It has become the biggest tournament in the Northwest. With a field of over 70 boats, The Nixon’s Moses Lake Open provides the biggest payout, and the toughest competition anywhere around. With the relatively small size of the lake, combined with a large angler field and a two-week off-limits/no information rule in place, The Moses Lake Open provides plenty in the way of challenges for anglers.
One of those challenges will be to find “new” water. Anglers will have to either rely on some post-tournament “pre-fishing” from last year or take a leap of faith and go on a theory of where the bass should be.
Another challenge will be managing the largemouth side of the equation. It has happened many times that a big limit of largemouth on day 1 doesn’t equate to another big limit the next day. Most anglers will need to locate both big largemouth and smallmouth on both days to give themselves a shot. The real wildcard had always been a five plus pound largemouth. There are just too many 3 and a half to 4 and a half pound smallmouth to rely on those fish making a difference. You need them in your bag, but any more than 3 or 4 of those fish per day and you are testing fate.
Time efficiency is always a big challenge at tournaments and the Moses Lake Open is no different. Moses Lake is just small enough that you feel tempted to “make a run” to the other side. Anglers will have to mix being diverse enough in their locations that they don’t wear anything out prematurely but also patient enough that they maximize their time keeping their baits wet.
Smallmouth on Beds?
Typically the smallmouth bed fishing (notice I didn’t say “sight fishing”) is a popular option. Knowing the sequence of spawning on Moses is a big advantage that veteran anglers will rely on. The spawning cycle is actually made up off about 8-9 different phases and each section of Moses will be in a different phase during the tournament, which will have nothing to do with what the prefish bite was like. Anglers who recognize those signs early on Saturday (and not too late on Saturday to make the cut or wait until Sunday to figure out what stage fish are in) will have another distinct advantage.
For those who choose to dedicate some time on bedding smallmouth, there is the patience factor that will determine who is most successful at that game. Those who stay patient with newly bedding smallmouth that are the definition of skittish will have the best chance of being rewarded, but also have the highest chance of coming in with little to show for all that time invested. Having good vision, the right pair of glasses and playing the wind and the sun are all make or break factors to that bed fishing game. Unfortunately, it only takes a few who don’t understand those “rules” to mess things up for others.
Moses Lake is one of the few places where you can be mere yards away from tussling with a seven plus pound largemouth in some heavy cover and then drop-shotting with some very light gear on a 6 pound smallmouth. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Your equipment better be in tip-top shape and even more important your mental game will get you beat quicker than losing a big one will.
Game Over Angling will provide coverage of this event as it is the most well run, unique and special tournament of the season and also provides the deepest payback of any event in the Northwest.