If you read my last post, you’re aware of how my grandpa and I fished the Bass Bandits “classic” tournament on Lake Okeechobee the last weekend of September. The very next weekend, we took another trip to the huge lake to fish our last derby of the year with the Outcast Bass Club. This tournament was also held out of Clewiston, located on the lakes southwest end.
We were fortunate enough to get great weather on our first trip to Lake Okeechobee this year. However, on this trip, just one week later, the weather was not as kind. Strong wind out of the northeast, creating two to four-foot waves, made it difficult to navigate in most areas on the main lake. Plus, there was a high chance of rain each day we were there. This change is weather can have a huge impact on fish and the way they bite.
Therefore, despite the windy, rainy weather, my grandpa and I headed down a day ahead of the tournament to pre-fish once again. We spent the first part of our practice day scouting out the area where we caught a solid 18-pound bag of fish on day two of the prior week’s tournament. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing in hard on that entire area, making it near impossible to fish that vegetation effectively. We fished around some of the reed clumps and scattered grass but did not get a bite in that area.
From there, my grandpa and I decided to make a fairly long run to an area we’d fished the week before, known as South Bay. We hadn’t caught a lot of fish in that location but it was protected from the wind and was really our best option given the conditions. After a twenty minutes boat ride, we arrived in South Bay and began flipping isolated reed patches and hyacinths along the shoreline. I caught one solid fish close to four pounds and had two other bites in about two hours of fishing around this vegetation. This pattern wasn’t producing a ton of bites but at least it was something, and the fish seemed to be better quality.
Later that morning, my grandpa caught a couple of bass on a jerkbait along a channel bank. From there, the two of us made our way to the opposite side of the cove we were in. As we were fishing our way down a line of reeds, I seen multiple bass busting baitfish on the surface in front of us off a small point. I made my way closer to the feeding fish, picked up a jerkbait and fired it towards the commotion. I immediately got a strike and brought a two pounder into the boat.
I released the fish and quickly made another cast, where I instantly got another bite, but missed the fish. My grandpa also had a bite in the same spot. With three bites in less than a minute, it seemed like there could be quite a few bass in that location. My grandpa and I decided to leave that point alone until the following day. We fished for a couple more hours in South Bay without much success before calling it a day and heading back to check into our room. It hadn’t been a great practice, but we’d found a little something that was out of the wind and hoped it would produce for us during competition.
Tournament Day 1
The next morning was day one of the final derby of the 2019/2020 season. Hopes were high and I was excited to hit the water for one last tournament of the season. The fall air was crisp as we headed to our first spot that morning. We pulled into our first area in South Bay, where I’d caught a decent fish flipping the day before and began fishing around the scattered reeds.
The bite was slow to start the day. We caught only one small keeper in the first hour and decided to desert that area and try the point we’d found during practice. We arrived at that spot and both picked up a jerkbait. On my first cast, I caught a two pounder that struck right at the boat. On my next three casts, I caught three more keepers to fill out our limit, none bigger than two pounds.
With a limit in the boat, the two of us tried our best to upgrade. Within the next hour, we caught over twenty bass in that single spot. The fish were biting, but they weren’t real big. We made a couple of small upgrades, but nothing huge.
Although we didn’t want to leave those fish to find more fish, we weren’t catching anything much more than two pounds. We decided to abandon the point and try a few narrow channels and boat trails nearby. We pulled into the first channel and I caught a fish close to three pounds right away. I culled our smallest fish and kept easing out way down the bank. When we reached the end of the channel, my grandpa and I caught six or eight more bass, none of which helped our weight total. However, the fish were biting so fast in that area that I caught two fish on the same jerkbait at one time. We were around fish, just not the right quality.
My grandpa and I spent the rest of the morning fishing more channels and made a couple more small upgrades. Around noon, the wind was beginning to calm down a bit, so we decided to head back toward the main lake. We fished for nearly two hours around scattered reeds and grass and never got a bite. We were forced to call it a day with what we’d caught that morning and head to the weigh in.
My grandpa and I weighed in a little more than fourteen pounds on day one and were sitting in 4th place. We definitely needed a big bag to catch up to the leader and were hoping we could come across some better-quality fish the next day.
Tournament Day 2
The following day was the last day of the tournament season. My grandpa and I headed down to South Bay once again. We started the morning in the spot we’d caught so many fish the day before, hoping to get a quick limit. Unfortunately, conditions were different from the day prior. A big storm had come through overnight and it was cloudy with very little sunlight.
We pulled up to that point and began casting all around it. Twenty minutes later, we hadn’t had a single strike. It appeared as if those fish had relocated. We moved to a channel not far away, where we quickly caught a limit of one pounders. That wasn’t what we were looking for, so after fishing a couple more channels without success, we headed to a large grass flat in the main lake. We fished that area for over an hour without a bite, so we moved up along the shoreline. We found a little cove that looked promising, but we only caught two small fish out of it.
At this point, my grandpa and I were running out of options and ideas. We decided to head back to an area near the boat ramp where we’d located some eel grass in practice. One our way, we stopped to fish along a rocky bank, where I caught a two pounder on a worm, giving us another small upgrade.
We arrived back in the main lake and began easing our way across a large bed of eel grass, fishing slow through the vegetation with worms. Ten minutes in, I caught a fish close to three pounds, with gave us about a two-pound upgrade. That fish gave us hope that we could possibly catch a few solid fish in that area. Half an hour passed without another bite. Then, I felt a fish tap my worm, set the hook and my line snapped. That was the last bite we got in the eel grass.
With less than an hour left to fish, my grandpa and I deserted the eel grass and fished isolated reeds the remainder of the day. I caught one more small fish that was no help to our weight total and we headed to weigh in. Day two had been tough, and my grandpa and I were not able to catch the big bag of fish we needed. We weighed in just over eight pounds, with 22.45 pounds combined, and fell to 7th place overall. It was a disappointing way to end the season, as we were obviously hoping for a much better finish. However, we still learned some things we can use next season and had fun catching a lot of fish.
My grandpa and I had another tough practice for this tournament, however we found a special little area that was holding a lot of fish the first day of competition. Unfortunately, those fish had relocated and were not there on day two. We caught the majority of our fish on a Rapala Shadow Rap Jerkbait.
The water in the areas we were fishing was very clear for the most part. Anytime I’m fishing clear, open water, a jerkbait is my number one choice. It’s a bait that caught us a lot of fish, over thirty-five, on day one of the tournament. A jerkbait is also a great bait to throw during the fall because it imitates shad so well.
Rapala Shadow Rap Jerkbait: https://amzn.to/2SQWkTc
I mentioned this in my last tournament recap as well, but my grandpa and I covered so much water fishing on Okeechobee during this tournament. We couldn’t have done it without our Minn Kota Terrova trolling motor. This is the best trolling motor I’ve ever used. It’s a twenty-four volt motor with eighty pounds of thrust. It has ten different speeds, spot lock and auto pilot. Plus, it can cut through super thick vegetation and is extremely durable and powerful, lasting an entire day on the water with no problems. It’s not the least expensive trolling motor on the market, however, it’s well worth the money for an avid angler who is on the water often.
Minn Kota Terrova: https://amzn.to/376OsFi
What Didn’t Work
My grandpa and I did everything right the first day. We caught nearly every fish that bit and made the most of our opportunities. It was day two that hurt us in this derby. We didn’t properly adjust to the changing conditions. While we tried some different tactics later that day, we should’ve spent more time doing so earlier in the day. Our fish moved, we didn’t have a reliable backup plan and it cost us.
Back to You
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about our latest bass tournament. As you seen from reading this recap, it’s extremely important to make adjustments when the weather changes, especially during the fall, when bass are already constantly on the move.
I hope these recaps have helped you become a better bass angler, whether you fish tournaments or not. As has been true in each of our last two tournaments, changing weather conditions have altered our fishing success. Always be aware of this when your fishing and know that fishing can be dramatically different from one day to the next.
Well, that wraps up the current tournament season. I hope you all have enjoyed reading these recaps throughout the year. The new season starts in less than a month, so stayed tuned for many more tournament articles coming soon! As always, happy fishing and keep your hooks wet!