Saturday, July 24, 2010

Silverado Pro Tour

Lake Minnewaska, Starbuck, MN

I have been thinking about this event for a year now. Almost exactly a year ago on these exact waters, I had my worst bass fishing tournament of my life, nothing went good, seriously nothing. This lake really made me mad, I couldn't find a pattern at all and I couldn't catch fish no matter what or where I attempted to do it. The result was to be expected, my worst placing ever and I completely knocked myself out of the Angler of the Year standings, blowing my chances at qualifying for the TOC.

Now you can see why this upcoming tournament weighed so heavily on my mind, this lake really intimidated me. Sure I was determined to get some revenge, but when you spend days on the lake with nothing to show, it's sets a bit of anxiety up for my return trip.

To offset some of this, I managed to put together a lot of practice time to help me better understand how this lake works. Wouldn't you know it after my first weekend back I had one of my best outings of the year. I found two spots where in a matter of 10 casts, I caught 5 largemouth weighing over 23 pounds. If that's not a confidence builder than I don't know what is. The problem was the tourney was still a few weeks away. Will they stay there? That was the real question and one I wasn't about to bank on.

**Bri and I camping at Hobo Park on the shores of Lake Minnewaska while practicing for the Silverado.

Lake Minnewaska, known as a good largemouth lake also has an awesome population of good sized smallmouth bass. Last year I had a heck of a time trying to find them and on game day managed to drop three real nice ones. This practice I spent my share of time looking for these elusive ghosts and it didn't take long to get tangled with a good one. Throughout the remainder of practice I managed to find a half dozen or so spots that were holding good sized smallies, but my one concern was that I couldn't catch more than one, I wasn't finding schools but instead single rogues that frequent these areas to feed. So every time I'd check these spots it was hit or miss.

Going into tournament day, I was pretty pumped. I had some areas that were holding really nice largemouth as well as smallies. When I got to registration I found out I drew boat 6 and really got excited. My original plan was to start on my two big largemouth spots, but with that early of a boat draw I knew I could get to one of the few "community" smallie spots and hopefully put a couple big smallies in the box right away. I was confident that no one was on my largies and thought it would be beneficial to roll the dice.

I even checked my starting spot right away in the morning the last day of practice and couldn't keep the smallmouth off, I pulled on fish after fish and it took a lot to finally get them to spit the bait. I was amped and ready to go! I knew going to bed that night that I had given myself a chance to win this one, a far cry from where I was here a year ago.

Right away tournament morning I raced to my first spot. Nothing. You gotta be kidding me? They were just here! After about 45 minutes I raced to another smallie spot and again, nothing. I probably prefer to fish smallies all in all, but I don't know why? There's a reason they call them ghost fish, they're known to just disappear.

After burning up a good two hours with nothing to show for it, I finally raced to my good largemouth. Maybe the smallies are being fussy, but I'll get the largies going. Well I did just that, only I left these two spots with a limit of 12 inch fish. Not what I had in mind, but it's a limit, we're upgrading from here.

With the temp starting to climb up I decided to go get at those smallies again. This time I was met with a bunch of short strikes and saw a real nice four pound fish follow my bait to the boat. I did manage to land one 14" and another 16" smallie.

I knew of a few weedlines that were holding some quality largemouth and decided it was time to head there. It didn't take to long to upgrade our limit to all 14" fish and with only 45 minutes to go I decided to finish out the day on one of my largemouth spots where I had previous success. The bite was on and I made a few small culls and with only 20 minutes to go was caught between staying here or trying for that big smallie that followed all the way to the boat. Just then I bang a nice 3.6 pound largemouth and decided to stay.

Looking back now, I wish I would have left right then because one more quality fish and I'd of been way up in the money. Instead I weighed in with a 6 fish limit weighing 12.72 pounds and with a dead fish penalty ended with 12.47 pounds, good enough for 20th place.

My emotions after this one were a bit conflicted. On a personal level I was happy, I finished way better than I had done last year, saved face and moved up in the points. On the other hand, the competitor in me was more than disappointed. I had worked my butt off in practice, found good fish and wanted the win. I don't fish these tournaments to place mediocre, I fish them cause I want to win them. That's what it's all about.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tournament Update - Denny's Super 30 TOY Race

2010 Super 30 Minnetonka

Team of the Year Standings

Team of the Year - 2010 1-Jun 21-Jun 12-Jul Total
1 Brad Cline & Jason Berg 49 48 43 140
2 Ted & Dean Capra 47 38 50 135
3 Cody Zdrazil & Dusty Mahn 46 40 45 131
4 Steve Hauge & Corey Guttenfelder 41 33 48 122
5 Matt Pretzel & Craig Walters 38 39 41 118
6 Brad Leuthner & Jeff Meuwissen 42 28 42 112
7 Rod & Rustin Robinson 33 43 32 108
8 Eric & Greg Schultz 15 44 49 108
9 Josh Douglas & Ryan Brant 37 32 38 107
10 Chuck & John Hengel 18 42 47 107
11 Shane Raveling & Joe Bartusek 50 34 22 106
12 Todd Doege & Bob Hennen 29 41 35 105
13 Mike Vinci & Paul Neumann 17 46 40 103
14 Seth Feider & John Figi 16 49 37 102
Jason Holmer & Jason Dudek 39 25 33 97
Andy Young & Larry Wittig 44 37 15 96
Todd Brezinski & Joe Ecklund 23 45 28 96
Joe & Guy Feldmann 10 47 39 96
Chad Kastenbauer & DaveSicheneder 24 26 44 94
Randy LaTourelle & Corey Weber 10 50 30 90
Corey Larson & Mark Persson 31 24 34 89
Andy Hribar & Randy Hayes 48 30 10 88
Jacob Larson & Toby Ferriel 30 10 46 86
Steve Lee & Ron Feyo 43 14 20 77
Chuck McGannon & Jeremy Bester 20 36 21 77
Mike Carter & Pat Wenning 34 10 29 73
Noah Schultz & Che Johnson 28 19 23 70
John Vig Jr & John Walsh 32 27 10 69
Bruce Smith & Paul Sladek 35 21 13 69
Mike Brill & Andy Peterson 14 20 31 65
Lonnie Murphy & John Nelson 25 29 10 64
Torrie Oswald & Bob Biehler 21 31 10 62
Dalon Schmidt & Brad Lutz 40 10 11 61
Will Pappa & Gary Flicek 36 11 12 59
Pat Bartley & Chris Zakashefski 27 15 17 59
Dennis & Austin Felix 12 22 25 59
Denny Nelson & Bob Younghans 10 23 26 59
Steve Loraus & Matt Burch 13 10 36 59
Chris Luedtke & Tadd Johnson 45 10 x 55
Jeff Gilmer & Randy Wilcox 10 10 27 47
Jay Green & Steph Peterson 19 13 14 46
Gordon Covyeow & Darrell Preston 10 16 19 45
Colby & Brady Bolin 11 17 16 44
Steve Rowe & Tom Zrust 10 10 24 44
John Nugent & Al McColl 22 10 10 42
Steve Karsseboom & Steve Higgins 10 18 10 38
Peter Madonna & Pat Ripley 10 12 10 32
Tim Dedeker & Alan Melby 10 10 10 30
Tom Conboy & Jim Oster 10 10 10 30

So as you can see we're sitting in good position for qualifying for the post season "Shoot Out". We're in a much better place than we were at this point last season and we managed to qualify last year and go on to claim 3rd in the Shoot Out. The plan is to stay the course and try to continue to move up the rankings by cashing a couple checks going out! Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tackle Update: G Loomis Introduces the NRX!

G Loomis, what's there to say? They've built a much deserving title as the best rod makers on the market. They set the bar higher and higher with every new development they create. It's truly legendary, in fact since I was a little kid I used to dream about the day I'd own my own Loomis. I can remember in my very early 20's when I moved to Florida I started to really get back into bass fishing and I'd go to the local tackle stores and just hold them. I definitely wasn't in the position financially to be able to actually obtain one, but there was no denying my desire. That desire still runs through me to this very day, six years later and fishing for a money and still G Loomis is the cream of the crop in my eye. They're who I trust to do work on the water. I don't have a business relation, in fact I've pushed away the opportunity to fish others manufacturers rods for free. Sounds crazy but I guess it's safe to say that admiration I had when I was just a kid still runs through me today.

If you look in my rod locker right now you'd see close to 20 rods mostly made up of their IMX and GLX series, with a few specialty rods thrown in like their Crankbait and Spinnerbait Series. Not to mention my new rod that's on order, the Swimbait Series, which shouldn't come as a surprise given my enthusiasm in my last blog entry.

There's been a lot of changes recently in the fishing rod market. New companies are emerging from the woodwork all offering high end rods with newer technology and non traditional components still marked around that same price point. G Loomis on the other hand has been sitting back, quietly developing and taking their time perfecting. The outcome is a much astonishing 5 category awards at the 2010 ICAST Show, including the coveted "Best of Show" award for their newest introduction to the bass fishing world, the NRX Series. Move over GLX, a new king has come to claim the throne.

The NRX which is 15 percent lighter, 20 percent stronger and more sensitive than the GLX also offers a few new features such as split cork handles and what I find most intriguing is the use of two different kinds of eyelets. The bottom of the rod makes use of Fugi titanium framed SIC guides, while the top of the rod incorporates the Recoil ion coated nickel - titanium guides, now introduced as the 'Hybrid Guide System'.

Another key feature that I love is the new 'skeletonized' reel seat, where your fingers will never leave the actual rod blank.

Though the G Loomis GLX in my opinion was still the best rod built on the market, even with all sorts of rod building companies taking their jabs at it, it's really only fitting that's it's maker is the one to take it's title.

Again understand, I don't have any kind of business relationship with G Loomis or Shimano, these are just the companies I choose to use. I take fishing very very seriously and these are the brands that give me my added confidence. That's something any other rod manufacturer can't give me and that's why G Loomis gets the edge. Like I said in the beginning, they're simply legendary.

Check in with Capra's Outdoors as I hear they'll be one of the first to receive the first shipments.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Big Bait Posse Minnesota Style

I love to fish and I also enjoy to write, it's interesting because fishing is really all I like to write about. I guess I can assume that fishing inspires me to the point where I want to write it down for both people to enjoy and me to relive later. Every now and then I come across something while fishing that inspires me above and beyond, so much that I won't need to relive it someday because truthfully I'll never forget it. In fact, I don't think I can get enough of it.

Over the past few days I've been out of town practicing for an upcoming tournament. Usually I would just pitch a tent and set up camp or simply sleep in my truck while preparing for upcoming events but this time I got the opportunity to stay with some friends at a cabin. The cabin was a bit of a drive but well worth it for the chance to get in the boat with my buddy Dave Cindrich for his much talked about evening swimbait bite, where catching 4's and 5's was supposedly the regular.

I can say that I was skeptical to say the least, but there's no way I was about to let my ignorance miss out on an opportunity like this. I was more than eager to take the nightly trip.

Lakes in California and Texas are known for huge bass that annihilate huge swimbaits, but we're talking about ten to twenty pound Florida strain largemouth not our northern strain bass that at best are chunking out between four and seven pounds.

**Above Pictures: 6" Weedless Huddleston (top) and the Tru Tungsten Tru Life Swimbait (bottom). Both these baits are so big, I know panfish fisherman that would fillet them!

When Cindrich handed me a long rod with a 6 inch Weedless Huddleston tied onto 20 pound Vicious fluorocarbon, I can easily say that my confidence in my first few casts were less than none. I mean I felt like I was chucking a shoe around and barely reeling it back to the boat. Just when you think your reeling too slow, take it down another notch from there, barely turning the reel just making the baits tail quiver as you pull it through the clumps of vegetation. It wasn't until about my fifth or sixth cast when all of a sudden I felt that unmistakable "tick" in my line, my rod loaded up just for a second and gone. What the? "You gotta be kidding", I said to myself, "There's no way that was a bass, had to been a big pike or something". Just as I was starting to believe that, Cindrich hauls off and sets the hook and all hell breaks loose, a minute later and he's landed a real chunky largemouth that absolutely inhaled his swimbait like it was a fricken Dorito.

I was like a little kid again, you know that feeling when you were fishing with your Dad or Grandpa not catching anything and all of a sudden someone in the boat catches one. You can't cast quick enough! That was exactly how I was. I wanted in on that action.

We made another pass and as my bait hit the water on the bank, I made maybe three turns on the reel handle and there it is, this time I follow Dave's advice and wait until I feel the rod load up and slam that fish! I cannot even begin to express how hard of a fight a bass gives you when they attack a big bait like that. It isn't like a jig or spinnerbait, they give it everything they have when they hit a bait that is darn near big enough to be a keeper itself. After landing that pig, I had the shakes like I've never had before. That's an adrenaline rush Josh Douglas style! I couldn't put the rod down the rest of the night and by dark I had totaled three nice largemouth and Dave the same.

That night it was easy to sleep with vision of 5 pounders ripping the rod from my hands. The problem was getting it out of my head the next day while I was practicing for a very important upcoming tournament. All I wanted to do was throw a swimbait. I had heard from many of other fisherman who say that once you get that bite it can change your mentality in a quick hurry, it can turn you into a swimbait addict.

I guess it's a bad sign when as soon as evening approaches I'm loading up my boat and speeding all the way to jump in and get in on the bite for a second night in a row. If that isn't signs of a true fishing junkie I don't know what is.

Night two started slow, real slow, instead of eating the swimbait they would just bump it. It was clear that their presence was there but they weren't in the mood to eat. Finally I started to rationalize with myself and started flipping around a Berkley Chigger Craw and a jig and thought for sure I could catch them with that. I mean come on a six inch swimbait is not going to outproduce a 1/2 ounce jig, not here in Minnesota. If they'll hit a swimbait then they definitely would of eaten a jig or a senko, right? That is exactly what my mentality was, key word, was. In fact there is times that all they may hit is a swimbait. These baits like the Weedless Huddleston or the Tru Tungsten Tru Life Swimbait are so realistic and impart the perfect action that even trophy fish can't tell the difference and they make them big so that they're more appealing to bigger bass. They waste less energy by eating big instead of exerting all their energy chasing around bite sized meals.

The proof in this came after we still couldn't get those fish to bite jigs and plastics we reverted back to the Hud. WHAM! Cindrich boats another beast and shortly I followed suit with another good one. Unbelievably awesome! Rest assured I'll be ordering a swimbait setup in no time.

I hope this will urge other bass fanatics to get out there and give this technique it's fair shake. Trust me it only takes one fish to change not only your attitude but your life as well! There's really nothing like it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tackle Update: Introducing Capra's Outdoors Online

I am more than excited to announce that Minnesota's leading tackle provider, Capra's Outdoors, has jumped into the online tackle industry. Not just tackle but all your fishing and boating needs as well as hunting and archery.

Capra's Outdoors, "Your Hunting and Fishing Headquarters" has been providing Minnesota with top of the line outdoor gear for years, a family run business that is not only into the retail side of the outdoors but also has a reputation both on the water and in the field. This is what separates them from the competition. They truly know what it is we're looking for and stay on top of the growing industry, providing us with the best equipment at the best prices.

Now that the online store is up and running, you can already start to order and they are adding new stuff everyday. If you don't see something you need drop them an email or give them a call, if they can get it, you can get it.

Capra's Outdoors,, toll free 1-800-780-4557, local 763-780-4557.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Back to the Basics

With over a month between tournaments I find myself with some time to really sit back and enjoy some summer fishing as well as take the time to learn some new tricks. I haven't had this much time between tournaments before and have to say it's refreshing. Usually between June and July it's go, go, go, and it's hard to find the time to learn new tactics and get out and do some fun fishing. Usually I have to adapt and learn on the fly but lately I've been taking the time to get out and find new water and learn new ways to up my arsenal.

I've also been working on the Ranger. A few days ago while up at Lake Minnewaska, the stage for the next Silverado Tournament, my bilge pump went out, perfect timing, I have time to get a new one in. I also been rerigging a few things on the boat making it more efficient on the water. One is moving my Lowrance GPS puck from the rear of the boat to the front. I was having all sorts of small issues while fishing that were caused by my puck being in the back. It was much harder to find my tracking when my location is 20 feet behind my actual location. Now I can tell a huge difference and my tracking is much much better. Now I'm going to be moving my Humminbird GPS puck to the rear, since I mainly only use the "Bird" for Side Imaging I want the puck to be as close to the transducer as possible.

I've also been going through and organizing my tackle, something that gets completely disorganized while on the road tournament fishing. This is also nice because not only is everything clean and organized but I can easily tell what is low and make sure I get in an order with Dean at Capra Outdoors. There's nothing worse than good fish biting on a certain bait and I'm all out or only have a couple in the boat.

** Me with a Minnewaska 8 lb. walleye, not what I was looking for, thought it was going to be a big ole bass.

Back to Lake Minnewaska, I've been setting aside a lot of time to getting out there and putting in some hard work. I find myself on the outside looking in after the first Silverado stop back in June and with the next stop in a few weeks at Minnewaska, I have a big obstacle to conquer. Last year I did horrible on Minnewaska and this year I'm going with the practice makes perfect mind set, in other words I want to go from geek to sheik or better yet from zero to hero.

I was able to get out there Thursday and Friday and put in some hard work and on the drive home had a much better idea and overall attitude of the lake. After a slow start on Thursday the winds finally let down for a while late in the afternoon and I was able to find some pretty good fish and possibly even establish a pretty defined pattern. Honestly this far out from the tournament that could mean nothing but no matter what it gave me a very confident attitude and I know when I'm confident I'm a tough fisherman to beat. So much of competitive fishing comes down to attitude, you gotta believe and by putting in my time I'll believe that I did everything I could to prepare. That's really all I can ask for.

This week I'll be heading out to Minnewaska again for a couple days and then getting back to fish Minnetonka for the weekend. We got a Denny's Super 30 tourney out there the following Monday and it's Ryan and Corey turn at bat. Hopefully with all us three out there putting in a tough practice we'll be on good fish and be able to keep our top 12 seating in the team of the year race.

Happy Independence Day! Please have a fun and safe holiday!!!

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