I couldn't resist the call of the lake that taught me to fish, so I signed up to fish the Fishers of Men Fishing Club (Twin Cities) Bass Tournament on East & West Sylvia in Wright County. My partner for the day would be Michael "Cyberfish" Thompson. I found out at the landing on tournament morning that Cyb hadn't paid his Club dues, so would be ineligible in the Club Tournament. Cyberfish didn't really care and was there to fish for fun anyway.
Tournament Rules: 3 biggest bass measured by half inches, with most total length winning. The Fishers of Men Club does "paper tournaments" so all fish are immediately released.
Conditions: Light Rain for the first 20 minutes or so with a pretty good breeze all day starting from the S SE switching to the S SW. It obviously was overcast early turning mostly cloudy around 10:30PM. It was a warm morning in the 70's and it got up to about 80 and it was pretty humid. The water on these lakes is very clear and the water was about as high as I've ever seen.
With the forecast calling for that South wind to be blowing by the time the tournament was underway I decided to start on a shallow rock reef on the back side of the island in West Sylvia. We ended up fishing West Sylvia all day. Mike caught a small bass right away, maybe on his first cast, on a slug. I think he got another small one and then I got a small one on a Herb's Dilly buzzbait. Mike caught 1 or 2 more smaller fish before we made a 2nd pass. The second pass was pretty much fruitless so we started drifting across the weed flat. Mike picked up a 15 on the slug. I was throwing a white Death Shimmer 2 spinnerbait and getting a few hits but nothing was hooking up. I know at least one of those bites was from a small pike as it came all the way to the boat. We drifted to a bullrush point and fished down the West side of that. I got a small pike on the Death Shimmer. Eventually we got into some pads and I got a 12.75" Larry on a bubblegum Berkley Havoc Lane's Grass Pig. We ended up fishing West along the shoreline where there were docks and some wood in the water. It looked awesome but all I got was a Sylvia Special (12") next to a dock. We rounded "Dink Point" and I got a 15.5" on the Grass Pig where there was trees overhanging and into the water. As you work the shoreline to the North a small point comes out before the lake opens to the main/biggest bay on West Sylvia. With the South wind this point was getting hit pretty good with the wind. I cast a black/blue Crawtube along the dropoff on the South side of the point (it drops pretty quick and I think there is a little zone of weeds there). I got hit and brought up a 15". I immediately checked the boat back into the wind to keep from blowing over the point as I thought there was a real possibility the fish might be stacked up here. Mike asked me what I was using and I showed him I was fishing a weighted Texas Rig, so he switched up to a green pumpkin jig. I think I just got done telling Mike all I needed was 1 really good fish and I would win the tournament, when Mike swung on that fish. Here it is:
It wasn't the fattest fish in the world, but it was 19" long which is an extremely good fish for Sylvia. I think I pulled a 12.75" on the Crawtube and Mike had a fish rip off the jig skirt and trailer on the hookset. That was all we would get so we headed North to the shoreline where my family's lake place used to be. Basically we worked an inside turn and then off the end of the point which was windblown. I caught a sunfish on the Death Shimmer 2 spinnerbait and had another bump or two. Eventually we worked ourselves in around the point where it was calm and there is a bunch of pads. This is an area I call the "Back Bay" as there is a man made boat channel that was on the back side of our old lake place. It was interesting to see that there is no longer an open boat lane and the Back Bay is overgrown with pads as nobody keeps a boat back there anymore. While fishing the mouth of the Back Bay I got a small bass on the Horny Toad and had another really good swirl close to the boat, but it didn't get the Toad. We worked a little ways into the Back Bay before it got too weed choked, but nothing was in there.
Next we headed to the NE corner of West Sylvia. It was interesting to see that a reedbed there had shrunk in size but cattails had grown close to shore. We fished the wind blown reeds/cattails and I missed a good hit on the Grass Pig, but it got into the reeds immediately. We got to "My Island" which used to feature an open spot behind reeds and rice. The rice is almost all gone and it's just reeds and cattails. I got a bite there from what was most likely a sunfish on a bed (I saw the sunny on the bed as we passed by). I pulled a Sylvia Special on a craw tube off the end of My Island point. We then fished into Turtle Bay. I told Mike that sometimes as you get here is "peanuts"/Sylvia Specials but sometimes there can be good fish too. We did get several peanuts, me on the Horny Toad, but I also did get a 15.5" on the Toad. It used to be that by late June Turtle Bay would be to weed choked so you couldn't fish into it very far, but now there are two docks with boats at the far back of the bay and there is a pretty good boat channel there. Combine that with the high water and I figured fish could be anywhere in the bay. The slop looked beautiful, but all we got were peanuts close to the boat channels, couldn't get anything deeper into the pads. As we worked our way back out it was dead and I got a bit frustrated as this water tends to be pretty good as you come back out of the Bay on the North side. We were almost out of the slop when I got a Sylvia Special out of the Cattails up by shore on the Grass Pig. We went out and worked a cabbage bed that was as in the wind as you can get and we didn't get a bite. We worked down "McGregor's" shore to the 2 docks. I missed a small bass in between 2 docks.
Next we moved to the "Sunkin Island" but we didn't get anything there, so we headed to "Lighthouse Point" with would be another wind blown point with a good drop off and weeds. I'm not sure I even had the trolling motor in the water yet and Mike was hooked up with a big fish and we knew it was a big bass because it jumped. He got it in and it was this nice 19.5" fish.
Needless to say we worked the point pretty good after that and we caught some fish but they were all Sylvia specials.
Next we moved into Flannery's Bay to the hump that I never knew existed until I got my Lakemaster Map. I pulled this 14.25" from there on a Crawtube, but that is all we would get.
Next we worked an inside turn and weedline in Flannery's and I picked up a few more fish on the Crawtube. I also missed several bites. There was about an hour left so we headed back to fish slop/pads in the Public Access Bay. By this time it was partly cloudy so there was quite a bit of sun. Right away I scored a 15.25" on the black Horny Toad. I caught several more Sylvia Specials including this one.
The tournament ended at 2PM. Mike's 53.5" destroyed everybody, but as that he was ineligible my 46" won the tournament. It was typical Sylvia in that everybody reported catching quite a few fish, but everything was small.
Analysis: What can I say but I love Sylvia/Twin and I know spots that have the potential to kick out better than your cookie cutter Sylvia Specials. I am a little surprised that I never made it to the channel between the lakes, but with the way the slop was going in Turtle Bay, I made the call to hit Lighthouse Point first and after that I didn't want to make the run across the big water in that wind. If you want to catch bigger than average fish in Sylvia, you might want to consider using a green/pumpkin bass jig.