Well my Dad and I set out the week before the return of the Van Hook Classic in search of the walleyes Van Hook is known for! Our pre fishing was a little bit tougher than we expected, but we did catch some nice fish, but the pattern was inconsistent. Monday morning pre fishing i caught 2 walleyes that were 25in back to back pitching jigs up shallow. After those 2 fish, I never caught a walleye inside 10 feet the rest of the week.... Throughout the week we would get a big fish here and there but again nothing real consistent, except for the one spot i had fished the sunday before. We didn't always get the fish to bite every time we were there but we always saw them on the Lowrance and they were big fish! Come tournament time we knew we had to go back to our spot and grind it out in hopes of being there when the fish decided to bite.
Friday the forecast was for big winds out of the Southeast...and they didn't disappoint. 2 minutes before the start of the first flight my dad looked at me and said: "They probably shouldn't let us go." It was rough to say the least, but they sent out the first flight at 7 and it was game on, and we took off at 7:30. After the long up & down trip we were finally at the spot. The waves were 3-4 feet tall at that time. So we put in 4 drift socks and started drifting down along the island in anywhere from 12-22 feet. With the wind being so strong there were times you ended up where the wind wanted you, not exactly where we wanted to be! About 15 minutes into the pass I hook up with a good fish, it turns out to be a 25.25" walleye! We couldn't have asked for a better start, then about 20 minutes later I lose another fish, and then my other rod doubles over in the rod holder. Turns out to be another 25.25" walleye! Even better! So we run as quickly as the wind allowed to the weigh boat and we have almost 12 pounds in walleye on 2 fish! Next pass we get a 24.5" walleye followed by an 18" so back to the weigh boat we go! 3 really good fish in the boat on the 1st 2 passes! The next pass the waves are getting bigger as i watch the depth finder read 17'-12'-17'. True 5 foot waves, they were big, some probably 6+ feet! Also with those waves it managed to stretch my brass hook i had my drift sock attached with....i slowly watch my drift sock float away and our attempts to catch it failed.... it sunk... After than fishing was a little slower managing a couple more in the 18" range, we sat on the spot grinding it out until about 1pm. Then we decided to try some crank baits on the back side of the island in the smaller waves. That produced a 23" walleye and another just under 19". We finished out our day with a great weight of 23.75 pounds, and 2nd place! The one problem, 1st place was almost 7 pounds ahead of us...
Day 2 was a little different story, wind out of the NW(and a lot lighter) and cooler. We headed right back to the same island and went to work... We marked a ton of fish, but couldn't get them to bite. We made a full pass down and back without a fish and to our surprise the boat traffic had cleared out, so we decided to put on the crankbaits and see if they would hit those. We caught alot of fish on cranks just not many of the right size. We measured and recorded a few in the 17" range, a decision we would later regret, but we did end up with a nice 22" fish. After catching and measuring 5 for a limit, we made a move to our second spot, and it was bare, so at least we could say we gave it a chance. We then headed back to finish out the day on the island. When we pulled in we caught a few small ones and then caught 3 upgrade fish, so we headed to the weigh boat at 1:30. We left with 2 fish left to catch and measure, at 1:55 we were headed back to the weigh boat with 2 significant upgrades, our biggest fish of the day at 23.75" and another that was 22". We had an hour left to fish but had caught our ten we were allowed so we had to quit... A little disappointing, because the big fish appeared to be biting at that time. We ended the day with 18.87 pounds and after a long wait at the dock we found out that we had remained in 2nd place and took home a $2500 paycheck!
Our best pattern was lindy rigs, and slow death rigs. Leeches and crawlers seemed to split the ticket, each catching their share of big fish. Depths varied from 14-30 feet deepening on the day and time.
All in all it was a great tournament and it was very well organized. Kudos to the crew that put it all together, you did a great job, and we look forward to fishing it in the future! The Catch and Release format is great, I hope more tournaments will take a hard look at Catch and Release formats in the future!