Monday, May 25, 2015

Pool 10 Bass World Sport Tournament

I enjoy fishing for bass no matter the location, however, the Mississippi River is by far my favorite place I have ever been to.  So when I got a call from my long-time mentor Kevin Christensen to fish a tournament with him, I was all in!  Even though Kevin and I talk almost weekly throughout the bass fishing season, we seldom get to fish with one another, and it has been almost a decade since we fished a tournament together.  To say the least I was excited to get the chance to fish with him, and I think he was looking forward to it too.
The tournament was held out of Harper's Ferry on Pool 10 of the Mississippi River.  Kevin had decided to lock up to Pool 9 and I was all for it.  We both had spent some time earlier in the month on Pool 10 and just can't seem to get things going yet.  Reports from the river have been pretty slow this year, with the bass just not relating to normal areas as they normally do.  With that in mind, we knew that if we could get around 12 pounds of bass we would be in the mix of things.
We focused our time looking for bass in heavy current, mild current and off sloughs with little or no current.  We couldn't find much going on in the heavy current so we focused most of the day around little or mild current.  We did catch a few bass in areas with no current too, you just never know about river bass sometimes!  We kept our Quantum PT rods and reels busy all day pitching jigs with Hot Rod Baits jig chunks, and Hot Rod Baits Big Craws to catch all of our fish on the day.  We caught fish anywhere from 2 feet to 8 feet deep.
We fished well together, and I even had Kevin laughing a time or two keeping the mood light as went along through the day.  We didn't catch a big number of fish, but we definitely had the baits in the right areas to catch keepers, as we caught more keepers than bass under 14 inches.  It was a great day of fishing and even better once the weigh-in was over.  We ended up in 2nd place with 12.37#, just a tenth of a pound from first place.  We brought home a nice pay check for the day and earned some very valuable points for Team of the Year for Kevin and his regular partner Gary Satterlee.  A win-win on Mississippi River on tough weekend where we earned every bite and every bass.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Work Day trip to Union Grove Lake

Yesterday was one of those opportunities that came up and I knew I had to take advantage of it.  It was a gap in my schedule and although the weather had taken a turn for the worse, I just "had" to go.  A quick call to fellow angler Dave Jordan and we were set to fish Union Grove Lake.  A couple different reasons brought us to this lake.  First, it only takes about 20 minutes to get to, and every minute is valuable after a day of work, and secondly this lake is set to be drained at the end of this month.
Union Grove Lake has an excellent population bass, with plenty of 14-16 inch bass in it.  A typical trip to the lake on a 3-4 hour trip usually leads to catching 15-25 bass.  With the night time temperatures plummeting into the low forties the past two nights we weren't quite sure what the bass would be doing.
We began by one of us throwing crankbaits, spinnerbaits and swimjigs, while the other one would throw a slower bait.  While the crankbait did catch some bass, the Hot Rod Baits Tubes really were the hot ticket for the night. Dave went to his stand-by bait pretty early in the evening, the black and red tube bait and I am not sure he put it down. Bass after bass came in the boat this night, mostly on tubes of various colors.  While anchored down with the Minn Kota Talons in a large mess of laydown logs Dave hooked into the big one of the night.  It was 4 pounds and 9 ounces.  A huge bass, especially for this lake.  It had already spawned out and it was a beautiful fish.  After the picture was taken it it was promptly put back.  We ended up catching 5 bass over the 15-inch keeper mark and we estimated about 40-50 bass for our four hour trip.  It was a great trip, and perhaps it might be my last trip to this lake with the renovation staring in a week or so.  I will definitely miss this lake as they make improvements to it, but in the long run it is the best thing for the lake.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Fishing for FUN

I have had a couple weekend without competitive fishing, which always brings me back to why I enjoy fishing so is just FUN.  Sometimes I get wrapped up in the game of fishing tournaments and lose some of that "fun".  When I get that feeling I just need a trip or two to have some fun catching fish.

The past couple years the best people for this are my kids.  My boy is now 7 years old and my girl is 4.  Both love the outdoors and love everything about the process of fishing.  These two can always bring a smile to my face and help me realize that smiles should be the norm when fishing.  Don't get me wrong, I love fishing tournaments and I am always looking forward to the next one to test my abilities against other anglers, but everyone has to take a break once in a while and have some fun.

This past Saturday we headed to a local farm pond to try our luck.  Once we found the depth of water the crappies were holding at, it was all catching!  Fun really doesn't describe the couple hours that we were there.  After catching a few dozen fish the kids spent 30-40 minutes just playing with the fish they caught that were in the cooler.  This gave me a chance to even catch a few, which doesn't happen too much with my two fishing buddies...which doesn't bother my too much.

Take a kid fishing if you can, or an adult that doesn't get out much anymore, it will light up their day and put smiles on all your faces.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Iowa Bass Nation Event

This past weekend I participated in the 2-day event at Pool 10 of the Mississippi River.  This tournament is jammed full of the states/and neighboring states best bass anglers.  I haven't participated in this event for 10 years, so I thought I would give it a try.  The tournament set-up is rather unique, instead of payouts, when you do well, you get to advance to another tournament the following year.  If you do well at the Regional, then onto the National tournament the year after that.  This could lead to fishing against the best the bass anglers in the world at the Bassmaster Classic.  It is quite a road, but a couple of Iowan anglers have done it, and hundreds of us dream about it...on to the first event of two.
The spring event is a two-day event.  I was able to practice on Friday and found some areas that I felt comfortable with in Pool 10.  I had also crossed off many areas which is as important as finding good areas. I quickly found that current was the key to holding fish this particular day on the Big River.  I had the plan to stop and fish my best location in Pool 10 and then lock up to Pool 9 quickly to areas that have produced for me year after year in the spring.  The plan was good, until the lock turned me back due to barge traffic.  They wouldn't allow me to go to Pool 9 and thus I spent the day in Pool 10, which didn't pay off.  I only weighed 2 bass out of a 5 bass limit on day 1.
Day 2 I decided to go straight to my areas in Pool 9.  It was a good plan and I caught a limit of 5 bass which averaged over 2 pounds each.  Not exactly what I was hoping for but after day 1 I was happy.  My boat, motors and Talons worked flawlessly.  Every time I use the Minn Kota Talons I am more impressed.  20+ mph winds and Mississippi River current won't bother me anymore, I just push the button to activate the Talons and I am set to make multiple casts in one spot.  They really secure your boat and boost your catch.  As usual my Quantum Rods and Reels are solid and never let me down, high quality for the right prices is what Quantum Fishing products are all about.  I can't forget Hot Rod Baits, the best plastics out there, the River Minnow tube caught just about every fish I weighed in, and I know for fact that many other top placing anglers were using Hot Rod Baits too.  Great durability and incredible scent make them a go-to bait.
 Any trip for me to the Mississippi River is a good one, but this one was bitter sweet.  I didn't do as well as I hoped, but it wasn't my equipment, my fishing, or state of mind, it was all about an on the water decision.  It is easy to cast blame on that decision I made on Saturday to wait and go to the lock later in the morning, but it's easy now that the tournament is over to point the fault.  I do believe I had located some fish, and had the baits to catch them, but now I can only wait for the Fall event to show what I can do.  I know I will take this tournament and learn form it, and that is what tournament fishing is all about, live and learn to become better.
 Final standing aren't posted yet, but I will update that when they are finalized.  Until then, more information about the Iowa State Bass Nation can be found online.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Equipment Check

I took advantage of a small window of nice weather this weekend to continue to hone my equipment. I made a quick trip to Union Grove Lake to fine tune some rod/reel combos and continue to see what the bass are doing currently.  Any time that you can get on the water and catch bass it will lead to more success later, especially in the spring time.

The few hours I was on the lake brought several different wind changes, the only thing that didn't change was that the wind blew 15-20 mph all day.  This led me to really give the Minn Kota trolling motor and Talons a major work out.  The big tournament season starts next weekend and equipment failure cannot be an option. The Talons continue to impress me, with whitecaps on the water, a quick push on the remote and the anchors lock you down in seconds.  They are a game changer.

It is always good to give your boat a rigorous test in the spring to make sure your batteries are still good and can keep a full charge.  The wind also allowed me to dial in the Quantum PT rod and reel combos.  The more wind, the more challenging it is to make long casts.  This is a challenge each spring to get the reels tuned to my specifics.  I was able to get a few more combos ready for the upcoming tournament season.

Between the rod and reels, trolling motor, and Talon I was able to catch quite a few bass.  The bass were shallow and eating craws, so a Hot Rod Baits tube and big craw did most of the damage.  As the sun got up around noon a few fish were fooled by a crankbait too.  All in all about 2 dozen bass and 4 at the keeper size were caught.  A great short trip to Union Grove Lake and a true test of the equipment that is ready for another tournament season.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Time Seminar

Each year the Iowa State Bass Fishing Club invites me over to speak about various topics.  This group is quite an assembly of college kids, many of them fishing tournaments all over the Midwest on the FLW College Fishing Series.  It's a great group of young men and women and they are always eager to try and pick up a pointer or two from the experiences I have had in my fishing adventures.

This past week I was on campus to talk a little about tournament fishing and about the spawn in Iowa.  I gave a few facts, some reasons why fishing is difficult during the spawning season and what adjustments to make when the spawn causes tough fishing.  It's a privilege to speak to the next generation of bass tournament anglers and I sure hope they all picked up a few pointers to help them catch some more fish and understand the great products I stand behind.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

First Tournament of the Year

Saturday started the bass tournament season for me.  Hot Rod Baits hosts a "Frosty Rods" tournament each year in early April.  Once again the event was scheduled at Rock Creek Lake.  This lake brings anglers from all over the state in search of the big bass that live there.  Each and every spring anglers bring in some the biggest bass of the year at this lake.  This years tournament wasn't much different than years in the past.  The big fish showed up again.

This year I partnered up with long-time friend Dave Jordan.  As we loaded the frost covered boat in the morning we knew that the early bite probably wouldn't be that great, so we didn't get too concerned after the first three hours of fishing without a bite.  That was the first half of the tournament, we still had half left.  The water warmed up to about 53 degrees and around the noon mark we started to catch some bass.  We caught all our fish in depths under 6 feet of water, and each fish was caught on a Hot Rod Baits Big Daddy in the Bruizer color.  We worked well as a team and tried many different techniques including; crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, tubes and craws.  It didn't' seem to matter what we threw at them, for some reason they were only biting on the Big Daddy.  After catching a few smaller bass, we were relieved when I swung a 15 1/8 inch keeper in the boat around noon.  It wasn't much but it gave us the confidence to keep pressing on and keep throwing the big daddy.

We kept pressing on and soon after the first keeper I was able to catch our biggest which weighed exactly 4 pounds.  The wind was steady all day and often had gusts up towards 25mph, we put the Minn Kota Talons anchoring system to work often to fish key shallow water areas.  We kept at it, and with about 30 minutes to go we had our third keeper in the boat and we were feeling pretty good.  Once again, the Big Daddy pitched in shallow water on a Quantum Accurist 7 foot 6 inch combo got the job done.  We ended up in 2nd place with 8.57 pounds, which is a great way to begin the year of competitive bass fishing.