This was the tournament I had been thinking about since about half way on my drive back from the National Championship last November.  Once you get to BASS Nation Nationals and you are one step from the Classic, it really creates a burn to get back and finish the job.

Planning and prepping, my game plan going into this event was to focus on main lake offshore smallies.  In my mind, if I found 15-30 spots with quality fish potential, I could rotate through them hitting the sweet spots and creating a big bag every day and possibly supplement with a few shallow fish as needed.

I had 4 days of practice before the event, after two full days fishing the tops of the prime pieces of structure, I was really struggling.  With the mid-summer cold front, it really seemed to knock these fish off the edges onto isolated cover and they really were not schooled up in very many places.  With my final two days I shifted a focus for more shallow isolated cover.  I had two days of practice doing that and caught some really nice fish and pulled on many more.

My game plan revolved around hitting a few key offshore spots early to get a few solid bites early and then grind the rest of the days on specific shallow targets.  Day 1, I had a first flight draw and Zach from Indiana, who didn’t get much practice in, so he was willing to go along with my game plan.  After a 2 plus hour fog delay, we got to my starting spot and Zach got a good fish on a Big Hammer swimbait on my starting spot and I got a walleye on a tube.  We ran more spots, I picked up 3 small fish on tubes and one 3lbr, but I opted to throw back a 13″ smallie due to bleeding.  About mid day, I could tell the bite was super tough and I went to every spot I knew just to try to fill a limit, both shallow and deep, chasing largies and smallies and only Zach got one more keeper on a wacky senko.  What a disaster, starting with 3 fish for 6lbs and change, National dreams DEAD!

Day , with my only good fish
Day , with my only good fish

Many guys struggled, but the leader for Minnesota Corey Brant sacked almost 17lbs and I was dead last on the MN team.  My day 2 partner was from WI and he zeroed on day 1, we agreed to work together and just try to catch solid limits for team weight.  My starting spot produced 4 fish for me and 2 for Kyler and one of mine was close to 4lbs.  We made a run through my spots working west towards Kyler’s fish.  His grass fish didn’t go, but I gave some advice to him and we both ended up with limits and culling from Norwegian Bay.  I ended up with a modest 12lb bag and moved up on spot on the team.  The good news, Minnesota had grown our lead from about 18lbs on day 1 to close to 50lbs on day 2.  With our sights set on the Three Peat of winning this event for 3rd consecutive year and defending our home turf!

Day 2 a little better, selfie for the Bassmaster Blog
Day 2 a little better, selfie for the Bassmaster Blog

Day 3 I drew Jim B from Wisconsin, agreeing we were both out of contention, we decided to have a fun and just go fishing.  I was not able to get on my starting spot, but my second spot had some good smallies busting on the surface.  We both got 3lb class fish to commit to topwaters and also picked up some keepers on jerkbaits.

Working west under foggy conditions, I filled my limit and culled  few times fishing both deep and shallow.  Going to Jim’s water in the last few hours, we both ended up culling a few more times.  I had almost 13lbs and Jim got the better bites to get 14lbs.

Day 3 mixed bag....
Day 3 mixed bag….

Minnesota extended our lead and took home another boat, kudos to a great team and a bunch of new friends.  Special congrats to my buddy and roommate Corey Brant who will be representing MN at Nationals on the Ouachita River in November!

Minnesota #3Peat
Minnesota #3Peat

My best smallie baits were a Bone Colored topwater and green pumpkin tubes rigged stupid style on a 3/16oz BassTEK Agitator head.  When I went west and fished shallow the best baits were 3/8oz BassTEK Tungsten Flipping jig in crawdad with menace grub trailer and in weedier areas, I flipped a Tramp Stamp Sweet Beaver on 1/2oz BassTEK Tungsten Flipping weights.

Check out and subscribe to my YouTube channel to see some of my fish catching highlights from both last year’s TOC and this years practice and tournament.  I will get the video edited and posted in a few weeks!

No rest for the weary, this week I will be at Gull Lake near Brainered for the BASS Nation MN TOC, looking to start the path back to Divisionals and Nationals again….

Minnesota TBF TOC Recap – Aug 1, 2015

First off, my last tournament, which was the Lakeville Pan-O-Prog bass tournament was a total bomb, 6 fish for 10.4lbs, first time not cashing a check in that event.  So after having a terrible weekend of practice for this Gull Lake state tournament, I was itching to get my swagger back as my fishing confidence was definitely pretty low.

I had some success on Gull back in a BASS Nation State Tournament in 2001 where I was runner up, but since then, only fished there a handful of times with mix results and since then, there is a lot more milfoil and cleaner water due to zebra mussels, so fishing what worked 10+ years ago probably wasn’t the answer.

My game plan for this tournament was to keep an open mind and rely on my strengths, which is power fishing with a jig.  I stated the first morning with a topwater as that produced fish the weekend before, but the fish really weren’t having it.  From there I fished new water bouncing around deep and shallow, mostly fishing a 1/2oz BassTEK Tungsten Flipping jig paired with a Stike King Menace grub as a trailer.  Focusing on points and inside turns on weedlines and other shallow areas that looked good based on wind and current conditions.  It didn’t take me to long to fill my limit and start upgrading a bit at a time.

Gull Lake Largemouth Bass
Day 1 – 14.37lbs

Mid morning I got two really good bites, a 3.5lb fish deep and a 4.45lb fish shallow, both on a jig, from there I just kept at it and upgraded a few ounces here and there to get to 14.37lbs, which was good enough for 2nd place after day 1.  Thanks to Rick Pelletier for some great net jobs and going along with the flow as I made things up as we went.

It felt great to be near the top of the leaderboard after day 1, but I also new that I would have to fish mostly new water on day 2 and that withouth getting a few key bites, 8lb was as likely a results as another 13-14lbs bag.  On day 2, I drew former club member Steve Brummer and he was more then game to fish the moment and the conditions as well.

Day 2 started with a few decent fish and a few small fish to fill an early limit and then we bounced around slowly keeping my jig wet and bites came steadily building a decent limit.  My biggest fish on day 2 was 3.3lbs and the rest were all 2 to 2.75lb fish.

The main keys for me were not fishing history and fishing the conditions and having a bait that I had a ton of confidence in.  I chose my jig because it required little maintenance.  On day 2 I only went through 2 jig trailers due to my Jig Sling keeping it on place and secure, which meant more time casting and less time fixing my bait.

Day 2 - 13.62lbs
Day 2 – 13.62lbs

The end result was 13.62lbs and a 1st place finish.  Felt great to get a win over a solid field with several local Gull anglers in the field.  Also, cool that my dad was able to finish 4th on the non-boater side, so we both qualified for the 2016 TBF Northern Divisional in South Dakota next year.  Final Results Here.

Me and Dad
Dad and I

My setup was a 1/2oz BassTEK Jig (New Blue Gill Color), Jig Sling and Menace Grub trailer, 20lb Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon and Dobyns DX705C Rod.

The Setup
The Setup

For a video recap & most of the fish catches, check out the video captured from my GoPro camera below.

Coming up, I have the BASS Nation Northern Divisional on Lake Vermillion in late August and in early September a BASS Nation TOC back on Gull.  Hoping to stay on a roll for the next two!

1st Place Hardware
1st Place Hardware


Top Bass Fishing Picks from ICAST 2015

Not sure which items, lures, lines, rods, etc will be the long term winners or generate the most buzz this week, but based on the online coverage, here are the items I will most likely be trying this summer and fall as they become available.  In no particular order….

Terminator Walking Frog:  First off, I am a sucker for a good frog, hopefully this one fits the bill.  Especially since my go-to Frog from Evolve has been discontinued, I need a new lead frog in my box.  Here is what Randall Tharp has to say about it.


Randall Tharp new Frog by Terminator

Posted by Bass Angler Magazine on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rapala and Storm have had some really good track record of late on new baits, so I have a good feeling about this frog coming out under the Terminator label.  So far the pictures look pretty sweet!

Rapala Frog
New Terminator Frog!

Sunline Assassin FC:  This new Fluorocarbon from Sunline is touted as the Bee’s Knees!  We all know that Sunline makes great line and Assassin is supposed to have new P-Ion technology that creates a smoother surface and increase resistance to abrasion.  Based on Tackle Tour’s review, this will give you almost the performance of Sniper and Shooter but at a more competitive price point!

Hopefully every thing that Sunline Sniper provides at a better price!

GoPro HERO4 Session:  Smaller is always better right?  Thinking this could finally be the lighter GoPro option to comfortable wear on my visor to add POV shots to my bass fishing videos.

GoPro Session should make a great POV camera

Big Bite Baits Swimming Mama: This actually appears to be a reboot of the Wave Worm Tiki Swim Bug.  The Tiki bug is not widely popular but a great bait, now with 1 more per pack and more colors, that is a good thing!

Swimming Mama should be great flipped or as a jig trailer

Nichols BPM Magnum Swimbait Head: I believe I have seen this on a flipping jig from somebody before, but this idea of pegging plastic horizontally with a tooth pick is pure genius, check out the video to see how it works.

Lock & Load your magnum swimbaits with this head!
Lock & Load your magnum swimbaits with this head!

Not a terribly long list, but I think these are some good ones.   Also, new for this year but before ICAST, check out the Dobyns Fury Rods, awesome rods for $109!

Best Valued Rod on the Market!
Best Valued Rod on the Market!

Mid Summer Update

I know in my last post, I said I was going to blog more, not that great, but here I am.  Work, Business, Family and other stuff has kept me off the water more then I would have chosen.

I have only fished 3 small tournaments thus far, but good news, cashed checks in all of them.  Winning would have been better, but anytime you are cashing and losing less money then most, so that is a good thing!

Two of the tournaments I fished down in La Crosse with my buddy Kevin, we fished some Bass World Sports team tournaments, got big bass in both and got 3rd and 4th places.  They may tournament all are fish fell pray to Bladed Swim Jigs and Tubes, no real surprise for the river.

Rich Lindgren & Kevin Ruh
15lb Pool 7 Bag from May

The early June tournament, we got most of our fish flipping 3/8oz Black and Blue BassTEK Tungsten jigs on various types of cover for a nice mixed bag of fish.

Kevin Ruh & Rich Lindgren
Grinding to 14lbs & 3rd Place on Pool 8

The other event was a Bass Pursuit event on O’Dowd on June7th, it was a tough bite, but we scratched out a few 2-3lbrs on Dropshot and 3/8oz BassTEK Jigs in Magic Craw on deeper weed edges bordering hard bottom areas.  The weights were so low, we didn’t even both to snap a picture of the fish.

Quick Pic of some Magic Craw Goodness!
Quick Pic of some Magic Craw Goodness!

Next up this week is the annual Pan-O-Prog event on Lake Marion which is close to home.  It always seems to be a grind, but it’s nice to fish a few events close to home.

To close, here is a recent video on a local pond to my house.  I don’t always have a ton of time to get out in the boat, but I sneak a little fishing in when I can, not bad eh?

If you can see the video, click here!

Thanks all & Tight Lines,

Back at it!

First off, apologize to you long time readers that made the transition to the new site, as you have not been rewarded with new content here.  I am planning on changing that, effective immediately.  While I am not going to promise a new post every day, I do plan to try to do something small every day to make this blog a better site again and get it back to the form it once was.

largemouth bass dobyns rods rich lindgren

When I was forced off my old platform, many of my posts suffered, broken links and lost images.  So some of the most popular posts will get reworked so they are readable and usable again.

Also, I added my Twitter feed on the right side of the page, so that should make things a little more interactive and fresh.  I have also added videos to the video page and freshened up some of the other pages on this website.

And most importantly, try to at least blog a few times a month here instead of a few times a year like last year.

Also, please leave a comment or shoot me a message via Facebook or Twitter and let me know what you would like to see more of here.  Whether it be tips, tournament recaps, videos or other.

I will close with my most recent GoPro video editing from Falcon Lake.

Thanks & Tight Lines!


2014 BASS Nation National Championship Recap

First off, I am not happy or pleased with how I finished at the B.A.S.S. Nation National Championship presented by Old Milwaukee. But it for sure was an honor to represent the State of MN and the Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation Nation in this event. I assure you all it was not for a lack of effort, but likely came down to some decision making on locations in the end.

I was fortunate to get about 2.5 days of pre-practice before the cut-off and based on my research I had made up my mind, win, lose or draw, to put all my eggs into fishing D’arbonne Bayou.  The little info that was available suggested most tourneys were won in there and that the average size of fish was better there.  It also suggested that you would sacrifice the number of bites one could potentially get, but the chance of quality fish was best there.

My entire pre-practice was spent in the 35 mile long bayou and its adjoining sloughs.  The first morning, I launched at the spillway below D’arbonne Lake where Jamie Horton had won the previous Championship held here.  It was full of bait and gar, but not much from bass that I could find.  The rest of the day, my dad and I explored the upper 1/3 of D’Arbonne, finding a few fish and lots of time learning to navigate.  I would’ve had a decent limit fishing square bills on cypress trees and my dad got some decent bites flipping plastic.

1st Ouachita River Bass was a decent one
1st Ouachita River Bass was a decent one

My next practice day, we launched at Hollands Bluff and fished from the mouth of Long Slough down to Cross Bayou, and checked out Circle Slough and the part of Cross.  It was actually a pretty good, day, we got on a deal where we were nearly calling our shots when we found deeper cypress trees with 3-5′ of water on them, mostly flipping a beaver to the shady sides of targets.

My dad found the biggest Bayou bass I saw in my boat
My dad found the biggest Bayou bass I saw in my boat

My last day I looked the middle part of the bayou, the bean field and the other side of Cross bayou, had to sort through small bites, but would have managed a limit and starting to build confidence in the style of fishing.

The first official practice day, I made the 80 minute run from take-off to the spillway.  Coby Carden off Alabama arrived moments after I and we both checked things out, I never saw him catch anything and I only managed two small spotted bass on a Muscle Squared crankbait.  From there, I started working my way down the bayou checking on stuff from pre-practice, I caught a decent keeper on a square bill early on and then switched to flipping so I could better pull on fish.  And the bites came fairly steady while flipping, some felt better then others, but I pulled on them all.  I felt pretty confident that I could have had a decent limit fairly early that morning, but there was also a lot of traffic in the upper bayou where I was.  All in all it was a very good practice day, until I made a mis-step in the S-turns on my way back in and put a nasty gouge in the bottom of the boat.

Practice Keeper on Square Bill
Practice Keeper on Square Bill

My second and final official practice day was spent riding shotgun with Brett Reid (Ohio Youth Director) who was awesome enough to take me out while my boat was getting patched.  I concentrated on the lower end of the bayou.  I started in Cross and caught a fish on a spinnerbait way in the back by the small bridge and had another bite on a buzzbait.  On the way back out, I had several fish hit a crankbait that I pulled on and also pulled on some bites on laydowns flipping.  From there I checked out areas and it wasn’t awesome, but I was getting bites on my square bill and flipping.  I ended up catching 3 keepers and pulled on several more.

Not sure if I over thought things in my head or let the patch get in my head, but I decided to fish the lower bayou on day 1, and move up the next two days.  I started and worked large sections of Cross Bayous with nothing but frustration to show, thinking maybe I had a few short strikes on my square bill.  Moving up to some of my deeper cypress tree fields, it took me until after 10am to boat my first keeper and it was barely a keeper at that.  The next large field yield two more keepers flipping a beaver, but 3 fish for 3-15 was all I could manage and was mired in 41st place after day 1.

Below is a video show casing the boat ride from Forstyh Park to D’arbonne Spillway that I did on the first practice day, but wished I had done every tournament day.

On day 2, I started in the deeper trees, quickly caught a 13″ keeper, but the rest of the large area produced nothing.  My second produced a barely keeper and the 3rd area I fished a large area and only for one more keeper.  From there I ran about 15 miles up the bayou and fished some key areas on the way back down and scratched out a small limit flipping a hematoma beaver and a Junebug Kompak craw.  I felt better about getting a limit and staying in the game, I moved up about 10 spots, but lost ground on the leaders of my division.

On the final day, I felt I had two choices, either go all the way up to the spillway and fish my way down, or enter a larger slough or bayou on the lower end and just keep my baits wet.  As far back as I was, I convinced myself to stay away from where several of the leaders were fishing, even though, that was my primary area in practice, and I spent a little time in Cross bayou where I caught a decent keeper on a spinnerbait and then the rest of the day in Boggy.  I managed two more keepers in Boggy, on spinnerbait and chatterbait, plus a handful of shorts and a few more short strikes.  Another 3 fish for 3lbs and change effort made for a disappointing finish.

1st Keeper on Day 3 – Spinnerbait

I actually fished a very clean tournament, not losing any fish that I had hooked, but felt very angry with myself that I didn’t commit to the upper end of the bayou where 4 of the 6 classic qualifiers spent the majority of their time.  Most of us know that bass fishing is very mental and comes down to decisions and I am not happy with my decisions made each morning.  Which made for a long drive home to MN from Louisiana and will make for a longer then normal winter.

The next video is a sampler of fishing scenery & a few fish catches

Thanks to all of you that texted, emailed, messaged me during practice and before each day of competition. Also thanks to the Family, Friends & Sponsors that helped me along the journey.

BASS puts on a first class event at this level and I am fueled more then ever to fish hard to get back! Congrats to the 6 anglers who “Survived” the Ouachita River, as it was very tough on equipment and the anglers all week!

Last video is a compilation of take-off and weigh-in video from each day of the event.

Plus I met a lot of new bass friends at this event, the group representing the Northern Division was a great bunch of guys to hangout with all week as well as the anglers from other states and countries.

I look forward to getting back to another BASS National event and the next shot is in August on Lake Vermillion, it will be a dog fight being on MN waters, but I look forward to the challenge!


Minnesota BASS Nation TOC 2014 – Lake Vermillion – Tower, MN

I was definitely extra excited about this TOC, not sure if it was I am fresh of making it to Nationals a few weeks ago or the fact that Vermillion is such a great fishery and the found memories I have from my 2008 visit for a Bassmaster Weekend Series, where I took 6th.

On Saturday morning I started fishing shallow and the very first bite I got was a 4lb smallie on a Big Bite Baits tube, and down that stretch I pulled on several more fish and caught another solid 2.5lb smallie, not a bad start.  From there it was a bit of a chore, bites were further and farther between the rest of the day, sticking to mostly shallow and dabbling a bit off shore.


On Sunday, I stayed with the plan to stick shallow and keep covering water looking for more productive water that fit my strengths and preference.  I got a few 3lb class fish, but mostly 2lbs and under, the highlight of the day was catching 2 muskies in 12 minutes.


Monday, I decided to check more of the West End of the lake looking at Largemouth water and I honestly had a pretty good day, good numbers decent quality with a few of the right fish mixed in.  Nearly all these fish that I caught or pulled on were choking a 3/8oz BassTEK Tungsten Jig in Okee Craw.  I felt this was a pretty decent option if I couldn’t get on a more consistent smallmouth bite on Tuesday.

Lake Vermillion Largemouth Bass Fishing Rich Lindgren

On Tuesday, I practiced with club mate Corey Brant, we stayed on the Tower end of the lake and chased smallies with a larger emphasis on off shore structure.  We definitely both added spots to our game plan and had pretty productive day.

I drew out with friend and former Gopher Bass club mate John Fairbanks, we were in 2nd flight.  We decided to start on a hump that John had, then run some of my water and then finish on his stuff.

After a 2 plus hour lightening delay, we started with reaction baits, but after seeing a fish nose my bait, I decided to pick up a tube.  The first cast yielded a 4.74lb brute of a smallie and a few casts later another 4lb class smallmouth bass.  We tried to milk the area some more, but it seemed like the action was over.

From there I ran a series of shallow areas where I filled my limit, culled a few times and John got 3 fish for about 8lbs.  All my fish came on tubes.  We hit an isolated hump that I had, where I made a small upgrade.  We then shifted to John’s areas for the last two hours, but nothing panned out.  The day went by fast with that 2 hour delay.

Day 1 – 15.54lbs

My total weight was 15.54lbs which put me in 5th place after day 1 and positioned right in the mix with one day to go.

My day 2 partner Dan brought in a respectable 10lbs on the first day, but deferred to let me run the show since I was 5lbs ahead of him.  We started on an isolated hump on day 2, again the reaction bait was fruitless, but the tube put a 3lb smallie in the boat and another keeper pretty quickly.  I hopped around other humps and points in the area to fill my limit and then came back to the starting hump to catch my big fish of nearly 4lbs on the tube again, giving me 2 good fish, 1 okay fish and 2 small fish at about 9:30am.

My partner had a spot that he felt good about in the area, so we spent some time there and as I was about to suggest to leave, I got a 3lb class fish there.  We gave that a little more time, hit another spot and revisited the big fish hump without anymore bites.  It was almost 11am and I decided I would hit my water back towards the narrows possibly on the way to some largemouth if that didn’t work out.  As I was about to reach the west end of Ely Island, my main motor just shut down.

I tried to restart it, nothing.  Took the cowling off to look for loose wires, didn’t see any (turns out later, it was a wire clip that popped off my fuel pump).  So we were effectively dead in the water about 4 miles from take-off at the half way point of the day.  We were able to get towed in and switched to my partners boat, but it was after 1pm by the time we were headed back out.

Long story short, my partner got one keeper, I caught a few small keepers and one that upgraded me by about 4-6oz, but we never really got back on track.

Day 2 - 14.64lbs
Day 2 – 14.64lbs

I ended up with 14.64 on day 2, which crept me up one spot to 4th for the tournament.  Which if you are not first, 2 though 6 are all boaters at divisionals.  Fairly satisfied, but I definitely have to win one of these after 2 seconds, 2 thirds and now 3 fourths, plus Tweet Gate.

Twin City Bass - Back 2 Back Team Winners!
Twin City Bass – Back 2 Back Team Winners!

Kudos to my Twin City Bass Club team on another team victory at the TOC as well.  All 4 of us made the Top 12 and divisionals next summer in MN (hopefully on Vermillion).   Also, shout out to Fortune Bay Resort, they did a great job hosting us and I hope they get to host next year’s BASS Nation Northern Divisional.

4th Place Individual & 1st Place Team
4th Place Individual & 1st Place Team

My primary setup was a Big Bite Baits tube on a Tungsten Agitator Head fished with 14lb Sunline fluoro and a Dobyns DX743C casting rod.

Sorry no GoPro video from this event, between wet conditions and large waves each day at take off, I didn’t bother setting it up, didn’t want it to be a distraction.  Might be some practice bass fishing video released next August….


BASS Nation Northern Divisional – Lake Monroe

Had fished several Northern Divisionals in the past and a few of them in Illinois and other states with tough fishing, I was mentally prepared for a tough tournament long before started driving.

It actually turned out to be tougher then I actually thought and the actual tourney days were more difficult then the practice days.  My first practice day I got out on the water sometime after 8am on Saturday, after driving through the night and catching a quick nap in the truck.  In summary I caught about 8-10 shorts that day fishing the end towards the dam on buzzbaits and squarebills, but actually had quite a few bites and action, just no size.  I also spent a few hours scanning the mouth of Moores Creek, found lots of good structure and cover, but no bites.  At our team meeting, none of the MN team got on much of anything, few fish here and there.  With one boat finding some fish way up the the Middle Fork on the slow side.

Day 2 I fished with one of our Highschool anglers Matt, I chose to spend the majority of the day covering Moores creek and look at all the shallow water.  By no means was it gang busters, but slowly we started building a shallow pattern throwing buzzbaits, buzz frogs and flipping a 3/8oz Okeechobee Craw BassTEK Tungsten jig.  As the day went on, we took the pattern to other pockets and creeks and it held.  Between the fish caught and shook off that we saw, I would have had an easy 16lb plus bag.

A quality fish from 3rd practice day on a buzzbait
A quality fish from 3rd practice day on a buzzbait

On practice days 3 and 4, I focused on looking at as many pockets and creek arms as I could and looking for more water to fit my pattern.  As the week went on, the buzzbait seemed to fade and the senko and creature bait bite seemed to be better, plus shad seemed to move around quite a bit.  Also, I started finding bites in shallow clumpy grass as well.  Slowly, most of our team got on this pattern as well, with a few guys also fishing a few deep channel swing spots.

All of practice was pretty much rain and clouds, the tourney forecast was all about bluebird skies, sun and little to no wind, so I knew things would get tougher and change.

Day 1 I drew out in 2nd flight with a Gary Adkins from Wisconsin, he was on a completely different deal fishing deep, but we had water in the same parts of the lake, so we opted to work together throughout the day.  I spent the first 2 hours and change running my best shallow water and we ended up both missing bites, I broke a fluoro leader on a senko and he couldn’t convert on a topwater fish.

Day 1 Take-off, blurry photo cred to Jeremiah Shaver
Day 1 Take-off, blurry photo cred to Jeremiah Shaver

The next 3 hours we spent working his deep areas with hardly a tap, both frustrated with things, we went to Allen’s creek to flip grass, Gary ended up getting a 3-02 flipping a sweet beaver in sprayed grass.  We got a few more bites there, but nothing that kept.  During that time I took control of the front of the boat and tried some more grass in that area.  From there I went to Ramp Creek where I had an isolated weed clump that I pulled on a good fish the day before.  First flip with a Rage Bug and I put a 3-03 in the boat.

We finished our day in Ramp and then a sunken brush pile just south of Ramp, no more bites or fish.  That one quality fish had me tied for 30th out of 96 anglers on day 1 and about 5 lbs back of the top Minnesota guy and qualifying for Nationals.

Day 1 Weigh-In, thanks to Rapala for the Alternate Team Jerseys!
Day 1 Weigh-In, thanks to Rapala for the Alternate Team Jerseys!

Day 2, I had Jesse Weener from Michigan, he was 2nd coming into the day.  He had caught 4 fish for around 9lbs on day 1.  We also agreed to work together.  The 2nd day, I chose to start in Ramp, fished several pockets and we each got a short on topwater, then finally in the back on a beaver dam I scored a 15 inch fish on weightless senko.  From there I ran into an isolated pocket where I had pulled on a fish on Tuesday and then actually spooked again on first tourney day.  Same thing, I ended up spooking fish with my buzzbait, mental note, planned to come back later to get him.

During the middle part of the day, we went to Jesse’s area which was around Cutright.  He was catching most of his fish on a drop shot (dream shot dirt color), fishing shallow around points and docks.  He ended up getting a pretty good fish on the first pass.  The nest pass, I got keeper throwing my senko to sandy patches and points in grass clumps.  Before we left Jesse got one more good keeper on a senko as well.

With a little bit of time left on my clock, I ran back that isolated fish, first cast with my senko, I put him in the boat and it was scramble time to get back to weigh-in.  Long story, short, ran out of gas about 2 miles from Four Winds.  Thanks to Ed Rounsaville from Indiana for picking us up with our fish, total life saver and yes, I am an idiot for running out of gas.

My 3 fish weighed 7-02 and I jumped up to 12th place, but I was actually 4th on my team still and 3-15 back from our leader and had to leap 3 anglers on the final day.  Also good news, the Minnesota team jumped from 4th place to 1st place in the team competition.

Day 3, I ended up with the Illinois team alternate and I got to run my water all day.  I stuck to my pattern, but threw buzzbait less and fished soft plastics more.  Even with that, it took me until almost noon to get my first fish in the boat in the back of a pocket on a senko.  It was only about 14.25″ and didn’t weigh much, so I knew I needed one more good fish to catch the leader to have a chance if he stumbled.  I kept with it and got another fish just before 2pm that I felt put me really close to the 4lb mark between the 2 fish, but in my head I really thought I needed one more fish to make it happen.

I fished hard to the bitter end, but it never happened, 2 fish was all I would end up with.  I made it back to weigh-in with plenty of gas and a few minutes to spare.  I was first flight and 2nd angler from my team to weigh in.  When I weighed the number was 3lbs 15oz to take the lead and I wasn’t certain whether I had enough.

This is what it looks like when you take the lead by a single ounce early in the weigh-in
This is what it looks like when you take the lead by a single ounce early in the weigh-in

I ended up with exactly that weight, while talking to Jon Stewart, I was pretty casual knowing that 2 more anglers that only need a fish or two were still coming to weigh and I was certain it wouldn’t hold.

About half way through the weigh-in, all the guys that were close to me had weighed except the day 2 leader had weighed and I was still in the top position for Minnesota.  Then word got to me that our leader had zeroed on day 3.  Honestly, I was couldn’t believe it at first, it definitely took awhile to set in and I did’t want to get excited until all MN anglers crossed the stage.

Winning Minnesota Team - Way to work as a team guys, it was fun!
Winning Minnesota Team – Way to work as a team guys, it was fun!

Well it turned out to be official, my 6 fish for 14lbs 4oz over 3 days was good enough for 8th place overall and a trip to the BASS Nation Nationals in November on the Ouachita River.  My main setup for my fish in tournament was a 5″ senko stick worm fished weightless on a 4/0 EWG hook, 12lb SX1 Sunline Braid fished on a Dobyns Champion 702SF Spinning Rod.

My main setup for 5 of my 6 fish
My main setup for 5 of my 6 fish

This was my 6th divisional and it feels awesome to finally make it to Nationals and be part of a team that won back to back boats at the divisionals.  Assuming Italy sends an angler to this event, I basically have a 1 in 9 chance to fish my way to the 2015 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell.  I have been tournament bass fishing for about 20 years now and I have been working for this the whole time.

Next week is our Minnesota TOC state qualifier on Lake Vermillion, after that, I will be 100% focused on the Ouachita River.

Sorry no GoPro video, wasn’t much for fish catching on this trip, but I should get some great stuff from Vermillion.

La Crosse BFL – July 25, 2014

Better late then never for this blog….

I am always excited to get back to La Crosse and fish a tournament, it is just a really fun place to fish most of the time.  Not always easy, but usually a good time.  I went down with the plan to power fish the grass and slop as that is often the deal in July even though recent high waters would likely have trashed some of the usually good areas on Pool 8. I was able to get down after work on Wednesday evening and get out in the Goose Island area for a few hours before dark, bass fishing was actually pretty easy that night, lots of fish willing to eat my Evolve Nervous Walker Frog, but not much over 2lbs.

Because of special Wisconsin DNR regs for summer tournaments, this was only a 3 fish limit, so normal quality 2.5lb tourney fish wouldn’t be good enough for a check this week.

2lb practice fish caught on Evolve Nervous Walker Frog
2lb practice fish caught on Evolve Nervous Walker Frog

That being said, my game plan was to set the hook on everything until I found 3lb plus fish, because I knew that is what was needed to hang in this event.

Bass Fishing is often just as awesome as the scenery in La Crosse!

Through the next two days of practice, no shortage of bites running all over the bottom half of Pool 8, but 3lb fish were rare and spread out for me.  I found plenty of fish that would be decent in a regular tourney, so I was going to basically going to have to get a lucky bite in this tournament. At this point, I don’t remember my take off number or flight.  I started on some banks in the Goose Island area, caught a quick keeper on a buzzbait and another competitor started opposite bank from me and caught 3 good fish, bummer deal, that was my next stop.  Decision making and timing are such huge deals in tournament fishing.

After that I went to flip grass edges with deeper drops, that place dried up from previous days.  Quick stop to fill my limit on a smallie spot that produced small keepers and then back to frogging and flipping.  The following video shows my 3 best keepers from the next area and the 3 fish that I weighed.  Caught on Nervous Walker Frogs and Evolve Kompak Craw punched in grass mats.

Tried a handful of other areas during the day, but I ended up with exactly what I had in practice, 3 fish for 7.5lbs and a slightly better then average finish but no check.

Next tourney BASS Nation Northern Divisionals on Monroe Lake in Bloomington, IN.

What I really needed in this event was a bite like this one in the below video from Lake Waconia

Pan-O-Prog Bass Fishing Tournament 2014

Starting to lose track how many years I have fished the Pan-O-Prog bass fishing tournament, but I started fishing it every year when I moved to Lakeville, so it must be 9 or 10 years now.  In the early years, I spent quite a bit of time practicing out on Lake Marion, but in recent years, I am lucky if I have 4-5 hours on the lake from one year to the next between tournaments.  After how badly the Bass Pursuit tourney went out there for us, I was hoping to get a little more time.

But this year was no different, I spent a little time scouting the Sunday before the event, bouncing around looking deep for weed growth and potential schools of fish, I found a little of both, but nothing great.  My partner Paul, got out fishing for a few hours as well, and found a few deep fish as well.  We drew boat 31 out of 35 on tournament morning, so with little to go on, we started on a place that had been good to me in the past.

The first stop produced a few small keepers but not what we needed so we tried a few docks and then out to a deep coontail clump.  It didn’t take long for Paul and I to fill our limit on drop shots and start the culling process.  The drop shot fish came on 4″ wacky ReSticks and 4″ Biovex Kolt Shad Tails.  You can check out the embedded YouTube video to see our fish catches from the 6 fish that we weighed.

After that spot stopped producing we bounced around the lake finding a few upgrades here and there but mostly fish that wouldn’t help.  Right at the end, we returned to our starting area and I got us one final upgrade flipping a Pumpkin Oil Kompak Craw into the milfoil.

Bagging them up in the Rain
Bagging them up in the Rain

Our final weight was a respectable 18.3lbs, but weights were up this year and it was only good enough for 6th place and small check.  Sometimes the bigger bites just don’t fall your way and that is the way it goes.

On to the BFL in La Crosse!

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