Monday, May 9, 2022

2022 Iowa High School Bass Team Championship Recap

For the fourth year in a row The Iowa High School Bass Team Championship, presented by SCHEELS took place in Eastern Iowa.  I was able to work some great companies to offer students from across the state a chance to compete in a bass tournament with some huge prizes.  The entry fee to this championship event is only $20 per boat, while we were able to give away a little more than $2,200 worth or fishing gear and trophies.  This event began with an idea I had, "Give any student in the state a tournament that they can fish, even if their school doesn't have a bass club."  It is open to any student in the state.  Here is the annual summary of this youth event:

May 7th, 2022 was a beautiful day at Pleasant Creek Lake for the 32 boats and 62 students to try and claim the top honors.  The event was started in 2019, Washington High School won that event, in 2020 it was Marion High School, and in 2021 Washington High School won again.  In 2022 there would be a different Champion.  On a slightly breezy day, winds out of the East at about 15mph, with temperatures in 60s and 70s it was the best Saturday of the entire spring season.  Mother Nature really allowed the kids to enjoy themselves and focus on fishing.  The results were very mixed, and this no doubt had to do with the weird spring we have been having.  Water temperatures on the main lake were hanging around 55 degrees, which is ideal, however those temperatures shot up in the two days prior to the event.  

1st Place Boat- Cedar Falls Tigers

I believe the bass really have not had the time to adjust to the warming temps and made for a tougher fishing day than it would appear.  Of the 32 boats that competed, 18 of them weighed fish in.  Only the top five teams were able to catch a limit of 5 bass, they included; 2 teams from ADM HS, Independence, Cedar Falls and Benton Community.  The team of Gavin and Kael from the Cedar Falls Tigers came away with the top honors on the day.  They weighed in 10.32# of largemouth bass to take first place.  Isaac and Kyler of ADM took second place with 9.25#, third place went to Wyatt of Benton Community with 8.65#.  Forth place went to Independence, which weighed in at 7.63#.  Rounding out the top 5 were Shay and Torin from ADM which had 6.81 pounds.   The Big Bass of the event went to Jarret and Kyler of MFL-Mar-Mac, they caught a 4.40# Smallmouth Bass.


In the "Team Championship", which includes the best two boats from each school,  ADM (Adel-DeSoto-Minburn) walked away with the 2022 championship as two of their boats placed in the top five individually.  Their combined team weight was 16.06#.  Second place was the team of Cedar Falls, they weighed in 13.69#.  The team that placed second in 2021 came away with third place this year; Independence had a team weight of 11.83#.  

2022 Team Champions: The ADM Tigers (Adel-DeSoto-Minburn)

The weather was great, a lot of fish weighed in, and over $2,000 worth of fishing equipment and prizes were handed to the next generation of bass anglers...what a great day!  Thank you sponsors for making this event possible: Scheels of Cedar Falls, Quantum Rods/Reels, Hot Rod Baits Bass Series, The Rod Glove, X-Zone Lures, and Cliff Keen Athletics.  

Please visit the event website for more details and check out all pictures on the Facebook page

Plans are already being made for the May 13th, 2023 event, stay tuned...

Morning Start with 32 boats




Saturday, April 30, 2022

New Year = New Rod/Reel Combo

Every few years, the engineers at Quantum come out with a new design to capture consumers and offer yet another great line of products.  2022 has brought a new line of SMOKE X Series rods and reels to the market.  So far I have been able to the use 7-foot model in Med/Hvy power.  This combo has been awesome for pitching jigs and Texas-Rigs in shallow water, it also worked well with a swinghead jig.  The rod has a fast action, so I also believe that I may tie on some heavy braid and use it as a frog rod or large swimbait rod too.  The reel comes in four different gear ratios, so you could use this for any type of lure you wish, with 9 bearings it is smooth and making long casts is not a problem.  The EVA foam handles are great and I like the new hook hanger they used on these rods too.  So far this has been a great combo, and what might be the best thing about it is the price tag.  You can purchase these directly from the Quantum website for $200, yes, both the ROD and the REEL!  A few years ago, Quantum also introduced an industry first, offering a 5-year Warranty on certain models of rods and reels.  Yes, the SMOKE-X does fall under that category, so buy with confidence from a company that stands behind their product for 5 years. 

If you have any questions about this line of Quantum products or what type of rod/reel you should purchase, just get a hold of me.  I can guide you through the process with a few easy questions and get you set up with the right kind of rod and reel for the type of fishing you want to do.

5 Year Warranty on SMOKE X Rods and Reels


Monday, April 25, 2022

April Indee Bass Club Event (Youth)

INDEE BASS CLUB

The year kicked off with a great start for the Indee Bass Club on April 24th.  Twenty-Four students braved the 30+ mph winds and temperatures in the forties to chase down some Wapsi River bass.  Adding to the curveball Mother Nature provided with the weather, the Wapsi River in Independence was also on the rise and parts were getting a little muddy.  Muddy water is never good for a consistent fishing bite, so the young anglers would have to make every cast and every minute count on this day.

With all the negative attributes going on with the Wapsi River, one positive was the water temperature.  The weather has been unusually cold, yet the water temperature still remained over fifty-degrees, while one team reported a reading of 58.8 on their temperature gauge at one point during the day.  With the warmer water temperatures, the bass were hungry and the ones that were weighed in, and later released back into the river, were very healthy and chunky!  The goal for this bass tournament was to bring five keeper (12 inches or more) bass to the scales for each boat.  Two anglers were set in each boat along with an adult captain to drive the boat and keep everyone safe on the water while learning the sport of bass fishing. Only two boats were able to catch their five bass, which is typical this time of year, especially up against the weather and river conditions.  

The results varied a lot on this particular day on the Wapsi, while seven teams were able to bring bass to the scales, five were not able to.  As with any tournament, anglers had to adjust and make use of their time on the water.  Almost all boats reported catching fish, including some nice walleyes and northern pike, however smallmouth and largemouth bass were the only fish anglers could weigh in at the event.  Here are the results, as well as angler reports on how they caught their bass;

7th Place- Jackson Beatty and Gable Eddy were able to bring a smallmouth bass to the scales by using a Ned Rig, it weighed in at 1.02#.  Shane Beatty was the captain of this pair of 7th graders.

6th Place- Cal Sweeney and Remy Ressler caught the third biggest bass of the entire event, a beautiful largemouth bass that weighed 2.43#.  Remy reported, "I was throwing a big square bill crankbait, cast after cast and finally when I was reeling it back from going along a fallen tree, the bass ate it right at the boat!"  The captain of this team was Dan Sweeney.

April Wapsi Champs: Dalton Hoover and Jackson Toale

5th Place- Cam Wilson and Hunter Patton came in with two smallmouth bass that weighed a total of 2.65#.  They reported catching both keepers on a Hot Rod Baits Tube using a Texas-Rig.  Their captain was Dave Wilson.

4th Place- Kegan Postel and Jackson Wolf caught two largemouth bass that weighed 3.45#.  Kegan said that they found some areas of the river that were out of the wind, had three feet of water and some laydown logs.  The fish were caught pitching Texas-Rigged Hot Rod Baits Big Craws and tubes.

3rd Place- A pair of Seniors, Teegan McEnany and Caleb Weber grabbed third place with five smallmouth bass that weighed 6.27#.  All their bites were in current, and all the fish bit on a Ned-Rig bait.  Their captain was Keith Corkery.

2nd Place- The eighth grade duo of Ranger Reed and Carter Cameron found themselves in second place with a weight of 7.99#.  They weighed in four largemouth bass, including the second largest of the whole event, weighing 2.52#.  All the bass were caught on spinnerbaits.  Captaining this pair was Todd Reed.

Runner-Up: Carter Cameron and Ranger Reed

1st Place- Jackson Toale and Dalton Hoover, both Seniors captured yet another win on the Wapsi River.  This pair had four largemough bass and one smallmouth bass that weighed in at 13.01#, which is a new club record for a tournament.  Jackson also caught the "Hank's Bait and Tackle" Big Bass of the tournament award, it weighed 3.65#.  He earned a trophy and a large tackle pack from Hank's Live Bait and Tackle in Waterloo.  Randy Toale was the captain of this pair.  

The top three teams earned trophies and Scheels awards of gift cards, hats and rod sleeves, all donated by Scheels of Cedar Falls.  After the awards were passed out each student was able to go home with some type of prize through a random drawing.  Rods, Reels, baits, line and many other items purchased or donated by the sponsors of the club; Colony Plumbing/Heating/Air Conditioning, Bank Iowa, Klever Concrete, Quantum Rods and Reels, Buchanan County Wildlife Association, The Rod Glove, Hot Rod Baits Bass Series, X-Zone Lures, Scheels of Cedar Falls, and Hank's Live Bait and Tackle of Waterloo.  To cap off the night, Jim and Cheryl Reed donated a meal of pizza for all the anglers and captains that took part in the tournament.  A huge thanks to all our sponsors for making this such a great event for the kids of Independence.  The club is open to any student in grades 7th-12th.  You can find more pictures and information about the club on their website, Facebook, or Instagram pages.  Coach Reed can be contacted by email with any questions or sponsor inquiries: treedbass@yahoo.com

Monday, April 11, 2022

WIND = BASS

To all those Math people out there, this seems like a pretty easy equation...almost too easy.  It is a bit of an exaggeration, but it holds true more in the spring than any other time of the year.  This time of year the wind can be vicious for days on end, keeping a lot of anglers at home.  With a few adjustments in tackle and some determination you can get out there on those windy days and still chase those bass.  

I have always stated that the wind effects the anglers far more than the wind effects the fish.  Waves and moving water are a part of life for fish, however anglers often think that throwing baits to them and controlling a boat is too difficult on these windy, spring days.  A few minor tweaks can help anglers deal with the wind, and still catch bass.  

1) Mental- Get over it, and get after them.  It's windy, USE the wind to your favor.  Get to any rock covered bank in the strongest wind and catch those feeding fish.  The wind will create feeding opportunities, bass will seek out rocky banks such as jetties, dams, and any other rocky shoreline to visually feed.  These windy areas will have cleaner water and be full of food for bass.

This GREEN dial will allow you fish under heavy
winds.  Free mode is set for no wind, turn it up
as the wind increases.  DO NOT adjust the tension
knob near the reel handle on windy days.
2) Lure Selection- cast and retrieve baits, heavier baits will obviously be easier to cast.  My April favorites are a spinnerbait and crankbait.

3) Spinning reel- a spinning reel will not backlash, perhaps a good choice for some on windy days

4) Baitcast Adjustment- All Quantum baitcasters have 2 adjustments on them to manually dial in for every situation and lure weight.  Adjust the magnetic braking system with each type of bait to make those long casts without backlashing. (see pic)

5) Boat control- Turn the speed down.  This may be contradicting, but when the wind is constantly blowing, find the speed for your trolling motor that compensates for the wind and keep it there.  Applying constant trolling motor power is far better than fast, then nothing, then fast, then nothing.  Slow and steady catches fish in the wind.

As you can see, these are not huge makeovers to any bass angler.  Thinking about the situation, accepting, not complaining about the wind is the first thing to overcome.  Some minor adjustments in baits and perhaps to your baitcaster and you too can be catching fish this spring.  Stay at it, and remember to CPR this time of year so those beautiful bass can spawn!

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

When 13 Days feels like FOREVER

Thirteen days is not a very long time in the scope of a year, however for someone like me who fishes all months of the year it was a long time.  Ice fishing ended for me on March 20th at Clear Lake, and I was not able to get the boat on the water until April 2nd.  I just couldn't stand it anymore, the forecast called for a possibility of rain but I was willing to take a chance on it.  I grabbed my typical early spring Quantum Combos and hit the river.  A jig rod, Texas-Rig craw, crankbait and spinnerbait all made the cut for the boat.  I decided to try some areas for largemouth bass, as they are a little more predictable this time of year.  I wasn't expecting too many bites, but the chance at stretching some line was something I couldn't resist anymore.  

I started the day throwing a jig and the Texas-rigged craw bait with no luck.  I turned to the Ima Lures crankbait and started to get some bites, including a largemouth over three pounds.  Wow, did he have my heart racing!  

The feeling never gets old and for a brief moment I was all alone, fishing, and acting like a kid again.  I guess that is what always brings me back to fishing, and why I miss it so much, even if it is for a week or two.  

Enjoy the spring, we have had terrible weather thus far, but hopefully Mother Nature will put a few nice days together so many more people can get out and enjoy nature.  Please do everyone a favor and practice CPR, Catch-Photo-Release, especially in the spring season.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

The "NEW" Clear Lake

This past ice fishing season was one of the best in recent years for me.  I was able to explore four new areas that I have never iced fished and came away with some good days on those bodies of water.  If you have followed me at all during ice fishing season you know that Clear Lake is not new to me, I have fished up there for a decade or so, but until recently it seems like a new lake to me and many ice anglers around the state.

Clear Lake has gone through a biological shift in the past couple of years.  There are not days of 100's of yellow bass being caught and harvested anymore.  Going to Clear Lake to chase down Yellow Bass on the snowmachine was my favorite thing to do just a few years ago, this year and last were quite different.  I did chase the Yellow Bass for one weekend, during the annual Yellow Bass Bonanza tournament, and David Gissel and I ended up winning that event, however things were not like they were in the past.  Clear Lake has changed and if anglers change their modes and tactics they can still love to fish Clear Lake too.  

I took two more trips to Clear Lake after the tournament, however it wasn't to chase down a bucket of Yellow Bass.  The biosphere, or makeup of the lake is transforming, and has been for a few years.  Does this make it a bad place to fish?  No, if you are willing to change with the times and broaden your scope of the lake, you can have some awesome days of pulling in fish too.  Crappies, white bass, and walleyes now rule the lake and are well worth the trip.  With the new lineup of species to fish ,tactics and baits have become a total over haul for me.  Spikes and minnow heads now rule the bait selection, as well as larger jigs and spoons for all three of the above mentioned species.  Yellow bass still provide some cut bait on the spoons when available.  I am not a biologist, however the biggest change to this lake seems to be the weed growth in the "Big Lake".  Weeds are a fishes friend for so many reasons; cover for young, ambush points, cover for adults, and a constant food source.  The crappies and walleyes have thrived with this new addition to Clear Lake.  To be successful you must fish the weeds, in the weeds, around the weeds and above the weeds will have aggressive fish chasing down your bait.

Each time when visiting Clear Lake after the Yellow Bass Bonanza I had 3-5 other people fishing with me.  I am a huge proponent in "party" fishing at this lake, the flats are vast and even the steep drop-offs are huge.  Covering water is so important at this lake, and there is no doubt that the more Vexilars you have down the holes the more fish you will find and catch.  Party Fishing is a great way to hunt down the "new" roaming species that now dominate Clear Lake.  While chasing Yellow Bass the last couple of years we have stumbled across some great crappies, white bass, and walleyes.  Never did I think I would visit Clear Lake to catch these species but the time is now, and next winter will only be better for these three species.  

If you were disappointed with Clear Lake or saw way too many negative posts on social media about the lake this winter...put it on your list for next winter.  Do not fish it like you have in the past for yellow bass, yet go at it with a fresh look for Crappies, Walleyes and White Bass, all three make great table fare and will have your drag singing!

Several 13+ inch crappies were found and released back to Clear Lake.
Keep the lake great by doing the same and following the DNR walleye slot law.


Tuesday, March 15, 2022

New Fish Taco Recipe

Fish Tacos are a great way to enjoy the fish you caught.  It is one of my favorite way to prepare them for sure.  Recently I tried a small batch of fillets for my son and I differently from previous times.  Most people will fry the fillets in batter and oil, then place them in the taco and top them with your favorite toppings.  I did not want to fry just a few fillets in the house on this particular day so I tried something new, and it has become a new favorite.  

As you will see, this is very simple to do and is a great way to enjoy tacos with the fish you have caught.  I really enjoyed this way of eating the fish and it had the same consistency of a chicken taco or burrito.  I used walleye fillets this time around, but I know from previous recipes that bluegills and crappies would be great too.



BAKED FISH TACOS

Take about a pound of fish fillets and bake them for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Place fillets in a mixing bowl, with two forks stir the fillets so that they flake apart into small pieces. 

Add your favorite Taco seasoning packet and required water, just as you would do with beef or chicken.

Scoop onto a taco shell/burrito and top with your typical taco dressings.


The baked fillets mixed with your favorite taco seasoning