Into the northern groove

I had a good time at the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair. Of course, I enjoyed getting out of the Texas heat for a week, but it was also encouraging to kick off the Northern Swing by making the Top 50 cut and leaving with a good check.

This was such an enjoyable event because I caught the fire out of them, like everybody did. It’s always fun catching a lot of smallmouth, but this event kind of got me in the groove of that northern fishing.

That was especially helpful for me because, with a baby at home, I’ve not been able to fish a lot this year outside the Elites. Being able to go up there and cast different knots, different baits, different looks and different presentations in practice and in the tournament was a big help.

There were so many fish up there, it allowed me to experiment some with my equipment as well. With my Humminbird MEGA Live forward-facing sonar, it allowed me to try different setting and get a lot done in preparation for the next two events.

Speaking of those final two Elite events at Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River, I really like the back-to-back schedule — especially when they’re so far from home. I feel like fishing one right after the other keeps everything fresh in my mind.

From a personal standpoint, I like knocking them out and getting back home. With a little baby, it’s a good time in my life to be home. So I’m going to put my all into these final events and look forward to getting back home.

Of course, there are potential downsides with back-to-back events. For one thing, you could get in a bad groove and have it carry over into the next event.

Or you could tear something up, and if you and the service crew don’t have what’s needed, then your equipment is not working at full capacity.

One thing that can really mess you up is getting too zoned in on what you did in one tournament and then burning a lot of time trying to replicate that the next week.

For me, at least, I think that’s less of a concern because I think Champlain’s higher water will make the largemouth play a bigger role than they normally do this time of year. Typically, summertime tends to favor smallmouth — especially with everyone being so good with forward-facing sonar.

I’m going to try to use that to my advantage with not as many people likely to target largemouth. I’ll go up to Champlain ready for both species, but with not as many people targeting largemouth, maybe I can go in there and clean up.

I’ll practice for both, and I’m sure these will be the three longest days of practice this year. I’ll practice daylight till dark and try to cover the entire lake.

If it were my rookie year, I probably wouldn’t spread myself out like that, but I feel like I understand the lake well enough now to know what I’m looking for.

The last time we were there, I finished eighth, and I had 20 pounds of largemouth both of the first two days. I can’t predict what will happen this time, but what I like about Champlain is that it allows you to do whatever you want.

You can fish for both species of fish all over the lake. It’s a huge playing field, and you can pick your poison on where you want to go and what you want to do.

It’s a really cool fishery. You can go to the bank and catch largemouth and smallmouth, or you can go offshore and catch largemouth and smallmouth.

I’ve only been to Champlain twice, but it is, by far, my favorite lake in the world.