Sunday, August 18, 2013

Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trails, Columbus Rumble on the River

Yesterday, Rylan, Amanda, Russ, and I made the voyage from Southern Ohio to the Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trails Columbus Rumble on the River tournament. As always, the water was completely new to us. Our preparation for the tournament consisted of a lot of research. First I located all of the public access points on each individual river. Here is a link to the public access points on the Scioto River for example. From there I used my Navionics app on my smartphone to determine the distance between each public access point. With the check in at 6:30am and the measure in at 4pm, we had about 7 hours of fishable time after checking in, unloading the vehicles, dropping a take out vehicle, and reloading the vehicles. With 7 hours to fish, I figured a float of 4 to 6 miles would be ideal. From that point I eliminated all sections that were outside of the 4 to 6 miles. With all remaining sections I began to look at google earth's satellite imagery. I looked for bridges, dams, rocks along the banks, riffles, etc. I was looking for structure similar to the creeks we fished where we lived because I/we had confidence in that type of water. After a discussion with Rylan we had a game plan. We were going to float a northern section of the Scioto River.

We got up at 2:30am and loaded the vehicles, it was pretty amusing to see what everyone had tied on. I had 3 rods, one with a white spinner bait, a texas rigged chigger craw, and a rope lure....Rylan had a jig and chigger craw combo, a white spinner bait, a tiny wee craw, and a gar lure.....Amanda had two jigs and chigger craw combos and a gar lure........Russ had a jig, gar lure, and a white spinner bait. Needless to say we had little diversity in our lure selections. We arrived at Roosters in Grove City at 5:45am, while we were waiting a few other guys started showing up. We talked about our lack of sleep, game plans, how we thought other competitors would do, etc... Soon Larry and Neil showed up and we signed in and were on our way. The "Put In" was rough to say the least. We had to drag our kayaks over fallen trees, over large rocks, and launch in a small rapid....something I didn't see on Google Earth.

The morning started off with a little game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to see what order we would rotate in. Since we had a group of 4 people we figured it would be best to rotate from front to back. The person in front would get the first cast at spots, but once he/she caught a fish he/she would then go to the back of the pack. This would ensure that everyone would have an opportunity to cast at a spot first. After a few rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors, I had won the first place spot, Rylan had second, Russ had opted to go last, and Amanda had planned on going upstream to fish a good looking spot. The fishing started off slow, I went without a bite for at least 3 hours. Rylan and Amanda quickly picked up a few small fish on their jig and chigger craw combos. Before I had landed a fish, Rylan had a three fish limit of a little over 30". Amanda had two fish at 25".
My first fish came off of the backside of a bridge piling, it was a 12.75" smallmouth. I quickly got a picture of the fish on the board and pulled off in a small eddy as to let everyone pass me by. It was my turn to fish in the back of the pack. As I was waiting I casted into the current with my texas rigged chigger craw, a 9" smallmouth soon followed.

A couple hours passed and we each picked up a few fish in the 10 to 14 inch range. By noon all of us had a limit of three fish, which was one of my main goals for the day. We passed by another bridge and I quickly landed a solid 16" fish.....this put me in first place out of our group. With a 16", a 14" and a 12.75" I had a total of 42.75"....I felt that it was enough to break into the top ten, but I wasn't happy with just being in the top ten. From that point I really put the pressure on myself to get that "One" fish.

A mile or so later, Amanda hooked into a massive smallmouth on a rock bar in the middle of the river. She was fishing third, I was in fourth, Rylan in 2nd, and Russ in first. She hooked the smallmouth and I heard Rylan ask her if it was a good one? It quickly came to the surface and our jaws dropped. Rylan had got a good look at it, as he was less than 10 feet away from it when it leaped out of the water. While she was still fighting it, I asked Rylan how good it was? He replied 3 to 4lbs. At that point we all stopped what we were doing to watch Amanda land her monster smallmouth. It felt like 2 minutes and 3 good leaps before she leaned over to make the grab when it happened...the smallmouth made one last jump and threw the hook. We all felt sick for her loss.

We continued to fish, and I continued to look for a fish to cull out my 12.75" fish. Russ was struggling to find sizable fish, although he was throwing the biggest bait out of everyone else on the water (a Strike King KVD triple willow bladed spinnerbait). He was soon rewarded for his persistence with a 17.25" 2lb 8oz smallmouth which came off of the front side of a bridge piling. It was a new personal best for him, so he was pumped.

At this point it was getting late and we still had over a mile to fish so we began to just hit the better looking spots. We had developed a pattern which was mid current breaks...such as bridge pilings, the end of holes also called "taper ups", and fallen trees. We quickly made it to the take out at 2:15pm, and planed to fish around it until 2:45pm. I was beating myself up for failing to find a quality fish, after all Amanda had lost a good one, Russ had landed a 17.25"er, and several were caught over 12.75"....just not by me. We began to work a dam, its riffles, and current breaks. I headed over to a good looking spot and started throwing my bait around when I hear Rylan ask, "How big is it?". I had my back turned at the time, but when I looked to see who was fighting the bass I saw Amanda once again. Rylan and I stopped casting to watch her fight the fish. It quickly wrapped her up on a stick in some pretty swift water. The whole time it was wrapped up, we could see the fish on the surface. It appeared to be another good fish. It wasn't quite as big as the one she lost previously but it was way bigger than any bass I had hooked that day. Luckily the fish unwrapped itself and she managed to land the bass. It was the same length as Russ' smallmouth at 17.25" but it went 4 ounces heavier, 2lbs 12oz. It was also her personal best smallmouth.

At that point it was 2:35pm, we had about 10 more minutes before we needed to load up. We worked every spot of that pool, but no other fish were present. Rylan and I had fell into a slump, failing to land any fish in the last couple hours of the tourney. At 2:45pm we pulled the yaks up on the rock bar and went through our cameras to clear the bad pictures off of our cards as to make the measure-in easier for Larry. We also counted up our totals, we were all between 38" and 43". It was a very close race between us, however we felt that only Amanda would break into the top ten. The competition was tough, we knew ahead that some very skilled guys were coming from Pennsylvania and a few local guys were going to fish the tourney. We loaded up the gear and set the navigation system to Roosters in Grove City.

We arrived a half hour early and went inside Roosters to give Larry our SD cards out of each of our cameras. We sat at a nearby table and awaited the results. None of us were really happy with our results so we weren't too worried about the results. We struck up conversation with the other guys and told them how our trip went. They then told us about their experiences, what baits worked, what baits didn't work, what structure held fish, etc... Before long the guys who run the tournament started bringing in raffle prizes and Larry stood up with the results.

First off Larry announced 10th place.......Russ Mcdonald. Russ was ecstatic, he didn't have any idea that he was going to place in the tourney so he was completely off guard. He was awarded $20 for 10th place. Larry then announced 9th and 8th place. At 7th place, Rylan was announced, he was also awarded $20. Larry then announced 6th place, and then paused to announce the top five. In fifth was......Sean, I had placed fifth place and was awarded $35. I started to think about what all this meant for Amanda....and before I could collect my thoughts Larry started to announce 4th place. He said, "In fourth place, and something Sean will never live down, is Amanda." Amanda had pulled off 4th place with a little over 43" and took home $40. We had all placed in the top 10. I was pretty pumped for everyone, and was amazed that all of our preparation and plans had payed off. Larry then went on to announce the top 3 places, and to be honest I was too excited to hear everyones name. In a couple days the guys of Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trail will have all of the results posted on their website. Check it out here....Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trail Standings. Larry then announced the big fish, it was a four way tie.....Amanda and Russ had won even more money with their 17.25" fish and were awarded a little over $20 each.

The guys then raffled off a few items such as Yak Attack Geartrac's, BKFT T-shirts, fishing rods, baits from J&M Tackle, etc. We then got our food and shared a few more stories with the remaining guys. Here's a picture of some J&M Tackle jigs and a pair of Yak Attack Geartrac's that Amanda won.

Russ ordered the hottest wings that Roosters offered. It was quite amusing watching him eat them, typically I am on the other end of that spectacle. I once ordered a half dozen blazing wings from Buffalo Wild Wings, in which I ate one and thought they were disappointing; I then ate a second and changed my mind; When I ate the third blazing wing I was in tears. So to see Russ take on those wings was amusing.. We finished our meal and said goodbye to everyone.

We then set off on our 2 hour journey home. We took the opportunity to take a picture of the skyscrapers in Columbus. In our home town I think we have a 3 story building, nothing like the buildings in the big city.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone in Dayton in a few weeks. Once again we want to thank all the guys who put on the tournament, all of their family and friends who help out and put up with them, and all of the sponsors.

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