Wind, wind and more wind

I'm practicing for the Detroit River Open, or maybe I should say trying to practice. Saturday and Sunday were dream days. The weather was perfect. There was just enough wind to break the light penetration into the water but not enough to make travel or boat positioning difficult. The big smallmouth were biting. I was in heaven.

That all changed Monday with the wind. It's blowing like the devil and making the 32 miles of river seem like several hundred. I don't care how good you are with a boat, you can't make any headway with the high wind and the current. And boat positioning is tough in this stuff. The importance of that can't be overstated.

The river runs between Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. As you get closer to each lake, the fish get bigger. But, like most things in this sport, it's a little more complicated than that. The fish tend to position themselves on rocks — most of which are no bigger than my boat — in eddies, out of the current. Precise bait placement is the key. They don't venture far from the current breaks. You have to hit the sweet spot with every cast if you expect to be successful. You can't do that if you're fighting 4-, 5- or 6-foot waves and rollers. It's just not possible. Obviously, these conditions will hold your weight down, and that's something that you can't let happen up here. Typical weights range between 20 and 26 or 27 pounds in this venue.

One bad day and you're history. While we're speaking of bad days, I was reminded this weekend of why you shouldn't arrive late for an Open. I drove from the PAA tournament up here and checked into the motel late. I had to beg like a dog at the supper table for a room and might have been better off if they hadn't given me one. My boat parking spot sucks, and my room is as far from the entrance as you can get and still be in the same building. On top of that, my air conditioner sounds like a lawnmower. Add to that the fact that my extension cord is hanging out a third-story window and you can understand where I'm coming from.

Nevertheless, I'm having fun. I get to fish three tournaments in three weeks. For me that's about as good as it gets. I say "about" because it would be better if I'd caught a couple more fish at the PAA event. It wasn't pretty. I left in the dark of night with my tail tucked between my legs. Wish me luck this week. I need a strong finish if I'm going to have any chance at all to be in New Orleans next February. You know that's where I want to be. The dream never dies.