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

Saturday, April 30, 2022

New Year = New Rod/Reel Combo

Every few years, the engineers at Quantum come out with a new design to capture consumers and offer yet another great line of products.  2022 has brought a new line of SMOKE X Series rods and reels to the market.  So far I have been able to the use 7-foot model in Med/Hvy power.  This combo has been awesome for pitching jigs and Texas-Rigs in shallow water, it also worked well with a swinghead jig.  The rod has a fast action, so I also believe that I may tie on some heavy braid and use it as a frog rod or large swimbait rod too.  The reel comes in four different gear ratios, so you could use this for any type of lure you wish, with 9 bearings it is smooth and making long casts is not a problem.  The EVA foam handles are great and I like the new hook hanger they used on these rods too.  So far this has been a great combo, and what might be the best thing about it is the price tag.  You can purchase these directly from the Quantum website for $200, yes, both the ROD and the REEL!  A few years ago, Quantum also introduced an industry first, offering a 5-year Warranty on certain models of rods and reels.  Yes, the SMOKE-X does fall under that category, so buy with confidence from a company that stands behind their product for 5 years. 

If you have any questions about this line of Quantum products or what type of rod/reel you should purchase, just get a hold of me.  I can guide you through the process with a few easy questions and get you set up with the right kind of rod and reel for the type of fishing you want to do.

5 Year Warranty on SMOKE X Rods and Reels

Monday, April 25, 2022

April Indee Bass Club Event (Youth)


The year kicked off with a great start for the Indee Bass Club on April 24th.  Twenty-Four students braved the 30+ mph winds and temperatures in the forties to chase down some Wapsi River bass.  Adding to the curveball Mother Nature provided with the weather, the Wapsi River in Independence was also on the rise and parts were getting a little muddy.  Muddy water is never good for a consistent fishing bite, so the young anglers would have to make every cast and every minute count on this day.

With all the negative attributes going on with the Wapsi River, one positive was the water temperature.  The weather has been unusually cold, yet the water temperature still remained over fifty-degrees, while one team reported a reading of 58.8 on their temperature gauge at one point during the day.  With the warmer water temperatures, the bass were hungry and the ones that were weighed in, and later released back into the river, were very healthy and chunky!  The goal for this bass tournament was to bring five keeper (12 inches or more) bass to the scales for each boat.  Two anglers were set in each boat along with an adult captain to drive the boat and keep everyone safe on the water while learning the sport of bass fishing. Only two boats were able to catch their five bass, which is typical this time of year, especially up against the weather and river conditions.  

The results varied a lot on this particular day on the Wapsi, while seven teams were able to bring bass to the scales, five were not able to.  As with any tournament, anglers had to adjust and make use of their time on the water.  Almost all boats reported catching fish, including some nice walleyes and northern pike, however smallmouth and largemouth bass were the only fish anglers could weigh in at the event.  Here are the results, as well as angler reports on how they caught their bass;

7th Place- Jackson Beatty and Gable Eddy were able to bring a smallmouth bass to the scales by using a Ned Rig, it weighed in at 1.02#.  Shane Beatty was the captain of this pair of 7th graders.

6th Place- Cal Sweeney and Remy Ressler caught the third biggest bass of the entire event, a beautiful largemouth bass that weighed 2.43#.  Remy reported, "I was throwing a big square bill crankbait, cast after cast and finally when I was reeling it back from going along a fallen tree, the bass ate it right at the boat!"  The captain of this team was Dan Sweeney.

April Wapsi Champs: Dalton Hoover and Jackson Toale

5th Place- Cam Wilson and Hunter Patton came in with two smallmouth bass that weighed a total of 2.65#.  They reported catching both keepers on a Hot Rod Baits Tube using a Texas-Rig.  Their captain was Dave Wilson.

4th Place- Kegan Postel and Jackson Wolf caught two largemouth bass that weighed 3.45#.  Kegan said that they found some areas of the river that were out of the wind, had three feet of water and some laydown logs.  The fish were caught pitching Texas-Rigged Hot Rod Baits Big Craws and tubes.

3rd Place- A pair of Seniors, Teegan McEnany and Caleb Weber grabbed third place with five smallmouth bass that weighed 6.27#.  All their bites were in current, and all the fish bit on a Ned-Rig bait.  Their captain was Keith Corkery.

2nd Place- The eighth grade duo of Ranger Reed and Carter Cameron found themselves in second place with a weight of 7.99#.  They weighed in four largemouth bass, including the second largest of the whole event, weighing 2.52#.  All the bass were caught on spinnerbaits.  Captaining this pair was Todd Reed.

Runner-Up: Carter Cameron and Ranger Reed

1st Place- Jackson Toale and Dalton Hoover, both Seniors captured yet another win on the Wapsi River.  This pair had four largemough bass and one smallmouth bass that weighed in at 13.01#, which is a new club record for a tournament.  Jackson also caught the "Hank's Bait and Tackle" Big Bass of the tournament award, it weighed 3.65#.  He earned a trophy and a large tackle pack from Hank's Live Bait and Tackle in Waterloo.  Randy Toale was the captain of this pair.  

The top three teams earned trophies and Scheels awards of gift cards, hats and rod sleeves, all donated by Scheels of Cedar Falls.  After the awards were passed out each student was able to go home with some type of prize through a random drawing.  Rods, Reels, baits, line and many other items purchased or donated by the sponsors of the club; Colony Plumbing/Heating/Air Conditioning, Bank Iowa, Klever Concrete, Quantum Rods and Reels, Buchanan County Wildlife Association, The Rod Glove, Hot Rod Baits Bass Series, X-Zone Lures, Scheels of Cedar Falls, and Hank's Live Bait and Tackle of Waterloo.  To cap off the night, Jim and Cheryl Reed donated a meal of pizza for all the anglers and captains that took part in the tournament.  A huge thanks to all our sponsors for making this such a great event for the kids of Independence.  The club is open to any student in grades 7th-12th.  You can find more pictures and information about the club on their website, Facebook, or Instagram pages.  Coach Reed can be contacted by email with any questions or sponsor inquiries: treedbass@yahoo.com

Monday, April 11, 2022


To all those Math people out there, this seems like a pretty easy equation...almost too easy.  It is a bit of an exaggeration, but it holds true more in the spring than any other time of the year.  This time of year the wind can be vicious for days on end, keeping a lot of anglers at home.  With a few adjustments in tackle and some determination you can get out there on those windy days and still chase those bass.  

I have always stated that the wind effects the anglers far more than the wind effects the fish.  Waves and moving water are a part of life for fish, however anglers often think that throwing baits to them and controlling a boat is too difficult on these windy, spring days.  A few minor tweaks can help anglers deal with the wind, and still catch bass.  

1) Mental- Get over it, and get after them.  It's windy, USE the wind to your favor.  Get to any rock covered bank in the strongest wind and catch those feeding fish.  The wind will create feeding opportunities, bass will seek out rocky banks such as jetties, dams, and any other rocky shoreline to visually feed.  These windy areas will have cleaner water and be full of food for bass.

This GREEN dial will allow you fish under heavy
winds.  Free mode is set for no wind, turn it up
as the wind increases.  DO NOT adjust the tension
knob near the reel handle on windy days.
2) Lure Selection- cast and retrieve baits, heavier baits will obviously be easier to cast.  My April favorites are a spinnerbait and crankbait.

3) Spinning reel- a spinning reel will not backlash, perhaps a good choice for some on windy days

4) Baitcast Adjustment- All Quantum baitcasters have 2 adjustments on them to manually dial in for every situation and lure weight.  Adjust the magnetic braking system with each type of bait to make those long casts without backlashing. (see pic)

5) Boat control- Turn the speed down.  This may be contradicting, but when the wind is constantly blowing, find the speed for your trolling motor that compensates for the wind and keep it there.  Applying constant trolling motor power is far better than fast, then nothing, then fast, then nothing.  Slow and steady catches fish in the wind.

As you can see, these are not huge makeovers to any bass angler.  Thinking about the situation, accepting, not complaining about the wind is the first thing to overcome.  Some minor adjustments in baits and perhaps to your baitcaster and you too can be catching fish this spring.  Stay at it, and remember to CPR this time of year so those beautiful bass can spawn!