End of July is usually the time for the Minnesota TBF TOC tournament that qualifies a MN team to participate in the TBD District 9 Semis in late September. From the Semis one each angler and co-angler from MN earns a berth to the TBF National Championship. Last year, I finished 3rd overall and one spot out of be able to head to Nationals, so looking to get back on the horse and make the Semis again this year.
This year’s TBF Tournament of Champions was held on Lake Minnewaska out of Starbuck, MN. I was able to practice the weekend ahead of the tournament, it was my first time on the lake. I found it to be a pleasure to fish and break down, Lake Minnewaska is chock full of bass. I spent most of my practice looking for offshore fish, figuring I could always turn to the bank during the event if needed. Check out my practice recap video for more details on my practice weekend.
Day one of the tournament went pretty well outside the loss of one nice 3lb+ fish lost boat side. I weighed 1 smallie and 4 largies totaling a little over 15lbs to sit in 3rd after day 1, see day one video recap here.
The final day got off to a great start, but I couldn’t find the final upgrade to bring how the W, ending up .1lbs short and finishing in 2nd. Below is a shorter final day video due to GoPro malfunction. Details of how I caught them and links to the gear are all in the video descriptions.
Either way, the main goal was to be heading to La Crosse in September to fish the Semis on the Mississippi River.
Follow this blog and my bass fishing YouTube channel to see upcoming posts and videos on the BASS Nation TOC from Island lake in early August.
After a long break, the Bassmaster Elite Series is back to business & fishing this weekend on famed Lake Guntersville. Still, some time to get your Fantasy Team picks in, so check out my latest Fantasy Fishing Edge video to gain some insight to set your team and WIN!
This blog always seems to fall to a lower priority than my YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Definitely consider following me on any of those platforms to stay more plugged into my fishing activities and catch any fishing tips & nuggets that I pass on through those channels.
I am not giving up on the blog and for now, I am going to leave you with a few of my recent Bass Fishing YouTube videos. I am definitely putting more of my energy into my YouTube content as its something I really enjoy, but the downside it is time-intensive labor of love to produce high-quality original content in video format.
My first tournament of the year has come and gone, covering what went down in this blog. This is the first time I have ever fished an April tournament in MN or WI and not really fished this part of the Mississippi River in April. For those that hate reading, just jump right to my tournament recap video embedded below.
That being said I have fished several tournaments out of La Crosse including several BFLs. I was able to get two full days of practice the Thursday and Friday before the tournament and 2 hours on Wednesday night. From the time I launched my boat on Wednesday night to tournament morning, the water temps went from almost touching 60 degrees to 47-48 degrees in the area I started the tournament on.
In practice, I had decent success flipping a black blue tube rigged with a 1/4oz BassTEK Tungsten Flipping Weight as well as a 3/8oz Bladed Swim Jig paired with a Menace grub worked around wood and grass.
In the end, I could not find the current based staging fish and as cold as the water got, my slack water banks and flats became trash with the rapidly cooling water and it pushed the fish to people like Cade who smashed them! Check out his video to learn something about Mississippi River bass fishing.
Basically, during the tournament, my bites ended up being cut in a third from practice. I ended up 69th place out of 154. In the end, it was good to get the boat out and fish a derby early. On the down side, I caught a really nice head cold.
I really believe that the guys coming for the FLW Tour in a couple weeks will really catch them on the Mississippi River. The cold weather we had, will keep them fish from getting to Post Spawn for them, so they should have a lot of shallow biting fish to catch for their event. I think the weed flats around Stoddard and “The Box” will look and fish like the “Monkey Box” of Lake Okeechobee, other likely popular areas to fish will be Goose Island, Target Lake, & Lawrence Lake in Pool 8 and then Lake Onalaska in Pool 7, a few guys will likely make the run to fish the upper end of Pool 9 as well. Should be a very exciting tournament to follow, there will likely be spawning fish as well as a few frog fish starting to bite. Swim Jigs, Chatterbaits, and flipping techniques should be quite strong as well.
Been a long winter, but I am getting the itch big time this spring. Compared to last year, I am way ahead of the game, I actually got the boat out fishing on the Mississippi River on April 1st, it ran great and we caught some bass, all in all a good start. Pictured is one of the best fish of they day.
Also, I finally got the bug to do some video editing of previously recorded GoPro footage I had some some drives. Trying out some new video editing software I just added to my new laptop.
Below is a pretty fun couple of hours of early fall bass fishing with Jason Holmer of Bass Utopia boiled down to 10 mins of highlights. We only weighed the 3 biggest fish, but the best 5 easily topped 25lbs.
All our fish were caught on flipping jigs and vibrating jigs, my jig of choice was a BassTEK 3/8oz Okeechobee Craw with various trailers. I also caught several fish later in the day on a Black Blue chatterbait style vibrating bladed jig.
My goal is to produce a lot more video content this year, leave a comment on this blog or on video, let me know what you want to see. Maybe even subscribe so you don’t miss any new videos!
Sorry for the delays between blogs, been one of those summers, I intend to back fill a few entries as well.
I qualified for this event through the MN TBF TOC on Mille Lacs Lake in late July. The event ended up being 51 total boats from Minnesota and Wisconsin, in true Pro/Am style money tournament with top boater and co’s from each state qualifying for the TBF National Championship next spring.
Monday thru Wednesday were off limits, so I practiced a few hours late on Thursday after work and Friday until the 3pm off the water deadline. I practiced mostly off shore in practice and felt pretty solid about morning topwaters, transitioning to flipping weed edges to catch a quick 11-12lbs+ and then I would go shallow for a couple upgrades.
Day 1, I hit several spots only to catch a few small fish on deep weed edges and losing one decent fish rushing a fish to the boat. My non-boater had a few decent fish as well. On about our 10th stop we finally hit a group of fish to fill our limits and I got one decent 2.5lb fish. It was about 2hrs left in day and I decided I need to try to find some fish shallow. After a few stops, I finally hit a short stretch of docks where I busted a 3.5lb and 5.25lb pair of studs for Gull on a 1/2oz Okee Craw BassTEK Tungsten Jig, tipped with a Strike King Menace grub.
With about 90 mins to go, I had 3 of the right fish and two 14″ fish. I worked my butt off, caught lots of fish, but only upgraded once for a few ounces, and my co-angler got one decent upgrade as well. My day one weight ended up being 14.9lbs, which is solid for Gull, but wasted opportunity with a 5lbr in the bag and not being able to catch a few more of the numerous 2lb class fish that reside in Gull. I was in 10th place and 3lbs off the lead going into Day 2.
Day 2, the fish came quicker, but they were even smaller for me, my co-angler once again caught fewer fish, but seemed to get a few of the right bites on a Flick Shake Green Pumpkin stick worm, while I continued to flip a Tube Craw on a 3/4oz Tungsten weight.
I went shallower a little earlier on day 2, but took longer to connect with quality fish, but I ended up getting on a stretch where I culled everything in my well in about 45 minutes. Then I bounced around hitting key docks and got 2 smaller culls in the closing minutes. I ended up with a touch over 15lbs, which propelled me to 4th place and a decent finish and check. The leader only weighed 14lbs on day 2, which left the door open, and made me realize even more, I missed my chance to win on Day 1.
In retrospect, I think if I would have committed to shallow for 8hrs each day, I think I would have gotten the extra bites to be right there for the win, but that is fishing and easy to see looking back.
This is the end of my tournament season, hoping to get in some fun fall fishing in the coming weeks and fish well into November like last year.
After winning the TBF TOC on Gull earlier in the year, I did have a little confidence coming into the tournament. I only practiced 3 of the 4 official days allotted, saving some PTO time and being home for first day of kid’s school. All in all, I had a pretty rough practice, spending the majority of my time deep and checking occasional shallow areas, I think I only got a single 3lb bite in 3 days of practice. While not a great practice, it was actually better then the practice I had for the TBF and that turned out just fine.
I had one area that I was pretty confident that would produce a decent limit on a topwater bait or by flipping the edges of the deep weed edge. On Day 1, that spot gave up a few small fish on chatterbaits and crankbaits, but nothing that I was looking for. The day continued, mixing in some offshore with some shallow and ultimately all my fish came shallow skipping a 3/8oz Bluegill Colored BassTEK Tungsten Flipping jig around boat docks. My best weighed 11.32lbs and had me hovering somewhere around 33rd place out of 188 anglers and after 2 days the top 20 would advance to Lake Guntersville in April 2016.
Going into 2nd day, I felt like I need to have about 12lbs to move up enough to make the top 20. I started out offshore and alternating again and did get once decent keeper flipping a tube craw in 8ft of water, but ultimately leaned on the dock pattern most of the day to fill a limit and catch a few decent 2lb fish. About mid day, I caught a fish punching a shallow milfoil mat around some wood and it was a nice upgrade at the time. I took that as a clue and ran that pattern for a bit and culled most of my early limit almost calling my shots for about 90 minutes. Check out the following video to see some of the fish caught this way. These punching fish all came in Big Bite Bait Tube Craws in Green Pumpkin with a 3/4oz BassTEK Tungsten Flipping Weight, 20lb Sunline Fluoro on a Dobyns 765 Flipping Stick.
Havaing a box full of 2lbr mid day on this pattern, I was feeling decent knowing I really just need one more good bite. I spent the rest of the day shallow chasing that bite, but it never materialized. I ended up with 10lbs on day 2 and remained in about the same place as I stared the day, 34th place. Kudos to the angler that caught them and are moving on to Guntersville. I fished very clean and my weight reflected what I caught during practice, just never got those key bites I did in the TBF tournament earlier in the summer. One slight bright spot, is our bass club Twin City Bass won the team portion of the event for the 3rd year in a row and Brian Bengston is moving on to Guntersville to represent our club.
This was pretty much my last tournament of the year, except for participating in a Minnesota Match Fishing event that was a lot of fun as well. I did do quite a bite of fun fall fishing in October and early November, I will have some videos coming soon on that, in the mean time, check out my Instagram account to see some of my best catches and 15 second fish catch videos.
Drop a comment if there are things you would like to see on my blog this winter.
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!
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 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.
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!
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!