Monday, March 21, 2016

March is Tourney Time!

It is tournament time! The ACC tourney and the NCAA basketball tournaments have us all at the edge of our seats. The fishing tournaments are on fire as the weather warms up.
Wait, the fishing tournaments?
Yes, as spring embeds itself into the calendar and warms the water, the fishing heats up.
There are a number of fishing tournaments. They range from local club type tournaments for fund raisers, to regional tournaments to national tournaments.
There are online tournaments requiring just pictures of the catch and weigh-ins monitored with great scrutiny. There is something for everyone. Unless you are me. I have not found that perfect tournament yet.
You see, I am somewhat challenged as it comes to fishing. Let me rephrase that, as it is not really regarding fishing. I can catch fish. Plenty of them in fact. I enjoy doing so. My handicap comes with the size of the catch.
Wrong fish during Crappie tournament, and itty bitty baby to boot.
I fished in a kayak tournament last year and caught a fish that was just over one inch long. You read that right. It was slightly longer than one inch. The lure it attacked was three inches long. It was hooked in the mouth.
Don’t ask me how this happens, it just does. The tournament had a consolation prize for smallest fish. The only issue there is the fish was a different species than what I was supposed to target. Dang rules. They always get in the way.
I caught plenty of fish that day also. Not a single one was a largemouth bass though, and it was a kayak bass fishing tournament.
I went fishing for speckled trout in a kayak tournament on the coast. I caught gray trout instead. The gray trout were less than ten inches long.
My goal this year is to finally break the string of small catches of species I am not trying to catch. If I can do that, maybe I can enter a tournament and at least have something to turn in. It should not be a hard goal to achieve, right?
Just as I did last year, I have once again entered the North Carolina Kayak Fishing Association’s 2016 tournament. The tourney consists of different target species each month from March through November. While largemouth bass are the target species for April, if I catch one in another month other than April I can turn that one in. I know, it sounds like a tournament I have a shot with.
If you catch the target species during the month, you get bonus points. March is crappie month. So, I went out searching for crappie.
Last year I couldn’t help but catch a crappie. I would catch them on their typical favorites such as live minnows or jigs. I would also catch them on non-typical lures such as Senko worms. “March is going to be a breeze,” I thought to myself.
In typical ‘Bill Howard Fishing Tournament’ fashion, I find a way to somehow play by different rules. I had a span of three days to put my first crappie on the board and get my bonus points. I believed it would be no issue at all to put an eleven or twelve incher in the standings. It wouldn’t be enough to win, but it would get some points and give me a chance to upgrade while still getting my bonus.
Day one came and went. I had quality time with my dog Ari on the kayak with me. Yep, that was the highlight.
Day two came and went. I actually caught a crappie. I was paddling to a spot with a minnow still on my hook. The minnow was skimming across the top of the water’s surface. I heard a splash and saw my rod to my left flailing around. A crappie had leapt to the minnow and hooked itself. I reeled the fella in. And as I placed him on the board getting ready to take the picture, it flipped off the board to the side of the kayak, then flipped again into the water.
It wasn’t the big one that got away though. It was the small one that got away. In fact, it was the only one that got away. The only catch that is.
But day three went better. I landed a fish on a beetle spin. Got it in the kayak. Got it on the board along with my identifier and was able to get the picture before releasing it.
Of course, it was the wrong species. And it wasn’t long enough to get a measurement. It is like scoring a touchdown for the wrong team in a basketball tournament. One day I will get this tourney thing right.
The pursuit shall continue.


  1. Here in PA we've got a 'delayed harvest' they just introduced which is great because it allows us to get out before trout season opens. Unfortunately it's catch and release only but it's still great to get out there and get that line in the water! I'm antsy to get the kayak out too though!

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