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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.