Friday, October 29, 2010

Finessing Autumn Smallies

As the brisk autumn air continues to bring cooler temps, here in the north country, we're forced to get things ready and prepare for yet another frigid Minnesota winter. Luckily for guys like me, the smallmouth in the area are forced to follow suit. To prepare for a long winter the bass are loading up in big schools and eating like piranhas, trying to fatten up as much as possible.

My good friend Rich Lindgren and I were excited to be able to get together and set some hooks as well as capture some good video footage for our respected filming ventures. I figured we would have a good day, but being we were getting out on the coldest morning of the year thus far, I didn't expect it to be as good as it really was.

I awoke to temps in the mid 20's and after busting out a stocking cap and Under Armour, as well as filling the Thermos with some much needed coffee, Rich and I were on our way.

We were fishing a small feeder river, north of the Twin Cities. Right after we launched we instantly noticed how much current we had to deal with. This past week we had lots of rain as cold fronts started pushing into the area and as a result the water was high, a bit dirty and was kicking substantially more than one would expect for this time of year. Also the water had dropped a good 15 degrees from just a few days ago and was now hovering in the low 40's. When you start thinking of all that was working against us it was surprising that neither one of us were overly worried. The reason for this is simple, no matter the current conditions, these bass know that their living situations are only about to worsen and if they want to stay healthy through the winter than they need to be sure to get while the getting is good.

Rich and I start by throwing some reaction style baits and working a shoreline not far from the ramp. I started out throwing a Rapala DT-Flat 3 and a Biovex Stay 80 Jerkbait. Rich was going in between a Storm Wiggle Wart and Ima Flit Jerkbait. It didn't take much time for myself to come to the realization that I needed to finesse it up and right away I found myself switching up to spinning rods equipped with 8 lb. Seaguar Fluorocarbon. Just a few casts and I was quickly rewarded with two solid smallies, both caught on a Jackall Flick Shake Worm with a 1/8 oz. Zappu Inchi Jig Head.

Rich had also made the change the same time I did and was also setting hooks. There was no denying that these fish were a bit thrown off but like I said, they still needed to eat. It just took a little extra coaxing to trigger some bites and probably even more importantly the bait needed to be on the bottom. Never do I recall them grabbing the bait while the bait was falling or even while the bait was moving, to my recollection every fish took the bait while I was deadsticking it. These fish were lethargic enough that they all still had mud on their bellies from tucking down in the muck.

All day we continued to catch fish while employing finesse bottom bouncing baits and not only did we catch quantity, but even better we had nothing but quality. It seemed like every smallmouth was around or well over 3 pounds, we really only caught a few smaller ones. All our good fish came on a mix of 3 baits, the Flick Shake Worm, a 3" tube and Reaction Innovations Smallie Beaver on a Picasso Shakedown Jig.

In the end it was a great day, we caught lots of good fish and had a great time doing it. Fall is always my favorite time of year and days like this that remind me why. Keep checking in for our video from the day, lots of action and some good points to help you on your next outing.

While winter insists on arriving you'll know where you can find me living in denial one cast at a time.

See you on the water!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Favorite Bass Fishing Magazines and Television Shows

After a much needed vacation back down to where Bri and I used to call home, Florida, we're finally back home here in Minnesota. During travel I found myself with some added down time and found the best way to deal was to read one of my favorite bass fishing magazines. This got me thinking, I figured I should write a blog on not only my favorite fishing magazines but also on my favorite bass fishing shows. I'm not sure about you but one thing I know is that I have a very understanding wife, not only is our coffee table littered with all sorts of different bass magazines but our DVR is loaded with bass fishing shows.

I've watched fishing shows all of my life and would venture to say that I watched more fishing shows and read more fishing magazines as a child than even the most trendy bass fisherman at the time. Call me a nerd but my Mom still has my collection of old In Fisherman magazines that not only did I collect but that I also wrapped in plastic sleeves and organized by date. I once skipped out on a school dance to watch the Bassmaster Classic on whatever country channel that was at the time.

I didn't have a boat growing up and didn't have the luxury of having someone to take me fishing every chance I had. I came from a sport family, hockey year round and golf, football, even baseball. In fact, it was only fishing when it was convenient. Don't get me wrong, I definitely had some very key people that through my young days were very influential in my developing a obsession for fishing. I'm just saying that I didn't have any one person that was obsessed or even close to as passionate as I was. The point I'm getting at is I used these different publications to learn. In fact, leading up to my very first BASS federation tournament with the Gopher Bassmasters just 3 1/2 years ago, I was 100% taught how to bass fish from magazines and television shows. The kicker, I went on to take second place in that tournament and eventually finishing in 3rd overall in the Angler of the Year points in probably the most skilled bass club in Minnesota.

Now since then then, there has been a lot of key people that have taken me under their wing if you will and helped excel these talents and teach me new techniques. Though I can honestly say that my studying was one of the best ways of learning and still is. I don't just watch a fishing show, I study it. I rewind a fishing show more than anyone could imagine and can easily turn a half hour show into a two hour ordeal. Trust me, it drives Bri crazy. I don't always want to hear what the host is plugging, I want to see what the host is doing. In fact I learned how to throw a texas rigged worm all by watching Hank Parker. The funny thing is he wasn't actually teaching anyone that, but he was using one and I watched his every move. I have no idea who is guest was or what the product was they were plugging that day but he was throwing a Berkley 10" worm and I was watching his every move, how far his casts were, how he twitched his rod and reeled in the slack, how he set the hook. In fact by the end of the show I could see when he got bit before he ever set the hook. Talk about gaining confidence, the next day I headed to a little lake and put an absolute whacking on them. Thanks Hank!

Now that was a while back and since then I've obviously excelled much more and am way more of a well rounded tournament angler but still I've only been tournament angling for three years. I've never fished as a non boater and am 100% self taught, I've made a name for myself in a very short time and cashed my fair share of checks and learned all this from watching fishing shows and reading any publication I could get my hands on. In that amount of time I have developed my favorites if you will and have made a top 5 for each. Keep in mind that a lot of these will help even the savviest of anglers but anglers new to the sport should take my advice and read and watch anything and everything, you can't possibly learn enough. Also I have a list of each that I really don't like or that I think have overly sold out. I decided not to post these as I'd rather not hate and instead appreciate.

First off I'll start with magazines and give a quick explanation for these.

1. BASS ANGLER Magazine: This publication is actually new to me and when I received my first copy I couldn't believe the content. There is so much awesome info packed between these pages that I can easily say this is my favorite magazine and I can't wait for the next issue. I don't care how much you know you'll learn something and the best part is how easily you'll learn it. They use pictures and diagrams to demonstrate what their talking about. Even better they haven't sold out to all the sponsors. You hear what's really going on from guys that are just like us. I can easily say, if you don't subscribe to this magazine your missing the boat!

2. BASSWEST USA: This magazine is awesome. The first thing you'll notice is the pictures, some of which are damn near breathtaking. In these pages you'll learn a lot about west coast techniques and the influences that other countries like Japan are bringing to the table. New lures and trendy techniques that are helping anglers cash big checks all over the country. This is another must for every serious bass fisherman.

3. BASSMASTER Magazine: This one gets grandfathered in no matter what. If your a bass fisherman and don't subscribe to BASS than your really not a bass fisherman. This magazine has obviously sold out to sponsors but there's still a very good reason to read it month in and month out. BASS is largely responsible for the future of our sport and supporting them is key in our growth. Also I'll say that BASSMASTER which covers the Elite Series hosts the best bass fisherman in the world and to be able to read how and why they caught their fish is a lesson worth reading. When guys like KVD and Skeet Reese talk the rest of the bass fishing world should listen.

4. BASSIN' Magazine: When it comes to keeping up with new lures on the market, this is where I usually hear about them first. Again, a great magazine that's been around for a while and usually has some awesome info.

5. FLW Magazine: Last but surely not least. FLW has some of the best writers and some of the trendiest anglers on their tour. Young anglers using new techniques and these anglers understand how to be marketable largely because they have to with so much competition. Sure the magazine has sold to sponsor dollars and you get a lot of certain tackle and boat manufactures shoved down your throat, but if you read in between the lines you'll take away a lot of quality info.

Here's is my list of favorite television shows.

1. Classic Patterns: I'm obsessed with these programs. The amount of knowledge that is given to you is awesome. Straight from the cats mouth you'll learn a new technique or better yet how to read water. I've learned more from this show than any other.

2. Bassmaster Elite Series: I can't wait for these to be aired but like I said watching them is a process. I break it down like you wouldn't believe. If an angler is simply fishing a bridge I look for the subtle things like which way is the current flowing compared to which way he's casting? What lure style is he working? What on the bridge is he targeting? I can even tell how deep he's fishing by counting down his lure after a cast before he starts his retrieve. If he's throwing a crankbait I pay attention to the retrieve. Is it stop and go? Is he ripping the bait? Burning it? All these things play a pivotal role for me and I assure you I'll find myself looking at a very similar bridge one day and will have a better idea how to attck it.

3. FLW Tour: For literally all the same reasons as above. If your going to learn, you might as well learn from the best.

4. Ultimate Match Fishing: You can probably see a trend here. In my eyes you get the real deal when guys are casting for big paydays. No editing, just the real deal. Joe Thomas does such a great job of putting the worlds best bass fisherman in straight up one on one mode. Watching Kelly Jordan whack giants on a Kentucky Lake ledge with a 1 ounce spoon was life changing and that's just one example.

5. World's Greatest Fishing Show: Which I believe now has gone through a recent name change. This show is just awesome, I don't usually learn too many techniques but I learn something even more important, to just plain old have fun with it. When your as passionate as I am in the sport it's way to easy to get all wrapped up in it and Mark Zona does an incredible job of making you forget all that and just have a good frickin' time. The dude may simply be one of the funniest people in the world and does a great job showing you the real side of these professional anglers.

I hope you found this list intriguing enough and hope if nothing else it helps some of you look into these shows and magazines a little further. Now though I gotta roll, it's Saturday morning which means there's all sorts of bass fishing shows on as we speak, class is now in session!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Greetings from the Sunshine State, the Bass Capital of the World!

As I write this blog update, I'm currently sitting in a hotel room on the Macdill Airforce Base, in Tampa, FL. Bri and I are attending a good friends wedding down here and this past week has been a blast. Being that both of us used to live in the Tampa/St. Pete area a few years back we've been fortunate to be able to take some time and get around our old haunts and see old friends.

Our little get away started in Miami last weekend where we pretty much just relaxed and enjoyed the beach and some good food. On our way north towards Tampa we made a pit stop in the everglades were Bri and I got to ride on a air boat and check out the many alligators that inhibit the area. All I know is it was awesome and sometimes I wish I had a air boat to get around the river instead of a 20 foot Ranger.

We also made it a point to swing through Clewiston and more importantly, Lake Okeechobee. You probably already guessed it but I totally stocked up on some much needed, hard to find tackle at Roland Martin's Marina.

From there we made it to Clearwater Beach, were we stayed in a hotel right on the water. Everything was nice and relaxing until I saw people catching fish in the tide. Saltwater fishing? Surely there's no bass in the Gulf, but hey I'm game and the next thing you know Bri and I find ourselves at a local tackle shop purchasing a new rod and reel and everything needed to catch some inter coastal fish.

Thus far, it turned into one of the best times on our whole trip for the both of us! We loaded up on some live shrimp and lucky for us the tide was just starting to come in and the fishing was pretty good. We managed to catch some speckled sea trout and lady fish. Nothing gigantic but fun none the less. That day we also saw many sting rays, had tarpon blowing up all around us and even got up close and personal with a manatee. Not to mention our hunt for conch and crabs!

Now that we're on the base and everyone's getting ready for the big wedding, I find myself with not much to do. Bri's off tonight at the bachelorette party, which gives me time to update my blog and the next couple days being that she is in the wedding party and will be busy, I have plans to go bass fishing! Since I have control of the rental car I'll be pond hopping looking for 10 pounders, yes I said it and I mean it, 10 pounders! In fact, the groom gave me directions to a small golf course pond were his brother recently caught and released a 13 pound giant! Game on!!!

One thing I knew from my time living down here was that if a puddle has water in it, it also has a bass in it. Don't ask me how they got there cause I have no idea and from everyone I've come across either do the locals, but they are and that's all that matters. I feel a little naked in that I don't have my regular arsenal of bass whacking equipment but I got myself a St. Croix Spinning rod, some 15 lb. Power Pro, a pack of 5/0 Gamakatsu SuperLine Hooks, some 5/16 oz. Tru Tungsten Worm Weights and a pack of 10" Ribbon Tail Worms as well as a pack of 5" Senko's. I never met a bass anywhere that won't eat those! Wish me luck!

As soon as I get back home I plan to write a recap of the 2010 bass season as well as some of my tentative plans for 2011. Until then it's back to my much needed vacation after a long, hard battled tournament season.

Blog Archive