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.



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



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.






Sunday, February 25, 2018

Should I stay or go?

This past Saturday Mother Nature was just not kind.  Friday was beautiful, temps in the high 30s, light breeze, and sunny, Saturday was cloudy, a strong East wind and chances of rain/snow/sleet possible for most of the state.  Sometimes you just have to load up and go, which is what David Gissell and I did.

We headed down to Otter Creek Lake in search of some Yellow Bass action.  Now, if it wasn't late February and the ice season winding down we probably wouldn't have made the trip, but you never know how many weekends are left to hit the ice.  We made the trip knowing that the weather would ultimately rule the day and probably force us off the ice sooner rather than later, so a 70-minute trip was as far as we wanted to go.  A couple more Independence anglers met us there, as well as Chad Pietig from Marshalltown...always good to see the Marshalltown boys! 

With a stiff east wind predicted we knew it wasn't going to be an easy day...and it wasn't.  The yellows were pretty picking on this day and small jigs had to be used to trick most of the yellows, and as usual spoons came into play as well when the bite increased from time to time.  One thing that I observed today was how easy it is to find fish while working as a group.  At any given time we had 4-5 guys hopping from hole to hole in search of the fish.  This is made really easy when everyone can be mobile with their Vexilars to cover dozens of holes in the matter of minutes.  Turning up the cone angle on the Pro-View transducers and "stirring" the hole really helped to pick up some extra fish as well on the shallow flats.  The action was pretty consistent, and the Vexilars were not black much at all, triggering the fish to bite was a challenge on this day.  the old saying, "Fish bite least when the wind is from the East" was certainly true today.  David and I ended up with about 40 keeper yellows, released many gills and some crappies as well.

Using the group work method and the power of the Vexilars really made it a fun day on the ice, even though we had precipitation falling on us for several hours in the morning.  The was solid, and will hang on for awhile there, but things will go pretty fast if we get more rain.  Stay safe out there and remember to use all your ice fishing safety gear as the season winds down.


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Holiday Lake Derby

This past Saturday was a unique opportunity I couldn't pass up.  Holiday Lake, located near Brooklyn, IA held an open fishing day/derby.  Anyone could pay $20 to enter in the event and fish the lake for a day, enjoy lunch and talk with the nearly 400 anglers that showed up.  There were also dozens of prizes donated from businesses to help the event raise money.  The main purpose for the event was to raise money for the fish committee of the lake.  They have numerous fish structures in the lake, and have an extensive stocking program to make the fishing opportunities for the land owners a positive one year-round.  364 days a year the lake is closed to the public, only land owners in the Holiday Lake Association can fish the private lake.  Like I said, this was a unique opportunity to chase down the famous gills and perch that I have heard about in this lake.

The turnout for the event was probably more than the committee expected.  Over 400 anglers showed up to participate in the special fishing day.  I traveled down to the lake with David Gissell and met 3 friends from the Des Moines area to fish for the morning.  No contour maps are available for the lake so the plan was simple...drill as many holes as possible and hop around to see where the fish were holding for the day.  At times we had 3 different augers punching holes at the same time, covering water and constantly keeping the Vexilars in the water looking for the fish.  We focused on the northeast cove and ended up with a pretty consistent bite for gills.  Each guy in the group caught their limit of 10 gills or were within a fish or two of that feat.  David caught the only crappie, a nice 12+ incher.  I ended up with the only 2 perch in the group, one that measured just over 12 inches.  The group caught a couple walleyes as well.  All-in-all it was a good fishing morning, as most of the gills we caught were of keeper size.  We never found any structure to fish, so focusing on depths of water and the imaginary contour map we were creating with the augers and Vexilars kept us actively on fish.  Down sizing jigs seemed to help after the first couple of hours of fishing, helping us to catch fish all the way up to the 1pm lunch time.

A big thanks to the Holiday Lake fish committee for making this day possible for anglers to try a different location to fish during the winter.  Below is the flier from this year, and hopefully they will have a similar event next year, if they do, I highly suggest giving it a try.



Sunday, January 21, 2018

ISU Ice Tournament at Hickory Grove Lake

Our Top 10 for the day

The Iowa State University Fishing Club held their annual ice tournament at Hickory Grove Lake today.  It was a nice turnout of 17 teams for the event. Weather for the day was overcast/drizzle throughout the day.  This actually helped the bite from the previous blue sky day on Saturday.  Once again, Mark Anderson and I joined up to fish the event.  The tournament limit was your top 10 panfish.  The lake has a good population of bluegills, some crappies and some green sunfish mixed in too.  We knew we had to focus on crappies to end up towards the top.

We both hit the lake on Saturday to look things over.  The previous weekend I was able to confirm some things we already knew about the lake from previous years.  We took our past experiences and what we saw on Saturday to come up with a game plan.  We had a solid plan A that we hoped would give us some crappies, and a plan B for big bluegills if we needed it.

The forecast on tournament day was cloudy with intermittent rain all day long, temps were in high 30's and was very comfortable to fish.  The overcast day definitely helped the fish bite all day long.  Water clarity in the lake was over 6 feet, the clouds definitely played in our favor on this day extending the bite.
We never did try plan B on the tournament day as plan A was very good to us.  We fished water from 14 feet to 25 feet deep.  Moving frequently helped us to stay on the moving schools of gills and crappies.  Light colored jigs seems to be the trick for us with a waxworm, although there was an hour or so mid-morning that the fish preferred red spikes.  Just more proof it is always good to have a variety of bait with you at all times.
One big advantage we had today was using the Vexilar FLX-28.  Almost all fish were caught suspended off the bottom several feet.  Utilizing the zoom feature to fine tune jigging cadence and capitalizing on then minuscule target separation really made working the fish a fun and an easy task on the day.
We ended up weighing in 9 crappies and one big bluegill that out-weighed other crappies that we had caught throughout the day.  Our 10 fish weighed in at 7.84#, good enough for 2nd place.  The winners, Chad Angell and Josh Sansgaard took 1st with 8.52#.  This event proved once again that this lake has some great fish in it!

Top 5 Results:
Angell/Sansgaard     8.52#
Reed/Anderson         7.84#
Stanley/Martin          4.50#
Kjormoe/Dolash       4.48#
Tom/Don                  4.40#