Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Japan to Hold New World Record Honors?

I've waited a few weeks to post about this topic but as more time goes by it seems all things are legit and George Perry's tanker 22.4 lb. largemouth bass that held the world record for the past 77 years is on the verge of being trumped. Manabu Kurita, 32, has reportedly caught a reported 22.5 lb. largemouth from Lake Biwa in the Shiga Prefecture of Japan.

Early reports where that Kurita caught the giant early afternoon on July 2nd using livebait, a species similar to a bluegill. The Deps pro also caught a 18 lb. largie a few years back on a swimbait.

Lake Biwa, the largest lake in all of Japan, is known for it's beauty and and it's depth, bottoming out at a gnarly 300 feet. Despite all the giant bass that Biwa holds, Japanese officials have been working to oust largemouth bass from the lake, trying to eliminate all invasive (non native) species from the lake. Even the Lake Biwa Museum Restaraunt serves black bass on it's menu.

With Japan leading the way in the bass tackle industry, it seems fitting that they may now hold the big bass honors. Although with all the giants coming out of California in the past decade, I feel it won't be long until the record gets toppled once again.

Congratulations to Manabu Kurita and his awesome catch. In my humble opinion it's by far the most prestigious record to hold in all the world.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tournament

Mississippi River Pools 9 & 10, Prairie Du Chien, WI

What a tournament. Literally from the beginning of practice this was a grind it out type of event. The venue was the Mississippi River Pools 9 and 10, which borders both central Wisconsin and central Iowa. I have never been to this stretch of the Mighty Miss before and wasn't sure what to expect. I had a very hectic week before with sponsor meetings and guide trips and was only able to allow myself two full days of practice. Being that I don't know the water at all and have limited time to prepare, I decided to cut out pool 9 all together and concentrate on only pool 10. I figured since the tournament blast off was on 10, it made more sense for me to stay there and not waste valuable fishing time locking threw. Plus from the internet research that I did, it didn't sound like any one pool was much better than the other.

I got on the water early Friday morning and quickly starting running south figuring I would slowly make my way back north as the day wore on. Six miles down river and all of a sudden my run came to a quick stop when I spun the hub in my prop. Surely there is worse things that can happen, but annoying and a waste of time none the less. As I crawled my way back to the boat ramp fighting current and going no more than 5 miles an hour, I was able to get a hold of a traveling partner and fellow competitor Brian Brown. Luckily for me he was only about 7 miles from me and was happy enough to come down and lend me a hand. After about an hour or so I was back in business and on my way. Fishing though was slower than expected and finding keepers was next to impossible. I found areas that I knew had to hold fish but couldn't get bit to save my life. This was discouraging because I knew the conditions where perfect for catching fish. It was mildly hot and we where dodging thunderstorms all day. Literally the bass should have been jumping in the boat and from what I was told from other competitors they where having awesome days on other stretches of the river. Finally around 5 o'clock I was forced off the water when all hell broke loose and a mother of a storm was headed straight at me packing baseball sized hail, lighting and flood producing rain.

The next morning I found out that local highways where closed due to mudslides and knew for certain that this would drastically effect the river's water clarit, making finding clear water a challenge. When I launched, I instantly noticed the main river channel was already getting muddied up. Despite all this my last day of practice was a huge success. I was able to find a nice area that offered deep water and had some great laydowns and the key was it maintained clear water. I flipped a Tru Tungsten Jig (black and blue) to the timber and and on the first flip caught a chunky three pounder. Two flips later to a different piece of brush and out came a 2 1/2. I continued a ways pulling on what had to be around 15 to 20 nice bites.

I decided this would be a great place to start and then headed out to find a secondary spot. I figured since the conditions where going to set up right that I should look for some slop areas that I could finish my day on. It didn't take long at all and I found a few key areas and also as equally important when river fishing, I found my routes in and out of these areas. By about 4:30 it was time to get off and head over to registration where I again got a bad boat draw and was in the third flight, boat number 55. The good thing was that I knew I was fishing two solid areas both having the potential to produce winners.

After take off I arrived at my first spot and was disgusted to see the water had turned to chocolate milk. I knew this would effect the bite but wasn't sure how bad. After three hours of fishing lets just say it was horrible and I finally called the areas quits leaving with one 14" largemouth. Leaving this area and heading to my back up area I was a bit discouraged but knew I still had about five hours of fishing and knew I wasn't out of this at all.

My second area started no better for me and after a couple hours I was yet to catch a keeper sized bass. I was mainly throwing a 1/4 oz. Super K Swim Jig, a Sumo Frog (black) and flippin' almost everything. I must have tried 15 different plastics trying to get bit. A few other guys where saying how the bite in this area really died down and that it was much better earlier in the morning. This was discouraging to hear, but as long as bass are in an area I'm determined to catch them. Finally after about and hour or two I caught my second keeper, a descent 16" largemouth on the rat.

With only about a half hour remaining before I had to check in, I was really starting to get anxious. I had only about 20 minutes of actual fishing time because of the 10 minute boat ride back to weigh in. Finally the slop exploded and within seconds I had boated my third keeper. Feeling I had an outside chance now to get a much needed limit I called an audible and shot to one last small area that I knew could have two keepers on it. The area was a nice little point that was surrounded by pads and duckweed. After a few casts with the rat a nice bass came flying out the water missing my frog all together. After a few more throw backs with the frog and a Sweet Beaver, I decided to move on, I only had a minute or two before I absolutely had to get back. A few more casts and I whacked another keeper! That made 4. Now extremely determined to catch a limit I swung back around and made a few more casts at that nice one that had blew up on my frog and wouldn't you know it, on literally my final cast it inhaled my frog and I put my fifth in the boat, a nice largemouth going about three pounds.

I raced back to barely make it in on time and weighed in at 10.78 lbs, good enough for 21st place. I generally would be disappointed with this kind of finish. I fish these events to cash checks, but I couldn't help but happy with the outcome. EVERY tournament angler will have bad days, days they will not come in with a limit. Leaving I felt this should have been one of those days, however I impressed myself by staying focused and using every available second I had to put a limit in the boat. Probably the biggest part of being a successful tournament fisherman is to develop mental toughness and today I feel I took a step in the right direction.

Congratulations to my boy Brian Brown for his outstanding first place finish and big bass honors. Since he plans on buying a house down in Kentucky in the next couple weeks I'm sure that 10K payday will come in real handy for him and his wife. Congrats Buddy!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Silverado Pro Am Bass Tour

Le Homme Dieu Chain, Alexandria, MN

Today was the second stop of the Silverado Tour held on the Le Homme Dieu Chain, in Northwestern Minnesota. After a solid sixth place finish here last year in the BASSMASTER Weekend Series event, I was more than eager to get back up there and try to do even better.

During practice I was having no problem catching fish and was able to catch them both deep and shallow. Big fish where few and far between though and I could tell right away that it wasn't going to take a giant sack to win this event. In fact, I figured everyone was catching them and it would take about a two and a half pound average to be at the top. If I could manage to put a true four pounder in the boat and a bunch of two's, I would be in great shape.

It wasn't until the day or two before the tournament when I was out practicing with my wife Bri that I found a couple areas that where holding some quality Le Homme Dieu keepers. I was getting plenty of good bites and even hooked up with a solid four pounder and Bri managed to boat a nice three pound largemouth on a Biovex Stangun Omega Spinnerbait (Bluegill). I knew if I was lucky enough to get an early boat draw, I would be in the driver seat the rest of the day. I don't want to get into to many specifics on the bite but let's just say my number one pattern fit right into my wheel house.

The unfortunate part was that my confidence quickly took a blow when I found out at registration the night before the tourney that I drew boat 49 out of 49. I was dead last to go at take off. Usually I wouldn't be so bummed about this but the way the lake was fishing, I knew that the areas I wanted to fish weren't any secret and was certain that I was going to have sloppy seconds once I finally managed to get there. Despite all this, I knew this area was holding winners and was still committed to getting there.

After take off I quickly discovered that I wasn't getting left sloppy seconds at all, no it was more like thirds or fourths. I did manage to put a few keepers in the boat, but we're talking about text book peanuts here, aka dinks, going all of 12.5 inches. With my mind starting to scramble a bit I just started running to all kinds of water, anywhere that I had gotten good bites during practice. I caught fish all day, some pretty good ones and even made plenty of culls, but in the end I still had three 13.5 inch bass in the well and knew that wouldn't be enough to get a check. I weighed in at a not so hefty 10.66 pounds, only good enough for 25th place.

I hold myself to such a high level that I couldn't help but be disappointed in the outcome, though I know I did with what I could. I'm probably fortunate to finish as high as I did. On the upside I only dropped three spots in the Angler of the Year points race and am currently sitting 19th with 2 events left. With the top 14 getting invited to compete for a brand new Ranger Boat in the Silverado Shoot Out, it's more than important that I finish strong the rest of the way.

Looking ahead I get only a day or two off and I'll be headed down to the Wisconsin/Iowa border to compete in the third stop of BASSMASTER Weekend Series going out of Prairie Du Chein, WI. Being that I've never been there before I have no idea of what to expect. I'd like to say that I'm just fishing this one for the points but the competitive side in me won't settle for much less than the win. I guess that's why I live for this, wish me luck!

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