OBN Quinte Quest Tournament Pre-Fish

In 2012 I had the honour of accepting the Angler of the Year title with the Hamilton Bassmasters, which paid my entree fee into the 2013 Hank Gibson Provincial Qualifier, which this year was held on the Bay of Quinte. The Bay of Quinte has always been one of those bodies of water that I wanted to spend more time fishing on, so at the beginning of the year I told myself that in preparation for the OBN Quinte Quest, I would come down and fish Quinte multiple times during the year. This gave me an idea of the fish movement based on water temperature, weather, time of year, etc..

Due to a last minute decision to fish the Canadian Collegiate Bass Championships, I lost one day of practice the week before the event. However, each time I would visit Quinte throughout the year, I would fish a different area, whether it be further down near Napanee, or just outside of Trenton, in Belleville. I would fish different areas, learning new water while also eliminating water and the “what if” factor. Each time I would spend a portion of the day shallow, typically flipping thick vegetation or fishing a topwater hollow body frog over expansive lily pad fields, and a portion of the day away from the bank, in 8 feet of water or more, flipping deep weed lines or running a horizontal presentation like a crank bait or spinnerbait along the edges of the weeds.

Each time I visited Quinte I added another piece to the puzzle, learning something new. Throughout the year I was able to locate fish close to the launch, as well as further away. However, something that I did learn which would dictate the distance I ran, and the time of day which I would make a move, was the prevalent theme of wind picking up the later it got in the day. The wind would typically pick up around 1pm, blowing across the bay. I knew that if I wanted to fish efficiently throughout the tournament I would have to make a longer run in the morning, and fish my way back to Trenton as the day progressed.

I decided to spend majority of my time in the areas around Belleville and Trenton, with the tournament launching out of Trenton. In the next couple paragraphs I will break down the patterns which I developed in each part of the bay.

Belleville

2013-07-01 00.10.47With limited experience in the Bay of Quinte, only fishing it once prior to the 2013 season, launching in Belleville, I knew some potential areas where fish could be holding. I visited these areas where I have caught fish in the past at the beginning of the season, primarily shallow, holding close to the bank. I would fish these areas thoroughly up shallow, however, being the summer month, I moved out to some deeper water to the next break. Two of these areas were large weed flats with deep water access. The flat itself was in only 3-5 feet of water, so I decided to move out and fish the outside weed line in about 6-10 feet of water. In both areas I was able to catch respectable amounts of fish, flipping the outside edge of where the weeds ended. Typically when in an area with a vast amount of weed growth, and there is a point where the weeds suddenly stop growing, you can almost be sure that there is a change in bottom. On the Bay of Quinte this change can sometime be from sand to a mix of sand and rock. This is exactly what I was fishing here. As I moved out from the edge of the weeds I was able to locate isolated weed clumps about the size of my front deck. Once I located these weed clumps, that is where the bigger fish were holding! They were using these areas as ambush points, keying in on the bait in the area.

I would use faster moving presentations such as a spinnerbait or Jackall Aska 60 and MC/60 crank baits (depending on the depth I was fishing) to locate weed clumps which were isolated from the obvious stuff, the weed line. Once I would find these clumps, I would slow down and pitch a texas rigged worm, starting with the edges and working my way to the middle.

Most of my bigger fish in the Belleville area came off of isolated weed clumps in a depth range of 8 to 10 feet of water. At the end of my pre-fish, I had two large areas outside of weed lines with isolated clumps of weed that were holding fish. While there were not large numbers of fish being caught, as opposed to surrounding weed lines, the fish were bigger, and I knew that if I caught one, I could catch another off of the same clump. These would be areas that I would want to come to during the event after catching a limit, to try and upgrade!

Trenton

2013-07-01 00.12.14Trenton was where the tournament was being launched from, and with multiple tournaments launching from Trenton just a couple weeks prior to the tournament, this area of the Bay of Quinte was on my radar, hoping to catch fish which were released from previous tournaments.

I started off my pre-fish in Trenton, focusing on a popular area known as the Trenton flats. These are large weed flats with many isolated clumps of weed. I was able to cut down my time looking for fish by focusing on a specific type of weed. There was lots of algae in the Trenton area, along with lots of brown coloured weeds. I was looking for healthy milfoil, with a healthy red and green colour. That really seemed to be the key to catching those bigger fish in Belleville.

I employed the same techniques as I did in Belleville, covering water with spinnerbaits and crank baits and slowing down with a texas rigged worm. I was fishing the texas rigged worm on a 7’2MH or H action Shimano Crucial Worm and Jig Rod, I had this rod paired up with either a Shimano Curado 200G7 or Chronarch 200E7 reel, spooled with 20lb Fluorocarbon line. I was throwing the Jackall Aska 60 crank baits on a 7’MH Shimano Crucial Technique Specific Crankbait rod with TC4 construction and a Curado 200G6 spooled with 15lb fluorocarbon. The Jackall MC/60 crank baits I was throwing I used a 7’2M Shimano Crucial Crankbait rod with 12lb Fluorocarbon to let them reach the desired depth. Finally, I was throwing the spinnerbaits on a 6’10MH Shimano Crucial Spinnerbait rod and Shimano Chronarch 200E7 reel with 30lb Power Pro Super 8 Slick braided line. The braid proved to be extremely effective for freeing my spinnerbait from any weeds. This would cause a reaction bite from the fish, in fact, most of my fish that came off of a spinnerbait in pre-fish hit the bait right after I popped it free of weeds.

2013-07-01 00.15.04The Trenton flats proved to be holding a good number of fish in the average size of around two to two and a half pounds. Just before my final day of practice ended I fished a deeper area with a healthy mix of rock and weed. However, there was a major difference in the weed growth  from this area and the other areas I was fishing around Trenton and Belleville where the weeds grew to close to the surface of the water. Here the weeds were not visible by eye, however I was able to locate the areas with weeds through the use of my Humminbird electronics. I fished the area fan casting a wacky rigged senko, as well as a Jackall TN-70 Lipless Crankbait. The size of the fish here was very similar to the Trenton flats, and while I knew the chances of me catching big bass were smaller here, the numbers were there and these were areas where I could start in the morning, and catch my limit before making the run to Belleville. Due to the wind factor mentioned previously, I always try to give myself some time for any unexpected occurrences while coming back. If I had enough time left in the day, I could fish these areas just before heading to weigh-in.

I was fishing the Jackall TN-70 crank baits on a 7’2MH Shimano Cumara rod, a 6.5:1 retrieve Curado reel and 15lb test Fluorocarbon. I opted to use a beefier rod for this technique as I was ripping it free from the weeds and the bait had larger hooks. Furthermore, I was throwing the weightless wacky rigged senko on a 6’8M Crucial Worm and Jig rod, with a Symetre 2500 sized reel and 20lb Power Pro Super 8 Slick. The smaller diameter of the Super 8 Slick allowed me to make longer casts and the bait to get down deeper, quicker. I was rigging my bait with the K&J Tackle Wacky RIG’R Fishing Tool, which probably saved me a couple trips during the week to the tackle store. During my last day of pre-fish I fished with only one stick bait, catching over a dozen fish on the single bait! That is what the Wacky RIG’R tool will do for you!

My game plan for next weeks tournament was to start the morning on the flats in Trenton, moving towards the furthermost area in Trenton before running to Belleville where I wanted to spend majority of my time looking for a few bigger bites which could increase my chances of qualifying for Team Ontario.

– Patrick Zajdel

About Patrick Zajdel

A 20 year old Collegiate Tournament Angler and Promoter from Burlington Ontario, Canada, currently attending the Goodman School of Business at Brock University. Patrick competes as a Pro in various events affiliated with BASS and FLW across Canada and the US.

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