For those of you that have been following me for a while, you know that I fish the Southeast Texas Kayak Bass League (SETXKBL) tournament trail, along with other Jackpot tournaments here and there. To read about how I got into kayak bass tournaments, see Lake Conroe Kayak Bass Fishing Tournament Redemption. Kayak bass fishing is really starting to go mainstream. The original tournaments, such as the B.A.S.S. Classic now have a kayak arm. This is a great time to be in the sport.
July 8, 2020 – I had never fished on Lake Somerville, prior to my one day of prefishing a few days before the tournament. It was a calm morning, but turned into a near disaster when the wind picked up, managing 2-3 foot swells, while trying to rearrange things and pull the scupper plugs to let the water drain, that had been coming over the bow and the sides….I nearly flipped. I prefished for nearly 6 hours and only caught 2 fish. One was too small to measure for the tournament (has to be at least 12″) and the other I caught right at the boat ramp just before I was getting off of the water. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling like my prefish really helped me with a plan or pick up on a pattern. The two I caught were both on a wacky rig and shallow. One was caught early, the other was caught when it was nearing 100° outside. Most other fishermen I saw were surrounding a couple of islands. I knew that’s how it would be on tournament day, so it was back to the drawing board for a couple of days before the big day.
July 11th, 2020 – Most of the ramps around Lake Somerville didn’t open until 6am. Our Tournament Director had to push back the launch times to accommodate this. So, launch at 6:15am, lines in at 6:20am, lines out at 2:30pm, photos submitted by 3:00pm and the weigh-in at 3:30pm.
With the ramps opening so close to launch time, it was a feat trying to get unloaded and onto the water, along with about 15 other guys, at the right time. So, I took my time, and didn’t rush – that second part seemed to be key for the day. I actually got onto the water just about 6:25am, and went to the area where I caught the first fish on prefish day. It was a very shallow cove, but I could see some movement. I decided to throw a Texas-Rigged 10″ Ribbon Tail worm to start out with. I’m making my way around the cove, and get to just the end of it before it opens up to the main lake and I get a huge bite. At 6:54am, I landed my first fish, measuring in at 18″. I submit the fish, check the leaderboard and I’m in 2nd place, right behind someone with an 18.25″ fish. Cool, keep on pushing.
I recalled seeing a lot of topwater action on prefish day, but I couldn’t get a bite on a frog, plopper style bait or anything of the sort. However, I have a Berkeley wake bait that I thought might provoke a bite. I leave the cove and head over to a bulkhead and on the second cast with the wake bait, I get a bite and land my second fish at 7:17am. Small fish, but it proved the theory. I throw that one back and cast back in there. Within a span of 3 minutes, I get my next fish, this time another keeper at 14″. Submit to the leaderboard and still in 2nd place. Continuing on…I keep working along the bulkhead, still throwing the wake bait, and about 20 minutes later, my 3rd scorable bass is in the yak at 7:48am, measuring 12.25″. Submit the fish to the leaderboard, check the standings, and now I’ve moved down to 3rd place. Still good. I work along the bulkhead for a little while longer, switching up to some soft plastics and working along the rocks, but the bite dies down there.
After awhile, I decide to go back to the boat dock, just at the launch ramp, as boat traffic has died down from recreational and other fishermen launching to spend the day on the water. Time to break out the wacky rig. At 8:48am I skip under the dock and manage to pull out keeper #4 at 12.5″. Submit to the leaderboard, check the standings and that fish put me into 1st place! That was pretty great, but I needed one more fish to get a limit. Now, the dock next to the boat ramp is anchored by steel cables that are connected to blocks on the bank. You can either skip under the cables or cast over. Skipping under didn’t seem to make a difference, so I decided to cast over it. Just to the open pathway of the main dock and the walkway out to it, there’s an opening. I cast my wacky rig in there and BAM I get slammed! I thought I had hooked into a catfish, the way it was pulling drag. I was worried my fluorocarbon line would rub on the steel cable and break, so I was doing my best to maneuver the fish away from it. I manage to get a glimpse of the fish and see that it’s a big bass. I am able to get my net over the cable and land a 19.5″ biggun’! At 8:59am, I have my first sanctioned tournament limit of 5 scorable bass…ever! I submit, check the leaderboard and still in first place with 76.25″ in total length.
The bite died down after that big bass, so I set out for deeper water, looking for some brush piles and I throw a big spinnerbait deep, along with the big ribbon tail worm that I started with. All to no avail.
The live updates for standing get turned off at 12:00pm for the SETXKBL events, so that you don’t know who wins until the weigh-in. I do a last check of the leaderboard just before noon and see that I’m down in 2nd place by about 6″. Time to try to cull some of these 12-inchers that I have.
Those of you not familiar with Southeast Texas during the summer…..it’s HOT! By noon it is nearing 100°, so shade is your, and the fishes, friend. Now, I decide to take a stroll along one of the islands where I saw a couple of guys on a boat land some on prefish day. I pull up to the spot, with another guy about 100 yards away, and almost immediately catch a small bass, that wasn’t measureable. I stay there for another 20 minutes or so and catch another one, just about the same limit. These fish weren’t going to help me cull anything. I need something of size. Moving on…
I head to Overlook marina where I think maybe I can cull by flipping around the boat slips. Now, with most marinas, there will almost always have people fishing from the boat docks. Today was no different. I pull around the corner to see a bunch of people fishing along the end of the dock, but that didn’t deter me. I pull into an opening where there are boat slips on both sides. Most of the slips had boats in there, but there were a few that were open. Those were my targets. I flip my wacky rig into the first one a few times, but nothing is there. I move over to the next one and again get slammed! I think I even said it out loud “please don’t be a catfish” as it was pulling drag. 12:19pm and I landed another keeper, this time culling one of my 12-inchers by 4″, as this keeper was a 16.5″ fatty, putting my total at 80.5″. Now, knowing that the first place person had just over 82″, I knew that this cull wouldn’t be enough to grab first place, but what I had seen earlier in the day, and the guys who I talked to on the water, maybe this would at least give me a top 10 finish.
After the marina cull, I didn’t get any other bites. I caught 9 total fish that day, with 6 of them being keepers.
Weigh-In And Standings
2:30pm hits and it’s lines out. I get off the water and loaded up. My truck is registering 107° outside, so it’s welcome to get into the A/C for a bit while heading to the weigh-in location.
We had 68 anglers for the day, which meant we were paying out the top 7 places. Our Tournament Director starts to announce the 7th place angler who has 72.5″. I knew I would place well when that started. The rest get announced: 6th place – 74.5″, 5th place – 75.25″, 4th place – 76.25″ and then I hear my length called, “3rd place with 80.5″ – Mark Chiles.” That was a really cool feeling. I get to go up and get my first tournament trophy. Our Tournament Director continues to call 2nd place, with 82.5″ inches and 1st place won with 90.75″.
I have been fishing pretty much my entire life, but over the last year and a half was when I really got into bass fishing and, more importantly, tournament fishing. This was a pretty stellar achievement, in my book. Hopefully, I can keep up some forward momentum. But, I’ll keep fishing and learning and trying to continue to improve my skills!
Stay tuned for more tournament recaps and videos!