Bass Pursuit – Crystal Lake – May 25, 2014

For the most part, this year was to be about fishing less but bigger tournaments.  With limited time off of work, it’s either stretch myself thin and get minimal prefishing in for several tournaments or hopefully get adequate time for a handful.

That being said, it was quite clear, I had large gaps between tournaments and I decided I would fish some smaller local events to keep my self sharp and stay sane.  These smaller events would require little to no practice time and reduce amount of time away from home and the family.

So the first of these events would be the season opener for Bass Pursuit on Crystal Lake near my house.  My buddy Bill was my partner.  It was a small 10 boat field and just a 5 1/2 hour tourney day with a 4 fish limit.  Being that we were on the lake the day before, we had a pretty good idea the fish were getting ready to move up and spawn and had a good idea what areas had the most potential.

Things started a little slow, but picked up a few fish on a weightless ring fry around docks.  We then worked our way into areas with more bedding fish, gradually we upgraded our catch throughout the day.  Once we started seeing the fish as the sun got up, the best baits were a White Damiki Hydra on a tungsten Jika Rig, Wacky Rigged BassTEK ReSticks and Biovek Kolt Fish Tails in Ayu on a dropshot.

Wacky ReStick Bass
Wacky ReStick Bass

If we could see the fish at a distance, the wacky rig was best, if the fish were fairly aggressive the Hydra converted them quickly, but on the toughest fish, the Kolt Fish converted them better then anything.  Overall we caught more the 20 fish and culled about 8 times.

For more details on the fish catches, check out my GoPro footage from the first 3 hours.

Our final tally was over 13lbs and we won by about a pound, but missed big fish by about a half pound, but both Bill and I had fish that would have been big bass, we just didn’t execute.

Winning Bag
Winning Bag

Since the tournament ended at 11:30am and we didn’t have to be home right away, we went back out released our fish and then did some more fishing.

I even caught my first frog fish of the year on an Evolve Nervous walker, it was a pretty nice fish and caught several more after that.

First Evolve Nervous Walker Frog Fish of 2014
First Evolve Nervous Walker Frog Fish of 2014

All in all a good opening weekend!

Tight Lines,
Rich
Evolve facebook

MN Bass Opener 2014

Well the Minnesota Bass Opener is almost 10 days ago now, so I should probably throw a quick blog up, now or never.   Went out in the morning on Crystal Lake with my buddy Bill on Crystal Lake to do a little catching and scouting for a small Bass Pursuit tourney that was on Sunday.

photo 2 (1)

We started out on some deeper drops, but quickly ruled that out with just a few bites and one small fish on a 1/2oz BassTEK Tungsten Football jig.  Next step was to hit some points leading into shallower bays as staging areas.  On the 2nd point, I quickly caught 4 fish on 4 casts with a ring fry on a mojo rig.

From there, we went into some shallower bays and that is where the fish were and coming in as we fished.  It was quite obvious that love was going to be in the air real soon!

photo 4

We went on to catch a whole bunch of fish on weightless ring frys and BassTEK resticks rigged weightless and wacky style, including a couple fish over 5lbs.

Also, check out my video montage of the first 3 hours of fishing….

DOBYNSNEWLOGO

BFL Mississippi River La Crosse – May 17, 2014

After doing well in this first BFL spring event last year, I
was really looking forward to fishing it again, but with a busy hectic spring, I found myself scrambling the Wednesday night before getting my boat and tackle ready for this event.  Thursday May 15th,
was actually the first day I got my boat out all year, which has to be some kind of record for me.  Not a good record to break at all.  Also, some home obligations didn’t allow me to get down to La Crosse and on the water until 11am.  The Mississippi River near La Crosse is a vast sprawling body of to begin with, but to complicate matters more the water was over flood stage and rising for my practice and through the tournament.  I had actually never been on this pool with the water this high.

As I continually have short practices for most of my tournaments, I have kind of learned to try to find an area or section of water that I feel good about and try to find some fish and then continually expand that area.  Running all over the river can kill you in practice and in the tournament. To start my practice I launched at the Stoddard ramp.  My practice started fishing some drops off
well known grass flats with a lipless crankbait that results in a few bites and a handful of chunky northern pike, time to move on.

From there I tried some steeper banks with current breaks
figuring that with fluctuating water the fish could easily adapt, only produced more northerns and a few short largies.  My next stop was the closing dam that produced most of my fish last year.  My first few casts with produced nothing, but I didn’t feel like I was getting bit, so I up-sized my mojo weight to a 1/4oz tungsten weight and instantly caught a chunky prespawn smallmouth.  I got bit on the next few
casts, which included 3.5lb class fish.  I then picked up a DT6 to see if they would hit a reaction bait, my first cast over the sweet spot yielded a double.  It was another big smallies with a keeper
hanging on for dear life until shaking loose next to the boat.  This was actually my first every double for bass.  Rather than cast anymore there, it was time to find more fish and more water areas in the same section of the river.


One of the good fish from the school in practice

I spent the rest of the day going back and forth trying to
duplicate this smallsmouth spot and checking for largemouth getting ready to move up.  I ended up catching two more keeper largemouth on a MJ rig or Power Spinner rig, depending on what you call them.  The 2nd fish was a good quality fish and was at the mouth of a likely spawning pocket that had what looked to be the makings of a good area if the weather warmed at all.


My take on the MJ Rig, bulked up a bit…

Day 2 of practice was a complete grind; I worked all kinds
of water new and old to scratch out 3 measly keepers, 2 on a jerkbait and on the MJ rig.  I called my practice a little early to get up to La Crosse for an interview with the local NBC news affiliate, embedded below was the result.  My feeling going into the tournament is that if that school of smallies held up I could have another Top 10 finish, if they didn’t, I knew it would be a grind just to get a limit.

WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

I ended up drawing boat 110 out of 152, which made me a
little nervous about getting on my fish, but also the late check-in time could be well worth it with the sunny warm day that was forecasted.  My co-angler was a local, who agreed that fishing had been pretty tough for him as well.  Take off and getting down to my fish went as smooth as one could hope.  It only took a few casts with my mojo rig to connect with a keeper smallie.  Not the fish I was hoping for, but showed me fish were here and in the past this spot has mixed sizes of fish.   By 8am I had my limit of smallies, but most of them small and my co-angler had 3 smallies, but he got two bites in the 3lb class.
We both missed and lost what felt like good fish early.  It kind of felt like some fish had left this spot, so I tried bouncing around the area to fish areas where I thought they were headed and then I would return to this area hoping they would get a rest and be ready to bite again.  It worked once for a nice cull, but it just wasn’t producing enough bites or the size.

A little before noon, I headed down to the area where I caught one good largemouth in practice.  Working my way in we quickly connected with several short fish, but this felt like a good sign of activity for fish moving into this area.  I missed a few bites, my co-angler got 2 keeper largemouth on bladed jig, and I got one good bite flipping to get rid of another sub-standard smallmouth.  With
one hour of fishing time left, I decided to go back to the current area.  Honestly, I think I could have gotten another bite or two in the largemouth area, but I felt my best chance for a big bag was to go back to see if that school had reposition or fired up.  Since I am not fishing all the BFLs this year, points didn’t really matter and I wanted to shoot for a good payday.  I ended up catching a short, a catfish and a walleye in the last hour.


Photo via Coulee Region Adventures

Final result was 10lbs – 15oz which was good enough for 31st,
one spot out of the money by 2oz.  Kudos to my co-angler Josh, catching those two nice smallies propelled his limit to 11lbs and a 4th place finish on the non-boater side.  Honestly I think I had a decent game plan, if I had gotten the right bites I could have had a nice check, but maybe I overestimated the quality of the school or not recognized they were leaving and put too much time into it during the tournament, but that is fishing and it’s all about decisions.

For those that don’t like to read, feel to watch the video summary below and I also have some GoPro fish catches from practice and tournament morning.

Rich

  

Bass Fishing Podcasts worth Checking Out

After getting several comments on my Facebook page asking what fishing podcasts I like to listen to, I knew I needed to write a blog to list them out.  Most of these posts and time listening to these podcasts was done while shoveling.  I have been busy and not doing a ton of blogging, but while walking my dog and catching up on some episodes, I figured I better knock this blog out before my boat gets back from its spring check up at Extreme Marine.

In no particular order or ranking, here is a list of podcasts that I am subscribed to on using Podcast Addict App on my android phone.

Bass Squad Podcast
This podcast is spearheaded by former UWSP college fishing angler TG.  It’s an eclectic mix of nerd reports, interviews, ramblings, but for the most part it centers around bass fishing and it pretty entertaining.

FLW Outdoors Podcast
Joe Opager and Jody White  both employees at FLW Outdoors do a weekly show recorded on Wednesdays.  Covering all things FLW fishing from BFLs, Rayovacs and Tour events, plus pro interviews, fantasy fishing and more.

The Outdoor Scoreboard
Best way to describe the TOS, is a couple of good ol’ boys from the Tennessee River Area talking all things bass fishing and some SEC sports.  Matt & David don’t take themselves to serious and have lots of guest interviews from all levels of bass fishing from highschool to Elite Series and more.

Ultimate Bass Radio
This is actually a California based radio show hosted by Kent Brown.  It definitely has a bit of a west coast slant, but cover a lot of tour level bass fishing and general fishing as well.  Downside is the all the commercials you get form a normal radio show are all left in.

Fantasy Fishing Insider
I may be slightly biased as I am often a contributor / co-host in the podcast.  Greg, Jason & I focus mostly on Bassmaster Elite Series fantasy fishing and occasionally if Greg is not too busy we do FLW picks as well.  Fair amount of guest interviews and quite a bit of slap stick and mockery along the way.

BTL – Bass Talk Live – Added 5.1.14
Thanks to a few comments & suggestions, I have started listening to Mark, Matt & Drew breaking down bass fishing as well as some fringe topics.  Usually multiple shows per week, this is actually a live webcast you can watch and participate via live feedback, but I just catch the replays via podcast.
http://www.thebasscollege.com/topgreenCopy.jpg

Most of these are on iTunes for you iOS people…  But I subscribe to all of these by entering their RSS feeds into my app on my phone.  Then my phone does all the work automatically downloading new episodes and I listen to them at my leisure with phone and headphones or through my truck speakers.

If you got suggestions for other bass fishing podcasts, leave and comment below, I’ll check it out and maybe add it to this list and my listening queue.


BFL’s on a Budget

I think anyone on any level will be quick to admit that making money at tournament fishing can be quite the uphill climb.  So I am going to share some of my tips on things you can do to keep your expenses down based on my tournament fishing, specifically last year’s Great Lakes BFL season where I finished 7th in the points in my first season in that circuit.

So like I mentioned, you can apply this to most any circuit, but I like the alliteration of BFLs on a Budget!  For me, most of my savings comes from my lodging decisions.  When I can, I like to stay at campgrounds near where I am fishing and on the water if possible.  The nicest campgrounds are usually much cheaper then the lowest end of motels, meaning I can usually camp for an entire practice and event for what many guys spend for one night at most motel/hotels.  Not to mention the cost effective motels are often not the newest, cleanest or most secure.  Campgrounds have awesome parking situations, plus I feel like they are pretty safe and secure, there are always exceptions, but for the most part, they are like communities where everyone watches each others stuff.  Often you can call and get a pretty good rate at campgrounds when you let them know all you need is electric hookup & don’t need full RV hookup.

Some people like tents, but for the most part, I make a bed in the back of my SUV, that way I don’t have to get up early on tournament days to pack up and worry about airing out a dew covered tent when I get home.  My bed consists of dense foam camping mat, paired with various layers of sleeping bags and blankets depending on weather.  I also like the security of sleeping in a vehicle connected to my boat, like a built in alarm system for my gear.  Basically, half my vehicle is a bed and the other half is gear storage for stuff that isn’t in my boat.

The next big piece is to plan ahead for your food.  I have a big Igloo Yukon Cooler that I fill with drinks, food & ice before I leave home.  I pair that with a brown grocery bag of bread and other dry goods and I am good for my trip.  My cooler will last about 4-5 days without having to buy more ice.  The ice keeps lunch meat, cheese, sausage sticks, yogurts and other items which keeps a nice variety.  That paired with my dry goods, granola bars, nuts, jerky and other reasonably healthy snacks.  This ends up being so much cheaper and healthier then fast food or gas station offerings.

Getting your food and drinks from grocery stores or a Walmart is much more cost effective then buying single drinks or snacks on a daily basis from a convenience store.  Just about any snack or drink is less then half the cost when bought in carton quantities over eaches.

The next biggest bucket of savings is doing what you can to be smart with your fuel usage, so if you can leave early enough that you can keep your tow speeds down that will save a chunk of cash.  Also, putting in two sun up to sun down days on the water is way cheaper then 3-4 for days of just fishing 9hrs.  One of my key components is too make sure my batteries last as much as 14 hours if needed and my Minnkota on board DC charger does that.  It recharges my trolling motor batteries from my outboard once the starting battery has been topped off.

I also try to put together a pre-fishing game plan for the few days I have, so that I am being smart with the miles I put on the boat and SUV.  Having a buddy to travel helps as well and often you can have each other’s backs as things come up.

Hope these tips are helpful or inspire some new thinking or ideas for some of you.  Let’s face, unless you  are one of the few anglers that wins an event in a season, cashing checks likely won’t cover your expenses if you are spending $90 a night on a hotel and another $30-40 a day on food for every practice and event day, the math just doesn’t work out.

 

Christmas Gifts & Stocking Stuffers for the Bass Angler

Whoa, been awhile since my last post here, but I have done a little blogging over at the KrugerFarms.com and NBC Sports Blogs, feel free to subscribe to those as well.

But either way, time is rapidly getting away from us for Christmas shopping, so I am going to share some of my ideas on great Xmas gifts for bass fishermen and women.  You may use these ideas to help build a better list for your loved ones or hopefully your loved ones can stumble across this list and use it to get you something cool that fits your passion come Christmas morning.

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Fishing lures make great stocking stuffers, heck you can even hang them from the tree and make them part of the decorations!  So here are a handful of baits that I love, that have a coolness factor and just plain catch bass and will make great stocking stuffers for your favorite bass angler.
Evolve Nervous Walker Frogs
BassTEK Tungsten Jigs
Lake Fork Ring Frys
Soul5 RoverMax 115
Rapala DT6 Crankbaits
Super K 1/4oz Swim Jigs
Evolve Kompak Craws or Darkstar Swimmers

If your loved one is a little more deserving there are a lot of great options out there. Here are a handful of products in the $10 – $50 range that make great gifts.  Beyond tackle, I also listed a few sun protection clothing items, anglers get exposed to a ton of UV rays, so sometimes its best to cover up with good Sun Gear!
Sunline FX2 Frog/Flip Braid
Rapala Touch Screen Scale
Rod Glove Rod Covers
Simms Sun Gloves & Sun Armor

If you need something for someone on the very very good list and want something that will really get their attention under the tree, you might want to think about getting them a new rod or reel.  Other plus cameras and polarized sunglasses make great gifts.
Dobyns 735C or 702SF
Shimano baitcasting or spinning reel at any budget
Costa Del Mar or SPY Polarized Sunglasses
GoPro Camera

If you want to see what is on my personal list, check out my Pinterest board, creating a gift wish list on Pinterest is a great way to keep an active list that you can share with friends and family for Christmas, Birthdays or any gift occasion!

Well Merry Christmas All and Good Fishing!
Rich

6 Strategies for Cold-Water Bass

How to Welcome Chilly Temps, Bag Both Smallies and Largemouths with ‘Jack of All Trades’ Bait
By Jack Busby

When the water temperatures plummet in fall, tournament bass angler Rich Lindgren employs numerous cold-water tactics, relying largely on one “jack of all trades bait” called the Kompak Craw for finicky bass in waters below 50 degrees.

“You can fish the bait a lot of different ways, depending on the situation,” says Lindgren. “I typically have rods rigged with the bait on a shaky head, football head jig, finesse rig, jika rig…just for starters. I like having one bait that I can fish so many different ways. Let’s me concentrate on fishing, not lure selection.”

SHAKY HEAD RIGGING

Lately, he’s been fishing Evolve Bait Co.’s Kompak Craw on a thin wire 4/0 EWG shaky head and says it recently out-fished the stalwart tactic of dragging tubes over rocks for fall smallmouth an impressive 13 to 1.

“Dragging tubes definitely catches fish—from the Great Lakes to southern smallie waters—but there’s something about the Kompak Craw on a shaky head that lights up smallmouth bass. Rather than a horizontal drag, a shaky head orients the bait at 45-degrees—mimicking a fighting craw or goby feeding on the bottom. A simple drag, shake and dead stick is typically how I fish it. More sitting, though, than shaking.”

The bait’s design lends itself to shaky head rigging, as there’s a bump in the plastic that holds the hook barb just barely under the plastic, eliminating the need to expose the hook. “Even during tough, short bites, hook-up percentages are super good.”

Lindgren says the shaky head routine is a go-to for cold, clear waters less than 15 feet deep. Anything deeper and he’ll fish the Kompak Craw as a trailer on a BassTEK tungsten football head jig.

 

FOOTBALLIN’

There’s nothing like knocking helmets with bass in deep water. Football head jig aficionados will tell you they live for the ‘thump.’ And while effective on deep structure bass all season long, the football head bite definitely comes alive in fall and early winter, typically around sunken islands, isolated rock piles, points and ledges in waters from 15 to 40 feet.

To find these high-probability areas, Lindgren says he studies digital GPS mapping and uses Humminbird Side Imaging to look for fish on these deep water spots, marking waypoints for precise casts.

“During summer months I’ll fish a BassTEK football head jig with large, flappy craw trailers, but as the water temps go down, you really need something subtle. Fish are moving slower and they won’t eat if it takes too much energy. The Kompak Craw is precisely the thing, whether I skewer it onto a football head jig with silicone skirt, or my favorite, a combination silicone and hair football head jig. Hair moves in a way that mimics life even at a standstill in cold water,” says Lindgren.

 

FINESSE JIG TRAILER

On natural lakes – especially those of the Midwest – Lindgren searches for remaining green weed clumps in 8 to 10 feet of water, relying on a finesse jig to slowly and methodically find willing largemouth bass.

“I’ll idle just off of weed flats, using Side Imaging to find isolated clumps, funnels and spaces in the larger beds. Again, I’ll mark waypoints and go back and strategically work those areas with a BassTEK tungsten finesse jig with Evolve Kompak Craw trailer, which pulls through the weeds without collecting debris. I have a rod rigged with blue and black jig and Leech Fleck Kompak Craw, and a rod with green pumpkin jig and Pumpkin Oil or Cali-Melon Red Kompak Craw.”

He’s also a big fan of fishing finesse jigs on reservoirs. “In fall and early winter, I look for areas of chunk rock and gravel around secondary points that transition into coves and creek arms. You can intercept a lot of fish in these locations with finesse jigs as bass move in and out.”

Cold water football bites can much more
subtle then when fishing in warmer water, so Lindgren relies heavily on
his Dobyns DX744C rods spooled with 16lb fluorocarbon to feel even the
most subtle bites.

 

NEKO RIG

A lesser-known, yet very effective, late season tactic is called Neko rigging. Basically a highly-refined finesse tactic that takes wacky-rigging to an extreme, it excels in shallow waters and around docks. Although typically used with stick worms, Lindgren says the Kompak Craw is perfect for the Japanese finesse technique. “I invert the bait, insert either a nail or small tungsten screw weight into bait’s head and run a weedless wacky style hook into the nose of the bait between the arms. When retrieved, the vertically-oriented bait puffs the bottom much like a cat – “Neko” in Japanes     in a litter box, hence the name.”

Lindgren says the Neko Rig is ideal for bottom-hopping shallow flats, shoreline cover and points, even when water temps are extremely low. “Especially in slightly stained waters, you’d be surprised how many fish you’ll find shallow in late fall and winter.”

 

PUNCH BAIT

During cold bluebird skies and cold fronts, bass will cling tight to cover – especially weed mats and clumps – for warmth. That’s when Lindgren turns to the Kompak Craw for punching right into the bedrooms of big, lethargic bass.

“Florida waters are a good example of where cold water punching can definitely pay off. And rather than using a bait that’s too obtrusive and can spook fish, the Kompak Craw is streamlined and punches great. It’s thick enough that it displaces water and fish know it’s there but it doesn’t flail; the appendages stay close to the body, moving just the right amount to draw strikes.”

Lindgren fishes the bait on a straight shank 4/0 flipping worm hook with weight stop and ¾ to 1 ½-ounce tungsten flipping weight, tied to 22-pound fluorocarbon for clearer waters or 50-65 pound braid in dirtier waters.  Spool that heavy line up on high speed reels and either a Dobyns DX795Flip or 805 Flip/Punch depending on how heavy the cover.

 

DROP SHOT

Yet another way Lindgren likes to fish the bait is on a drop shot, particularly over deep brush piles that he spies with his electronics. “I simply nose hook the Kompak Craw and let it flutter as I ply deep brush, barely shaking it, keeping my eyes on my Humminbird sonar, which I set to 200/83kHz for the widest transducer cone, with my chart speed jacked up all the way to ten. That refreshes data the fastest. It’s like sight fishing with my electronics.”


Fall Fishing Udpate 2013

I have actually been doing a fair amount of fishing since the last BFL tournament, but clearly I have not been doing much blogging here.  Although, I have been doing a little writing at the KrugerFarms.com blog and the From the Dock Blog at NBC Sports.

So this weekend, I finally stayed home, albeit reluctantly, so I though I may as well do quick blog update on my fun fall fishing happenings.

In late September to early October the shallow jig bite was rock solid, I was able to get out a few times and stick both quantity and quality largemouth putting my 3/8oz BassTEK Tungsten Flipping Jigs in and around any shallow visible cover I could find.  Check out the following video, I put together from one said outing.

Late October the shallow bite became very hit and miss and for me, the more dependable bite was fishing remaining weed clumps in the 8-10′ range on most of the lakes I visited.  A handful of baits produced good fish, including the new SoulJerk 115 from Evolve, but my best combo was threading a Pumpkin Oil Kompak Craw onto a 3/8oz Tungsten Finesse Flipping Jig.

Smallmouth fishing on Mille Lacs and the St. Croix River has been pretty decent as well, again for me the Kompak Craw has been the ticket.  On a recent trip, it out fished the ever faithful Tube Jig 13 smallies to 1 on the tube.  Basically in water less then 15 feet, I fish the Kompak Craw on a 1/8oz to 3/16oz EWG Shakey Football Head and in deeper water out to 30ft, I rig the craw on 1/2oz – 3/4oz BassTEK Tungsten Football jigs.  Unlike summer when I like a craw with a good flap or kick on my football jig, when the water gets below 50, the subtleness of the Kompak Craw is what the fish seem to prefer.
 

I hope to get the boat wet a time or two yet before the rivers freeze.  In past years, I have had luck plucking smallmouth down to about 35 degree water temperatures on football jigs.

 

La Crosse BFL Super Tourney – September 21, 2013

Little late on this blog, sometimes when tourneys don’t go as planned, I am less excited to hurry up and write the summary, kind of like picking at a scab.  Either way, once the blog is written, its over and it becomes history and time to look forward.

I came into the last BFL Super Tourney 6th in points for the year, so I wanted to fish this event, as I wanted to see how high I could finish in my first year fishing this circuit and learning a lot about some of these massive pools on the Mississippi River that this circuit fishes.

So far this year, I have been pretty fortunate to be able to put some solid things together for most of these tournaments on two days or less of practice.  Similar game plan, I left home fairly early on the Thursday to practice Pool 8.  I spent a bit of my morning hunting sand drops and wing dams on the main channel only to catch a few white bass, from there I started heading back into some of my favorite backwater areas to look around.  After fishing a closing dam that was loaded with small largies, I found a duckweed point that was loaded with some good fish, the first one I caught on my Evolve Nervous Walker frog was around 4lbs and I pulled on several more. I looked around more in that area and found a few more smaller packs of fish.

The rest of Thursday, I found one more duck weed area with a school of fish, plus some rock/sand points in the backwaters that were holding quality largemouth and smallmouth.  On Friday, I spent the morning trying to expand on some areas and the rest of the day I bounced around the main river, mostly striking out on wing dams, but I did find a few fish late.  Overall my practice I felt was decent, I felt pretty good about my sand points in the morning and then I though I could have a good tourney if I could get those duck weed fish to go, but knew that all could change quickly with the cooling weather.

I ended up drawing out boat 92 out of 104, which I was okay with, I thought the extra time to fish would help let my duck weed fish warm up a bit and be more patient with my fishing and rotation through my areas.  My starting area was in the raft channel area, it was small point with sand and rock with a bit of current, I quickly put 3 largemouth and 1 smallmouth in the boat on a new RoverMax 110 topwater walkiRoverMax 110 topwater walking baitng bait from Soul 5 Labs & Evolve.

My 2nd stop was a similar point to my first with a little more grass on it, the fish started to bite weird there, they wouldn’t chase a topwater or reaction  bait, but we did get some bites on C-rigs.  Although we missed more fish then we caught, they seemed to be taking the bait weird and not eating it.  I did get my 5th fish there and my co-angler got a decent smallie.

From there it just got tougher, I could go into detail, but I fished weedlines, duckweed, pads, wood, cut banks, sand drops, wing dams and never generated another keeper bite the rest of the day.  Even though almost every area I visited produced good bites in the two previous practice days.  Super frustrating to say the least!

Overall my 5 early fish weight 9lbs 10oz and put me in 59th place, but as it turned out, many other anglers in the Top 10 in points struggled as well, because I only dropped to 7th in the points.  Based on my calculations, if I could have caught  a few more good fish and finished 15th of higher, I could have won the points title, I had figured I would’ve had to win the tourney to even have a shot.  Either way, I am pretty happy that I cashed 3 of 5 checks and finished 7th in the points.  Unfortunately, fishing the regional on Kentucky Lake is not in the cards for me. sometimes you just have to put a priority on family.


Example of Fun Fall Fishing from Sunday!

Unless I jump in a local small tournament, its probably time for some much needed fun fishing for the rest of the year, and I hope to do some more videos in the near future, so be sure to subscribe to my video channel!


Minnesota BASS Nation TOC 2013 – Mississippi River – Winona, MN

After missing last years TOC because of TBF Northern Divisionals, I was anxious to get back and have a strong showing on the river.  I was able to put in 3 pretty long days of practice Sat, Sun & Mon leading up to the tournament.  I spent Saturday on 5a, Sunday on 6, and then back to 5A based on a stronger 1st day on that pool.  I eliminated Pool 7 based on the distance, familiarity with pool and distance to travel versus reward.

Overall my practice was quite productive, I had a nice mix of main river, rocks, sand, banks, wood and slop, with an emphasis on backwater slop and pads.  Being this was a no cull tournament, I tried to focus on where I thought I could get 2lb plus bites and try not to mess with just keepers.  My top baits in practice were an Evolve Frog, BassTEK 1/2oz Jig in Okee Craw, Sweet Beavers and white swim jig paired with Evolve Darkstar swimmer as a trailer.

 
Nervous Walker Frog 4lbr and BassTEK Jig 3lbr pictured

I skipped the final practice day on Tuesday to be home for my kids first day of school and returned for Wednesday evening meeting.  I drew out boat 6 and convinced my partner to use my boat and lock up to 5A.  As we got to the lock, it was obvious we would have company, as about 45 of the 65 boats in the tournament locked up first thing on Thursday as well.  We ran to a wind dam and sand drop area towards the top of the pool.  We both quickly started catching fish on topwaters and a swim jig, but the keepers were far and few between, even the keepers I caught, I quickly chucked back without a 2nd thought, as I was looking for a certain quality of fish.  Although my partner did box one nice smallmouth and a 15″ largemouth on the first spot. 

From there I moved to adjacent large area with duckweed and I did end up keeping a decent fat 15″ largemouth on my frog off a tree surrounded with duck weed.  From there I ran to a pad area, where we both missed a few bites and soon after that I boxed a really nice fish on my BassTEK jig off a piece off wood.  From there I hit a key little point with duckweed and deer tongue to put keeper #3 in the box off the frog. The next bank produced no keepers for me, but the 3rd keeper for my partner.  After that we went to a larger slop area that I had, once we got there it happened pretty quickly, both of us filling our limits with 3lb plus fish on my frog and partner a jig.

We locked back early and weighed in at 1:45 even though our flight was not due until 3pm.  My 4 fish ended up at just over 11lbs which put me in 7th place out of 135 after day 1.

My Day 2 partner was all game to take my boat and run my fish as well.  With out 4th flight take-off, we made a single stop on pool 6 where I caught a nice 2.5lb fish on a Yellow Magic popper on my first cast.  We worked the area awhile longer, but neither of us put a keeper in the boat.  From there we locked up to 5A by ourselves in the lock and went directly to area where it went down on day 1.  The action was pretty fast and furious, but the size lacked that of the previous afternoon.  I caught bass after bass on my Nervous Walker Frog and flipping beavers, but I was careful to be selective and only fish 2.5lbs or larger went into the box.

At about 1:30 I boxed my 4th quality keeper on the Nervous walker and soon after my partner got his 3rd fish in the well.  I told him I would hit a couple key points on the way back to the dam, where we could both get good fish, but my top concern was getting back to Pool 6.  The very first point we hit, I stuck my big fish of the day which was 3.38lb smallie, there was no way I was throwing that fish back, so I was done fishing.  The next point produced a chunky largemouth for my partner and to the lock we went.

My partner had a couple rip rap spots on 6 that we hit and it didn’t take him long to put another nice largemouth in the boat, so we were both done.  We took our time getting to the levee and let the current flight check in before we checked in at 3:35 almost a full hour before we were due in.  My best 4 went about 11.5lbs on day 2 which put me in 2nd when I weighed and ended up in 3rd when it was all done, just under a pound out of 1st place.

My club also finished 1st as a team as well, so that added to the hardware collected at this event and the chance to fish the BASS Nation Northern Divisional sometime next August on Patoka Lake in Indiana.  Find full team and individual results here.

One of the biggest keys to my success this week was my frog setup, it kind of starts and ends with the Nervous Walker from Evolve, casts a mile, gets bit and the super soft body hooks up every time.  The other part of the setup was my rod/reel/line setup.  If you haven’t tried the Sunline FX2 Froggin Braid, it is ridiculous, spool that up on a high speed Curado and for me the Dobyns Champion 805 Flip/Punch rod is where it’s at when it comes to froggin’ big flats on the Mississippi River.  With my setup I can reach fish on long casts with out spooking them and get them in without a problem.


Evidence of what was working Beavers & Nervous Walkers!

My other key setup was flipping beavers on 1/2 – 1oz Tungsten sinkers, 4/0 VMC Flipping Hooks and 20lbs Fluoro.  For this my Dobyns DX745 and Dobyns DX795 Flip are perfect and I am really falling in love with the New Chronarch Ci4, sweet flipping reel!

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