Category Archives: Tournament Info

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!


8 days on the water

This past Saturday to Saturday was nothing but bass fishing and more bass fishing mixed with a little tackle prep and driving.  Four 12 hour practice days and four 8-9 hour tournament days.  It started at 4:30am on Saturday September 1st with a 2.5 hour drive to La Crosse, WI to begin my practice period for the TBF Nothern Divisional on the Mississippi River.

I spent all four of my practice days in Pool 8 of the Mississippi River, being this was a draw format tournament, I did not want to have time wasted locking and running during my potential four hours.  For the most part my practice was pretty productive, each day eliminated a ton of water and found a few areas or stretches that I felt pretty good about.  I definitely spent quite a bit of time in the huge lake area around and north of Stoddard looking for the mother load of grass fish, but they eluded me.

Practice partner Eric Sanft w/ Wing Dam smallie that didn’t bite during tournament

Day 1 of the tournament, I drew Brian Dull from Ohio and he had some fish in the Black that he wanted to spend time on, so I decided to stick close and fish my fish on the upper end of the pool.  I ran to a rock bar in the Black where I had two 3lb smallies in practice, it only yielded one short.  Next stop was a sand/rock drop that I fished with a Ima Square Bill, I caught several shorts and one keeper.  That burnt up about an hour and they we headed to top of French Lake.  I worked it hard with a jerkbait only to catch several shorts, the same jerkbait that put an easy 13lb limit in the boat 2 days prior.  I then hit one of the better sand points with my Square Bill and picked up a nice 3lb smallmouth.  I then worked that point a Game Hawg on a Carolina rig and got another keeper on the first cast.  I caught many more shorts on the C-rig in the area and on other points.  After hitting other points and getting shorts, i came back to first point and caught my 4th keeper on a Lethal Weapon Drag Queen Football jig.  We worked the area a bit more, but then started heading back to the Black River.  On the way out, I made a quick stop on a small rock point that eyed up on the way there.  One cast with a Baby Brush Hog and keeper #5 was in the boat.  We ran a few areas of my partners in the Black, many short and a few missed opportunities for him.  After that we returned to an area that I had.  I caught a nice fish flipping a beaver house to get rid of a small 14 incher.  We then pulled up where i caught my first keeper, I noticed a bit of bait, so I cranked my Hydrowave on full Shad Frenzy, the bass started pushing bait, I caught a keeper I could not use on the Ima Square Bill and my partner got his 4th fish, we made it to check-in with 20 seconds to spare.  I weighed 11-05, middle of the pack and 4th on the Minnesota team.

Day 2, my partner Joe Mazzuca had only 1 fish on first day, so he let me pretty much run the show.  We hit a few closing and wing dams at top of the pool, couple shorts, Joe lost a smallie at the boat and a big drum for me.  We hit two more wing dams on the way down to Stoddard area.  My closing dam fish did not cooperate, Joe got a swim jig fish and I caught a nice 3.5lb largie on a Ribbit and missed a few other nice fish on frogs/toads.  From there I went to a flipping area where I got another keeper on a Beaver.  I decided I needed show these fish a little more finesse, so I went back through the prime area with a Leech Fleck Kompak Craw and boated a 4-04 Largemouth.  I was starting to get against the clock, so I ran to some cut banks further up the pool.  I caught a few shorts and a 15″ smallmouth on the Kompak craw.  We then headed for the Black, we only had about 20 minutes to fish, neither of us could fill our limit.  Disappointed with my 4 fish effort, but they weighed well at 11-07, that 5th fish would have been huge.  Thank goodness for the big fish that the Kompak craw produced.  I slipped to 5th on my team, but move up a little in the standings.

Click to Close

Day 3, I knew I needed a bigger bag, so I ran straight down to my flipping area that yielded the 4lb bite the day before.  It was a little slow, I once again got a small keeper starting around with the Beaver, but then switched to the Kompak craw and caught 3 more keepers including a 3lb fish.  From there, I hit up the closing dam area, finished up my limit, but could not get the frog fish to bite.  I hit another flipping hole near the box and got a decent cull on the Kompak craw.  With about 2 hours to go, I hit some of my good wing dams from practice, could not get any good smallies, but plenty of big drum on a football jig.   We finished up in French, but the fish would not go in the short window we had.  I ended up with 10-15 on the final day.  It was good weight for our team to stay in 4th place and get a decent check.  I ended up 25th overall, but learned plenty about the late summer to early fall transition on the Mississippi River.

Right after the weigh-in and team picture, I had to head from La Crosse to Walker, MN to fish a NABC tournament on Leech Lake.  The drive was a bit over 6 hours and Leech is massive at 120,000 acres.  I had not been here in about 5 years, but it for the most part is a shallow fishery, fish what you can see is normally the deal.  We were greeted with moderate winds in the morning that grew to 25mph that caused 7 foot waves on the main lake and washed out other shallow fish.  I fished this event by myself, as my partner Josh was down at Fort Gibson Central Open.  We needed to fish them all to make championship.  With no practice under tough conditions, I only managed two decent fish for 5lbs, but we made the Championship and the Basscat held up well in the big water.

I will be on break for a couple weekend before I start practicing hard for the NABC Championship out of Red Wing.


La Crosse Everstart & Gull NABC

I recently fished the Everstart Central division event out of La Crosse, WI as a co-angler.  I have a TBF Northern Divisional event coming up in September on the same waters, so I thought it would be a good way to familiarize myself with waters that I had not fished in over 10 years and have some fun and a shot to win a little money.

I was #1 on the waiting list all week to get in and did not get in until after the meeting when I got my pairing text and had to dash down to La Crosse from Lakeville.  My day 1 partner was Cary Bever from Rhinelander, WI.  The area we started in was a shallow grassy area with some current towards the bottom half of Pool 8.  We both started working the area with frogs as well as the other two boats that started in the area as well.  There was quite a bit of activity for all the boats in the area, but many small fish.  I did manage to get a limit of 3 fish before we left and Carey had two fish.  I got my all my fish by casting my frog  further then my boater in the morning.

On our next spot, I got the first fish and a nice upgrade.  Cary asked if I had anymore frogs like I was throwing, I did and he quickly filled his limit and started getting upgrades in the next couple areas. The frog in question was a Bluegrass Mad Maxx frog.   I also got a nice upgrade on a 1/4oz Swim Jig with Tilapia Big Bites Cane Thumper as my trailer.  The next main area was mat specific, meaning I was easily boxed out of the best areas.  I did have one good opportunity, foiled by a loose drag on a buzz frog rod, something I should have checked, but did not think about as I usually keep my baitcasters pretty well locked down.

We ended up finishing in a cut bank area up towards Goose Island, we were running low on juice so boat control was a bit loose, so I had some good chances at water.  I got one good bite, set the hook but the fish got caught up in the overhanging bank grass that I punched my chigger craw through and the fish got off.  Cary did get one last upgrade in this area before we weighed in.  My 3 fish were 7lbs 3oz and we both were 21st out of 125 after day 1 in our respective divisions.

My second day boater was Dan Ehmen from IL, he has spent some time on these pools fishing BFL, interestingly enough he was one of the other boats that started in the same place the previous day.  We had the area to ourselves, but action was slower for sure.  We spent quite a bit of time there, after many short strikes, short fish, we each managed one keeper on frogs.  The next couple areas produced some pike and some shorts for each of us.  We made a stop on shallow cut near where we started, I ended up with a very solid 2nd fish on a buzz frog out of there.  We then went back to the starting area, I convinced him to make a pass on the left side where I had caught my limit on Day 1, he got his 2nd keeper and I got 3 more keepers on my frog there before heading back to the corner where we camped in the morning.  Dan did miss one good fish there.  With not a ton of time left, we ran to some areas in the back of Goose Island, we got a couple shorts, but that was it.  My 3 fish weighed 6-15 and that kept me in 21st overall, Dan slid way down with only having two fish.  In the end it was a fun experience and I will likely fish the next Everstart as a boater that comes to close to my home.

I really give the nod to my Dobyns 736C Champion rod that I used pretty much all tournament long, I consistently casted further to fish my boaters could not reach and when the fish ate it on the ends of long casts, I boated everyone of them.  If you need a frog rod that can really reach out and touch those fish, check it out!

In other news, our third outing in the NABC series was just as bad as the first two.  We scraped a paltry 9.93lb Gull Lake limit together.  Once again we practiced in a top 5 area, did not spend enough time there and made bad decisions.  Now we must decide if I will fish Leech alone to qualify for championship. 

Still deciding if I am going to sneak in the TBF Southern Open qualifier in Winona next weekend or just lay low until the TBF Northern Divisional in early September.  Plan to do some family fun fishing down on Lake Jefferson near Mankato this weekend.

Gopher Bassmasters Mille Lacs Tourney & Photo Shoot

On Saturday I made the drive up to Onamia super early in the morning to partake in a Gopher Bassmasters club tournament.  Frankly, I had not been to Mille Lacs in over a year, this would be my only my second time on this large pond, I just using this fun tournament as an excuse to get back up there.  This was setup as a measure tournament with immediate release of the fish.

My partner Henry & I launched out of Cove Bay, I caught a nice largemouth out of the reeds on a 3/8oz BassTEK tungsten jig, but we fished a bunch more reeds and nothing else.  From there we bucked a NNE wind up to around Vineyard Bay.  We dabbled around more reed clumps until we came to a small point.   We ended up catching seven largemouth on this point area and missing a couple others.  We tried to expand on this water more and kept chasing green fish, but no bites in some really great looking water.

So I used my map chips and graphs to find a subtle area offshore.  I quickly caught a smallmouth on a jerkbait and then had a few follows.  Not long after that Henry boated his 4th fish on a tube and had a bigger fish under the one we netted, unfortunately I had a jerkbait rod in my hand and not  a drop bait when I netted it.  We stayed in this area for awhile and I managed to hook to big smallmouth only to lose them both, that seemed to kill the bite on this spot.  I tried to duplicate and find more areas like this, while we fished some very enticing looking rock structures, no smallies that we could get to bite or show themselves.

We revisited our point with the sun out and I caught two more smallmouth on soft plastics.  We then hit some docks, Rocky Reef & Izaty’s before finishing the day around the Cove Bay, I only managed one more small smallies on the jerkbait.  I was disappointed that Henry never got his 5th fish and that I did not boat the bigger smallies I had hooked.

When we returned to the meeting point, I was suprised that my 14.75lbs was good enough for second and only one angler really smacked the nicer smallmouth.  Congrats to Chong on his 19lbs of smallmouth.  My best 5:
17.5″ Largie
17.5″ Largie
16.5″ Largie
16.125″ Smallie
16.125″ Smallie

Definitely makes me want to get back up there and get revenge on some big smallmouth!

Back a few weeks ago, during final day of Elite Series in La Crosse I had the opportunity to do some photo work with Anthony Larson of Coulee Region Adventures and Desiree, who was a mentee and part of the program KAMO, (Kids And Mentor Outdoors) that Anthony is Vice President of this group.  Below are a few shots that were taken by Desiree, she did a great job and looks like she has “the eye” for photography.  Also to see all the photos, check out the full gallery.

Anthony shoots many events and professional photos in the La Crosse area, check him out, especially if you need some professional photos for a sponsor or other event.  I hope to say hi to Anthony again when I am done this week for the FLW Everstart Central event this week!