Jordan Doucet and Chad Eidson have continued to impress, especially when it comes to coralling the biggest, baddest largemouth around. They won the 2017 Potholes Open and followed that up with the most hourly wins during the Limit Out Marine Big Bass Tournament at Moses Lake. What follows is a recent interview with the two anglers.
You two really seem to do well at Potholes and Moses Lake. Other places too, but those two really stand out. What has been the keys to that success? Is it an approach, a technique, an understanding of those bodies of water?
Lots of time on the water and that creates a solid understanding of how these lakes fish. Living in Moses Lake for the last several years afforded me a fair amount of time on the water and I think that is irreplaceable. Jordan and I both really like to target largemouth and power fish so these lakes both play to our strengths in those regards a lot of the time. They just end up setting up very well for us.
You guys did really well in back to back tournaments that had a very different format (big bass vs 6 fish team limit). How did you approach each similarly and how were they different in terms of any prefishing or tournament strategy?
In a one day or two day 5 fish tournament one of the keys to winning or doing well is getting a kicker. Sure, you need a limit but what generally separates the top few teams from the rest of the pack is getting a big one (or two). This eventually gets averaged out in a three or four-day tournament but here in the Northwest we are talking about two days max. The size of your kicker can change depending on the lake but you’re generally looking for something in the 5 lb plus category. Because of this we tend to try to target bigger fish even in 5 fish tournaments. Many times, we have come in to weight in and heard stories of 50 fish days while we only caught 7 to 10 fish but we did well in the tournament because our bites were the right ones. So carrying that strategy over to the big fish tournaments isn’t that much of an adjustment for us. Sure, we bust out the huge swimbaits and give them their obligatory 7 to 10 casts during a BBT event but generally our approach isn’t that different.
As far as these two tournaments in particular, I prefished the weekend before the Potholes Open and I did not prefish for the BBT (Limit Out Marine Big Bass Tournament). During prefish for the Open I found several areas holding the “right kind” of fish to do well in the tournament. We rotated through several locations constantly throughout the tournament to put together our bags. We didn’t get a lot of bites either day but we were around the right type of fish and our weights reflected that (the day one kicker was the difference maker.) The only major difference for the BBT we took an educated guess on the kind of fish it was going to take to win. We spent 95% of our tournament time in areas that we believed held that kind of fish and only strayed briefly when a much smaller fish was leading the whole tournament than we anticipated. We did not spend time fishing areas that we would have certainly hit had we been trying to catch a 5 fish limit. One of the huge benefits to the BBT format is we rarely feel like we are ever “wasting time” as long as we are in an area we think could hold big fish. I think you fish more loose and free when it just takes one cast to change the whole outcome of the day. One of the most interesting things that the BBT format has shown us, and I really think it reaffirms our strategy about targeting big fish all the time, is surprisingly enough most BBT’s we have fished where we really concentrated on big fish areas specifically and big fish techniques even more so than normal, we have still caught really good five fish limits in most of these events.
You may have already covered this in question #2, but describe the differences in your opinion on the best way to approach a big bass tournament as opposed to a 5 (or 6) fish limit tournament.
I think we hit the high points on it in questions two but to take it further, If you look at five fish tournaments the big fish award often goes one of two ways. It goes to one of the teams that places near the top and I attribute this to really being on the fish and getting the right kind to bite, or it goes to someone middle of the pack who admittedly “randomed” into a giant. Its more or less impossible to replicate the second scenario, so our strategy is to fish where big fish live with baits that tend to catch big fish. You won’t find a spinning rod or finesse gear in our boat during a BBT.
Word on the street is you two love to flip and frog. Is that accurate? What can you tell us about the baits and techniques used in both of these recent events?
Yes that’s very accurate – How could anyone not love to flip and frog?! For both the open and BBT flipping/pitching was our most productive technique. We caught most of our key fish in both events flipping a jig, punch rig, or soft plastic. Sweet beavers, rage craws, missile baits d bomb, pit boss and multiple other creatures or craws all got a work out during both tournaments. I think its less about the bait and more about putting that bait in front of a fish in a scenario where it is going to eat it. Flipping is a great big fish technique and we ran into a couple of tournaments where it worked out well. It can burn you just the same.
Braid or Fluorocarbon and why?
We both really like fishing braid but there are a lot of techniques or applications where it just doesn’t fit. In general casting reels are split about 50/50 braid to fluorocarbon. On our spinning reels its 100% braid mainline with a fluorocarbon leader. We tend to gravitate towards braid for the strength and durability and have pulled a lot of fish out of thick cover with braid that I just don’t think you would land with fluorocarbon.
What are some of the little details that make you two a successful team?
We have fun first and foremost. Fishing should be fun and we make sure we keep it that way. It sounds super cliche but having a positive attitude goes a long ways towards success. We have pulled more than one tournament win out right before weigh in after a really tough day of fishing. We also aren’t selfish and fish as a team. There have been plenty of wins where one guy caught the majority of the weight but what comes around goes around. There will be individual miscues in tournament fishing but we do not let them get us down as a team. Case in point on day two of the open it was late in the tournament day and we only had 5 fish we knew we needed a limit to have a shot at the win. We had a long dry spell and time was winding down. I finally hooked a fish but lost it at the boat that could have easily been a negative turning point in our day but we shook it off and ten minutes later Jordan went back to back to fill our limit and cull by ounces (a cull that probably pushed us over the top for the win).
We think one of the other things we do well that contributes to our success is knowing what it’s going to take to do well in a particular tournament and planning a strategy around that. We have left the “wrong” kind of fish biting many a time to target different fish following this strategy. Sometimes we are way off and it ends up costing us but through prefish and rationally looking at conditions we think we generally have a good idea of what it will take.
Finally, to circle back on question #4 (about flipping and frogging), one thing in recent years that has really helped us become more consistent is gaining confidence in more than just a couple techniques and not dying with what we are comfortable with. Topwater fishing, in particular frog fishing, can be a very fickle approach when the fish just aren’t eating quite right or committing all the way. Having tried new baits, techniques and presentations, and gaining confidence in them, has saved more than one tournament day, and led to some very key fish catches over the last couple years especially. Where this also benefits us as a team is being comfortable showing the fish a couple different looks – ie. one guy fishing out deeper off a break and the other beating the hard cover along the bank or one guy fishing a moving bait, while another fishes something with more of a vertical presentation. By doing this we are fishing for different fish, in different stages that we may have missed if both of us were doing the same thing.
Do you enjoy the Big Bass Format more or do you favor the traditional team, 5 fish limit format.
We definitely prefer the 5 fish limit format for tournaments. Catching a truly big fish often comes down to a fair amount of luck and we prefer a tournament format that rewards consistency more than luck. The big fish tournaments also bring with them the concept of playing the game or weighing your fish when appropriate. While some guy’s geek out on the mind game tricks we prefer to let the weight of what you caught determine the outcome not which hour you weighed it. Both formats have their upsides but we prefer the 5 fish format.
What about a Friday prefish for the Potholes Open. Do you worry about people “beating up on” your fish? How do you two use that prefish the day before?