John Torsch wins First BFL on Grand River.
Last week I won my first BFL Bass Tournament on the Grand River at River Side Park in Grand Haven Michigan. This was the first BFL I have ever fished and the first time that I fished the Grand River all year.
I had about one hour of practice on the River and caught 2 bass on a pepper custom spinner bait. One, was a big one about 4 pounds. I thought that there would be a pretty good spinner bait bite beca
John Torsch wins first BFL on Grand River
use the conditions were about the same as my practice and my co angler said that he had a pretty good spinner bait bite the last few days on the river in a few spots.
When the tournament actually started we fished the first two hours in the river around shallow grass, wood and mud flats and never had a bite on a spinner bait. The water on the Grand River was at an all time low so many of the shallow water spots that I would stop and throw a frog at on the main river were completely out of the water. After getting no bites on a spinner bait we went to Spring Lake. My first Bass was 4 –13 and came off a small stand of lily pads between boat docks. The stand of pads was all by itself and when I cast my yellow black bird frog to it and gave it a twitch the big Bass slammed it. The fish hit it hit so hard I thought it was a dog fish! When I reeled it back to the boat it fought hard and felt so heavy that I told my co angler that it is probably a dog fish. When we got it in and it wasn’t I was shocked. When you get a fish in the boat over 4 the first thing you think is wow I have an opportunity to do well and I really need to take advantage of it.
My second fish came on a zoom cotton candy trick worm on a 1/8 ounce tungsten weight with 10 fluorocarbon line on a spinning reel. The fish bit on a main lake dock at around 11:30and when it hit I felt a few taps that were quick just like a small bass does. When I set the hook I expected to pull out a tiny Bass. But when I set the hook the bass was actually a decent size fish. The fish flashed a side profile in the first few seconds I was pulling it out from under the dock and it was actually 3 ½ pounds! It is a very exciting feeling when you are fishing a worm and you set the hook on a bass expecting it to be a little baby and it is actually a good fish.
After that we fished docks and sea walls most of the day. The next set of docks we fished were docks heading to the backs coves that looked good but produced no fish. From there we went back out to the main lake and fished docks with my trusty 3/8 pepper jig in a gilley color. Within the first few minutes I had a three pounder in the boat from the end of the dock. 15 minutes later and a few docks down I pulled a keeper on a pepper jig from farther behind a dock casting the jig way past the dock and working it back slowly.
The fish hit when I turned around to look back at my co angler. After that we fished some more docks and then ran to the middle of the lake and pulled up on a dock on a windy point. The wind was blowing across the dock and when we first pulled up to it I spun the nose of the boat into the wind with the trolling motor and let my co angler get the first couple flips to the dock with his jig. He was using a brown jig very similar to what I had on as far as skirt style and weight. After I turned the boat around I pitched my pepper jig in right by where he was fishing and caught my last keeper Bass… a fat 15 inch bass. At the weigh in I had 14-13 total, a 4-13 big bass and I missed Big Bass by ounce!
The best thing was that second place was Marc Snyder from Saint Johns. Marc is a big name guy in Michigan and I watched him on TV this spring come very very close to winning an overall championship down in Arkansas. He was leading by 6 pounds the last day and ended up fourth overall for the championship. Third place was Don Watts, another big named guy in Michigan. Don has won three national championships in the NBAA… one on one championship where first place is either a new boat or new quad. Don has also won several other tournaments where the first prize was a new boat or some other nifty prize like that. While there were only 62 boats there, I would have liked to see more people there for a FLW BFL. There is no doubt whatsoever that the very best fisherman in Michigan was there and I still took first place.
While the weather was the exact same as the two days before, wind high of 75 and nights 50 with decent wind later in the day the spinner bait bite never happened for us. Don’t get stuck with only one thing on your mind and die on it. My co angler threw the chartreuse spinner bait all day, a lot, and got one keeper under a dock. All of my fish came on somewhat slower moving lures even though it was good conditions for a spinner bait, the bite never happened. Don’t get stuck on one thing.
Don’t give up to soon. My first fish came at 10 oclock. For all of the time I have been Bass fishing I have never caught a real big fish in the morning ever. I don’t know why maybe it is how I fish but every big fish I catch is usually from 10 to 2 in the afternoon. So don’t give up if there is no magic morning bite. Most Bass tournaments are won based on what you do the last half of the day not the first.
Three, it is better to catch 5 good bass then 10 or more keepers that are all two pounds or less. Everyone likes to catch a quick limit in a tournament but really in a single day tournament the size of your fish and getting one or two big bites is more important than getting a quick limit. Don’t worry if you are not getting a lot of fish. It has been my experience usually that either you catch a lot of fish or you catch fewer bigger fish. Most trips where you catch 15 –30 keepers or more of those fish will be in the 2 to 3 ½ pound range with maybe a four mixed in. On the days where I am catching bigger fish from 3 ½ to 5 pounds and multiple 4 pound fish it seems like I might only be getting 5 ,7 , or nine bites in the same time but the quality is much better. Point is if the bite is not super hot sometimes you can still catch the bigger fish.
Don’t get too wrapped up or excited in winning. When I fished my two biggest tournaments this year the everstart in Wisconsin and the BFL I never got excited or nervous. I paid my money several months ahead of time and kind of showed up and did my thing. I actually get more worked up for fishing a little 3 hour tournament near my house. If you stay calm and don’t worry to much you make much better casts, get less backlashes, tangles and missed hook sets and all the pain that goes with being overly aped up.
And the Last Thing I learned
If you are fishing a Tournament and you would like to have a chance at winning you better get a pepper jig and have it tied on all the time.