Blake Otterson (Pictured Above on Left) is an Ohio avid recreational and tournament fisherman. Blake has been quite successful fishing tournaments in Ohio. Join me in getting to know Blake and his Ohio bass fishing.
How did (Pictured Above on Right) your dad go about introducing you to fishing and the outdoors?
My father introduced me to fishing as soon as I was old enough to stand on my two feet and hold a fishing rod. Fortunately, both sides of my family have a love for the outdoors, so as a kid, I was able to get out on the water more than most my age.
I remember when I was 9 years old fishing my first tournament at Lake Berlin with my dad. We finished 1st out of the money out of 60 boats, and I landed 4 of our 5 fish limit. What an awesome experience, which then planted the seed for me as I grew up with aspirations of becoming a professional fisherman.
You still fish tournaments with your dad. What has he taught you over the years about tournament fishing?
What my dad has taught me about tournament fishing, is you have to treat it like any other day on the water. A lot of anglers get worked up and stressed out on tournament days, which can damper your production on the water and make you inefficient.
Every tournament morning we always talk about ignoring the fact we are even in an event, and just go fishing. Go have fun. Fish the moment. Days where we may struggle and spin out because conditions get tough usually become the days we may cash a check or even win the event because of the way we compliment each other mentally and physically on the boat.
Both of us are predominantly power fisherman, but compliment each other in the baits we prefer and the styles we use them. While he may be throwing a trap and a spinnerbait, I’ll be throwing a swim jig or a chatter bait. While he may be on the trolling motor throwing the outsides of cover with a blade or a topwater bait, I’ll be behind him with a flippin’ bait or a Senko to throw on the fish he may miss. While we both hunker down and do some flippin’, he’ll work the outsides of the cover while I get way up underneath limbs where no one else does. It’s almost natural instinct how we compliment each other in our fishing style.
How was your overall tournament fishing season in 2017?
The 2017 season wasn’t the best year I’ve have had over the last 3 seasons. I was working 70 hours a week and was not able to fish as many events as the previous seasons. In April I was able to register in a few events that timed with the warming trend spring bite that we all wait long winters for. I was able to put together a solid 16 pound bag with another partner of mine in the Kent State Mosquito Thaw open and took 4th place. In the local Thursday night events we fish yearly, we had seven top 4 finishes, two being 2nd, one 1st, and two each at 3rd and 4th. In 2016 out of the 14 evening events; four 1st places, 5 second places, three 3rds and two 4ths and also finished 2nd in the Kent State Thawl Open as well. Staying on the same fish all year was key for us and figuring out the bite for each day was what made our success stand out the most.
You have quite a successful history with Mosquito Reservoir?
I have a sweet spot in my heart for Mosquito Lake. I grew up fishing Mosquito as a child as well as Lake Berlin, both lakes were advocates to the start of my tournament career. Mosquito lake, in my opinion, is the best fishery in Ohio. It’s home to millions of largemouth bass, numerous big walleyes, big crappies, perch, and notorious for its northern pike fishing.
It provides anglers with the ability to fish their strengths with shallow water cover including submerged bushes and trees to countless flats of coontail, milfoil, and lots of other types of other aquatic vegetation. Road beds, rock piles, and sandy points allow for other styles as well. This lake sets up for me to fish my strengths as a power fishermen and my success on this lake has come from the countless hours spent graphing and practice fishing different areas of the lake during different conditions. This is my home lake.
What are your other favorite Ohio largemouth bodies of waters to fish?
Lake Berlin is my other home lake I began my bass fishing career and not any further than 10 miles from home. It offers a completely different geographical appearance and makes fisherman tweak their style of fishing. This lake is full of deep channel bends, rock bluffs, rock and gravel banks, creek arms, boat docks, and lots of flooded timber. This lake holds pig largemouth bass and smallmouth bass but can be the toughest lake in Ohio to land one due to its size and abundance of options.
Evans and Pine lakes located south of Youngstown are 2 of the best smaller bodies of water in Ohio by far for largemouth bass. Both lakes also played host to the Outdoors Channel’s Major League Fishing final elimination round. Though they are private, I have had the privilege to fish a few tournament events as well as team up with owners of the lakes to have a chance to fish both. These lakes provide shallow cover; grass, Lilly pads, stump fields, and shallow brush. With the abundance of cover and forage, yellow perch, white perch, crappies, blue gills, shad and crawfish, bass in both lakes typically average around the 3 pound range and can also produce fish between 7 and 10 pounds.
What are your 3 favorite techniques for catching largemouth bass?
My 3 favorite ways to catch largemouth bass are fairly simple; throwing a moving bait such as swim jigs, blade baits, and lipless cranks; topwater fishing; and by far my favorite, flippin’ n pitchin’.
The keys to success with these techniques don’t differ much from those of others. Timing and location are always constant key factors in the success of different techniques on different bodies of water. As for myself, on a micro level, water clarity, water temperature, moon phase, and line size are some of the few factors that help with my success and my style of fishing.
What is your personal best largemouth bass?
My personal best largemouth came from Evans lake in 2013, 6lbs 14 oz. This lake is prime when the big females start to gorge on crawfish in the early spring time. At the time I landed the fish, the water temp was 48 degrees and had about 4 feet of visability. The day we chose to go fell on the 4th day after the first full moon in April. The fish was caught on a black and blue football jig paired with a Strike King Rage Craw in black and blue fleck fishing 8 to 14 feet of water, 14lb Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon, 7 foot MH Abu Garcia Veritas paired with a Quantum Burner 7.0 gear ratio reel.
I see a few smallmouth pics in there as well. What are your favorite Ohio smallmouth bodies of waters to fish?
There’s no doubt in my mind that the greatest advantage I have with where I live is being only 60 miles from the almighty Lake Erie. As most anglers know, Lake Erie is the producer of some of the biggest smallmouth in the world. Only 55 minutes away, Ashtabula Harbor and Conneaut Harbor are both inlets where my friends and myself have had tons of success with big smallmouth bass, including my personal best 6.06 pounds. Berlin lake, as I mentioned previously is also another local lake that provides a steady wave of smallmouth fishing as well as its neighbor, Lake Milton. Both lakes provide plenty of rock, sand, and clarity for smallmouth bass to reside.
Who are your current sponsors and pro staff companies?
Currently I have 3 sponsors/pro staff companies I am working with. WOO Tungsten, Hawgpen Custom Tackle, and Fiftyone7tungsten. WOO tungsten offers amazing non chip tungsten weights; from dropshot/finess to powerfishing/flipping/pitching/punch weights. WOO weights have allowed me to have a softer presence while pitching soft plastics into heavy cover and allows me to catch more fish over and over using the same non chip weights!
Along with WOO, Hawgpen Custom Tackle company has assisted me with my blade bait inventory. Hawgpen Custom designs their chatterbaits with soft rubber and buck tail, allowing a less bulky bait but compensates for its hard thumping and wobbling action.
Last but never least, Fiftyone7tungsten offers and assortment of jigs; finesse, football, flippin’, and swim jigs made out of 97% tungsten. These are custom made rubber skirted jigs that offer a smaller profile with the tungsten jig heads combines with custom designed colors for your conditional needs. All 3 of these companies have and will continue to attribute to my success on the water!
Thank you Blake! Hope you have a great 2018 season. I will be following on Instagram @the_strikeking.