Sunday, September 30, 2007

19th Annual Sunrise Charity Bass Tournament

North and South Center Lakes, Lindstrom, MN

Wow! What a tournament. This event was my last of the season. All in all, I feel like I had a pretty successful season, but would really like to end it on a good note. Possibly even bring on some early momentum for next year. My partner was my good buddy and fellow Gopher member Ryan Brant. We spent some time last week practicing, I went to North Center and he took South Center. At the end we decided that we were both on a strong dock bite. We had narrowed down a couple real good stretches on both sides of the lake, and was pretty confident in our game plan. We were both getting bites by pitching jigs underneath the many boat docks that wrap the lake. I was getting my bites on a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (fall craw), with 20 lb. Viscous Fluorocarbon or a 1/4 oz. TeN-k Jig (green pumpkin) (black and blue) by 10,000 Lakes Tackle, coupled with 15lb. Seagur Fluorocarbon.

On game day we blasted off and headed right to a spot on South Center that Ryan had the majority of his success during practice. After the run down there we come to realize that his docks had been taking out for the winter. Not exactly the start we were looking for. However lucky for us it was just one of those perfect days. Not wanting to completely waste time and run all the way back up to North Center we decided to work some of our back up areas. Right away Ryan caught about 3 keepers. I saw a nice pontoon, pitched to it and set on an awesome 4.5 lb. fish. That's what we needed! One minute later Ryan boats another nice one, 3.9 lbs to fill our limit. We continued on our pattern and we continued to cull fish, mostly an ounce at a time. We decided to head up into North Center and work my areas that I had found in practice. I was very excited to see my area had held up nicely. Right away Ryan caught a nice 5 pounder and minutes later I boated another that weighed every bit of 5 lbs. This left us close to 18 lbs and it was only 10 o' clock!

As the afternoon moved on the weather picked up. Rain and wind moved in and the bite slowed. Knowing we had a REAL good sack of fish we agreed to move water and hog hunt! Look for one more kicker fish. With about two hours to go Ryan catches another giant! It weighed in at 5.2 lbs! That fish put our limit at over 20 lbs! Time ran out and we decided to head back to the weigh in a tad early to insure we had no problems getting back on time. We watched the first flight way in and the leaders were at 15.5 lbs. We took to the scales and won the tournament with a whopping 22.45 lbs.!!! We even beat the record for biggest 5 fish limit in that event ever! I couldn't have asked for a better way to end the season and build momentum for next year!

This tournament was a fundraiser tournament, put on by the Sunrise Bassmasters, for the Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau. Together all involved raised $1071.00 dollars for the charity! What an awesome way to raise money for a great cause!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Gopher Bassmasters Fall Classic

Coon Lake, East Bethel, MN

Coon Lake was the mystery lake drawn for this tournament. I drew Brad Veech as my partner. This is the only Federation club tournament that is set up as a team format. Unfortunately for Brad and I neither one of us has ever seen Coon Lake, let alone fished it. We drew boat number 1 for take off and it was really quite ironic. All year I never drew boat number one and the one time I do I have no idea where to go. I quickly glanced over my GPS map and found a bay on the deep side of the lake that had some deep water. All in all, Coon Lake is a pretty shallow lake, with a nice weedline that wraps around the entire lake. It has got many docks, and some reeds, and also a few mats of some nice vegetation. I figured it being Fall, and the water temps dropping quickly, that the fish would start deep and then move shallow as the water warmed and the sun got high. We started at a nice point at the mouth of the bay. The point dropped nice into deep water and had a great weedline. The only problem was it was not harboring any bass, or if it was they didn't want what we had. We went into the bay and started fishing the boat docks. I wasn't sure if they would pay off, but I knew they would later in the day. Although as I was thinking that I set the hook on a small 15 inch largemouth, about five docks later I set the hook again on about a 14 inch fish. Not exactly what we were looking for but hey, it's two bass in the well in the first hour and a half. We'll take it. After spending about another hour or two in that bay without any more bites we decided to explore the lake and see what else it was offering. We fished a nice deep channel that resulted in nothing. We checked out the reeds and found nothing. We probably should have given them more of a chance, but we both agreed that there wasn't much water on them. In the Fall that is not a bad thing though. Shallow water that has a bunch of sand on it will warm up quickly. A few guys were catching smallmouths out of there. I didn't even know there were smallmouths to be had! I should have checked the DNR creel survey before hand.

After spending a few hours fishing we found a nice flat that fluctuated between 2 ft. and 8 ft. Brad caught a nice fish about 2.5 lbs on a spinnerbait. We worked it for probably an hour and only caught northern pike (AKA snot rockets). With about an hour to go I decided to hit the boat docks again. The sun was high and it was getting into the low 80's. The docks were highly pressured which was a bit discouraging, although I knew they had to be there. I pulled up to a couple docks, after a few skips I set the hook on a nice 3 pound bass. It was a bit nerve racking because he had me tangled up under the dock and my trolling motor didn't have much juice. I wasn't able to get a good charge on it the night before and between the wind and constant shallow water it took a beating. Lucky for us my 20 lb. Viscous Fluorocarbon line held up under the pressure and I was able to finesse the fish through the chains and into the boat.

With time running out and no trolling motor we opted to drift across a flat. Nothing. We headed back to the weigh in with only 4 fish. Nothing to brag about. We weighed in at just under 8 lbs. Rich Lindgren and Ron Smith won the tournament with 5 fish weighing a whopping 19.3 pounds. All fish came off the boat docks with about 2 hours remaining in the tournament. Hats off Boys! Just to show how impressive their victory was I believe second place weighed in at just under 11 pounds!

This tournament all my fish came on a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (fall craw), with a Yum Chunk (camo or green pumpkin). I was using a G Loomis IMX 7ft H rod and a Shimano Chronarch 100B reel.

I am excited for the next upcoming weeks. I am fishing the Sunrise Bassmasters Supporting Youth Charity Tournament with my buddy Ryan Brant. The tourney is at North and South Center Lakes, in Chisago, MN. We did pre fish for the tournament and did real well. We feel like we have a pretty solid game plan. I will post our practice details after the tournament on Sunday. Hopefully our practice will pay off and we can get a nice check before the end of the year. Next week I will be heading up to the Rum River to get dialed in on the smallmouths. Then my wife Bri and I, along with the two stooges (our dogs), will be heading up to the cabin next weekend in McGregor. We plan to spend a half day on Mille Lacs, fishing for 5 lb. smallmouths. I'm shaking just thinking about it! Then spend the rest of the time relaxing and enjoying a nice Minnesota fall weekend. Not to bad for a guy addicted to fishing!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Prefishing for the Gopher Bassmasters Fall Classic

Practice for the Fall Classic is really a tough thing to do. Mainly because we do not know which lake will be hosting us. A matter of fact we won't find out until the day before the tournament. It's a mystery lake. Personally I think it is quite a challenge that way. Since I didn't know where the venue was going to be, I decided to head out to one of my favorite lakes. Sorry but due to it's size I will again leave this lake nameless. First thing I noticed was that the water temp was on it's way down. We have been having some real chilly nights here in the Twin Cities lately and Fall is definitely around the corner. I started checking my deep spots right away. Rock piles, deep weedlines, humps, nothing. I made a decision right away that the bass may be moving into the shallows. I headed for the boat docks and started throwing my bread and butter, the 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Green Pumpkin/Brown). I started skipping and pitchin' the docks and within minutes I had my first fish, a 2 lb. largemouth. The fishing was hot on the docks. In fifteen minutes I had caught 5 fish. No giants though. I decided to make a switch. I thought maybe a bait with more bulk would get a big bite. I switched to a 3/8 oz. TeN-k Bass Jig, by 10,000 Lakes Tackle (green pumpkin). I also added a Berkley Chigger Craw (green pumpkin), as a trailer, and a Tru Tungsten rattle for sound. It took only a cast or two and I set on my biggest of the day, 4.5 lbs. Not bad! She was right up underneath a pontoon. The nice thing about the TeN-k jigs is that one side of the jig head is flat. You wouldn't believe how beneficial that can be when trying to skip a jig underneath something. I went on to catch a few more nice bass when all of a sudden my new jig was ripped off by a nice 30" muskie. Unfortunately for me that was my only TeN-k jig. I will be getting more before the tournament.

The dock bite stayed hot all day and into the evening. I did catch a small bass on a weedline point with a Rapala DT-6 (parrot). All in all it was an ok day. Not sure where the fish are going to be on Sunday when its tournament time, but I know I will find them! Saturday I will be prefishing for the Sunrise Bassmasters 19th Annual Supporting Youth Tournament. Which will be held on September 30th, at North and South Center Lakes. Nothing better than fishing for a great cause!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

2008 Bassmaster Weekend Series Schedule

Recently ABA (American Bass Anglers) and B.A.S.S. released the dates and places for next years BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tour. I am definitely fishing all these events next year. This trail guarantees a minimum 5K for first place in every tournament. Also the top nine in the Angler of the Year standings get invites to the national championship to compete for a chance at the BASSMASTER Classic and an opportunity to fish on the Elite Series. I am real excited about the bodies of water we will be fishing.

June 6th, 2008 LeHomme Dieu Chain of Lakes

July 19th, 2008 White Fish Chain of Lakes

August 2nd, 2008 Pokegama Lake

August 23rd, 2008 Vermillion Lake

September 27th & 28th, 2008 Lake Minnetonka

Click here for more details.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation Tournament of Champions Day 2 (Final Day)

Leech Lake, Walker, MN

Not the day I was looking for! I woke up to a cold front with heavy winds and clear blue skies. I knew it was going to take some real good fishing to come up with the kind of weight I was looking for. I drew partners with Chris from Golden Hook Bassers and was fishing out of his 18 foot Ranger R81. Chris took us to the Headquarters area where he had done well yesterday on a topwater frog bite. I should have known I was doomed for a long day when I caught a nice fish on my very first cast. Two casts later I had another in the boat, both victim to the Sumo Frog (Black). Snake Bitten! I went hours without another bite. I made the switch to the jig pretty early. I knew the frog bite wasn't really going to get me into the top twelve, not with the type of conditions we were faced with. After hours of no fish and my partner still fishless, I recommended a spot in the north side of Boy Bay. Here is where my lack of preparation hurt me because I wasn't to familiar with this area of the lake. I had only spent a half day of practice in this area. I opted to fish some thick rice beds. I knew I would put myself in position to get limited bites, but if I could get three quality bites, I would have a chance. After about a half hour I had a big bite, set the hook , and caught nothing but rice. I got my three bites but didn't capitalize on a single one. Tough weather coupled with less than perfect fishing amounted in my 90th place. I weighed in 2 fish for 4.76 lbs. and a total weight for 18.44 lbs.

Not the finish I was looking for to say the very least. Maybe if I would have prepared for this tournament better and brought my boat for practice I would've done better or at least given myself a better opportunity. I also learned how important it is to do well in the Gopher Club tourneys to insure I qualify for the opportunity. Lucky for me I had a good season there and am fishing as a boater for the 2008 MN Tournament of Champions, on the Mississippi River. I guess practice starts now!

Congratulations to Rich Lindgren and Ryan Brant. Rich earned 4th place and a trip to divisional's. Ryan earned 13th and is the team alternate. Good work Boys!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation Tournament of Champions Day 1

Leech Lake, Walker, MN

I drew Larry of Lakes Area Bassmasters as my day 1 partner. We were fishing out of his 20 ft Champion. Right away Larry took us to his patch of rice that proved productive for himself during practice. I quickly caught a descent fish about 2.5 lbs. on a 3/4 oz. Grassmasters Jig (Black and Blue),tipped with an Uncle Josh Phantom Craw Pork Rind (Black with Blue tips). I know it sounds weird using the pork. I haven't used pork since the real early 1990's, when I was a kid fishing with my grandpa. But it works real well up there. I was in the back of the boat so I figured to give myself the best odds I would have to work water that Larry was not. He was pitching the edge and the first 5 feet of rice, so I was forced to pitch deeper. I would pitch my jig into any possible open area of the rice about 10 to 15 feet past the edge. This proved to be productive since I was getting more bites. The downfall to this is that the wild rice is some real gnarly stuff. Unfortunately for me I boated only one bass and lost 2 real nice ones. Both fish almost made it into the boat but then managed to hang up in the thickest clump of rice. Frustrated I told Larry of a nice area that I had found in practice and explained that we could both fill a limit of fish there. With Larry only having one small fish in the livewell it didn't take much convincing. We showed up in the area near Steamboat Bay and I started throwing my Sumo Frog (Black). It didn't take but 45 minutes and I had a full limit and was culling. The problem was that I was only culling about an ounce at a time. Larry managed to pick up another three fish and then decided to take us back to his rice patch. Unfortunately for the both of us we didn't get a single bite. I'm sure this rice bed was being picked over pretty well by mid afternoon. With about an hour to go we abanded the rice patch, went back to my area in Steamboat. It was a bit slower but I managed to cull out one more time and Larry caught his 5th fish as well.

After a 20 minute boat ride back to the weigh in we got back 15 minutes early. I remembered a marina close by that Rich and I stumbled across in practice. We headed over there and on my first skip under the first dock I set the hook on a nice 3 pounder! That helped. I knew I wasn't sitting in the top ten or even twenty but more importantly I knew I would have a chance the next day to make a run at the top twelve. I weighed in at 13.68 lbs. Could be better, but could also be a lot worse. Larry weighed in at 10.22 lbs.

This isn't a money tournament. It is a qualifying tournament. The top twelve after day 2 go onto divisional's. If you can make it past divisional's you qualify for nationals, which is aired on ESPN. If you are lucky enough to get through nationals you can qualify for the BASSMASTER Classic! Also have a shot for the Elite Series. Since that is my biggest goal in life to compete at that high of a level, it's needless to say I was anxious to get out there on day 2 and make it happen. I figured I need 17 pounds on day 2 and I would have a chance. Sounds like a lot but Leech Lake is notorious for giving up big sacks. The day 1 leader was weighed in at 21.04 pounds. Hopefully it would work out for me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Practice for the MN B.A.S.S. Federation Tournament of Champions

I arrived at Leech Lake Saturday evening and was very excited to get on the water. Unfortunately I drew as a non boater for this competition due to my place in the standings with my club, Gopher Bassmasters. I didn't bring my boat up although I wish I had. It would have proved smart since Leech Lake is a gigantic 120,000 acre body of water. So much to look at. Almost overwhelming. Although I was lucky I did get to practice with a couple real good sticks, Ryan Brant and Rich Lindgren. Last year Gopher had a couple club tournaments on Leech so both Ryan and Rich were pretty familiar with the waters.

I went out with Ryan on Sunday in his 20ft Ranger Comanche. It was a nice ride considering that Leech is known for it's power. It is not uncommon to run into 4 or even 5 foot rollers out on the main lake. We started out fishing some small marinas that Ryan had targeted last year. Given that these areas were small and not likely to recycle itself of bass we decided to just pull on the fish. No sense putting a hook in its mouth and then expecting to catch it a few days later. Some marinas were good and some were not so good. I was throwing a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (black and blue) and a 3/8 oz. Stanley Platinum Jig (Craw), Ryan was throwing a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (fall craw) and a 3/8 oz. Stanley Platinum Jig (craw).

After spending hours in the marinas we decided to start looking for big ones in the rice. Leech Lake is known for it's endless bounties of wild rice. State law prohibits boaters from getting into the harvestable rice but as long as you are considerate and not idiotic this wouldn't be to big an issue. After limited success in some well known rice beds we stumbled across an area that was later nicknamed the "Monkey Box". The area reminded me of Florida's Lake Okeechobee, were they have a well known area called the same. At first it didn't look like much but I convinced Ryan to put down the trolling motor and give it a shot. I couldn't have been his second cast with a Spro Frog (Midnight Black) when all you heard was the explosion. A nice 3 pound bass. Seconds later I had one, and then another, and then another. We were pulling on fish left and right. We went in for dinner and then came back this time Rich joined us. It was fun. Lots of fish. We did our best not to hook them. I was throwing a Scum Frog (Black).

Monday I launched with Rich. We decided we would work the East side of the lake. Headquarters and Boy Bays. We did a lot of Flippin' and was able to find some nice rice beds. We also checked Boy Bay were Rich had done really well in last years club tournament. He was excited to see that the fish were still there. We moved a lot of water that day and probably fished more dead water than good water. But that is a good thing, it shows were not to go on game day. I caught most of my fish on a 3/4 oz. GrassMasters Jig (Black and Blue)

Tuesday was the final day of practice. Rich and I launched early and ran all the way up Steamboat River. We found some fish but were not convinced it would be a worthy spot during the tournament. We ended up finding some nice quality fish on some small rice points in Steamboat Bay. We also found a nice marina were I pulled on a real nice bass under a dock. Weapons of choice were a 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Black and Blue), 3/8 oz. Stanley Platinum Jig (Craw), 1/2 oz. Strike King Premier Double Buzzbait (Black), and a Sumo Frog (Black).

All in all it was a good practice. I got more familiar with the lake and had a real good idea were to go to find a big bag of healthy Leech Lake bass. Hopefully the boaters I get paired with will be on good fish! Wish me luck!!

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