The Charles River played host to the sixth Eastern Division event of the season today. Twenty-seven anglers fished this one, launching from various locations along the near 70-mile river boundary.

The water is higher than normal, the current swifter, which made the bite much tougher than it usually is this time of year.

The leaderboard changed quite a bit throughout the day, as anglers started putting the pieces together. Every time I checked the standings, things had shifted.

One thing that wasn’t changing was the pickerel lunker standings. Steve Hedges put up a 14-incher early, but that was the only one submitted until he submitted a 17.25 in the last thirty minutes. No other pickerel were submitted!

I know I was surprised not to have caught any, but I guess they were in a collective funk all across the river. Steve wins that lunker pool uncontested!

A number of big bass were caught, though, but Domenic Eno dropped the hammer on a 20.75-inch tank within the first hour, pretty much closing the door on lunker for the day right then and there.

I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the standings toward the end of the day. All I knew was, my bites were coming few and far between. The fish just weren’t where I expected them to be.

Valber Santos pushed into the lead at one point and with his knowledge of the river it was looking like he had it all but wrapped up. His 84.75 had him separated from the pack by close to ten inches.

Justin Lacasse was a last-minute sign-up. He had a near win at the KBF Trail event last year, and he won the Ocean State Kayak Bassin’ event on the river earlier this year. A late-day cull today pushed him up into fifth place with 77 inches, tying Ryan Pierce, who won the tie-breaker with his big fish—a 19-incher—giving him fourth place.

I was out on the Charles for the Summer Brawl last weekend, and I couldn’t buy a bite on the frog. That’s usually my go-to on the Charles in the summer, but yet again today they just wouldn’t touch it. Mike Morcone had the complete opposite experience: that’s all he could catch them on! His 78.25 nabbed a third-place finish.

Around 10:30 AM, I hooked up with my fifth fish, nearly five miles from where I launched. I’d sidled up to a log jam at a bridge and cast up under it before going through. A very aggressive bass smashed my bait, and in the process of reeling it in, it got wrapped up in all my other rods that I had laying down on the deck. Complete nightmare!

Worried my line was going to break, the only thing I could do was power-lift it up into the kayak—five or six rods with it—and try to pendulum swing it in…

And then the fish came off!

Unbelievably, though, in the process of falling, its upper lip fell right onto my flipping bait and the bass hooked itself! Unreal. I wish I had the GoPro with me for that one. Just insane. I started screaming like Iaconelli! Haha.

That fish gave me my limit and pushed me up into second place with 81.50 inches. I still had a 12.50, though, so I knew I was one good bite away from taking the lead.

Then, at 1:31, Valber dropped an 18 on the board, pushing him to 86.50.

Five minutes later, I was on my way back, rushing to hit some key laydowns along the way. I came to one from which I’d watched Chris Titi pull two 19.75s back to back earlier in the morning, flipped in, and smashed a 17.50, giving me a five-inch upgrade, tying Valber’s 86.50.

My big fish was a 19, though, which trumped Valber’s 18.25, giving me the win. Crazy finish, man! Great job out there!

Full results can be found here.

An extra special shout-out to Valber and Cleiton Rocha, who assisted Scott Salvo after he flipped his kayak. A lost phone is much preferable to a lost life. Thanks, guys!

Scott was doing well, too. Who knows, maybe the day would have been his? Next time, buddy!

Thanks for coming out, fellas! Everyone caught fish, so that’s always good.