Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflecting Back on 2010

Another year flies by just like that. Unbelievable how quickly time can pass by. It seems like just yesterday I was setting goals for 2010 and now it's only hours away from being 2011. I had a very busy 2010 and I guess that's why it seems as time just flew past. What's the saying? Time flies when your having fun?

Anyway, looking back at this past year I have some mixed reviews of myself and my fishing. Overall I feel like this was my toughest year to date. I just completed my third year of competitive fishing and this year was my worst out of the three as the first two were highly successful. I find this odd as I'm a thousand times better fisherman than I was three years ago and am even more driven. Even more so, I'm a lot better angler now than I was at the start of this season yet it didn't show at the scales.

When I first started tournament bass fishing I wasn't very versatile. I was a shallow water jig fisherman and that year that's what I did, I fished shallow and I took advantage of every good fish that bit my jig and tournament after tournament I collected a nice paycheck. Then the following year I managed to win a real big one down on the Mississippi River. Again not really getting away from what got me there. It wasn't until the very next tournament, the Silverado on Green Lake, in Spicer, MN. I found a deep bite and was catching rogue smallmouth on every cast. I couldn't sleep that night, never in my life had I found those true sweet spots that people talk of. I tossed and turned all night as I truly thought I was going back to back major wins.

That tournament day held up to the hype too. Tt was the best single day of fishing I had ever had and the weather was absolutely awful. Four foot waves were coming over the bow of my Ranger every 3 seconds but I must have caught over 60 fish that day. All big ones too, the only problem was they were all around 3 to 3.5 pounds. I simply wasn't catching the 4's like I needed to win and like the ones I was catching in practice.

I ended in 16th place, not horrible but not great. Leaving there I had such satisfaction and still know in my heart that had the weather not negatively effected these deep spots so bad I would have won that tournament. Best part, no one else was even close to me all day. I was the only one running that pattern or at least that had the kahunas to actually sit out there and take a beating that day. That drive home I was as excited about my fishing future as I was a week back leaving the boat ramp with a 5 thousand dollar check in my pocket. I truly found a hidden gem, loaded with good ones at that and caught them in ways I only saw on TV. Not the way Josh Douglas usually catches them.

That day, though one of the most exciting days of my fishing career was also one of the most necessary as well. I found how tournaments could be won off the bank, out deep where true big stringers pile up in big schools. I made it my destiny to learn off shore structure. Every chance I got I was learning my electronics, trying to determine what I was fishing under the water and trying to teach myself how to effectively comb deep structure. I found some success and learn relatively quickly though the problem was when do I know where to be and what to do? See when your heart set on banging shallow cover all day, it doesn't matter what the conditions do because your staying put, your looking for 5 good bites. Most of the time you'll get those bites however you may never get that big stringer like the guys out working over that deep milfoil or those deeper hard bottom areas. Truth to the matter is I spread myself to thin, trying to milk run everything and just not cleaning up.

There's no doubt I am a better angler than I was last year at this same time. I not only am comfortable in deep water as I am in shallow water but I now have confidence in a lot more different techniques as well. This all stems from trial and error. I caught my largest bass of a lifetime at over 8 pounds on Falcon Lake last February on a flip shot rig. I helped cash a paycheck this spring throwing wacky rigs and had the smallies coming up and eating jerkbaits all Spring. This Fall I did most all my damage on a crankbait from 1 to 15 feet of water and caught some of my best fish of the year and last but not least, I inspired myself even more the day I caught my first giant on a true swimbait and became straight addicted on the countless rest that followed.

It takes time to learn and be confident with new fishing techniques. If I want to continue climbing the ladder of professional bass fishing than I need to know when to adjust. The only way to learn that is from paying the dues and listening to myself. After all, I'm the one that got me there.

On a very positive note, my business side of bass fishing had probably the best year yet. I cannot tell you how truly important it is to excel on the business side of the sport as well. No one likes to hear it but it's so true. Professional bass fishing is a 50/50, you need to be as good off the water as you are on the water. This was so apparent at the Bass University last month in Chicago, those guys are talkers as much as they are flippers. There are a lot of great fisherman out there, one's that could compete on the water with KVD but couldn't hold his jock strap with a camera in his face. I'm convinced KVD is selling Sexy Shad Series 5 Crankbaits in Pakistan, the dude's unreal.

This year has been great and I'm looking so forward to 2011 to be even better. I've signed on with Trokar which is awesome for me. I only accept business deals with companies I use, baits that I rely on. Being able to work with Trokar and exclusively use the best hook on the market is a no brainer.

I'm also developing a long term relationship with Biovex, a Japanese company that has a lot of big things planned for the future, things that I am very fortunate to be involved with.

Check back in 2011, as I plan to lay out my future agenda and goals for the upcoming season and beyond.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Christmas List

With Santa hours away from climbing down chimneys and dropping off everyone's wish list, I thought of a list of things that I would like to see under my tree come tomorrow morning. Of course there's always the essentials like boxers, socks and long underwear, but I'm talking the real stuff, tackle, rods and reels!

A lot of tackle companies are gearing up for 2011 and are already starting to advertise and release some of their new product lines. I made a list of some notables that I'd like to get my hands on as well as things that are essential come the start of the 2011 tournament season.

First things first, I'd really like to open a box, a very large box I might add, chuck full of Trokar Hooks and Tru Tungsten Weights. This is one of those gifts that no one really loves to buy but every serious fisherman wants a garage full of them. They're not the most glamorous side of tackle but in my opinion they're the most important. Sure fancy crankbaits and high speed reels or ultra sensitive rods are more fun but the nuts and bolts of my fishing is what puts weight in my livewells and these two products are the cats booty when it comes to putting together tournament winning sacks. Out of all my tackle in my boat, Tru Tungsten Weights and Trokar Hooks are by far my most relied on, with only a slight exception....

That brings me to my most favorite lure, the one bait that is most responsible for the vast majority of my BIG fish and my even BIGGER paychecks, the jig. There is no better bait available to suit my fishing style. I LOVE FISHING WITH JIGS! Big or small, deep football jigs, finesse style, skipping boat docks, stroking the milfoil or swimming through the tullies, it really doesn't matter. As long as I have a jig in my hand, I'm confident and we all know that confidence equals success. Like I've said before, if I can start any given tournament with 3 or 4 jig rods scattered across my deck and that's the bite that day, I will be a tough one to beat. The jig gives me my swag.

With that being said, I've found myself at a not so appreciated cross road when it comes to which jigs I throw. Anyone who has been seriously fishing long enough knows the feeling of becoming dependent on a bait and then the company changes it or goes out of business and you can no longer get what you've come to covet. It sucks, plain and simple. With this said though, I've spent endless hours trying to find what I consider to be the cream of the crop in this department, so if Santa has got a in with Tackle Warehouse or Capra Outdoors, hopefully there will be a large and very heavy box of these come tomorrow morning.

Football Jigs - I love me some Picasso Football Jigs (1/2 oz. to 1 oz.). The only modification I make is adding a double tail grub, hand tying a skirt and adding a rattle. The nuts and bolts of this jig is unmatched.

Work Jigs - This is my favorite style of jigs. Whether I'm skipping boat docks or pitching laydowns, this style jig is my work horse and because of this I am ridiculously picky on what jig I use. For this style jig I really only use 3/8 oz. to 1/2 oz. and I want a hand tied skirt basically because I don't want to foul a cast when I skip the jig. The more efficient I can be on the water, the more successful I will be and fouling casts is just not going to be acceptable. I also need a jig that comes in the colors that I like and that comes equipped with a stout hook. I'm always looking for better but I think I've found the best, Shooter Elite Series Jigs. These awesome hand fashioned jigs come with all the qualities I listed above but are also handmade.

Flippin' Jigs - Again I've tried them all but am extremely happy with what I've found out of the Strike King Hack Attack Jig. For this I usually lean towards 3/4 oz. and 1 oz. and the fact that they come equipped with a 6/0 tuna hook. Enough said.

Finesse Jigs - Always have been, always will be Jewel Finesse Jigs. I also like their football jigs too.

Swim Jigs - This category I'm a bit spoiled in because the best two companies are somewhat local. Up here on the Mighty Mississippi, we swim jigs a lot and who better to buy from then the experts. I use two kinds, Super K and Brovarney. Super K offers a 5/0 wide gap hook where as Brovarney is a standard 4/0, not better just different and I depend on both given certain situations. Both companies make awesome colors.

Last year was a good year for me, being that I was known as a jig fisherman I secretly started relying on crankbaits as a go to. With that said, I really hope Santa has connections in Japan because if I don't get a giant box fully loaded with Biovex Deep Runner Crankbaits, I'm screwed next year. This bait simply catches fish and big ones at that. Newly designed and added to an already deadly lineup, Biovex upped the ante when it comes to deep running cranks. In fact, I am so addicted to throwing these baits that I had to add a whole new set up to my repertoire.

This leads me to my next must have and hopefully I've been good because my list is getting long and expensive. I really like the new Deep Flex Crankbait line that G Loomis introduced last year. I plan to match my Biovex Deep Runner with a G Loomis Deep Flex Crankin' rod (CBR 896), a 7' 5" heavy action rod, fully equipped with a Shimano Chronarch 100D5 cranking reel. This deadly combination without a doubt will pull dandy's off of rock piles and ledges all over the country.

Lets see, what else? I am a fisherman and a competitive one at that so being glutenous shouldn't be much of a surprise. I mean as soon as I catch a 5 pounder I want to catch a bigger one or at very least another one. I win a tournament and I'm not satisfied, I just want to do it again so lets go ahead and pile it on.

I've also been in the process of making a significant transition. My mentality from the start is small is better when it comes to reels. I've been very accustomed to 2500 series spinning reels. I see a lot of other bass anglers using larger 4000 sizes. In fact, after going to the Bass University I couldn't help but notice that on all their spinning rods they had large spool reels. I started looking into this further and my findings all made sense on why to make that change though I still couldn't get the size thing out of my head. The benefits of a larger spinning reel are huge though, first off casting distance will exceed greatly, it manages the line better on the reel and therefor greatly reduces line twist and most important it speeds up the ratio of the reel and helps pick up line quicker, making fighting the fish more efficient. So my plan goes like this, I instead switched to 3000 size reels and in a year or two will again up size to a 4000. Let me tell you so far I love the change, my new 3000 size reels cast further and are just better off when fighting fish. Kind of just wish that I sucked it up and went straight to the 4000 but hey, a plan's a plan.

With that being said it's time for me to head out and plow more snow. I've never in my 30 years seen so much of it already and it's not even January. Bri and I made a promise that for fact we will be moving to Tennessee within the next two years, winter is for losers. Though on that note, the fishing has been stunning and probably because of all the low pressure storms we've been getting. The smallmouth have been popping and yesterday I couldn't keep them off my baby Huddleston swimbait. In fact I would have smashed them on the bait had I been able to hook up with them all. My hook up ratio was very much an issue and though I did catch a bunch I had to lean on my tube to catch the bulk of them. Sadly my hook up ratio was only about 10% so last night I developed a new stinger hook setup for these that will surely do the trick. Maybe one day I'll share? We'll see.

To everyone please have a terrific and safe holiday. Merry Christmas and I hope Santa will be generous to all his favorite fisherman and women.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bass University

Marriott O'Hare, Chicago, IL

I remember about five years ago the Bass University, which at the time was put on by B.A.S.S. itself, had a scheduled stop here in the Twin Cities and I remember how badly I wanted to go. I was just starting to jump full go into competitive bass fishing and had just bought my first Ranger. That was a fantastic winter buying a boat but it was also an expensive one as I had really not much of any equipment and the idea of fishing out of my new shiny bass boat without electronics was awful. Needless to say my priorities kept me from attending the University when it came around but still I promised myself that I would be in attendance the next year when they came back in town.

That next Spring I sported a nice Lowrance unit on my boat and even saved enough to add another to the front deck. I looked the part that year and actually was able to learn a lot over those first few months which was very rewarding because of the exception of a few good friends, I learned a lot of it on my own.

After that first year I felt I was ready to take the step into tournament bass fishing and that off season I looked forward to attending the BASS University to help really sharpen my skills. When I came to learn that the University wouldn't be coming back to the area I was disappointed I hadn't gone the year prior.

Business went on as can be expected and year after year I look back at my successes and how quickly I was able to accomplish as much as I have in a relatively short amount of time. I obviously still have much to learn so when I got news that the new Bass University was coming to a city within driving range, I was on the road to Chicago.

I'll be more than honest with you, the entire drive down there I was pretty skeptical. I was just hoping I wasn't driving all this way to Chicago to hear a pro tell me what color jig is the magic fish catching color or why their Triton is better than a Bass Cat. I mean, I know a thing or two about catching a bass and for good reason, in the past 5 years I've spent every available second I could to catching these fish. Not only do I wake up at absolutely ridiculous hours of the morning, day after day and spend hours after hours wreaking havoc not just physically but mentally as well, just to stay up late scowering magazines and reading internet articles just to absorb more.

Well, I can happily say that in just the first two hours of the first day I felt I had gotten my money and time worth. There was barely any sponsor plugs and when there was it was because someone in attendance asked. I have a knack for the business side of the sport and understand plugging sponsors is as important to a pros career as consistently catching fish. However, it's unheard of to be able to sit in the same small room with other top echelon sports figures and pick their brain for knowledge.

In fact, I feel as though I may have been more bass savvy than a lot of people attending however I feel like I may have learned some of the most that were in attendance. I know for fact that had I attended this class 5 years ago I'd be even more better off as I am now. Yet, I'm even more impressed by how much more confident I am now.

I wasn't there to get an autograph, not at all. I couldn't. Everyday I think of how bad I want to be competing out there against them and though I have a lot to learn I'm now reassured that that very feat could be had with any given cast.

To hear someone like Mike Iaconelli or Brent Ehrler talk to you just like your fishing buddies and to see that they are just like myself, a dude that really, really likes to fish and that the difference is he made an opportunity happen at the right time.

I can honestly say that no matter what your level of bass fishing is you can and will take useful knowledge away from this, knowledge that will help you put more bass in your livewell. When you see a bass pro that has cashed a million dollar paycheck sit in the same seats as the rest of the class and intently listen to his competitor talk and even ask questions to better help himself understand what he is saying. The best thing I learned is that if I continue to work and stay dedicated to my goals, I'll too cash in on that opportunity when it presents itself.

I did learn a lot of tips and techniques that will better help me excel because of going to this class. Tips that I really don't care to share but for one exception, one thing that I will live by. The five P's, as long as I follow the five P's I will always put myself into contention to succeed.

Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performances

Enough said.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Bass University

After a fantastic Thanksgiving out in Colorado's Rocky Mountains, now I'm back home and am looking forward to this weekend where I'll be traveling down to the Marriott O'Hare in Chicago, Illinois to attend the Bass University, put on by Mike Iaconelli and Pete Gluszek.

Here's more info on the event. I know its late notice but if you can make the trip it's supposed to be a fantastic learning experience.

Chicago, Illinois

December 4, 2010 - December 5, 2010

Why we're coming:

The bass fishing in this area is fantastic! This was the most in demand area for us to come to. The anglers asked and we listened, so here we come Chicago. The bass fishing may be slow in December in this area, so what better time to sit down with the top names of the sport and get a chance to learn some new techniques. The Bass University is coming to Chicago on December 4th and 5th, 2010.


Marriott Chicago O'Hare
8535 W Higgins Rd, Chicago, IL 60631-2806

Special room rate for Bass University students: $89.00 a night. Room availability limited. Book today!

Don't miss out on all the goodies that come with enrolling!
FREE Year long subscription to Bassin' Magazine, FREE tackle pack for every student, FREE TBU t-shirt, FREE pen and course booklet for all your note-taking needs
Every student will be entered into a drawing to have a free dinner with the pros, and all students 18 and under will receive a free lunch with the pros!

Registration begins Saturday at 7am. Class runs 8am to 5pm both Saturday and Sunday. Stick around after class to check out our on-site tackle shop or just spend some extra time chatting with the pros.

Pete Gluszek (Dec.5) - Spinnerbait Secrets and Understanding Smallmouth Movements

Mike Iaconelli (Dec. 4th only) - Finding Bass on New Bodies of Water and Football Head Jig Fishing

Brent Ehrler (Dec. 5) - Advanced Drop shotting and the Flick Shake Technique

Mark Zona (Dec. 4th) – Tube jig techniques and Great lake Smallmouth Secrets

Byron Velvick – (Dec 5th) – Swimbait Basics and Advanced Swimbait Techniques

Greg Hackney - (Dec. 4th) – Advanced Jig Fishing and Shallow Cranking

For more information or to sign up follow link to website.

Blog Archive