This past season served as my first year ever driving/owning a Dodge truck. After growing up and always being a Ford man I have to say I am overly happy and impressed with this vehicle. Towing and travelling as much as I do in a season it only made sense to try out the Outdoorsman Eco Diesel package and I have to say it was an incredible decision. The fuel millage that I receive while towing is truly incredible. I am currently towing between 12 and 14L/100km or 17-19MPG for all my American friends reading this. When not towing the millage is in between 7 and 8L/100Km or 30-33MPG. Hooking up has become and absolute breeze in this truck with the rear back up cam and adjustable air ride suspension, not to mention by far the smoothest ride towing I have ever experienced in a half-ton truck.
I will be covering all of the ins and outs of the vehicle over the next season on my travels throughout the United States fishing as a Non-boater in the FLW Costa Series South East, and Northern tours.
FLW Costa South East Series Recap - Event #1 Lake Okeechobee
The "BIG O" is often what Lake Okeechobee is referred to as and if you are to look on map you can see just why. During the practice days for the event I have been lucky enough to be fishing with Professional Angler Wayne Macklin from Fenton Michigan. Wayne has been fishing events for over 20 years and is a well known professional in the the Michigan area. You can follow Wayne and his finishes on facebook on his Wayne Macklin Fishing page. After a strong start to the season and spending a week in the boat I strongly suggest following along with Wayne.
For my first day draw, I drew Tommy Dickens from Texas. Tommy is another very accomplished professional and it was a pleasure to spend the day in the boat with him. This served as my first time fishing out of the back of the boat as a non boater, and although I had my worst tournament day to date Tommy put us on fish and was a true professional in every aspect.
On this day we focused our time in South Bay of Okeechobee also known as the hay fields, and ultimately this is where the event was won. We spent most of our day fishing swimbaits and speed worms over the top of grass, lilly pads, and kissimi grass. Blow up after blow up I missed fish after fish and was not able to get them outta the grass and into boat. After the day was said and done I had 11 fish come unbuttoned before I could get them to the boat, and had a big fish follow to the boat that would have truly helped my causes had she have bitten. A zero was the end result for me on this day, my first and hopefully last zero I will ever encounter in the sport.
Brant Grimm was my day two boater and had me a little scared going into the second day of another zero. On initial contact with Brant, his confidence seemed to be at a low with him commenting about not being able to catch a bass. But on the morning of the tournament I quickly realized why these guys are professionals and that they wouldn't let a bad day keep them down.
Day 2 was primarily spent in the canals at the north end of the lake where we had to lock through to get to. It wasn't very long in the canal before I boated my first 3 bass and Brant 2. After a long day of grinding from the back of the boat and watching Brant pick apart every piece of cover and boating about 20 bass, I was still in the back of the boat with only 3 fish coming to the end of the day. Brant made a decision to leave this area with around 2 hours left before weigh in. We stopped at a spawning pond on the way back and both upgraded our bags, myself with a 3 1/2 lber and my biggest fish of the day. I had another fish wake on me in the same area but wouldn't commit to give me my limit. I ended up with 9.4lbs on this day with only 4 fish but after a rusty day one I was much happier with the result to actually put some points on the board for the rest of the season. The next even will take place on Lake Seminole, another bucket list fishery that I am already chomping at the bit to get on.
Event #2 South East Costa Lake Seminole
Before getting into detail on my event and practice at Lake Seminole I have to give a report on the performance of my Dodge Eco-diesel truck. This was the first time that I have taken my Dodge on an extended trip without towing a boat. After the trip to Georgia I can now truly say that I know all the ins and outs of the truck and how it performs. On this trip which was roughly 5000 km, I only filled up the tank 5 times total and that included all the local driving I did while in Georgia. I was very impressed to see my gas mileage at 8L/100Km or 29.4 MPG on the highway. Overall the performance of my Eco-Diesel has way exceeded my expectations and I can say I am a very happy and proud owner.
Probably my highlight of my trip down, I spent my time on the water again with Professional Angler Wayne Macklin. While with Wayne I got to see a lot of the lake and the backwater ponds and slews that Lake Seminole is known for. Lake Seminole has three major rivers that meet at the main basin and run to the damn. The Flint River, Spring Creek, and the Chattanooga are the three main systems that make up this great lake. It was quite amazing to see the completely different make up of this body of water in comparison to what we have back home. Dredged out channels and narrow paths running through the forest to a variety of different back waters and systems.
When I first decided to start this blog I told myself that I would share all the good, bad and the ugly with anyone who cared to follow along. Fishing is not always a game of winning and out of any sport that I have ever been involved with is by far the most humbling. My two days can quickly be summed up as UGLY. I only managed to put 1 fish in the live well and that was on day number one. I am quickly learning and seeing how the draw factor can be quite important fishing as a Co-Angler.
Although my finish was not anywhere near where I would like to be, I am always taking the positives out of this season. I knew what I was signing up for this year and have to keep the mind set and mentality that I am here to mostly learn this season. Winning is always nice but the knowledge that I have already gained this season is why I signed up.
In the next event I will be headed to Lake Chickamauga which is part of the Tennessee river system and is the next lake above Lake Guntersville. I am probably the most excited for this event out of any of my venue's this season. Since missing a bit of the learning curve at last years regional on Lake Guntersville I am really looking forward to learning this system as it sets up relatively similar. For the practice period this event I will be bringing my own boat to try and expand on a bit more water, as well as try to see if I can figure out just what it was I missed the last time on the Tennessee River.
Event #1 Lake Okeechobee, Florida, United States
For this first time ever in my fishing career I will not be spending all winter on a sheet of ice. This year is much will be much different and hopefully the start of my growth as a tournament angler. In the coming weeks I will be starting the 2,400 km trek to Lake Okeechobee, Florida. Although this drive will be painfully long it is going to be very interesting to see the fuel consumption and amount of times I will actually have to fuel up my Dodge Eco-diesel. With how it performed over 2016 I think it is going to be a huge cost saver for me this season.
Lake Okeechobee often referred to as the "Big O" is one of my bucket list fisheries that I have always wanted to fish my entire life. The massive, shallow and heavily vegetated lake is with out a doubt one of the most famous and well known lakes in the world today. Known for it's huge bass and unique structure the Big O is going to be an absolute pleasure to do battle with and I look forward to bringing everyone along the ride with me.
The Rodman Resevoir
While on our way to my first event on Lake Okeechobee good friend and fellow guide in the Algoma Area Tyler Dunn and I decided to spend a few days at the infamous Rodman Resevoir. Just getting to Rodman took us roughly 22 hrs and over 2000km. This road trip allowed me to truly get to know my eco-diesel and all of it's capabilities while towing.
I am truly blown away at the fuel economy of this truck and how well the small diesel engine tows a heavy boat and trailer.
While in a colder climate I did notice a small drop in fuel economy then in a warmer climate. While in a colder climate we towed at 16.4L/100Km or 14.34 MPG. When temps warmed and we hit the further southern climate my trucks economy dropped to 14.8L/100Km or 15.8 MPG. I'm sure these numbers could have been even less but driving habits do come into play when talking fuel economy and I do tend to have a heavy foot. After driving a ford truck for the past 6 years before my dodge I can truly see just how cost efficient this new eco-diesel really is. I am now towing at the same fuel rate or better than my ford used to while driving around town not towing.
To add more to the cost efficiency of this vehicle, it's only 55 U.S dollars to fill the truck from less than empty!! With that 55 dollars you will roughly receive 600-700 km per tank while towing again depending on your driving habits. For us Florida was less than 250$ in fuel each way while towing an 18ft lund with us. That's pretty impressive and is definitely saving me a ton of money while driving across the United States.
After now owning this truck for a full year in April, I can honestly say that if you are not towing over 8000 lbs (eco-diesel capacity) your crazy to not at least consider this truck, it is the most efficient truck on the market today.