I had my first Club tournament of the 2017 season on Lake McDonough in Barkhamsted on Sunday April 23 from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. We fish a team trail that has a 5 fish limit per team, and had 18 teams participating. I really like Lake McDonough and always feel pretty confident when I’m there as I feel I know a lot of productive spots and the baits that the bass seem to prefer at any given season. Water temps ranged from about 49 in the morning to 55 in the afternoon. And, of course the water was nice and clear with visibility too 10+ feet. The weather was clear with a light south wind.
My partner Kevin and I drew boat #2 so pretty much had our choice of spots to start in so we decided to begin on a rocky 45 degree bank. Throwing a black/blue jig & pig and a watermelon spider grub gave us nothing. We gave this short stretch of bank another pass with a 4” curl tail grub and a suspending jerkbait and still had no action so, off to the south end of the lake. The next spot was a deep water “saddle” area in between two shallow areas. I scored a decent 2.48 pound largemouth on the jig from this area and missed a couple other soft, bites. I don’t really know why I missed those strikes but sometimes it just happens. A couple of other nearby spots also failed to produce so we decided to move back towards the ramp and found nobody sitting on a mid-lake shoal that typically is pretty good. This area is as shallow as about 4 feet but bordered by 30+ feet of water. I like the north end of it where it tapers off to form a nice point, while my buddy Kevin more likes the shallower portion of it. We started near the point and I scored a little keeper largemouth on a Carolina rigged Baby Brush Hog in about 10 feet of water. Instead of staying there, we moved to the shallower portion. After a lot of casts, I finally hooked up with a 14.5” smallmouth on a deep diving Rapala Husky Jerk. We worked back out towards the point and now with 3 in the box, I quickly caught another 3 largemouth on the C rigged Brush Hog from 8 to about 14 feet deep.
Time was beginning to run short and the shoal area had gone cold so we moved off to another small hump that rises to about 10 feet. Working a jig across the top of the hump showed that it was covered in old growth, brown, slimy, sand grass so I thought to pick up that deep diving jerkbait to throw around the deep edges and sure enough, it produced another largemouth that made a cull.
It sure seemed to me to be a slow day on McD and that fact was driven home at the weigh in scales. Most everyone got a 5 fish limit but weights were low and bunched up around 7 pounds. My partner and I had 8 and a 1/2 pounds which for the day was proving to be above average. As we usually fish this lake every spring, and every spring someone brings in a 6+ pound fish, I was waiting to see that jumbo, but she never showed up. In the end, it took about 9.25 pounds to win, while second place was captured by about 9.1 pounds. Third place? Turned out Kevin and I didn’t do so badly after all. We captured third place. And, the biggest surprise of the day was, my first fish of the day, turned out to be Lunker for the tournament. Not a very big fish but when the cash was handed out, it didn’t matter that it was only a 2.5 pound fish, it was still the largest for the day.