Sunday, January 27, 2008

Smallmouths Curing my Spring Fever

It has been a miserable couple of weeks since my last bass outing entry. The weather has been awful for a die hard fish lipper such as myself. It has just been brutally cold. So cold to where it is beyond shivering, your bones actually hurt. I can recall jumping into my frozen Chevy Suburban on a frigid Saturday morning and my temperature gauge read -19 degrees. Hopefully the housing market gets better so my beautiful wife Bri and I can move somewhere in the South. But until then, I'll suck it up and not take for granted the couple of "lucky for me" spots that I have where I can still stick football sized smallmouth when the weather permits.

Today Matt and I where blessed with a "heat wave", all of 35 degrees, and made it a point to get out and exercise the smallmouths. It was blue bird skies when we started the air temp was only 20 degrees, but trust me, it felt like 70. The fishing was good right away. I caught a dozen or so pretty quick. The only issue was the lack of size. They were all dinks. I was using my bread and butter, a 3" YUM Mega Tube (green pumpkin), with an 1/8 oz. Kalin's tube jig. I was working the tube near a laydown, that was serving as an ambush point for the smallmouths. They like to hide on the down river side of the brush and when some food source comes by they ambush it. I am limited to the angles I can cast to being that I was fishing from shore. I don't think it is a good idea to dump my 20 ft. Ranger in a super shallow, rock infested body of water in the dead of winter. Matt was fishing some scattered rock mixed with sand and really wasn't getting many bites. After a while my laydown stopped producing and I to was looking for a new spot. We stumbled across an area that was very shallow and the water was moving across at a pretty good rip. I thought with the sun getting higher and the temp warming a bit that maybe this area would hold a nice school of fish. It turned out it did. Nice ones to. After a few unsuccessful casts I laid into the best of the day, and after that it was one good one after another. Smallmouth bass are like that. They tend to hang out in little wolf packs. If you can get one to bite you can really stimulate the activity level of the school. It is really common to be fighting a fish to the boat and seeing two, three, or even four smallies with him. They're actually competing for the bait. Although like I said before, if you break one off or don't get a good hook set, it is just like you turned the light switch off, they're done.

**From left to right: Myself with a beautiful Minnesota smallmouth bass, and a victim of the Mississippi River Fathead.

After a quick burger stop we decided to try another spot. It was much slower though. The sun tucked behind the clouds and the fish were few and far between. After close to an hour without a fish I decided to make a switch. I put on a prototype lure from Stick 'Em Lure Company called the Mississippi River Fathead (green pumpkin w/ black flake). It is a 3.5" soft plastic with a fat head and a ribbed body. Fished properly it imitates a feeding minnow pecking at the bottom. Not having the right jig for the job I decide to give it a try any way. I was thinking maybe the crawfish bite turned off and the minnow bite may entice more bites. In five minutes I caught five fish. I was pretty excited when I set into a HUGE bass. It was easy 4 plus pounds. She started dancing and jumping all over and on one jump managed to come unbuttoned. Wouldn't you know it that fish ended up proven my earlier point, the school vanished.

Looking at the forecast I can see nothing good about the upcoming weather. More negative double digits. But hey, on the bright side, for every day that passes brings me that much closer to Spring. I can't wait for my upcoming tournament season!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Tackle Update: Amp Lures

Since the weather is so brutally cold around here. 0 degrees. I think that says enough. I thought it is time to add a tackle update to the blog. Today I received some new crankbaits by Amp Lures in the mail that I am very excited to try. Japan born, Texas based Amp Lures is new to the US. Although don't let that fool you, they have been around for a long time. Known as Biovex in Japan, they have been steadily taking over the market, putting out quality baits at reasonable prices. Part of their success is due to Katsushi Umeda, who is responsible for the designs of many of their high end baits. BASSWEST USA recently ran an article on the Amp Lures, Midshooter, a medium diving crankbait, that runs 5 - 8 feet deep. They are quoted in saying, " Their colors are amazing in that many of them have a translucent external color and inner color". They also go on to say, "In field testing the baits ran true right out of the packaging and are sure to catch fish.", and "In a few hours on Clear Lake in September, we were able to catch 5 fish on 5 consecutive casts on the midshooter."

Amp Lures Midshooter Amp Lures Pop Amp Lures Musashi Spinnerbait
**From left to right: Amp Lures Midshooter, Pop, and Musashi Spinnerbait.

I received both their Midshooter and their Shallow Runner. The colors are great and the quality is next to none. I am soon putting in a order for their Pop, Musashi Spinnerbait, and their Heavy Hitter. Not to mention, I am also very excited to hear that they are adding a deep diving plug to their already fantastic line of baits. Rumor has it that it will dive to 30 feet! Smallmouths beware! For more information go to Please keep in mind that the website is still under construction. Amp is working very quickly to get it all put together. Check it out, it's a pretty sweet site!

Hopefully this cold weather will move out of here and I can get to lipping some smallmouths. It isn't that bad though. I can watch the NFL playoffs from the comfort of my warm house, to bad for the Giants and Packers though. I hear it will be below 0 at kickoff time. Until next time, Happy Fishing!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

One More Time Before the Real Cold Comes Back

My buddy Matt and I decided we just had to get out one more time before the weather hits single digits again across Minnesota. We left the Twin Cities and the temp was 30 degrees. When we arrived to our destination it was all of 19. Burr. I started strong with 3 quick smallmouths. All of which were over 2.5 lbs and one weighed in at 3.6 lbs. After that quick stint of greatness everything starting unraveling on me. I was faced with a problem I haven't encountered here in a while. I am generally always a fluorocarbon guy but after trying all sorts of different lines in the cold over the years I have found that in this certain area and using this particular fishing style that 8 to 10 pound Berkley Sensation line fits me best. It isn't as brittle as fluorocarbon and has some nice stretch to it. Usually I wouldn't want that but since this area has so many rocks and snags it helps. Usually once I get dialed in I can differentiate what's a snag right away and can usually use the stretch to my advantage to snap the lure off the rock. It also allows me to cast a light weight tube far on the light line. Also when the air temp is between 20 and 35 degrees it is easily manageable in that kind of cold. In the summer I would opt for 6 to 10 pound fluorocarbon but in the cold the mono works better for me. Although not this time. I'm not sure if it is that we were fishing in the teens or not but my line was freezing up like crazy. Literally into icicles. I snapped nice fish off, I snapped off on casts, I dealt with the line freezing right on the spool, it was a nightmare! I spent an hour retying up baits. I probably retied at least 12 times in that hour. Mean while Matt was using my other rod that was spooled with 10 lb Vicious Fluorocarbon and was pulling in fish hand over hand. The fluorocarbon wasn't freezing up half as much as my mono. Everything that I thought I knew went right out the window. After an hour and a half, Matt was at 9 and I was still chilling (literally) with 3.

As the afternoon wore on the temp got up over 20 and luckily for me my line issues stopped. Good thing for me I over come things relatively quickly and the hook setting followed. In the next 20 minutes I evened us up 9 a piece. When we left that spot I had a small advantage of 14 to 9.

We arrived at the same spot that Rich Lindgren and I had fished a couple nights back. I started right where I left off and landed a nice 3 pound smallie. I really wanted to catch a 4 pounder before the night was over since I hadn't seen one all week. Matt feeling the exact same way decided he was going to try to find some new water that no one had fished. He did just that. I saw him pull in two consecutive 3 pound smallies back to back and thought I better do the right "friendly" thing and move to where he was. Matt snickered at the move but accepted me nicely, even pointing out his newly found strategy. He said that it was extremely shallow in front of us for about 20 feet then it dropped of quickly. The drop off was full of basketball sized rocks, which made it also full of nice sized smallmouths. With only about ten minutes of light left in our day we worked the heck out of that area. In the end we finished with 34 smallmouth total. Matt caught 14 and I had 20. No four pounders, but still a nice day none the less.

I learned something interesting today and yet I am still not totally convinced it would happen that way again. I will have to test both lines in the same conditions another time to be 100 percent certain that is the way it is. Maybe it was just that particular spool of line or maybe it wasn't. Looking at the upcoming forecast I can see that I will have a while to ponder it. Until then...Happy Fishing!! Or better yet, Happy Dreaming of the Day You'll Be Fishing! Unless of course your in the South, then I'm jealous!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

2008 Gopher Bassmasters Tournament Schedule

MN B.A.S.S. Federation Club

Last night my fellow Gopher Bassmasters had our monthly Federation club meeting. This particular meeting was set for us to layout our 2008 tournament schedule. I am very excited with the lakes that were chosen for this upcoming season. This year we are headed to a lot of well established "big bass" lakes. Lakes known for their huge largemouth and or their huge smallmouth potential. It is real critical that I do well in these tournaments. They are the starting point of qualifying for other qualifying tournaments that lead to the MN B.A.S.S. Federation State Tournament, than divisionals, nationals, and the ultimate goal of a birth into the BASSMASTER Classic. Due to my strong finish in the 2007 club tournaments I have already qualified for the 2008 MN State Tournament, but with another strong season I hope to qualify for the 2009 State Tournament. Which could potentially be held at a body of water I am really excited to fish. So as you can imagine I have already started my research on our tournaments to come. The following is the list of the 2008 schedule:

May 17th, 2008 Chetek Chain of Lakes, Chetek, WI
May 18th, 2008 Chetek Chain of Lakes, Chetek, WI
June 21st, 2008 Lake Koronis, Paynesville, MN
June 22nd, 2008 Green Lake, Spicer, MN
July 26th, 2008 Lake Waconia, Waconia, MN
July 27th, 2008 Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN
August 16th, 2008 TBD (2009 State Waters)
August 17th, 2008 TBD (2009 State Waters)

Click here for more details.

The Chetek Chain in Wisconsin should give us a good mix of pre spawn, spawn, and post spawn. This is also a diverse lake in that it offers both lake and river scenarios. Lake Koronis and Green Lake are equally known for their big smallmouths and numbers of bass as well. Lake Waconia and Lake Minnetonka are both heavily pressured lakes, being that they are both in the heart of the Twin Cities, yet they both produce HUGE largemouth bass. I am not very familiar with these lakes with a notable exception of Lake Minnetonka. Planning starts now!!! Wish me luck!

Monday, January 7, 2008

You'd Have to be Crazy.. or Just Crazy about Fishing

After a day like yesterday, how could anybody not want to go out and do it again. Although it wasn't the easiest thing to do. Rich Lindgren and I had decided that we just had to sneak back to the old honey hole. The problem was that Rich couldn't get out of work until about 3pm in the afternoon and we would have to be at a fellow Gopher Bassmasters house by 6:15 for our monthly club meeting. That's not all. It would also take us about an hour to get there, and we expected it to be dark by 5:30. So as you can see we would have to be nuts to drive all that way just to fish for about and hour and a half, and then fight rush hour traffic all the back to our meeting.

So we were fishing by about 4 o'clock. Oddly things actually started real slow. After about 45 minutes Rich had 5 and I only had 3. Although my second fish ended up being the biggest of the day, roughly 3 pounds. After struggling for the first hour we opted to check out another area that I had fished a few years back. It was a relatively shallow area, but it offered a main boat ramp that I knew got pretty deep all around it. I figured if we fished the rocks around the ramp we should be able to get a couple nice ones, and at least try to hit double digits. With only about a half hour to fish I caught a couple real quick. There was no time for screwing around now with the tally favoring Rich. I had started throwing a Jackall Flick Shake worm, 5.8"(green pumpkin), with a 1/8 oz. Zappu Inch-Wacky jig rigged wacky style. That only got one little bite in the first 20 minutes I threw it. I opted to switch back to my bread and butter, a 3.5" Strike King Coffee Tube(green pumpkin), with a 1/8 oz. Kalin's tube jig. Rich and I switched off catching one here and there, and with the sun nicely tucked away we both agreed since we were tied at 10 apiece we would make one last cast. Rich brought his tube back in unsuccessfully, as he was packing up his gear I set the hook on a nice 2 lb. smallie. You would never believe what happened next. Rich, I mean "Luke Clausen", came running over and grabbed my line and rod, all while I was fighting the fish. He kept screaming "Ultimate Match Fishing Style!!" I attempted to get to the fish right as he spit the tube from his mouth. WOW!! But hey, fair is fair. I should have seen that one coming. I mean I know I probably would have attempted the same thing had the role been reversed. The good thing for me is that now I owe Rich one. I hope for his sake I am not around when he has a whopper on the end of his line.

The tally ended at 10 apiece. Not bad at all for an hour and a half of fishing. We made it to the meeting and even had extra time to stop by Taco Bell. At today's club meeting we decided dates and locations for our 2008 Gopher Bassmasters tournament schedule. I will be sure to post those upcoming events very soon.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Breaking in the New Year - One Smallie at a Time

Welcome to 2008! I don't know about you but I can't think of a better way to break in the New Year in Minnesota than catching a ridiculous number of bass on a luke warm day in early January. So needless to say when I saw the forecast showing the possibility of 40 degrees I had to round up the troops. Joining me on our rare trip to smallie heaven was some good friends and fellow Gopher Bassmasters Ryan Brant, Rich Lindgren, and John Haynes.

After a not so quick stop to Cabela's we arrived at our first honey hole. To be honest time went way to fast. Everything was perfect, the weather was great and the fishing was non stop action. Ryan and I were both very close in the tallying and at one point we couldn't make a cast and not catch a fish. There were a lot of nice ones weighed in but lucky for me I weighed the heaviest in at 3.6 lbs. Ryan secured most fish with 72 and I trailed with a very close 71. Between the four of us we caught and released 210 smallmouths. Rich also caught a huge carp. I believe the scale read over ten pounds! Most of all the fish were caught on tubes (green pumpkin). Yum and Berkley Power Tubes seemed to be the preferred choice today. We were rigging them with 1/8 - 1/4 oz. Cabela's Tube Jigs. I was using 8 and 10 lb. Berkley Sensation Line (low vis green).

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