Friday, November 23, 2018

The Season has begun

November 18th marked the first time on the ice for me this year.  This was the earliest I have ever ice fished.  The unusual fall weather brought enough cold weather to northern Iowa to allow the ice to form rapidly over a week-long stretch.  A group of 5 of us traveled to Northern Iowa in search of good ice.  We tried 7 locations over the day and ended up fishing on 3 of them.  Bluegills, Perch, Largemouth Bass and Catfish were caught.  The VEXILAR showed us that the action was steady all day and we all had a good time.  It was good to see some ice fishing friends from Des Moines once again.

First ice is very exciting, however CAUTION has to be on forefront of any ice adventure, especially early in the season.  Traveling in groups is first line of defense, as well as safety equipment; spikes, rope, flotation devices and cell phones.  Using a spud bar and or drilling many holes to check the ice is something we all need to do this time of year.  Don't take someones word that the ice is ok, check it yourself or simply stay home.  NO FISH is worth taking a chance on unstable ice. Be prepared, travel in small groups and always take in your surroundings in this early ice season.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Understanding your FLASHER

Ice fishing shows in Iowa are in full swing, I was sent to Clear Lake Bait and Tackle last weekend to give a seminar on using flashers to catch more fish through the ice.  No matter the crowd there are always a few things that really get the attention of the crowd.

Below you will see the most common thing I get asked while doing shows at the beginning of winter.  This graphic shows the math behind the lines on your flasher.  We need to train our minds that the colors are not the "size" of fish as a lot of anglers assume.  The graphic shows how the colors can create a mental picture for us as we decipher what our flasher is telling us.  Use the colors to present the baits at the appropriate depths, never go to a GREEN or YELLOW line, always fish above it.  Also, always go after the RED lines, those fish are right beneath you and it also tells you at what depth the fish are moving through your water column.  Note, the crappies are swimming all at the same depth, however the lines on the Vexilar will appear deeper as they are farther away from the ice-ducer.  This is the reason why we need fish above the yellow and green lines.

Many great videos can be found on the Vexilar website:

Have fun, be safe and enjoy the upcoming ice might be here before many think!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Cold Water River Bass Fishing

This past weekend, Don Henry and I made our annual trip to the Mississippi River for a little fall fishing.  The past couple years, the weather worked out to our favor...this year, the weather tested us on both days.  Saturday morning on our way to Pool 9 we ran into an October Blizzard.  Winds were gusting up to 40mph and the snow coming down was thick as fog.  Typically a little snow in October is nothing, this was a hard snow that blanketed everything for a few minutes, thankfully it did melt away quickly as the temps were near 40 degrees.  We fished in some flurries which isn't anything brand new to fall fishing, but the 30+ mph north winds were a constant battle.  The Minn Kota Talons and Ultrex trolling motor made the day much more tolerable fighting these conditions.  These two tools give you total boat control and allow you to fish any style you want.  The day was a typical fall day up there, however the fish were not easily tricked.  We had to really slow our baits down and fish through the trees and weeds to get them to bite.  I know I say it plenty but having the right equipment on these "light bite days" is important.  Using med/heavy flippin rods by QuantumPT and smooth casting control of the QuantumPT reels really made these terrible fishing conditions disappear.  Backwater areas with little or no current are always the popular places to be this time of year.  The water in Pool 9 at several different locations was hanging right around 48 degrees all day long.  It was a good day, boating a few dozen largemouth bass with plenty of two pounders tugging at our lines.  The cold and wind wore us out and by the sunset we were regrouping at the motel for the next day.
Largest River Bass to date: 4.76#

We woke up Sunday to temperatures of 28degrees.  Needless to say we were in no hurry to get on the water today.  Some tackle prep, a hot breakfast and coffee later we were headed to the ramp in Pool 10 for some more backwater fishing.  Today, the wind was out of the south and much lighter, and the sun was out all day long.  The temperatures only rose into the high 40's but it felt great all day long with that bright sunshine.  Today was a similar day, focusing on backwater areas where the fish were starting to gather for the winter months.  The middle and upper sections of Pool 10 have many of these areas and are quite easy to get to.  Rocks are always good this time of year and the bass were holding true on this fact today.  The water on Pool 10 was at a 15.9ft level, 7-8 feet higher than a typical October day, this gave the fish plenty of areas to hide.  Flooded trees, especially willows seemed to hold a lot of baits today.  Don and I pitched craws and tubes into the tree stems and the fish were ready for a quick meal.  Many fish were caught using this method, but a method that continues to shine for me is the swing-head jig.  This, paired with a Hot Rod Baits Big Craw has been a great search and catch combination for me.  It is quickly becoming an everyday tool for me.  One other method that shined today was the jerkbait.  I was using the IMA Flit 120, this jerkbait has 3 treble hooks, suspends in the 6-8 foot range and you can really cast thing a long ways.  It is ideal for fall fishing with the stop and go presentation for weary cold bass.  This bait caught me my largest ever Mississippi River bass today, it weighed in at 4.76#, a true beauty.  Needless to say it was the highlight of the trip.  Overall it was a great 2 days of fishing on the Big River with a couple of friends.  It might be the last time I visit the Mississippi this year and if so, it will be one to remember for a long time!
Don Henry with a nice Pool 10 keeper

Sunday, October 14, 2018


Package comes with
everything you need
Vexilar came out with a slick Glo-Ring this year.  It connects to your existing Vexilar battery and comes with an on/off switch.  The installation is easy, CHECK OUT THE VIDEO BELOW.

This add-on to any Vexilar unit will eliminate the need to carry extra things out on the ice.  No need for small flashlights, changing those small batteries or getting a dull charge on your jig or spoon.  This glow device will give you a constant charge on your lures all year long without the concern of bringing something else with you.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

IOWA BASS NATION High School State Tournament

Bassmasters is a world-wide organization who started the bass fishing tournament craze in the late 60's.  That same organization is the one that these young kids of Independence compete under.  BASS created the youth movement about a decade ago.  The Iowa Bass Nation began the youth state tournament at about the same time.  The Independence High School Bass Club was created about two years for the youth of Independence.  This year the kids had a chance to fish in 4 local tournaments and a couple of seminars organized by club coaches Todd Reed, Keith Donnelly and Garry Anderson.

September 23rd was the annual Iowa High School State Bass Tournament, it has two divisions, one for 7th/8th grade students and one for high school students.  The Indee Bass Club had three teams consisting of Karter Wendling and Ryan Williams, Peyton Lolwing and Ryan Thompson, and Jackson Toale and Dalton Hoover.  These three teams all weighed in bass at the end of the day and all finished in the middle of the standings.  The Indee Bass Club had two teams represented in the Junior Division.  Camerson Wilson and Ashton Lolwing finished 5th out of the ten teams and Justin Schmadeke and Hunter Patton ended up Champions of this division.  They caught 5 keeper bass that weighed 9.17 pounds that beat all other Junior Division teams.  Boat captains for the five Indee Bass Club boats were; Brent Roluff, Eric Johnston, Trent Beier, Chad O'Brien and Dave Wilson.  The captains are responsible for driving the boats around the tournament waters and keeping the kids safe throughout the day.
Hunter/Captain Eric Johnston/Justin
Junior Division STATE CHAMPS

It was a great showing for the club this year with every team catching bass to weigh in.  As each group came into the weigh-in area I was thrilled as each told me that they had some bass to weigh in.  Another wonderful weekend on the Mighty Mississippi River and one that these 10 young men will never forget!

None of this would be possible without the support of our CLUB SPONSORS, please support them or offer a thank you if you have a chance.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Seminar Time- Indee Bass Club

A huge turnout of Indee Bass Club members showed up for the fall seminars held at the Triangle Pond here in Independence, Iowa.  When Keith Donnelly and I started this club we had one goal in mind; to help the kids learn about bass fishing and help them get better.  This night is always a great way to keep that goal alive for the kids in the Independence area.  About 20 students were there to learn about casting techniques, rod and reel selection, bait choices and get any questions answered that they may have.  All students left the seminars with some new baits thanks to PROW (Preserving Recreation On the Wapsi), myself and Dale Gooding (fishing friend of myself).

Students were able to get 1 on 1 attention while they casted, flipped and pitched there baits at targets, something that looks easy at first but isn't.  Most anglers at this age are pretty efficient at casting, but the art of pitching a bait to a certain target is still very hard for them.  Practicing in the backyard is the best way to learn this skill, your neighbor might think you are a bit weird, but in the near future you can show them all those pictures of bass you have been catching!

Thanks to the other adults that helped out with the learning on this night: Paul Schmadeke, Dave Wilson, and Randy Toale.

Final Bass World Sports Tournament of 2018

Saturday was the last Bass World Sports tournament of the year for Kevin Christensen and I.  We had placed 5th in our first one this year and the second one we got caught behind the locks, but our weight would have put us in 4th place.  We were determined to make this last one better than the previous two.  We both took our boats to Pool 9 the weekend before to search out areas where the bass were hiding.  We were able to cover a lot of water using two different boats and we had a pretty good plan going into this weekend.  The bottom half of the pool would get our attention and we stayed there the entire tournament looking for our 5 bass limit.  In the areas we fished the bass were not in a chasing mood.  Texas Rigged Hot Rod Baits Tubes, Big Craws and Wig's Jigs were the ticket to getting the bass to bite.  Black and Blue, and Mississippi Craw worked well when throwing jigs and the Green Pumpkin/Blue tube really shined this past weekend with the somewhat dirty water.  Working both of these baits on QuantumPT flippin rods were key to getting the proper hook set in the current.  Water temps were in the low 70's and fish were still in or close to current areas.
Catch and Release is mandatory at all bass
fishing tournaments.  Our fish were
 in great shape as they swam
 away to be caught another day.

We chipped away all day long and had a decent limit by 9am.  We were able to upgrade a few times but just couldn't get one last upgrade to take us over the top.  We knew we had about 12 pounds but that doesn't cut it in this league, too many top river anglers, it is a guarantee at each of these events that a few teams will load them up.  We fished our best, and covered all the water we wanted to.  We ended up with 12.51# for our 5 keepers and ended up in 5th place out of about 20 teams.  It was one of those weigh-ins that you say to yourself, "yep that is about what we deserve".  We had 4 nice largemouth bass, but that last one that weighed about 1.75# was the one that soured the day.  We were only 0.30# away from a 3rd place finish, so in the end that "stung" a bit but it also told us we had a good fishing day but just missed out on a good payday.  There will be more chances for us!