Sunday, July 10, 2016

2016 Brushy Creek 4-Man Tournament

For the past 12 years the Tri-County Bass Club has hosted a 4-man bass tournament at Brushy Creek.  This was an idea I had back in 2005 when I saw the neighboring state of Minnesota conducting similar events.  I am always willing to try different things, and the idea has caught on, this year it brought anglers from Nebraska, Missouri and Texas.  This is one of the biggest tournaments of the entire year at Brushy Creek each and every year.  I, along with the Tri-County Bass Club are pretty proud of that fact.  Needless to say a lot of planning goes into an event like this before the event takes place.  I would like to publicly thank Don Henry for the hours of work behind the scene he does each year, Zach Maxfield and Doug Chaloupek for helping each year with boat inspections and weigh-ins, and finally Dennis Meyer who did a fantastic job at being the weigh master at this years event.  As a group we make sure every angler that enters these events has a fair and equal shot at collecting prize money.  Speaking of that, this club fundraiser pays out over 80% each year back to the participants for their great catches.

The team I participate on each year has stayed constant that past several years; Doug Chaloupek, Dave Jordan, Don Henry and myself, all from Marshalltown.  However, this year Dave Jordan had to sit things out as he fights an illness, so Zach Maxfield stepped in for him.  We have a great time with each other, and even though we are there to "work" the event we don't let that get in the way of fishing too much.  As a group this year we caught 7 keeper bass, Don and Doug had a couple bass as they fished right up to the last few minutes of the event.  Zach and I managed a limit and culled a couple to bring in 14.95#.  Zach and I both love throwing our Quantum PT rods and reels and today, they performed flawlessly once again.  We caught our two biggest bass on an Optimum Baits Furbit Frog in a key area of grass.  Two bites was all, but those two bites turned into about 8 pounds of bass!  Other bass that day fell to the Hot Rod Baits "Jelly" Stickbait.  As a 4-Man team we weighed 18.74 pounds for our 7 keepers, this put us in 7th place our of 16 teams.  Not what we had hoped for, but all in all it was a great day of fishing, and the tournament, with the help of many club volunteers went off without a hitch!   Full results can be found here: Tri-County Bass Club

Brushy Creek Lake limit of 14.95#, 4.51 big bass


Monday, June 27, 2016

Wednesday Night fun

The Wednesday Fishing League (WFL) was started many years ago to gather friends at local lakes on a weekday to have some fun and compete in a friendly bass tournament.  I created these events well over a decade ago and have created and made many friendships through them.  In the past 6, 7 or 8 years (time flies when you have fun) my same partner for these events has been Don Henry.  We have had a lot of good times, our fair share of successes and head-scratching nights too.  No matter what mood the bass are in on that particular night, we make the most of it and have a good time.  This past Wednesday was no different, except we both know that our fishing time together at these events are about to end.
With my upcoming move to Independence I will be stepping aside or course, but the times spent with Don, talking about everything under the sun and catching a few bass will always be remembered.  This past Wednesday was fantastic, we figured out the bass that night at Rock Creek Lake.  Presenting Hot Rod Baits tubes and big craws with a 1/8oz sinker was the ticket.  Fish were located much more shallow than we had figured, but the ones we caught were stuffed with food in their big bellies telling us we found feeding fish.  We ended up with 4 keepers that night, which told us we figured out the bass.  Typically when you can do this in a 3 hour tournament you will place high, that night was a win for us on so many levels!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Summer Time VEXILAR

This past week I had the chance to fish with my two best fishing buddies...my kids.  We took our annual 3-day trip to fish for bluegills and enjoy nature.  Enjoying nature is never a hard thing to do, as both of our kids are under 10 years old and are very inquisitive.  They loved being outdoors, and they love to fish even more.
Bluegills were the target on this small 40 acre lake in Tama County.  It is rather deep, up to 20+ feet in several areas.  I knew the bluegills had to be close to ending the spawning routine, so I had a hunch they would be out deeper...enter the summer edition of the Vexilar.  Many anglers put their Vexilars away once the ice melts, and every year I tell them that it is a mistake.  I have installed the FL-10 on the bow of my boat, it is always there and ready to show me the fish.  Installing this was very easy, as it is a flush mounting system and the FL-10 package comes with everything you need to install it on your boat.

Cruising throughout the lake I saw the familiar red lines on the Vexilar and I knew exactly what we needed to do.  Suspending bluegills on slip bobbers is pretty fun, and my kids had a blast.  Most of the fish we caught were in about 10-12 feet of water, and the gills were hanging around the 6 foot mark.  It became as simple as; find suspending fish, drop the Talons, and cast the slip bobbers.  We had a great time catching bluegills and the occasional largemouth bass too.
Another great trip with the kids, thanks to the Vexilar FL-10.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Spawn or not?

May can be a tricky time of year in Iowa for bass.  Other than October, it is my favorite month to bass though, as most days are good for fish catches.  However, there are weeks where the bass are not in the mood to biting, especially the larger bass.  They have something more important on their minds, the annual spawn.  It is important to know where the bass are on the spawn schedule during this month and early June.  As I looked forward to the day of fishing, I assume that bass would be up shallow spawning or done.  I hoped to get a good picture of spawning activity to start the day.  I wish I could say I know what the bass were doing...but I can't.  I think they are finished at this lake, but I'm not really sure, as I didn't catch any larger fish off-shore, a sure clue that the spawn is over.  Either way, dozens of bass found their way in the boat on a variety of baits, but one was KEY on this day...

A morning trip to Hawthorne Lake yesterday was necessary to get a little "water therapy" in.  Getting up extra early this time of year is something I like to do, I love top water fishing, so I was on the road before the sun was up.  This was a mistake...as the topwater bite was non-existent on this particular day.  After 4 fish made a swirl behind my buzzbait, I put that rod away for the day.  I picked up an Optimum Baits Swimbait, which I twitched just under the surface and the bass loved it!  The first couple of hours was as good of a swimbait bite I've had in years.  I was rigging the Optimum Baits 5-inch Victory tail on a 4/O wide gap hook.  No sinker is necessary when throwing these small baits as they are heavy to make casting a breeze, even on 50# braided line.  A wide-gap hook is important when throwing swimbaits, it will allow you to hook up on many more fish.  I was throwing this rig on a 7-foot Med/Hvy Smoke combo from Quantum.  This in one deadly combination.  This bait worked well in the morning on rocky banks as well as the shoreline covered with weed growth.  If you have fished a swimbait before, you know how exciting they can be.  Most of the fish I caught on this bait I could visually see them come out of the weeds and strike the bait.  There is no better rush than to watch that a couple dozen times in a morning!
Many baits worked well this day on the water, jig, big craws, finesse worms, and crankbaits all caught fish, however slowing down in the shallow water with a swimbait was the key bait on this day for me.
Lake Conditions: Water temp: around 74-degrees, most of the lake had about 1-foot of clarity.  Bluegills were on beds, most all bass caught shallow.    

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Unique Buzzbait worth a look

I am honored to work with some great fishing companies.  One of these companies is Optimum Baits.  This company owns several smaller companies all specializing in certain types of fishing baits.  It's a one stop place for all your bass bait needs.  One unique product that was able to give a good testing last year was the Kahara Buzzy Frog.  This combines two ideas, a topwater frog, and a buzzbait.  Putting these two different baits together for a bait that bass have not seen.  The other night while out fishing the water temp was over 60 degrees, even though the bite had been tough all night I decided to give the fish something different to look at.  I got the Kahara Buzz Bait out and hooked up two fish on two bites in a short amount of time.  The hooks appear small at first glance, but the hook-up ratio on this bait is as good or better than a traditional buzzbait.

A few things about this bait that make it a great tool:
~ great color choices
~ durable, have caught dozens of bass on it and no sign of wear or tear
~ two hooks to keep fish buttoned up (wide gap double 2/O)
~ "in-line" design with a big blade
~ rides high in the water
~ solid frog body allows for long casts (weighs 3/4oz)
~ no need for a trailer, rubber skirt is secure on the back
~ goes through and around weeds
~ AWESOME around wood, it does not turn over like traditional baits, just stays upright

This bait is truly unique, something that Optimum Baits does a great job with.  They were the company that made the original swimbaits, they know how to revolutionize your tackle box.  They think out of the box and allow anglers to keep giving bass something fresh to look at, which is vital to angler success when fishing pressured waters.  Pick one up at their website or the next time you purchase items, you won't be disappointed.  Better yet, if you see me on the water I will toss you one to try, then I know will purchase a couple!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Hot Rod Baits Bass Series Event #1

Brian with a 5.5 pounder
on practice day
The Hot Rods Baits Bass Series kicked off this past Saturday at Little River Lake in Southwest Iowa.  This series consists of 3 events and is an "all or nothing" format.  Teams must pay for all three events before they even cast a line at the first tournament.  This takes commitment by team members and sets up the same competition all year long for the Team of the Year prizes.  Each event, members accumulate points on their finishes and amount of keepers they catch.  After the 3 events the top three teams will win cash prizes.  Brian Bowles and I have teamed up once again this year, hoping to push towards the top by the end of the year, and have a lot of fun along the way.
I was able to look the lake over the previous weekend due to another tournament I was participating in.  This allowed me to take a look at the lake, one that I haven't seen for about 15 years.  Needless to say I didn't remember much about the lake, and fishing has changed so much in the last 15 years I was starting over.  With water temperatures hanging around 60 degrees the bass were feeding and allowed me to put some pieces together.
On practice day Brian and I dissected the lake piece by piece, shallow water, deep water, rocks, wood, coves, main lake, and channel drops.  We found fish in a lot of different places, and the fish were feeding.  When this occurs it is fun, however it is hard to fine tune a game plan.  Along with the task of planning for the Saturday tournament, a major weather swing was coming to the area.  Winds were steady and from the north all day on Friday, and then the high pressure and southern wind started the night before the tournament.  We figured this would change the attitude of the bass, and it sure did.
Tournament day came on Saturday and we found about a third of the bites we did on Friday and the larger bass, those weighing over 2.5 pounds, seemed to disappear from us.  The forecasters actually had things right for once, winds out of the south up to 20 mph.  The combination of the Minn Kota 101 Fortrex and Talons put us at ease with the wind.  There is no need to shy away from days like this with the use of these tools.  They really make fishing comfortable in almost any weather situation.  We spent every minute of the 8 hour tournament working over our Quantum rods and reels looking for six keepers.  Brian ended up with the first one on a Texas-rigged craw bait, I hooked the next on a Hot Rod Baits tube.  We caught both in areas of coves that we caught keepers the day before.  Finally, we connected on two deep crankbait bass that made their way into the livewell.  We ended the day with 4 keepers and had our chins held high after a long hard day of fishing.  The weigh-in got started and anglers started reporting a rough day of fishing.  Things were tough for most teams, and that put our 4 keepers in 5th place at the end of the day.  All in all, it is a great start for us on the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series, next up is Lake Belva Deer in May.

Full results of the tournament are HERE


As a competitor and tournament director of the
Hot Rod Baits Bass Series, it was a very busy weekend.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Little River Lake Club tournament

This past weekend I spent both days on Little River Lake near Leon, IA.  This is a lake I haven't seen in about 15 years.  The DNR recently remodeled this lake and the fish populations are booming.  I don't say this too much, but the bass are over populated.  It was amazing how many bass I caught in two days, and add in all the other bass my club members caught, the population is huge!  That is good thing, however this particular weekend the population had many anglers shaking their head because the keeper bass over 15 inches were few and far between.
To say the least, fishing was fun, but at the same time frustrating.  It is hard to catch 30 plus bass and not catch a keeper.  A lot of anglers even reported catching more than that without a keeper.  Of course, as tournaments go someone will find the keepers and bring them to the scales.  This is one thing I enjoy about tournaments, no matter how bad or how good you think you did that day, a tournament really let's you know how did against other bass anglers.  This is one of the big reasons I fish tournaments, to measure up against others to really see how I did.  Some days one keeper is great, while others 10 keepers is great, fishing a tournament tells you that and you can see how you did.
Practice day found me driving to a lot of different parts of the lake checking things out.  Water clarity can help me focus things in this time year more than anything.  Water temperature is always on the forefront as I look around in April too.  I spent some time graphing and charting the lake with StructureScan too, which is something that I am getting more used to using to search our structure.  While fishing, I tried many techniques on Saturday trying to find a key bait that would lead to a few keepers.  This was a bust, as I didn't catch a single keeper.  Dozens of bass were caught that day, but nothing of good size, again, the lake is full of 13-14 inch bass, it's FUN!  However, as I sat at the motel that night preparing rods for the next day I decided to go with the basics and fish as hard as I could during the tournament with what I learned on Saturday.  Key baits I tied on were a jig, a River Green/Pumpkin Blue Hot Rod Baits tube, a chatterbait and a shallow crankbait.  I was going to sink or swim with these baits during the tournament.
Tournament day was another windy day and fish after fish were caught.  I am totally enthused to have Minn Kota TALONS on my boat.  These shallow water anchors allowed me to fish water patiently and slowly during the day even with 20+ mph winds.  I can set these anchors down and just focus on fishing, not running ht trolling motor or loosing the spot that I am trying to fish.  They really are amazing and is something that you don't really believe until you have a chance to use them first hand.  Another big key was the smooth casting reels of QuantumPT provides. It was no problem to present baits in that heavy wind.  It was a good two days of fishing, and even though I ended up in 5th place for the tournament I am happy with the results.  I know the lake much better and fine tuned some baits for the near future.  The lake will see me once again very soon, and I hope I can better my 5th place finish next time.