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, 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.