Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Stop #1 on the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series

 Lake Okoboji was the opening stop on the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series for this year.  I absolutely love this lake during every season of the year, I wish it was much closer to home.  Spring time bass fishing on the Okoboji chain of lakes is hard to beat in this state, and perhaps all of the Midwest.  The really unique thing about this lake system is that no matter what kind of bass angler you are, or what strengths you may have you can put them to use here.  When most people think of bass fishing on Lake Okoboji they think of 15 feet of clear water and fishing deep.  That can be the case, but there is a lot more to the Okoboji chain of lakes than that.

Friday, my partner Brian Bowles and I decided to fish West Lake Okoboji, the biggest of the five lakes and by far the lake with the most clarity.  We found hungry bass hanging on the main lake docks as well as the canal systems which are shallow with water much dingier than West Lake.  The size was good, but it wasn't great.  The next day we focused on some areas of the three small lakes in this system; Upper Gar, Lower Gar and Minnewashta.  These lakes look much more like the lakes scattered around the state and even resemble the waters of river systems too.  If you do not like the clear water, these are the places to focus in on.  We fished pretty quick through these, but found some good quality bass roaming and hitting baits.  

On our way back to the cabin we discussed our game plan for the next day, as the tournament director there is no extra time in the morning so planning ahead is vital for a good start to the day.  We were going to focus on West Lake Okoboji for a limit of fish and then go to Upper Gar and Minnewashta to try and upgrade our limit of six bass.  The plan seemed simple, but with 21 boats in the event and several other club tournaments going on we knew it would be a challenge.

Tournament day rolled around and the derby got started without a hitch.  Our plan was clicking along and we caught our 14# limit pretty quickly on main lake areas, mostly using drop-shot and a wacky-rigged stick baits in various Hot Rod Baits colors.  We decided to head to the smaller lakes and try to upgrade, we knew we would need at least a 3-pound average to be even close to the top 5.  We used several reaction baits in these lakes but a homemade bladed jig seemed to be what they wanted.  We caught our biggest fish, 4.08# and three other big ones to upgrade to 18.28# for our 6 keepers.  With weeds and dock poles present I choose to throw the bladed jig on 30# braided line on a Quantum Smoke combo.  I like the 7ft model with a Medium action to allow a little give when leaning into the fish with braid.  It works very well for me as I can feel every pole, pieces of grass and the vibration from the blade.  We felt good as we packed things up to take care of the weigh-in, we met our expectations for the day and we never lost any fish.  Although we fell short of the Top 5, we weren't very far off with an average keeper weighing 3.04#.  What a great system of lakes to go fishing on, get there if you have never been there!

As a whole the event really showed what the Okoboji Chain of Lakes has to offer bass anglers.  Here are what the top five teams were able to bring to the scales:

Place Anglers                         #BassBig BassWeightAVG Bass
1 King-King**6.70** 31.045.17#
2 Halverson-Halverson5.32 24.67  4.11#
3 Ehlers-Wirtz5.39 22.29 3.72#
4 Heim-Paulson4.75 21.09  3.52#
5 Steffen-Northway 20.68 3.45#

Monday, May 10, 2021

2021 Iowa High School Bass Team Championship

 There are many opportunities for kids these days to get in boats and have a full experience in a bass tournament.  Most of these opportunities are for students that join a club, or are part of a high school club.  However, this event which debuted in 2019 is open for any student in Iowa.  This years event included students from West Delaware HS, Center-Point Urbana HS, Benton Community HS, Cedar Rapids Prairie HS, Solon HS, Independence HS, Waukee HS, SE Warren HS, Washington HS, and ADM HS.  40 students participated with their 20 captains in this event held at Pleasant Creek Lake near Palo.  

Scheels of Cedar Falls was once again the Title Sponsor for the event, along with others including; Quantum Fishing, The Rod Glove, X-Zone Lures, Cliff Keen Athletic Clothing, and Hot Rod Baits Bass Series.  Students placing high in the event were able to take home over $1,500 in fishing gear and trophies.

May 8th greeted anglers with a huge cold front to Eastern Iowa which included a little frost on the morning of the event.  Mother Nature didn't stop there, she added an easterly wind from 10-15mph wind for most of the event.  Some anglers reported catching dozens of bass per boat and it seemed like all sorts and styles of baits were catching bass.  A total of 62 bass made their way to the weigh-in scale for this event, an all-time record for this annual tournament.  Every boat but one was able to weigh fish in!

The anglers of John, Kole, Charlie and Noah were able to bring in 10 keeper bass that weighed 17.08# to claim the 2021 Championship for Washington High School.  This school also won in 2019, with Marion as the winner from 2020.  John also weighed in the biggest bass of the event; it weighed 4.18 pounds.  In second place on the "Team" competition was the team of Remy, Grady, EJ, and Sam from Independence.  They weighed in 8 bass that weighed 11.54 pounds. 

The individual tournament Top 5 are as follows:

  • 1- Washington HS- 9.78#
  • 2- Solon HS- 8.65#
  • 3- Center-Point Urbana- 8.57#
  • 4- Independence HS- 8.38#
  • 5- Washington HS- 7.30#

Complete standings of this event can be found on the event website: Iowa High School Bass Team Championship

It is an honor to be able to work with sponsors, especially the Title Sponsor of this event; Scheels of Cedar Falls to bring this event to Eastern Iowa.  This event allows any student in the state of Iowa a chance to compete and participate in a professionally run event for only $10 an angler.

Congrats to all the students that fished this event, I hope we can do it again next year!