Monday, September 26, 2016

Last Tournament of the year

This past weekend I participated in the long awaited end of the season tournament held by the Tri-County Bass Club.  It wasn't just the fishing, or my area to fish, Pool 9...it was the company that I knew I would be hanging around with for the weekend.  Since moving out of Marshalltown I see less and less of those friends/club members and this tournament would once again bring us together.  It was nice to meet up with them once again and share a meal and swap some fishing stories.  However the tournament did take center stage Saturday morning and it was a great day to fish.  Air temperatures in the 70's and water temps in the low 60's, however Mother Nature rose the river over 2 feet in less than 2 days prior to the event.  Pool 9 looked like the Hershey's factory leaked into it.

In my 20+ years of fishing the Mississippi River I have never seen areas of the river as muddy as it was this past weekend.  Thursday evening the river rose 12 inches in less than 12 hours...that is an unreal amount of water in such a small amount of time, thus causing the river to turn into what looked like chocolate milk.  My partner and I searched the northern part of Pool 9 the entire day on Saturday, not one bite...this was the first time in my life I believe to not even get a bite while fishing for an entire day.  Frustrating didn't even describe my feelings.  After talking with friends, I regrouped and decided to head to Pool 10 for Sunday's action, I just couldn't stay in pool 9 and beat my head in again.  The 30-mile trip to Pool 10 was worth it in the end.  It was a relief to find some cleaner water and put the Quantum PT rods and reels to work.  I caught every fish on Sunday using the GreenPumpkin/Blue tube from Hot Rod Baits.  The bass were liking it, around a dozen or so in total, and I even managed to flip 3 keepers in the boat before heading back to the weigh-in.  Those three keepers ended up catching me 3rd place and a sense of satisfaction after a disastrous day on Saturday.  It ended up being a great weekend on the river, partly due to those 3 green fish I caught on Sunday, but mostly being the outdoors in a beautiful part of the state and catching up with the Marshalltown boys.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hot Rod Baits Bass Series Final Event of 2016

This past weekend was the finale of the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series.  This series consists of 3 events scattered throughout Iowa to test tournament anglers against each other.  The Series is an "all or nothing" series where anglers pay upfront for all 3 events securing the field of anglers before the first event.  It creates a club type of atmosphere which most guys really enjoy.  While we are all after the top prize at each event many anglers share knowledge, baits and ideas with each other, making the experience even more valuable to participants.
This year, Brian Bowles joined me once again on the series and we had a great time.  We had a top 5 at Little River Lake, an event to forget at Belva Deer, and finished in the middle of the pack at Pool 9.  The last event was one that we looked forward to all year.  We both love to fish the Mississippi River and we tend to catch them pretty good up there.  We had two days to practice and we covered a lot of water during those times.  The river high and the current was swift, but after 10 hours of fishing the current each day, we were worn out, but my boat was still ready for more thanks to the Minn Kota Fortrex 101 and Talons.  These two pieces of equipment on the boat are so valuable when fishing, especially in current.  We were able to hold in the main channel current while searching for smallies and saved our batteries while the Talons were anchoring us down.  Both make fishing much easier and more enjoyable.
We fished many different areas throughout Pool 9, but really focused in on areas with a lot of current.  Anytime we fished current we saw minnows and shad, so this told us that bass would be close by.  After those two practice days, we figured we had enough good places to compete in the tournament, however knew we would be short on the bigger fish to vault us to the top.  We tried many baits on our Quantum Rods and Reels, but the best were jigs with large chunks and Hot Rod Baits Big Craws.  We finished out the event in 7th place, which was less than 2 pounds from 3rd place, and were disappointed.  However, after dozens of largemouth and smallmouth bass caught, many laughs, a few stories to pass the slow times and some fantastic Mississippi River Scenery, nothing was lost on this three day adventure with a good friend!  Can't wait to see what this series has to offer in 2017!

Full Results of event HERE

Sunday, July 10, 2016

2016 Brushy Creek 4-Man Tournament

For the past 12 years the Tri-County Bass Club has hosted a 4-man bass 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 willing to try different things, and the idea has caught on, this year it brought anglers from Nebraska, Missouri and Texas.  This is one of the biggest tournaments of the entire year at Brushy Creek each and every 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.  I would like to publicly thank Don Henry for the hours of work behind the scene he does each year, Zach Maxfield and Doug Chaloupek for helping each year with boat inspections and weigh-ins, and finally Dennis Meyer who did a fantastic job at being the weigh master at this years event.  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, this club fundraiser pays out over 80% each year back to the participants for their great catches.

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.  However, this year Dave Jordan had to sit things out as he fights an illness, so Zach Maxfield stepped in for him.  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.  As a group this year we caught 7 keeper bass, Don and Doug had a couple bass as they fished right up to the last few minutes of the event.  Zach and I managed a limit and culled a couple to bring in 14.95#.  Zach and I both love throwing our Quantum PT rods and reels and today, they performed flawlessly once again.  We caught our two biggest bass on an Optimum Baits Furbit Frog in a key area of grass.  Two bites was all, but those two bites turned into about 8 pounds of bass!  Other bass that day fell to the Hot Rod Baits "Jelly" Stickbait.  As a 4-Man team we weighed 18.74 pounds for our 7 keepers, this put us in 7th place our of 16 teams.  Not what we had hoped for, but all in all it was a great day of fishing, and the tournament, with the help of many club volunteers went off without a hitch!   Full results can be found here: Tri-County Bass Club

Brushy Creek Lake limit of 14.95#, 4.51 big bass


Monday, June 27, 2016

Wednesday Night fun

The Wednesday Fishing League (WFL) was started many years ago to gather friends at local lakes on a weekday to have some fun and compete in a friendly bass tournament.  I created these events well over a decade ago and have created and made many friendships through them.  In the past 6, 7 or 8 years (time flies when you have fun) my same partner for these events has been Don Henry.  We have had a lot of good times, our fair share of successes and head-scratching nights too.  No matter what mood the bass are in on that particular night, we make the most of it and have a good time.  This past Wednesday was no different, except we both know that our fishing time together at these events are about to end.
With my upcoming move to Independence I will be stepping aside or course, but the times spent with Don, talking about everything under the sun and catching a few bass will always be remembered.  This past Wednesday was fantastic, we figured out the bass that night at Rock Creek Lake.  Presenting Hot Rod Baits tubes and big craws with a 1/8oz sinker was the ticket.  Fish were located much more shallow than we had figured, but the ones we caught were stuffed with food in their big bellies telling us we found feeding fish.  We ended up with 4 keepers that night, which told us we figured out the bass.  Typically when you can do this in a 3 hour tournament you will place high, that night was a win for us on so many levels!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Summer Time VEXILAR

This past week I had the chance to fish with my two best fishing buddies...my kids.  We took our annual 3-day trip to fish for bluegills and enjoy nature.  Enjoying nature is never a hard thing to do, as both of our kids are under 10 years old and are very inquisitive.  They loved being outdoors, and they love to fish even more.
Bluegills were the target on this small 40 acre lake in Tama County.  It is rather deep, up to 20+ feet in several areas.  I knew the bluegills had to be close to ending the spawning routine, so I had a hunch they would be out deeper...enter the summer edition of the Vexilar.  Many anglers put their Vexilars away once the ice melts, and every year I tell them that it is a mistake.  I have installed the FL-10 on the bow of my boat, it is always there and ready to show me the fish.  Installing this was very easy, as it is a flush mounting system and the FL-10 package comes with everything you need to install it on your boat.

Cruising throughout the lake I saw the familiar red lines on the Vexilar and I knew exactly what we needed to do.  Suspending bluegills on slip bobbers is pretty fun, and my kids had a blast.  Most of the fish we caught were in about 10-12 feet of water, and the gills were hanging around the 6 foot mark.  It became as simple as; find suspending fish, drop the Talons, and cast the slip bobbers.  We had a great time catching bluegills and the occasional largemouth bass too.
Another great trip with the kids, thanks to the Vexilar FL-10.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Spawn or not?

May can be a tricky time of year in Iowa for bass.  Other than October, it is my favorite month to bass though, as most days are good for fish catches.  However, there are weeks where the bass are not in the mood to biting, especially the larger bass.  They have something more important on their minds, the annual spawn.  It is important to know where the bass are on the spawn schedule during this month and early June.  As I looked forward to the day of fishing, I assume that bass would be up shallow spawning or done.  I hoped to get a good picture of spawning activity to start the day.  I wish I could say I know what the bass were doing...but I can't.  I think they are finished at this lake, but I'm not really sure, as I didn't catch any larger fish off-shore, a sure clue that the spawn is over.  Either way, dozens of bass found their way in the boat on a variety of baits, but one was KEY on this day...

A morning trip to Hawthorne Lake yesterday was necessary to get a little "water therapy" in.  Getting up extra early this time of year is something I like to do, I love top water fishing, so I was on the road before the sun was up.  This was a mistake...as the topwater bite was non-existent on this particular day.  After 4 fish made a swirl behind my buzzbait, I put that rod away for the day.  I picked up an Optimum Baits Swimbait, which I twitched just under the surface and the bass loved it!  The first couple of hours was as good of a swimbait bite I've had in years.  I was rigging the Optimum Baits 5-inch Victory tail on a 4/O wide gap hook.  No sinker is necessary when throwing these small baits as they are heavy to make casting a breeze, even on 50# braided line.  A wide-gap hook is important when throwing swimbaits, it will allow you to hook up on many more fish.  I was throwing this rig on a 7-foot Med/Hvy Smoke combo from Quantum.  This in one deadly combination.  This bait worked well in the morning on rocky banks as well as the shoreline covered with weed growth.  If you have fished a swimbait before, you know how exciting they can be.  Most of the fish I caught on this bait I could visually see them come out of the weeds and strike the bait.  There is no better rush than to watch that a couple dozen times in a morning!
Many baits worked well this day on the water, jig, big craws, finesse worms, and crankbaits all caught fish, however slowing down in the shallow water with a swimbait was the key bait on this day for me.
Lake Conditions: Water temp: around 74-degrees, most of the lake had about 1-foot of clarity.  Bluegills were on beds, most all bass caught shallow.    

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Unique Buzzbait worth a look

I am honored to work with some great fishing companies.  One of these companies is Optimum Baits.  This company owns several smaller companies all specializing in certain types of fishing baits.  It's a one stop place for all your bass bait needs.  One unique product that was able to give a good testing last year was the Kahara Buzzy Frog.  This combines two ideas, a topwater frog, and a buzzbait.  Putting these two different baits together for a bait that bass have not seen.  The other night while out fishing the water temp was over 60 degrees, even though the bite had been tough all night I decided to give the fish something different to look at.  I got the Kahara Buzz Bait out and hooked up two fish on two bites in a short amount of time.  The hooks appear small at first glance, but the hook-up ratio on this bait is as good or better than a traditional buzzbait.

A few things about this bait that make it a great tool:
~ great color choices
~ durable, have caught dozens of bass on it and no sign of wear or tear
~ two hooks to keep fish buttoned up (wide gap double 2/O)
~ "in-line" design with a big blade
~ rides high in the water
~ solid frog body allows for long casts (weighs 3/4oz)
~ no need for a trailer, rubber skirt is secure on the back
~ goes through and around weeds
~ AWESOME around wood, it does not turn over like traditional baits, just stays upright

This bait is truly unique, something that Optimum Baits does a great job with.  They were the company that made the original swimbaits, they know how to revolutionize your tackle box.  They think out of the box and allow anglers to keep giving bass something fresh to look at, which is vital to angler success when fishing pressured waters.  Pick one up at their website or the next time you purchase items, you won't be disappointed.  Better yet, if you see me on the water I will toss you one to try, then I know will purchase a couple!