinforce in my mind my three rules for doing better in tournaments.

1. Fish with a positive attitude like you have all the time in the world and you are just fishing for fun.
2. Spend your time on the water actually fishing.
3. Get the bites you get IN THE BOAT.

(The Antique Kitten in over at Southwest Boats undergoing a propulsion system transplant operation, and The Tin Can Too is a long ways from being ready.)

Lots of anglers reported it was a tough day, and I only got about 12 bites all day myself.
 
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