Monday, July 16, 2018

Kenny Thompson Memorial Tournament

This past Saturday I participated in the Cedar Valley Bassmaster Ken Thompson Memorial Tournament.  I joined this club as soon as I turned 18...which was a few years ago.  At that time many Independence bass anglers were in the club, including Kevin Christensen who I fish many tournaments with throughout the year.  Kenny was the president of the club when I joined and was the glue that kept everything together and events going all year long.  Ken actually founded the club in 1983 and has been a huge reason why this club is still going strong today.  The current members of the club did a fantastic job of creating a memorial tournament in Ken's honor.  Anyone that had fished in the Cedar Valley club had an invitation to this event, not only to chase down bass on the Mississippi River, but to see the guys in the club and remember all the good times that Kenny brought to those people around him.  He was just one of those guys that always had something funny, yet true to say.  A great man that brought bass fishing to full scale here in the Cedar Valley, he will never be forgotten by those he spoke and fished with.

Kevin Christensen and I joined up for this event in preparation for our bigger event next weekend on the Mississippi River, the more time on the big river the better.  We fished Friday in Pool 9 to look around and see what the water levels looked like.  We instantly liked what we saw, plenty of current and plenty of green weeds in the bottom half of the pool.  The fish seemed cooperative on this day, eating the IMA Skimmer, swim jigs, Hot Rod Baits tubes and Wig's Jigs.  We put together a plan throughout the day and felt pretty good about the work we did on this day.

My how a day can make a difference...especially on the Mississippi River!  Tournament day came and we found ourselves following our plan, but things were definitely very different on this day.  The first thing we noticed was the bass did not want anything to do with topwater and I had several short strikes on the swimjig...it was a totally different day!  It was time to slow down and put the QuantumPT Flipping rods and reels to work.  Wig's Jigs and Hot Rod Baits Tubes were the baits we stuck with the majority of the day.  We were in and around current all day, wood, weeds and rock all played into the limit of 5 bass that we weighed in.  It was one of those days that we knew we had to work hard all day long right up to the last few minutes to get every ounce of weight we could.  They totaled 14.20# which gave us a 2nd place finish out of 27 teams, we were happy to see our weight go above 13 pounds, which is a target weight for July and August events on the Big River.  We were beat this day by 0.03 pounds, but the winners of the event made that much easier to accept.  Randy Toale and Trent Beier, both Independence guys took the win this day.  I have known these guys since grade school and Trent and I teamed up to win the Anglers of the Year in the Cedar Valley Bass Club back in 2013.  Fishing against friends can cause some anxiety at times, but on this weekend it was great to see the top two places go to the "Indee Boys" as Kenny Thompson called us so many times.

Great job CEDAR VALLEY BASSMASTER club leaders, I hope this event continues for a long time!
Kevin and I with our limit of fish; the biggest being
3.17# and the rest all over 2.5#

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Indee High School Bass Club July Tournament

July 11th, Wednesday evening was an absolute gorgeous night to fish.  It was a bit warm, but a light breeze kept the anglers cool all night.  The Wapsi in Independence was the venue for this tournament, and a first for the club to have an event in the evening.  As the club coach I was not sure what to expect from the kids.  21 students attended the tournament along with 11 boat captains that gave up their evening to take the kids on the search for some Wapsi bass.  This event was sponsored by Time Reed-State Farm of Independence, they provided gifts for the kids and boat captains, provided cool drinks throughout the event and awarded a dozen shirts for the top placing teams.  They really made this night a special one to remember!

Two students are allowed per boat to work on a 5 bass limit that they weigh in at the end of the tournament.  They work as a partnership to accomplish this goal at each tournament.  The boat captains are there to run the boats and offer as much guidance to the kids as possible to help them learn the sport of bass fishing.

The Wapsi was a little stingy on this evening, only 6 boats out of the 11 came to the scales with bass over the legal limit of 12 inches.  However, each and every boat reported catching some bass and even a few pike, however many did not make the 12-inch limit.  Anglers had a lot of fun at this event, and I am pretty sure evening tournaments will be on the schedule going forward with this group of 7th-12th grade students.

Here are the results of this event:

 Place  Anglers Captains # Bass  Big Bass Total
 1 CalebKeith Corkery 52.479.70
 2 Jackson/DaltonRandy Toale  31.87 4.30
 3 Vaughn/Tayten31.75 4.15
 4 Zane/Kaden Chad O'Brien 31.61 3.81
 5 Kegan/Teegan Grant Postel 21.85 2.92
 6 Peyton/Ryan Dave Wilson 21.22 2.49
 Others Landry/Brayden, Parker/Drew, Justin/Hunter, Kelle/ Caden, Seth/Ashton

VIDEO of the LIVE WEIGH-IN

As always, a big thanks to the following boat captains:
Keith Corkery, Randy Toale, Chad O'Brien, Grant Postel, Dave Wilson, Paul Schmadeke, Dan Sweeney, Keith Donnelly, Guy Stacy and Otis Jones

The Indee Bass Club can be found on Facebook HERE
Club WEBSITE HERE

Monday, June 25, 2018

Swimbaits 101

Above: Optimum Swimbaits come in many
shapes, sizes and colors.
At my last tournament swimbaits played a key role in our victory.  I have had several messages and calls about these baits, one that often gets over looked for bass fishing.  Here are some more details in about swimbaits and how/when to use them.


When fishing swimbaits it is vital to keep in mind that it is one of the most natural presentations you can use bass.  Quality swimbaits are designed to mimic the natural forage; shad and minnows are the typical forage around here.  When these baits are fished correctly with the proper rod/reel setup it can be a deadly weapon for bass.

BAIT: The baits itself comes in a variety of styles, colors and sizes.  Optimum Baits has the largest selection of swimbaits on the planet.  There are two basic types of swimbaits; one being a direct tie to the bait, and the second being a "hook yourself" bait.  The swimbait pictured at the top has a large paddletail, providing a lot of vibration and wobble in the water as you reel it in.  These work particularly well when fish are aggressive.  A similar type like the second one in the photo is much more of a finesse bait.  It has a natural "dead fall" to it.  These baits are placed on a hook of your choice.  I prefer using a 4/O or 5/O extra-wide gap hook.  I also prefer using a heavy wire hook.  This allows me to cast it much farther and not worry about the hook getting bent after several bass.  Another key component to the proper hook is being flat on the top.  The hook should come straight back towards the eye, this is vital to keep the bait sliding through and over weeds without getting snagged up, it also allows you to skin-hook the hook point.

The third and last swimbait in the picture are direct tie-on baits.  The middle one is a Line-Thru swimbait that has a treble hook on the belly, ideal for open water fishing.  The last bait threads directly onto a matching jighead, again, ideal for open water situations.

During this particular tournament on the Mississippi River the bass really liked the larger 5 inch swimbaits early, but by mid-morning the 4-inch baits were catching the bass.

ROD/REEL: The combo that did most of the catching is pictured.  It is a 7 foot Quantum TourPT Special Issue Rod.  It is a Med/Hvy action rod with a fast action.  This is paired with the Quantum Smoke reel, 7.3:1 gear ratio.  I always throw swimbaits with braided line, this time it was 50# braid.  With this combo I could throw the swimbaits well in front of the boat to inches of water and glide it through the scattered weeds.  The bass were very shallow and making long casts was definitely a key to catching them.  This rod/reel choice worked great to hook the fish and get them to the boat quickly before they could get entangled in the weeds and scattered trees and roots in the area.

The location was key to catching many fish that day, however the combination of the rod/reel and the perfect bait mimicking the natural forage brought it all together for us.  Just another day catching bass with Optimum Baits and Quantum Rods and Reels!

Quantum SmokePT Reel and a 7 foot QuantumPT Special Issue Med/Hvy Rod

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Hot Rod Baits Bass Series; Event #2- Pool 9

On the way home from the first event of this series on Lake Sugema, I have been waiting for this weekend.  Brian Bowles, from Marshalltown and I gave it our all on this event, after our disappointment at Sugema we were coming out swinging.
We made arrangements a month ago to be on Pool 9 at sunrise on Thursday.  With the tournament starting on Saturday, this gave us two days to search across Pool 9 for the right size of bass.  Thursday took the boat to the southern half of the pool, by no means can you cover the whole thing in a day, but we ran around enough to see what we could do there come Saturday.  We caught fish on a variety of baits, however location near rocks seemed to be key on this day.  The first day of homework was done and now we focused our second day of practice on the northern section of the pool, some areas with previous good results this year, while a few I had not been to for several years.  Again, Pool 9 is huge, (largest body of water in Iowa) it is over 35,00 acres, more than three times the size of Lake Rathbun, by no means can you cover it in two days, I haven't even covered it in 2 decades of fishing there!  Obviously we picked and chose areas that we knew fish would be relating to this time of year.  After the spawn on the river, the bass will get close to current and start to feed up once again...it is that time of year on the Mighty Mississippi River.  At the end of the second day of fishing Brian and I had a good understanding of what we needed to do come Saturday morning at 5:30am.

Saturday blast-off came with storms looming, we headed north to our first location wondering if the rain storms that occurred overnight would muddy up our fishing location.  Upon arrival the water appeared to not have changed from the previous day, that was a good sign.  We were fishing a stretch of river about 200 yards that had good current with laydown logs and some tree stumps.  The first 90 minutes was a drag, only one keeper, we were very close to abandoning the area and head to our second spot.  The storm passed in those 90 minutes and the sun started to peek out, and the bass started to feed.  It was like a switch was thrown, it seems the fish needed some sun to find the minnows and shad they were feeding on.  It was just what we needed.  In the next 3 or so hours we threw a variety of baits at the bass, but a few were definitely the key to getting the bigger ones in the livewell.  A small Optimum Baits swimbait, Hot Rod Baits stickbaits, and the IMA skimmer topwater bait proved to catch the big ones in this area.  Having the correct rod/reel setup on these baits, and any baits that we used this weekend was crucial.  QuantumPT makes a rod for any bass technique that you want to try.  Having the right reel ratio on baits is important too, again Quantum PT is the only thing that we use, not only for the quality but the reasonable price as well.  We caught around 15 keepers in the area along with several smaller fish too.  We left the area with a little over 14# for our top 6 keeper bass, we both knew that wasn't going to make the cut come weigh-in time.  We were off to more, similar areas to try and upgrade.
A couple area didn't pan out and then things started to heat up for us with about 90 minutes left in the event.  I hooked a good fish on a Wig's Jig and chunk which made our fist big upgrade of the day, the fish weighed just under three pounds and boosted us just over the 15 pound mark, a goal that we had and thought would put us in the top 5.  A new area, and on the first cast made by Brian he hooked up with a big fish.  He played it perfect in the current and the big smallie upgraded us another pound, we knew we had a little over 16 pounds for the event, a good feeling with only a few minutes left to fish.  That smallie ended up being our biggest bass for the day, weighing in at 3.12#.  We continued to flip jigs and throw swimjigs in this particular area until our time was up and we had to start our drive south to the weigh-in.  We felt we were "in the hunt" for the top 5.
As the teams brought their bass to the scales it was apparent that our 6 bass were looking good.  We ended up with the WIN, weighing in 16.42#.  It was a great three days of fishing on the Mississippi River catching largemouth and smallmouth bass.

I couldn't do this without the support of my kids and wife, they say they miss me when I'm gone and that is as good as any tournament win!  Also these fine sponsors make everything easier; QuantumPT, Optimum Baits, Hot Rod Baits, Vexilar, Bill's Pizza in Independence, The Iowa Sportsman Magazine, and State Farm-Agent Tim Reed.  Click on their links to the right for their great products!
We have competed in this series for five
years with several finishes in the top 5.
This was our first WIN.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Indee Bass Club June Wapsi Tournament

Tournament Champs: Jackson & Dalton
Captain Randy Toale
This past Saturday the Indee Bass Club held its 2nd tournament of the school year.  This one was a "home" event held right here in Independence on the Wapsi River.  Nine boats with 16 anglers took part in this event.  The event could not be held without the captains that took their morning to captain boats for the students.  Randy Toale, Keith Corkery, Dave Wilson, Paul Schmadeke, Tim Postel, Otis Jones and myself all helped out to make this event possible.  As the team coach it is vital to the club to have the community support and I thank all that have helped the club in one way or another. Another thanks goes out to our club sponsors that make it possible for the kids to participate at no cost:

The morning of fishing started off great, it was a cool morning, which was a break from the close to 90-degree temperatures we saw most of the week.  Anglers took off in every direction trying to locate largemouth or smallmouth bass that measured at least 12-inches to bring back to the live weigh-in at noon. A fast moving thunderstorm did greet the anglers early in the morning, but most didn't mind getting wet for their chance at catching some bass.  The weather soon cleared and was once again mild and sunny by the noon weigh-in.

The bass on the Wapsi have been a stressed out lately, temperature rises much quicker than normal, spawning rituals, and rising and falling water levels.  The bass have not been easy to catch, however the Wapsi bass did not disappoint many of the club anglers.
Of the 9 boats, 7 of them brought bass to the scales, and some real nice fish too.  The weights were much better than expected and smiles were all around the weigh-in.  Kids talked about catching their bass on crankbaits, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, plastic worms, and tubes.  Here are how things shook out once the weights were tallied:

 Place   AnglersCaptain # BassBig Bass Total 
1 Dalton/JacksonRandy Toale  5 2.53 8.81#
 CalebKeith Corkery  5 2.438.63# 
 Vaughn/Zach 3 *2.56*5.19# 
 Peyton/RyanDave Wilson  33.65#
 Caden/KellenKeith Donnelly  2 2.69#
 Ricky/AshtonTodd Reed  1 1.91#
7 Justin/Seth Paul Schmadeke10.98# 
 OthersLandry/Brayden
Kegan 

Here is a VIDEO of the live weigh-in:


This event was sponsored by Klever Concrete, which provided money for the awards, DNR tournament permit and cool refreshments at the weigh-in.  PROW donated some lures and snacks for the kids as well.  The Big Bass award was a slightly used baitcasting rod and reel combo, graciously donated by my friend Chris Calkins from Marshalltown.  Another great event for the kids of the Independence area.  If you want more information about the club they are on Facebook and have their own WEBSITE with complete details of the events held and upcoming events.



Sunday, May 27, 2018

Bass World Sports May Tournament

When you throw several 2.5# bass back,
 you know you had a good day on the water!
Yesterday, Kevin Christensen and I participated in our first event of the year together.  The event left out of Harpers Ferry in NE Iowa.  This is a series which often draws teams from the Upper Mississippi River area in Iowa, as well Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.  It is great competition and makes teams be at their best to place towards the top.
The Upper Mississippi River in Iowa dropped about 1.5 feet this past week, causing anglers to think on their feet and make calculated moves throughout the day.  We were no different.  We headed straight to the lock at blast-off and made our first stop just north of the lock.  We quickly grabbed a couple decent keepers, 2.5# largemouth and threw back a few under 2 pounds.  The tournament allows 5 keeper bass to be weighed in.  We knew from the river conditions and past experience that 15 pounds would get us to the top where we wanted to be.  We kept moving north up through Pool 9 reaching into the state of Minnesota.  We covered a lot of water, rocks, weeds, wood, current, backwaters, we were searching for those big bites.  The fish were a abundant throughout the day, a few smallmouth, and dozens of largemouth bass found their way aboard our boat.  While the chatterbait and swimjig a caught a few fish in the early AM, it was two baits that ended up bringing all the fish to the tournament scales; a black/blue Wig's Jig and the River Minnow Hot Rod Baits Tube.  The bites were not heavy on this day the way river bass often hit, today it was very subtle, and with a lot of short strikes on the faster moving baits.  Kevin detected his jigs bites on the highly sensitive QuantumPT 7'6" Smoke Flippin rod, while I was working a signature series QuantumPT 7'2in G-Rig rod with the Texas-Rigged Tube.  We sorted through about 20 keepers on the day, our final 5 weighed in at 13.97#, which gave us a 5th place finish.  Not where we wanted to finish, but we just couldn't get a bigger fish to bite.  All our keepers were 2.70#-3.10#, very solid fish for the Upper Mississippi River but just not quite enough for the win.  Nevertheless, a great day on the Mississippi River catching bass!

Thanks to everyone that makes my tournament experiences possible: QuantumPT, Hot Rod Baits, Optimum Baits, Vexilar, The Iowa Sportsman Magazine/Website, Bill's Pizza in Independence and Tim Reed State Farm.  Click on their links to the right to see more about these great companies.

Only a true "Bass Junkie" will 
understand this picture. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Indee High School Bass Club: Casey Lake May Tournament

The Independence High School Bass Club kicked off the bass fishing season with an "AWAY" tournament.  As acting Coach for this group it was a long winter for these students, and they were ready to fish.  This event was to be held at Brinker Lake in Waterloo, IA.  Recent rains and flooding of the Cedar River made the park and Brinker Lake now conducive for this event.  Graciously the DNR allowed me to move the event to Casey Lake which is located in Hickory Hills Park north of Dysart, IA.  Hickory Hills, much like Brinker Lake, has a great population of bass, making it a perfect place for this tournament.  Casey lake is a small, trolling motor only lake and has an 18-inch length limit on bass.  New this year, the Iowa DNR is allowing tournament organizations to change this limit on the tournament permit.  The Indee Bass Club used a 12-inch limit for this event.

May 12th brought a forecast of rain, an eastern wind up to 15mph, and a high temperature of 58 degrees.  Not your typical May tournament in Iowa, but this spring has been anything but typical.  The forecasters were a little off this day, as we never saw a drop of rain at the lake during the 8am-12:30pm tournament day.  The wind made things cold for the anglers, but the sun did pop out for the last 30 minutes or so of the tournament.  All in all, the event went off without a hitch.

Anglers found the lake water temperature in the low 60's, water clarity over 3 feet and plenty of weed growth in the shallow waters.  The bass were cooperative despite the recent cold front, and the eastern wind.  Of the 8 teams of anglers, 5 boats brought in fish to be weighed.  Anglers reported catching fish on crankbaits, stick baits, swimbaits and Texas-rigged plastics.  The big bass of the day came in the last few minutes of the tournament on a black and blue jig and chunk, Vaughn tossed it up in some heavy cover and yanked it out for the last minute heroics.  Here are the results of the event, pictures and a VIDEO of the weigh-in:

Place Anglers  Captain # Bass Big Bass Total
1 Peyton/RyanDave Wilson 1.81 7.03 
 Zach/DrewTodd Reed 1.60 5.99 
3Jackson/Dalton Randy Toale 2.07 5.46 
Vaughn/Tayten--- **2.29** 3.56 
Zane/KadenBryce Dengler 1.68 
Seth/Kellen Guy Stacy
Parker/LandryOtis Jones 
Kegan/TeeganChad Postel 

Congratulations to all the anglers for braving the weather to chase down some largemouth bass on this chilly May day.  This club and these tournaments would not be possible without the support of my sponsors; Hot Rod Baits, QuantumPT, Optimum Baits, Bill's Pizza and Smokehouse, Tim Reed State Farm, Vexilar and The Iowa Sportsman.  These companies help me keep going in the quest to enjoy this great sport of fishing and share it with whomever I come in contact with.

The Indee Bass Club could not exist without its supporters, please support them when you can: 

1st Place
2nd Place

3rd Place
BIG BASS


VIDEO OF THE WEIGH-IN @ Casey Lake, May 12th