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!  

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Indee Bass Club April Tournament on the Wapsi

1st Place: EJ and Sam with 10.95#
 The Wapsi River near Independence has been in excellent shape all spring long.  The river has not been over three feet high all spring which is very rare, allowing students and adults to enjoy a lot of fishing this month.  That is the good Mother Nature can give, but then she deals three straight days of below freezing temperatures the week before the first youth event of the year, NOT NICE Mother Nature.  

The water temperatures were in the mid-upper 50s the weekend before the Indee Bass Club tournament, those same waters were showing 48-49 degrees during the tournament on April 24th.  One thing bass do not like in the spring is a massive decline in water temperature, and that is exactly what the club members were up against.

Saturday morning saw temperatures right at 45 degrees at the 7am blast-off, chilly no doubt.  As the morning progressed to the noon weigh-in the wind picked up and the real-feel never really felt any warmer than 45 degrees.  To say the least the kids had to battle the cold weather, wind and a river full of bass that were not in the mood to eat.

One thing I have learned in my 25+ years of fishing bass tournaments is that someone always finds some active fish, today was no different as 15 students battled the weather and the Wapsi Bass.  Two different teams were still able to bring a tournament limit of 5 bass to the scales.  EJ Miller and Sam Hamilton brought 5 nice smallmouth bass to the scale that weighed 10.95#, including the Big Bass of the event by EJ that weighed 2.29 pounds.  Their captain was Brian Miller.  They were able to find a school of smallmouth bass feeding in once general location on the Wapsi for the victory.  EJ reported that a Texas-Rigged Craw was the hot bait for the day.  Randy Toale was the captain for Jackson Toale and Dalton Hoover, they too had 5 keeper bass and placed 2nd with 6.00#.  In 3rd place was a pair of 7th graders; Ranger Reed and Carter Cameron had two keeper largemouth bass for 2.59#, the captain was Todd Reed.  Fourth place went to another Junior High team of Cal Sweeney and Remy Ressler.  They had two keeper largemouth bass that weighed 2.38#, their captain was Dan Sweeney.  Fifth place went to Zach Sidles with captain Landry Jones, Zach caught one nice largemouth that weighed 1.86#.  Kegan Postel and Jackson Wold teamed up for sixth place with one chunky largemouth that weighed 1.81 pounds.  In 7th place was Caleb Weber, Teegan McEnany and their captain Keith Corkery with one largemouth that weighed just under a pound.  The weigh-in went smoothly for Coach Todd Reed and his volunteers Randy Toale and Dan Sweeney.  All bass were released back to the Wapsi to be caught another day.  The weather was cruel, the students were cold, but seven teams were able to bring bass to scales to be weighed in, congratulations to all that braved the weather and caught some Wapsi Bass.

A huge thanks goes out to the club sponsors; Buchanan County Wildlife Association, Bank Iowa, Klever Concrete, Scheels in Cedar Falls, Hank's Bait and Tackle, Quantum Rods and Reels, The Rod Glove, Strike King and Hot Rod Baits.  With the contributions of these sponsors over $700 of prizes and fishing gear were given away to students at this event, nobody went home empty handed.  The next event for the Indee Bass Club is an away event at Big Woods Lake near Cedar Falls.  You can find out more about this youth club on Facebook, Instagram and their WEBSITE LINK.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Pitching to Perfection

Pitching is by far one of the most popular way to fish for largemouth bass.  No matter what tournament report you read, TV show you see, or YouTube series you may watch, Pitching is a staple in the world of bass fishing.  Recently I visited a lake for the first time this year after a huge cold front.  I had two rods on the deck, one rigged with a jig and the other a Texas-Rigged Tube.  Both of these are my favorite things to pitch into cover and along rocky shorelines.  I have used the same rod/reel type for this presentation going on about 10 years.  It is effective and it simply works for so many different situations.  

ROD: Quantum 7ft 2in Medium/Hvy Power with a Fast action tip

REEL: Quantum Energy with a 7+:1 Gear Ratio

BAIT: Hot Rod Baits 4-inch Tube

LINE: 15# Monofilament

The fast action tip allows me to make long and more precise pitches into cover such as limbs and laydown logs.  It also works well to skip baits under trees and docks.  The fast ratio reel allows me to pick up line quickly for a new pitch or when that bass starts to run at the boat.  This either saves me time or allows me to catch a couple more fish each time out.  

If you are pitching baits and missing fish, or fish are coming off after the hookset, don't be afraid to change things up.  This Quantum combo has worked for many years in a variety of models for me, however each person fishes a bit different from the next guy.  Mix things up and I hope you can get a "Pitchin' Combo" that serves you as well as this one has for me.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

COLD Start to the Year

 The weather in Iowa just warm up, but looking into the long forecast that should change by the next blog update.  Today was only the second time out on Wapsi this year, but the largemouth didn't disappoint.  With the water temperature at 48-degrees, I knew it would be another "pitchin" day.  The water clarity on this body of water is really clear right now, so I went with a custom Wig's Jig in green pumpkin with a green pumpkin jig chunk on it.  I rigged the jig chunk in a compact way to decrease the profile of the bait in hopes of enticing more bass to bite.  Pitching and making long casts to the shoreline, laydown trees, and points proved to be what the bass wanted.  A perfect combo for this is the Quantum Special Issue 7'6in Med/Hvy Rod paired with a Quantum Tour High Speed Reel.  The bass remain lethargic in this part of the river, not much of a bite to detect, but like march bass fishing every bass I caught was a solid keeper.  Get out there and enjoy it if you can, you never know if that "big one" will be the next bite.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

The 1st Time on the Open Water

13 days is a long time...without fishing!  In the whole scheme of things not really, but I am always a bit sad when the ice gear is put away for the year.  However it didn't take long before I was able to get the boat out and enjoy some fishing with the long rods.  Like the past several years, the Wapsi River was quick to thaw and made it simple and easy to enjoy an afternoon casting for bass.  Typical for early season bass, the bites were not numerous but they were quality fish.  It felt good to make long casts with the Quantum Rods and Reels, and to pitch a jig up against a log, and that first produced!  A few bass were had on this first time out, all on slower baits including Wig's Jigs and Hot Rod Baits tubes.   Water temperature was hanging between 44-47 degrees, making for some very light bites.  A great first outing, everything worked as it should and some nice healthy bass hooked and released. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

The Last time for 2021?


Brushy Creek was a lake I have not visited this year yet, so it was time, as our time for ice fishing was winding down.  Brushy Creek is one of the deepest lakes in the state, and is also full of wood, standing timber, and brushpiles.  It is a fish factory!  

Warmer weather has hit Iowa this past week and the shorelines are starting to disappear.  The first 4 areas that we tried to access the lake were not going to allow us.  The shore had melted away and we couldn't get to the safer ice out in the middle.  Our fifth and final try we found a good access point that allowed us a place to walk right out onto the lake.  With all the safety gear in tote, three of us walked to our first destination.  As we walked I had my eyes on the Navionics GPS app on my phone.  I noticed a spot too good to walk over, so we stopped and gave it a try.  A wooded area that was just a little ways from a deep creek channel.  After a quick search with the Vexilars, we had found numerous holes will fish movement.  We started pulling up gills and crappies pretty regularly for the first couple of hours.  I even got tot angle with the large bass in the picture, it measured 17.5 inches.  It was great fighting that fish on a 36-inch rod with the Quantum Throttle reel.  I fully believe that without a reel that had such a smooth drag, I would never have seen that bass, let alone catch it.  That was the highlight of the afternoon/evening as we tried a lot of different areas but never found a huge school of fish.   Gills, crappies, bass and couple of perch made their way topside to the ice, and we kept about a dozen panfish for a meal.  

Will this be the last time...I sure hope not, but as I glance at the forecast for tomorrow, the high is set for 65 degrees and the low for the day is 49 degrees.  Be safe out there friends as the ice slowly melts away.