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.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Jig vs Texas Rig

When it comes to getting bass out of cover, especially wood, these two baits are by far at the top of any bass anglers list.  Which one is better?  When should I pitch which one?  What about color?  These are great questions that are asked of me very often.  Let me take a minute to break down what I have learned to be the best answers to these questions.


What is better, a jig or a Texas-rigged plastic?
~ Both of these baits are great to use for bass.  Bass won't always chase fast moving baits like crankbaits or bladed jigs, so you have to slow down at times.  To say one is better than the other for catching bass is impossible.  I will say this though, the jig over a long period of time will attract bigger bass.  I am not saying you won't catch big bass with a Texas-rigged plastic, but over a long testing period the jig will produce bigger bass.  On the flip side, a plastic craw, worm or tube will tend to get you more bites in a day of fishing for bass.

When should I pitch a jig or a Texas-rig?
~ Again, these baits are both designed to fish around a specific type of cover, weeds and wood being the most common.  I have found that a Texas-rig can be pitched in the tightest of areas a little better than a jig.  When I am pitching into the heaviest of trees and laydowns I will often "peg" my bullet sinker allowing me to have even better control over my bait.  Another variable that helps me choose which one to throw is the amount of bites I am getting.  If I am getting a lot of bites and catching some bass on a Texas-rig, I will switch and try a jig to see if any bigger fish are around.  The opposite is also true, when I am fishing a jig and not getting many bites, I will switch to a plastic, typically a tube bait on a Texas-rig to see if I can get some more bites.


What color is best?
~ This is a day by day and even a minute by minute decision.  Color should be depicted by the color of the water you are currently fishing.  Simple and an easy thing to remember is this; if the water is dirty you will want dark colors such as black and blue.  If the water is clear then use more natural colors such as green pumpkin and shad colors.

Conclusion:
~At almost all times when scouting or fishing a tournament, I will have both of these high percentage baits tied up on different rods ready to go at any moment.  Some days a Texas-Rigged Tube will out produce a jig, while on most days the jig will catch the biggest bass of the day.  As always, experiment and let the fish tell you what they want.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Weeds...Weeds Everywhere

As the weather warms around the state, not only does the grass in our yards take off, but so does the aquatic grass in ponds, lakes and rivers.  Some anglers do their best to avoid fisheries that have a lot of the aquatic vegetation or grass, I however, look forward to a lake or river section looking green. 

Green weeds offer fish of every species a great place to hide and capture their next meal.  Bass certainly love the weeds that grow in lakes and rivers, making it a favorite target of mine in these hot summer months. 

Too many times anglers are using baits to catch bass on the wrong rod/reel setup.  There is not a rule book of combos that need to be followed and can vary from angler to angler, however having some guidelines when spooling up for your favorite baits is a good way to double check to see if you are on the right path to catching more bass. 

You cannot tackle bass hanging around weeds with your typical bass fishing gear, it takes some specialized gear.  Here are some key rod/reel combos and my 3 favorite baits to tackle bass swimming amongst the weeds.  Please contact me by the email link on the side of the site if you have any further questions, I will be glad to help.

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1- Frog:
Rod- Med/Hvy, Extra Fast tip
~My Choice: Quantum Smoke 7ft MedHvy xfast tip
Reel- High speed reel in the 7.0:1 or higher gear ratio
~My Choice: Quantum Smoke S3 8.1:1 speed
Line- 50+ pounds braided line
~My Choice: 65# Power Pro Braid
Bait- hollow body dual-hook frog
~My Choice: OptimumBaits Furbit Frog
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2- Swim Jig:
Rod- Medium, fast tip
~My Choice: Quantum Special Issue 7ft Medium Fast tip
Reel- anything in the "6" gear ratio
~My Choice: Quantum Tour S3 6.1:1 gear ratio
Line- 30# Braid
~My Choice: 30# Power Pro Spectra
Bait- 1/4 or 3/8oz swim jig
~My Choice: Custom, Hand-tied Bill Lowen or Brovarny 1/4oz swim jig
===================
3- Texas-Rigged Tube (rigged to punch through heavy grass)
Rod- Heavy, xfast tip
~My Choice: Quantum Tour 7ft 6in Heavy xFast tip
Reel- something with over a 7.0:1 gear ratio
~My Choice: Quantum Energy Flippin Switch 7.0:1 gear ratio
Line- 40# or more braid
~My Choice: 50# Power Pro
Bait- 1oz Tungsten bullet weight, 4/O EWG hook, tube
~My Choice: 1oz Reins Tungsten bullet weight, 4/O EWG hook, Hot Rod Baits tube

These three baits will do you very well when you are faced with weeds in your local fishing spot.  They will work on the smallest of ponds, and biggest of rivers across the state.  Don't be afraid of weeds and grass, just get a few baits that you have confidence in and use them to their fullest potential.  You won't be disappointed.