Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bassmaster Central Open

Red River, Bossier City, LA

This past weekend was the first stop of the Bassmaster Central Opens, a derby I was looking very much forward to and one I'll soon not forget.

The site was none other than Louisiana's historic Red River, where moving around this sprawling and stump filled waterway can prove heartache to any weary angler. Half the battle to locating fish on the Red lies in getting to know your surroundings. It's nothing to find yourself working your way through stump fields, sand bars, levees and wing dams. All the while trying to avoid random rebar, fence posts, water moccasins and alligators in search of a 100 yard stretch holding bass that are busting at the chance to choke your Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait.

Finding your way around the Red is 75% of the battle. Mother Nature has an excellent way of protecting her trophies.

They grow em GIANT down in the bayou.

When practicing for the Red, the more time you can give yourself, the better off you'll be. Most of your practice day is spent reversing off sand bars, pushing off stumps and creating routes to and from the main river channel. Running wide open in search of new water is simply not an option and idle speed will be the only thing preventing you from a busted hull and a misplaced lower unit. With this said, I was bayou bound early and planned on a solid week of practice. There's a lot riding on the first tournament of the series. Sure, there's the obvious, a win equals big bucks and a invitation to the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. More importantly, the need for points means the difference between an Elite Series birth and another season at the Open level. My main goal was a realistic one for never having been to the Red River or Louisiana for that matter. I needed to cash a check and put myself into position to make a push.

The first day of practice started real well and I was off to a great start. In fact, it was refreshing to be back around some shallow dirty water. Since moving from Minnesota last October, I have been spending almost all my time out targeting suspending bass on the Tennessee River and Ozark Impoundments. Breaking down the Red River was right up my alley and the preferred presentations fit my strengths. The main river had a lot of color and defined it's name perfectly. With color that dirty and taken into consideration the time of year, I started by targeting the many backwater sloughs that make up pool 5 in search for some clearer water and vegetation.

The first day of practice was the start of a cold front following a 24 hour rain shower that dumped a good inch of water in the Shreveport/Bossier City area. Making some comparisons to Florida fishing, I was instantly attracted to the hyacinth mats on a deeper bank leading into a spawning pocket. The spawn was already well underway with more fish falling into the post spawn phase. Hyacinth mat root systems hold mud and this mud retains heat, perfect for attracting both post and prespawn bass on cold front days with stiff north winds. In fact, I was pulling on fish on my first couple flips. As practice moved forward and the warmer weather took hold, the bass started to roam from the mats and got out on the flats to feed. When this went down, I had no problem catching keepers on a Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait (Black) or a Outkast Swim Jig (Bruiser) by fan casting the high spots on flats and grinding the baits through the many stumps. I was able to find all kinds of water and had my best luck targeting dirty water that's not too dirty and definitely not to clear, if that makes any sense at all?

Hyacinth mats are notorious living quarters for all animal life and provides clearer water under it's dense mats.

After fishing clear water and seeing all the abandon beds and fry in the shallows, I knew we were on the tail end of things but knew there was still some love making going on. I left the flats in search for a happy medium between the back sloughs and the main river. I found a few smaller areas that were between two major sloughs but close enough to the main river to be off most anglers radars. I noticed quickly that things were a little further back in the spawning game as these areas still had bass moving up.

I'll mention now that I was cursed with a bad engine this entire tournament and had to game plan for the worst. This meant pool 4 was not included in my options and instead I focused all my energy on pool 5. My engine's main computer system was fried and was unfortunately not getting fixed for this event. Having a bad computer meant that there was no telling what issues I was going to encounter. I didn't get enough time to practice for pool 4 even if I had wanted to as I spent half my practice off the water and at dealerships trying to get fixed. Knowing long rough idles would work against me, I became ever more intrigued by my dirty water spawning area I had located.

Day one of the derby, I ran to my area and quickly got to work throwing an Outkast Swim Jig and flipping a Lake Fork Tackle Craw Tube to shallow cover. I also targeted spawners along a rock levee stretch that dead ended in the back of the pocket. My problem was the dirty water wouldn't allow me to see the bass I was targeting so I failed to hook up on a good 50% of my bites and I know for fact I messed up on a few of the better females that were in those areas. Since I didn't have a engine that allowed me to run, I was forced to sit on these fish and grind them out which proved effective and I weighed in a above average limit going 10.3 pounds and put myself in perfect position to make a run on day two.

There are many man made levees throughout the entire Red River system and the key ones hold large schools of bass.

After I weighed in, I was instantly slammed with a serious case of anxiety as I wasn't able to put my boat on the trailer as my engine was in SAFE mode. As I was stalled out and working on getting to my trailer which now was holding up the entire show, I looked around the slough that harbors Red River South Marina and noticed there really wasn't many places for these bass to go as there was a good 3/4 mile channel to get back out to the main river. I knew this area had some fish in it and was about to receive a thousand or so more. That night, I figured I would attempt to run to my same area and stay in there all day. As long as my engine could get me there, I'd stay in there until the last hour and then get back and fish for some release fish. This way if I broke down I'd have plenty of time to call Tow BoatUS and get back to weigh and if I made it back to the check-in slough, I could use the trolling motor worst case.

I was in an earlier flight and was able to make it to my primary area with no problems, well except for the fisherman that beat me to the area. This area was a one boat spot and I couldn't sit and watch the writing on the wall. The day before I did well out of this area but unfortunately I had left a few better bites in there. The bass were spawning in here and though the water was far to dirty to visually sight fish them, I had saved their exact location on my bow mounted Lowrance Gen 2 Touch 12 and new I'd have them dead to rights if I could just get in there and execute. Being that I got beat in there, I decided to hit a similar area on the back side of the levee that I had made a cull or two in the day before. Being that hooking up with these weary bass was such a challenge day one, I went to a three lure rotation and made some necessary changes to better execute. I stayed the course with my Outkast Swim Jig, I was throwing the 1/4 oz. Bruiser color with a black and blue grub trailer. I threw this all week on a G Loomis MBR 844 GLX with a Shimano Chronarch 50E and 15lb. Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon. I also kept the same flipping tube which was a Lake Fork Tube Craw (black neon) with a rattle insert. The difference was that I went from a 4/0 Trokar Magworm to a 5/0 Trokar Flippin' Hook and also switched from fluorocarbon to 60lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid to help ensure stronger hook sets with no stretch for these finicky bass. I was pitching this setup to spawning rocks, laydowns and stumps with the new G Loomis GLX 855 JWR and a Shimano Core Mg7. Lastly, because of the shad spawn and heavy pressure, I tied on a Biovex Shallow Runner (Ayu) which I replaced it's smaller hooks for larger size 6 Trokar EWG Treble. I threw this along the levees and whenever I could see bass chasing shad. I used the new G Loomis GLX 847 CBR, which is honestly one of the best cranking rods ever thrown and also went with the Shimano Chronarch 50E, spooled with 10 lb. Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon.

A chunk prespawn largemouth that choked a Outkast Tackle Swim Jig.

After making the move to a less pressured area I instantly went to work and was able to round out a small limit in no time at all. I still missed a few but all in all my hook up ratio was far better and that smaller profile Biovex crankbait was key in getting strikes without pulling up the mud bottom like more traditional square bill crankbaits. Despite the early limit, things slowed drastically and the bites were few and far between. My thought was that the day prior I most likely stubbed my toe on the females and ended up weighing more males and overnight some of those females moved on.

I decided to finally leave this area and make the run back. Upon my arrival, I saw that the 1/2 mile stretch of bank had about 15 boats lined up on it all with the same idea. I picked an open 50 yard stretch and claimed it as my own. The bank was lined with a few laydowns and on my first flip to one I managed a small cull. As I continued back and forth along my stretch I couldn't help but notice the hard mud line that was present due to the rising water and boat traffic. Knowing I needed to make a change and having only about 20 minutes left in my day, I tied on a 3/8 oz. Chatterbait (Black and Blue) and threaded on a Lake Fork Tackle Craw (Black and Blue). I made three casts into a tumbleweed of a laydown and as my bait was coming along side the brush it got heavy. I leaned back and before I knew it a 7 pound largemouth rolled, opened her mouth and threw my bait in a split second! I honestly fell to my knees in disbelief. I'm not going to make excuses, I should have boated that fish. Closing on these opportunities are what separates the men from the boys and in this case, costed me a 12th to 16th place finish and a easy three grand. Instead, I was forced to weigh in my disappointing 5 bass limit weighing 6 pounds 11 ounces and finished 80th out of 186 boats. I know in my heart, that lost 7 pounder paired with the poor execution of the bedders will haunt me further as the year wears on and will most certainly be the difference of qualifying for the Elites and trying my luck again next season. All I can do is take pride in putting myself in position, learning from my mistakes and making sure next time the bites get put in the boat. It's just that simple.

Bass aren't the only ones gorging themselves on crawdads in the greater Louisiana area.  

Louisiana is a great place and the Red River is one of my new favorite fisheries. It got the best of me this time but next time she's mine for the taking! Up next, I head south to Alabama for some spotted bass fishing and the last stop of the Bassmaster Southern Opens on Lake Logan Martin before soon starting my track north in preparation for the upcoming Bassmaster Northern Opens. I'll take any good vibes you want to send my way.

Stay tuned, I also have some very exciting news that I'll be announcing soon!

Tight lines.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

American Legacy Fishing Company

I've been a diehard G Loomis and Shimano supporter since I was a little kid. I remember going to the different consumer expo shows with my Uncle and eyeballing them when I wasn't even old enough to understand the value of a dollar. Don't get me wrong, these rods and reels come at a staggering sticker price especially if you're looking high-end, but hear me, you're going to get what you pay for.



G Loomis and Shimano has been around long before I was setting hooks and have always had the reputation as the best. You don't create your own reputation, you earn it. There's a lot of different rod and reel companies popping up damn near daily and all claim to be the best but really don't deserve to be in the same sentence. G Loomis and Shimano continually develop the mold to which the competition is trying to duplicate.

Once you purchase a G Loomis rod you are welcomed into the family as G Loomis offers a lifetime warranty on their products. When you spend as much time in the boat as I do, things are going to happen. I put my equipment under a lot of abuse but I have the self satisfaction of knowing that when my rod snaps in half setting the hook on a 9 pounder that's buried under a hyacinth mat, that I can have a new one in my hands as soon as the next day.

When I say I'm brand loyal that doesn't just mean the rod and reel but also the place I go to to get my hands on these very setups. American Legacy Fishing Company is the number one G Loomis and Shimano superstore and are a full service vendor for all the best fishing related brands. They have every rod imaginable, if it says G Loomis, they got it. Their staff is top notch and offer not only industry knowledge but are all fisherman themselves and offer their customers real advice where the other big box stores simply can't compete. 

You can also take advantage of their trade-in program and trade in that older model Shimano for the newest and greatest or find that hard to acquire item that has been discontinued like the Shimano Chronarch 100D7, Core MgFv or better yet, the old school Loomis rods with the Wiebe reels seats! You never really know what you can find at American Legacy! Check them out today and also be sure to join their club for email updates on everything G Loomis and Shimano!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bassmaster Southern Open

Douglas Lake, Dandridge, TN


Douglas Takes Douglas! This headline has been going through my head since I first registered for this event. Strictly for name sake reasons as I didn't know the first thing about this puddle except that Jeremy Starks and the rest of the top 10 in last years Bassmaster Elite Series event, put long-lining aka strolling on the map by using deep diving plugs, light line and their trolling motor to sack up giant stringers of Douglas Lake bass.

This go round, I guess you could say things are different because most of the structures that Starks and the Cali's own Mr. Aaron Martens were targeting were high and dry. Ole' Douglas's water level changes pretty dramatically in the course of a season. I've never seen anything too much like it since I was fishing in Southern California. Here's a photo of a spot that was pounded in last years Elite Series event, hard to imagine they were using deep diving plugs to dredge these rocks and now seagulls are using it to rest after gorging on the shad kill.


Douglas Lake
Photo courtesy of Bill Kohls

That brings me to my second observation within minutes of launching. Douglas Lake was enduring a giant shad kill, worse than I've ever seen before. This isn't a bad thing as Mother Nature has her ways of recycling her bounties but when it comes to fishing, it's like a mayfly hatch on steroids and anyone from Minnesota feels a brothers pain.

The weekend before our Open, Douglas Lake hosted the first PAA event of the year and though I tend to ignore other events it was hard, as every angler that found success in that event was throwing an umbrella rig exclusively. That's a hard stat to ignore and only pushed me harder to find something against the grain as I knew these bass had seen plenty of rigs and they were about to see a whole lot more.

I threw the kitchen sink at these bass and when finally disgusted, I picked up the old Hog Farmer 3 Wire Rig and started putting bass in the boat. Not bad ones either, the Rig definitely coughs up giants. I'm not sure exactly where I lie as a tournament angler on my thoughts of the umbrella rig being used in tournament competition as generally I'm a one lure, one line, one rod and reel type of a believer. More on this later...

Every single day of practice I was catching quality, not a lot but the overall quality was there. I was concerned about my ability to catch a limit. I was targeting main-lake points and secondary points in the mouths of creek channels. Whenever I'd get bit, I'd mark it and move on and hope that I'd have enough water to run it all come tourney time. My thought was that this could produce a limit both days and a winning limit at that. I seriously never caught anything except giants while I was there. I never caught a single small bass so I knew I was doing the right thing and around the right fish but with the shad kill making easy meals for weary bass and the abundance of pressure I still had reasons to be concerned. Still though, the size bass I was around was enough to keep my interest and keep me searching for solutions to these potential problems.


Hog Farmer Rig with 3 Biovex Kolt Ridgetail Swimbaits
Photo courtesy of Bill Kohls.

The other issue I was having, as well as everyone else in the field, was the ever-changing weather conditions. Seriously, we're talking rain, sun, snow, heat, clouds, fog and wind. You name it and we endured it. It was hard trying to put two things together that matched and when trying to find a pattern, this makes life difficult. Finally, with only hours left of official practice, I was forced to make the dreaded decision of commiting myself to the Rig or continue to treat game day as if it was a practice. I've never commit an entire tournament day to throwing the Rig and most certainly have been beat because of it. You're looking for 4 to 7 bites a day in some cases but the bites are giant if your fishing the right areas. Even though bites were few and far between for me, the ones I was getting in practice were all 4 to 7 pounds so it was a gamble worth taking. If I could just manage 3 or 4 bites I should have anywhere between 17 to 22 pounds and if I weigh a limit, I should have 23 to 30. Sounds all G right? Well, on the flip side, I was still only managing a few bites a day and if I don't happen to hit the timing right, I could just as easy zero.

I have been beat all winter by the umbrella rig, largely due to my stubborn and timid refusal to commit to it. This time I decided I had to find the kahunas some where to suck it up and chuck the chandelier   all day without any remorse. Being that I finished so poorly in Florida due to faulty engine issues, I figured this would be the best event to throw caution to the wind. I wasn't on anything else but sometimes that's when a guy just needs to drop the trolling motor and throw a shakey head all day and grind out the bites. Heck, often enough this proves a safe play and can result in a check, if not a top 10. Still, I had enough big bites in practice that my decision was already made.

Tournament rigging was a breeze, I had two rods. The first was my main bread and butter, the exact outfit I was throwing in practice and getting my big bites. I was using a G Loomis GLX 894C FPR with a Shimano Chronarch 200E7 and 60lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid. My rig was a custom Hog Farmer Bait Company 3 wire rig with 3 dummy baits and I used 1/8 oz. jigheads on the business end. My other setup was a G Loomis GL2 BBR 964C Salmon Bounceback Rod with the new Shimano Calcutta CT 200D spooled with 80lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid. This rig I went for a deeper bite with the Hog Farmer 3 Wire 6 Blade Rig with 3 Biovex Kolt Ridgetail Swimbaits.

The first rig I would use to fish points, secondary points and key staging areas to peg off bass that moved up and got active. The second rig, I used in the same areas but off the points and off to the sides of the points. I was always hoping to get lucky on one of the many bass that were suspending and holding off these key areas and that were extremely lethargic due to the abundance of food from the shad kill.


Me pointing out suspended bass hanging with shad schools on my Lowrance HDS-9 Touch.
Photo courtesy of Bill Kohls

Day one was some of the most miserable fishing I've had to date. Remember, I from Minnesota and have endured straight pain for a chance at a couple bites. This was right up there, in fact I'm pretty sure my day 1 non boater would have been totally content had I just put it on the trailer. No disrespect either, it was that nasty and don't blame him.

It was very clear right away that this was going to be a grind as I ran point to point and never managed a bite. Although both our mentalities completely swayed when I was working through a staging area and hooked into a giant, the fish was an easy 7.5 but was spitting shad up like a teenager spews after getting drunk for the first time. Still, I was ecstatic, this was the earliest bite I had got all week and still had 6 hours left to upgrade.

I threw the rig all day and never got another bite. I weighed in one bass for 6.10 lbs. and was sitting 80th after day one out of 180 anglers. I had all sorts of thoughts running threw my head but decided to stay the course. I was catching quality, but not quantity. It would have been dumb abandoning these big fish since I was dropping the ball on really keying in on what would put together a limit, I retied my two rigs and began where I left off day one.


Take Off
Photo Courtesy of James Overstreet and Bassmaster.com

My second day started as slow as could be imagined. You really start to feel the aches and pains of throwing a Rig all week when you're not getting bites. I assure you this, when you do get a bite on that damn thing, you don't feel any pain, they straight crush it! It's as addictive as it gets.

Finally, at about 11:30 I got the bite I was needing to breathe a little life back into me. I had moved across a steep main-lake point throwing the lighter rig without a bite. I decided to work my way back across it but this time target any suspended bass as my Lowrance was lighting up like the Griswold's Christmas tree.

I made three cast toward the side of the point and on my third, I popped a good one that weighed at least 4. That gave me the boost I was looking for but the next 4 hours only brought a whole lot of chucking and winding and zero hook setting. I weighed in 1 bass going 4.4 pounds for a two day total of 10.14 pounds and finished a very disappointing 99th place.

When it comes to fishing umbrella rigs, the common phrase is don't throw it and get beat by it. I definitely hold that true but also feel like it can be damned if you do and damned if you don't kind of pattern. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one that thinks the Rig is a fool proof method of fishing and that it's all a luck game. Heck, there's plenty of anglers that are straight dialed on the technique and excel in the winter. However, because of the Rig, we'll also probably never hear an angler win a big derby with 11 pounds because he got down and grinded out a small limit with a shakey head or a small 80 size jerkbait. With the Rig in play, those days are now over. I tend to fall in line with the ones that believe in  one line, one bait for tournament play. That's just my thought.

If you can't beat 'em - join 'em! Until you experience a 7 pounder commit suicide on your rig, you'll never know the joy. I can only imagine what a 10 pounder will feel like? I vow to make that a reality next winter, until then I'm thinking I can finally get back to using my flipping sticks for what they were made for, summer is right around the corner, time to go flip, flip!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Northwest Sport Show

Minneapolis, MN

It's surely a tradition. Since I was a kid I always got excited for the annual Northwest Sport Show to roll into town and now living 1000 miles away and I still wouldn't dream of missing it!

The show was as to be expected and I was very fortunate to get back up north, see some familiar faces, shake some deserving hands and talk shop with those that make Minnesota such a fond place in my heart. I also get the opportunity to represent my sponsors and showcase some of the new products that are coming out in the near future.



Navionics is not only the best mapping company, they set the standard in the world of underwater high definition charting. I travel to new lakes and rivers everyday, there's no way I could be successful without the help of my Navionics chip.

New this season is Navionics highly anticipated Nav+, which will allow the buyer to download any area of the United States that fits their exact needs. For instance, if you live in Minnesota but frequent Florida you can add both states to your personalized card. Then if you plan a trip to Texas, simply add Texas. This way you as a consumer doesn't need to purchase areas you won't be using. Giving the consumer much more value for their dollar.

Navionics is the only true lake mapping software company that allows users to upload data and to make it better, they allow the buyer to have unlimited freshest data updates. Simply visit www.Navionics.com, place your Navionics SD card into your computers card reader and click a button. Just that easy you have all the freshest data that Navionics is updating by the day.


There was all kinds of buzz inside the Lowrance booth with everyone glued to the new Touch screens like a 13 year old is to his Playstation. I can't hardly blame them either, I've been rocking these new units for well over 6 months now and have been loving every second.

Lowrance HDS Touch offers up touch screen that is made to perform in extreme elements. The use of touchscreen enabled the larger screen in place of all the unnecessary buttons and made the entire system far more efficient and user friendly.

If you have any questions on any of these products please don't hesitate to contact me and I'll do my best to help you out!

Tight Lines!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

FLW Everstart Central

Lake of the Ozarks, Osage Beach, MO

First off, let's just get down to brass tacks and call a spade a spade. I never had a chance. Completely lost from start to finish.

Initially, I was eager and optimistic about this derby as I have some decent knowledge of the Ozark Lakes and always around this very time of year. I had never been to LOZ but from what I came to know, it was most similar to Grand Lake but with much clearer water. Let me tell you, on this go around, ole' LOZ was nothing like Grand, it was a beast all of it's own.


I stayed down by the dam for much of practice and though usually I feel more comfortable up river, all my previous success on Ozark Lakes in March came on the lower end of the lake near their respected dam. Also, we were in the midst of a week long Canadian clipper that felt more like an Antarctic clipper and my initial thinking was that these clear water main-lake fish would be less effected than the shallow and dirtier water bass up river.

Saturday and Sunday of practice I found success fishing way up a main creek arm and flipping a black and blue BassTEK Tungsten Jig to tapering bluff rock that met spawning bays. The water temp was in the low 40's and with the onslaught of rain that soaked the area ahead of this cold front I knew this bite was never going to hold up as the rain would surely muddy up my water.

Sure enough that bite vanished for me rather quickly and I instead focused my efforts on trying to back track out and fish secondary and main lake points with the tried and true methods for LOZ, a Umbrella Rig mixed in with a jerkbait.

Generally, this style fishing is not my strength but after moving to Tennessee and spending the winter learning on Lake Chickamauga, throwing both of these baits have been a mainstay. After fishing Monday through Wednesday without a keeper bite, the obvious started sinking in. This was going to be a learning deal for me.

I've worked very hard at learning what my electronics are telling me. Countless hours, face to screen studying my Navionics Map and breaking down structure with my Lowrance HDS network. I was very impressed with my ability to find bass in unfamiliar terrain and under unfamiliar circumstances but was disgusted with my lack of knowledge on how to catch them. I could idle main-lake points and secondary points and spot schools of bait suspended out over very deep water and I could also see small schools of bass that were hanging just beneath the shad. The key was finding the points that were near channel swings as this seem to be the general correlation. Transition banks like the one below were the key and were definitely the spots that were holding the right fish.


The problem was I had no idea how to catch these fish and even worse, I had no confidence in any creative attempt I was able to muster up. I could find these fish out in 65 feet of water but suspending about 25-35 feet down. I wish I could have got them to eat a Umbrella Rig better but the only other option was a suspending jerkbait like the Biovex Amp Stay 80. The key to capitalizing on this technique is light line, soft jerks and agonizing long pauses. Seriously, we're talking like 15 second pauses which has got to be the hardest thing in the world when you have no confidence in the spots your fishing.

It all proved to be too much for me and I posted up a career worst and very humbling 103rd place. Never have I been so lost in an event and felt so out classed to top it off. I was forced a hard learning lesson and still have a lot to work on in this area of my fishing ability. I had never really targeted suspended fish before and the combination of cold weather and clear water made for a challenge that I was not yet ready to accept.

On the good side, after loading up and blowing out of LOZ, I headed south to hang with some buddies that were fishing Table Rock Lake. Conditions were pretty similar between the two lakes and I took what I had learned on LOZ and put it to use on old Table Rock. Toward the end of the day I was following a old creek channel toward the back of a creek. It came up and bumped a secondary point just perfectly. I threw out and caught myself a 2 and a 3 pounder and this 8 pound gorilla.



I'm getting there one day at a time and enjoying the entire ride along the way!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

FLW Everstart Southeastern

Lake Guntersville, Guntersville, AL

Since I moved so close to Guntersville, I decided to throw my money in for this event even though I wasn't fishing the entire series. Being that Guntersville is an awesome fishery and only about two cups of coffee from my new home, I had figured I'd have all the time in the world to practice for this event.

Nothing ever works out the way I expected. Instead, I spent a good part of the winter down in Florida and then had my boat in getting serviced due to a small piece of wood that I had accidently gotten lodged in my return line and kept dropping lower units and melting prop hubs.

The week of the tournament and I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma working the Bassmaster Classic and as soon as that was wrapped, I drove through the night to get my boat and was finally on old G'ville bright and early Tuesday morning with a day and half to get things figured out.

It didn't take any time at all as I was having no problems catching fish and the size was there and was feeling good about my odds of putting together a good sack. I found some new submergent milfoil clumps that were only in about 3-5 feet that was holding a nice school of four pound bass. I also found some rock areas that were close to secondary channels. These rocks were holding the right ones and they were jumping all over Outkast Touch Down Jigs and shaky head worms.

Day one and I had a late flight. The weather had taken a swing from bad to worse with temps in the 30's. I stubbed my toe right away with a bad decision as I knew my grass fish would most likely shut down if they hadn't already and made the choice to stop there and try to bust one or two from that school first thing. I sat there for a good hour trying to force a bite and only got one short strike on a jig.

I left that area and ran to my rocks only to find another boat sitting there. The entire area was good but there was a juicy spot that was the prime meat and every time I'd try to work my way to it, the other competitor would do a great job at keeping me at bay. I watched him catch a solid 5 and one about 8 and I finally forfeited the spot. It was my mistake not going there right away. I let my head get the best of me and got greedy when I should have just used common sense from the get go.

At about noon, I had only a few strikes and no bass in the livewell when I decided to abandon that bite and instead focus on a creek channel that was holding good fish. I put the jigs down and picked up a Hog Farmer Bait Company 5 Wire 8 Blade Alabama Rig with 4" Biovex Kolt Ridgetail Swimbaits. I cranked up my Hydrowave to full sound and went to work. I managed 3 bass for almost 12 pounds including a 6 pound kicker. Unfortunately I was unable to weigh a full limit and basically threw myself out of contention on day one.

Day two, I knew I had an outside shot of getting a check with a huge day. I decided to get back to the same area where I caught those three and stay there all day with the Hog Farmer Rig. Even though I had gotten to the "juice"first, I decided to stay off it and see if that competitor was going to make it his first priority and if so, it was his. If not, game on. I wasn't in the area for more than a couple minutes and sure enough I see dude coming around the corner. He had thanked me for my sportsmanship and when I asked how he was doing he said he was leading. That spot pumped out 30 pounds of bass day one. It stung a bit but it's so rare to be the only one to find anything these days to yourself and I should have made that my priority day one. I didn't and feel I did the right thing by giving him honors but still told him that if he left it, I'd hit it. He agreed and said fair enough. I moved down to my creek channel and started throwing the rig. Nothing. After a couple hours, I couldn't stand it anymore and picked up the jig and on every pass I'd boat a keeper. Not giants but good ones and everyone I boated was spitting crayfish up in the livewell. Even the ones that tagged the A-Rig the day earlier. I learned something here, never did I ever boat a keeper on the A-Rig day two and only for about a 2 hour window day one. I must have hit that feeding window just right where these bass really got active. Not sure if the Hydrowave help stimulate these bass day one or if the timing was just right but either way, it sure didn't hurt!

I had a limit when I decided to check my grass again and still no takers. I decided to head back toward my creek channel and as I arrived I noticed homeboy was off that spot and moved in. I made three casts  with a Outkast Tackle Touch Down Jig and popped a solid 6 pounder, making for a nice cull. I sat there for probably another hour as time ticked away and out of desperation I pulled out a new Biovex prototype swimbait that weighs an ounce but has a small shad profile and is balanced perfectly to fall straight down like a well tuned rattletrap. On my first cast I was dragging the bait just like a football jig acting like I was bringing a dying shad across the rocks when big girl smoked it! Man, it was a giant and I'll throw my pride to the side and say this one pulled my arms down! I got her just to the surface when for no reason at all, she pulled off. I couldn't believe it and have no idea how I could have changed that outcome. I never got a great look but I whole heartedly believe that bass was well over 10. I don't throw that around lightly either and by all means read through my entire blog that I started since 2007 and find one time where I've ever had the kahunas to throw a statement like that out there. Either way, she was gone and I had to go weigh. I came to the scales with a respectable 16 and change and finished in 69th place out 156 anglers. All I needed was two more 14" bass day one and I'd a had a nice $1500 dollar check but instead was loading the boat and heading for home.


I still have mixed emotions as I should have filled a limit day one and would have cashed a much needed check. Unfortunately, I didn't but still take little satisfaction for a respectable finish despite my first ever tourney on Lake Guntersville. All I know is that ole' G is very much alive and well and will be for a very long time. I can't wait to get back!

Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Bassmaster Classic Expo

Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, Tulsa, OK


The 2013 Bassmaster Classic has come and gone and left the naysayers searching for words to explain how the best of the best managed big sacks of fish everyday while fishing in water temps in the 30's and air temps down in the teens!

As I said before the event, Grand Lake is in my opinion the best non-grass lake in the country with maybe the exception of Lake Falcon but unlike Falcon, these fish are used to the cold water being so far north and a winter blizzard won't effect the outcome at all. It may only have made it better.

Congrats to Cliff Pace for finding the winning pattern and knocking their lights out the first two days before slow rolling to the official victory on day three. I've always liked whatever I've ever heard of Cliff, he's a die hard bass fisherman who day in and day out, just wants to fish. He makes a great champion for our sport and goes to show what hard work and passion can produce.

The Bassmaster Classic Expo Show was off the charts busy and the attendees came ready to spend some of their hard earned money on the things that matter most.....bass fishing! I saw everything from lures to electronics to boats being bought, showing that the future of our sport is bright. In fact, I was taken a back seeing all the kids that were there, wearing their favorite anglers jersey and talking bass fishing like some long lived veterans. That's what it's all about, the future and it sure seems as a sport we're doing something right.

Here's a few booths that I visited that seemed to always be packed with fans checking out their newest products.

Navionics


I got the pleasure of spending most of my time working in the Navionics booth showing off our newest technologies and explaining how I count on their products to catch fish day in and day out. Being the only true "software" company to produce lake maps, they are so far ahead of the competition and offer you as a consumer much more bang for your buck. The new, soon to be released Navionics+, will allow consumers to update any lake or any state, no matter the region to better suite their customers individual needs.

To find out more, please visit Navionics website.

Trokar


Talk about one of the best booth setups of the entire show, Trokar had their visitors on their mind and their Tour Pros were their signing autographs and giving away memorabilia around the clock.  Trokar does it big with their hooks and does it equally as big with their pros. With anglers like that, there's no doubt who makes the sharpest and baddest hooks on the market!

To find out more, please visit the Lazer Trokar website.

Hydrowave


Generally in the sport of competitive bass fishing you have choices over what products you want to use and what suites your style. Rarely is there ever a single product that if you don't use it, you'll get beat by the guy that does. Now I'd like to introduce you to Hydrowave, a noise simulator that imitates the sounds of bass feeding on shad or other schooling prey. This product does things that I can't even explain and all I know is when I have it on and tuned to the appropriate setting, I'm catching more and bigger fish. I'm not the only one either, if you walked around the boat yard where the Classic competitors boats were stored you'd see exactly what I'm talking about. There's no fools in the Bassmaster Classic lineup.

To find out more, please visit the Hydrowave website.

Seaguar

Line may be boring to buy. I mean come on, who gets all jolly about dropping three bills (big bills) on fishing line? No one. Not like they do when they drop half a G on a G Loomis Rod. Truth be told though, line is the most important piece of equipment day in and day out. There's all kinds of line manufacturer's these days but most of them are owned by one giant group that makes everything from line, to lures to clothing. Not me, I depend on my line to get a bass that's potentially worth thousands if not millions to the boat. It's the only that connects you to all your dreams. Do yourself a favor, invest in a company that does line and does it right, Seaguar. If you think I'm being over dramatic ask the Cliff Pace or any Classic winner about the one fish that got them to that dance in the first place? Then ask them where they'd be if their line had broke on that bass? Case in point.

To find out more, please visit the Seaguar website.

Lowrance


That's a given! I mean come on, of course Lowrance is going to have a big turn out at the Classic, it's in Tulsa, their back yard! It also didn't have anything to do with a new product released that goes by the name HDS Gen2 Touch did it? Of course it did, touch screens are the way of the future and offer anglers much more user friendly option. If you don't think I'm sincere, my Ranger has two two 9's and a 12 hanging off of it. Convinced?

To find out more, please visit the Lowrance website.

G Loomis and Shimano


Enough said...

Seriously, I don't think I need to waste the time and actually spell it all out. I said, "G Loomis and Shimano" they've been pumping out the best for years, it's truly that simple. They have a reputation and they've earned it and by the looks of their booth, everyone else knows it too.

One note in particular, I've been using the new GLX rods for a better part of six months now and even though I'm skeptical to change, my rig is packed full of the new green blanks. They actually found a way to outdo themselves.

To find out more, please visit the G Loomis and Shimano website.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A GRAND Classic Preview

All I heard over the past year and a half since BASS announced the 2013 Bassmaster Classic would be held on Oklahoma's Grand Lake was what a horrible venue this was and that the guaranteed frigid weather would surely make for an impossible bite. To a degree, the naysayers were spot on, the weather is not just frigid, it's damn near treacherous as Winter Storm Q has wreaked havoc on the central region of the United States dumping snow, leaving sheets of ice on the freeways and plummeting temperatures to bone chilling lows. In fact, the morning take-off air temp is going to be sitting at a wicked 19 degrees.


Still, I'd much rather be running down the winding turns of Grand Lake O' the Cherokees enduring the frigid temps than working the Expo Show downtown Tulsa. Don't get me wrong, I'm very excited to represent my sponsors and myself at the largest bass fishing consumer show on the planet and without their support I wouldn't be in the position to even have a chance at qualifying for the most prestigious bass championship in the first place.

What's tough is that qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic has been a goal of mine since I was a kid. Seriously, not a day goes by that I don't think of it. To make matters a little tougher to swallow is that Grand Lake is the lake I know the best outside Minnesota's, Lake Minnetonka and I've spent at least five different trips on Grand during this very time of year. What the above mentioned naysayers are assuming is completely off base outside the obvious prediction of cold weather. Currently, Grand Lake is the best non-grass lake in the country and the cold that everyone is gripping about is a everyday buffet for these bass which are already fattening up and going into full-time prespawn mode.

How they catch them and where?

I was asked this an in interview by BassEast last week, which you can read here. I gave a couple scenarios for what can be expected but now due to the immense amount of rain, sleet and snow, I'm expecting my prediction of dirty water, a 1/2 oz. black and blue jig and anglers that like to go flippy flippy to excel to the top of the leader board.

A little more fuel for thought? I expect this thing to be won near the dam, like very close to the dam in fact I have a cove's name permanently stamped into my brain but in case I'm wrong, I'll keep that little piece of advice near and dear.

Besides all the frigid fun to be had on the water, the party continues in full forces at the Tulsa Convention Center where anyone who has anything to do with the sport of bass fishing will be promoting their products to the masses.


I'll be spending most of my time in the Navionics booth but will also be helping out at the Hydrowave, Trokar, Lake Fork Tackle and Lowrance booths. Please by all means stop by, introduce yourself and talk shop because besides actually fishing, talking fishing and buying fishing products is second best.

Hope to see you at the show and CONGRATS to the 53 best throwing down this weekend, may the best man win!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

C'Mon Maine!

You know me, or well maybe you don't, but one thing you should know is I frown on political jargon here on JoshDouglasFishing.com. Not that I don't have my opinions and beliefs, cause God knows I do but I don't feel the need to use my website as a soap box to try to force my beliefs down your throat. In fact, I'm quite the opposite, I find what makes this country great is that everyone has an opinion and as long as it comes from their heart, than they're entitled to their opinion. I may hate it, you may hate it, but it's their opinion and that's all that matters.

I would much rather just talk fishing here and leave the politics to the late night conversations around the fire with a few buddies and case of cold ones. Nothing like annoying my wife with some good ole' Miller Lite fueled political talk, as if talking fishing with the same friends for the two hours prior to that conversation wasn't already mind numbing for her. Gotta love her, she's a trooper.

 ** Let's do our part to be sure these great products keep catching giant fish for years and years to come.

But, and of course there had to be a but coming, it seems that Rep. Paul Davis of Maine, who claims to be a serious fisherman, is requesting a state-wide band of "rubber" baits in his waters. Being that soft plastics haven't been made of rubber for some time, it seems to me that his lack of scientific evidence or anything even close to a logical thought will prove to be completely off base. However I would imagine, in his uneducated demands that he is also referring to that of soft plastics which may appear to a novice fisherman, pun intended, that it's made of rubber but really it's a liquid plastic that is heated, molded and then cooled into a soft plastic.

Even so, there isn't much of any scientific evidence that suggests soft plastics are any more harmful to our fish or our fisheries than that of any other artificial lure. In fact, what is proven is that artificial lures are far less harmful and way less lethal than that of live bait. I'm not throwing live bait under the bus here either as by the numbers they're all safe and should be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts and their families for generations to come.

Despite trying to strip outdoor enthusiasts of their rights, Rep. Paul Davis must also feel Maine and the rest of the United States is balling uncharted levels and doesn't want to consider the monetary side of implementing such a law. The last research I saw was done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where in the year 2006, it was estimated that at least 30 million U.S. anglers, ages 16 years or older, enjoyed over 403 million fishing trips, spending over 42 billion in fishing related expenses that year alone. I'm not saying that money is everything but come on Rep. Davis, how about you use your resources and public funding as well as your imagination and come up with a few better and more realistic ways to help our waters and our fish because if I'm not mistaken, it is us, the anglers, that provide the monetary allowances that keep not only our fish and our waterways but also our tradition of fishing alive and strong.

Please take a quick moment to sign this petition put together by Keep America Fishing, so that Maine's legislature not only here's their own anglers voice but knows loud and clear that we as anglers nationwide got each others back.

For more information please check out the following websites, Bassmaster and Keep America Fishing.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bassmaster Southern Open

Lake Toho/Kissimmee Chain, Kissimmee, FL

Frustrated and Heartbroken may just as well be the title to this blog post. No matter how hard you prepare for something, no matter all the precautions you take or the desire you have, in this sport there's variables that are just simply out of your control. I guess that's what makes winning all the better. To win, you bested a stacked field. You outsmart mother nature and found a way to skirt around the road blocks. When you lost, you acknowledged that you fell and got right back up, dusted yourself off and tried it again. A true winner will take a lump right on the chin and anxiously stick their head out for another. That's how you become a winner in the world of bass fishing, you gotta be a fighter.


I first need to apologize for my lack of posts lately but I have been down in central Florida practicing for the first Bassmaster Southern Open held on the renowned, Kissimmee Chain. My Father was able to fly out and meet me down there as we have always talked about how great it would be to spend some time in central Florida, dodging alligators in hopes of jacking up a double digit largemouth from the water jungle that is Lake Kissimmee.

My original plan was to never leave Lake Toho as this is usually the lake where most events are won but since my Dad got us a cabin at Camp Mack for the pre-practice, I decided we'd spend a few days there and it didn't take long for me to fall in love with what I was seeing.

Everyone including myself was thinking this was going to be a blowout because of the warmer temps and the full moon that was scheduled for the Saturday before our tournament. After spending a day or two combing the ultra shallows in search of bedding bass, instead all I saw was an occasional buck bass guarding fry and deserted beds. I know they spawn from February through April in Florida but I still think a good wave moved up on the new moon, which was a couple weeks prior and from what I was hearing, these fish had started spawning in December with a few claiming they caught 'em of beds in the end of November. 

Florida can be tricky with all the vegetation as everything looks so good but the key to Florida is understanding the grass, both submergent and emergent. Certain strains of vegetation will grow in silt or muck and others need sand to grow. Once I figured out which grass needs sand, I could quickly find these potential spawning areas. After not having much luck finding the actual spawners, I knew the next step would be finding staging areas that held both prespawn and postspawn females. I found that if I looked right outside these spawning flats to the next drop off that I could find these staging areas with the key being finding the thickest of matted vegetation and using a 1 1/2 oz. Eagle Claw Lazer Tungsten Weight, with a 5/0 Trokar Flippin' Hook and a Lake Fork Tackle Tube Craw (Black/Blue) and flip into these mats and hold on. Winter in Florida may seem nice to us but it's actually a very unstable time for these Florida-strain bass that are very susceptible to the slightest changes in weather temps. The overnight lows are key and all I know is when I have frost on my boat in the morning, the bass aren't loving life in the lake. These mats are filled with mud and even when the temperature is not favorable for bass, it's always sunny in Florida and these mats will heat up throughout the day and the bass put their backs up into the mat and use them as a way to stay warm.



My Dad and I managed some nice fish during our pre practice time and quickly my heart was telling me Kissimmee was going to be the place that I would try to win this thing in.



Official practice started and I spent a little time on Big Toho and all that did was confirm my liking for Kissimmee. These lakes may be close together but they are completely different from one another. Toho is more manicured than Kissimmee but if you got the time to search off shore structure and like deep weedlines, this is the place to be. Instead, I focused my time on the very southern part of Lake Toho, trying to find an area to fish while I was waiting for the lock master to get us through the lock. I should probably explain for those who don't know, the Kissimmee Chain is made up of basically four lakes though there are a few others. It starts up north in the town of Kissimmee with Lake Toho, then you lock through the dam and head down a few mile channel and come into Lake Cypress. Next you'll run across Cypress back through another long channel which of course is named the Kissimmee River and you'll end up in Lake Hatchineha, run through Hatch and back through the Kissimmee River and walla, you're in Lake Kissimmee.

I did manage to find some fish in Toho but was skeptical to their size. I spent the entire official practice and the weekend before pulling on all my bites on both Kissimmee and Toho so that I wasn't burning giants that I would need come tournament time. This takes every bone of confidence in your body too. You come all the way to Florida, the land of the giants and pull on bites without setting the hook being ultra careful not to actually catch them. It takes a special kind of dumb-ass to be a tournament angler!

To my astonishment, I drew boat 5 out of 198 anglers for the first day! Dude, it doesn't get much better for my game plan. Being that they will only allow about 15-20 boats to lock through at a time, I knew I would skirt right through and have dibs on the best stuff on Kissimmee.

It was one of those tournaments I just felt good about. It's not everyday you can show up to an unfamiliar body of water and have just four rods rigged up for this big of an event. Basically I had two G Loomis GLX Flipping Sticks, matched with Shimano Core MgFv high speed flipping reels and had them both spooled with 60 lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid. Both were rigged identical except one had a 1/2 oz. Lazer Tungsten Weight for sparse pad clumps and solo reed patches and the other had the 1 1/2 oz. Lazer Tungsten for the matted stuff. Both were equipped with a 5/0 Trokar Flippin' Hook and a Lake Fork Tackle Tube Craw and yes, both had an insert rattle in the body.

The other two rods were basically just time consumers in between good areas to try to smack a hungry bass. One was a 1/2 oz. Biovex Strangun Spinnerbait and the other was a Lake Fork Tackle Boot Tail Magic Shad rigged with a 1/8 oz. weighted Trokar Swimbait Hook.

At take-off everything went good until I got about 5 miles down the lake and I spun a hub. Are you kidding me? I rarely ever have engine issues and now? Keeping my composure, I got the Tournament Director on the phone who sent Tow Boats USA down to help me out. I got them a spare prop and as they were trying to get the prop off on the water, the realized that my hub actually melted to the prop shaft. Unusual, but they were able to pry the old prop off, replace it with a new one and send me on my way. At around 9:30, I was back in action and now waiting in line to try to lock through to head down to Kissimmee. At about 10:30, I was through the lock and racing for Kissimmee when all of a sudden my lower unit blew out. Damn it. Obviously there was more of an internal problem as the lower unit was getting so hot that it melted out another hub and completely wrecked my lower unit.


Now, I'm on my trolling motor trying to get back to the lock so that I can get towed off and get to the service trailer to try and attempt to get back on the water and salvage this day that I just soon forget. Thanks to Tow Boats USA, they had me off the water and to the service trailer where I got fixed up and sent back out with just under an hour to fish before I had to be back to weigh in. Not knowing where to go, I just jumped up on the first weedline and started fishing and managed one small fish, just over a pound and got back to weigh in.

I came to find out that my day 2 was going to be a trying day as well as there was a better chance than not that I had a more severe problem that was still not fixed that could potentially be causing these issues and no where near enough time to get it figured out. This ruled out Kissimmee and instead needing to somehow gain some points, I decided it best to just stay near the launch on the north side of Toho and just go fishing. I hadn't practiced there but we all know Toho has giants and a good fisherman will figure out a way to at least put something together.

I did manage to put together a small limit and move up the standings but I still couldn't have been more disappointed with the outcome. Looking back, it's unfortunate, in fact I could throw up just thinking about it but the fact is this is the beast of our sport. Just like Nascar, we as tournament anglers demand so much out of our engines and boats that I'm just thankful for all the days where it's gotten me on and off the water and performed at a high level. I've fished now competitively for over 6 years and sure I've had little issues but never a big one. That says volumes for today's engines and as a professional angler I need to learn to overcome events like this because anyone who's fished at these levels has had to do the same.

Looking back, I always try to think of what I could have done to perform better and in this instance there was none. I was around the winning fish, in fact I was sharing water with 10 of the top 12. I'm not saying I'd a been there but I had the bite dialed in, I surely would have done much better then I did staring at the back of a tow boat. All you can do is take care of your equipment, which God knows I do and practice for success because this is not something you can prepare for, you simply can't fish scared.

I'd like to personally thank everyone at B.A.S.S. as well as the service crews that helped me get back onto the water. I'd also like to thank Tow Boats USA and just say that the $65 I spent for a year of their service not only came back ten times over, but also aided me in moving up the standings.

I can't wait for the next time I get to get down to the Kissimmee area and get some much due revenge on these giant Florida bass. I'll be stewing over it until then.......

One more small note, with all that happened or I guess I should say didn't happen for me, I do have a highlight of the tournament. Being that I stayed so close to the ramp day two, I got my picture taken by Mr. James Overstreet. That may not be a big deal to some, but to me, a guy that appreciates awesome photography, Street is the best in the business in my opinion and it's an honor to see yourself being focused into his lens. Here's a couple of the pics for you to check out and you can surely see the rest of them here on the Bassmaster Website.





Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 Tournament Schedule.....Almost.

I'm so happy it's 2013! This is the year I've dreamed of for a long long time. Literally since I was a little kid I wanted to fish tournaments at the national levels. I got a small taste last year competing in the Bassmaster Central Opens and that just made me 100 times more determined and driven. I know I still got a ton to learn, the only way I roll is on my feet so I may as well learn on the fly. I'll take my lumps on the chin but this year I'm aiming to win. I'm competitive, there's no denying that. The more experience I gain, the more my expectations rise. This year is looking great but my mentality is exhausting, I want more, never ever satisfied.

My new present day goals aren't set to judge my abilities. Last year I wanted to make the top 50 in the points, this year I want top 5. After all, my highest of goals are to qualify for the tour level. I thought strongly about fishing the FLW Tour this year but decided against it as I still want the sense of belonging. I'd like to prove my place through the professional open levels. Plus the sound of "Josh Douglas Bassmaster Classic Qualifier" has a great little ring to it doesn't it?

I've been staying real busy these past couple months trying to get everything in order so I can simply concentrate on fishing when the season gets rolling. I've created a pretty hectic workout regimen to assist me when on the water and give me every advantage a guy can get. I'm a firm believer that a healthy body fuels a healthy mind.

The tournaments that I'm confirmed for are the Bassmaster Southern Opens (Kissimmee Chain, FL - Douglas Lake, TN - Lake Logan Martin, AL). I'm registered and awaiting confirmation for the Bassmaster Central Opens (Red River, LA - Arkansas River, OK - Ross Burnett Reservoir, MS) as well as the FLW Everstarts Centrals (Lake of the Ozarks, MO - Lake Pickwick, AL - Kentucky Lake, KY - Detroit River, MI). I'm also registered for the FLW Everstart Southeastern on Lake Guntersville, AL.

I'm awaiting conformation but am also looking at either fishing the Bassmaster Northern Opens and/or the PAA Tour. Right now I'm heavily leaning toward the PAA as they have the best payouts, television coverage, excellent competition and the top 15 qualify for the Toyota Texas Bass Classic.

Until then, business as usual!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Looking Forward to 2013!

Happy New Year! The year 2012 is behind us and the new chapter titled 2013 is now underway. Reflection can be a double edged sword, you remember the good but are forced to face the bad. This past year was one to remember, Bri and I up and moving to southeastern Tennessee with aspirations the size of Texas! It was kinda scary actually.

We've known for years we wanted to move south, so we planned, worked to change our lifestyles and followed the plan relatively flawlessly. We had to say goodbye to families and friends, this was easily the hardest. Then the stress of leaving good jobs, good people and a great place like Minnesota comes with its obvious anxieties, but ones we were ready to take head on.

Breaking in 2013 we now call Tennessee home. We're attempting to and carrying out a lifetime dream I've had since I was a little kid and if it wasn't for these great companies and their products, as well as my family's support, I wouldn't be turning this dream into a working reality.

As I continue to prepare for what lies ahead in 2013, I can't help but be excited. I'd like to personally send thanks for your continued support!


Biovex is a top of the line Japanese tackle manufacturer, known for their innovative Japanese design at a fraction of the price. Now that Biovex has moved into the U.S. market, please visit their website at www.BiovexUSA.com and start catching more bass!


The Vintage Moose Tavern,  123 16th Street, Idaho Springs, CO 80452

The Vintage Moose Tavern nestled in the heart of Colorado's Rocky Mountains is a must stop anytime you find yourself cutting across I-70, to or from Denver. "A Tiny Tavern Big on Bull" is the perfect slogan for this cozy mountain joint. Known for their great beers and smoked meat, it's also the perfect place to talk outdoors, in fact it's welcomed. Their new website is currently under construction, until then follow them on Facebook!




Lowrance is and always has lead the way in boating electronics. The introduction to their new HDS Touch system has completely changed the direction of fishing electronics by making these units much more efficient and user friendly. Please visit their website at www.Lowrance.com and check out my video showcasing the new Lowrance HDS Gen-2 Touch System.


The unchallenged leader in underwater mapping. Navionics offering free updates on all their new chips also has their award winning APP that essentially turns smartphones into handheld GPS units loaded with all their great underwater maps. Visit their website at www.Navionics.com.


When I'm fishing, I make sure I got a hook that bites back! Trokar is by far the best and sharpest hook on the market. Innovative design and pure toughness is what I lean on when it's all on the line! www.LazerTrokar.com


There's certain companies that you learn to depend on when you embark in competitive fishing. They're the ones that no matter what, you know you'll be using their products. In the world of soft plastics, very few can say they're in line with Lake Fork Trophy Lures. No matter the lake anywhere in the world, there's a plastic in the LFT line that will flat bust their jaws. Just preaching truth. Order yours at www.LFTlures.com.


I depend on my Lowrance and Navionics to assist me in breaking down tournament waters, but there's one electronic unit that flat out produces bites. If you've been living in a cave or are brand new to bass fishing than I'm happy to introduce you to the one and only, Hydrowave. Capable of literally starting a feeding frenzy, this is a mainstay on every tournament pro's boat. Read why at www.Hydrowave.com.


I wrote an article for Bass Utopia titled, "Putting it All on the Line". This couldn't have been a more fitting title for a deep written lecture on why I trust Seaguar when it's all on the line. They offer the best quality and most sensitive lines with everything varying from mid range fluorocarbon to extremly high end Tatsu fluorocarbon as well as mono and braid. www.Seaguar.com

Since I was a small kid I wanted to own a G Loomis rod, now grown I can happily say I have 25 or so of them. Why? They're the best! They were then and they are now. The competition keeps coming but the crown always stays with the king. www.GLoomis.com and be sure to check out the new GLX Crankbait series, they've broken the mold.


Japan knows a thing or two about fishing reels and no one sets the standard like Shimano. When you're used to fishing the best, the rest is simply not an option. Offering state of the art fishing reels in all shapes, sizes and prices to fit your needs. www.fish.shimano.com


If there's one bait I use the most it's a jig and Outkast Tackle offers up everything and then some to help you pull big donkeys away from cover. Available in all shapes and sizes! The Outkast Money Jig is a mainstay for me whenever I'm around grass. Really, I mean it.........it's game over.
www.OutkastTackle.com


HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Recipe's Off the Water

Blackened Crappie Fish Tacos

This is one of my all-time favorite good eats and one that requires zero guilt for enjoying. Crappie is a wonderful dish and ever since leaving Minnesota for the warmer climates and flowing water of the Tennessee River, I've traded in walleye for the ever popular crappie. Don't get it twisted, walleye's the BOMB but so is cold water crappie and these slabbers are stacking up in brush piles by the dozen. Even a diehard bass angler such as myself finds it a worthy stop for a quick few minutes. I'm out there anyway, may as well catch Bri and I some free dinner.


There's nothing wrong with the traditional up-north style crappie eating where we roll 'em in Shore Lunch and give 'em a good frying before opening up a can of beans and a bag of Old Dutch potato chips. Now being in the south and picking up on the home-style way of eating, there's also something special about deep frying these tasty filets smothered in beer batter, alongside some fresh made coleslaw, greens with pepper infused vinegar, jalapeno hush puppies and maybe even some rice and beans. Let's not forget a generous portion of Bri's homemade spicy chow chow all up on there! Son!!

With my upcoming tournament season right around the corner, I've been looking for better ways to eat by parlaying that with a healthy workout regimen. As I said before, I love taste but find taste is not something that I have to go without just to eat right and stay healthy. Learning to sub spice for sodium is a terrific way to enjoy true flavor and live right at the same time. Also finding ways to work around deep frying is beneficial too, but by all means you still got to live a little so everything in moderation.

Back to the tacos, after all that's why you're still reading. These are truly delicious, relatively healthy and a different all around way for you and your family to enjoy.

Here's what you'll need:

Blackened Crappie  

1 lb. Fresh Crappie Filets
3 teaspoons Spanish Paprika
2 teaspoons Onion Powder
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Ground Thyme
3 teaspoons Basil
1 Full Ground Dried Cayenne Pepper


Jalapeno Tarter

1 cup Mayo
1 tablespoon Pickle Relish (Bri's Homemade Relish if you're fortunate enough)
1 tablespoon Minced Onion
1 Diced Jalapeno fresh or pickled
1 teaspoon Tobasco Sauce or Tobasco Pepper Vinegar
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
Pepper to taste


Corn Relish

1 Diced Roma Tomato
1 Diced Roasted Red Pepper
1 cup Frozen Corn or Grilled Corn
1 Fresh Diced Jalapeno
1/2 cup Diced Cilantro
Black Pepper to taste

You'll also want to choose between corn tortillas and flour tortillas. Corn are much healthier and are more authentic as well as less expensive, but no matter your taste, either will work. Just make sure they're the standard soft taco size. You'll also want 1 head of cabbage.

Preparation is simple! First Prepare your tarter and corn relish and place in fridge to unify. Pretty simple to understand, just mix those above ingredients together, it's self explanatory. If you're not following perhaps you should stick to simply carry-out.

The tacos are next and you'll want to put a little butter and/or olive oil and bring it to medium high heat. Roll crappie filets in a gallon ziplock with all above spices and shake until they're well covered. Place filets in oiled skillet and let cook until filets turn from a translucent raw look to a white and flaky look, flip every minute. Once cooked through, place in a cooking dish and put in oven at 400 degrees. At the same time, place your corn tortillas (only if their corn) in the same oven on a cookie sheet and flip after one side starts turning to a light brown. After tortillas are cooked to your liking pull both the tortillas and the filets out of the oven. This should only take several minutes with a preheated oven. Take a spatula or a wooden spoon and break up the crappie filets making a big ole' dish of torn up blackened fish.

Take your warmed tortillas and spread a little jalapeno tarter around, add a heaping spoon full of blackened crappie, top with corn relish and fresh chopped cabbage. Add a little Cholula Hot Sauce and/or cheese if you're like my wife, as well as a little squeeze of fresh lime or lemon. ENJOY!

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