I know in my last post, I said I was going to blog more, not that great, but here I am. Work, Business, Family and other stuff has kept me off the water more then I would have chosen.
I have only fished 3 small tournaments thus far, but good news, cashed checks in all of them. Winning would have been better, but anytime you are cashing and losing less money then most, so that is a good thing!
Two of the tournaments I fished down in La Crosse with my buddy Kevin, we fished some Bass World Sports team tournaments, got big bass in both and got 3rd and 4th places. They may tournament all are fish fell pray to Bladed Swim Jigs and Tubes, no real surprise for the river.
The other event was a Bass Pursuit event on O’Dowd on June7th, it was a tough bite, but we scratched out a few 2-3lbrs on Dropshot and 3/8oz BassTEK Jigs in Magic Craw on deeper weed edges bordering hard bottom areas. The weights were so low, we didn’t even both to snap a picture of the fish.
Next up this week is the annual Pan-O-Prog event on Lake Marion which is close to home. It always seems to be a grind, but it’s nice to fish a few events close to home.
To close, here is a recent video on a local pond to my house. I don’t always have a ton of time to get out in the boat, but I sneak a little fishing in when I can, not bad eh?
On Saturday morning I started fishing shallow and the very first bite I got was a 4lb smallie on a Big Bite Baits tube, and down that stretch I pulled on several more fish and caught another solid 2.5lb smallie, not a bad start. From there it was a bit of a chore, bites were further and farther between the rest of the day, sticking to mostly shallow and dabbling a bit off shore.
On Sunday, I stayed with the plan to stick shallow and keep covering water looking for more productive water that fit my strengths and preference. I got a few 3lb class fish, but mostly 2lbs and under, the highlight of the day was catching 2 muskies in 12 minutes.
Monday, I decided to check more of the West End of the lake looking at Largemouth water and I honestly had a pretty good day, good numbers decent quality with a few of the right fish mixed in. Nearly all these fish that I caught or pulled on were choking a 3/8oz BassTEK Tungsten Jig in Okee Craw. I felt this was a pretty decent option if I couldn’t get on a more consistent smallmouth bite on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, I practiced with club mate Corey Brant, we stayed on the Tower end of the lake and chased smallies with a larger emphasis on off shore structure. We definitely both added spots to our game plan and had pretty productive day.
I drew out with friend and former Gopher Bass club mate John Fairbanks, we were in 2nd flight. We decided to start on a hump that John had, then run some of my water and then finish on his stuff.
After a 2 plus hour lightening delay, we started with reaction baits, but after seeing a fish nose my bait, I decided to pick up a tube. The first cast yielded a 4.74lb brute of a smallie and a few casts later another 4lb class smallmouth bass. We tried to milk the area some more, but it seemed like the action was over.
From there I ran a series of shallow areas where I filled my limit, culled a few times and John got 3 fish for about 8lbs. All my fish came on tubes. We hit an isolated hump that I had, where I made a small upgrade. We then shifted to John’s areas for the last two hours, but nothing panned out. The day went by fast with that 2 hour delay.
My total weight was 15.54lbs which put me in 5th place after day 1 and positioned right in the mix with one day to go.
My day 2 partner Dan brought in a respectable 10lbs on the first day, but deferred to let me run the show since I was 5lbs ahead of him. We started on an isolated hump on day 2, again the reaction bait was fruitless, but the tube put a 3lb smallie in the boat and another keeper pretty quickly. I hopped around other humps and points in the area to fill my limit and then came back to the starting hump to catch my big fish of nearly 4lbs on the tube again, giving me 2 good fish, 1 okay fish and 2 small fish at about 9:30am.
My partner had a spot that he felt good about in the area, so we spent some time there and as I was about to suggest to leave, I got a 3lb class fish there. We gave that a little more time, hit another spot and revisited the big fish hump without anymore bites. It was almost 11am and I decided I would hit my water back towards the narrows possibly on the way to some largemouth if that didn’t work out. As I was about to reach the west end of Ely Island, my main motor just shut down.
I tried to restart it, nothing. Took the cowling off to look for loose wires, didn’t see any (turns out later, it was a wire clip that popped off my fuel pump). So we were effectively dead in the water about 4 miles from take-off at the half way point of the day. We were able to get towed in and switched to my partners boat, but it was after 1pm by the time we were headed back out.
Long story short, my partner got one keeper, I caught a few small keepers and one that upgraded me by about 4-6oz, but we never really got back on track.
I ended up with 14.64 on day 2, which crept me up one spot to 4th for the tournament. Which if you are not first, 2 though 6 are all boaters at divisionals. Fairly satisfied, but I definitely have to win one of these after 2 seconds, 2 thirds and now 3 fourths, plus Tweet Gate.
Kudos to my Twin City Bass Club team on another team victory at the TOC as well. All 4 of us made the Top 12 and divisionals next summer in MN (hopefully on Vermillion). Also, shout out to Fortune Bay Resort, they did a great job hosting us and I hope they get to host next year’s BASS Nation Northern Divisional.
Sorry no GoPro video from this event, between wet conditions and large waves each day at take off, I didn’t bother setting it up, didn’t want it to be a distraction. Might be some practice bass fishing video released next August….
Had fished several Northern Divisionals in the past and a few of them in Illinois and other states with tough fishing, I was mentally prepared for a tough tournament long before started driving.
It actually turned out to be tougher then I actually thought and the actual tourney days were more difficult then the practice days. My first practice day I got out on the water sometime after 8am on Saturday, after driving through the night and catching a quick nap in the truck. In summary I caught about 8-10 shorts that day fishing the end towards the dam on buzzbaits and squarebills, but actually had quite a few bites and action, just no size. I also spent a few hours scanning the mouth of Moores Creek, found lots of good structure and cover, but no bites. At our team meeting, none of the MN team got on much of anything, few fish here and there. With one boat finding some fish way up the the Middle Fork on the slow side.
Day 2 I fished with one of our Highschool anglers Matt, I chose to spend the majority of the day covering Moores creek and look at all the shallow water. By no means was it gang busters, but slowly we started building a shallow pattern throwing buzzbaits, buzz frogs and flipping a 3/8oz Okeechobee Craw BassTEK Tungsten jig. As the day went on, we took the pattern to other pockets and creeks and it held. Between the fish caught and shook off that we saw, I would have had an easy 16lb plus bag.
On practice days 3 and 4, I focused on looking at as many pockets and creek arms as I could and looking for more water to fit my pattern. As the week went on, the buzzbait seemed to fade and the senko and creature bait bite seemed to be better, plus shad seemed to move around quite a bit. Also, I started finding bites in shallow clumpy grass as well. Slowly, most of our team got on this pattern as well, with a few guys also fishing a few deep channel swing spots.
All of practice was pretty much rain and clouds, the tourney forecast was all about bluebird skies, sun and little to no wind, so I knew things would get tougher and change.
Day 1 I drew out in 2nd flight with a Gary Adkins from Wisconsin, he was on a completely different deal fishing deep, but we had water in the same parts of the lake, so we opted to work together throughout the day. I spent the first 2 hours and change running my best shallow water and we ended up both missing bites, I broke a fluoro leader on a senko and he couldn’t convert on a topwater fish.
The next 3 hours we spent working his deep areas with hardly a tap, both frustrated with things, we went to Allen’s creek to flip grass, Gary ended up getting a 3-02 flipping a sweet beaver in sprayed grass. We got a few more bites there, but nothing that kept. During that time I took control of the front of the boat and tried some more grass in that area. From there I went to Ramp Creek where I had an isolated weed clump that I pulled on a good fish the day before. First flip with a Rage Bug and I put a 3-03 in the boat.
We finished our day in Ramp and then a sunken brush pile just south of Ramp, no more bites or fish. That one quality fish had me tied for 30th out of 96 anglers on day 1 and about 5 lbs back of the top Minnesota guy and qualifying for Nationals.
Day 2, I had Jesse Weener from Michigan, he was 2nd coming into the day. He had caught 4 fish for around 9lbs on day 1. We also agreed to work together. The 2nd day, I chose to start in Ramp, fished several pockets and we each got a short on topwater, then finally in the back on a beaver dam I scored a 15 inch fish on weightless senko. From there I ran into an isolated pocket where I had pulled on a fish on Tuesday and then actually spooked again on first tourney day. Same thing, I ended up spooking fish with my buzzbait, mental note, planned to come back later to get him.
During the middle part of the day, we went to Jesse’s area which was around Cutright. He was catching most of his fish on a drop shot (dream shot dirt color), fishing shallow around points and docks. He ended up getting a pretty good fish on the first pass. The nest pass, I got keeper throwing my senko to sandy patches and points in grass clumps. Before we left Jesse got one more good keeper on a senko as well.
With a little bit of time left on my clock, I ran back that isolated fish, first cast with my senko, I put him in the boat and it was scramble time to get back to weigh-in. Long story, short, ran out of gas about 2 miles from Four Winds. Thanks to Ed Rounsaville from Indiana for picking us up with our fish, total life saver and yes, I am an idiot for running out of gas.
My 3 fish weighed 7-02 and I jumped up to 12th place, but I was actually 4th on my team still and 3-15 back from our leader and had to leap 3 anglers on the final day. Also good news, the Minnesota team jumped from 4th place to 1st place in the team competition.
Day 3, I ended up with the Illinois team alternate and I got to run my water all day. I stuck to my pattern, but threw buzzbait less and fished soft plastics more. Even with that, it took me until almost noon to get my first fish in the boat in the back of a pocket on a senko. It was only about 14.25″ and didn’t weigh much, so I knew I needed one more good fish to catch the leader to have a chance if he stumbled. I kept with it and got another fish just before 2pm that I felt put me really close to the 4lb mark between the 2 fish, but in my head I really thought I needed one more fish to make it happen.
I fished hard to the bitter end, but it never happened, 2 fish was all I would end up with. I made it back to weigh-in with plenty of gas and a few minutes to spare. I was first flight and 2nd angler from my team to weigh in. When I weighed the number was 3lbs 15oz to take the lead and I wasn’t certain whether I had enough.
I ended up with exactly that weight, while talking to Jon Stewart, I was pretty casual knowing that 2 more anglers that only need a fish or two were still coming to weigh and I was certain it wouldn’t hold.
About half way through the weigh-in, all the guys that were close to me had weighed except the day 2 leader had weighed and I was still in the top position for Minnesota. Then word got to me that our leader had zeroed on day 3. Honestly, I was couldn’t believe it at first, it definitely took awhile to set in and I did’t want to get excited until all MN anglers crossed the stage.
This was my 6th divisional and it feels awesome to finally make it to Nationals and be part of a team that won back to back boats at the divisionals. Assuming Italy sends an angler to this event, I basically have a 1 in 9 chance to fish my way to the 2015 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell. I have been tournament bass fishing for about 20 years now and I have been working for this the whole time.
Next week is our Minnesota TOC state qualifier on Lake Vermillion, after that, I will be 100% focused on the Ouachita River.
Sorry no GoPro video, wasn’t much for fish catching on this trip, but I should get some great stuff from Vermillion.
Starting to lose track how many years I have fished the Pan-O-Prog bass fishing tournament, but I started fishing it every year when I moved to Lakeville, so it must be 9 or 10 years now. In the early years, I spent quite a bit of time practicing out on Lake Marion, but in recent years, I am lucky if I have 4-5 hours on the lake from one year to the next between tournaments. After how badly the Bass Pursuit tourney went out there for us, I was hoping to get a little more time.
But this year was no different, I spent a little time scouting the Sunday before the event, bouncing around looking deep for weed growth and potential schools of fish, I found a little of both, but nothing great. My partner Paul, got out fishing for a few hours as well, and found a few deep fish as well. We drew boat 31 out of 35 on tournament morning, so with little to go on, we started on a place that had been good to me in the past.
The first stop produced a few small keepers but not what we needed so we tried a few docks and then out to a deep coontail clump. It didn’t take long for Paul and I to fill our limit on drop shots and start the culling process. The drop shot fish came on 4″ wacky ReSticks and 4″ Biovex Kolt Shad Tails. You can check out the embedded YouTube video to see our fish catches from the 6 fish that we weighed.
After that spot stopped producing we bounced around the lake finding a few upgrades here and there but mostly fish that wouldn’t help. Right at the end, we returned to our starting area and I got us one final upgrade flipping a Pumpkin Oil Kompak Craw into the milfoil.
Our final weight was a respectable 18.3lbs, but weights were up this year and it was only good enough for 6th place and small check. Sometimes the bigger bites just don’t fall your way and that is the way it goes.
For the most part, this year was to be about fishing less but bigger tournaments. With limited time off of work, it’s either stretch myself thin and get minimal prefishing in for several tournaments or hopefully get adequate time for a handful.
That being said, it was quite clear, I had large gaps between tournaments and I decided I would fish some smaller local events to keep my self sharp and stay sane. These smaller events would require little to no practice time and reduce amount of time away from home and the family.
So the first of these events would be the season opener for Bass Pursuit on Crystal Lake near my house. My buddy Bill was my partner. It was a small 10 boat field and just a 5 1/2 hour tourney day with a 4 fish limit. Being that we were on the lake the day before, we had a pretty good idea the fish were getting ready to move up and spawn and had a good idea what areas had the most potential.
Things started a little slow, but picked up a few fish on a weightless ring fry around docks. We then worked our way into areas with more bedding fish, gradually we upgraded our catch throughout the day. Once we started seeing the fish as the sun got up, the best baits were a White Damiki Hydra on a tungsten Jika Rig, Wacky Rigged BassTEK ReSticks and Biovek Kolt Fish Tails in Ayu on a dropshot.
If we could see the fish at a distance, the wacky rig was best, if the fish were fairly aggressive the Hydra converted them quickly, but on the toughest fish, the Kolt Fish converted them better then anything. Overall we caught more the 20 fish and culled about 8 times.
For more details on the fish catches, check out my GoPro footage from the first 3 hours.
Our final tally was over 13lbs and we won by about a pound, but missed big fish by about a half pound, but both Bill and I had fish that would have been big bass, we just didn’t execute.
Since the tournament ended at 11:30am and we didn’t have to be home right away, we went back out released our fish and then did some more fishing.
I even caught my first frog fish of the year on an Evolve Nervous walker, it was a pretty nice fish and caught several more after that.
Well the Minnesota Bass Opener is almost 10 days ago now, so I should probably throw a quick blog up, now or never. Went out in the morning on Crystal Lake with my buddy Bill on Crystal Lake to do a little catching and scouting for a small Bass Pursuit tourney that was on Sunday.
We started out on some deeper drops, but quickly ruled that out with just a few bites and one small fish on a 1/2oz BassTEK Tungsten Football jig. Next step was to hit some points leading into shallower bays as staging areas. On the 2nd point, I quickly caught 4 fish on 4 casts with a ring fry on a mojo rig.
From there, we went into some shallower bays and that is where the fish were and coming in as we fished. It was quite obvious that love was going to be in the air real soon!
We went on to catch a whole bunch of fish on weightless ring frys and BassTEK resticks rigged weightless and wacky style, including a couple fish over 5lbs.
After doing well in this first BFL spring event last year, I
was really looking forward to fishing it again, but with a busy hectic spring, I found myself scrambling the Wednesday night before getting my boat and tackle ready for this event. Thursday May 15th,
was actually the first day I got my boat out all year, which has to be some kind of record for me. Not a good record to break at all. Also, some home obligations didn’t allow me to get down to La Crosse and on the water until 11am. The Mississippi River near La Crosse is a vast sprawling body of to begin with, but to complicate matters more the water was over flood stage and rising for my practice and through the tournament. I had actually never been on this pool with the water this high.
As I continually have short practices for most of my tournaments, I have kind of learned to try to find an area or section of water that I feel good about and try to find some fish and then continually expand that area. Running all over the river can kill you in practice and in the tournament. To start my practice I launched at the Stoddard ramp. My practice started fishing some drops off
well known grass flats with a lipless crankbait that results in a few bites and a handful of chunky northern pike, time to move on.
From there I tried some steeper banks with current breaks
figuring that with fluctuating water the fish could easily adapt, only produced more northerns and a few short largies. My next stop was the closing dam that produced most of my fish last year. My first few casts with produced nothing, but I didn’t feel like I was getting bit, so I up-sized my mojo weight to a 1/4oz tungsten weight and instantly caught a chunky prespawn smallmouth. I got bit on the next few casts, which included 3.5lb class fish. I then picked up a DT6 to see if they would hit a reaction bait, my first cast over the sweet spot yielded a double. It was another big smallies with a keeper hanging on for dear life until shaking loose next to the boat. This was actually my first every double for bass. Rather than cast anymore there, it was time to find more fish and more water areas in the same section of the river.
One of the good fish from the school in practice
I spent the rest of the day going back and forth trying to
duplicate this smallsmouth spot and checking for largemouth getting ready to move up. I ended up catching two more keeper largemouth on a MJ rig or Power Spinner rig, depending on what you call them. The 2nd fish was a good quality fish and was at the mouth of a likely spawning pocket that had what looked to be the makings of a good area if the weather warmed at all.
My take on the MJ Rig, bulked up a bit…
Day 2 of practice was a complete grind; I worked all kinds
of water new and old to scratch out 3 measly keepers, 2 on a jerkbait and on the MJ rig. I called my practice a little early to get up to La Crosse for an interview with the local NBC news affiliate, embedded below was the result. My feeling going into the tournament is that if that school of smallies held up I could have another Top 10 finish, if they didn’t, I knew it would be a grind just to get a limit.
I ended up drawing boat 110 out of 152, which made me a
little nervous about getting on my fish, but also the late check-in time could be well worth it with the sunny warm day that was forecasted. My co-angler was a local, who agreed that fishing had been pretty tough for him as well. Take off and getting down to my fish went as smooth as one could hope. It only took a few casts with my mojo rig to connect with a keeper smallie. Not the fish I was hoping for, but showed me fish were here and in the past this spot has mixed sizes of fish. By 8am I had my limit of smallies, but most of them small and my co-angler had 3 smallies, but he got two bites in the 3lb class.
We both missed and lost what felt like good fish early. It kind of felt like some fish had left this spot, so I tried bouncing around the area to fish areas where I thought they were headed and then I would return to this area hoping they would get a rest and be ready to bite again. It worked once for a nice cull, but it just wasn’t producing enough bites or the size.
A little before noon, I headed down to the area where I caught one good largemouth in practice. Working my way in we quickly connected with several short fish, but this felt like a good sign of activity for fish moving into this area. I missed a few bites, my co-angler got 2 keeper largemouth on bladed jig, and I got one good bite flipping to get rid of another sub-standard smallmouth. With
one hour of fishing time left, I decided to go back to the current area. Honestly, I think I could have gotten another bite or two in the largemouth area, but I felt my best chance for a big bag was to go back to see if that school had reposition or fired up. Since I am not fishing all the BFLs this year, points didn’t really matter and I wanted to shoot for a good payday. I ended up catching a short, a catfish and a walleye in the last hour.
Final result was 10lbs – 15oz which was good enough for 31st,
one spot out of the money by 2oz. Kudos to my co-angler Josh, catching those two nice smallies propelled his limit to 11lbs and a 4th place finish on the non-boater side. Honestly I think I had a decent game plan, if I had gotten the right bites I could have had a nice check, but maybe I overestimated the quality of the school or not recognized they were leaving and put too much time into it during the tournament, but that is fishing and it’s all about decisions.
For those that don’t like to read, feel to watch the video summary below and I also have some GoPro fish catches from practice and tournament morning.