Bassmaster Fishing 2022

First time: Lake Seminole Online Open

Only a month after casting for the first ever time in Bassmaster Fishing 2022, joedabritcop has conquered the single player College Series and now looking onward to his first ever Online Open. May's event on Lake Seminole provided the perfect opportunity to see whether what he'd learned so far was of any use when competing against 1800+ other anglers! Here's an account of his time in each round of the Lake Seminole Online Open Series:
Impressions going into my first Online Open were simply that catching something would be an achievement. Though the College Series had taught me that I was capable of catching some pretty big fish, and plenty of them, narrowing this down to an hour-long window and hunting only Largemouth and Spotted Bass seemed to me quite a challenge. But it was one I wanted to tackle (!) even if the Round 1 score to beat at the time was a whopping 75 lbs 10 oz, set by SATYATEX. Into the boat and onto the lake I went, in search of Bassmaster glory.

Round 1

Clearly the nerves had got to me. After finding what I thought would be an interesting spot, my first cast was hideously overpowered and saw the lure launch no more than 6 ft in front of the boat! After that blunder, I settled and got back to the consistent 98% that I was used to. But the view from under the water wasn't that encouraging. There were bass about, but only small ones. What looked like a 5 lbs or 6 lbs striper would slide on by the camera, but with those not qualifying, they weren't worth the time. Anything clearly not bass I was happy to let go, putting learnings into action from watching DTG Benjamin on the live streams. With 48 minutes to go, I struck only a 1 lb 4 oz Spotted Bass and decided it was time to move on. Position: 817th
The shallow areas around some of the mid-lake islands seemed to be showing some good hot spots on the Fish Finder so with the half-way mark approaching I settled by the bank of a new area, which turned out to be a total snag-fest. After getting snagged about 6 times in as many minutes, I realised the 7th was in fact a bite! And a decent one! Fish on! The strike wasn't perfect though and even if I knew deep down this was a bass, I wasn't sure I could get the thing on board. With 'Hook Slipping' flashing red on the HUD, I managed to secure the Landing Chance and haul that lunker onto the boat: 12 lbs 4 oz! Position: 516th
Just three more bass to find. More snags plagued my current spot, so with 20 minutes to go, I went elsewhere to where a fallen tree lay in a small inlet. The underwater camera showed plenty of bass hiding here and though the biggest were Stripers, there were clearly some more 6 lbs or 7 lbs Largemouth and Spotted Bass about. But once again it was snag after snag! It felt right to stay put though and with the clock ticking down, I managed to grab another Spotted Bass, this time over 7 lbs. By now, I was pretty happy with the result. Position: 408th
But then the Gar and Catfish came out. It was all I could catch in the dying minutes of Round 1 despite some big bass being right there in front of me! A final Striper teased me into thinking I could rise the ranks further, but after the clock reached zero it was clear my luck had run out. In the top 50% felt good! But with only 3 qualifying fish caught, I felt like I could have done better. The only encouragement was that our very own DTG Benjamin had seen a similar run - just 3 fish caught and only a few places ahead of me. As other results filtered through it was 466th for me with other anglers bumping me down further.
But that 12 pounder was well worth the wait. A nice run of those in Round 2 and who knows how things might turn out...

Round 2

After reasonable success in Round 1 I was confident that this could continue into Round 2 - donning the tournament jersey from taking part in the event. But I wanted to see what was lurking in some of the hotspots discovered by players further up the leaderboard. Some hastily added markers seemed pretty logical, but when getting there all I could catch were a couple of bass of 3 lbs and 1 lb in size! Not exactly the start I was hoping for!
But things got worse. Clearly the markers were a little off as a dead period defined a good 30 minutes of tournament time and in desperation I decided to go back to where I'd fished in Round 1 - surely a 12 lbs lunker was due to bite again soon! But no. The worst moment was when, after three snags in a row, I decided to recast just as a sizeable Spotted Bass hooked on! But it was too late. The lure was out the water and I had to cast out again thinking of what might have been. As seems to be the case each time I hit the lakes, Gar taunted me with bites between flirtatious bass that looked but didn't buy and I was left with a disappointing Round total of just 5 lbs 10 oz. I had a lot of catching up to do for Round 3... my combined total was 26 lbs 5 oz. Position: 512th But after the rest had made their catches I fell to 690th.

Round 3

So what would Round 3 bring? Another snag-fest? More 12 lbs lunker glory? At this point a decent top 25% result was looking very unlikely and fishing in the top half might have seemed ambitious. But I did want to catch 5 qualifying fish, something that up until now I had failed to do in Rounds 1 and 2. I was confident I was using a good loadout and knew of some decent spots to fish, so in I went for the final hour of fishing in the Online Open.
And straight away I knew I found some decent fish to catch. After the sun had rose, about 15 minutes in, a good 5 lbs 7 oz largemouth kicked things off and the underwater camera showed loads of fish at this spot, just north of the landing stage. The all-important tactic of letting catfish and crappies go was even more crucial in such a populated hotspot. The issue here was that some decent Stripers were mixing it with largemouth and spotted bass! Had striped bass qualified, not only would have I have caught the 5 fish needed straight away, but could well have got a total touching on 40 lbs!
If only Striped Bass had qualified for this event!
But playing the numbers game was working and slowly the qualifying bass varieties were biting. I could see what looked like some good 7, 8 or even 9 lbs fish around but even after trying three different baits it seemed to only be the small ones making it onto the boat. 3 lbs 2 oz was the best I could grab after that and with a host of fish on or under 1 lb to go with them, my combined catch for Round 3 was just 18 lbs 5 oz.
And so, with all three rounds complete it was just a case of sitting back, waiting to see where I'd end up on my first competitive online leaderboard. With a grand total of 44 lbs 9 oz, I was certainly not going to challenge the likes of HarryStankFoot or SW1FTY86_TTV but I was happy. This was a decent result for a first try and like the single player tournaments, I felt like I'd learned an awful lot.
Final Position: 447th
But what about DTG Benjamin? He was only 3 places above me after Round 1. Turns out his luck was far better than mine - he placed an impressive 156th with a score of 141 lbs 13 oz! Think you have what it takes to knock us down further? We'll see you all out on the water again in a future Open Series event...
Bassmaster Fishing 2022
26 May
First time: Lake Seminole Online Open