Sunday, September 27, 2020

2020 Iowa High School Team Championship

Lake MacBride was the venue of the 2020 Iowa High School Team Championship, presented by Scheels in Cedar Falls.  Twenty-Six boats from fourteen different schools showed up to take home over $1,500 worth of fishing gear.  The event was hosted by Hot Rod Baits Bass Series, and sponsored by Scheels, The Rod Glove, Cliff Keen Athletics,  Quantum Rods and Reels and Hot Rod Baits.  This event ended up being the BIGGEST youth bass tournament in the state of Iowa for 2020!

Lake Mac Bride was in great condition for the tournament, the water had good clarity and the bite was good the week before the event.  However, Mother Nature showed up Friday with 20+ mph winds that kept going the day of the event, making fishing a little more challenging for the kids.  Even in the difficult conditions 44 bass were brought to the scale.  many techniques worked throughout the day for the kids, as many bolstered their success at the weigh-in station.  Many of those fish were in 1.00-1.50 pound range but there were also four bass that weighed right at or over the 3.00 pound mark.  As with any bass tournament held across the nation some teams were able to figure out the mystery and walk away the trophies and fishing gear.  The top five individual boats received trophies and prizes as well as the school champion.  The school champion is the total of 2 boats from the same school district.



Here are the individual results of the top 5 and the 2020 team champions:

1st Place: Jace and Tristan- Marion High School       10.45#

2nd Place: Gage and Hayden- Solon High School       9.59#

3rd Place: Noah and Charlie- Washington High School  8.00#

4th Place: Jake and Devon- Benton Comm. Schools     7.83#

5th Place: Cole and Quade- West Des Moines Valley    5.54#

Big Bass- Jace and Tristan: 3.54#


2020 High School Team Champions: Marion- Jace/Tristan/Parker/Haiden 8 bass for 13.61#

Full results and more pictures can be seen on the tournament website: Iowa High School Team Championship


Monday, September 7, 2020

Do Fish Really Bite Better in the Rain?

Not a month goes by that a person doesn't ask me about this, lately there hasn't been rain for about a month, but this past Tuesday it did finally rain.  It just so happened that I was fishing a local Tuesday Night Tournament during this rain.  As the rain started to come down, I chuckled a bit just thinking about this myth...or is it a myth???

A nice Smallmouth Bass fell
to the Whopper Plopper

The night of the tournament was going as planned...for once.  I had a stretch of deep wood that was holding a lot of bass, the size was smaller but I knew we could get a fast limit of three bass there to start the night.  We took off and went to that shoreline and quickly started to get bites, and keepers in the livewell.  It didn't take long and we had our limit of three bass.  I then went to the next location where some bigger bass tend to hang out from time to time.  I caught one that was around the 3.50# mark, a big upgrade and our night was panning out just right.  Then, it started to rain.  Out came the raingear and the Whopper Plopper, a buzzing topwater bait.  

So, does the rain really make the fish bite more?  If a person were to randomly ask people I would bet the percentage of people saying yes would be far more than those saying no.  This isn't something new, the saying the has been around, well forever.  I have no real scientific proof if it is a myth or not, however I know from fishing countless days in the rain that I can safely say it doesn't really matter.  I will say this though, when it is raining you will see me throwing one of two baits the majority of the time while it is raining.  I am not talking about when it is sprinkling or misting like we see in the spring and fall quite often, but when the drops are falling hard, a good solid rain.  


Those two baits I speak of are the buzzbait and or the Whopper Plopper.  These baits are designed to stay on top of the water while you reel them in.  I can only assume that when it does start raining rather hard, the disturbance on top of the water gets the attention of the fish, especially bass.  This is why these baits are so affective while a rain storm is moving through.  The rain causes the attraction, and the bass can't help but to swim up and eat the pretend fish swimming away.  This played out perfectly on this night, as the rain fell, the Whopper Plopper brought fish after fish to the boat.  It also caught our second biggest first of the night, a nice smallmouth bass.  Sometimes things just work out right.

So does rain really make fish bite better?  I always say no, however some baits do work better during those rain storms, so give them a try next time you find yourself stuck in a rain storm. 

***As always, if you see any lightning or hear any thunder, take cover, it is not safe to fish under those conditions.***

Saturday, August 8, 2020

August Indee Bass Club Tournament Recap

1st Place: DaltonH/Captain Randy Toale/JacksonT

 

The Indee Bass Club held their latest event on August 5th on the Wapsi River in Independence.  Eighteen students participated on nine different boats.  The Wapsi River was at a very low level; 4.90ft, the lowest the kids have ever seen during these club events.  The current was almost nonexistent on the river, but in August the fish must eat.  The anglers and their boat captains took off at 4:30pm and had four hours to try and find five keeper bass which must measure over 12-inches.  At the conclusion of the event at 8:30pm the anglers bring their bass to the weigh-in scale from the boats livewell to get their total weight.  After the weight has been recorded the bass are released back into the river to swim again.  

This months tournament had a repeat at the top two spots from July.  JacksonT and DaltonH brought in five largemouth bass that weighed 11.57# for the back to back win, they were captained by Randy Toale.  They reported catching their fish on Texas-Rigged tubes, buzzbaits and swimjigs.  In second place was RangerR and CarterC, they brought in a mixed bag of five keeper bass for 8.77# including the big bass caught by Carter that weighed 2.93#, Todd Reed was their captain.  This team caught all their keepers on spinnerbaits and wacky-rigged stick baits.  In third place was senior ParkerS and partner RemyR.  They had four largemouth bass that weighed 6.92# and were captained by Dan Sweeney.  This duo caught all their fish using a Tokyo Rig and a plastic craw bait.  In fourth place was another senior, Landry Jones and his partner Kegan Postel.  They brought in two big smallm

2nd Place and Big Bass: RangerR and CarterC

outh bass that weighed 4.95#.  Landry has been the club president for the past two years, a student voted position.  This partnership caught those beauties on a black and blue swimjig and twister tail jigheads.  Fifth place finishers were EJ M and SamH.  They caught three smallmouth bass that weighed 3.78#.  Their captain was Brian Miller.  This pair caught their bass on crankbaits and spinnerbaits.  Sixth place was GradyC and KyleB, captained by Rick Wendling.  They brought in two keepers that weighed 3.09#.  In seventh place was Justin Schmadeke and Hunter Patton.  Captain Paul Schmadeke and this team brought in two keeper largemouth bass that weighed 2.65#.  In eighth place was JacksonW and ZachJ which were captained by Dave Wilson.  They caught one nice largemouth that weighed 2.40#.

As you can see from the results, many bass on the Wapsi were hitting a variety of baits on this night.  It ended up being a record setting night for the Indee Bass Club.  The club as a whole broke two records; the first was the most keepers brought in at a single event at 24.  The second record that was broken was the total weight of bass weighed in, it was 44.13#.  The kids, with the help of the volunteer captains just keep getting better. 

This Independence area club is open to any 7th-12th grader at Independence or St. John's school.  Information can be found on Facebook or their webpage; just search Indee Bass Club to find them.  The club is sponsored by Bank Iowa, Klever Concrete, Buchanan County Wildlife Association, Scheels of Cedar Falls, Hank's Bait and Tackle in Waterloo, Quantum Rods and Reels, The Rod Glove, and Hot Rod Baits Bass Series.  With the help of these sponsors the club was able to hand out five trophies and every participant received some fishing gear which totaled over $700.  The next event for the club is the Bass Nation State Tournament on Pool 10 of the Mississippi River.  Four teams are participating in this event.  The next club tournament is on September 13th at Lake Delhi.

Kegan and Club President Landry Jones


Friday, August 7, 2020

The "Wacky-Rig" lives on

A small jighead can be used while Wacky-Rigging
to quicken the fall rate.

Bass fishing is ever-changing especially when it comes to finesse fishing.  In the past decade many new rigs have been introduced to anglers and all will produce bass.  However, one of the first of these new trends was the wacky-rigged stick bait.  I was never a huge fan of anything finesse while bass fishing, especially during tournaments.  However, there were many tournaments I found myself lacking a limit, so I had to use finesse baits to try and fill the limit to stay competitive and gather as many Angler of the Year points as possible.  A decade or two ago these baits were commonly seen tied on during tough fishing conditions; split-shot rig, wacky-rig, shakey head, and finesse bass jigs.  They all played parts of successful days on the water and few earned me some Angler of the Year awards as well.  Today those still exist and are commonly used but rigs such as the Ned Rig, and drop-shot rigs get most of the attention these days.  

One of these rigs, obviously from the title, is one that has lasted the test of time, the wacky-rigged stick bait.  This bait is great from the shore, on a boat, in a lake, in a river or a pond.  It simply works and is a very easy technique to teach the next generation of anglers.  First, the gear you need is as cheap as it gets, a medium action spinning rod, a hook and a stickbait (one of the cheapest plastic baits you can buy).  Throw it out around cover and move it slowly back to you, it is really that simple, add a weighed hook for quicker retrieves.  Of course some days the bass want it moving a little slower than other days but that is easily adjusted with your patience.  This rig does not do well if you are in a boat that is moving along the shore, it takes time to work a wacky-rig correctly, but the results can be second to none on some days.  I'm not saying it is the best finesse approach out there, but if you haven't used one lately this summer, you are most likely missing out on some bass.  Give one a try, and if you have a young one learning the game of bass fishing, tie one on for them as well.  The slower they go, the more bites they will typically get.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Biggest River Bass EVER

Biggest River Bass Ever: 5.79#
I grew up fishing on rivers and still today they seem to amaze me.  They are constantly changing which can be good and can be bad.  However, one thing remains the same, they will always get most of my fishing time when chasing bass. 

As mentioned, I have fished rivers throughout the state from a boat for almost three decades.  Yesterday was a milestone, the biggest river bass I have ever seen graced my presence.   I have caught several bass over six pounds, but they have all been on lakes in the state.  When I finally grabbed this bass after a good fight, I thought just maybe I had another six-pound bass.  When my friend told me what the scale said, I was elated, a true giant!  The largemouth weighed in at 5.79# on the Rapala digital scale.  A true giant anywhere, but quite possibly a once in a lifetime river bass for me. After a few pics the big girl was released for hopefully another spawn next spring.  As you can see from the picture, she was in great shape except her tail fin.

Like most river bass this time of year, she was laying in deeper water in the current.  She couldn't resist a Hot Rod Baits Texas-rigged tube dragged in front of her.  When I set the hook I knew it was good, but didn't realize how good until she surfaced for the first time.  Equipment is key anytime while fishing, and matching your bait with the right rod/reel makes for catches like this.  A 7'2" Quantum Smoke Medium/Heavy action rod with a Accurist reel/15# test line made it possible.  She took the bait, and rest is a fond memory. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Big River

It is always great to hit the big river with high school friend Trent. After fishing separate Friday and Saturday and catching all the 1.5-2# bass you want, we decided to change gears and head north on Pool 9 yesterday.  We fished the Bass Nation Event against some of the best bass anglers from all over Iowa.  We were able to bring in 12.12# which, just as we thought was just out of the top 5, and finished in 7th place. 

Making the bass bite this past weekend wasn't the trick, if was just locating them.  Again, we both found many areas that had smaller keepers feeding up, but in this event we knew we needed a 2.5# average to compete for some money.  We targeted current, and it seemed like the more the better which is typical for July/August on the big river.  3 different baits caught all our fish on tournament day.  The Optimum Baits Furbit Frog, swimjig, and a Hot Rod Baits 4-inch tube.  We slung these baits around on a variety of Quantum Rods and Reels.  Our largest fish of the day, a largemouth fell to a Hot Rod Baits tube rigged Texas style, it was just over 3.50#. 

Although it was hot, and very humid it was another enjoyable day on the Mississippi River.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

July Indee HS Bass Club Tournament

July Champions: Jackson/Captain Randy Toale/Dalton
Covid-19 canceled the April tournament, high Wapsi River levels canceled the June tournament, but the July event was huge success for the Indee Bass Club.  The tournament was held on Wednesday, July 8th in downtown Independence on the Wapsi.  Twenty-five students participated in this free event held by the Indee Bass Club.  Students entering 7th grade all the way to graduated seniors participated.

Mother Nature shined down on the participants that night, perhaps a little too much.  Sunny skies with heat indexes reaching 100 degrees greeted the anglers as they took off at 4:30pm.  Cold water was as much a necessity as a rod and reel on this night.  Anglers traveled up to 5 miles on the Wapsi to find largemouth and smallmouth bass to weigh in.  Each boat was allowed to bring 5 bass to the scale that measured at least 12 inches in length to be weighed for their team total.  Each boat also had adult volunteers known as captains to assist kids and help them learn the sport of the bass fishing.  Thirteen boats took off in search of their best bass spots on the Wapsi, and many of them were not disappointed.

Of the 13 boats, nine of them were able to catch bass for the live weigh-in.  This was just one boat away from tying a club record for ten boats weighing in bass.  As a group, nineteen bass were weighed in, thirteen largemouth bass and six smallmouth bass.  Jackson Toale was able to catch the largest bass of the tournament, a 3.00# largemouth bass.  This earned him the Hank's Bait and Tackle Big Bass Prize Pack.  Carter Cameron just missed this accolade with a 2.95# smallmouth bass.  Two fish any bass angler across the state would be proud of!  The team of Jackson and Zach captained by Steve McGraw had one bass weighing 1.53# for 9th place.  The cousin duo of Scott and Nathan, captained by Rick Wendling had one bass that weighed 1.89# for 8th place.  Landry and Caleb had one bass that weighed 2.21# for 7th place.  Chad O'Brien captained Kellen and Caden to one nice Wapsi bass that weighed 2.24# for 6th place.  Caleb and Teegan found two river bass that weighed 3.33#, good enough for 5th place, captained by Keith Corkery.  Dave Wilson captained Cam and Zach to a 4th place finish with 2 bass that weighed 3.59#.  Justin and Hunter, captained by Eric Johnston caught three smallmouth bass that weighed 4.71# and ended up in 3rd place.  Ranger and Carter, captained by Todd Reed, caught three bass that weighed 7.27#, good enough for a 2nd place finish in their first ever bass tournament.  Randy Toale captained Jackson and Dalton to five keeper bass that weighed 11.69# to win the event.  The top two teams received trophies, Scheels gift cards and hats.
2nd Place: Carter/Ranger/Captain Todd Reed

After the weigh-in the club was able to give away over $700 in fishing gear through a random drawing to the students.  These prizes are made possible by these club sponsors; Bank Iowa, Klever Concrete, Buchanan County Wildlife Association, Quantum Rods and Reels, The Rod Glove, Hot Rod Baits Bass Series, Scheels of Cedar Falls, and Hank's Bait and Tackle in Waterloo.  Without the help of these great sponsors and the volunteer hours given by the team coaches and captains, this club would not exist.  A huge thank you to the many captains that take the kids out during these events and help teach them the sport of fishing.
Search Indee Bass Club to find more information on Facebook and their website.  This club is open to any student entering 7th grade through 12th grade of the Independence Community Schools District, including St. John's.  The Indee Bass Club is the largest school bass club in the state of Iowa.