Capt. Ethan Hamrick
Call or Text 727-242-1672

Outcasts Tournament: Lake Istokpoga January 2021

It was our first tournament of the 2021 season! The season opener was being held on Lake Istokpoga in Lake Placid, Florida.

My grandpa and I have fished multiple tournaments on this 27,000-acre lake in years prior. We weren’t able to practice for this derby, so but we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do on tournament day.

Tournament Day

On the morning of competition, we started out in a set of canals on the east side of the lake, an area we’d been successful before and were familiar with. My grandpa caught a two-pound keeper on a jerkbait within the first ten minutes to get us started. I also had a couple of bites on a swim jig, but unfortunately lost both fish before we moved on to the next canal.

The next two hours were a grind, as we lost two more bass and didn’t have our second keeper until about 10 o’clock. With two fish in the livewell, we headed to a different set of canals, hoping for better results. I caught two decent fish pretty quick on a shaky head worm. With four fish in the boat, we relocated once again to another canal further down the lake. My grandpa used a lipless crankbait to catch our fifth keeper, a chunky two pounder, which finally filled out our limit for the day.

I was happy to have five fish in the boat but we were still in need of a couple of big fish. About half an hour later, I caught a two pounder on a swim jig, which gave us a small upgrade. However, that ended up being the last fish we caught that day. We spent the last two hours of the day fishing a creek on the north end of the lake but were unsuccessful. We headed back to the boat ramp a little before 3pm to weigh in our catch.

My grandpa and I weighed in a total of 13.82 pounds of bass and finished in 2nd place of 17 boats. Although we’d had some missed opportunities and hadn’t caught very many fish, it was still a great way to kick off the new year!

What Worked

My grandpa and I caught fish on three different baits throughout this tournament, including a Rapala Shadow Rap jerkbait and a Strike King Tour Grade swim jig. However, our key bait was the Gary Yamamoto Swimming senko rigged on a Strike Kiing Tour Grade shaky head jig head.

Strike King Tour Grade Swim Jig:

Rapala Shadow Rap Jerkbait:

Gary Yamamoto Swimming Senko:

Strike King Tour Grade Shaky Head:

I really like throwing this bait when the fishing is slow. Plus, it’s a great lure for skipping under boat docks, which is what we did a lot of in the canals.

What Didn’t Work

We probably should’ve spent the last couple hours of the day fishing more canals instead of running up the creek we weren’t familiar with. It may not have helped us, but we knew we could catch fish in canals, so if we would have found more canals to fish around the lake, we might have been able to upgrade our bag more.

Back to You

Thank you so much for reading about my first bass tournament of the new year! There will surely be many more to come, so stay tuned for more exciting bass action!

As always, happy fishing and keep your hooks wet! 


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