Friday, May 28, 2010

Navionics Apps Now Available in HD for iPad

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Tides & currents, moon phase, sun/moon rise/set
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Route planning
Waypoints & markers
The largest database of marine POIs available
In-app facebook

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For more information about iPad Apps please visit their website at

Please email with any questions.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

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

Mississippi River Pool 2, St. Paul Park, MN

Pool 2 of the Mississippi River is easily becoming one of my favorite bodies of water, which is nice considering the boat ramp isn't but 15 minutes from my front door. This stretch of river is chucked full of gorgeous largemouth and smallmouth bass, not to mention I haven't had an outing out there yet this year where I didn't catch at least one nice walleye or sauger, on accident of course, I mean I do have a reputation to uphold, I don't want anyone to get it twisted.

I set aside a couple practice days for this tournament, first day I spent checking areas that produced well last year and found success right away. The second trip I spent searching for new water and anyone who understands river systems especially upper pools of the Mississippi know that you spend more time searching than fishing. Generally everything looks so good on the river, but finding the key fish holding spots can be tough mainly because it's such a challenge to navigate backwater areas. In fact I spent over an hour idling a shallow flat trying to get to a deep rocky area, after I got a mile back I got stuck on a sand bar and spent even more time pushing myself off just to idle my way back and try a different route. However once you find that sweet spot you usually have something special.

After a long day I did manage to find a couple more spots, one was a beautiful shell bed in a backwater area that held an awesome school of smallmouth and also found a new cut that was loaded with rock and laydowns that had some nice fat largemouth. The shell bed was really something special, it lays off a rock point that has current and then slack water on both sides. My first cast with a Biovex 3/8 oz. Stangun Spinnerbait produced a 17" smallie and my second cast coughed up a gorgeous 21 1/2" rogue smallmouth.

Tournament morning started great, and my first cast produced a nice 18" smallmouth. After catching a few more I headed to my shell bed and just like clockwork the Biovex Spinnerbait was suckering smallmouth after smallmouth on cast after cast. I was upgrading my limit within the first hour.

Through out the day, whenever the bite would die down I could run to another and start catching fish. I spent all 8 hours in 4 different areas, recycling each spot and every time I returned back they would be biting again. In fact the fishing was so good that I must have caught nearly 60 bass by the end of the day. The only down side was that I only caught 2 over 17" and since this is a paper tourney I knew that was going to cost me. I weighed in at 16.14 lbs. only good enough for 4th place. I really thought I had the areas that could produce a winning bag, but just never got the big bites that I needed. With the exception of two break offs, I fished perfectly and made really good decisions on the water. I may not have won the tournament but I got a trophy, two ripped apart hands from all the bass I caught! That's what it's all about.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Speed Up or Slow Down?

The title of this entry is something I as a tournament angler fight with almost every time I’m on the water. Throw fast moving reaction baits or slow it down and go with more of a methodical approach? This is easily my worst fishing demon as I prefer to fish slow and methodical, trying to cover each and every piece of the key structure or cover. I have this problem of leaving a fish behind and in my mind have thought that if I slow down, I’ll catch every catchable fish in that area.

On the other hand, there’s anglers that go with the mentality that the more casts you make, the more fish you’ll catch. Instead of picking apart a key area, they instead fish a lot of key areas and catch the active fish.

The question is which is better? The answer is really simple though and honestly both would be the right answer. I have had a lot of success finding the fish producing areas and picking them apart. In fact, I’ve fished right behind some of Minnesota’s best bass fisherman and watched them catch a fish or two tops before blowing out of there and I catch a quality limit right behind them and go on to cash a nice paycheck. On the other hand, some of the world’s best bass anglers are power fisherman, most notably Kevin Van Dam and Skeet Reese. Rarely do these two ever slow down, in fact it can be exhausting watching guys like this fish. Cast after cast, burning calorie after calorie and the results obviously speak for themselves, they are hands down two of the best bass fisherman in the world and are living a life that all bass fisherman could look up to.

Still though, even the best two bass fishermen have bad days on the water and when they do, you usually see your slower fisherman like Denny Braurer, Kevin Short or Greg Hackney on top the leader board. The fish obviously weren’t all that active on that given day and the slower presentation produced the better results.

My goal is to be in the same conversation as all the anglers mentioned above. The key to this is versatility and even though I pointed out their strong suits, each one of those anglers can do it all and that’s why they’re on top of their sport. What I’m quickly realizing is that you need to be versatile to compete but can’t abandon your strong suites. Every angler has strong points and weak points, though the best have more strong than weak. They’re always practicing new techniques and building confidence in them which is by far the best weapon an angler can have.

There is still a common denominator in either approach, to have success you have to be fishing fishable water. That is by far the best part of a fisherman’s arsenal, the ability to find good concentrations of quality fish. It doesn’t matter if you fish fast or slow, you’re not catching squat if there’s no fish there. After you’ve found these fish holding spots, than the question is, what’s the best method to catch them? I am quickly learning the answer to that question can change at any time, there is just too many factors that one needs to consider. Time of day, weather, forage, time of year, activity level of the bass are all just a small fraction of the potential variables to consider when deciding which way to go.

I made a personal goal that I was going to start forcing myself to fish faster, but to be successful at this I knew I had to change my mentality. I have a habit of fishing slow because I hate the idea that I’m leaving good fish behind. This method of thinking hinders my ability to learn to be more versatile, because it doesn’t allow me to really be open minded when I’m throwing a crankbait on a structure that I would be more comfortable throwing a football jig on. It’s the confidence factor. To combat this, I make sure to line up a half dozen or so rods with my favorite go to baits, usually bottom dwelling baits like jigs and soft plastics. I also make sure to line a half dozen or so rods with reaction baits, like spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and crankbaits. This way I’ll fish each area that I find with both techniques, through trial and error I’m learning what baits are best for what situations. Like anything, added hard work is making me a better angler, I’m building that sixth sense for when, where and why should I be throwing the baits that will produce the best.

For instance, last weekend I was fishing pool 2 of the Mississippi River, practicing for an upcoming tournament. I decided to check some areas that I had previous success on. One of these areas is a very small rock pile that held a good amount of staging smallmouth. In the past, I always approached these fish by pitching a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a pegged ¼ oz. Tru Tungsten Weight and if the bite was tough, I would really slow down and fish a shakey head straight tail worm or a dropshot.

When I pulled up on this spot, I instantly went with good old faithful and started pitching my Beaver to the rocks. I got bit after about five or so casts but didn’t hook up, kind of a picky bite. So instead I picked up my shakey head and dropshot and after about 15 minutes without another bite, discouraged I blew out of there thinking they just weren’t there. As I got about a mile away from that spot, I started getting down on myself that I didn’t do what I promised myself I would do. I never once thought to throw one of the six reaction baits that were littered on the deck of my boat. Instead I let my stubbornness get in the way and went with my “trained” mentality that if fish where there, I would have got bit because I was sticking the bait in their face.

Instead of continuing on I turned the Ranger around and ran all the way back to that rock spot with a whole new open minded attitude. I first picked up a jerkbait and quickly boated two nice smallmouth, then after having to break off the bait because it got hung in the rocks, I picked up a spinnerbait and started catching smallmouth after smallmouth, on cast after cast. Not only was the area full of big smallmouth but I was also catching quality three pound largemouth right with them. I’m not exaggerating when I say this was some of the best fishing I have ever experienced, these bass where all but ripping my rod from my hands! All of a sudden I had a new, more confident attitude. Most important, I learned something that is very valuable. It was an overcast, low pressure day and there was also a strong wind blowing onto these rocks. Another thing I noticed was the abundance of shad that where around these rocks, I knew this because every cast I retrieved with the spinnerbait would cause the shad to jump out of the water, something I didn’t see when I was fishing slow with the Beaver and dropshot. The bass in this area were very active and they were gorging themselves on the shad, they were looking up not down.

Another way to force yourself to be more versatile is to fish with people that excel in other fishing styles than you. They most likely look at water in a different way than you, not any better, just different and you can learn an immense amount of knowledge in a rather short amount of time. You’ll see how they look at an area compared to how you would look at that same spot. Usually you’ll both learn something. Trust me, there’s no better way to open your mind than by getting your hind end handed to you by the guy your fishing with. If they’re throwing a lipless crankbait and you’re slow pulling a texas rigged worm and he’s out catching you 10 to 1, you’ll be throwing a lipless crank in no time. Again, a humbling confidence builder, but it goes both ways, he’ll learn something when you’re whooping him up with the worm.

There’s a time and a place for every lure in your tackle box, the best build a sixth sense for knowing which one will produce in that particular situation. Next time you’re out fishing don’t be afraid to experiment, you just might produce some new found magic.

** This is my most recent article from the Star Tribune's Outdoor Page, Minnesota's largest newspaper. Please check out this from time to time as I try to post different material as I have here at Josh Douglas Fishing. Click here to view my Star Tribune page.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dick Hiley St. Jude Tournament

Mississippi River Pools 4 & 5, Wabasha, MN

This past weekend marks the second time I competed in the annual St. Jude Bass Tournament held on the Mississippi River in Wabasha, MN. An annual fundraiser tournament that in my opinion, is one of the most prestigious tournaments in Minnesota, mainly because it's for a great cause, but also because a lot of Minnesota and Wisconsin's best come out to compete.

Two years ago I left this event with my tail between my legs. If in any given tournament I don't finish as well as I would like to, I at least take some satisfaction in that I learned something that will make me a better angler and help me to cash more checks down the road. The first time I competed in the St. Jude I left not learning a thing except I knew nothing about the river this time of year and not only did I weigh only a few fish in both days of competition, other anglers whacked them! I was so humbled, I didn't know what to do. In fact, the next year when it was time to sign up again, I was still licking my wounds that instead I passed and headed to Iowa for the Okoboji Open. I wanted nothing to do with Ole' Miss that time of year, I was clueless.

This year was different, I had taken 2nd last year in the Okoboji Open my very first time fishing the lake and felt that I would best challenge myself by heading back to the river. I'm a competitor and I want to always be fishing against the best, it's what will make me better. After fishing the entire Bassmaster Weekend Series last year on the river, I felt I had a better grip on the water and when a good buddy of mine Connor Summers needed a partner, I was all in.

Practice was slow though I was covering water. Unlike two years ago, I was putting my self in better areas and was able to catch limits each day. I knew I wasn't on winners but was getting closer. There's just so much water to cover and understanding the current plays so much this time of year. Current plays a role all year on the river but it's much easier for me to pattern them in the summer when they're active and have food on their mind. This time of year is all based around the spawn and the bass are more worried about putting themselves around spawning areas and this is where my lack of experience really turns to a disadvantage.

Connor and I felt we had put together a pretty solid game plan and was pretty confident that if we could just get a couple big bites each day we would have a real good shot at cashing a check. We knew the big ones where on the move and hoped they would be moving right to us.

Of course we drew last, boat 70 and at take off decided to run down river to a spot where in practice I was able to catch a nice 4 pound smallie. I was only able to boat a small 14 incher and we decided to run to one of Connor's proven spots to try our luck on some largemouth. Unfortunately, we arrived and our areas where being worked over by a few other boats, with really no option we decided to fish some of the stuff that had already been worked. I was able to quickly boat a 16" largemouth on a Super K Swim Jig, but after going another hour or so without a bite we got out of there.

Fishing continued to stay slow and with only a couple hours left to go, Connor catches a 15" largemouth on a spinnerbait on a weed flat, but also dropped a nice 3 pounder. With only 3 in the box and an hour or so to go, we knew something had to happen and decided to run out of there and fish a cut that was loaded with wood. It was popping back there and even though Connor and I both dropped a couple 3 pounders, we still where able to catch a quick limit. We caught all our fish off wood on spinnerbaits, I was throwing a Biovex 3/8 oz. Stangun Spinnerbait (Baby Bass).

After a tough day fishing we still managed to put 6 in the box! We knew we weren't in the top 10 but knew we had a chance for tomorrow. In a two day tournament you can't win it on day one but you can surely loose it. At this point, we where just happy to be in contention. We weighed in our 6 for 13.39 pounds.

Day two, we started in the same cut and the fishing was just as good, though we weren't finding the quality we needed. Again I was throwing a Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait but the better keepers came off a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a pegged 1/4 oz. Tru Tungsten sinker, largely because the fish weren't as active as they where the day before where the spinnerbait banged off the wood would initiate a strike every time.

We ran a few spots on pool 4, knowing we needed a couple big kickers. I did spook a nice smallmouth off a bed, but after waiting for 20 minutes, she never came back. We ended up rounding out our limit in the same cut and just never got our big bites, unlike yesterday when we dropped 3 good ones that could have helped huge and gotten us into the money. We weighed day two at 12.82 pounds and finished in a disappointing 36th place. Not what I had in mind, but WAY better than the last time I fished the Jude. I can happily say that progress is being made and I can't wait for this event again next year.

I want to congratulate Aaron LaRocque and Joe Hall for there outstanding first place finish, these guys spend a lot of time down on the river and really deserve the win. Also to Matt Larson, the defending champ and his partner Pat Schlapper and Jim Johnson and Eric Ronningen as these guys rounded out the top three! Not only did they whack them but combined they raised over 8 grand for the St. Jude Children's Hospital! Hats off gentleman!

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