2019 T-H Marine BFL Illini Division (and a few other tournaments along the way)
Back to the front of the boat for me for the 2019 BFL tournament schedule. I will post a summary and highlights (hopefully a lot of highlights) of each event as the pages of the calendar flip. Come aboard, and take the ride with me. I hope to entertain you a little, teach you something, and inspire you a bunch. Glad to have you!
Illini Team Trail Big Bass Blast - Lake of Egypt
March 16, 2019
My friend John Gale and I jumped into this Big Bass tournament at the last minute without practice. This is my first time fishing an ITT event. It was an extremely well-run program. We had a good turn-out. John and I managed to piece a few things together. We weighed in a couple of 3 lb. class fish that kept us in the race during a couple of periods of the 4-period event. However, in the end, we got bumped out.
As the day progressed, we "got a little something dialed in", but we just couldn't find the 4 lb. bite we needed to score a check. Crawfish colored hard baits, both lipped and lipless, produced the best bite for us.
We had a good day and gave 'em all we had. I am sure we'll jump in another Big Bass Blast event in the near future.
Illini Division Event #1 - Rend Lake
April 27, 2019
It was a grind to say the least, but using "grind" and Rend Lake in the same sentence is considered repetitive. I had to areas holding bass and was able to catch fish from each area. My problem was the 5 I put in the boat generated only 1 keeper. I fished clean, so I have no regrets with a 36th place finish and valuable points. A vibrating jig and Texas rigged stick worm did the work for me in this Rend Lake meat grinder as I was primarily catching prespawn bass with a few spawners mixed in.
Illini Team Trail Big Bass Blast - Rend Lake
May 11, 2019
Another weekend of fishing means another severe cold front in Southern Illinois thus far in 2019. With a smaller than expected turnout, the format was adjusted to just a single end-of-the-day weigh-in. As luck would have it, this tournament paid 4 places. I finished 5th with a bass weighing 3.09 lbs. There were no 4 lb. fish brought to the scales. 3.11 lbs. secured the last check.
I was able to figure out just a little something and do the best I could with it. The key seemed to be covering water to get a reaction strike. Soaking a bait in a bush didn't produce much for me. Using a spinnerbait and a swim jig from Zorro Baits, I put a 5 fish in the boat with 3 being Rend Lake keepers. Each angler was allowed to bring a single fish to the scales. I would've loved to have had those 3 keepers at the BFL event two Saturdays prior; it would have been a check for yours truly.
Anyway, ITT put on another nice event. They had BBQ and sides for us after the weigh-in, which was greatly appreciated on a cold day, wet day. I feel like I've learned a little bit about Rend Lake this spring. I have no idea if it will really help me much going forward. Rend can sure make you question your ability to catch fish.
Until next time God Bless, good fishing, and tight lines to all!
Illini Division Event #2 - Lake Shelbyville
June 8, 2019
I had a very consistent week of tournament practice that held up all the way through the tournament. I dropped 11 lbs. 2 oz. on the scales for a 14th place finish and a small check. This finish lifted me into 16th place in the Illini Division AOY points race.
Two Zorro Spinnerbaits were my workhorses during the week: a 3/8 oz. Aggravator and a 3/8 oz. Bango Blade both with double willow leaf blades. With the lake about 3 foot above summer pool I focused on some flooded cover all around the lake, some in backwater areas other on the main lake. I was able to figure out exactly what to look for and run new water every day during practice. I returned to my most productive water on tournament day and began catching bass. I sorted through 8 short fish and 6 keepers to get my biggest 5.
I hope to carry the positive momentum to Rend Lake at the end of the month. Until next time, God Bless, good fishing, and tight lines to all!
Illini Division Event #3 - Rend Lake
June 29, 2019
This event did not turn out as I had anticipated. Due to a disagreement over the draw process, both my draw partner for the day and I decided not to participate. I requested a refund for the remaining events of the 2019 Illini Divsion BFL season. It is a shame since I was off to a good start this year.
I will be playing the remainder of the 2019 fishing season "by ear". Likely, I will jump into an event here and there. Everything happens for a reason. I don't know what God's plan is for me, but I MUST keep an open mind.
I invite you to stay with me an find out what happens for the remainder of 2019 and beyond........
Illini Team Trail Big Bass Blast - Lake of Egypt
October 13, 2019
Wow, what a tough event! Two anglers tied for overall big bass honors with a 4.06 lb. largemouth. That is a little light for Lake of Egypt, but they earned it. For me, it was one of the worst single days of fishing on LOE that I have ever experienced. I really thought I'd pick up a quality bite or two on some isolated offshore structure and cover. I was only able to manage of handful of light bites. Closer to the bank wasn't any better. It produced some short fish on a Zorro Bango Blade double willow leaf spinnerbait. As always, ITT put on a good event. Until next time, God Bless, good fishing, and tight lines to all.