Tuesday, August 3, 2021

July Indee Bass Club Summer Scramble


The Wapsi River was the site of the July tournament for the Indee Bass Club.  The temperatures were hot, the current was steady and the bass were hungry.  Ten students took part in this special event that partnered students and captains together by a random draw.  This format was to enhance learning for the club members by fishing with different individuals and sharing information, techniques and fishing strategies.  By the outcome of the event it was obvious that the format worked.  All 5 teams recorded a three bass limit on the night and all students reported catching some bass.  
The winning team of Senior Jackson Toale, 7th grader Gabel Eddy and their captain Rick Wendling found many fish on the Wapsi, their three biggest keepers weighed 8. 42#.  That included the 3.07# smallmouth bass that Gable caught, which was the biggest of the tournament.  Second place team consisted of Senior Teegan McEnany and 8th Grader Cal Sweeney.  Them and their captain Dave Wilson were able to being in 7.38#.  Rounding out the top three was Cam Wilson and Jackson Beatty, captained by Todd Reed.  They weighed in 5.31# of bass.
It was a very successful night for anglers of all ages, and the captains enjoyed the night as well.  All students were able to take home prizes thanks to the clubs great sponsors: Buchanan County Wildlife Association, Bank Iowa, Klever Concrete, Coloney Plumbing/Heating/Air Conditioning, Scheels of Cedar Falls, Hank's Bait and Tackle of Waterloo, The Rod Glove, Hot Rod Baits, Quantum Rods and Reels, and Strike King Lure Company.

Sunday, August 1, 2021


Having lived all my life in Iowa and battled bass throughout the summer months, when picking one lure to tie on to find bass, the swimjig gets the nod.  Sure, I use a lot of different baits during the summer months, but when it comes to finding bass in lakes or rivers the swimjig has become my favorite in the past decade.  

The swimjig is a very simple lure to use, when using one you need to remember that.  Many people want to make it more complicated than it is.  It is simply a quiet, no flash spinnerbait.  It is a bait that can be casted a long distance or pitched to very specific cover.  This is one reason why I love the swimjig.  Another reason is the simple way to size the lure.  When choosing a trailer fro your swimjig you are dictating the size of your bait.  A small 3-inch twister tail creates a very small profile, while a double tail twister makes it look much bigger.  I favorite trailer of mine to choose is an Optimum Baits Double Diamond swim bait.  This gives the swimjig a large or small profile depending on the length, but it adds a slight vibration with the tail and gives the swimjig a distinct wobble when pulled through the water.   

Here are a few other key things to make this bait a superb search bait:

SwimJig Brand: Bill Lowen Signature Series, hand tied by myself.  There are many, many good brands of swimjigs on the market!

Size: 3/16, 1/4 or 3/8oz

Color: varies with water clarity and bait fish

Rod/Reel Setup: 7ft Quantum Smoke Rod Medium Power with Fast Action/Smoke Reel 6.1:1 ratio

Line: 35# braided line with a Palomar Knot

I like to use braided line with this bait at all times.  I have found out that the overall catch ratio is much better than using mono or flouro.  Braid also is mandatory around weeds where fish are hiding this time of year.  

If you prefer to use mono/flouro for your line, then you will want to use a Med/Hvy Rod with a fast tip, this is will help with keeping fish on with the stretch of the line.

Both 1/4oz jigs: size adjustments made with plastic trailer

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Iowa Sportsman- Iowa's Bass Fishing

The Iowa Sportsman Magazine: July 2021 Issue

That thump on the end of the line can be ferocious at times and the jumps in the air so acrobatical, only one fish in Iowa has those characteristics; the bass.  Bass fishing in Iowa can be had in all corners of the state, ponds, lakes, rivers and large reservoirs all provide good bass fishing.  Largemouth bass can be found in all ninety-nine counties while the Smallmouth bass can be found in rivers in and in a few select lakes.  If you are after a Spotted Bass then you must head to Lake MacBride, the only lake that offers them in Iowa in large numbers.  Chasing bass all over Iowa can be a lifetime pursuit that many of us share.  The fact that they live all over the state and can be caught with so many different lures are reasons why it has become so popular in the last few decades. 

Top Baits: Bass are notorious for eating a variety of baits.  Live bait works well, however there are thousands of artificial baits on the market that work as good or better.  The most popular bait to catch bass are soft plastics.  These include craws, tubes, sticks, worms, swimbaits, minnow baits and creature type baits.  They come in all different sizes and colors from hundreds of different companies.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to soft plastic baits for bass.  Most anglers have their favorites and tend to stick with them, only trying something new when their favorites are failing them.  Rigging these plastic baits can make or break your day.  Some baits can be rigged weightless, there are Texas-Rigs, Carolina Rigs, Shaky Heads, swingheads, Tokyo rigs, and drop-shots to name a few of the popular bass rigging techniques.  Each serves their purpose and most have prime areas and times to rig them.  If you are looking for a simple, yet highly effective rig for all times of the year then the Texas-Rig is for you.  A bullet sinker and a 3/O extra-wide gap (EWG) hook is all you need to make your favorite plastic bait to come to life.  

Another top bait, typically a summer bait are topwater lures.  Buzzbaits, popping baits, walking baits, frogs and the Whopper Plopper are all very productive no matter where you are chasing your next bass bite.  These are best in the first 3 hours and last 3 hours of sunlight.  They are also fantastic on rainy/cloudy days.  

Top Destinations:  Iowa is full of great bass fishing opportunities.  Narrowing it down to one part of the state or “the best” place to catch bass is impossible.  I have had the opportunity to travel to all four corners of this state chasing bass, have friends scattered around the state and stay current with bass tournament results.  Bass are everywhere!  I will break this portion down into groups, one for the smallmouth bass and one for the largemouth bass, as they are very different creatures.  Smallmouth Bass: Two very large and distinct areas come to the forefront when thinking about the brown bass, West Lake Okoboji and Pools 9 and 10 of the Mississippi River.  These two areas are known for their huge limits of smallmouth bass.  The two river pools will definitely have you catching more smallies if that is what you are in to.  With these two large areas out of the way, next up are the interior rivers scattered all over the state.  No matter where you live within an hour or so you have some great smallmouth fishing in a nearby interior river.  These do not have to be large and most can be waded through to find fishing areas.  Kayaks or small jonboats make great vessels to travel these small rivers in search of a big brown bass.  Largemouth Bass: The largemouth bass inhabits every public lake/pond/river in the state.  They are not very hard to find, however like any species finding the big ones is the hard part.  As for the northeast part of the state, the river is king.  Pools 9/10/11/12 of the Mississippi River all have large numbers of largemouth bass, and some real river giants too.  The warmer the water, the more current they will live in.  Typically your biggest fish during a day of summer fishing on the big river will find you reeling it in near heavy current. The northwest part of the state belongs to West Lake Okoboji and Brushy Creek Lake.  Both of these lakes offer an abundance of weeds which helps these green bass grow very large.  Both lakes have massive numbers of bass and trophies too.  The southwest corner of the state belongs to an entire county.  Union County, home of Creston, Iowa has three different lakes that have been pumping out bass for many years.  Twelve-Mile Lake, Three-Mile Lake and Green Valley Lake should be on your list if you are looking for a trip that is all about the Largemouth Bass.  Southeastern Iowa has many different places to search for largemouth bass, many county parks, state made lakes and the Mississippi River.  One lake in particular always rises to the top in this part of the state for numbers of bass and some real giants; Lake Sugema.  This lake is about 600 acres but seems much larger than that with all the standing trees. No matter where you live in the state, there are bass near you, largemouth or smallmouth.

Iowa bass fishing...it has been a part of my life for over 30 years, and I hope another 30 in the future.  Iowa may not have 10 pounders to chase like California or Texas, but we have some great opportunities, many of them are very close to where we live.  There are a few months of the year left, make it your mission to try a brand new lake, this is something I have done for the past ten years or so and have really enjoyed it.  Seeing different water and figuring out where those bass live will make you a better bass angler, and in the end that is what we are all after.  Please use “Catch Photo Release” CPR on our Iowa bass so the next angler and generation can benefit from your generosity.

For full article, please check out www.iowasportsman.com

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Indee High School Bass Club June Big Woods Tournament


Ranger Reed and Carter Cameron are
the Big Woods Lake Champions

The members of the Indee HS Bass Club voted on several places to fish tournaments this year this past winter.  Big Woods Lake in Cedar Falls received enough votes to send the club there for the June tournament.  Eighteen students signed up for the event along with the 8 captains that helped run the boats.  There is no entry or membership fee for the students to participate.  A huge thanks to the sponsors of the club who are responsible for allowing over $800 worth of prizes to be handed out to all the students that fished on this day.  Bank Iowa, Colony Plumbing/Heating and Cooling, The Buchanan County Wildlife Association, Klever Concrete, Scheels of Cedar Falls, Hank's Bait and Tackle of Waterloo, Quantum Rods and Reels, The Rod Glove, Strike King Lures, and the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series are all proud sponsors of the club.  

Many bodies of water around Northeastern Iowa have had big temperature swings during this unusual spring.  Big Woods Lake was no different, the water temperature rose nine degrees in one week prior to the event.  This seemed to get the fish moving a little bit and many anglers were able to bring bass to the weigh-in.  Even though the lake was new to almost all the kids and most of the captains it was the second best weigh-in for the bass club since its beginning in 2017.  The nine teams brought 21 bass to the weigh-in.  In first place was a pair of 7th graders; Ranger Reed and Carter Cameron had a limit, or 5 keeper bass, that weighed 7.20#, there captain was Todd Reed.  In second place was Cam Wilson and Zach Sidles with 4 keeper bass that weighed 6.65# including the Big Bass of the tournament by Zach that weighed 2.70#, they were captained by Dave Wilson.  In third place was Kegan Postel and his captain Landry Jones.  Kegan had 4 keeper bass that weighed 6.45#.  Forth place belonged to Caleb Weber and Teegan McEnany, they had the only other limit of bass which weighed 5.57#.  In fifth place was Jackson Toale and Dalton Hoover, their captain was Randy Toale and weighed in one keeper weighing 1.49#.  Sixth place was secured by Justin Schmadeke and Hunter Patton, captained by Paul Schmadeke, they had one keeper weighing 1.26#.  Seventh place went to Cal Sweeney and Remy Ressler with one keeper weighing 1.08#, their captain was Dan Sweeney.  

All teams reported catching bass, and some even caught some walleyes and northern pike.  The winning team of Ranger Reed and Carter Cameron tried many different lures, but they caught all their keepers using two baits; a spinnerbait and a wacky-rigged stick bait.  Other students reported catching bass on buzzbaits, crankbaits, soft plastic baits and chatterbaits.  The tournament was another big success for the club, a big thanks to the parents and captains that helped with the weigh-in so we could release the bass back into the lake quickly and safely.   More information about the Indee Bass Club can be found on their Facebook page and their website. LINK

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Stop #1 on the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series

 Lake Okoboji was the opening stop on the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series for this year.  I absolutely love this lake during every season of the year, I wish it was much closer to home.  Spring time bass fishing on the Okoboji chain of lakes is hard to beat in this state, and perhaps all of the Midwest.  The really unique thing about this lake system is that no matter what kind of bass angler you are, or what strengths you may have you can put them to use here.  When most people think of bass fishing on Lake Okoboji they think of 15 feet of clear water and fishing deep.  That can be the case, but there is a lot more to the Okoboji chain of lakes than that.

Friday, my partner Brian Bowles and I decided to fish West Lake Okoboji, the biggest of the five lakes and by far the lake with the most clarity.  We found hungry bass hanging on the main lake docks as well as the canal systems which are shallow with water much dingier than West Lake.  The size was good, but it wasn't great.  The next day we focused on some areas of the three small lakes in this system; Upper Gar, Lower Gar and Minnewashta.  These lakes look much more like the lakes scattered around the state and even resemble the waters of river systems too.  If you do not like the clear water, these are the places to focus in on.  We fished pretty quick through these, but found some good quality bass roaming and hitting baits.  

On our way back to the cabin we discussed our game plan for the next day, as the tournament director there is no extra time in the morning so planning ahead is vital for a good start to the day.  We were going to focus on West Lake Okoboji for a limit of fish and then go to Upper Gar and Minnewashta to try and upgrade our limit of six bass.  The plan seemed simple, but with 21 boats in the event and several other club tournaments going on we knew it would be a challenge.

Tournament day rolled around and the derby got started without a hitch.  Our plan was clicking along and we caught our 14# limit pretty quickly on main lake areas, mostly using drop-shot and a wacky-rigged stick baits in various Hot Rod Baits colors.  We decided to head to the smaller lakes and try to upgrade, we knew we would need at least a 3-pound average to be even close to the top 5.  We used several reaction baits in these lakes but a homemade bladed jig seemed to be what they wanted.  We caught our biggest fish, 4.08# and three other big ones to upgrade to 18.28# for our 6 keepers.  With weeds and dock poles present I choose to throw the bladed jig on 30# braided line on a Quantum Smoke combo.  I like the 7ft model with a Medium action to allow a little give when leaning into the fish with braid.  It works very well for me as I can feel every pole, pieces of grass and the vibration from the blade.  We felt good as we packed things up to take care of the weigh-in, we met our expectations for the day and we never lost any fish.  Although we fell short of the Top 5, we weren't very far off with an average keeper weighing 3.04#.  What a great system of lakes to go fishing on, get there if you have never been there!

As a whole the event really showed what the Okoboji Chain of Lakes has to offer bass anglers.  Here are what the top five teams were able to bring to the scales:

Place Anglers                         #BassBig BassWeightAVG Bass
1 King-King**6.70** 31.045.17#
2 Halverson-Halverson5.32 24.67  4.11#
3 Ehlers-Wirtz5.39 22.29 3.72#
4 Heim-Paulson4.75 21.09  3.52#
5 Steffen-Northway 20.68 3.45#

Monday, May 10, 2021

2021 Iowa High School Bass Team Championship

 There are many opportunities for kids these days to get in boats and have a full experience in a bass tournament.  Most of these opportunities are for students that join a club, or are part of a high school club.  However, this event which debuted in 2019 is open for any student in Iowa.  This years event included students from West Delaware HS, Center-Point Urbana HS, Benton Community HS, Cedar Rapids Prairie HS, Solon HS, Independence HS, Waukee HS, SE Warren HS, Washington HS, and ADM HS.  40 students participated with their 20 captains in this event held at Pleasant Creek Lake near Palo.  

Scheels of Cedar Falls was once again the Title Sponsor for the event, along with others including; Quantum Fishing, The Rod Glove, X-Zone Lures, Cliff Keen Athletic Clothing, and Hot Rod Baits Bass Series.  Students placing high in the event were able to take home over $1,500 in fishing gear and trophies.

May 8th greeted anglers with a huge cold front to Eastern Iowa which included a little frost on the morning of the event.  Mother Nature didn't stop there, she added an easterly wind from 10-15mph wind for most of the event.  Some anglers reported catching dozens of bass per boat and it seemed like all sorts and styles of baits were catching bass.  A total of 62 bass made their way to the weigh-in scale for this event, an all-time record for this annual tournament.  Every boat but one was able to weigh fish in!

The anglers of John, Kole, Charlie and Noah were able to bring in 10 keeper bass that weighed 17.08# to claim the 2021 Championship for Washington High School.  This school also won in 2019, with Marion as the winner from 2020.  John also weighed in the biggest bass of the event; it weighed 4.18 pounds.  In second place on the "Team" competition was the team of Remy, Grady, EJ, and Sam from Independence.  They weighed in 8 bass that weighed 11.54 pounds. 

The individual tournament Top 5 are as follows:

  • 1- Washington HS- 9.78#
  • 2- Solon HS- 8.65#
  • 3- Center-Point Urbana- 8.57#
  • 4- Independence HS- 8.38#
  • 5- Washington HS- 7.30#

Complete standings of this event can be found on the event website: Iowa High School Bass Team Championship

It is an honor to be able to work with sponsors, especially the Title Sponsor of this event; Scheels of Cedar Falls to bring this event to Eastern Iowa.  This event allows any student in the state of Iowa a chance to compete and participate in a professionally run event for only $10 an angler.

Congrats to all the students that fished this event, I hope we can do it again next year!  

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Spring = WIND

 Spring time in Iowa is purely a mystery.  I have been in a boat in early February, and other years I have been ice fishing in the first of week of April.  There is one thing, no matter what year it is, we can always count on here in Iowa...WIND.  

Whether you fish from shore or a boat, the wind can be your friend.  The wind will push bait to the windblown banks and the bass will follow.  When winds blow 20+ mph it does limit most anglers in their bait selection.  When the wind blows that much some baits just won't be efficient.  My favorites when these conditions hit are dragging jigs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits.  With these three baits I feel that I can cover the water column effectively and offer many different colors at the same time.  

Besides a 3-punch strategy of baits, it is vital to have the right rod and reel combos working for you.  One of the many reasons I like Quantum reels is that they are so easy and quick to adjust to changing conditions.  A quick click or two on the magnetic controls on the sideplate and I am ready to for any wind that Mother nature throws at me.  

Hit the windy banks this spring and you will find more bass!