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



Fish IOWA 2018

DNR officer explaining the rules and regulations
of the various life jackets to be used while
enjoying time on the water.
This past week all 5th graders in Independence had the opportunity to experience "everything fishing" on its annual Fish IOWA day.  This day is coordinated by the 5th grade teachers at West Elementary school and the Iowa DNR.  The day helps kids to understand the bigger picture of fishing and the outdoors in and around the area.  Students are introduced to fish anatomy, fish species, water quality, habitats, water safety and how to be successful in the outdoors while fishing.  The event would be impossible without the cooperation of the Buchanan County Wildlife Association.  Their property is the host of this event which allows students be be broken down into smaller groups to travel around the property to different classes and to try their luck at the private pond full of crappies, bluegills and bass.  It is a fantastic property and we are very fortunate to be able to utilize the area.  The organization and their many volunteers also provide a chili and fish fry for the kids and volunteers for the lunch time.

It is a fantastic day of kids being in nature, understanding the world around them, gaining appreciation of nature and getting hands on experiences with local experts.  All in all, this event was a "home run"!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Indee High School Bass Club Seminar


Mother Nature finally cooperated for a beautiful night to hold the Indee Bass Club seminar night.  About 15 kids showed up to hone up on their casting skills and get advice for proper technique.  The most popular inquiry being about baitcaster reels.  A proper adjusted baitcaster can precisely drop a jig between two branches only inches apart, or sling a crankbait 40 yards.  However, getting these reels tuned just perfect takes a little knowledge and some adjustments with each lure.  This was a valuable lesson learned tonight by the anglers present.  I am pretty sure you could have heard a pin drop on the grass while kids were tuning their reels.  Kids also had the opportunity to cast, flip and pitch baits at targets, a valuable exercise all students of the game should do on a regular basis.  One thing that helped the students are the recent purchases of QuantumPT reels.  Many of the kids raved at how nice their new reels were.  Sure a few birds' nests here and there, but overall the kids are off to a great start in 2018.  Next up for the club is an "AWAY" tournament at Brinker Lake in Waterloo.
Club Website LINK


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Hot Rod Baits Bass Series Stop #1

Jake Olson brought the big bass
 to the scale, weighing 5.77#

TOURNAMENT RECAP:
Lake Sugema was the first stop on the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series.  This lake is known for its big bass and numerous bass catches it yields day after day.  The tournament was supposed to held on Sunday, the 15th.  However, with the forecast of temperatures in thirties and sleet and snow scheduled for the area it was moved to the day before.  The DNR approved the change and the tournament was set.  Anglers were anxious to get there and start fishing, however no one told the bass.
Bites on Friday were rare, with many anglers reporting nothing for the days fishing.  The excitement turned into big disappointment.  Friday turned out to be a great day to be on the water, it even allowed a few anglers to get some sun on their legs as they wore shorts in the late afternoon under the sunny skies.
Saturday morning came and the sun, the nice temperatures and light wind were all gone.  Saturday turned out to be in the 40's with 25+mph winds, rain for most of the day and like Friday the bass were not cooperative.  Some competitors left early due to the frigid temperatures and staying warm was the main concern of anglers throughout the day.

Of the 17 teams, only 8 teams found at least one keeper on the day.  Like always though, fish were caught and brought to the scales.  Jon and Jeremy King let the way with 3 keepers, weighing 7.86#.  2nd Place went to Kevin Christensen and Keith Donnelly with 2 keepers weighing 6.31#.  Only one other team brought 2 fish to the scales, Chad Albright and Brandon Pettigrew found 2 keepers which landed them in 6th place.  Big Bass honors and 3rd place finishers Jake Olson and McKinley Geiger brought in a 5.77 pound largemouth.  4th Place was another 5 pound + fish.  5.01 to be exact for Chris Calkins and Adam Rundall.  Rounding out the top 5 was James and Zach Cook with a 4.69# fish.  All the weights and more pictures can be found HERE.  The next event will be held at Pool 9 on the Mississippi River on June 9th.
Jon and Jeremy King pick up
where they left off last season
WINNING on the series

THOUGHTS:
It has been a spring to forget in the world of bass fishing.  The weather patterns cannot stay steady and temperatures have been all over the place.  Lake Sugema, being one of the most southern lakes in the state had water temperatures varying from 46-57 degrees.  To put it simply, the bass are really confused as to what to do.  I do know this, from practice day and weighing the fish in, they are eating and look very healthy, which is a good thing.  It is always hard for me to reflect on tournaments like these.  Typically they happen in April, no matter who shows up at the lakes when weather is this unstable it seems as though a few fish are tricked but most of the anglers are left scratching their heads.  I was one of those anglers this weekend, it is a hard pill to swallow but I will take what I can from the days on the water and move forward...after all that is all I can do now.

Monday, April 9, 2018

April ICE FISHING

Probably the most beautiful fish swimming in Iowa waters
No one in this state has said this winter has been typical.  The first month of winter we saw no snow, this really built some nice ice.  January was cold, and February was as equally frigid, again, not much snow had fallen in Iowa, guaranteeing ice fishing into March.  March 16th was my latest ever ice fishing outing until this year.  We were able to get out on Clear Lake on march 17th with out any worries of ice not being safe.  however, this past Saturday was a first for me, and quiet perhaps the only time I will ever ice fish in April.  With temperatures hanging in the 20s the ice in Northern Iowa is just not melting away.  This took David Gissel and myself to the Okoboji Lakes region for one last day on the ice...I know I said that last month, but I just couldn't resist this quick trip to Okoboji.

David and I met up with Mark Anderson, Nic Meyer, and a few others locals as well as a surprise visit from Curt Dvorak on West Okoboji.  The morning temp was 11degrees with light winds, and we were loving it.   The ice measured right at 18-inches and was still very solid.  With numerous augers drilling it didn't take long to see the fish hovering just off the bottom on the Vexilar FLX-28s.  Soon after dropping down a variety of fish were coming to the top of the ice.  In total on the day the following species were caught in our small group; bluegills, crappies, perch, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, pumpkin seed and yellow bass.  One neat thing about Okoboji is that you just never know what you might pull through the hole.  Fishing was consistent throughout the day which made leaving hard, but I know Okoboji will be waiting for me in December...or perhaps earlier!  I can honestly, without a doubt say that my ice fishing season is now over, I swear. ;)

The average size of bluegills in the
Okoboji Lakes are truly amazing

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

All good things MUST come to an end

A sample of what one "hot hole"
can do at Clear Lake when
you have the right bait and
correct jigging motion in just
a few minutes.
The old adage suggests that no matter what we have going for ourselves, the good things must come to an end.  As the month of March marches on the ice season is slowly melting away for us here in Iowa.  The ice has been gone or unsafe in the Independence area for several weeks, so traveling north has been necessary to keep Mother Nature at check.  This past weekend sent me back to Clear Lake to chase down the Yellow Bass, I think I may be addicted to these feisty fish.  They are fun to track down and haul through the ice, I just can't get enough!

This weekend proved to be the latest I have ever ice fished in Iowa, March 17th.  Not only was the ice safe, we were able to utilize the snowmachines once again this weekend to cover a lot of ice on Clear Lake.  I once again was fortunate enough to meet up with other anglers, David Gissell joined me on the trip, and Jim Klever and Mike Lenius joined us on the ice too.  I also got to catch up with with some Central Iowa anglers I only see a couple times a year, Curt Dvorak and Joey highland.  It is always icing on the cake when you can see friends out while catching a few fish. It has been great fishing with these guys this year as well as many other ice enthusiasts.  Typically in March you are walking on pins and needles to get out on the ice, but not this year.  The fishing was fantastic, bouncing from one hole to another dropping the Vexilar FLX-28 down hundreds of holes throughout the day.  The day yielded 5 buckets of fish for our group of 4 anglers, countless laughs and hooksets made the day one to remember.  The fillets will be tasty very soon and serve as a reminder of yet another reason why to sample the ice fishing at Clear Lake.

This was the last go-round on the ice, as the open water bass are calling my name...oh I think that one was a smallmouth, I better wrap this up!

All packed up until the water freezes once again, it was a GREAT 2017-18 ice season!

Monday, March 12, 2018

There's GOLD in Northern Iowa

(a bucket full in the last hour of the day)
David Gissel made his first trip
 to Clear Lake with me, I will
assume he wants to go back next year!
Thousands upon thousands of ice anglers flock to Clear Lake, Iowa each winter in search of gold, gold as in Yellow Bass.  These feisty fish are a blast to catch, they are known to knock your bait harder than any other fish, and test your drag on every hookset.  Clear Lake itself can be a beast to tackle on your own because of its size.  There are several access points that will get you on the "big lake" or the "little lake", also called Ventura Lake.  Even though the lake is large, walking can easily put fish in your bucket, however using an atv, utv, or snowmachine will help your chances.  Yellows can be found all over the lake at any day.  They are very nomadic fish and anglers wanting to ice a bunch of fish must stay on the move.  Another big attraction of the "gold" in Clear Lake is the amount of yellow bass you can keep...there is no limit on the number of fish you can keep.  They are an invasive species and if anglers do not harvest their catches it will harm the ecosystem of the lake and fishing will suffer for all species.  More info on the Iowa DNR site HERE about the Yellow Bass.


With the no limit, anglers will keep a 5-gallon bucket full on a good day.  They are very tasty in many ways.  Fried, or as part of fish chowder are my favorite ways to enjoy yellow bass.  Jigs or spoons work well for these fish and it is really about drilling as many holes as you can to find them, once you find them it can make for an awesome day of catching.  Spikes, waxworms or cutbait all work at times, experimentation is needed to find what the fish really want.  If you are a Clear Lake newbie or rookie, stop in at Clear Lake Bait and Tackle and they will get you the bait you need and point you in the right direction.

This past weekend brought many lakes with no or very unsafe ice, so north I had to go to find some good ice.  Clear Lake had well over 15 inches of ice everywhere we drilled in the two days.  There were quite a large numbers of anglers out on Saturday, many large groups of anglers working together and having a good time.  The group I met up with fished the little lake and big lake throughout the day catching yellows on both with a few crappies mixed in too.  Hopping from one hole to another looking for yellows hovering over the lake bottom was key to catching many fish.  Moving around and checking countless holes with the Vexilar FLX-28 made this easy.  The instant readout kept me going from hole to hole until I found the magic one...then the bite was on.  Fishing in a group is fun and can really help when fishing Clear Lake, I crossed paths with many friends this weekend and met a couple new ones along the way.  Some yellow fillets in the freezer, and another fun trip on the ice with friends catching fish...perhaps for the last time of the year...perhaps.