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The Colorado Kayak Fishing Club (CKFC) held it’s second bass tournament of the year on June 11 at Pueblo Reservoir. Fifty-four anglers registered for this tournament, and with water temps hovering around 70 degrees the day was sure to be a slugfest. Historically tournaments at Pueblo are typically won by an angler who gets around 80 inches, but with the fishing being so good many anglers in the club surmised that it’d take over 80 inches to win this one.

My story begins a couple days prior to the tourney as I went down to Pueblo on Thursday to see what was up. I decided to check out the old DOW ramp area on the western side of the reservoir as I had never fished that part of the lake before. It was an overcast day and the fish were hitting topwater all day long. However, many of the fish would simply attack the bait instead of actually eating it. I tried a variety of topwaters to see if I could increase my hook up ratio. I never found that magic lure, but it seemed like a bone whopper plopper 90 was what they were getting a hold of the best. I tried a variety of other lures on Thursday as well, and, quite frankly, everything was working. The problem was keeping the dinks off my line and catching higher quality fish. One of the baits that helped with this was a football jig. When I started throwing that, the number of bites I got went way down but my quality went way up. The bigger fish I found on the day were smallmouth towards the back of a cove near the ramp so that’s where I decided to start the tournament.

CKFC Tournament Pueblo Reservoir

On tournament morning I got to my starting spot and once again the fish were all over the whopper plopper. However, the fish were again often just attacking the lure instead of eating it. I had one big blow up that didn’t hook up, caught a few dinks, and finally stuck my first keeper of the day: a 14.25” smallie. At that point the sun was up a little higher, the topwater bite was dwindling, and the bass boats started moving into the cove, so I made the decision to leave my spot and fish some other areas I found in practice. My second spot was a point just inside a cove on the south side of the lake. When I turned the corner in the cove, a bass boat was just moving off that spot. I threw my jig all over that point and caught just one fish: a 14.75” spotted bass. I moved on to my next spot where I hooked into what felt like a nice bass but turned out to be a 19” walleye instead. Moving on to another point, I caught a 15.25” smallie that I felt would be about the smallest fish I’d want in my limit if I were going to have a chance to win this thing. My next spot was where I spent the majority of my day and is where I lost a really big spotted bass in practice. This time, I caught a couple smallies (14.50” and 15.50”) off the point to fill out an average limit of 74.25”.

One other thing I began to notice throughout the day was that I was getting a few bites on my football jig as I would reel it back in to make another cast. I decided to explore that hint and began throwing a Storm 360 GT swimbait on a Trokar Boxer Jig. On my first cast a 12” smallie crushed the swimbait. On my next cast with it another tiny smallie hit it. I threw that swimbait for a while but was only catching dinks again and decided to go back to the jig. However, in my head I said “one more cast” and I casted that swimbait next to a submerged tree. I bumped that swimbait off of one of the tree branches and a big smallie came out and crushed it! That was my biggest fish of the tournament and came in at 16.75”. I started targeting those trees with my swimbait but never caught any more fish doing that, so I again went back to the jig.

There was about 2 hours left in the tourney at this point and I decided to start making my way back to the truck and fish some of the points I had fished earlier in the day. At the spot where I caught the walleye, a nice mud line had formed and I managed to cull up slightly with a 15.00” spotted bass that was super fat and heavy. From there I began making my way back to the DOW ramp and decided that I’d finish my day fishing some points closer to where I had launched. On the way there my dad happened to text me and ask how the tournament was going. I told him that it was going okay but that I’d need at least two more big fish to have a chance of winning. When I got to my final spot, another mudline had formed on the point. There was thirty minutes left in the tourney and within my first few casts I stuck a nice 16.50” smallie on the jig. Now I had that feeling that other tournament anglers know. You are one big bite away from winning this thing. Time went by and I knew that 2 o’clock was fast approaching when I got the bite that I needed. I set the hook and horsed in a nice 16.50” smallie that I knew I needed to quickly get a picture of if it was going to count. I netted that fish, quickly grabbed it, slapped it on the board, got out my phone (which read 1:59), said “capture”, and my phone took the photo with a few seconds left in the tournament. I said “capture” again, my 2 o’clock alarm went off, the picture was taken, and my second picture for good measure came in just after 2 o’clock which would not count. It was an insane buzzer beater of a fish and I hope I’m never that close to missing out on a fish like that again!

CKFC Tournament Pueblo Reservoir

At the awards ceremony the results were announced as follows. The biggest bass went to Michael Seymour who took home $270 by catching an 18.25” largemouth on a green pumpkin 1/10 oz Zman large TRD. Michael also finished in 11th place with a solid 76.75”. In third place was Trev Stuckey with 78.25” who caught his fish throwing a tube jig. I would also say that Trev took home $399, but being the solid guy he is, Trev decided to donate his winnings to our local Boys and Girls club which is the charity the CKFC is supporting this year! In second place was Ronald Southworth with a limit of 79.25” and winning $515. Ron caught his fish with a Texas rigged craw targeting grass areas. Ron hadn’t entered a kayak tourney in a while, but he is always near the top whenever he decides to enter. Finally, yours truly was announced as the winner with a limit of 80.50”.

When I caught my buzzer beater fish, I still didn’t think I had enough to win the tourney, but on a week where many people caught a lot of big smallmouth, tournament day resulted in less of those bigger fish being caught allowing me to squeak out the win. I want to give a big thanks to the CKFC board for all their work and to Jackson Kayak for their support of my fishing adventures as well as once again being a club sponsor!