Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Indee Bass Club Pleasant Creek Lake Youth Tournament

July 30th was the day anglers from the Indee Bass Club met at Pleasant Creek Lake near Palo, Iowa for the third event of the year.  The first two events took place on "home" waters, right here in Independence on the Wapsipinicon River.  Pleasant Creek Lake made for an awesome venue for the kids to test their fishing skills at this nearby state park.  
Mother Nature was very kind to all participants, the day was sunny and temperatures were in the eighties, not bad for the last week of July.  The bass were cooperating too, so well that the anglers and lake broke the club record for the number of bass weighed in.  Anglers were able to bring in 31 keeper bass in the six-hour tournament!  That wasn't the only record broken on this day either.  The anglers also set a record for the most weight brought to the scales; 53.96 pounds.  
The Indee Bass Club is open to any student in Independence in grades 7-12.  Sixteen students signed up for the free event, which is made possible by the sponsors of the club: Buchanan County Wildlife Association, Bank Iowa, Colony Plumbing/Heating/AC, Klever Concrete, Cedar Falls Scheels, Hank's Bait and Tackle, Quantum Rods/Reels, The Rod Glove, X-Zone Lures and Hot Rod Baits Bass Series and Coach Todd Reed.
Pleasant Creek Lake is known for being busy and stingy lake for fishing, however the population of bass in this lake is one of the best around for local lakes.  During the event, only one team struggled to bring in a fish to the scales.  Coming in 7th place was Hunter Weepie and Preston Tatro, they had one keeper bass that weighed 1.92 pounds.  In 6th place was Gable Eddy and Jackson Beatty, they had five keepers that weighed 4.58 pounds.  Fifth place went to Ranger Reed and Carter Cameron, they had five keepers that weighed 6.76 pounds.  Outgoing Seniors Jackson Toale and Dalton Hoover came in fourth place with five keepers that weighed 8.55 pounds.  Third place was another pair of seniors, Teegan McEnany and Caleb Weber, they had a limit of five keeper bass that weighed 9.38 pounds.  Second place went to Cal Sweeney and Hunter Sherwood, they had five keeper bass that weighed in at 9.82 pounds.  The winners on this day were a duo of 7th graders, Carter Eddy and Colton Cameron won their first ever event with a five bass limit that weighed 12.95 pounds.  This impressive weight included the Hank's Bait and Tackle Big Bass of the tournament, a 4.54 pound largemouth bass that Carter caught.  That big bass was another record that was broken at this event, congrats to all the anglers that took part in this record breaking tournament.  A special thanks to boat captains as well; Dave Wilson, Cyrus Butters, Dan Sweeney, Chris Weepie, Todd Reed and Landry Jones.
Following the weigh-in, trophies and the Scheels Top Performers prizes of hats, rod sleeves and gift cards were given away to the top three teams.  All in attendance were treated to hot dogs and chips provided by the club and prepared by Julie and Clay Cameron.  The conclusion of the event ended with a random drawing, rods/reels and tackle were given to all students in attendance.   
The event was one to remember for sure, three different club records were re-written, a nice cook-out and over $700 worth of prizes and awards given to the students of the Indee Bass Club.  The club has many pictures and full results listed on their website, Instagram and Facebook page, just search out Indee Bass Club on those platforms.
Four Seniors took part in their last opportunity
with the Indee Bass Club:
Caleb Weber/Dalton Hoover/Jackson Toale/Teegan McEnany

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Hot Rod Baits Bass Series Stop #2- 12-Mile Lake


The second and final stop of the 2022 Hot Rod Baits Bass Series took place at 12-Mile Lake near Afton, Iowa.  This 600+ acres lake is a bass fishery, producing many 15+ pound limit bags week after week with some getting over 20 pounds.  The weather was stable for the anglers and the bass were biting!

Water temps for the weekend were hovering around 81-85 degrees throughout the lake, some anglers reported a slight thermocline in areas of the lake.  Water clarity was great and the water level was typical for the middle of summer.  It set up to be a great event to cap off the 2022 series.

The seventeen teams took to the water at 5:30am for the eight hour event.  Temps were great to start the day with clouds moving in and out all day, ending with sunshine for the weigh-in.  Teams scattered all over the lake, from the dam to the silt dam and from shallow points and flats to deeper drop-offs.  Fish were as scattered as the anglers throughout the day and the lake held the seventeen team field just fine.  The weigh-in ended with eight teams over the 15-pound mark, and one over 20 pounds.  Collecting the last money spot at 5th place was Steffen and Williams, they had 16.81 pounds.  In 4th place was Kulow and Arnold, they caught enough for 17.33 pounds.  Third place went to the Pool 9 winners Rudy and Berquist.  They weighed in 17.71 pounds.  IN the Runner-Up spot was Heim and Paulsen, they had 18.54 pounds.  Bates and Sellers brought home the 12-Mile Lake Championship with a limit weighing in at 22.40 pounds.  This was anchored by the big bass of the event that weighed 6.68 pounds, a true brute!

12-Mile CHAMPIONS:  Sellers/Bates 

This year was an odd year for the series, the first event located at Spirit Lake was canceled in May due to impending weather.  After the points were added up for Pool 9 and 12-Mile Lake we had a familiar Team of the Year.  Justin Heim and Andrew Paulsen claimed the $500 bonus and plaques for the 2nd time since fishing the series they also won it in 2017.  They placed 2nd in each of the two events this year.  They had the same amount of points as Rudy/Berquist but had a little more total weight for both events, making Rudy and Berquist the Runner-Up in the Team of the Year points race.  They collected an extra $200 for their efforts.  Coming in 3rd place for the Team of the Year was Donnelly/Christensen, taking home a bonus $100. 

Another great year of tournament fishing on the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series, we will be back in 2023 with a new schedule, announced around the month of December.  For complete results and more information about this series that pays out OVER 90% of entries please visit the WEBSITE HERE.

Andrew Paulsen/Justin Heim

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Make sure and Pack the Frogs

The dead of summer always calls for a few things when searching for bass. Current in river systems is one of them, the other is a hollow-bodied frog.  This is the time of year that I rarely hit the water without an Optimum Baits Furbit Frog tied on.  There are many good frogs on the market to purchase, however I have fallen in love with the Furbit Frog.  The hook-up ratio with this frog is the best I have ever seen.  Some of those great results is no doubt the rod/reel/line setup I throw the frog on.  I choose a 7 foot Med/Hvy Quantum Rod, paired with a 7.2:1 gear ratio Quantum Smoke Reel with 60# braided line.  

All of these components make the combo and the frog work perfectly together to get the bass out of the heaviest of cover.  Whether it be low-laying tree limbs or through a thick mat of grass, this combo gets it done.  

Frogs come in all different colors, however I feel that the cadence of the frog is more important than the color on most days.  Change up your twitches and pauses until the bass tell you exactly what they want on that particular day.  
A close-up of the Optimum Baits Furbit Frog in a mat of duckwork  The heavy weight, located under the hook shank provides incredible hookup ratios and keeps those hooks down in the water column.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Hot Rod Baits BASS SERIES Stop #1- Mississippi River

Pool 9 Champs: Brett Rudy/Drew Berquist

June 18th: The first stop on the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series landed the 17 teams on Pool 9 of the Mississippi River near Lansing, Iowa.  The water conditions, like most of the time on the big river were changing.  Recently the river was several feet high, and leading up to the event was dropped to around the 9.5ft level, leaving it about a foot higher than normal.  The pool was definitely dirtier than expected when anglers made their way to practice.  Weed growth on the river has not taken off with the recent high water levels leaving the current to flow and disrupt the banks and bottom of the river creating the less than typical cleaner water.  Recent thunderstorms also were around the area midweek causing areas around creek to become turbid as well.  With all this facing the anglers, anticipation of who would catch the biggest five biggest bass amongst the competitors ran high.  A lot of money, bragging rights, and valuable Team of the Year points were on the line and many anglers made the most of their time on the water.

Tournament day greeted the anglers with cool weather, fifty degrees made the morning prep and ride to the first locations a cold one.  However, that didn't last long as the sun popped out and started warming things quickly that day.  It was a great day fish, mild winds all day long and no precipitation.  Anglers had 8.5 hours to find the biggest five bass that they could before bringing them in to the 2:00pm weigh in.  In fifth place at the event was the father/son team of Travis and Cyrus Butters.  They had 4 smallmouth and 1 largemouth bass that weighed 12.29#.  Fourth Place went to Kevin Christensen and Keith Donnelly, they had 1 smallmouth and 4 largemouth bass weighing 13.26#.  Reaching third place was Todd Reed and Dan Sweeney; they caught 2 smallmouth and 3 largemouth that weighed 14.35#.  In the Runner-up spot was Justin Heim and Andrew Paulsen, they had 5 smallmouth weighing in at 15.01#, they also had the Big Bass for the event, a beautiful smallie that weighed 3.25#.  The Champs; Brett Rudy and Drew Berquist had 2 smallmouth and 3 largemouth bass that weighed 15.13#.  It really shows the caliber of anglers in this series with those big weights at the top of the leader board under challenging river conditions.

  • A quick data summary of the weigh-in: 
  • 59 total bass weighed in, average of 3.5 per boat.
  • 32 Largemouth Bass and 27 Smallmouth Bass
  • 144.28 Pounds of fish weighed in and released alive, which averaged 2.45# per bass
  • It took an average of of 2.46# per bass to get "in the money"

Congrats to all the anglers who found fish during this event, especially the 10 teams that weighed in a limit of 5 bass.  The next event is at 12-Mile Lake in the middle of July.  This event will decide the Team of the Year due to the first event being canceled due to weather at Spirit Lake. 

Complete results can be found on the website here:  June 18, 2022: Pool 9 Results

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Do BIGGER Baits Catch Bigger Fish?


There are many myths always being talked about in the world of fishing.  One of them that has always intrigued me is the "bigger baits" concept.  Touring pros, guides and anglers at the top of their game often preach about how bigger baits will catch you bigger fish.  I will side with this hypothesis most of the time, however as any angler knows, on those really tough fishing days, finesse baits must be used to get a bite.  I love experimenting with new baits, different styles and colors.  The past few years I have really started to experiment with bigger baits.  IMA Lures is a company that makes all types of crankbaits and topwater lures.  They have become my go-to hard topwater bait for many reasons; the designs are unique, the colors are spot-on for any situation and the hooks are razor sharp.  They are worth looking into if you have scrolled through their website.

This spring I have been experimenting with the "bigger baits = bigger bass" hypothesis.   One bait in particular that I have put a lot of casts into is the IMA Little Stick 135.  It is a 5.5 inch topwater walking bait, that spits water.  This large bait, weighing in at 1 ounce have caught my biggest fish each and every time on the water this spring when being used.  The action it provides is like no other bait I have ever seen.  The color selection is fantastic, three treble hooks including the back one wrapped in feathers and the hookup to landing ratio has been 100%, which is pretty rare with topwater baits.  This bait is large, needless to say with the title to this blog, and it sure catches the bigger fish.  

One thing to keep in mind with larger baits is your rod/reel/line setup.  When I first experimented with this big bait last year, my setup was not correct at all, it was very hard to throw with accuracy and get a lot of distance from it.  As mentioned it weighs in at an once, you need a to keep that in mind, typical bass baits are 1/4oz or 3/8oz.  This spring I have found the perfect the setup for this bait.  A Quantum SmokeX combo in the 7foot 2inch Med/Hvy Power with a Fast tip.  I spool the Quantum SmokeX baitcast reel with 15 pound monofilament line.  This whole setup seems to fit the bait perfectly, it helps me to make long, accurate casts, the line is very durable, and allows some stretch for those violent bass attacks on the bait.  

Can I say for sure that bigger baits will always catch you bigger fish...no, have I seen it make a difference up against regular sized bass baits, YES it sure has a more than one occasion this spring.  Enjoy the water, and as always let me know if you have any questions on the items talked about on this blog.

Quantum SmokeX Combo

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Take a Kid Fishing

Fishing is in full swing, and there is nothing better than a special fishing trip with a child.  It doesn’t matter if the child is 5 years old or 15 years old, that child has dreams of catching fish and having a good time with a special person.  I have had the chance to take dozens of kids fishing in the past decade, and a few adults that don’t get out much too, both are very satisfying and fun.  No matter the age, you will need to take certain steps to ensure you are introducing them properly to the sport of fishing. 

         To have an enjoyable time fishing with a youngster you need to focus on certain things that probably aren’t important on a regular fishing trip with an adult buddy.  Whether you choose a niece/nephew, grandchild, neighbor or your son or daughter, these simple steps will help you both have a good time fishing. 

The first thing you need to do is homework.  I know school will be out in about a month or so, but rarely does luck lead to catching fish.  There are certain reasons why fish are in certain locations.  A good place to do some research is the bait shop.  They speak with dozens of anglers each week and tend to know what species is biting and baits that work bestt.  Another good resource is the DNR website.  Each
Thursday they offer up tips and areas that are doing the best for fishing action.  Probably the best way to get some information is to talk with someone that you know that fishes often.  They might be able to give tips and even share a secret spot with you.  By doing some research, hopefully you will decide on the best place to go fishing.  Keep in mind that in the summer months, it is best to fish during the morning and evening hours, leaving out the middle part of the day. 


        The second thing to consider when taking children fishing is to make it a short trip.  There are plenty of lakes and ponds in all parts of the state that you will be able to catch some fish at.  Don’t overlook those public ponds inside the city limits, they often hold a lot of scrappy fish, perfect for kids.  Long rides in vehicles have never been a favorite of kids, so you wouldn’t want to start your fishing trip with one.  Try to make the entire experience around three or four hours.  You will be able to keep them active and excited about fishing for that length of time, if you stay out too long, they may never want to go again.

         Next, kids just want to catch fish.  Of course everyone wants to catch that huge fish every time they go fishing, but that doesn’t happen very often.  When it comes down to enjoying yourself, it is all about the catching.  If you and the child are catching fish they will soon forget about that dream of landing a huge one.  Make every effort to help the child catch fish, even if you might have to set the hook and let them reel it in.  Their entire goal is to catch fish, help them in any way to achieve that.

         This might be the most important part of a kid’s day on the lake or river; snacks and drinks!  Have plenty of these ready, they make for a great distraction if the fish aren’t biting very well. Anyway, who doesn’t like Pringles and a pop while fishing?

         Kids like to learn things, especially what they enjoy, so make the trip educational.  Teach the kids the proper terms of the tackle you are using, names of fish, what to call the bait or lures, and even explain to them what types of structure you are fishing.  The more they know the more they may become interested in fishing and a chance to make it a hobby in their future.

         When taking a child with you on a fishing trip, try and make it as positive as you can.  You know they will get snags, you know they will spill their pop or juice and need another one, you know they will ask at least 20 questions and you know that they will probably get a hook in you.  When these things happen, handle them as best you can and keep the mood light.  When the child does something good, make sure and tell them.  Whether it be a good cast or putting the worm on their hook just right, kids love to be told they are doing something right.  It will make them feel good and give them the confidence they need to try again and do it right.

         A day fishing with a youngster can be more than catching fish.  Make it a total outdoor experience.  Look for nature around the body of water that you are fishing and point it out to the child.  Things that could be pointed out are birds, small mammals and amphibians like turtles and frogs.  Kids will enjoy looking at the nature around them and allow them to concentrate on something other than their bobber for a while.  By taking a look at your surroundings you and the child will make it a true outdoor experience.

         Everyone loves a good picture; so don’t forget to take a camera.  Hopefully you will get a great shot of that youngster holding up their catch.  This will make for a great memory and might be treasured for a long time by them.  When taking outdoor pictures near water, make sure the camera is pointing away from the sun, water in the background will only make the picture look better.

         Finally, the most important thing is to take the proper safety precautions.  Sunscreen and a hat should be worn to protect the skin.  If out on a boat, all children under 14 years of age must wear a life jacket at all times, this might be a good idea if you are fishing on a bank that is close to the water too.  Safety should always be on your mind when taking a child near water, so keep them in sight throughout the day.

         Have fun out there and get a kid fishing as much as you can!

Monday, May 9, 2022

2022 Iowa High School Bass Team Championship Recap

For the fourth year in a row The Iowa High School Bass Team Championship, presented by SCHEELS took place in Eastern Iowa.  I was able to work some great companies to offer students from across the state a chance to compete in a bass tournament with some huge prizes.  The entry fee to this championship event is only $20 per boat, while we were able to give away a little more than $2,200 worth or fishing gear and trophies.  This event began with an idea I had, "Give any student in the state a tournament that they can fish, even if their school doesn't have a bass club."  It is open to any student in the state.  Here is the annual summary of this youth event:

May 7th, 2022 was a beautiful day at Pleasant Creek Lake for the 32 boats and 62 students to try and claim the top honors.  The event was started in 2019, Washington High School won that event, in 2020 it was Marion High School, and in 2021 Washington High School won again.  In 2022 there would be a different Champion.  On a slightly breezy day, winds out of the East at about 15mph, with temperatures in 60s and 70s it was the best Saturday of the entire spring season.  Mother Nature really allowed the kids to enjoy themselves and focus on fishing.  The results were very mixed, and this no doubt had to do with the weird spring we have been having.  Water temperatures on the main lake were hanging around 55 degrees, which is ideal, however those temperatures shot up in the two days prior to the event.  

1st Place Boat- Cedar Falls Tigers

I believe the bass really have not had the time to adjust to the warming temps and made for a tougher fishing day than it would appear.  Of the 32 boats that competed, 18 of them weighed fish in.  Only the top five teams were able to catch a limit of 5 bass, they included; 2 teams from ADM HS, Independence, Cedar Falls and Benton Community.  The team of Gavin and Kael from the Cedar Falls Tigers came away with the top honors on the day.  They weighed in 10.32# of largemouth bass to take first place.  Isaac and Kyler of ADM took second place with 9.25#, third place went to Wyatt of Benton Community with 8.65#.  Forth place went to Independence, which weighed in at 7.63#.  Rounding out the top 5 were Shay and Torin from ADM which had 6.81 pounds.   The Big Bass of the event went to Jarret and Kyler of MFL-Mar-Mac, they caught a 4.40# Smallmouth Bass.

In the "Team Championship", which includes the best two boats from each school,  ADM (Adel-DeSoto-Minburn) walked away with the 2022 championship as two of their boats placed in the top five individually.  Their combined team weight was 16.06#.  Second place was the team of Cedar Falls, they weighed in 13.69#.  The team that placed second in 2021 came away with third place this year; Independence had a team weight of 11.83#.  

2022 Team Champions: The ADM Tigers (Adel-DeSoto-Minburn)

The weather was great, a lot of fish weighed in, and over $2,000 worth of fishing equipment and prizes were handed to the next generation of bass anglers...what a great day!  Thank you sponsors for making this event possible: Scheels of Cedar Falls, Quantum Rods/Reels, Hot Rod Baits Bass Series, The Rod Glove, X-Zone Lures, and Cliff Keen Athletics.  

Please visit the event website for more details and check out all pictures on the Facebook page

Plans are already being made for the May 13th, 2023 event, stay tuned...

Morning Start with 32 boats