Tag Archives: Bass Fishing

BASS NATION NORTHERN DIVISIONAL – LAKE Vermilion 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 3 mixed bag....
Day 3 mixed bag….

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

Minnesota #3Peat
Minnesota #3Peat

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

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

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

Minnesota TBF TOC Recap – Aug 1, 2015

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

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

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

Gull Lake Largemouth Bass
Day 1 – 14.37lbs

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

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

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

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

Day 2 - 13.62lbs
Day 2 – 13.62lbs

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

Me and Dad
Dad and I

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

The Setup
The Setup

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

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

1st Place Hardware
1st Place Hardware

Rich

Top Bass Fishing Picks from ICAST 2015

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

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

 

Randall Tharp new Frog by Terminator

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

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

Rapala Frog
New Terminator Frog!

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

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

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

gopro-hero4-session_small
GoPro Session should make a great POV camera

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

Big_Bite_Baits_Swimming_Mama
Swimming Mama should be great flipped or as a jig trailer

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

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

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

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