Mid-August brought one of the most challenging tournaments I have fished in a while. The MN BASS Nation TOC was being held on Island Lake Reservoir north of Duluth, MN. Island Lake for a large tournament comes with a handful of challenges. For starters, it is one of the smaller venues we fish TOCs on, it also has a fairly low population of bass per acre compared to most of our fisheries resulting to a fishery that doesn’t respond well to heavy fishing pressure of a large tournament.
Coming into this tournament, I had very little experience on the lake, I did not pre-practice on the lake and I just practiced for 3 of the 4 official practice days. Watch my official practice video below for all the details.
Coming out of practice, I had a few deals that I thought I could get bit doing. Topwater over rocky shoals, finesse tactics around grass and then a quirky specific dock pattern.
As the tournament unfolded, it became very apparent that 2 of those 3 things evaporated on me. Watch my day 1 tourney recap to see how that unfolded.
Going into day 2, I had a great shot at winning my first BASS Nation title. I ground & gave it all I had, but came up just a bit short. Congrats to Brent Haimes.
Lastly, if you play fantasy fishing, make sure to watch my final recap of the season for the Bassmater AOY Championship on Lake St Clair.
Coming soon recaps of my TBF Semi Nationals out of La Crosse, WI!
End of July is usually the time for the Minnesota TBF TOC tournament that qualifies a MN team to participate in the TBD District 9 Semis in late September. From the Semis one each angler and co-angler from MN earns a berth to the TBF National Championship. Last year, I finished 3rd overall and one spot out of be able to head to Nationals, so looking to get back on the horse and make the Semis again this year.
This year’s TBF Tournament of Champions was held on Lake Minnewaska out of Starbuck, MN. I was able to practice the weekend ahead of the tournament, it was my first time on the lake. I found it to be a pleasure to fish and break down, Lake Minnewaska is chock full of bass. I spent most of my practice looking for offshore fish, figuring I could always turn to the bank during the event if needed. Check out my practice recap video for more details on my practice weekend.
Day one of the tournament went pretty well outside the loss of one nice 3lb+ fish lost boat side. I weighed 1 smallie and 4 largies totaling a little over 15lbs to sit in 3rd after day 1, see day one video recap here.
The final day got off to a great start, but I couldn’t find the final upgrade to bring how the W, ending up .1lbs short and finishing in 2nd. Below is a shorter final day video due to GoPro malfunction. Details of how I caught them and links to the gear are all in the video descriptions.
Either way, the main goal was to be heading to La Crosse in September to fish the Semis on the Mississippi River.
Follow this blog and my bass fishing YouTube channel to see upcoming posts and videos on the BASS Nation TOC from Island lake in early August.
After a long break, the Bassmaster Elite Series is back to business & fishing this weekend on famed Lake Guntersville. Still, some time to get your Fantasy Team picks in, so check out my latest Fantasy Fishing Edge video to gain some insight to set your team and WIN!
This blog always seems to fall to a lower priority than my YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Definitely consider following me on any of those platforms to stay more plugged into my fishing activities and catch any fishing tips & nuggets that I pass on through those channels.
I am not giving up on the blog and for now, I am going to leave you with a few of my recent Bass Fishing YouTube videos. I am definitely putting more of my energy into my YouTube content as its something I really enjoy, but the downside it is time-intensive labor of love to produce high-quality original content in video format.
I always say I will and need to blog more, but here we are again with big gaps between blogs. Largely because I like to post blogs with video content now and that takes much more time to edit and publish than a blog with a few photos. So the following is two tournament recaps from July.
That being said, I recorded a little video from MN TBF TOC on Lake Pokegama, but my finish was very mediocre and so were the fish catches on video, maybe I will clip it together and post it here in the future. I didn’t even take any photos from that event. I love Pokegama and have done well there in the past. In the end, I fished for both smallmouth and largies, but probably needed to dedicate more to one, ultimately I didn’t catch either one well enough. Kudos to Sport and Chong on the wins & my dad for big fish of the event. Final results from that event – click here.
Two weeks after that event, was the Minnesota BASS Nation TOC on Mille Lacs. Practice was stingy but I felt like I still had a few things figured out to go on, but many of the areas that were good last August, weren’t the same this year. Could just be year to year or fish adjusting to the growing fish pressure of being the #1 Bass Lake in the US by Bassmaster Magazine. Day 1 ended up being postponed due to the wind, but new day 1 on Friday still ended up being pretty darn windy. I was greeted with a nice surprise of none of my electronics being able to power up as we lined up for taking off, even though they worked fine all practice.
Before I had time to dig into the issue, my boat early boat number was about to be called. So I set off to my first area with no GPS mapping or sonar depth. I got close to the area and I was able to switch some cords to get waypoints and maps on my console graph. I tried fishing inefficiently for awhile walking to back graph, moving trolling motor and spot locking on and off with my Ultrex. I finally gave up on that and went into back compartment, ultimately I rewired around what I believe had to be a bad fuse harness and got everything back up and running front and back. After way too much time spent, I had 1 or 2 small fish and broke off on a good bite in the first area.
Trying to go to my next area, all the sudden I could not get on plane with the big motor. So mentally I decided I would fast idle and fish the area I was in and then work my way back to take off. That worked for a bit, caught a few more fish, lost a 4lbr next to the boat and caught a 4lbr on a stupid tube. After fishing my less than prime areas more, I finally decided to pop the cowling off the main motor and have a look to make sure it wasn’t something silly, and it was just a spark plug wire that popped off.
After getting that fixed, I made the run from Agate Bay area up to the east of Myramar to fish calmer waters that I had success in practice. My next stop produced a decent quality bite and a small upgrade. With time running out, I ran a handful of area working down the west side of the lake, finally I hit some isolated boulders about mid lake on the west side and got a big upgrade drop shotting a boulder that I almost gave up on and the fish probably bit on the 9th or 10th time I dropped. I knew the bag still wasn’t where I wanted or needed to be but felt like maybe I had avoided a complete disaster. Then the treacherous run back across the middle of the lake and by the way, I should have left much earlier than I did, it was way too rough to push as hard as I ended up pushing it. We made it back without too much damage other than a bent trolling motor stabilizer. I ended up with 17lbs and was probably in about 30th place out of a 100 or so boaters.
Day 2 I knew I need to get over 20lbs to have a shot. I started in a somewhat shallow area between take-off and Doe Island that was way too windy on Day 1, it yielded a limit in the first 90 minutes along with two 5lb class fish. A much better start and 20lbs felt pretty attainable at that point.
I bounced around fishing areas on the east side of the lake picking off quality fish on the stupid tube and drop shot. I won’t go into fish by fish details, if you want that info, check this video because I had my GoPro going all of day 2.
I ended up with 22lbs even, which is my best 5 smallmouth ever weighed in a tournament. That felt pretty good until the results came out that I missed the Top 10 cut by .7lbs. That is fishing, on one hand, I felt pretty good not letting the adversity of day completely snow ball on me and hanging in there to give myself a shot to fish on day 2. But in the end, my goal was not achieved, so that kind of sucked.
Pretty much all the fish I weighed came on two baits and two setups. I had 4″ Green Pumpkin Stupid Tubes rigged on 3/16oz BassTEK Agitator Heads fished on 12lb fluoro on a DX743C Dobyns Extreme Casting rod. The other setup which caught most of my biggest fish each day was 2.75″ Baby Tube fished on a drop shot with #2 VMC Neko Hook, 8lb fluoro leader tied to 8lb main line braid spooled on a spinning real connected to my DX742SF Dobyns Extreme spinning rod. I used a pretty short 12-14″ drop leader to a 3/8oz BassTEK Tungsten dropshot weight. That 7’4″ rod does an unreal job of controlling the big smallies on light line and keeping them pegged with those small hooks. More details and images at the end of my recap video.
My next big event is on Lake Pokegama on September 1st, where I will be fishing for a brand new Skeeter Boat in the Classic Bass Champions Tour TOC! Wish me luck!
Sorry, this blog is about a month overdue. First off, the inaugural Classic Bass Champions Tour event was AMAZING! Classic Bass put on a great event and fishing an MLF (Major League Fishing) style tournament is a completely different kind of pressure over traditional 5 best bass style tournaments. It was also no coincidence they chose Mille Lacs Lake which was also recently recognized the worlds Best Bass Fishing Lake for 2017 by Bassmasters Magazine!
If you have never seen an MLF event on TV or on the Web, basically every legal keeper bass you catch counts, it is weighed by an in boat judge (thanks to Prior Lake HS Bass Club) and there is a live scoreboard all day through an app on your phone. The other really unique thing about this event, it was an invite only event, so to participate, you had to be selected.
It was on honor just to be selected and I was super excited to fish against this field. You can see the results and field list here. I was able to get about 3 days of practice in for this event. My strategy was to check several parts of the lake so I would be prepared to fish multiple areas since they were likely to section up the lake for our event and to prepare for the wind. I also wanted to have baits I felt confident in so I wasn’t second guessing baits when I was looking for fish fast during the event. Because of the high winds and rough water, I didn’t set up my GoPro during the tournament, but you can check out my practice video which is very similar to how I caught them during the actual event.
The event ended up being split into morning and afternoon sessions, where we had to fish the East side of the lake during the first 4 hours and then after lunch (Thank Rocky Reef Resort for Lunch), we fished the west side of the lake for the final 4 hours.
The split caught me a little off guard based on the wind forecast, I made a big run across the lake only to find the area I planned to fish was completely blown out, I only caught two tiny keepers before getting tired of taking waves over the bow and stern of my boat. So I ducked into the closest protected water I could find and I hunkered down and made the best I could out of that area that I didn’t even practice. It turned out to be pretty productive, I was able to catch like 18 or 20 fish for about 43lbs which was good enough to be 3rd out of 24 for the first half. Here is an Instagram Video of the trip back to Rocky Reef at the end of the first half, water was a little rough.
In the second half, I got off to a slow start with only one 2lb fish in like 90 minutes. Finally, I got into an area where I got around some fish and it was calm enough to properly fish them, I made a big surge late to make it back to 3rd after falling out of the top 6 cut. Making the top 6 has qualified me for the Tournament of Champions where I get to fish for a Brand New Skeeter Boat in September. Watch this post tourney interview from Classic Bass as well for details on my day.
My first tournament of the year has come and gone, covering what went down in this blog. This is the first time I have ever fished an April tournament in MN or WI and not really fished this part of the Mississippi River in April. For those that hate reading, just jump right to my tournament recap video embedded below.
That being said I have fished several tournaments out of La Crosse including several BFLs. I was able to get two full days of practice the Thursday and Friday before the tournament and 2 hours on Wednesday night. From the time I launched my boat on Wednesday night to tournament morning, the water temps went from almost touching 60 degrees to 47-48 degrees in the area I started the tournament on.
In practice, I had decent success flipping a black blue tube rigged with a 1/4oz BassTEK Tungsten Flipping Weight as well as a 3/8oz Bladed Swim Jig paired with a Menace grub worked around wood and grass.
In the end, I could not find the current based staging fish and as cold as the water got, my slack water banks and flats became trash with the rapidly cooling water and it pushed the fish to people like Cade who smashed them! Check out his video to learn something about Mississippi River bass fishing.
Basically, during the tournament, my bites ended up being cut in a third from practice. I ended up 69th place out of 154. In the end, it was good to get the boat out and fish a derby early. On the down side, I caught a really nice head cold.
I really believe that the guys coming for the FLW Tour in a couple weeks will really catch them on the Mississippi River. The cold weather we had, will keep them fish from getting to Post Spawn for them, so they should have a lot of shallow biting fish to catch for their event. I think the weed flats around Stoddard and “The Box” will look and fish like the “Monkey Box” of Lake Okeechobee, other likely popular areas to fish will be Goose Island, Target Lake, & Lawrence Lake in Pool 8 and then Lake Onalaska in Pool 7, a few guys will likely make the run to fish the upper end of Pool 9 as well. Should be a very exciting tournament to follow, there will likely be spawning fish as well as a few frog fish starting to bite. Swim Jigs, Chatterbaits, and flipping techniques should be quite strong as well.
Been a long winter, but I am getting the itch big time this spring. Compared to last year, I am way ahead of the game, I actually got the boat out fishing on the Mississippi River on April 1st, it ran great and we caught some bass, all in all a good start. Pictured is one of the best fish of they day.
Also, I finally got the bug to do some video editing of previously recorded GoPro footage I had some some drives. Trying out some new video editing software I just added to my new laptop.
Below is a pretty fun couple of hours of early fall bass fishing with Jason Holmer of Bass Utopia boiled down to 10 mins of highlights. We only weighed the 3 biggest fish, but the best 5 easily topped 25lbs.
All our fish were caught on flipping jigs and vibrating jigs, my jig of choice was a BassTEK 3/8oz Okeechobee Craw with various trailers. I also caught several fish later in the day on a Black Blue chatterbait style vibrating bladed jig.
My goal is to produce a lot more video content this year, leave a comment on this blog or on video, let me know what you want to see. Maybe even subscribe so you don’t miss any new videos!
Sorry for the delays between blogs, been one of those summers, I intend to back fill a few entries as well.
I qualified for this event through the MN TBF TOC on Mille Lacs Lake in late July. The event ended up being 51 total boats from Minnesota and Wisconsin, in true Pro/Am style money tournament with top boater and co’s from each state qualifying for the TBF National Championship next spring.
Monday thru Wednesday were off limits, so I practiced a few hours late on Thursday after work and Friday until the 3pm off the water deadline. I practiced mostly off shore in practice and felt pretty solid about morning topwaters, transitioning to flipping weed edges to catch a quick 11-12lbs+ and then I would go shallow for a couple upgrades.
Day 1, I hit several spots only to catch a few small fish on deep weed edges and losing one decent fish rushing a fish to the boat. My non-boater had a few decent fish as well. On about our 10th stop we finally hit a group of fish to fill our limits and I got one decent 2.5lb fish. It was about 2hrs left in day and I decided I need to try to find some fish shallow. After a few stops, I finally hit a short stretch of docks where I busted a 3.5lb and 5.25lb pair of studs for Gull on a 1/2oz Okee Craw BassTEK Tungsten Jig, tipped with a Strike King Menace grub.
With about 90 mins to go, I had 3 of the right fish and two 14″ fish. I worked my butt off, caught lots of fish, but only upgraded once for a few ounces, and my co-angler got one decent upgrade as well. My day one weight ended up being 14.9lbs, which is solid for Gull, but wasted opportunity with a 5lbr in the bag and not being able to catch a few more of the numerous 2lb class fish that reside in Gull. I was in 10th place and 3lbs off the lead going into Day 2.
Day 2, the fish came quicker, but they were even smaller for me, my co-angler once again caught fewer fish, but seemed to get a few of the right bites on a Flick Shake Green Pumpkin stick worm, while I continued to flip a Tube Craw on a 3/4oz Tungsten weight.
I went shallower a little earlier on day 2, but took longer to connect with quality fish, but I ended up getting on a stretch where I culled everything in my well in about 45 minutes. Then I bounced around hitting key docks and got 2 smaller culls in the closing minutes. I ended up with a touch over 15lbs, which propelled me to 4th place and a decent finish and check. The leader only weighed 14lbs on day 2, which left the door open, and made me realize even more, I missed my chance to win on Day 1.
In retrospect, I think if I would have committed to shallow for 8hrs each day, I think I would have gotten the extra bites to be right there for the win, but that is fishing and easy to see looking back.
This is the end of my tournament season, hoping to get in some fun fall fishing in the coming weeks and fish well into November like last year.
After winning the TBF TOC on Gull earlier in the year, I did have a little confidence coming into the tournament. I only practiced 3 of the 4 official days allotted, saving some PTO time and being home for first day of kid’s school. All in all, I had a pretty rough practice, spending the majority of my time deep and checking occasional shallow areas, I think I only got a single 3lb bite in 3 days of practice. While not a great practice, it was actually better then the practice I had for the TBF and that turned out just fine.
I had one area that I was pretty confident that would produce a decent limit on a topwater bait or by flipping the edges of the deep weed edge. On Day 1, that spot gave up a few small fish on chatterbaits and crankbaits, but nothing that I was looking for. The day continued, mixing in some offshore with some shallow and ultimately all my fish came shallow skipping a 3/8oz Bluegill Colored BassTEK Tungsten Flipping jig around boat docks. My best weighed 11.32lbs and had me hovering somewhere around 33rd place out of 188 anglers and after 2 days the top 20 would advance to Lake Guntersville in April 2016.
Going into 2nd day, I felt like I need to have about 12lbs to move up enough to make the top 20. I started out offshore and alternating again and did get once decent keeper flipping a tube craw in 8ft of water, but ultimately leaned on the dock pattern most of the day to fill a limit and catch a few decent 2lb fish. About mid day, I caught a fish punching a shallow milfoil mat around some wood and it was a nice upgrade at the time. I took that as a clue and ran that pattern for a bit and culled most of my early limit almost calling my shots for about 90 minutes. Check out the following video to see some of the fish caught this way. These punching fish all came in Big Bite Bait Tube Craws in Green Pumpkin with a 3/4oz BassTEK Tungsten Flipping Weight, 20lb Sunline Fluoro on a Dobyns 765 Flipping Stick.
Havaing a box full of 2lbr mid day on this pattern, I was feeling decent knowing I really just need one more good bite. I spent the rest of the day shallow chasing that bite, but it never materialized. I ended up with 10lbs on day 2 and remained in about the same place as I stared the day, 34th place. Kudos to the angler that caught them and are moving on to Guntersville. I fished very clean and my weight reflected what I caught during practice, just never got those key bites I did in the TBF tournament earlier in the summer. One slight bright spot, is our bass club Twin City Bass won the team portion of the event for the 3rd year in a row and Brian Bengston is moving on to Guntersville to represent our club.
This was pretty much my last tournament of the year, except for participating in a Minnesota Match Fishing event that was a lot of fun as well. I did do quite a bite of fun fall fishing in October and early November, I will have some videos coming soon on that, in the mean time, check out my Instagram account to see some of my best catches and 15 second fish catch videos.
Drop a comment if there are things you would like to see on my blog this winter.