Category Archives: Tournament Info

BFL Mississippi River La Crosse – May 17, 2014

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

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

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


One of the good fish from the school in practice

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rich Lindgren BFL
Photo via Coulee Region Adventures

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

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



La Crosse BFL Super Tourney – September 21, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example of Fun Fall Fishing from Sunday!

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

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

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

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

Nervous Walker Frog 4lbr and BassTEK Jig 3lbr pictured

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evidence of what was working Beavers & Nervous Walkers!

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

Prairie Du Chien BFL – August 24, 2013

After stumbling a bit in the 3rd BFL, I was looking forward to getting that bad taste out of my mouth as the only tourney which I had not cashed a check in for 2013 thus far.  For this tournament, I was actually going to get two full days of practice, which having only a little over a day for the last event definitely hurt me a bit.

I was able to stay with a friend about 45 miles from the river and he went fishing with me on Thursday.  Based on fishing reports, I decided that my best chance to win and do well was probably to lock up to Pool 9 even though that turned out disastrously for me in a previous Bassmaster Weekend Series tournament. 

Thursday morning greeted us with a thunderstorm and heavy rains that we road out at the launch in Lynxville.  After the lightning subsided we braved the rain that lasted until almost 1pm.  The wind and waves made it difficult to fish the eel grass lines that I was targeting, we also tried to some rock early, only catching short fish early.  We eventually found an area that both decent smallies and largies on a grass line.  In the same area, I found a rock point that was holding some quality smallmouth.  From there, I wanted to find some backwater slop, so we went deeper in the backwaters, it took some time but I did find a large duck weed mat that was holding high numbers of largemouth.  We ended up fishing until dark, hitting closing dams, wing dams, rip rap and eel grass looking for more fish and I was able to find a few more areas and cross some things off the list.

Feeling good about my first day of practice, I decided to spend my Friday practice on the top half of Pool 10 looking for stuff to fish after I locked back though on tournament day.  My practice was hit and miss, I caught quite a few short fish and some keepers, I worked sand drops, grass, points, pads, wood and much more.

I ended up drawing a 4th flight boat draw which I was good with as I knew that all that wanted to lock through early would likely make it in to the lock and I thought the extra fishing time would be helpful.  We did make the lock along with 40 plus other boats, and rather then fight the boat traffic out of the lock, I spent a few minutes fishing some rocks near the lock.  Once clear, I ran up to some grass lines in Winneshiek to start fishing, my partner and I each start catching fish early, although mostly short.  I scored my first keeper on a Evolve Mad Mouse buzzed across the top of the eel grass.  We kept working into an area where I had found a group of bass holding in a little corner.  I quickly put 3 keepers in the boat on a green pumpkin tube and my partner got his first keeper on a lizard.  After that dried up, we hopped down the lake, where I caught my 5th keeper on a Evolve Nervous Walker floating frog.  We worked that area longer, but no more takers.

From there I went up the pool to a different grass line that had an isolated stump, where I was able to stick and boat a nearly 3lb smallmouth on a prototype creature bait from BassTEK, but one fish is all it would give up.  From there I wanted to fish a rock point before the sun got too high, my co-angler got a keeper smallie there and all I caught was a short.  Back to the grass lines to do some flipping when we saw a barge coming down the river, I felt the clock ticking at that point so even though the sun was just starting to get bright, I felt it was time to give my duck weed area a shot.

Once in the area, I quickly started bombing my Nervous Walker Frog around, and it only took a couple casts to stick my first good fish which made for a solid upgrade.  A few super long casts later, I hooked and boat a 3lbr and not long after that made another quality upgrade.  The key was these fish were way back off the edge and I had to make super long casts, to the point where my co-angler wasn’t even getting close to the distance to get bit.  But the bad news, is I could see the barge was less then 3 miles from the lock and I had to run 5 miles back up and down to beat it to the lock, so I had to leave biting fish to avoid being locked out as the barge I saw was definitely a double lock.

Well, I made it though the lock a little after noon with the barge right on our heels.  We spent the last 3 hours fishing rocks, wood, pads and grass, but neither of us could manage any fish that would help our bags.

Pulling into weigh area, the lines were short and not many boats beached, which told me two things, fishing was a little tough and that likely some people got locked out.  I was correct on both accounts.  My 5 fish weighed a solid 13-10 and was 5th place when I weighed in.  I launched in Marguette, so I dropped my partner off and headed back to load my boat.  This is where the fun began, as I ran out of gas before I got back to the ramp, but had enough trolling motor to make it the rest of the way.  I made it back to the park in time to get my check and my new hardware.

This is one tournament where my setup was extra key, and it had to do with my frog setup.  When I am fishing big mats, I always rig up my “Frog Launcher”, which is my Dobyns 805 Flip/Punch rod with a Shimano 200E7 Curado spooled with 65lb Sunline FX2 Braid.  This setup really launches my Evolve Frog and allows me to stick fish even on ridiculously long casts and get them out.  Also, the Evolve Nervous Walker frog has a great hook masked by super soft plastic shell that collapse beautifully when a fish eats and provides awesome hookup rations.  Even you have not tried the Nervous walker, it is something you need to and they are priced from $6-8 in most places.

Evolve Nervous Walker Frog Leopard Brown

The other fun parts of this trip was my blown trailer tire in the middle of Iowa and the fresh road kill that splattered blood and debris all over the bottom of my boat and trailer.  Guess I have some cleaning to do before next week’s MN BASS Nation State Tournament of Champions in Winona.

TBF River Rumble Team Qualifier 8-4-13

Last Sunday I fished a tournament out of Winona to hoping to qualify for the MN TBF TOC so that I have that option in late September when the time comes.  It was an interesting format that it was a team tournament where the captain qualified as a boater and the partner qualified as a non-boater for the TOC.

I met my partner Cade early Saturday morning so that we could get a full day of practice and scouting in before Sunday’s tournament.  We found quality bass early on the main river and then moved our way back in to the backwaters as the day went on.  We found some good quality fish in practice, but there were some really slow periods and tough stretches with out hardly any bites to show for it.

By far the highlight of the day was a 4.09lb largie that I plucked from a thick mat punching an Evolve Kompak craw.  I am continued to be impressed how my Dobyns DX795 FLIP over powers fish even in the thickest mats.  We didn’t linger in this spot much longer, as we knew this would be an area to spend considerable time in during the tournament.

We drew out in the middle of the field, but we were able to reach our main river rock and sand spot before any competitors, but unfortunately there was plenty of recreational competition.  I manage a small keeper largemouth on a popper and Cade got a close to 3lb smallie on a swim jig.  We hit a few more spots and we put a few more keepers in the boat, from there we started to work further back of the main channel.  We picked off largemouth on swim jigs, flipping and frogs but not quite the size we knew we needed.

With about 3 hours to go, we headed back to the area where the big fish came from in practice.  We slowly worked the area, Cade frogged and I flipped, and we managed the key bites to fill out our bag including a close to 4lb fish that I was able to catch flipping the edges.  The frog definitely caught the numbers and some good quality, but by splitting duties in a team format, we maximized our area.

We ended up with 5 fish for 14.95lbs, which was a solid 3rd place finish which qualified us and got us in the money, not a bad weekend on the river.  Much better then my last trip to Winona!

My next tourney will either be the Prairie BFL or the BASS Nation TOC.  Stay tuned, still plenty of fishing left this year!


La Crosse BFL – July 13, 2013

Quick turn around off a short holiday week to get ready for my 3rd BFL in the Great Lakes Division.  My original plans were to head down Wednesday after work and get 2 full days plus a few hours on Wednesday for practice, but with other obligations, I didn’t get on the water until 1pm on Thursday.  Based on my passed experiences and familiarity with the area, I launched in Stoddard.  The first area I rolled into had good looking grass, clean water and a fair amount of bait, and I quickly caught one bass each on a swim jig, Nervous Walker Frog and Mad Mouse in a matter of 5-10 minutes.  This seemed pretty promising, so I went not to far from there to a grass edge and quickly got a nice bite flipping a beaver and had some other bites.  That is where the positive ended, as I spent the next 4-5 hours hunting for more grass and slop fish to get literally no action.

Mississippi River Largie choking a Nervous Walker

Friday morning, I launched at 5am from Clinton street to try for some smallies at the top of the pool.  My first spot yielded nothing, the 2nd stop produced a 2lbr on a Yellow Magic popper, 3rd stop produced a 3-12 dandy on a Ike’s Custom Ink DT6.  I bopped around until around 7am, catching a few other small fish, but decided if I got an early draw I would probably fish these areas on tournament day.  Knowing that in this 3 fish limit tourney, a big smallie early would go a long way.  I spent the rest of my Friday fishing with my buddy Bill who met me there down in Stoddard and Goose Island areas.  I really only found a few cut bank spots flipping BassTEK Jigs to go with what I found first thing on Thursday, it was definitely tougher then I was expecting before I arrived.

Well at the meeting, I got boat #5 out of 128, so I was pretty much assured to get on one of the two smallie areas I found and I drew a nice guy named Paul from the La Crosse area.  Morning of, I was the first boat in the general area, so I went where I had caught the bigger fish and moments later another competitor arrived on the other.  We fished it pretty hard with a variety of baits for about 30 minutes with not a single bite.  I hit one other rock point in the area and caught a couple shorts, so at that point I put away the smallie rods and loaded the deck with stuff for largies and headed to Stoddard.

I started flipping a grass line and sharing it with a boat that was already there.  I put a decent 2lbr in the boat fairly quickly on a beaver.  Working the area for awhile I caught a short, cut off by a pike and caught a 14.5″ largie to give me two in the well.  We worked the area a bit longer, but the other boat was lingering in my best stretch so we left to try the flat where I started my practice, I caught two shorts very quickly flipping but that was it, hard to believe they would not chase a toad or a swim jig with overcast conditions.  From there I hit my small section of cut bank, with two boats just leaving.  Not bites flipping the bank and a couple small fish made feeble attempts on my frog in small duckweed mats.  From there, I headed back to my flipping area, the other boat was gone but the wind had showed up, making it very difficult to fish and it just didn’t feel or look right any more.  Back to the flat, starting with swim jigs until I saw some good coontail clumps.  I quick jammed into a good fish and flipped a 3.5lb largie into the boat with my Dobyns DX745C.  That fish got me super pumped, as it gave me my 3 fish limit at 11:30 and I figured one more good bite would put me in check range.  I stayed in the area flipping for the next 90 minutes only to find pike and no more bass.  With an hour left, I headed back up river to try for smallies again.  I hit both spots and only got a skinny 14″ smallmouth on my last cast, no help and it was time to head in.

My 3 fish was only good enough for 7-12 and 53rd place dropping me from 4th in points to 11th.  Very frustrating as I never got on much for this tourney, that extra practice time could have really helped for this one.  Bummer, this snapped a streak of cashing a check in every tournament so far in 2013.

As of now, my next tournament I plan to fish is MFBA Summer Fling tourney out of Winona on Pool 6.  No better time to start a new streak!

Pan-O-Prog Bass Tournament 2013

Not sure how many years I have fished the Pan-O-Prog bass tournament, but I started fishing it every year when I moved to Lakeville, so it must be 8 or 9 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.

This year was no different, I spent a little time scouting the Sunday before the event, bouncing around from shallow to deep looking for weed growth and potential schools of fish, I found little of either.  My partner Ryan Brant drew boat 16 out of 39 for us on tournament morning, so with little to go on, we started where most of the magic happened where we won last year.

We caught 4 or 5 fish pretty quick on soft plastics, but only two of them were decent fish, the rest were just keepers.  We then hit quite a dry spell and it wasn’t until about 9am that I caught #6 on a swim jig with Evolve Swimmer as a trailer.  After checking a few more spots we returned to our starting area and Ryan and I each got an upgrade on soft plastics, at least those fish got rid of our 12″ class fish.

3.7lb Largemouth

From there we ran a long stretch of docks, not a single bite until the last one, where I was able to make back to back culls skipping a 3/8oz BassTEK Tungsten Jig with craw trailer.  We noticed this dock had more weeds around it then the rest, so we took that as a clue to find areas with shallow grass.  We went into one of the little pad corners on the bigger part of the lake and I caught 3.7lb fish out of a pad clump which ended up being our biggest fish and last upgrade of the day.  We fished hard to the wire, hitting a couple new things and returning to our starting area, in the end our 6 fish weighed a modest 16.01lbs, but it was good enough for 4th place and a decent check for a tournament that is super close to home and I only had about $20 in gas money tied up in the event.  Also, we fished clean, no lost fish for us, we’ve finished 2-5th in the past and it was because of poor execution, this year, we just didn’t get around the right fish, we made the most of what we were on, you have to feel decent about that.

Ryan & I after the check.

As I write this, I am litterally packing to head down to La Crosse, WI to fish next Great Lakes Division event on the Mississippi River, got my Evolve Nervous Walker and Mad Mouse baits all packed and ready to do some serious Froggin’ this weekend!

Evolve Mad Mouse & Nervous Walker Frogs

Wolf River System BFL – June15, 2013

Wolf River, Winneconne, Winnebago, whatever you call it, this was the site if of the 2nd BFL of the Great Lakes Division as it usually is.  This is a system that I have fished a few times in the last 5 years or so, but either way it is a solid 5 hour drive from my home, so I don’t get there often and you don’t run over for a quick prefish the weekend before.

With that being said, I left Wednesday afternoon in a driving rain that lasted pretty much the entire drive and I had to wait out a thunderstorm at the boat ramp until 7:30pm just so I could spend an hour or so on the water Wednesday night.   I caught a couple smallies in Lake Butte Morts on some rip rap, but nothing too promising.

Thursday was a new day, with a decent breeze and sunny skies.  I launched north of the river on Winnebago and began my search there.  My main focus was largemouth and I was bouncing around between shoreline cover and transitional areas hoping to find some concentrations of fish.  At first it was a fish here or there, but I finally ran into a large group of fish on a transitional area fishing soft plastics on the bottom and some on a swim jig using Evolve DarkStar swimmer as a trailer.  I was able to expand on the water and duplicate what I found for most of the day, eliminating some water and adding other.  By the end of the day, I would’ve had around 13lbs.

Kompak Craw & Tungsten Jika Rig

On Friday, I launched further south on Bago looking to repeat pattern and expand on water.  The wind was blowing a little more from the East in the morning, I got on quite a few short fish early firing square bills around shallow areas.  As the morning went one, the wind laid down and I was able to find a few more areas I felt good about, catching and pulling on what felt like quality fish.  Around 1pm, I trailered over to Rainbow Park to find some stuff I could fish on the way back to Winneconne ramp, just a few short fish.  So I called it a practice and got my stuff ready for the next day in the Walmart parking lot.  I drew boat 68 out of 125 which was middle of 3rd flight.  My partner co-angler that I drew seemed like a nice enough guy, so we had a quick discussion about my plan to fish Bago all day.

Tournament morning brought a light drizzly rain, light winds and overcast conditions, felt like one of those days that the fish would be crunching.  After the fairly long journey of slow wake zones out to Winnebago from Winneconne, the wind was a little stiffer then forecasted and straight out of the East.   There was a boat on the area I wanted to start on, so I pulled into a secondary area, where we both caught a few shorts.  We moved around a bit and ended up hitting my starting spot which was not as hot as I hoped it to be, producing just two shorts.  I decided even though the wind was hitting it pretty direct to try to some more main lake stuff I had.  It turned out to be a pretty good decision as I picked up two nice largemouth keepers on a 3/8oz BassTEK Tugsten flipping jig, having that tungsten really helped as the wind and waves made it difficult to keep my feel with my lure.

I then ran a short stretch of docks and put my 3rd keeper in the boat on a Kompak Craw on a 3/8oz tungsten Jika rig.   After running that stretch we returned to an area that was covered with boat early, shortly after I pulled in I hooked a good one on a Baby Ring Fry on a mojo rig, it ended up being my big fish at 3-10.  We worked this area hard for awhile, catching a few shorts and my partner losing a couple decent fish.  So that gave me 4 fish with one good one at 11’ish, so I thought if I was ever going to run south, now was the time.  I was actually feeling pretty good, as I thought I could catch 2lb fish pretty easy and getting one close to 4 would be the trick of they day.

We ran a bunch of water, it produced mostly shorts and areas that already had other boats on the spots I wanted to fish, but we each scraped one keeper by 1pm.  I had a decent limit, but largely because I had that bigger fish, and I knew if I could get a 2lbr or two to get rid of my 14.5″ fish, that would make a big difference.  So we returned to fish the area where I caught my biggest fish, which was also where I caught my biggest fish in practice.  We only had about 25 minutes to fish it.  I ended up getting one 15″ fish there, so that was a nice little upgrade.

My 3-10 Largie on Stage of Weigh-in

I ended the day with 11-10 which on a day that ended up being a bit of a tough bite, which left me tied for 20th and getting a check.  Always wish you can win or get a top 10, but a check is a check against these BFL guys, can’t complain about 2 for 2 cashing checks this season, which puts me 4th in the points for the year after two events.

Looks like my next tournament will be a little closer to home, the Pan-O-Prog bass tournament on Lake Marion, always a fun event, the guys at Gopher Bassmasters run a great tournament with pretty decent payback, plus I have to defend my title from last year!


La Crosse BFL – May 18, 2013

With the late spring, the first Great Lakes Division BFL event out of La Crosse kind of snuck up on me quickly.  Due to some obligations on the home front, I really had a pretty limited practice.  I really got about 2 days in total spread over 3 days.  I really with I had more because although I fish and like the Mississippi River quite a bit, most of my time has been spent July thru October, not April & May.

The Saturday of the weekend before I had about 4 hours in the morning to fish, so I checked some areas that I scouted via maps on the top of pool 7.  I fished what I thought to be pretty good looking water for fish that were going to be spawning soon as water temps were already 53F and climbing.  A buddy of mine and I only manged short bass, a pike and one keeper smallmouth.  It was warm all week, so I knew water temps would have to be hovering above that magical 60 degree mark that kicks things into gear in the spring.

I was not able to get down to the river on Thursday until about 4pm, and the water I fished the week before was just intriguing enough to make me want to check it.  I intended to just check it quick and then head down to the Black River to look for fish around the tournament take-off area, but I ended up getting just enough bites from 15-16″ chunky largemouth to make we want to try to find a little more up there and I ended up being there until about dark.  I caught those largemouth on a custom painted 1.5 squarebill & flipping a beaver bait in the first area, but only shorts after that.  So after what amounted to be about 1 day of practice, I had one area a pool up and a long run with a few decent fish, so better then nothing but not ideal.

Friday, the day before the event, I had decided to trailer down to Stoddard and look at areas I was familiar with from past events in the summer.  My practice started slow in the morning in a steady drizzly rain, picking up short largemouth and pike on a swim jig paired with Evolve Dark Swimmer.  Expanding my search, I spotted some deeper water on my map chips that intrigued me, again I caught a big pike, but shortly afterwards, I caught a 3lb+ largemouth on a beaver, I kept fishing more of this area, got a dog fish, few more shorts and another 2lb largie.  Keeping on the move, trying to find something close I finally ran into a flurry of fish on my swim jig, short largemouth, keeper largies and pike all mixed in, but it was obvious this area had a lot of fish in it.  After closer inspection, I noticed some clear spots that looked like beds and on closer inspection, there were some nice smallmouth on these bare spots, now I was starting to feel a little better about things.  From there I back tracked and found a closing dam, I quickly started getting bit and caught several smallmouth to go with my bedding fish and largemouth.  I tried a few more things down in the Stoddard area, but found nothing else and had committed to trailering my rig back to Clinton Street at noon to look for backup stuff for the rest of the day.  I basically eliminated water up there, on stuff I wouldn’t be fishing if I ended back up near ramp at the end of the day.

I ended up boat 57 out of 139, which was first boat in the 3rd flight.  My plan was to start on my closing dam, put a limit in the boat, let the sun get up a little and then go after those bedding fish and then go fishing from there.  Well even with the 3rd flight boat draw, I was first boat into my area.  It only took about 5 casts to put a nice 2lb smallmouth in the boat, but that was it, so I worked across to the other end of the dam and it was on, I had my limit in about 10 casts and culled several times before 7am.  I stayed there until around 9am upgrading a few times, also thinking my co-angler would get a fish or two.

So I went to my bank where I had some smallies on bed, the first pair of fish I stopped on were pretty skittish, so I moved on to the next fish which was bigger, it only took 5 or 6 pitches with a white Damiki Hydra on a Jika Rig to hook her and put her in the boat, this was a 3.5lb class smallmouth.  I kept fishing around thinking I would catch them blindly or I would be able to see them better soon, but the water had gotten a little dirtier, some of the beds became abandoned and I only got 1 2lb largemouth just fishing and I caught another smallmouth off a bed, but it was a little too small to help, so back to the closing dam where I culled about 3 more times with smallies and my co-angler got 2 fish.  At about noon, I decided to go to the area where I had caught that bigger largemouth to try for an upgrade know my smallest fish was around 2-06 and the rest were around 3lbs or more.  I could probably get a ounces here or there by sticking it out on the closing dam, but I wanted to go a little bigger.

In the other area, I spent about 5 minutes to catch a largemouth off a bed, that I misjudged, cause it was a little too small to help.  There were a few nice 3-4lb cruisers that were just too spooky, finally I got to where I had caught the big largemouth in practice, I pitched in there  blindly and it bit on the first cast, but didn’t take the bait all the way.  On further inspection, she was on a bed, I pretty much spent the rest of the day working on that fish, leaving for a bit and coming back, but couldn’t get here to go, even to the very last minute she sat there, agitated, mad but wouldn’t eat the bait.  I tried about 6 different tricks in my bed fishing arsenal, but it just didn’t happen, we raced back to the ramp and made it with 2 minutes to spare.

A couple of my smallmouth ate my bait funny and got tongue hooked, and one ended up dieing on me.  So my total ended up being 6th out of 139, with 14-02 after a dead fish penalty, 14-06 would have tied me for 5th, oh well that is fishing.

All my fish came on soft plastics in the event, most of closing dam fish came on the plastics in the picture below (Lake Fork Baby Creature & Ring Fry, Evolve Kompak Craw) on a mojo rig and the bed fish came on the Hydra & Black Blue Big Bite 4″ Tube.  I also credit my Dobyns DX743C paired with 12lb Sunline Shooter Fluorocarbon, I think that setup was a big difference why I was able to feel and catch 30 plus fish off a closing dam where my co-angler struggled to get two keepers, even after I shared my baits and positioned him for casting angles.

Looking back, I think I spent too much time in the area with the bedding smallies, it was good that I went there and got my biggest fish, but I should of read the water and left earlier to spend more time on the closing dam or to look in other areas for upgrades, but overall very pleased with my finish for a May tourney on the river, although, with a few tweaks, I think I could have competed for the win.


That’s a Wrap

Well as of last weekend, I am pretty sure my 2012 tournament season is all wrapped up.  I hope to do some fall fun fishing yet and get some filming done, been awhile since I had anything new to share on my YouTube channel.

The season ended with a big event, in which my partner and I came up short of the $20k prize.  Practice on the Mississippi River was a bit tough for both Josh and myself, but we both added a few pieces everyday and found a handful of areas with quality fish.  Inserted below are some of the better practice fish.

Day one of the North American Bass Circuit Championship was windy from the start, it was easy sailing from Red Wing to the mouth of the Lake Pepin, from there south to Wabasha was pretty intense with winds gusting over 20 mph from WNW.  Nothing super bad, but 25 miles of rough water takes it toll on you and your equipment if you are not smart about it.  Fortunately, we had one semi-protected spot on the north end of Pepin, we were able to stop in and pick up two keeper smallmouth.  From there we ran to a rip rap area north of Wabasha and picked up two more smallies.  We then ran within site of the Alma dam to an area that had big smallies in practice and I got our 5th keeper smallie on a jerkbait.  After that, it turned into a grin, we fished a bunch of wing dams, closing dams, wood, sand drops, etc and had nothing to show for it.  We were able to make a stop on Lake Pepin on the way back to get a small upgrade on Largie that Josh picked off on a jerkbait.  After that, we decided to run to the top of the pool near the Red Wing dam and hit a few things, Josh did have one nice bite, but it did not hook up, so we returned to Colvill park with moments to spare and we ran out of gas idling past check-in.  We ended up 18th after day 1 with 10.3lbs.

Day two was a bit less windy, but still breezy for sure, the wind had shifted more North and made our first couple stops a washout.  Our fist stop in Wabasha resulted in nothing as well.  Our 3rd stop quickly resulted in me rolling a big smallie on a jerkbait and Josh getting a 4.4lb smallie on a Biovex jerkbait, we saturated that area, but could not muster another bite.  Around the corner I got our 2nd smallmouth on a jerkbait and the next stop I picked up a squeaker smallie on the same jerkbait.  We then hit a similar mid-day lull as day one.  We got into another area and Josh had a heartbreaking situation with a big fish sawing him and his high end Japanese jerkbait off on a gap in a wing dam.  Shortly after that, I flipped up a chunky largemouth on a Black/Blue Big Bites Salt tube off some wood.  From there, I made a on the fly decision to hit a small point that just looked right and I got out 5th smallmouth.  From there, we decided to test the lake, hoping the wind would cooperate on a spot or two. 

The very first spot, I almost immediately hooked up on a nice white bass, we agreed that was a positive sign on the river, meant there was food here.  Turns out that sand drop was loaded with white bass, smallmouth and largemouth of all shapes and sizes and we caught fish almost every cast the last hour on jerkbaits and Red Eye Shads before having to fight the wind back to Red Wing.  We ended up upgrading a few fish there, but could not get the 3lb bites we probably really needed.  Man it was tough to leave biting fish like that!!!!

We made it back to Colvill Park with a few minutes to spare and a enough gas to make it all the way in.  We had a better day, weighing the big fish of the tournament and over 13lbs, but we ended up out of the money in 15th place.  Congrats to Brian Korfmacher and Todd Brunson, they clearly figured out something the rest of the field did not!

For those that have not fished with NABC, they run a great circuit, they did release a tentative 2013 schedule:
Sturgeon Bay
Lake Pokegama
Mississippi River
Leech Lake
Chippewa Flowage – Championship

Overall, I think it is a pretty sweet schedule and will have to strongly consider fishing it in 2013!