Irrigon Dog Days Tournament Recap

With the coveted Angler of the Year title on the line, our last qualifier of the year turned out to be an interesting one, no doubt. Mark Westcott and Jake Anderson officially tied in points once it was all said and done. However, with the tie breaker being based on big fish for the year, Jake Anderson won the AOY title by .6 of a pound! Congratulations Jake!
Several anglers noted the fishing was tougher than their pre-fish, and the fish were undeniably skinnier than in previous years. A few Boardman veterans struggled, undoubtedly due to the declining, or changing fishery. Weights were more reminiscent of 5+ years ago.
Mark Westcott – 1st Place
To tell the story of my day, I fished my first stop and caught a few fish and then ran down to the Boardman area. Even though there wasn’t much wind, the water was getting rough. I realized barge traffic was making it even worse. I kept pressing on and made it to a point and was able to cull a couple of fish and then headed back towards the Blaylock Islands. Somewhere near the big island, rough water ripped my net out of the boat. I turned around to see if I could spot it and I saw it floating. I started driving up to it and just as I got there it sunk, just out of my reach. On my next stop, I hook what would be a smallmouth in the 4 to possibly 5-pound range. I had plenty of time to view it as I played it out carefully knowing I had no net now and treble hooks to deal with. When the fish seemed tired and I had it alongside the boat, I saw it only had one treble in the edge of its lip. I reached to grab it and it gave one last head shake that set it free. I watched it slowly swim away and my heart sank. I had about 15 pounds at this point and I knew this fish would have won the tournament. I had to take a few minutes to recover while asking God why. I know now that he was just looking down on me smiling knowing I had enough already. God is good. I am thankful to finally get the big “W” in a CBBC tournament.
The key for me in this tournament and the tough conditions was getting a clue from the birds. As I think about it, birds were a theme to this whole event for me. As some of you know already, while practicing last weekend, I rescued an osprey that was caught in some bailing twine dangling from its nest.
That’s another story but seems to run in the theme of birds anyway. In practice, I searched for areas birds were congregating and then tried to locate active schools of fish. I found a handful of key areas where better than average size fish were active. The areas had points and close transitions with scattered weeds and rocks. All of my limit came on topwater. I had it in my mind to stick with it even though bites were far between because I was catching larger fish this way.
Scott Gregory – 2nd Place
Jordan and I had just gotten back into town from his tournament in South Carolina and were not able to pre-fish, so we just went with past experience that paid off for both of us. We started the day just down from Paterson slough throwing topwater, getting some of our biggest fish. Around 9 a.m., we both had 5 fish when the topwater bite shut off. Staying in that general area we then threw drop shots and flukes throughout the day catching plenty of fish but they were all clones of about 15 inches and only culling up maybe a pound each. With only an hour left to fish we went back to throwing topwater, where we both were able to cull our smallest fish getting us both 2nd place. I want to take this opportunity to thank the club and everyone who helped Jordan with his trip back to South Carolina. Although he did not do as well as he would have liked to, he had a trip that he will never forget.
Ben Hanes – 3rd Place
I was able to practice a few times for this event. All of my practices went better than the actual tournament day. I think the cold front that blew in the day before, and the ensuing decrease in air temperature, cooled off the fishing. I was on a pretty substantial shallow bite, and during the tournament, several of those shallow areas had been “blown out” from the wind, with fish nowhere to be found. I also could not foresee that both my livewells and front gps would stop working, so I spent a lot of time and energy putting tool trays full of water into the livewell (wasting the precious morning bite), and adjusting my back unit on the console to face forward. All in all, I feel like I fished well and didn’t really lose any key fish, I just was not on 4 pounders. In hindsight, I probably would have avoided going further downriver and instead stayed in the Irrigon/Paterson/Blaylocks area. However, I noticed once the hot topwater morning bite past, everything completely died for me. I kind of panicked and decided to try for some deep fish and the “blown out” areas further downriver. I should have stuck to the shallow bite I think, further upriver. I caught my fish on topwater, spinnerbaits (yep, they still work!), swimbaits, spider jigs, and jerkbaits.

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