Headin’ up north

The recent Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at Lake Guntersville was the last of our southern events. Our next two tournaments take place in New York in mid to late August. I’m glad we’re heading north where the dog days are cooler than in the South and the fishing is hotter than a fire poker.

The first stop will be at the St. Lawrence River, which B.A.S.S. ranked as the number one bass fishery in the nation for 2019. At last year’s Elite event there, it took more than 20 pounds a day to make the top 50. I caught 38 pounds the first two days and finished in 60th place.

I’m looking forward to employing some of the finesse tactics at the St. Lawrence that I’m used to fishing on Lake Erie at home in Ohio. I’ll be sure to bring plenty of Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Flat Worms with me. The cat is out of the bag on that bait. It dominated on the St. Lawrence last year.

Maxscent is Berkley’s most advance flavoring. It catches up to 45 percent more fish than previous Powerbait formulas. That’s really saying something. I’ve seen too many times where scent was a major, major key to getting bites. The Flat Worm also has a very realistic feel.

At last year’s St. Lawrence tournament I was dropshoting the Flat Worm right next to guys who were dropshoting other baits. I was catching so many more smallies than they were that they wanted to know what I was using. Some people even asked me give them some Flat Worms. I’m a nice guy, but I’m not stupid.

Obviously, the finesse game will be a huge factor at the St. Lawrence. But some guys have done well in past events there by fishing for big, rogue smallmouth in shallow water with things like jerkbaits and spybaits. I’m looking forward to those opportunities as well.

After the St. Lawrence tournament we go straight to Cayuga Lake. Back-to-back events are always a marathon. Fourteen days on the water is an endurance test. Even though we’ll be up north, it will still be hot enough in August that keeping hydrated and staying on top of your nutrition will be a key.

Another challenge is trying to forget what you did to catch fish at the St. Lawrence so you can approach Cayuga with a fresh mind. Some guys have trouble making such an abrupt mental adjustment. I usually don’t struggle with that. I tend to do better when I don’t have a lot of time to think myself out of something.

It’s only about a three-hour drive from the St. Lawrence to Cayuga, but they are two completely diverse fisheries. Having them back to back will be fun. A drop shot and other finesse tactics might play at Cayuga, but if the bass are willing, I’m going to keep a big stick in my hand. I’d rather power fish with a frog, a flipping stick and 65-pound braid.

Cayuga is chock full of butterball largemouth bass. It also has a good population of smallmouth bass, but they are not the dominating factor as with the St. Lawrence. The cool thing about Cayuga is that you can catch a heavy limit of largemouth deep or in a foot of water.

I’ll be going to Cayuga for prepractice right after ICAST. That will give me a chance to gauge the condition of the grass and where it is. A lot of that can change from one year to the next. Of course, the grass will be further along when I come back for the tournament, but I won’t have to spend time looking for it. And, when I get on something during the official practice period, I’ll know where to go to duplicate it.

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