Monday, June 12, 2017

Hot Rod Baits Bass Series Stop #2

This past weekend my partner Brian Bowles and I headed north to figure out the bass on Pool 9 of the Mississippi River.  It was our second tournament of the three tournament series.  The first tournament was a disaster...and we did everything we could not to repeat that.  We put in two days of practice on the water which led us to plenty of fish, both smallmouth and largemouth.  After the two days we decided to focus our efforts on the south end of the pool and if that didn't pan out, we would run north for a backup plan.  Throughout the 3 days of fishing we caught fish on just about every lure we threw; jigs, tubes, sticks, swim jigs, spinnerbaits, craws and crankbaits.   Ounce you found the bass, they didn't seem to be very picky as to what they ate.  As always some baits worked better than others to pick up the larger fish.  The biggest of the weekend came on an Optimum Baits Ima square bill crankbait.  Bouncing this bait off the rocky banks was a great way to fool the bass, this big "brownie" loved it (pic).  We ended up fishing 4 areas Sunday, all of which contained rocks.  The bass were feeding up on crawdads, so most of our baits mimicked them once the tournament day rolled around.
Throwing a Hot Rod Baits Wig's Jig with a Hot Rod Baits chunk was the main bait for me Sunday.  Brian was throwing the craw bait from Hot Rod Baits in various colors.  We were both using 7-foot 6-inch Quantum PT flipping sticks with PT reels.  High speed reels were important today as the fish would take the bait and start swimming, you really had some line to reel in as you set the hook.  The tournament went well for us and we knew as noon rolled around that we were sitting pretty good.  However, we both knew that we needed that "one more big one" to help move up in the standings.  We finished with 17.12# of largemouth bass and ended up in 4th place out of the 20 team field which spans all over Iowa and into Nebraska.  The complete results can be seen HERE.  A big thanks to all competitors at Pool 9, some impressive numbers for the river; 108 bass were weighed in for an average weight of 2.44#.  The best fishery in the state proved itself once again!

A huge thank you to these great companies; Quantum Rods/Reels, Hot Rod Baits, Optimum Baits, Vexilar Electronics, TimReed State Farm Insurance/Bank, Bill's Pizza, and The Iowa Sportsman Magazine.  Let me know if you and questions about these fine companies and the products/services they provide or click their link on the side of the page.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Independence High School Bass Fishing Club

This past weekend marked a first for Independence, IA.  I have had the honor to lead and advise the Independence High School Bass Club the last few months, and this past Saturday was the first ever high school bass tournament in this area.  This wasn't the first organization I have helped out, many years ago a few students from the Iowa State University came to me for information and leadership to start that club, which is still going strong.  All my life, when I see someone with a similar passion as I have for fishing, I have tried to help out as much as I can.

So far this year during our bass club meetings the students have learned about water safety, DNR rules, being a steward of our resources, and general tips for choosing the right gear for bass.  However, a day ago it was time to put their gear and knowledge to the test to see if they could trick some local Wapsipinicon River bass.

The tournament was open to any student in grades 7-12, and 19 students showed up to fish out of 10 boats to try their skill on the Wapsi.  The weather was perfect, fish were caught; many northern pike and a few bass.  Like any tournament on any body of water, someone always seems to find the active fish and they rise to the top.  The team of Tayten and Brennan weighed in two keeper bass for 3.45 pounds to take the win.  Congratulations to them and all anglers that made it out to fish this inaugural event!

A huge thanks to the all the boat captains that drove the boats around for the students at this event.  Without them the event would have never been able to take place.  Also, Hot Rod Baits was a monetary sponsor for the event to eliminate all costs for the students, as this event was free for them to participate in.  They also donated many prizes for the kids too.

I write this with much pride that this club has taken off and I hope the future is bright for this student club.  I will do my part to keep things going and I hope many more students will be able to enjoy the the world of fishing and create many friendships as this great sport has done for me over the years.
A huge thanks to my partners too, without them I couldn't do what I do for the sport of fishing; Quantum Rods/Reels, Hot Rod Baits, Optimum Baits, Vexilar, Bill's Pizza, Tim Reed State Farm, and The Iowa Sportsman Magazine.

If you are interested in helping this group grow, please contact me personally via email;   Please "like" the Independence High School Bass Club on Facebook or click over to their website: to keep up with all the action.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Passing it on

I had the opportunity to present to about 125 students this week during their annual Fish Iowa field trip.  Just seeing all those kids walking around nature and enjoying themselves was quite a site, but to be able to teach them about some advanced fishing skills was even better.

First, a little history on the Fish Iowa program.  This is a curriculum designed by the Iowa DNR to bring awareness of fish and the opportunities available here in Iowa.  This program is designed for all ages, but 5th grade really seems like a good fit to fully jump into the program.  This curriculum has many different levels and teachers can cater their instruction to as little or as much as they would like to include.  Here in Independence they conclude their learning a with field experience, some hands on activities, and many experts in the field of fishing.  If you have younger kids in school, you may want to ask if their teachers have ever heard of might just hook them into trying it with your kids.

It was my honor and privilege to be a part of this and pass on some knowledge about the advanced techniques, rods/reels and baits anglers can use to catch fish here in Iowa.  Other stations kids visited were about fish identification/laws, erosion, pond fishing, and water safety.  The kids were great and the many community volunteers and DNR employees made the day very educational for those 125 kids.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hot Rod Baits Bass Series: Tourney #1

The Hot Rod Baits Bass Series started this past Sunday.  It was bittersweet for me, as I spent all day Saturday at a grad class in Des Moines, but I guess that "real job" of mine is pretty important.  Either way, all the prep for the tournament as the director and an angler was ready to be put to the test at Hawthorn Lake.

First, a little about the series.  This was a brainstorm of mine several years ago. I wanted to create a bass-club-like feeling but elevate the competition to a state level.  This also elevated the entry fees and payouts too.  I wanted the series to be able to still use the many lakes of Iowa as well as the Mississippi River.  Each year the series visits 2 lakes and a pool on the Upper Mississippi River.  The series has visited areas such as: Rock Creek Lake, Little River, 12-Mile Lake, Lake MacBride, Pool 10, Pool 9, Belva Deer Lake, Brushy Creek, and West Lake in Osceola.  Each year 3 events are chosen and a maximum of 20 teams are allowed to enter the series.  The unique part about the series is an "all or nothing" entry fee.  One payment is good for all three events, big bass and Team of the Year prize money.  It was a first of its kind and members of the series have really enjoyed it.  This year the series capped out at 20 teams and a few were turned away.  I feel that this number is a good limit at this time with the support staff I have to lean on.  Things have run smoothly and participation each year has steadily gained.  A big draw for that is the over 90% payback that this series offers, another first for bass tournaments.  All entry fees paid upfront, no jackpot anglers at specific bodies of water, over 90% payback, and a club atmosphere mixed in with some extreme doesn't get any better than that!

Hawthorn Lake Champions
Lake Hawthorn is a smaller lake for the state, around 200 acres is all it is, however it is full of largemouth bass.  Well, that was the plan and reason for choosing a lake on the smaller side of the scale.  With so many bass and so many good areas for fish to be, 20 boats won't be a problem at all.  Now that the event is over, 20 boats wasn't the problem, it was the bass.  For one reason, or many the bass didn't show up for this tournament like many had hoped.  The bass seemed to be scattered all over the lake, and even when the fish bit, it was a half-attempt many times.  Cluing anglers in that something was amiss with the ecosystem.  Either way, someone always finds them, and they sure did on this day.  Holst and Brown came away with the victory easily with the only limit of the day weighing in at 16.68 pounds.  2nd place was Heim and Elm who also had the big bass for the day.  They caught three keepers weighing in at 8.52 pounds.  The tournament went off without a hitch, as for my partner and me...we were one of the many teams that couldn't put the pieces together on this day.  Full results HERE
2nd Place and Big Bass

Congrats to all the anglers who toughed it out at Lake Hawthorn.  Spring bass fishing really hasn't taken off for the most part around the state, but May is just around the corner, what I believe to be the best month for bass in the entire year!

Thanks to all my sponsors that make it possible for me to enjoy time on the water, teach others about my passion and share the best fishing tools on the market with others.  QuantumPT, Optimum Baits, Hot Rod Baits, Vexilar, State Farm Insurance, Bill's Pizza, The Iowa Sportsman.  Please click the links provided to learn about these great companies, or better yet, get a hold of me with any questions you may have about what these companies offer.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

First time on the open water

Today marked the first time on the water for me in 2017.  It seems very late, and I only have one person to blame...Mother Nature.  It seems as though the weekdays are nice and then comes the cold fronts/wind on the weekends.  Anyone that knows me would never call me a fair-weather fisherman, but lately it has been just nasty on the weekends.  Just two days ago, temperatures were in the 60's, and today, around 40 and cloudy.  Either way, I had to the river boat in the water to test some of the off-season updates we have made.  To my surprise, everything worked!  I just happened to bring along a few poles, as did Keith Donnelly so we might as well make a few casts!
We ended up with a few largemouth and smallmouth bass, and a smaller pike.  For the 90 minutes we were on the water, it was awesome.  Casting, retrieving, it just felt awesome!

The boat wasn't the only thing I wanted to test out today, next on the list was the new QuantumPT Special Issue rods.  I threw a jerkbait on the 7-foot Medium action model as well as a spinnerbait.  There is tremendous sensitivity on these rods, which didn't surprise me a bit.  After all they were fine-tuned by the Quantum Pros themselves much of last year.  As I use them more I will surely update you on their performance, but for this quick trip, one word sums it up...WOW.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Last day on the ice for 2017

Yellow Bass are a tasty fish that inhabit
a few waters in Iowa.  These fish are an
invasive species and there is no limit
on them.  Clear Lake has a huge population
of these fish making it a top destination
year-round to catch these fish.
Mother Nature ended ice fishing around the state much too early this year.  With most lakes thawed completely, only the largest in the state still were partially frozen.  Mother Nature did do us a favor by a recent cold front last week, which sent temps in Norther Iowa into the teens at night.  This was just enough to save the ice, and in reality even strengthen the ice for one last time of the year.  Portions of Clear Lake was still frozen over and shoreline access was still pretty good.  I had no choice but to travel north to take one last look at the ice conditions and see if they were reliable.  I was in for one last day on the ice, but in the back of mind I knew that it could just be a long truck ride for no reason...either way, I had to give it a look.  Mark Anderson was headed to the lake Friday afternoon, and I was so glad to get the text from him saying that the ice was in good condition.  In my mind it was Christmas Eve...I really was going to get one more day on the ice chasing the hard fighting Yellow Bass.
I was totally shocked when I got to the lake a little before 8am around the Farmers Beach area.  The ice was solid to the shore and several anglers were already out on the ice.  Mark Anderson, Jacy Large and Scott Fischer were going to join all together today to team up against the yellows.  Mark reported a very good bite in the main basin of the lake the afternoon before, so we were all very excited to get there.  Well, Mother Nature was kind to make the ice very solid, however the strong winds out of the east sent the yellow bass into shock.  For over two hours we drilled and drilled with no luck at all.  In a few areas the Vexilar FLX-28's showed some fish, but no bites, to say the least we were in shock.  Instead of staying in the larger group, we decided to split up.  Mark and I kept drilling across the lake to no avail, not a mark (ice was consistently around 10 inches).  We settled in to some shallow weeds and caught a few perch.  At this time it was time for plan Q.  Mark hopped over to the little lake and found the ice just as good, 8-10 of good ice.  I stayed and poked around the weeds where the ice was not great, honeycombed but yet still sturdy.  I found some crappies and a few more perch, but then Mark found the yellows.  There were about a dozen or so anglers already on the little lake, and the fish were biting.  All of us joined him soon after that the bite was fantastic for the next 4 hours.  Yellow after yellow came topside the ice and we were all wearing smiles and having a blast, the day was saved and we all went out on top at the end of the ice season.  Working together as a group really paid off, as we could find the school as it moved around.  Quickly drilling holes to area where fish were seen on Vexilars.  It was an awesome way to end the year, well, besides walking all the way across Clear Lake!
~~~Please use extreme caution if you venture on the ice, the top of the ice was deteriorating quickly in the afternoon with the sun high and wind howling.  The ice that we fished on Saturday, March 4th will change by the hour with the warm temperatures.  Use every safety precaution if you venture out anywhere.

Monday, February 20, 2017

KCRG-TV Channel 9 In the Great Outdoors: January Ice Fishing

John Campbell caught up with me and friend Keith Donnelly a month or so ago and did some filming.  A short 2-minute version played on KCRG TV-9 news, and then he made this extended version.  I hope you enjoy.

 For more information on Vexilar, contact me or click on their logo

To learn more about VEXILAR and their products click on their logo or contact me with any questions.