Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fishing with an old friend for the first time

Today I met up with Randy Ellison at Hawthorn Lake, a pretty typical weekend really, I have no tournaments the rest of the year and it is time to start thinking about ice fishing.  However when I get a chance the boat comes out and I try to get another trip out.  Today was neat because I met up with Randy, for the first time ever to fish with him.  I have known Randy for about decade via different Internet forums and Facebook.  Countless emails, PM's, and text messages have taken place the last decade as well as reading each others fishing reports.  Our paths have crossed a couple times at tournaments but that has been it.  Today we shared the boat on a lake and it is like we have been close friends for years.  I guess the Internet is good for some starting great friendships!  I always enjoy fishing with new people and today was no different, it was a great day on the water.

Lake Hawthorn was a little stingy, by its measures anyway, only giving up 20-25 bass.  However, we slowly learned that the bass were only interested in slow moving baits and they were definitely hanging in summer areas.  Almost all our fish today came in water depths greater than 8 feet deep.  I caught most of my fish on Hot Rod Baits Big Craw, while Randy did his damage with a Wig's Jig and Chunk trailer.  It was great fishing with Randy, he has the same work ethic for finding bass as I do and we worked well together to score a lot of keepers today.  I would share my boat with Randy anytime in the future, whether it be another fun trip or a big tournament.  
Although the calendar says September 27th, the water temperature gauge was saying 72 degrees, which is probably the reason we had to move to deeper water to catch fish.  The ones we did catch were nice fish, including 8 keeper sized bass (over 16-inches) came into the boat today.  October is almost here, perhaps that month with begin the fall "feed-up"!  

Monday, September 7, 2015

Final Bass World Sports Event on Pool 10

Once again I was asked by Kevin Christensen to team up him one last time this year to complete his season fishing the Bass World Sports Team series.  There are six events throughout the year and I was able to fish one earlier in the year with him too.  It is always great to fish with Kevin, as he has been biggest reason for me getting into this sport of bass fishing way back in high school.  Well, that a "few" years ago but I still look forward to spending any time in a boat with Kevin.
Kevin and I spent quite a few hours the weekend before this event scouting things out on Pool 9 of the Mississippi.  We found a few areas that were had bait and plenty of bass, but most were not the right size that we were looking for.  We knew things were not going to be easy, especially with the river slowly dropping all week long.
We met up Friday night after work and made our plan on what we found the week before.  Our plan to lock up to pool 9 was delayed by a barge already in the lock when we got there.  So we tried a few main river places as did the other 10 boats waiting for the barge to come through.  I boated a keeper smallmouth to keep our moods slightly positive and then it was time to get up to pool 9 to see if our areas were still holding some bass.  We fished as hard as we could and covered a lot of water tossing a variety of baits.  Kevin caught a nice largemouth on  swimjig covering a weebed, but things were slow for us.  We just kept trying and with only 30 minutes or so left before we had to get back to the lock Kevin set the hook on something good.  A beautiful smallmouth came aboard which weighed 3.78 pounds.  The next cast, another one, but smaller.  We worked this area over and cast after cast smallmouth came aboard.  It was a nice school of fish which loaded our boat fast and changed our attitudes about this tournament.  It was one of those things you always hope for when you fish the river, but it rarely happens.  The big key to catching these fish was to drag a Hot Rod Baits tube or Big Craw until one of the smallies attacked it.  The Black/Red Big Craw was working for Kevin well and the Christmas Tree and River Minnow Tube were top colors for me.  With time running short we continued to make cast after cast hoping for the bigger ones to bite.  On one of my last casts I boated another nice one just under 18 inches...but time was up.  A barge was coming and we had to get back through the lock.  We ended up with 12.81 pounds for 7th place.  It was a good bag of fish, but that day a lot of teams seemed to find the smallmouth biting on Pool 10 and 9.  Who knows what would have happened if we found that school earlier in the day, or if we had more time to fish the area longer...but that is fishing and that is why we are both addicted and can't wait to go after the bass again!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

12-Mile Lake Revenge

This past weekend my bass club, the Tri-County Bass Club had a tournament at 12-Mile lake near Creston, Iowa.  I have only fished one other club event this year, but I was looking forward to this one for a specific reason.  Back in April I participated in a tournament at the same lake and only managed one keeper.  It burns me  every time I think about it so I wanted revenge.
It is always fun to fish tournaments in the club, it's a group of guys that are great to hang around, and they are very competitive.  It is a fun atmosphere, however it is all business on tournament day.  I knew I had to be at my best to compete with this group as most of them put a day of practice on the lake Saturday.  I chose to hit a lake in the near vicinity to see the recent conditions and the mood of the bass on Saturday and devise a plan for the tournament on Sunday.  My strategy worked well as the bass were in the same mood at 12-mile as they were on the smaller lake I fished on Saturday.
My plan was to stay shallow and fish quickly around cover, weeds or laydown logs.  The day started fast as I had my 3 bass limit only 24 minutes into the tournament.  I was able to cull up two of the smaller keepers by 7am and my plan was working well.  The wind decided to whip down the lake for most of the day at about 20-mph.  It was so refreshing to know that my Minn Kota Fortrex 101 trolling motor would not run out of power and whenever I needed to stop and fish an area thoroughly I would just drop the Minn Kota Talons.  Yes, 20+ mph winds and the Talons kept me still, yet again they continue to amaze me.  While fishing for a few hours in the morning with keepers the coming aboard using a swimjig with an Optimum Baits Double Diamond trailer it became a battle to catch a bigger fish.  I slung my Quantum EXO rod and reel combo for about 7 hours that day and am glad that the combo is so light yet powerful enough to haul in fish after fish around the cover.  As time passed, I assumed that most anglers were having similar success and the bass decided to eat up on this particular day.  I was able to catch 11 keepers that day and my weight for the best three was 7.79 pounds.  That was good enough for 5th place and only 0.03 pounds away from 3rd place.  It was a good finish and I was able to get a little revenge on 12-Mile Lake.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

It's not ALWAYS about catching fish

A recent trip with my kids reminded me that every trip out fishing doesn't have to be about catching fish.  Sure it can make things much better, but they had other things on their minds this day.  We took the boat over to Otter Creek Lake in search of Yellow Bass, which are a blast to catch.  After catching a few fish each though, the kids turned this fishing trip into a fun trip.  For whatever reason their focus turned to the fish in the livewell, the minnow bucket, snacks and their cold drinks.  They were enjoying the warm August day on a lake, and I was too...isn't that what it is all about anyway???  It sure is, sometimes I just have to have my kids remind of this.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dead of Summer Bass Fishing

Every year when August rolls around my bass brain says it's time to switch gears to a finesse style of fishing.  My favorite approach is a shakey head bait.  My choice of plastic is a 4-inch finesse Hot Rod Baits worm.  Another great presentation is a drop-shot rig.  I prefer a small straight worm for this presentation.  Both work well in the heat of the summer when all else fails.
As pictured I rig this with a Quantum Tour Tactical Medium/Hvy Spinning rod (6ft 10in) spooled up with a Kinetic size 20 reel.  This combo is balanced very well and is very sensitive with enough backbone to haul in heavy bass.  The combo along with the finesse baits make it a perfect fit for the dog days of summer.  I have had some great luck lately fishing deeper drop-offs near shallow points and flats.  Deeper is better, however you must pay attention to the thermocline, if you see that there is no reason to fish below it as the fish will most likely not be in a feeding mood.
Experimenting with colors, finding that "right spot" while using the proper rod/reel setup you will continue to catch during these tough hot days of summer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hot Rod Baits Bass Series Recap

There are many bass tournaments scattered around the state of Iowa.  Some are simply a tournament where anyone can show up, pay the entry fee and go fishing that day for cash and prizes.  Those events are fun and I have joined in on those types of events for years.  There are also dozens of bass clubs around the state that offer tournaments to fish,however you must be a member to fish those tournaments.  I created the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series with the best of both of those types of tournaments.  The bass series is limited to 20 teams that pay up front for the years' tournaments.  Every event you fish against the same team members, it feels like a club, yet you have all the advantages of the open tournament field by choosing your partner and cashing in when you find the right bass.  I must admit, I did create this circuit like the professional circuit of the BASS corporation, which I feel is the most elite group of anglers in the world.  It takes courage to pay for the entire year and fish schedule that may have a lake or river pool that you aren't real comfortable fishing.  The 19 teams that have fished this circuit the past two years are an elite group of anglers in Iowa.

The series has consisted of 3 events the past few seasons.  Each team must sign up for all 3 and pay the $300 before the first event.  This gets them in all three events which pay the top 5 teams at each event, all 3 big bass payouts and the Team of the Year bonus money.  $500 to the top team and $300 to the Runner-Ups, nothing to sneeze at that is for sure.  This year the schedule began in April at 12-Mile lake in southwestern Iowa.  The next stop was Pool 10 of the Mississippi River in northeast Iowa, and finally Lake Belva Deer in July located in southwestern Iowa.  It is always interesting to see who comes out on top of each event, and this year we had 3 different winners at the events, and 16 teams out of the 19 got paid along the way.

I am already thinking about what the 2016 Hot Rod Baits Bass Series might look like.  I know from all the interest and the unique format that there will probably be once again a near full field, if not a full field of 20 teams on the series next year.  I do know for sure, as long as there are dedicated anglers, bass to be caught and sunrises to see, the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series will continue to the THE circuit in the state to be involved in.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Brushy Creek Lake 4-Man Tournament

Just a small sampling of the boats ready for the start of the event.
For the past 11 years I have helped my bass club, the Tri-County Bass Club run a 4-man tournament at Brushy Creek.  This was an idea I had back in 2005 when I saw the neighboring state of Minnesota conducting similar events.  I am always looking for fun and new things to do with my passion of fishing, so spawned the 4-Man event held at Brushy Creek.  In 2005 that event brought in 7 teams or 14 boats, an average sized tournament for the state of Iowa.  In the past we have seen 24 teams or 48 boats participate, and the last 4 years have averaged about 19 teams or 38 boats.  It also brings in anglers from Nebraska, Minnesota and Illinois.  This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest tournament in the state of Iowa this year.  I, along with the Tri-County Bass Club are pretty proud of that fact.  Needless to say a lot of planning goes into an event like this before the event takes place.  Many club members also play a crucial role in getting this event going and making sure the event is fair and takes good care of the bass at the weigh-in.  I would like to publicly thank Don Henry for the hours of work behind the scene he does each year, Dave Jordan and Doug Chaloupek for helping each year with boat inspections and weigh-ins, and finally Brad Rozendaal who does a fantastic job at being the weigh master at several of these past events.  As a group we make sure every angler that enters these events has a fair and equal shot at collecting prize money.  Speaking of that, with a $200 per team entry fee, the club handed out almost $3,000 to the top 4 teams and big bass winners.  We also strive to get the bass weighed in quickly and back in the lake with little time out of the livewell.  All in all there wasn't one hiccup at the event this year, except for the slow fishing.

Fishing at Brushy Creek Lake has slowed down for the past couple of years.  No one really knows why this is occurring, however being one of the deepest and busiest bass lakes in the state probably doesn't help it at all.  That is one reason why it is extremely important to handle your fish with care and make sure your tournament organizations are doing the same.

The team I participate on each year has stayed constant that past several years; Doug Chaloupek, Dave Jordan, Don Henry and myself, all from Marshalltown.  We have a great time with each other, and even though we are there to "work" the event we don't let that get in the way of fishing too much.  This year the team collected 6 keeper bass, Dave and Doug did the most work with 5 keepers and we finished in 3rd place.  It wasn't a great day of fishing, rather slow for both boats but I guess we did enough to earn a top spot and a nice payday.  It was tough on most anglers, only a local team caught more than 6 keeper bass which got them the win.  Brushy Creek can be a great lake, and I hope the slow fishing is not a sign of what is ahead for this lake.  It's a great Iowa treasure and I hope everyone does their part to keep it that way.