The KBF Open was held on Santee Cooper Lake March 14th and 15th. Santee Cooper is a famous lake ranked number 23 in the Top 100 Bass Lakes by Bassmasters. Unfortunately I was unable to figure out the lake and the bass got the best of me this time.
The tournament was rules were two fish per day longest length total. The second day the scores zeroed out and you started over trying to catch two fish longest total length. The top anglers moved on to fish the Invitational on private trophy bass lakes located in the area.
The tournament started on Thursday to a cold front. We did not have a good chance to pre fish so we looked at maps. The mornings launch temperatures where in the thirties with a stiff wind. My fishing partner and I started paddling to a spot 1.5 miles from the ramp. We had a case of the back there disease. We had to get back there far from the ramp and paddled to a spot that looked good on the maps. The bad part about that was when we got there the water was on half a foot to a foot deep. We found some deep water in a diversion channel but it was covered in lily pads. We could not but a bite and ended up getting skunked for the day. Talking to some of the anglers most did not get a bite until later in the day. In all 29 of the 108 anglers did not catch a fish the first day. Some big fish and big totals were put up but not by me or my buddy.
After hearing the later in the day catch my partner and I decided to fish closer to the tournament headquarters and not be in a big rush to get to the launch on Friday. We put in around 8:00 and paddled to the area we chose to fish. The weather was better and I had to ditch my fleece jacket after my paddle to our spot. When we got to our spot there was over 10 kayaks already there. After fishing awhile we talked to some who said everything caught was between 7 and 8. So much for us taking out time to launch. We ended up fishing a shallow channel with houses along the banks. It was a very pretty paddle but again no bass were caught. I did watch an angler pull a 20 inch female out. He caught her at 2:30 after trying to get her to bite for 2.5 hours. That fish was one of two I saw caught all week.
Saturday started with great weather but high winds. The wind gust were up to 25 mph. This drove a lot of the bass boats to the areas we wanted to fish. We fished hard all day but did not get a bite to complete our three days of fishing without a bass bite. I did see some beds but no fish. The highlight of the day was almost stepping on a cotton mouth.
This trip taught me a couple of things. One was to enjoy the time on the water and make the best out of just watching the world around you. Another lesson was to not put too much stock into secret spots. It only took one fish to advance to the second day. It only took a decent catch to make it to the invitational. I could have put in at the tournament headquarters and fished more and paddled less. I wasted too much time paddling that I could have been fishing. While I got to see a lot of the lake I was there to fish and not sight see. The last thing is next time I will stick to what I know. I tried to fish outside of my comfort zone and it caused me to second guess myself too much. I threw more types of lures than I have ever thrown.
I paddled about 7.5 miles on Thursday, 3 miles on Friday, and 12 miles on Saturday. I can say that my NuCanoe Frontier has now been tested and passed.
• Paddling against a 25 mile an hour head wind, check.
• Paddling long distances, check.
• Standup fishing in the wind, check.
• Sight casting to bedding fish, check.
• Flipping to Cyprus trees, check.
• Carrying it over a levee when I came to a road that was not on my map, check.
I never woke up sore which really surprised me. I can not wait to get my hands on the new NuCanoe Frontier 10 foot after this trip. While the Frontier 12 worked great, the Frontier 10 would give me just a little less weight without causing any heart ache.
Overall the trip was great. The only way it could have been better was if we caught fish. I met people I have talked to on forums, met some of the people you always hear about in the kayak fishing world, and saw some beautiful sites. I ate the biggest burger I have ever eaten (twice). Will I go next year? If I can explain to my wife that fishing does not always mean catching and get permission I’ll be there.