Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Off and Running

I'm happy to announce that one of Japan's leaders in tackle manufacturing, Biovex and myself have come to an agreement that will highlight me sporting around the freshly wrapped Ranger showcasing the Biovex logo's as I partake in some of the highest national level pro tournaments the U.S. has to offer. Taking a giant jump forward in my quest to compete in a Bassmaster Classic and a FLW Forest Wood Cup, as well as attempt qualifying for tour level play.

Biovex is preparing for their highly anticipated release to the U.S. market in early 2012. I'll be out putting their innovative and quality baits to the ultimate test, trying to work my way towards the top of the pack of professional bass fishing.

My Ranger is in getting wrapped as we speak. Here is a template of my boat and what it will look like when it's complete.

I'll be sure to post pictures of the finished product as soon as it's ready to hit the water.

In anticipation for the 2012 season when I plan to make the jump to the Opens, Everstarts and/or PAA Tour events, I'm using this time to learn and progress myself as much as possible. Preparation is key and though I understand there will be a significant learning curve, I still plan to put myself in position to succeed. This is a major opportunity for me and I plan to take full advantage. I'm working on my weaknesses and mastering my strengths by trying to be on the water every available second. For instance, there's a certain lake that has always been a tough lake for me when the smallies are shallow. If there not in 25 plus feet than I often enough find myself looking from the outside once it's time to hand out checks. So when the opportunity came to get out there with my buddy Ryan Brant just for the fun of it, I was all in.

We were able to help each other become a better angler. I helped tune him into a deep bite and at the same time I learned something from him when the bass are shallow. In the end I was slinging 4 pounders on the new Biovex Kolt Fish Tail like I'd been doing it all my life. Now because of that I built confidence in methods that have historically got the better of me, making me a more versatile angler.

All for now, heading out of town soon to one of my favorite places in the world! More details on that soon.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Denny's Super 30

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

Today was my first event on Lake Minnetonka as my team tournament partners for these events, Ryan and Corey Brant took the first one in early Spring. They were good enough for a rock solid 10th place finish and with this years Team of the Year money being so lucrative, this was a huge start. We've never started out this good in the past and historically the early season tournaments aren't our best showings bit somehow someway we always manage to fight our way to the top through the heart of the summer and into the fall and find ourselves in the top 12 come end of the year shoot-out time.

We seem to have a better handle on the lake come summer and fall but this year we put in some hard fought hours better understanding where these bass are in this odd post spawn transition. I literally found myself on the water every available second the last few days leading up to this tournament. Through a lot of trail and error I was able to figure out a couple things and felt I had enough numbers that my only concern was quality bites. In hindsight, this was probably a good problem to have being that we usually have quality but seem to never have the quantity and always seem to have a teeter totter bag, five giants and 3 rats.

Paired with me was the younger Brant, Corey aka Core Dogg. Corey coming off a quality smallie tournament on Green Lake were he and his brother Ryan finished 4th, was chomping at the bit to get out and cash another check. We all fish a lot of tournaments all over but to a lot of die hard Minnesota bass anglers the Denny's Minnetonka tournaments are really a big deal, it's truly the best of the best and the anticipation for these events is honestly very high.

Unfortunately we were boat 50 out of 51, sucks but to be quite honest this was the tournament for this to happen, we really didn't have any one place we needed to go. I really don't like to get into details on patterns and tactics on Lake Minnetonka but I will say it was a fun day all together. We caught a ton of fish and a limit was no problem, it was pure pandemonium for a little while, one would set the hook and drop one in the livewell and the other would then set the hook and do the same. We were rotating perfectly for about two hours. The only issue was that we had a limit of two pound bass but we had both landed a nice three to three and a half pounder.

We started looking for kicker fish and really found it to be a challenge, we made a few small culls for around one or two ounces at a crack until Corey busted a nice 4.6 lb largemouth and now we knew we were right there. We still had a couple hours in our day and knew we needed one more to be right there and two more to bust the top three.

We ran as much high percentage big bass spots as we could squeeze in but it wasn't till about five minutes remaining that I popped a real good bass that surged us up about a pound in a half. We made some last second desperation casts but in the end was one fish away yet again. We weighed in with 24.1 pounds good enough for 9th place. The good start should find us in 2nd or 3rd in the Team of the Year race heading into the summer. In that aspect, neither of us could ask for better. It's setting up to be a fun season on Lake Minnetonka!

Stay tuned to JD Fishing, I have some real exciting news coming in the next few days!

See you on the water!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Gopher B.A.S.S. Federation Tournament

Lake O' Dowd, Shakopee, MN

Preparing for this tournament wasn't tough at all since I grew up just a couple miles from the boat landing and still do most of my guide trips on this very body of water. One may think I should have this one in the bag and in the summer months when the bass go deep I would consider myself a tough one to out do but this time of year the bass are shallow and big bass at that. It was truly anybodies ball game.

I was paired with fellow fishing buddy Rich Lindgren for this event which wasn't really the most ideal pairing in that we were sitting first and second in the Angler of the Year race with Rich slightly edging me by less than a pound. I new I had the water to do well in this event but new damn well Rich would stick his fair share of them. We fish together pretty often and are used to sharing the front deck, why would today be any different? We decided we'd just act as if we were out fun fishing and rotate on the trolling motor.

The action starting slow which was a surprise to say the least. I had a stretch that I found in practice that I honestly thought both Rich and I could put 14 pounds in the box within the first 30 minutes. Not the case. Instead we left the first couple spots with nothing to show.

Success was to be had and after a mind boggling start we finally got our act together and started setting some hooks. Rich and I went blow for blow all day, culling lots and often but upgrading only ounces at a time. We joked all day about who had the better bag, both thinking the other did of course. Our main pattern was ultra shallow water because the snowy winter made for some high water and the fish were literally on the bank. Most my fish came on a Lake Fork Ring Fry with a 4/0 Trokar Magworm Hook.

Knowing we needed a kicker fish, Rich and I decided to hit a deeper spot that I knew the bass would use as a transition from shallow water out to the deeper water. Basically the weedline forms a underwater point between to spawning flats and also has some mixed in rocks. Both Rich and I were able to catch a few on football jigs, I was using a 1/2 oz. hand tied Picasso Fantasy Football Jig.

Back at weigh-in I really wasn't surprised to find out the overall weights were up. This lake is loaded with 5 pounders and I've seen my fair share of 6's and 7's as well. Actually there was a donkey of a 6.45 lb. largemouth that got weighed in as well.

I finished with 5 for 15.71 lbs. and good ole' Richy finished with 5 for 16.01 lbs. barely edging me out and adding a few more ounces to his AOY total. If I had my choice I'd take 15.71 pounds for 5 in every tournament I fished and would cash checks in almost every event but this time it was only good enough for 6th. Just like I said to the boys, "I'm on 15 pounds unless I crack a kicker or two." I had a bag of all 3 pounders and just never popped that big bite I needed to jump up into the top 3. Though I have to admit, Rich and I had a great time whacking on 'em all day that's for sure!

On another note, Lake O' Dowd sucks, stay far far away from it. ; )

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gopher B.A.S.S. Federation Tournament

Medicine Lake, Plymouth, MN

I've lived in the Twin Cities most of my life and fished most every lake in my immediate area with one exception, Medicine Lake in Plymouth, MN. I guess whenever I travel to the North West Suburbs I just assume launch the Ranger on good ole' Lake Minnetonka. Maybe I should reconsider from time to time.

I'm usually fishing Lake Minnetonka this time of year with a three man team in myself, Ryan and Corey Brant. Being that I was wrapped up in a few things this Spring when it came time to divide up the "Tonka" schedule I opted to sit back the first few events out there so that I could take care of some other obligations and set it up to not miss a single other event out there the remaining of the season.

This strategy also made way for me to jump in to some good ole' Gopher Bassmaster Events and since I had always wanted to fish Medicine I figured this would be the added motivation to get out there.

I always heard very good things about this body of water so I was eager to take a couple days to check it out before the event so I wasn't running around blind. I was able to get out with my lovely wife Bri on Monday afternoon for a few hours and then again Wednesday morning for another rendezvous. Basically practice was as good as I could expect and as good as I heard it would be. I managed to bag up close to twenty pounds both days and still pulled on a bunch that I never felt needed to get hooked. The bite was good shallow, boat docks and sight fishing. I really couldn't ask for a better scenario unless I could get freak nasty on 'em out on rock points. Unfortunately I never did find that bite but it would of made it a little cooler.

I was mainly using a few different rigged soft plastics with Trokar Hooks and Lazer Tungsten Weights. With all the panfish activity going on I also managed a few really big bites on the new Biovex Wake.

Tourney day I was last boat to take off and found a few competitors already occupying some rows of boat docks that I had pulled on what I thought to be nice fish. My first few stops provided me with nothing but a bit of anxiety, the boat docks weren't coughing up a single bite and the bass I had marked on beds seemed to already have moved off.

After two hours without a keeper bite and an attitude that needed a serious adjustment I decided to stick to the plan I had developed and just start looking for productive water. That's exactly when things started looking up. I figured the stretches I was working earlier in the week probably were getting more daily sunlight and therefor were most likely further ahead then other areas of the lake. So I set out and was rewarded quickly. With the sun getting higher I started seeing fish locked on beds in other areas of the lake. Even though they were on the smaller side I decided I best starting putting fish in the box.

First bass I spotted on a bed I was able to catch rather quickly, nothing to write home about but a bass is a bass. I kept working the bank and skipping docks but mainly kept my eyes peeled for active beds. I came across a nice cruiser and initially tossed a weightless Lake Fork Tackle Ring Fry at it and it just spooked out of sight. I made a Hail Mary type cast in the direction it was darting and wouldn't you know, "tick", I set the hook and just like that added a nice 3 pound bass to the box.

The remaining stretch I was able to limit out rather quickly all by sight fishing off of beds though still no quality at all, seriously I'm talking peanuts. I recalled a stretch of docks that sat right off an immediate quick drop and remember thinking to myself that come summer these docks would be insane. Thinking maybe these docks would hold a pissy rehabilitating female I set out and was surprised by what I found, quality largemouth locked and loaded on beds. The first one I came across looked to be about a 4 pounder and it didn't take much work at all to coax a bite. The remainder of the day I worked over bedding fish and was able to just find the time to cull out every last small one.

Headed back to weigh-in I new the bite had to of been tough on some but also new the potential of big bass in this lake could make for a big sack. I weighed in at 15.98 lbs. and managed to hold the lead until of course the very last boat, my buddy Rich Lindgren tipped the scale with an even more impressive 16.2 pounds, edging me out by only 2 ounces.

The competitor in me was obviously upset and to be edged out in the very end by a good friend whom we've always had added competition made it burn just a bit more, but with that said I had one of the better tournaments of my life and flat out had one of the best days on the water I've ever had. I've obviously caught plenty of bigger sacks in my day but never had I been so successful bed fishing an entire event like that. Every fish I saw and needed I eventually was able to coax into biting. I always thought sight fishing was my worst weakness but after this past year of actually putting in the time I can honestly say it's one of my strongest suits.

So far this season has been everything I was looking for, a fun, competitive and a educational year before upping the ante next year on the national circuits. Up next, Lake O'Dowd. A true gem.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Guided Trip to Remember

These days I spend most all my time preparing and partaking in different bass tournaments that I don't get the time to do as many guided bass trips as I once did. This is a serious down fall of being a tournament angler because I happen to enjoy being a bass guide. Why wouldn't I? I get the opportunity to influence someone else and help show them the enjoyments that I cherish with every bone in my body. To just be able to get people out of their element and into mine is rewarding but nothing is as rewarding as seeing the look on their face as they hold up their personal best bass and then watching them let it go to be enjoyed another day.

I guess I could say I'm used to helping people keep a lasting memory that they'll reflect on for the rest of their life. Understand I don't take anything I've accomplished in bass fishing for granted but it's hard to remind myself of that when your doing it everyday. Though I have been accustomed to providing long lasting memories for my clients, it wasn't until a trip last week that some clients provided memories that I'll soon never forget.

Let me introduce you to two new friends of mine Kalai and Manju, two business men in from India and looking to go out and catch their first bass on lakes not anything like what they're accustomed to back home.

At first this was a trip very similar to what I've been accustomed to, meet them at the boat dock, introduce them to the fast boat and start teaching them to cast. Next came the fish catching and catching we did but it was their true level of sincerity and enthusiasm that slowly started taking me back. The true enjoyment on their faces could of been seen far and wide. It's their first trip to the U.S. and are feeling very fortunate to be in this situation yet all I could think about was how truly lucky I was to be able to have these two in my boat at that exact time. It goes to show how two far away and much different worlds can collide and provide an equally enjoyable experience for us all. The catching was good and the boat riding was exceptional.

Kalai and Manju, I know you had an awesome day but please know you provided me with an even better one, you helped me get back some of that enthusiasm that maybe I was forgetting. I can now say, I have friends as far away as India. Thank you.

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