Oct 10

Tournament Report – BASS Weekend Series Divisional Oneida Lake — By Pro-Staffer Bill Lortz

Tournament Report – BASS Weekend Series Divisional Oneida Lake
By: Pro-Staffer Bill Lortz

It was late September in upstate New York and I was preparing for the BASS weekend series divisional championship on Oneida Lake. Due to past experience I had on Oneida, I knew that smallmouth bass and the umbrella rig would be a major factor in this tournament.

The morning of my first practice day, the weatherman was calling for a picture-perfect day with light winds, high sun and temperatures in the mid-70s. I headed out into the lake and made about an 8 mile run down to the area that I was going to start my practice. I immediately started catching fish but they weren’t the right size I would need to do well in the tournament.

After a couple hours, I moved out to the mid-range depths and started throwing an Alabama Rig. After catching numerous fish and having a couple fish jump off, I realized that the aggression with which the fish were hitting was causing the hook to pull out of their mouths. My original set up was pretty standard, a 7’6″heavy action rod 7-1 gear ratio real and 55 pound braid line. Because of all the lost fish, I decided to re-spool with 20 lb. “Upgrade” fluorocarbon. As my practice progressed, I realized that switching to the fluorocarbon was key. It allowed for what the proper stretch to offset such an aggressive strike. I ended my practice day feeling very confident that I had found a pattern that would serve me well when the tournament began.

I put my boat in the water as the sun was rising on the second practice day. Again the weatherman was calling for a picture perfect day. I knew I had to concentrate on those mid areas that I had identified the day prior because the weather predicted a cold front and rain to move in for the tournament days. Once I began fishing, I again started throwing an Alabama Rig, but this time with the intent to figure out how to catch the better quality fish. I experimented with slowing down my retrieve and fishing deeper in the water column. By doing this, it didn’t seem like I got as many bites but the ones I got seemed to be from better quality fish. I also noticed that the bigger fish were hitting my rig a lot more subtly. I decided to stay with 20 “Upgrade”. I knew that the near invisibility and sensitivity of the line would allow me the best of both worlds, the ability to feel the subtle strikes and the strength to keep the big ones buttoned up. As I finished my practice, I was feeling extremely confident in my plan for the tournament.

At the start of day one of the championship, the weather did a complete 180 from practice and brought strong winds and looming rain showers. The change in conditions caused the smallmouth bite to slow down, and the bite from the bigger fish to be even more subtle than it was in practice. Throughout the day I really appreciated the sensitivity of the Toray fluorocarbon. I continued to use the umbrella rig throughout the day and was progressively able to upgrade my catch. For the day, I caught approximately 30 fish and ended up in fourth place with a total weight of 16.90 lbs., almost 3 pounds behind the leader.

Day two dawned with weather conditions even worse than day one. A major cold front came through dropping the air temperature almost 25° from the day prior. The wind was also very strong creating 3 foot waves in my main area. When I approached my first spot, I was concerned that the weather change may have shut the fish down completely, but it didn’t take long to figure out that they were actually eating the bait much more aggressively. Once again by the end of the day, I had landed around 30 keepers. As I crossed the scales on day two, I weighed in five smallmouths for 17.79 lbs., almost a pound better than my day one weight. I ended up with 34.69 lbs. for the tournament and earned a second-place finish, just 3 ounces shy of the day 1 leader and winner of the tournament.

Looking back on the tournament, I was one of only a couple people to increase my weight from day one. Many of the fisherman were in the same general area as I was and had a very hard time on day two. I believe that the sensitivity, invisibility and strength of Toray Superhard Upgrade fluorocarbon made the difference for me and propelled me to a second-place finish. Overall, I boated 50 to 60 smallmouth bass across both days and I didn’t lose a single fish or broke off. This high finish was a true testament to the strength and durability of Toray Superhard Upgrade 20 lb. fluorocarbon.

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