Sunday, August 5, 2018

West Lake Osceola Tournament

On a tough day, 2 keepers
netted us a 3rd place payout
This Sunday was the last event in the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series.  The event took place at West Lake in Osceola, Iowa.  This series consists of 17 teams that participate in three events scattered around the state.  The first was at Lake Sugema, then Pool 9 on the Mississippi River and the finale at West Lake.  My tournament partner for these events is Brian Bowles from Marshalltown.  We make a great pair that are not afraid to tinker with baits and different techniques.  This has been a main reason for our success this year. 

I was able to head south and look over Osceola on Friday for a few hours and the entire day on the Saturday.  This turned into a critical piece to our game plan for the tournament on Sunday.  Saturday told me that the bass were hanging out on the main lake points and more specifically near that 15 foot depth range.  Main lake points were holding fish as well as secondary points too.  The depth and the rate of drop-off played a key part too.  Baits that worked well were jigs and Hot Rod Baits Big Craws.   A plan was in place after catching a few keepers and several smaller bass during the practice day.  As I put nine Quantum PT rods and reels away, one thing was for sure, tournament day was going to be a grind.  It is never a good sign when I have that many rods on the deck after a day of fishing. Bites were few and far between and the big ones were not showing themselves very easily. 

Tournament day began at 6am and we had 7 hours to try to get as many 14-inch bass as we could to the weigh-in.  It was such a grind that I knew if we could get 3 keepers we would be right in the mix.  Our day started off as planned b hitting some main lake points in the deeper water.  The fish had disappeared.  We stuck with it for almost two hours but nothing was happening.  We decided to try shallow near some deer tongue weeds.  This gave us an immediate sign of good thing to come.  Brian hooked up on a Big Craw by slowly dragging it on top of the weeds.  One keeper in the boat felt really good.  We continued to hit similar weed lines with deeper water relatively close by.  Our largest fish of the day came next on a weightless Hot Rod Baits Stickbait in the Jelly color; a nice 3.30# bass.  After this bass was in the livewell we knew we were close to our target of three keepers.  We continued to punch through the weeds and work the outer weedline, this produced a dozen or so smaller bass, but we couldn't get that third keeper in the boat by the time the tournament was over.  We felt good on the day as we changed up the plan just in time to put two bass in the livewell, it was the best we could do.  Only one team was able to get a limit of six bass on this day, and second place only had one bass, a huge 5.68 pound bass.  Our two bass which weighed 4.64# placed us in third...we were both a little shocked, but on a "grinder day" you just never know what it will take to place towards the top.  This high finish also boosted our Team of the Year standings, we started the day as the 7th ranked team for the year and ended up as the third best team in the series, the highest Brian and I have ever placed.  Full results of this event can be found HERE.




Sunday, July 29, 2018

LAS VEGAS: Lake Mead- Striper Fishing

When most people think of Las Vegas it is all about the lights, cards and slot machines.  While those things are very attractive and fun my mind was on a bucket list fishing destination.  Lake Mead is about 30 miles away from the flashy lights of Vegas.  Lake Mead is a result of one of the biggest engineering feats of the 20th Century, the Hoover Dam.  The dam was built in the 1930's and stands over 700 feet high and over 600 feet thick at its base.  It is an amazing structure that creates the largest reservoir in the United States which creates power for most of the Western coast and supplies water to those same states.  Pictures do it no justice, it is a must visit.


On to the fishing, the lake is currently at a normal level and has over 500 feet of water in its lower basin.  We fished the lower end of the lake about ten miles north of Hoover Dam.  Our guide for the day was Kevin Durham, he is the owner of "Fishfinders Guide Service".  After researching the guide in the area, there are 4 licensed guide for Lake Mead, he rose above the rest in many ways.  We met at a gas station at 4:45am on a Wednesday in Henderson, NV.  This is closer to the Vegas and the Uber was about $50.  We jumped in his vehicle and we were off to the lake.  We had a chance to talk about the day and how things were hopefully going to go.  Stripers were the target for the day, as they are the most populated fish in the lake and offer a fight you will not forget.  Stripers are notorious for feeding on the top of the water during the hot summer months.  Their main forage is shad, which our guide was able to find very quickly.  We were throwing popper baits as well as walking topwater baits.  The action was hot at times, and Keith and I had 14 double hookups in the morning trip and we totaled 50+ fish on the trip.  Most of the stripers were about 4 pounds and every single one we caught pulled as hard as anything I have ever caught.  It was an adventure in a National Park that I will never forget.  If you ever get the chance to go to Vegas, put this fishing trip on your list with Kevin, you won't be disappointed!

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.