Capt. Ethan Hamrick
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Outcasts Tournament: Lake Istokpoga February 2020

Our second tournament of the year was held on Lake Istokpoga near Lake Placid, Florida. Lake Istokpoga is a large body of water, covering over 27,700 acres. It spans nearly ten miles long and five miles wide. It’s a lot of water to cover in one day to say the least.


My grandpa and I spent the day prior to the tournament practice fishing the large lake. We did our best to locate several promising areas that were holding bass. Unfortunately, it was a very windy day and it made it difficult to navigate and fish on the main lake without getting blown around quite a bit.

It was almost noon before we found some fish in a long, protected canal. We got several bites before we decided to vacate the area and keep looking for more fish.

We moved to another set of canals on the north end of the lake, where we caught several fish underneath boat docks. We spent a couple hours there before relocating once again.

My grandpa and I fished several more areas that afternoon before we decided to call it a day. Our practice wasn’t great, but we hoped that the places we’d found would produce enough fish during the following day’s tournament.

Tournament Day

The next morning, my granddad and I began by fishing in the canal we’d caught a few bass the day before. Only one small fish came from that area, so we decided to make a lengthy run across the wide lake to a set of canals where we’d caught a good amount of bass during a tournament in 2019.

It was 10 o’clock before I caught our second keeper on a Yamamoto Swimming Senko rigged on a shaky head jig head. I fished the worm around boat docks and fallen trees to catch two more keeper bass not long after.

With four fish in the live well, we made another move to a different canal not far away, where I caught our fifth keeper to fill out our five bass limit. Within the next two hours, I used the swimming worm to land four more bass and culled a few of our smaller fish.

However, my grandpa and I didn’t have a very large bag of fish. We knew we still needed a couple of big bites to have a chance at winning. We ran around quite a bit and fished a lot of new water the final two hours of competition. Unfortunately, we came up short and didn’t get another bite.

My grandpa and I ended up weighing in around nine pounds total and finished in 7th place of nearly 20 boats. It wasn’t the finish we were looking for, but we still learned quite a bit from our time spent on Lake Istokpoga and look forward to our next tournament.

What Worked

All the bass we caught in practice came on a Rapala BX Brat squarebill crankbait and a Strike King Tour Grade Swim Jig.


A squarebill is an awesome search bait and can be fished around all types of hard cover, such as fallen trees, rock piles, and boat docks. The swim jig is a great lure for skipping under docks and swimming through vegetation. A Strike King Rage Tail Craw makes a great trailer for the jig.


Those lures didn’t come through during the tournament, so we had to turn to a slower presentation. I used a Yamamoto Swimming Senko rigged on a shaky head jig head to catch nearly every fish on tournament day.


It’s a great lure when bass get finicky and want a more subtle presentation. It excels when skipped under docks, fished near fallen trees and along rock piles.

What Didn’t Work

We needed to spend more time dissecting the canals that were producing bites. We had a tendency to rush when fishing those canals and should’ve taken more time to fish them slower and more thoroughly.

I believe if we’d have spent more time in those certain canals, we could’ve eventually gotten the bigger bites we were looking for.

Back to You

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this tournament recap and tips help you put more bass in the boat on your next outing!

If you fish tournaments, leave a comment down below and let us know where you’re fishing and how well you’ve been doing! As always, happy fishing and keep your hooks wet!


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