Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Time for change

A little time now with your
equipment will assure you some
great times in the spring.
Each year in November I am torn between one last trip in the boat and dreaming of walking on the ice to my first destination to drill holes.  It's always a toss up, and Mother Nature is always in control.  The boat is put away and I have started the annual ritual of getting those rods and reels ready for the 2016 season.  Here are few pointers I have learned over the years for putting things away so that they are ready in March for the first open water of the season.
1~ Rod Maintenance- all rods should be stored either flat or standing as straight as possible for the months of winter.  A corner of my basement maintenance room had worked great for this.  They are out of the way and don't get bumped into for months, just how it should be.  If you have cork handles, this is a great time to get an old toothbrush and make them look like new.  Add some baking soda to a bowl of water and stir.  Grab the brush and solution and brush on, the dirt, grime, fish slime will melt away.  Wipe with a rag with clean water and they will look like new.  A damp rag will clean up foam grips too.  One more thing to do is to check the eyelets on your rods.  Take a q-tip or cotton ball and run it around the eyelets in both directions to see if anything snags up.  If so, that eyelet will damage your line and winter is a great time to get that fixed before spring.
2~ Reels- your reels are obviously a vital tool when it comes to open water fishing.  Depending on your confidence or time during the winter months every reel should be broken down to apply fresh grease and oil where needed.  There are many good articles and YouTube videos of this if you want to tackle it your self.  If not, there are a few reel repair shops that will clean and grease them for you, but be ready to pay $25 or more per reel.  Either way, your reels need attention during the winter months whether you do it yourself, or allow others to step in.  You will
be pleasantly surprised come the spring on how well your reels will cast and how they will appear so much smoother.  It is worth your time to give attention to your reels.
3~ Organize- Winter is a great time to get all those baits organized into tackle boxes and bait packs.  I always try to make a "wish list" of items I need during the winter so I can stock up on them come spring.  Many major tackle distributors have great sales during February and March and that is a  great time to stock up. Organize now and you will be happy and ready to go come March.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November: a time for change

Once November rolls around my mind starts to shift towards ice fishing.  I always hope for December 1st to walk on the water and drill my fist holes in the ice...but it isn't looking too promising for that this year.  This warm fall weather will put a hurt on any hope of early ice, but I am still hoping Mother Nature will wake up and bring winter quickly.  In the mean time I enjoying chasing panfish this time of year and getting my kids out to catch a few more fish before the ice comes too.  So, as I turn my mind towards getting prepared for the upcoming ice fishing season, bass will start to take a step to the side and panfish will once again dominate my free-time.

A few nice pics from a recent trip out with my kids:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Back to the Mississippi River

This past weekend took long-time friend Don Henry and I to Pool 9 of the Mississippi River.  I have tried to make it an annual trip to get to the upper pools in October, and once in a while a trip in November even happens.  I don't see that this year, so this trip will most likely be my last trip to the big river until 2016.  Nevertheless, I am always eager to get to the river to test my tackle and gear to see if some bass can be located.
Some heavy frost greeted us Saturday morning and that definitely had the fish a little shy earlier in the morning.  However they warmed up with the air temperature.  With the massive cold-front we could only get them to bite on soft plastics, especially the Hot Rod Baits tubes.  We ended up with about 2 dozen bass on the day, almost all of them coming from backwater areas where there was no current present.  We tried many areas with current, but only managed a few bites.  
On to Sunday, another heavy frost, but a weather forecast that promised warmer temperatures.  With the warmer temperatures and another day of colder weather for the bass to acclimate to the dropping water temps, I figured to try some more areas with light current.  We tried some main channel current where the flow is pretty slow, but nothing.  Our next move took us to a side slough with mild to slow moving current.  The largemouth were there and feeding!  We caught dozens of bass within a 200 yard stretch of bank.  The bass were healthy, fat and fighting just like river bass always do.  The best bait of this day was by far Hot Rod Baits Tubes, although a few bass did bite a crankbait.  Black/Blue, and Christmas tree seemed to be the best color of tubes that the fish reacted to.   It was an awesome day of catching, one that neither one of us will soon forget.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A break from Bass

Today I met up friends Don Henry and Jacy Large for a little fun fishing at Lake Red Rock.  We were hoping to catch the crappies that always start to school up and feed during the fall and winter months on this huge reservoir.  I rarely fish for panfish without my kids, so an "adult" trip for panfish was something I was looking forward to all week long.
The morning started off much slower than I had anticipated, but I had the feeling that once the sun got up higher in the sky, that the fish would cooperate much better.  My hunch was spot on, mid to late morning was a good, steady bite for all types of fish.  Bluegills, crappies, largemouth bass, and white bass all showed themselves today.  We ended up focusing on water that was around 10 feet deep.  Shallow flats near the deeper water  seems to be the best places for catching fish this particular day.  Thinking back on the day, I am not 100% sure that the shallower water was key or not though.  The Vexilar FLX-28 was marking fish in all depth levels, however we were able to battle the wind by dropping the Minn Kota Talons anchoring system down in water less than 12 feet.  By setting the anchors we were able present our jigs and minnow/plastics at slower rates and make multiple casts in the same area.  Either way by putting the Talons to use once again, and locating the fish on Vexilar we were able to focus in on higher productive areas and catch many fish today.  A few gills and a dozen or so crappies were kept for  fish fry at a later date.  All in all it was a great day of fishing and was glad to get out and enjoy this unusual 70-degree October day.

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.