“Prefishing on Oneida Lake has been tough”, according to Denny Brauer, Evinrude Team member. “But I’m sure enjoying the cool mornings and mild afternoons”. Denny said the bite has been a lot tougher than past years. In a tournament were numbers are expected, catching a limit of quality bass has been tough.
Oneida Lake has 80 square miles of surface area and 55 miles of shoreline. While that may seem large to many anglers, it’s relatively small by Elite Series standards. “This lake fishes small by nature, but with the tough bite I think it’s going to be a real issue that we’ll all have to keep in the back of our minds with adjusting on the water.” Denny continued, “The only good thing is that there are a few options. Anglers targeting smallmouth will spread out because they are catching them anywhere from 1 and 2 feet of water out to the deeper sloping drops. For me, the largemouth bite is there, but the bigger bites are few and far between.” When asked if it will be won on smallmouth or largemouth Denny said, “This one could go either way, normally the angler that can figure out how to catch the largemouth on frogs or topwater will do very well. However, that bite is not that great right now and an angler that can get on a deep smallmouth bite could do very well.” Denny also expressed that the three days of prefishing were met with a cold front and east winds, “This will shut down any lake, but normally these summer fronts don’t effect northern bass as bad. The tournament could bring about a whole different set of conditions.”
Denny said he’s going to swing for the fence doing what he likes to do; he’s just going to do it deep. “I’ve got 6 spots that I’ve put together that have deeper milfoil, and I’ve been able to get some pretty good bites. Now I just have to connect and make it happen.” I asked Denny how deep his grass bass were, “I’m catching most in 4 to 8 feet of water.” I chuckled and asked him if that is normally deep water for him, “It’s all relative. For Oneida, this is actually pretty deep. There are no real contours in this lake; it’s pan shaped. A lot of bass are being caught up shallow on the banks. Previous tournament wins here have come on frogs, poppers, and sight fishing, so 8 feet is pretty deep.”
I looked up Oneida Lake on the Navionics PC App. Very interesting in that there are no major creek channels in this lake. As Denny said, it’s bowl shaped and most of the banks simply slope off into deeper waters. Wanting to get a feel for where an angler might start, I asked Denny what his first couple thoughts are with this type of lake, natural with no real structure. “Natural lakes here in the north are known for their vegetation, and lots of it. Finding the areas that vegetation will grow is pretty easy. I use Google Earth to help me find the back waters and where any possible grass beds are. Then it comes down to driving it, looking, and testing the grass you’ve found. Some anglers will head straight to the points and reefs. This is a good plan also, however points and ledges are not as we’re used to seeing them on an impoundment. If you can find a place that drops 5 feet over a 10 yard span, you’ve found a good spot. These can be found on topography maps.”
Denny didn’t elude to what he was flipping with, just that he was flipping in deeper vegetation. When asked what kind of vegetation Denny replied, “We have a lot to choose from, cabbage, eel grass, milfoil, and even some pads.” So not to pry I let that one ride until after the tournament.
According to Denny, “Twelve to fourteen pounds is going to be solid. I’m hoping I can do that with a kicker fish mixed in there a day or two. Bass have a lot to eat up here, between the perch, shad, bream, and crawfish. Couple that with the water clearer than I’ve ever seen it and we’re in for a tough event.” I asked Denny if he thought anglers were going to find concentrations of fish or if will it be more of a cover water type of event. He was pretty confident in his water replying, “I’ve got 6 areas that will take about an hour each to fish. I also have an area I could spend all day in. I’m going to have to manage these bass against how aggressive they are and how many other anglers are working them. With a lake like this, it’s not uncommon to pull up on your next spot and have two boats already sitting there, so you hesitate to move sometimes. I can’t really say whether this can be won in one location or not, but I’m prepared for what the conditions throw at us.”
Denny is hoping that the thick vegetation will prevent a lot of anglers from finding some of his fish. I asked him why that might happen, give me grass and I’m all over it. Denny replied, “The types of vegetation up here can really plug up a motors water ports, and anglers have trouble with that. Evinrude changed up its lower unit some last year, and it’s been amazing, a total asset in this event, it absolutely doesn’t have a problem with clogging water ports. I’ve seen anglers with special tools so that they can scrap the water ports clean when they become clogged. Not only does that waste precious fishing time but it’s also hurting your motor. This may keep many anglers off the bass I’ve found.”
Denny had some spare time before he had to head off to the pretournament meeting so I hit him up with some questions on his recent announcement of possibly retiring. Knowing Denny is an avid deer hunter, I questioned him if there were enough deer around the home he purchased on Lake Amistad, to keep him busy. “There are a whole lot of deer in Texas, way more than on my ranch back in Missouri. So that wasn’t really a factor in our decision. Really, it’s my body; it’s saying we’re about done, but my mind just won’t stop competing though. I love the competition.” Denny went on to say that there is so much that he’ll be able to keep busy with. He still plans on competing in local events and at less demanding levels, “I’m looking forward to fishing for fun again on some fantastic waters.”
With all his accomplishments in bass fishing, one would say that Denny Brauer has done it all; he’s won a classic, countless tournament wins, even has baits named after him. Are you satisfied Mr. Brauer? “I guess it’s the competitive drive in all of us, I can say that I have enjoyed my career and have no regrets what so ever. I’ve been spoiled on both sides of the coin; I’ve won a lot of tournaments and I’ve had fantastic sponsors working with me throughout my career to make it all possible. But all that said, there are things you want to do bigger or better, things you want to do again, it’s just a competitive nature that prevents us from stopping when it’s time.” I took our conversation as that he feels he has done everything he set out to do, but would love to do it all again. Our conversation also had a lot of “If’s” in it; I take that as he’s not quite sure that he’s ready to call it quits, “I have to sit down after this last event and really think about it. The next season schedule came out, and it’s got a whole lot of driving in it; I don’t like driving.”
Get the Net it’s a Hawg