I packed everything the night before so I could hit the road as early as possible. After trying to get some sleep (which only amounted to maybe three hours) I hit the road at 1am. I beat the traffic, and made it to Lake Wanahoo by 10am. I met Marty Hughes, kayakjak; Chris Carlisle, cartech400; Raf Vargas, inlandyaker; and many more! Marty and I hit the water almost as soon as I arrived, and headed straight to the timber that protruded from the center of the lake. We quickly figured out that the bass were hitting a worm in about 8’ of water. We vertical jigged to avoid getting hung up on the countless branches hidden in the depths.
After seven hours or so of fishing, we decided to mix it up a bit and go after some bluegills. I tied on a small jig and GULP!® minnow. Marty caught some small bluegills and used them to go after some northerns, while I was having a blast catching big bluegills, crappie, walleye, and bass. This had me thinking about mixing up what I was throwing for tournament day. We headed back in, made some dinner, did the early check in, and got ready for the next day.
We woke up early, made breakfast, and then paddled over to registration for coffee and the shotgun start. The whistle sounded and we headed for the trees. From the success of pan fishing the day before, I had a fluke on a jig and was ready to hit the trees. After a couple casts with nothing, and seeing Marty and a couple guys work the edge of the lake and getting some northerns, I decided to check it out. I changed my set up to a buzzbait, and went to town. I had a northern blowup on my lure six or seven times, but never got the hook in its mouth.
After trying some more areas I decided to head back to the trees. This was definitely a blessing. Within minutes I had a bass on, measured, and returned to the water. The fishing was hot - so hot that I had three fish in three casts, at one point. I was feeling pretty good that I caught my limit and was now trying to up my size. Marty and I met up and fished by each other, and celebrated each time one of us hooked up and landed a fish. Most of the fish were cookie-cutter size (around 15”), but I was able to land one at 18” that really helped out my score. We continued to work the trees until it was time to head in.
As the time final time drew closer, we headed to check in along with the other fifty anglers, and eagerly awaited the results. We were hoping that 18” bass would help me get up to the top three - and it did! I ended up winning third place, just by missing second by ¼”.
The turnout was big - fifty kayak anglers - and the event raised well over $4,500 for Heroes on the Water. This was definitely an awesome trip! I met so many YakAnglers, and caught some great fish! Keep an eye out for the next “Travels of a YakAngler”, where I go back to Arkansas but have a bonus trip scheduled!