Bruce endures misery before Missouri

Jamie Bruce admits his Day-1 performance at Lake of the Ozarks probably overstated his actual experience level with the local program. Dock fishing accounts for a huge amount of the bass fishing effort on this lake and the peppering of boat parking structures offers bountiful opportunity.

Bruce did it well enough to place fourth with an opening round limit of 18 pounds, 9 ounces. That was no random occurrence, as the towering pro from Kenora, Ontario made a conscious effort to ready himself for something far outside his wheelhouse.

“Coming into these tournaments, being from Canada and never really fishing anywhere down here, I figured LiveScoping and finesse offshore was my only chance,” said Bruce, who’s currently 9th in St. Croix Bassmaster Opens EQ points. “That’s kinda how I got to where I was in EQ points before Watts Bar (122nd place, one week prior), but I pushed it too hard there and I should have just went and fished grass.

“I regretted that decision and I just want to have fun now. This lake is full of docks and there’s nothing I’d rather do than stretch out some 20-pound line.”

Preparing for Lake of the Ozarks presented a challenge for Bruce, as most of the lakes back home present rocky, undeveloped shorelines. One water body, Lake Lulu in Western Ontario, offers a unique opportunity with docks and largemouth.

Recognizing this as the ideal training scenario, Bruce spent some time practicing the flipping/skipping skills he’d need for Lake of the Ozarks. 

Seemed like a great plan.

The locals did not share his enthusiasm.

“I went to Lake Lulu to warm up for this event and I got yelled at about five times,” Bruce chuckled. “So I didn’t have much of a warmup. I needed all four days (of the Lake Lulu visit) to become proficient at skipping and I still rang a few bells on Day 1 of this tournament.”

Understandably, neighboring nations have their share of similarities and differences, but as Bruce notes, the dock thing is remarkably divergent.

“It’s a totally different dynamic up there (Canada),” he said. “I live there, so I understand it. On Lake of the Ozarks, everybody’s used to everyone fishing their docks every day, but back home, it’s no bueno.”

Bruce caught all of his Day-1 keepers off of docks and not a single waterfront property owner had a cross word for him. Precision was key and, even though his jig kissed a few of the structures, he managed to put the bait where it needed to be enough times to sack up a strong starting limit.

“This is my first dock fishing tournament ever and it’s been fun,” Bruce said. “It had to be perfect skips or you weren’t getting bit. I probably could have caught a few more if I were a better skipper, but we’re getting there.

“I had some deeper brush piles and they just weren’t working, so I just gave up on that and gave my neck a break (from staring at LiveScope). I didn’t have to get down and grab any of them, I boat flipped them all. It was a good time.”

Missouri is known as the Show Me State. Safe to say Bruce showed ‘em he can get it done on the docks.

Even if his fellow Canadians do not approve.