Kyle Weisenburger has a simple philosophy when it comes to competitive bass fishing.
“I just put in my preparation, dedication, full commitment and effort and let things happen as they may,” he said.
That all proved successful for the Ottawa bass angler as he qualified for the All-American national tourney for a second straight year by finishing fifth in the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Regional event on the Barren River out of Glasgow, Kentucky last weekend. He will fish the national event May 31-June 2 on Cross Lake in Shreveport, Louisiana. He finished fifth in the 2016 All-American on Lake Barkley in Cadiz, Kentucky with a 15-bass limit that weighed 40 pounds, 5 ounces.
Weisenburger and the other competitors endured “a finicky bite” as well as tough fishing conditions. The weather was calm and sunny and by the end of the tourney areas anglers fished on the first practice day were “dry” as water levels dropped.
A three-day limit of 15 bass weighing nearly 49 pounds was predicted as the possible winning weight. No one came close to that. None of the dozen anglers who reached the final day of competition had a 15-bass limit. Winner Eric Sanders of Lexington, Kentucky, caught a three-day cumulative total of 12 bass weighing 33 pounds, 10 ounces.
Weisenburger finished fifth with a weight total of 25 pounds, 11 ounces on 11 bass. The top six in each regional tourney qualify for the All-American.
The Ottawa basser used a pair of bass that weighed in the 6-pound range to boost his qualifying total. He used all the knowledge he has gained fishing the Bass Fishing League (BFL) circuit as well as his first season on the FLW tour this year.
“Fishing the (FLW) Tour has really helped in my decision making and mental toughness. Out there, if you’re not 100 percent on your game, you are left in the dust. The tour also has forced me to become a more rounded angler, meaning I can be effective shallow and deep now,” Weisenburger explained.
Being adaptable helped in getting his two lunker bass. He got both deep after trying shallow first.
Sensing the shallow pattern would not work on day 1, he decided to go deep as his best chance to find a stable pattern. It worked as one of his five fish that day was a lunker in the 6-pound range.
“Although I didn’t get a lot of bites, I did get crucial big bites. I was primarily fishing a 3/4 oz football head jig in 15 to 30 feet of water. I also caught a couple key fish on a David Dudley Perfection Lures 1/4 oonce shake head off of some buff walls,” Weisenburger explained.
His bite died on day 2 after he caught a pair of decent fish on a jig. Day 3 also was slow and he did not have a keeper fish in the boat after three hours of fishing. He picked off a small keeper on a white buzzbait. Then he decided he had to go deep again and was sitting in 40 feet of water fishing about 20 feet deep.
“I felt my jig run up on a brush pile in about 30 feet. I slowly dragged it through the brush pile and thankfully caught my second keeper, which was close to 6 pounds,” he said.
Hoping to get another solid keeper he stayed with that pattern the last few hours of the tourney. He did not get another keeper and came to the weigh-in with only two fish, figuring he did not have enough weight to move from his eighth place position into the top six.
“It was meant to be as they were enough to move me to fifth place. It was an up and down emotional roller coaster all day just trying to grind out another fish or two,” Weisenburger said. “The biggest key to a tournament like this is to not be afraid to make some spur of the moment decisions of what feels right and then believing in your decision. The second thing is to just do everything to capitalize and get every bite to the boat. A lost fish can make all the difference between success and failure.”
So what does this all mean for the Ottawa angler in 2018?
“For me, this was a great confidence booster and motivation going into 2018. I am super excited for what 2018 has in store,” he said “There is always pressure to make the All American. That is the main goal most anglers have at the beginning of their BFL seasons. I have a strong faith in God and I truly believe in his plan for me. If it is meant to happen then it will happen. This has really relieved my inner pressure and stress. I just put in my preparation, dedication, and full commitment and effort and let things happen as they may. I can’t wait to fish this All-American. I have never been there, but have already been researching and looking at maps of the lake.”
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL