Prez Says Irrigon Recap

Our first tournament of the year is in the books! Initial weather reports indicated a very blustery afternoon, resulting in a debate on whether or not the tournament should be cancelled, postponed, or at the very least delayed. Thankfully, the morning greeted us with calm waters and pleasant conditions, with an ensuing forecast that promised to be slightly improved. In other words, 4 foot waves rather than 6 foot waves! As we have all come to know, though, conditions east of the Blaylock Islands tend to be much more tame than the wide-open river that exists beyond the islands, and that seems to be (intelligently) where most anglers stayed for most the day. The few who ventured beyond the Blaylocks were sure to make their way back before it got too bad. So, thank you all for being safe!
Despite the weather being better than forecasted, I wouldn’t say the same about the fishing. Typically, most everyone limits in our first tournament of the year at Boardman. Granted, in the past those tournaments have been slightly later, but the fishing proved to be extremely difficult for most people. All in all, almost half the field either called it quits before the official weigh-in, or simply did not catch any fish, because of poor fishing and difficult weather. Only 5 out of the 30 competitors weighed in limits!
Even so, it was a good turnout! We had 30 competitors, around 18 boats…We paid out $1,352.00 in cash (options and 1st- 4th place), in addition, $36 was won by Ben Hanes in the 50/50 Raffle, and Josiah McConnell took home Lloyd’s Creation! Brian Oles, the Slot Bag King, once again took home the SB honors. The Dobyn’s Rod was won by Mel Williams, who caught 4 largemouth. Ron Mace won the Mystery Tackle Box, and Scott Gregory won the Lucky Tackle Box. We also gave out gift certificates to 1st – 3rd place in the Junior Division. Combined, we paid out almost $1,568.00 in cash and prizes! Below are the top 10:
1st – Rick Dopke – 23.19lbs and Big Fish of the Tournament – 7.95lbs!
2nd – Drake Ofsthun – 19.28lbs (Big Fish was a 6.58lb SM!)
3rd – Jake Anderson – 16.57lbs
4th – Mel Williams – 13.97lbs
5th – Ron Mace – 13.16lbs
6th – Scott Gregory – 11.35lbs
7th – Brian Oles – 9.36lbs
8th – Ben Hanes – 9.34lbs
9th – Dick Coffey – 8.60lbs
10th – Jordan Hanes – 8.30lbs
The following is a breakdown of the top 3:
Rick Dopke, 1st Place – Skyler and I first started in the Paterson slough in one of the back bays. The water was 48 degrees and muddy. We fished for about an hour with nothing happening. We then moved out to the northeast shoreline in hopes of hitting some smallmouth. However, again, no luck.
I had a spot down by McCormick slough that usually produces this time of year but the water temp was even colder. 45-47 degrees. The only thing I could think of doing besides fishing deep (which I really hate) was going completely the other way and get as close to the shore as possible. The water temp was 49 degrees.
I tied on a green pumpkin, Zoom Baby Brush Hog with a 1/8 tungsten weight and started flipping the shoreline and reeds. We were fishing in about 1 to 1 1/2 feet of water. You had to put the bait right up to the reeds and fish really slow. Every bite I got, including my two big fish, was a very light bite. I really wasn’t sure my big fish was a fish because I felt nothing other than some resistance as I tried to move it. I read somewhere that “hook sets are free” so that’s what I did. We fished the area for about two more hours and headed back to Paterson. The wind was blowing and we ended up taking 3 waves over the bow. We were doing about 5mph.
We got back to Paterson around 1pm and the water temperature was 51. We each picked up a fish flipping reeds. All in all, it was a fishing day that we all hope for every time we go out, but only comes around once in a while. I’m thankful it was my turn….
Drake Ofsthun, 2nd Place – – Ironically, I had no idea if I was going to be able to fish this tournament due to our boat getting a tune-up in the shop. I still wasn’t sure, but I still attended the driver’s meeting to see if anyone was fishing alone. That’s where I met with Jake Anderson and he offered to take me out. We first started out in the Paterson Slough looking for active fish with cranks and spinnerbaits. With nothing to show for, we made a run down river planning to fill the livewells quickly before the afternoon wind started. We managed only 1 fish a piece before we needed to head back up river to avoid the big water. We then fished some road beds that seemed to have schools of fish that had just migrated up from their winter hangouts. All our bites came in short time frames on heavy tubes and jigs dragged slowly across the bottom. We repeated this technique for the rest of the day. We were never able to find a largemouth bite. I just want to say thank you to Jake for taking me under his wing and teaching me a lot on this trip. But most importantly putting me on my new personal best smallmouth weighing 6.58. Talk about a rush! We both had a great time catching fish and exchanging laughs throughout the day. I also want to thank Ben and Jordan Hanes for putting on a phenomenal event to start off the season. I’d also like to thank Bass Kickin’Baits for putting out fantastic baits that constantly puts key fish in the boat day in and day out. Don’t forget to check out Game Over Angling, they have awesome articles about all the aspects of fishing and what to look for! Thank you for your time.
Jake Anderson, 3rd Place – I used this tournament to force myself to learn how to use Google Earth to the best advantage possible. I built trails in Google Earth that traced entire road beds in Paterson, and precisely encircled rock reefs in Crow Butte. Importing them to my Lowrance units allowed accurate casting and boat control. Efficiency at work! All we had to do was find a bait they wanted that day. After only catching 1 fish each down in Crow Butte, we slowly got to Paterson by 10:45. We worked rocky structure marked on Google Earth with reaction baits until we’d catch one. Then we slowed down and milked every inch of the spot we could. We caught most of them on green pumpkin plastics on football heads. For the most part the fish were all very similar in size, but from the back deck, Drake Ofsthun tricked a 6.58lb smallmouth that would leave my mind blown for the rest of the day. It made some runs that most 48-degree fish won’t make. He took his time and to his credit his drag settings were perfect in order to let the fish take line, but not to belabor the fight too long. Because of the stained water, we never really got a good look at it until it was in the net. Probably a good thing! I think we caught 20 fish or so and lost a few others we never saw. It was a really fun day for Drake and I. My, new to me, Ranger from Nixons Marine ran really well and safely navigated some large waves for a 19.5ft boat.
Thank you again to everyone who participated. It was an exciting weigh-in, I wish everyone would have seen it! Our next stop is at Lake Coeur d’Alene on May 20th and 21st. This is a team/family/couples tournament. It is also an AOY points-event and will count toward Championship qualification. It will be in the same format as Potholes of last year, and we’ll have a dinner like we had last year too. For those of you who missed out last year, it was a really good time, and we gave away a lot of trophies and prizes! I personally have never fished the lake, but word on the street is this should be a VERY GOOD time of year to fish Coeur d’Alene. Please remember we have a club meeting on April 25th of this month at Kennewick Ranch and Home at 6:00 p.m., where we’ll have Justin Campbell presenting on reaction/power fishing!

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