Sunday, July 27, 2008

Gopher B.A.S.S. Federation Club Tournament

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

Today was the sixth tournament in the Gopher Bassmasters season, held again on Lake Minnetonka. I was lucky enough to draw boat number one and headed right for a nice deep hard bottom spot. I figured that if I got there right away in the morning that I could get a quick limit weighing 10 to 12 pounds minimum. I pulled up slowly and there was a boat fishing the weedline that was just a short distance from my area. I pulled in close and made a couple of casts and just tried to wait patiently for the other boat to move on so I could position my boat just right to be able to give myself the best shot at making perfect casts to the area. After the other boat moved on I was able to get to where I could make long casts with a hand tied 1/2 Jewel Football jig. After a few casts I was able to catch a nice largemouth that was an easy 2.5 pounds. My next two casts and I reeled in another weighing 2 and the other going all of 3 pounds for sure. I threw a few more times without a bite and decided to give that area a rest and go hit another similar area only a minute away. My first cast in the new area resulted in another nice 3 pound largemouth. After a 15 minutes I headed back to my first spot and caught another nice largemouth about 2.5 pounds as well.

Within the first hour I had a solid limit weighing around 13 pounds. This was a great position to be in because it usually doesn't happen like that too often. It's not everyday you put a quality limit in your tanks in the first hour of the tourney. This gave me the opportunity to "hog hunt" the rest of the day. I quickly pulled out a 3/8 oz. and a 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig, and start working the deep weedlines for some good bass. I was able to catch a lot of 2 pounders but maybe only culling for an ounce here and there. Finally I hooked up with a nice 3 pound largemouth on the 1/2 oz. jig. Upping me to a estimated 14 pound bag.

As the afternoon wore on, I caught fish but none that would make a difference. Finally with only an hour left in the tournament I went straight for a nice deep weedline turn, soaked the jig and managed to catch two more 3 pounders, rounding out a nice bag for the weigh in. I finished with 15 pounds, just good enough for a third place finish. I was also fortunate enough to sneak pass Corey Brant in our Annual Gopher Bassmasters Ultimate Match Fishing Contest and now am in the final four competing against Sport Smith, which will take place in Grand Rapids, on Pokegama Lake, at our next club tourneys next month. Also with these two strong finishes I fought my way back up in the Gopher Bassmasters Angler of the Year standings, currently sitting in fourth. Setting me up for a run at club stick!

Next up for me is the third stop for the BASSMASTERS Weekend Series also at Pokegama Lake. I have a lot of ideas in my head, that I'm confident will help me to another great finnish. I'm currently sitting tied for first in the BASSMASTER Weekend Series Angler of the Year race and really want to continue that trend on. It's going to take a lot of hard work but I'm definitely up for the challenge! Wish me luck at Pokegama!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Gopher B.A.S.S. Federation Club Tournament

Lake Minnetonka, Mound, MN

I was very excited to wake up this morning and head out to one of my favorite lakes, Minnetonka, for a Gopher Bassmasters Club Tournament. I spend a considerable amount of my time out here and definitely consider it my home lake. So I was pretty excited about my chance to catch a good limit. It's important that I do well in this weekend's two tournaments for a few different reasons. I'm pretty disappointed in some of my tournament finishes. I had two pretty solid tournaments and two very bad tournaments. Because of this, I find myself sitting in 8th place overall in the Angler of the Year standings. I also find myself on the bubble to make the 2009 Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation State Tournament, held at Pokegama Lake, in Grand Rapids, MN. Today is also the start of the first round of our annual match fishing contest and I find myself matched against Frank Whiteside.

I drew boat number five and headed to a location that had some nice deep scattered rock. After about four or five casts I catch a solid 2.5 lb. largie on a hand tied 1/2 oz. Jewel Football Jig. In the next five casts I catch another two bass both weighing roughly two pounds each and managed to let a nice solid three pounder get off. After checking another spot similar to the first without any success, I decided to get out of there. I was slowly putting thru a long no wake area and when I got to the out side of it I turned back and pitched a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Green Pumpkin/Brown) to the seawall and caught a little pound and a half smallie. After having a little success pitching to one corner I decided to to flip one to the opposite corner and instantly set into a good largemouth, only to have him throw the jig at the boat. Generally I would start getting pretty worried about loosing two good fish in the first hour but I knew this lake and knew it's potential and I knew the areas I was going to fish held both weight and numbers.

With the sun starting to warm things up I decided to hit a pretty good point that wasn't to much of a distance from me. I worked the whole point all the way around, switching between a 3/8 oz Tru Tungsten Jig, 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig, and a 1/2 oz. Jewl Football Jig. I was catching numbers but they were all in that solid two pound range. I knew the area had potential to cough up some real toads but decided to head out, but planned to hit it again on the way back to weigh in. Opting instead for a deep hump with a solid weedline, that has been good to me in the past for some solid three pounders. I was able to catch numbers of both largemouths and smallmouths, but at most maybe only doing two or three culls for a couple ounces. My boat partner for the day, John Atkins, hooked up with a nice 3 to 4 pounder and also filled a limit there.

We headed to a deep weedline that I have just lately been starting to figure out, but this time we couldn't get it going. I managed to catch a few more fish running the same type of pattern, targeting deep weedlines and rocks, but none of them culled any more than a couple ounces. Heading to the scales I was pretty happy given the day. I ran good water, worked my areas confidently, but just never got those big bites that I needed to win. I weighed in with 11.6 pounds and finished in 4th place. I managed to get past Frank in Ultimate Match Fishing and will be facing my boy Corey Brant (Core Dog), who is also leading so far this year in the Angler of the Year race. This fourth place finish also made up a little ground in the AOY standings. Tomorrow we will be launching from the other side of the lake for another tournament. Good Night!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tournament

Whitefish Chain, Cross Lake, MN

Tournament two of the BASSMASTER Weekend Series, held at the Whitefish Chain, in Cross lake, MN, is finally upon us. There was over a month gap between the first and second tournament and I was dying to get on the water and put it to the test against some of Minnesota's top bass fisherman.

I had went up and practiced for a couple days a few weekends back and have to say that I didn't have a great practice at all. A friend joined me and the fishing was good on Saturday for the morning and than we got stormed off, literally. We woke up Sunday morning to a less than ideal forecast of a cold front, with high skies and a cool north wind. We were able to find them Saturday morning all over the lake, shallow around docks and in the pads, and deeper along the maturing weedline. Sunday did produce some nice fish, but they were rather scattered and didn't really offer any set in stone pattern for game day. Looking back it was probably for the best considering that the lake was going to change pretty dramatically by the time I got back there. It made me keep in open mind.

The day before the tournament, Bri and I launched out of Hay Lake and headed right up into the main lake and began poking around on the weedlines. I did catch fish but none that were really good size. Although still the area had great potential. I then ran some of my shallow stuff where I found that it wasn't going to be that difficult to bag a limit but that size was the worry. I spent most the afternoon being careful to pull on fish and not actually hook them in their mouth, pretty much guaranteeing that the fish won't be willing to bite on tournament day. By the end of the day I was feeling a bit more comfortable. There were a lot of fish to be caught and I felt I was in the right areas to catch them. I even managed to visually see a couple 3+ pounders, and on Whitefish those are real good fish to have at the scales.

After take off I headed straight for a sandy flat that had a few good docks and a nice inside turn on a weedline. I started by swimming a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Green Pumpkin/Brown) and on my third cast I boated a 14" inch largemouth and got the skunk out of the boat. That's when everything really started taking a turn for the worst. I set into about five or six real good fish and missed them all. Were talking like setting and half way to the boat they get off! Honestly I was getting pretty discouraged. Finally I came across a good looking boat dock and flipped a solid 2 pound largie into the boat. One cast later and I caught another one that just bumped the 12" minimum line. With a couple hours gone I decided to run to a bay on the South side of the lake where I had one magical boat dock that always seemed to produce for me. I worked the entire dock and on my last hail mary skip under the dock I caught a good solid three pound bass.

With only four fish in my livewell, I decided it was time to get on the weedlines and start catching some fish. Again after loosing a couple I finally boated my fifth keeper that literally bumped 12" on the dot with 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Black and Blue). I also tossed the topwater frog around for twenty minutes and didn't even manage a single blowup. Knowing that I needed some quality culls I decided to head back to the sand flat that I started on and try for some of those better fish that I had seen in practice and hope that I could get one or two of those earlier misses to bite again. It started slow and all of a sudden I hooked into a solid largemouth on a jig. I was out in about seven foot of water and blind casting in front of me not to spook the fish. The bass was landed and weighed approximately 4.5 pounds, a true Whitefish kicker! It's a great feeling to cull a little 12 inch bass for a solid 4 pounder. Next cast after dropping her in the livewell and I instantly get bit under a near by boat dock, resulting in another solid 2 pound bass.

With three hours remaining and an approaching storm starting to give way to rain, I headed to a great weedline that I knew had to hold good fish. The area was great. I was fishing a saddle in about 13 to 18 feet, that was surrounded by two underwater points that were loaded with coontail. The area produced well, I was able to cull a few times, nothing major but a ounce here and a ounce there. Time ran out and back at weigh in I managed to weigh in at 13.32 pounds and took another solid 6th place finish, good enough for another paycheck! I was second for big fish with 4.42 lbs. and lost to a nice 4.6 pounder that was weighed in just before me. Best yet my two strong finishes in the first two tournaments have me in a dead tie for first place in the Angler of the Year race. Pretty awesome but there's still three tournaments left, and it's going to be a tough test to manage to stay at the top. Next up we have Pokegama Lake, in Grand Rapids, MN. Last year in my first ever BASSMASTER Weekend Series event I took 18th at Pokegama. I have a few ideas going that I think can really put me on some good fish! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Five Alive Tour

Green Lake, Isanti County, MN

Today was our second Five Alive event held at Green Lake, in Isanti County. Neither Ryan and I had time to prefish for this tournament and since neither one of us had ever fished the lake before we decided that we would just show up and fish. Today I also picked up my boat from the shop, which is a huge relief going into the BASSMASTER Weekend Series on the Whitefish Chain. I really was wanting my boat for that tournament.

At take off, Ryan and I headed straight for a row of docks. Never fishing this lake requires us both to power fish to be able to compete in a three hour tournament. After spending twenty minutes with no quality bites we headed for a slop area on a nice looking flat. I picked up a Scum Frog (black), while Ryan continued working boat docks with a 3/8 oz. hand tied Tru Tungsten Jig. One my first cast I missed on a nice blowup. After trying to get the fish to come back with no success, I spotted a great looking opening in the scum and fired my frog right into it. As kermit landed in the opening I noticed three or four different wakes from all around the bait, a tell tail sign of interested bass. I didn't twitch that frog but twice and I landed our first fish, a nice 2 pounder. Next cast rewarded me another one pushing three pounds, and the next cast another 2 pounder. Ryan dying to jump in the action ties up a Spro Frog (Black) and quickly puts another in the box. I make a couple more casts and limit us out with another 2 pounder.
We continued on this pattern and did find some similar areas. One area in particular did offer us a few nice bass that were able to cull out here and there for a couple ounces. With limited time left in the tournament we headed back to the area that coughed us up a quick limit. There we saw another tournament boat about 250 yards up bank. We snuck up into the mouth of the scum and started throwing frogs and I also tied up a Gambler Buzz Toad (black). We did catch a few but none big enough to cull. With only ten minutes left in the tournament we went back towards the launch and continued on throwing the frogs, again catching a few but none big enough to cull.

At weigh in we were approached by the tournament director, apparently that boat that watched us whack a bunch of fish in front of them claimed that Ryan wasn't wearing his safety vest when we pulled away with the big engine. Unfortunately for us, this was not the case. We argued our case as best we could, I never saw Ryan without his jacket and think the guys just made a mistake. A costly one for somebody else if your not positive. After going round and round, Ryan and I tactfully withdrew ourselves from the competition with no hard feelings, just an unfortunate situation. They great staff of the Five Alive Tour did allow us to weigh and we would have taken a solid third place finish. Not to bad for never being on the lake. Ryan and I aren't sure when we will be able to attend another Five Alive event. I know we have our eyes set on the last event of the year at Forest Lake. Hopefully we will find time to fish another before then.

Now it's back to business, I have a couple nice guide trips and then leave town for the second stop of the BASSMASTER Weekend Series, held at the Whitefish Chain, in Cross Lake, MN. I finished with a strong 6th place in the first event and am looking to do even better. Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pan-O-Prag Bass Tournament

Lake Marion, Lakeville, MN

This was my first year participating in the annual Pan-O-Prag Bass Tournament, held on Lake Marion, in Lakeville, MN. Marion is a small lake located just South of the Twin Cities, right off 35W. Even though this lake gets a tremendous amount of both fishing pressure and recreation traffic, it still coughs up some big bags of fish every year. This was a team tournament and my partner was fellow Gopher Bassmaster, John Haynes.

I was able to get out and practice twice for this event. The first time John joined me and we did pretty good. Not a lot of fish, but the quality was there. I was catching them all on a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig, tipped with a 2.75" YUM chunk. Most of them came shallow but they were all very scattered. Some came off docks, some off rocks, some in the weeds, and some weren't even by anything at all. Leaving after the first practice day we were a bit frustrated but happy at the same time. It was one of those practices that you wish was actually the tournament, because we caught a winning limit of bass, except we didn't really have a pattern for how we did it.

The second day of practice was a complete joke. It was the 4th of July and my Wife Bri was joining me. We arrived to a very long line that took over an hour to launch and then came to find that my engine wouldn't start. Frustrated, I decided to fish for a while with my trolling motor but after a half hour I figured it would be best to load up and drop my boat off at the shop to get fixed. Although I did manage to catch one fish that was just shy of four pounds on a 4" Bass Pro Shops Tube (Clear with Blake Flake), with a 1.8 oz. insert weight and a 4/0 Gamakatsu EWG hook..

At take off for the tournament, we drew an early let out and knew we would have a great shot at getting to some of the better areas that held some quality fish. We decided to hit a row of docks that had some nice vegetation around them and on my second flip, I caught a nice three pound largemouth. Being that this lake is not that big we were quickly surrounded by other boats and I decided to get out of there and go check another area before that was also tapped.
We got to our area and I instantly got bit, but when I set, there was nothing there. John lobbed his Lake Fork Ring Fry (Green Pumpkin) to the same area and instantly set the hook on what turned out to be another nice fish that went all of three pounds. A hundred yards down and I got bit again, and again added another three pounder to the livewell.

Knowing we were on to a great start, we decided to go back to the area where we first started and see if we can still get some bites. We arrived to see that there were still four boats working that area. I knew this would be an issue at this tournament. I usually don't like fishing in crowds, but I knew it was going to be this way so we decided to stay. Talk about calling the right shot. My first cast and I caught another nice three pound fish. I came across a nice looking boat dock and even though I watched two other boats fish it, I decided to give it a try anyway. After working the dock all the way around I decided to skip my jig up underneath the start of the dock, right where it meets the land. My first skip missed the mark by two feet, but I instantly got a peck from a couple bluegills. Looking closer I noticed the traditional honeycombs, meaning that there was a bunch of bluegills spawning. Wherever there are spawning bluegills, there are hungry bass close by. I skipped my jig again, this time perfectly under the dock and out came another three pounder. Good call Douglas!

Sitting with five nice three pounders in the livewell, we just needed one more for a limit. (Pan-O-Prag is a six fish limit) We went about an hour without catching anything and with the sun starting to come out and the wind picking up we decided to go throw a frog and flip some plastics back in the slop. We wasted about an hour and a half back there. I know that past tournaments have been won out of the slop on this lake, but I'm going to have to spend more time back there to figure out the real good areas. Although when we were on our way out, I had the trolling motor on 100 and made a desperation cast with a Scum Frog (Black) and caught our limit fish. Not even a two pounder, but it was a limit.

We went back out to the main lake and was met with some real strong winds. I did manage to catch a couple more but none big enough to cull. We headed back to the weigh in and ended up with 16.26 pounds, good enough for a strong 6th place finish! Pretty sweet! First time fishing this event with limited practice and walked away with another much needed paycheck. It goes to show, when in doubt, go with your strength. Good things will happen more often than not.

I would also like to thank my buddy Ryan Brant for letting me borrow his Ranger Commanche for this tournament while my boat is in the shop. I owe you big time!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Denny's Wednesday Nighter

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

Tonight was the second tournament of the Denny's Wednesday Nighters, held on Lake Minnetonka. Ryan and I were real eager to launch and get this tournament under way. I still had a horrible taste in my mouth from that fat largemouth that got off at the boat, costing us a second place finish and $700 dollars at the last Wednesday Nighter two weeks ago.

Our launch number was 17 and we headed for one of our best spots and when we arrived there we both took note that there was no wind. After about 45 minutes of nothing, Ryan finally hooks up with a two pounder on a Lake Fork Creature Bait. With nothing going at all we headed out of there in search of some better bass. We arrived at a little point and I was able to catch a nice three pounder on a 6" Amp Lures Mimi (Green Pumpkin). After that fish though, the bite just wasn't there. We decided to run some pretty well known boat docks that usually hold some keeper bass. Ryan did manage to catch one small one that barely bumped, but still it was a keeper. Stumped, we decided to try a couple main lake milfoil points. I caught a couple but they were to short to keep. After about twenty minutes we shot back to our better areas and decided to go all or nothing with our last two hours.

After about an hour I finally got a nice bite and caught a bass going about 3.5 pounds, on a Texas rigged Lake Fork Ring Worm (Green Pumpkin), pegged with a 1/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Worm Weight (Green Pumpkin). Ryan also caught another one that was about 2 pounds, rounding out our limit.

With only about a half hour left, we decided to run some docks. Ryan caught a solid two pounder and culled away the twelve incher, then time ran out. We weighed in with a very disappointing 10 lbs. 2 oz., for 23rd place. There were some real big bags brought to the scales. I think you needed at least 17 pounds to cash a check.

Ryan and I find ourselves in a tough position. We're in the middle of the pack in the team of the year race and need to do real well in the remainder of the tournaments to get to the top spot. It will take some serious work but I feel we are still in close enough position to do just that.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Five Alive Tour

North & South Center Lakes, Lindstrom, MN

Lately things have been a little chaotic for me. I have a lot of tournaments coming up but luckily for me, most are team tournaments. I recently found out that I am going to be with out a boat for a couple weeks. What started as a small, unknown exhaust leak in the middle of my engine turned out to cause some pretty serious problems. I came to find out that I need a part that won't be able to be shipped out for about a week and a half due to the holiday week. Luckily, I am fishing with my boy Ryan Brant and we can use his Ranger today for the Five Alive Tour and also again tomorrow for the Denny's Wednesday Nighter. He also came through for myself and John Haynes for the Pan O' Prag tournament on Saturday on Lake Marion. Then again I lucked out and my buddy Chris Campbell is going to let me use his Ranger for a guide trip next week and for the real important BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tournament on the Whitefish Chain, in Cross Lake, MN. The nice thing is that Chris has the same boat as me, so it shouldn't be too bad of an adjustment.

After figuring out my boat situation, I was off to meet Ryan for the Five Alive event on North and South Center. I had seen it on their schedule and figured we should give it a try. Late last Fall, Ryan and I had really sacked them in a end of the year tournament, catching five bass for over 22 pounds! Although going into this tourney we were a little nervous. Sure we had done really well there but that was last year, it was very late September and we were just on a really good pattern. We didn't know the lake well, we won it our second time ever fishing on it. This year I have yet to fish it and knew I wasn't going to have time to pre fish for it. It really was looking bad when Ryan called me the night before and said he had got skunked earlier that night.

The tournament is only three hours long from 6 PM to 9 PM, which just means that we have to work very efficient and timely. We started on a set of docks that worked well last year and Ryan put a nice three pound fish in the livewell on a texas rigged Reaction Innovations Smallie Beaver. As he was retying, I caught one that went about 13 inches on a 3/8 oz. jig. We continued in the area and I caught a couple more smaller ones leaving us one shy of a limit. We headed to another good area and Ryan caught our fifth keeper, a nice two pound bass.

As we were getting ready to leave the area I made a cast with a swim jig and hooked into a 15" largemouth and we made our first cull. We got to our next destination and Ryan pitches his Beaver to a set of lily pads and hook into another good bass that weighed probably just shy of three pounds. Another pitch later and he hooks another good sack fish that was all of two pounds for sure.

As the night wore on the bite slowed dramatically. We must have went an hour without a fish and we decided to head back towards the loading ramp and fish out our last twenty minutes. Ryan again pitched to a set of pads and hooks into the biggest bass of the day going all of 3.5 pounds. Two minutes pass and I catch an easy three pounder on a Scum Frog. Then with only three minutes to go, Ryan picks up my 1/2 oz. Amp Lures Killa Buzz (Black), and starts tossing it along a weedline and manages to catch another keeper, this one only culling out for maybe and ounce or two.

At the weigh in we won the tournament, with 13.05 pounds. We took home a much needed paycheck and also decided we were going to try our hand again next week when the Five Alive Tour heads to Green Lake in Wyanett, MN. Up next tomorrow is the second tournament of the Denny's Wednesday Nighters, held on Lake Minnetonka. I can't wait!!

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