Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Okoboji Area

All states have their unique places to ice fish, Mille Lacs in Minnesota, Waubay Lake in South Dakota, Devils Lake in North Dakota, the famed Lake Cascade in Idaho and the Mississippi River backwaters of Wisconsin.  Those are some high class destinations here in the Ice Belt, but where does Iowa claim its ice fishing fame? 


In my opinion it resides in the Okoboji area.  West Lake Okoboji, East Lake Okoboji and Spirit lake make a up a chain of lakes on the most northern part of Western Iowa.  This chain of lakes has a huge variety of fish to keep you busy drilling holes all winter long.  I live about 4 hours from this destination, but it is a place that I try to schedule a couple trips to each year.  I had one of those trips recently on my annual Christmas break from work.  We fished Emerson Bay on West Okoboji and Spirit Lake on this trip, as much of the ice was not quite ready for ice anglers.  The pure numbers of fish in these two lakes continues to amaze me with each trip up there.  Bluegills and crappies were the targeted fish of the this trip and we certainly chased them down.  We explored Emerson Bay the first two days we were there.  This area I am familiar with and the typical bites were there.  A good gill bite was had in most areas we tried, a few crappies were mixed in too.  Our last stop was to head north to Spirit Lake.  A little bait and help from Kabeles Bait shop, as they pointed us in the right direction, and we were off.  Again the bluegills and crappies were more than willing to cooperate with us, even a few perch were mixed in.  Shallow was certainly the key on Spirit Lake, as well as finding some green weeds. 

If you ever get the chance to go to Okoboji, the answer should be "YES, when are we leaving."  The bluegills just grow different up there, tall and thick, making for some great fillets for the dinner table.  Enjoy these lakes if you can this year, I know I will get there as much as possible!


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Mississippi River Icin'

The Mississippi River has been a popular place for me to fish in the past 2 decades.  Countless trips in the boat to search around for largemouth and smallmouth bass, but never have I drilled a hole in the ice on this massive body of water in my life.  Today a friend showed me around and gave me the chance to see what the big river can be like in the winter.  He has fished the big river many of times in the winter and was kind enough to show me a few places to get me started.  A chance I couldn't turn down. 

We hit a few areas in the middle of Pool 9 and quickly started catching some BIG river bluegills.  Shallow backwater areas are key locations as I have read about and learned in the past.  Three or four feet of water is plenty for these gills to hide themselves in the winter.  Hole hopping with the Vexilar FLX-28 made the task easy as each fish showed itself as soon as the ice-ducer was dropped in the water.  A quick drop of the jig down the hole and BOOM, they were on it.  The bite died down a bit mid-morning and we were off to DeSoto Bay.  This is a popular fishing area year-round.  I couldn't wait to get there and see what was waiting for us. 

It wouldn't be a trip to the
Mighty Mississippi River
without some BASS!
A long walk is what was waiting for us...but well worth every step.  Again, I have fished this area in a boat countless times for bass but today was like a brand new adventure.  I was like a kid on December 24th!  Drilling is always part of ice fishing, but we really drilled this bay up.  We tries areas from 4feet deep all the way out to 14 feet deep.  Fish were located fairly deep and a steady bite was had all afternoon.  For the day I caught 8 different species of fish; bluegill, redear sunfish, yellow bass, white bass, crappie, shad, perch and largemouth bass.  You just never know what you might catch on the Mighty Mississippi River.  It has always held a special place in my heart for fishing, but now has even a bigger spot as I added it to my ice fishing destinations.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Shallow Water Clear Lake Fishing

Clear Lake is always a first of the season place to ice fish.  The lake is very shallow throughout and freezes very quickly.  The beginning of the ice season is also the perfect time to fish the shallow weeds that surround much of the lake.  This was our target today as I was joined by David Gissel and Cameron Arnold.  Like many anglers on Clear Lake this year many small perch were caught on the little lake, so after several small moves we made a big move to the big lake.  Different locations but same strategy, hit the weeds and find the pickets that the fish were using to move and feed.  The water was very clear so sight fishing became the method of choice.  Several nice bluegills were had on this day as well as a few yellow bass.  The action was not fast and furious, but the size of the gills and yellows surprised us all.  This technique gets overlooked at Clear Lake and it shouldn't.  Fishing shallow for these moving fish is a fun way to get on some quality fish as we did on this day.  Clear Lake didn't disappoint but next time I hope to be chasing down schools of yellows...which is an adventure every time!

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Season has begun

November 18th marked the first time on the ice for me this year.  This was the earliest I have ever ice fished.  The unusual fall weather brought enough cold weather to northern Iowa to allow the ice to form rapidly over a week-long stretch.  A group of 5 of us traveled to Northern Iowa in search of good ice.  We tried 7 locations over the day and ended up fishing on 3 of them.  Bluegills, Perch, Largemouth Bass and Catfish were caught.  The VEXILAR showed us that the action was steady all day and we all had a good time.  It was good to see some ice fishing friends from Des Moines once again.


First ice is very exciting, however CAUTION has to be on forefront of any ice adventure, especially early in the season.  Traveling in groups is first line of defense, as well as safety equipment; spikes, rope, flotation devices and cell phones.  Using a spud bar and or drilling many holes to check the ice is something we all need to do this time of year.  Don't take someones word that the ice is ok, check it yourself or simply stay home.  NO FISH is worth taking a chance on unstable ice. Be prepared, travel in small groups and always take in your surroundings in this early ice season.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Understanding your FLASHER

Ice fishing shows in Iowa are in full swing, I was sent to Clear Lake Bait and Tackle last weekend to give a seminar on using flashers to catch more fish through the ice.  No matter the crowd there are always a few things that really get the attention of the crowd.

Below you will see the most common thing I get asked while doing shows at the beginning of winter.  This graphic shows the math behind the lines on your flasher.  We need to train our minds that the colors are not the "size" of fish as a lot of anglers assume.  The graphic shows how the colors can create a mental picture for us as we decipher what our flasher is telling us.  Use the colors to present the baits at the appropriate depths, never go to a GREEN or YELLOW line, always fish above it.  Also, always go after the RED lines, those fish are right beneath you and it also tells you at what depth the fish are moving through your water column.  Note, the crappies are swimming all at the same depth, however the lines on the Vexilar will appear deeper as they are farther away from the ice-ducer.  This is the reason why we need fish above the yellow and green lines.

Many great videos can be found on the Vexilar website: http://vexilar.com/pages/new-video-page

Have fun, be safe and enjoy the upcoming ice season...it might be here before many think!


Monday, October 22, 2018

Cold Water River Bass Fishing


This past weekend, Don Henry and I made our annual trip to the Mississippi River for a little fall fishing.  The past couple years, the weather worked out to our favor...this year, the weather tested us on both days.  Saturday morning on our way to Pool 9 we ran into an October Blizzard.  Winds were gusting up to 40mph and the snow coming down was thick as fog.  Typically a little snow in October is nothing, this was a hard snow that blanketed everything for a few minutes, thankfully it did melt away quickly as the temps were near 40 degrees.  We fished in some flurries which isn't anything brand new to fall fishing, but the 30+ mph north winds were a constant battle.  The Minn Kota Talons and Ultrex trolling motor made the day much more tolerable fighting these conditions.  These two tools give you total boat control and allow you to fish any style you want.  The day was a typical fall day up there, however the fish were not easily tricked.  We had to really slow our baits down and fish through the trees and weeds to get them to bite.  I know I say it plenty but having the right equipment on these "light bite days" is important.  Using med/heavy flippin rods by QuantumPT and smooth casting control of the QuantumPT reels really made these terrible fishing conditions disappear.  Backwater areas with little or no current are always the popular places to be this time of year.  The water in Pool 9 at several different locations was hanging right around 48 degrees all day long.  It was a good day, boating a few dozen largemouth bass with plenty of two pounders tugging at our lines.  The cold and wind wore us out and by the sunset we were regrouping at the motel for the next day.
Largest River Bass to date: 4.76#

We woke up Sunday to temperatures of 28degrees.  Needless to say we were in no hurry to get on the water today.  Some tackle prep, a hot breakfast and coffee later we were headed to the ramp in Pool 10 for some more backwater fishing.  Today, the wind was out of the south and much lighter, and the sun was out all day long.  The temperatures only rose into the high 40's but it felt great all day long with that bright sunshine.  Today was a similar day, focusing on backwater areas where the fish were starting to gather for the winter months.  The middle and upper sections of Pool 10 have many of these areas and are quite easy to get to.  Rocks are always good this time of year and the bass were holding true on this fact today.  The water on Pool 10 was at a 15.9ft level, 7-8 feet higher than a typical October day, this gave the fish plenty of areas to hide.  Flooded trees, especially willows seemed to hold a lot of baits today.  Don and I pitched craws and tubes into the tree stems and the fish were ready for a quick meal.  Many fish were caught using this method, but a method that continues to shine for me is the swing-head jig.  This, paired with a Hot Rod Baits Big Craw has been a great search and catch combination for me.  It is quickly becoming an everyday tool for me.  One other method that shined today was the jerkbait.  I was using the IMA Flit 120, this jerkbait has 3 treble hooks, suspends in the 6-8 foot range and you can really cast thing a long ways.  It is ideal for fall fishing with the stop and go presentation for weary cold bass.  This bait caught me my largest ever Mississippi River bass today, it weighed in at 4.76#, a true beauty.  Needless to say it was the highlight of the trip.  Overall it was a great 2 days of fishing on the Big River with a couple of friends.  It might be the last time I visit the Mississippi this year and if so, it will be one to remember for a long time!
Don Henry with a nice Pool 10 keeper

Sunday, October 14, 2018

VEXILAR Glo-Ring

Package comes with
everything you need
Vexilar came out with a slick Glo-Ring this year.  It connects to your existing Vexilar battery and comes with an on/off switch.  The installation is easy, CHECK OUT THE VIDEO BELOW.

This add-on to any Vexilar unit will eliminate the need to carry extra things out on the ice.  No need for small flashlights, changing those small batteries or getting a dull charge on your jig or spoon.  This glow device will give you a constant charge on your lures all year long without the concern of bringing something else with you.




Sunday, September 30, 2018

IOWA BASS NATION High School State Tournament

Bassmasters is a world-wide organization who started the bass fishing tournament craze in the late 60's.  That same organization is the one that these young kids of Independence compete under.  BASS created the youth movement about a decade ago.  The Iowa Bass Nation began the youth state tournament at about the same time.  The Independence High School Bass Club was created about two years for the youth of Independence.  This year the kids had a chance to fish in 4 local tournaments and a couple of seminars organized by club coaches Todd Reed, Keith Donnelly and Garry Anderson.

September 23rd was the annual Iowa High School State Bass Tournament, it has two divisions, one for 7th/8th grade students and one for high school students.  The Indee Bass Club had three teams consisting of Karter Wendling and Ryan Williams, Peyton Lolwing and Ryan Thompson, and Jackson Toale and Dalton Hoover.  These three teams all weighed in bass at the end of the day and all finished in the middle of the standings.  The Indee Bass Club had two teams represented in the Junior Division.  Camerson Wilson and Ashton Lolwing finished 5th out of the ten teams and Justin Schmadeke and Hunter Patton ended up Champions of this division.  They caught 5 keeper bass that weighed 9.17 pounds that beat all other Junior Division teams.  Boat captains for the five Indee Bass Club boats were; Brent Roluff, Eric Johnston, Trent Beier, Chad O'Brien and Dave Wilson.  The captains are responsible for driving the boats around the tournament waters and keeping the kids safe throughout the day.
Hunter/Captain Eric Johnston/Justin
Junior Division STATE CHAMPS

It was a great showing for the club this year with every team catching bass to weigh in.  As each group came into the weigh-in area I was thrilled as each told me that they had some bass to weigh in.  Another wonderful weekend on the Mighty Mississippi River and one that these 10 young men will never forget!

None of this would be possible without the support of our CLUB SPONSORS, please support them or offer a thank you if you have a chance.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Seminar Time- Indee Bass Club

A huge turnout of Indee Bass Club members showed up for the fall seminars held at the Triangle Pond here in Independence, Iowa.  When Keith Donnelly and I started this club we had one goal in mind; to help the kids learn about bass fishing and help them get better.  This night is always a great way to keep that goal alive for the kids in the Independence area.  About 20 students were there to learn about casting techniques, rod and reel selection, bait choices and get any questions answered that they may have.  All students left the seminars with some new baits thanks to PROW (Preserving Recreation On the Wapsi), myself and Dale Gooding (fishing friend of myself).

Students were able to get 1 on 1 attention while they casted, flipped and pitched there baits at targets, something that looks easy at first but isn't.  Most anglers at this age are pretty efficient at casting, but the art of pitching a bait to a certain target is still very hard for them.  Practicing in the backyard is the best way to learn this skill, your neighbor might think you are a bit weird, but in the near future you can show them all those pictures of bass you have been catching!

Thanks to the other adults that helped out with the learning on this night: Paul Schmadeke, Dave Wilson, and Randy Toale.



Final Bass World Sports Tournament of 2018

Saturday was the last Bass World Sports tournament of the year for Kevin Christensen and I.  We had placed 5th in our first one this year and the second one we got caught behind the locks, but our weight would have put us in 4th place.  We were determined to make this last one better than the previous two.  We both took our boats to Pool 9 the weekend before to search out areas where the bass were hiding.  We were able to cover a lot of water using two different boats and we had a pretty good plan going into this weekend.  The bottom half of the pool would get our attention and we stayed there the entire tournament looking for our 5 bass limit.  In the areas we fished the bass were not in a chasing mood.  Texas Rigged Hot Rod Baits Tubes, Big Craws and Wig's Jigs were the ticket to getting the bass to bite.  Black and Blue, and Mississippi Craw worked well when throwing jigs and the Green Pumpkin/Blue tube really shined this past weekend with the somewhat dirty water.  Working both of these baits on QuantumPT flippin rods were key to getting the proper hook set in the current.  Water temps were in the low 70's and fish were still in or close to current areas.
Catch and Release is mandatory at all bass
fishing tournaments.  Our fish were
 in great shape as they swam
 away to be caught another day.

We chipped away all day long and had a decent limit by 9am.  We were able to upgrade a few times but just couldn't get one last upgrade to take us over the top.  We knew we had about 12 pounds but that doesn't cut it in this league, too many top river anglers, it is a guarantee at each of these events that a few teams will load them up.  We fished our best, and covered all the water we wanted to.  We ended up with 12.51# for our 5 keepers and ended up in 5th place out of about 20 teams.  It was one of those weigh-ins that you say to yourself, "yep that is about what we deserve".  We had 4 nice largemouth bass, but that last one that weighed about 1.75# was the one that soured the day.  We were only 0.30# away from a 3rd place finish, so in the end that "stung" a bit but it also told us we had a good fishing day but just missed out on a good payday.  There will be more chances for us!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Indee High School Bass Club September Event

September 1st was the high school fall event on the Wapsi.  Several storms rolled through Northeast Iowa this past week and the Wapsi was on the rise.  This definitely turned the bass off on this day making them difficult to find and catch.  However, like any tournament there are always a few teams that seem to figure things out.

The bite on the Wapsi was good the previous weekend and all throughout the week, but the river started to rise on Thursday and the bass were relocating come tournament time on Saturday.  Of the nine keepers that were weighed in, only one was a smallmouth bass, very unusual for this time of year, but as past experiences have taught me, the smallies will be the first fish to "get out of town".  Tournament day was no different, the smallies were all but gone, and the largemouth stole the show at weigh-in.  Top baits for the students during this event included; spinnerbaits, chatterbaits and buzzbaits, no surprise as the clouds and rain ruled the day.

Twenty students showed up on the wet, rainy morning to fish.  Ten boat captains took them up and down the Wapsi searching for those moving bass.  Here are the results:

 Place   Anglers Captains #Bass Big Bass Total
 1Jackson/Dalton  Randy Toale4**2.89**  6.69
 2 Peyton & Ashton Dave Wilson2.14  4.85
 3 Karter/Connor Rick Wendling1.50 2.49

1st Place and Big Bass
2nd Place












3rd Place














This event was made possible by Farmers State Bank.  Their donation paid for the DNR tournament permit and plaques for the top two teams.  The club was also able to give away 4 rod and reel combos and PROW (Preserving Recreation On the Wapsi) gave away tackle bags and snacks to the kids also.  Although the weather made the day a wet one, the prizes and grill-out provided by Farmers State Bank left all kids and captains with smiles on their faces.

As the competition season ends for the club, we all appreciate the following companies and organizations for everything they have done, without the following and the boat captains, the club would not exist.




Thursday, August 30, 2018

FROG Season Isn't Over Yet

NOTE: at rest both hook are below the water,
yet the front of the bait glides on top of the weeds
One of my favorite way to catch largemouth bass is with a hollow-body frog.  I have tried dozens of styles and brands throughout the years but there is only one that has gotten used for the past decade.  The Optimum Baits Furbit Frog is a bass catching machine.  It has every feature, not just a few like many companies, that a hollow-body from needs to put bass in the boat.

Color: Most frogs you see on the market are designed to catch the angler, many fancy colors on top of the frog, the fish will never see those colors.  The Furbit frog comes in an array of colors, including the bottom of the frog too, what the bass actually sees.  On emay argue that a bass doesn't look at the color anyway with a the visicous strikes that so often happen when frog fishing, sure in heavy vegetation the bass is seeing a shadow, but in most instances the fish will see the underside and color of the frog before biting.  White, Black, Green Pump, Brown, Pink, Black/Yellow is just a few colors.

Hooks: This really separates the Furbit from from many on the market today.  This frog is made with a double 6/O hook, yes they are really that big.  This provides the extra gap between the hook and the body of the from like no other frog out there.  Wider gap and of course ultra sharp will have you hooked up!

Weight: The most unique part of this bait is the placement of the weight.  It rests under the actual hook.  It by no means can get in the way of hooking the fish.  This was a one of kind over ten years age when debuted and is still rare today on competitors models.  The design and craft of this bait is second to none.  Most frogs on the market today have the weight between the barb of the hook and the shank of the hook, causing the gap to be much smaller than it should be, thus not hooking into the fish as much as the larger gap provided by the Furbit Frog.

Real fur legs and a spinner to add attention
 in open water. 
NOTE: the silver lead weight
underneath the shank of the hook
Attraction: One other item on the Furbit is a spinner that rests behind the legs.  When in open water this acts just like a blade on a spinnerbait, allowing even more reason for a fish to come and take a look from long distances. Another added attraction are the rabbit fur legs of the Furbit Frog.  These sway in the water when still and fan out as you bring it to rest, they look amazing to any fish nearby.

Weedless: Most every frog out there is weedless, that is the primary reason to throw one, however with all the extra design behind the Furbit it stays just as weedless as other frogs.

There is a reason why the Optimum Baits Furbit Frog is still selling the same model they did in 2007 when it first appeared, it is simply the best frog on the market.  The above reasons take this lure over the top when probing around weeds, laydown logs or submerged weeds.  If you start to pay attention to your frogs, I bet you may see why the Furbit catches bass, not just anglers.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Back to the Basics


As each summer winds down I always tend to think back on my years of fishing throughout the decades.  I think back to the days when I had no boat, but would stay out all afternoon running the banks of the river looking for that next bite.  I didn't always have 15 high quality rods/reels at my disposal, typically I had two poles back in my younger years.  The past several weeks when bass fishing my big bass boat has stayed home, not because it wasn't ready for a day of fishing, but I didn't need it.  I really enjoy living a few minutes from the Wapsipinicon River and running my small river boat around, yes once again looking for that next bite.  On the front deck is 3 or 4 poles, and a couple small tackle boxes of crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plenty of tubes and craw baits.  Nothing fancy, but it sure has gotten the job done.  In a week or so the first day of September will be here and the fishing this last month has been good.  The river has been up and down and the bass have stayed in their summer areas as predicted.  It has been nice to step back in time to a small boat, and just keep things simple.  It has allowed me to catch just as many, if not more bass by going back to the basics.  The simple pleasures of running the river in a 25HP motor will be something I will always do, nothing fancy, just me, my boat and the fish.



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