Well the 2014 North Dakota Governors Cup is in the books. It was a great tournament as always with a full field of 252 teams! Check out their Facebook page and give them a like! The week leading up to the tournament had very little wind and stable temperatures, which usually is a recipe for some good fishing! But they call it fishing not catching for a reason… We had a very difficult prefish, catching only 2 walleyes over 20 inches the entire week leading up to the tournament. Little walleyes were a little easier to come by but we knew those wouldn’t win us the tournament. Both of our bigger walleyes had come in 9-12 feet along weed edges so we made a plan to have a run and gun style point hopping, in hopes of contacting a few bigger fish each day.
Day 1 we were the first flight out at 7am. We headed to Douglas Bay in hopes of finding the big ones! We started off on a wind blown point and caught a few small walleyes and we kept a 15” fish to get the skunk out of the boat. We then moved back into a bay where we had caught our biggest fish during the week. Pulling spinners along the weed edges produced a 22” walleye! A few more passes yielded nothing so we started point hopping, picking up another 15” walleye. At about 12:30 we moved to an island we had watched the game and fish net earlier in the week. While we hadn’t caught any big fish at this spot during the week, the net showed some bigger fish were present. We started up shallow and worked off the end of the point and when we hit 19’ there was a big mark on the Lowrance, followed by another, and another! We knew those were fish we wanted to catch. On the 1 pass Tory hooked up with a 23” walleye, then a few passes later I hooked into a 24” beauty! The marks started to disappear, but Tory managed to catch another 20” walleye giving us 4 over the 20” mark (remember we had caught 2 all week)! So needless to say we were ecstatic! We finished out the remainder of the day there and the marks had disappeared and we couldn’t catch another so we had to weigh one 15” fish. Our day 1 total was 16.70 pounds and that landed us in 7 place.
Day 2 we had the last flight and took off at 8:30 headed for the island in Douglas where we had caught our big fish the day before. When we got there we had it all to ourselves, but there was only one problem. We only marked one decent fish, and couldn’t get bit. We moved up shallow and picked up a 17” walleye and then that spot was dead. So we continued with our run & gun style and moved all over Douglas Bay trying to find the walleyes. A 3-4lb drum had us convinced for a while we had landed on the big fish again, until we saw the silvery disappointment. We hit many different spots and couldn’t catch a walleye; even in places we caught many small fish prior days. So at about noon we headed back to the island hoping it was a timing bite, but the fish didn’t agree with that plan so it was onto plan B. We headed to Garrison Bay with 1 fish in the boat looking to at least get our limit of 5. We started near the beginning of the old coalmine on the small islands. We had many bites right away but all we could get to the boat was smallmouth bass. Then we found a small school of small walleye and we were able to keep 3 more. We then kept island hoping and managed to catch 2 more small walleyes before we had to quit. We had a disappointing day compared to day 1, weighing only 5.35 pounds. Overall the fishing was tougher on Saturday so we ended up dropping into 17 place. Obviously we wanted to match our day 1 total, but with our prefishing we were very happy with how our tournament went especially given the large field of 252 teams.
Our presentation for tournament was pulling lindy’s and spinners on weed edges, there were places in 10-12 feet of water (fow) that were relatively weed free, so we focused in those areas because we would often mark fish right outside the weed beds. There were also places where you could fish the outside weed edge in 18-20fow. Jumbo Leeches produced the biggest fish, but crawlers did well for numbers. Fishing required checking your rigs often because even though there were open patches, you often had to go through big weed beds. It is amazing at how well the spinners will go through the weeds if you are properly equipped. A mainline of Berkley Fireline attached to a 1oz-1 ½oz bottom bouncer fished at a 45+ degree angle would go right through most weeds. The rig we attached to the bottom bouncer had to be relatively short (3-5’) so it wouldn’t sink into the weed. We use Berkley Trilene XT in 10lb test for our rigs. It is labeled XT for extra tough and it is! Very strong line but not as strong as the mainline so if we did get snagged in one of the many trees, we would break the rig rather than the bottom bouncer and everything. This makes for quicker re-tying when all you have to do is pull another spinner off of your tackle buddy and you are back fishing. I know it sounds simple, but the more time your line is in the water, the greater the chances of catching fish! Being well organized and maximizing your time on the water will put more fish in the boat!