Mark’s Oneida Lake Diary

I drove to Oneida Lake today with my daughter Valerie. Both of us will be fishing the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open here.

I’ve entered as a boater. Valerie will be fishing as a nonboater. It’s her first bass tournament as a competitor, and she’s stressed about it. I think she’ll enjoy it once the boats are turned loose next Thursday.

Between now and then, Val and I have five days to fish together and enjoy a few crackling campfires at the Oneida Shores campground.

There’s no telling how long it will be before we have another chance to do something like this. Val graduated from nursing school last week. She’s applying for registered nursing jobs across Ohio and may look for work out of state.

I miss her already. She’s my turkey hunting buddy and my biggest booster when I fish Bassmaster tournaments.

I’ve been on the road so much the past four weeks that I haven’t had time to prepare my tackle and my brain for the Oneida event. I threw a bunch of gear in the back of the F-150 this morning.

I’ll sort it out over the next few days at Oneida. Who knows, maybe taking on a lake without much forethought will help me avoid with tunnel vision.

I also brought my Ferguson Longbow and a target. I didn’t have room in the truck for the target, so it road to Oneida behind me in the Phoenix Boat. I’m an avid bowhunter. I need to start shooting regularly before Ohio’s whitetail season opens.

Part of the fishing challenge at Oneida will be figuring out which rods and baits will work best for Valerie. She’s not schooled with a wide variety of techniques. I’m thinking that a popper, a drop shot rig and a few crankbaits should give her a shot at catching a few bass.

If she draws a boater that’s frogging and punching grass, that’s going to be a problem. She’s never tried either tactic. I’m hoping Val’s partners go for smallmouths in open water. That’ll be her best bet.

Tournaments at Oneida have been won with largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and with a mix of both species. My inclination going into practice is to key on smallmouth bass for limits and to then try for kicker largemouths. The bass might tell me otherwise. We’ll see.

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