Practice:The practice period resulted in the general opinion that the fishing on both St. Clair and Erie was going to be tough, by Great Lakes’ standards. My practice allowed me to cover dozens of traditionally productive areas on Lake Erie, as the practice period was very calm. Of all the places I fished, only about 4-6 had decent amounts of large fish. I never spent much time fishing for small (less than 3 ½ pounds) fish, as I knew it was going to take giant weights to win. I never practiced St. Clair, due to the fact that the forecast was for stable, calm weather for much of the event, and I knew I’d have a better chance at connecting with large fish on Erie.
At the conclusion of practice, I felt that I had a good chance to do well if the weather remained stable and I could switch water throughout the tournament. I did not feel that I found a place to fish for four consecutive days, or that a place like that even existed on Erie, due to the lower numbers of fish than St. Clair.
Tournament:I felt like I dropped the ball in the event a little, but I accomplished what I set out to do. I had a Top-10 finish, and put myself in contention to win. In the end, my decisions to gamble on days 3 and 4, and fish for winning stringers, probably cost me from being 2nd or 3rd, as a marginal stringer (by Erie’s standards) on day 4 would have put me there. But I knew that, if I were to beat Nixon, I would need a stringer in the 22-24 pound class. Veterans like him just don’t stumble. And, to accomplish that, I would need to find a concentration of very large fish, which I never did. On Erie, you need to make the right choice of spots right off the bat, which I didn’t do. And, as luck would have it, the lake got very rough the final day and I was unable to move around as much as I’d liked.
One thing I want to remark on, as I did on stage the final day, is that I spent an estimated 4-5 hours behind the wheel of my Z521 the final day in 3-5 foot waves. I made a run in the morning that took 2 ½ hours. And, this morning following the event, the only problem I have is a frozen livewell valve. I simply could not compete at this level, on these bodies of water, in any boat but a Ranger. Period.
Overall thoughts on the event:I’m glad Larry Nixon won – I really am. I told my wife that I’d liked to have won, but it was like 50-50 between me and Nixon on who I’d pick. Really. I’m blown away by the ability of some of the legends of our sport to put themselves in these positions over and over again. So it was a thrill just to be part of it.
Fishermen in one area of Lake St. Clair dominated the event, and it’s no surprise that Nixon found the winning area. In the end, I think Erie would have been capable to produce winning fish, but the stars just didn’t align this time. I’ll be back to try again whenever FLW returns.
FLW Open Detroit River Aug 23-26, 2012
70 lbs. 7 oz.