As we approached the 2013 Wooden Shoe Carp Classic I can only remember thinking how this event could not come fast enough! Last year’s Wooden Shoe Carp Classic had incredible results, with many personal bests for anglers including myself and a couple 30lb+ beasts being landed. This sparked interest from anglers all over the country and resulted in the incredible turnout we had this year. The Wooden Shoe Carp Classic is even being referred to as Michigan’s version of the ATC!
With high hopes for this year’s Wooden Show Carp Classic Brendan and I arrived to the venue on Friday for a little pre-fishing (Thanks Mom!). Upon arrival Brendan and I saw Andy Sprinkle and Ed Montgomery already set up and fishing. No sooner than we walked down there Andy hooked into a hard fighting Lake Macatawa carp, which showed us they were there and feeding! Once we were setup it wasn’t long until Brendan and I started to catch carp as well. While we were pre-fishing there were quite a few 20lb+ fish up to 28lbs getting caught by everyone! This was very exciting to see that the big carp from Lake Michigan have moved into Lake Macatawa to get ready for the spawn. We had no idea what would be in store for everyone on Saturday and Sunday!
As Saturday finally rolled around it was time for the peg draw at 6:00 a.m. We would be having a snake draw so whoevers name got drawn first to choose a peg would pick last on Sunday. I was hoping to fish the same peg that I fished on Friday having had great results, and to my surprise that was the exact peg I got! Brendan was 17th to choose a peg and he ended up down to the right of me at peg 11. Before I get into the day I should explain the rules as they are quite unique. In this event you are allowed to weigh only eight of your fish, and once you put a fish on the board you cannot take it down so you must choose wisely. Additionally you are allowed one bonus fish in which you can double the weight of but again you cannot take it off the board once it’s on.
Now that you know how this event works I will get back to the fishing. It was rods in at 6:45 a.m. and no sooner than a couple minutes after I casted there was a small carp lying on my mat! As soon as I released that Nikki Sprinkle who was fishing next me landed a small carp as well. A couple more small carp were caught by other anglers before the fishing shut down. Since this is a very social non-competitive event we had a lot of fun chatting with the other anglers when the fish were not cooperating but this was not to be the case for long. The fishing picked up once again and this time big fish were being caught with some big 20lb+ fish present!
Nikki was the first one to land a hog on Saturday at a whopping 27lbs 14oz, which was her bonus fish! It was approaching lunch time when I landed my largest fish of day one, which was a very fat 24lb+ carp. I ended up using this as my bonus fish which was a mistake as you will find out later.
Once lunchtime hit everyone was getting excited, the reason for this was we had Rod Mills cooking our lunch! Rod makes some of the best bank food many of us have ever consumed in our lives, thanks Rod! A little while after lunch news soon spread that Jathan from Indiana had just landed a 33lb+ carp which was a personal best, congrats Jathan! Jathan used this as his bonus fish which caused him to jump up to first place! Amos from Indiana walked down there to help get pictures of the beast but not without a price. While Amos was down there one of his rods which was right next to me proceeded to scream off! Everyone then began yelling to Amos whom was very far away so I was told to start fighting his fish until he arrived back. Once Amos was back I handed the rod back off to him and after a long fight he landed a 28lb+ pig which was another personal best! A lot of fish continued to get caught throughout the rest of the day including many 20lb+ carp with another 27lb+ landed by Tom Daugherty!
Brendan fished very well on day one landing about five fish with his biggest being just under 20lb. I finished day one with ten or so carp which all came on the new WCB maize which has produced many great fish for me this year! The results on day one had Jathan in 1st place, me in 2nd place, and Dave Ash in 3rd place.
After a long night in the hotel it was time to wake up for day two of the tournament. Since we were having a snake draw I had the pleasure of choosing my peg close to last but this did not bother me much as I chose peg 13 down to the right of my day one peg which was not a bad spot. The area where Jathan got his 33lber was pretty much vacant day one but filled up fast on day 2. Everyone expected day 2 to be incredible because of all the bait that had gone into the water, this ended up being quite true. Once all the rods where in it did not take too long to start hooking into fish, and quite a bit of them! My first fish of the day was a chunky 21lb+ which was a very good start to day 2! Dave who was inhabiting peg 12 to my right started to haul fish with me! We were hooking quite a bit of fish but no sizeable fish were being landed. After what was probably a couple hours mine and Dave’s fishing started to slow down. That was about the time I had a nice run and picked up into what I told Dave right away felt like a big fish! As I was fighting this fish I was sure it was big. She would take long slow runs and I was able to do nothing with her. Eventually when I started to gain line on the fish it felt like I had a sack of potatoes on the end of my line. After what felt like an eternity I had her just below the wall and when I saw her I thought it was in the high 20’s. Boy was I wrong, once we netted her and lifted the fish out of the water I couldn’t believe what I was looking at! The girth on this carp was ridiculous and I knew right away this was in the mid 30’s. So we zeroed out the sling and hoisted her onto the scale. The needle shot around to 36lbs on the dot which was a new lake record! I was kicking myself right about now for using a 24lber as my bonus fish and not this one, but at that point it did not matter to me.
After that fish there have been multiple 20’s landed by anglers all over the lake! Brian, Tom, and Daniel were all catching a lot of fish over where Jathan got his big fish! They all had 20’s including an awesome 27lb+ for Brian and a new personal best at 24lbs for Drew who was right by me, congrats! The funny thing was as Drew landed his 24lb I landed one at the exact same weight as his! Brendan was on fire as well he had caught a couple 20lb+ fish including a super long and lean 28lb tank that he got on a snowman rig that he threw out for big fish!
A little while later I decide to give Andy Sprinkle a call and see how they were doing and I was speechless when I heard their results so far! They were up to over 40 fish and the day wasn’t even over and on top of that Nikki landed another pig at 27lb! As the fishing came to a close on day two everyone had landed some incredible fish I couldn’t even begin to guess how many 20lb+ carp were landed, that number would just be too high and to add two mid 30’s were caught! Day 2 exceeded all of our expectations!
After a very long tiring day of fishing for everyone it was time to call it quits. We all gathered in one area to hear the final word on who had won and would take home the wooden shoe for big fish and one for 8 fish total. Nobody had a clue of who would take either of the shoes so we all sat in anticipation waiting for the final word to be spoken. Once all calculations were made Dave Ash the host of the event awarded Nikki Sprinkle a shoe for her total 8 fish with 192lb congrats Nikki! Tom Daughtery finished in 2nd place for total 8 fish right on Nikki’s tail being only a pound behind her! I finished in 3rd but I took home the shoe for big fish with a 36lber.
Overall this was a great event and I think it is safe to say everyone had a blast. Not only were many big fish caught but there was quite a few personal bests caught as well! I think I can say that I will see many of the same people back next year! I would like to thank Dave and Jen Ash who hosted the event and for all their hard work putting this together, we could not have asked for better hosts!