March 2nd, 2014
On the Tournament Trail – CSFL June/July 2013 with Steve Rowswellby Steve Rowswell July 28, 2013
My tournament season began opening day, June 22 on Sparrow Lake for the first event of the CSFL BM100 division, a division limited to boats powered by 150 horsepower or less. Going into this event, I didn’t really know what to expect but had high hopes to start the year off on the right foot. Prior to the tournament, I had never targeted bass on Sparrow and it was only my third time on the lake. From looking at previous year’s tournament results on the lake, my partner and I decided that largemouth should be the target species; based on the time of year, we decided to start shallow and work out from there. Being unfamiliar with the lake, fishing shallow, visible structure was an obvious choice. However, the day didn’t start off well as the clock hit 9:00 and we were still looking for our first bite. As tension and concern continued to rise we eventually found a short stretch of pads that was holding fish and managed to catch two keepers in as many casts throwing hollow bodied frogs. With the shallow bite not producing as much as we would like, we decided to move out, off the bank and target mid lake humps and weedlines with shallow running crankbaits and wacky rigged senkos. An hour in and only a couple shorts to show for it, we decided to go back to the bank and grind out the rest of the day throwing frogs with an Angler’s Choice Kill Shot rigged on a dropshot as a follow up bait. In the end, I believe this was the right decision as we boated about 20 fish in the final five hours of the tournament. Unfortunately, we could not capitalize on a couple bigger bites. We finished the day with 5 clones each weighing between 2-2.5 for a total weight of 11.35-lbs; good enough for 17th out of 35 boats and only about a pound and a half out of the money.
Our second tourney was two weeks later on Gloucester Pool, a lake I’ve had a love/hate relationship with in the past. Catching fish isn’t the problem but finding the right size can be challenging at times. Going into this event I was really looking for redemption as the year before, my partner and I only managed to weigh 9-lbs, compounded by livewell issues. Leading up this year’s event, we really put our time in, fishing deep and shallow, for both largies and smallmouth. Although we caught fish in every situation, we found a good shallow largemouth bite, which really played into the way we like to fish. On tournament day we both agreed to commit to our pattern and accept whatever happened. Unfortunately this tournament got off to a bit of a rocky start as well as the water had dropped a couple inches and we were unable to get over an old sunken beaver dam and into our primary location, a small back bay covered in pads and absolutely packed with fish. From there we started running our secondary spots, and managed to put a quick limit in the boat anchored by a solid 4+ pound largie my partner caught on a PowerTeam Lures Craw D’oeuvre punched through a mat. At this point were sitting at about 10 pounds for 5 fish so we know there’s still work to be done as it usually takes 17 to 20-lbs for the win and at least 15 for a top 10 on Gloucester Pool. We continued moving from bay to bay consistently catching fish and culling by ounces. By 1:00 we were sitting at around 13-lbs which included one fish we knew we had to get rid of. We knew if we could just get one more good fish it would put us over that 15-lbs mark but unfortunately it just wasn’t in the cards and we went to the scales with 13.65-lbs and finished in 29th place out of over 80 boats. The winning weight for the event was an unbelievable 21 pound sack caught by Dan Risorto and his partner, including a 6.65-lbs hog! This tournament was a crossover between the CSFL Northwestern and BM100 divisions so although we were 29th overall, we were 7th in boats participating as part of the BM100 division which allowed us to gain some valuable points towards the regional cup at the end of the summer.
My next tournament was July 21 on Lake Couchiching. This event was outside the BM100 division so it wouldn’t count towards my divisional standings but Couch is my home lake so I decided to enter and give it a shot. Knowing that divisional points weren’t a factor I spent my prefishing time in deep water targeting weedlines and drop-offs which hold some of the biggest largemouth Couchiching has to offer. This prefish was one of the best I’ve ever had going into a tournament as I was consistently catching 3 pound fish with 4’s mixed in. Needless to say I was extremely confident and decided to stay off the lake the two days prior to the tournament to leave my fish alone so they would be ready to go come tourney day. However, mother nature decided to throw a curveball and brought in crazy winds and a cold front which set in the night before the event. I made a couple last minute game plan changes and decided to target rock/weed transitions in the 8-12 foot range early in the morning hoping that the rocks would hold some heat and concentrate the bass and then move out deeper once it got warm.. Not a good move. If you’ve ever fished a tournament you know that having no fish in the boat at 11 can be a little unsettling. Fortunately, as the sun got up in the sky and the water got back over the 80 degree mark, the fish became a little more active. I stuck with my game plan for the rest of the day, fishing water in the 15-22 foot range for the remainder of the day and managed to catch 3 good fish and one dink for a total of 10.1-lbs but it will take me a while to get over the giant that jumped off two feet from the net less than 30 minutes before weigh in. When it was all said and done, that fish was the difference between where I finished at 35th and a top 20. My fish were caught on a wacky rigged Yamamoto Senko rigged on a weighted hook and a 6th Sense Crush 300DD crankbait.
My final two tournaments of the summer are in August on Scugog and Balsam and it’s going to take two good finishes to qualify for the CSFL Regional Cup on Quinte Labour Day weekend.
For more information on the CSFL, check out their website
Steve is a talented multi-species tournament angler, based in Orillia Ontario. When Steve isn’t on the water, writing articles or editing YouTube fishing videos, he’s an Environmental Studies student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. Steve plans to pursue a career following his passion for the outdoors and in particular fishing.
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Steve is a talented multi-species tournament angler, based in Orillia Ontario. When Steve isn't on the water, writing articles or editing YouTube fishing videos, he's an Environmental Studies student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. Steve plans to pursue a career following his passion for the outdoors and in particular fishing.More by Steve Rowswell