Monday, September 26, 2011

North American Bass Circuit World Championship

Leech Lake, Walker, MN

Twenty five boats competing head to head for twenty grand. It isn't everyday a guy gets odds like this and both Corey Brant and I were ready for the challenge.

Pre-practice was good. The weather was starting to change up north very rapidly showing signs of autumn on the horizon. Leech Lake being noted for it's shallow water fishing, was in the midst of a few changes and overall number of bites were few and far between. Once the cold mornings gave away to warmer afternoons the bite seemed to turn on for us. At the end of practice we would still manage around 20 pounds a day even with the slow starts.

Basically we patterned fish in all sorts of shallow cover such as wild rice, docks, cane and reeds. The reaction bite never really turned on for us and most our fishing were being caught by slowly pitching bottom bouncing baits into the cover.

Day one proved to be exactly what we expected with a relative slow start to the morning. I was able to boat one that went about two and a half pounds out of the cane first thing in the morning. Next thing you know we were approached by North American Fisherman, since we won the last event of the year they wanted to put a camera man in our boat for the day. Wouldn't you know it then our bite went cold for a few hours until Corey got a few key bites off a couple boat docks and I was able to pull one off a stump.

Still desperately looking for our limit fish we decided to run back to a reed patch that didn't produce in the a.m. Finally around 2:30 we started to put on a whack fest and was culling in no time. We were pitching small plastics using different sized Lazer Tungsten Weights and Trokar Flipping Hooks.

At the day one weigh-in we were sitting relatively solid with a five bass limit going 14.98 pounds, though 5 pounds off the lead but on Leech Lake that isn't an unrealistic feat.

Day two was started with what proved to be a mistake on our part. Since our morning bite had been awful we decided to head for some rice that we had some good bites out of in practice even though it was clear on the opposite side of the lake. Hoping to get a limit and a kicker or two in the first couple hours before heading back to hopefully scratch out a few more key culls back in our reeds. Unfortunately we only came back with a small 2.2 pound bass that fell for my topwater frog, other than that we never got another bite. At roughly noon we stopped on a row of boat docks, I skipped under the dock and my jig got popped hard, I set the hook and my line snapped instantly. I told Corey who quickly pitched back under there and set the hook, boated our second fish and wouldn't you know it he had my jig almost fully down his throat. That doesn't happen everyday.

When we made it back to our reeds we come to find that they were beat pretty badly by a few other boats just before we arrived. We managed to run some different area and finally started to get some bites and somehow scratched out a limit and even made one cull. Another hour and who knows but the big bites simply weren't there for us when we needed them. We finished day two with a rough 5 bass weighing 12.76 pounds and slid down to finish 14th overall. A disappointing end to the season but motivation to put together a very productive off season and get all geared up for the 2012 season. I'm currently studying up my options for the BASS Opens and FLW Everstarts but also looking to come back and fish the entire NABC Trail next year. I heard the potential schedule and am liking the way it's shaking out. Lots of exposure, great payouts and an excellent ran circuit all the way around. This trail is the premier team tournament trail in the midwest.

The mornings are cold, the days are shorter and the leaves are's smallie time!

See you on the water.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Denny's Super 30

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

The seasons are rapidly changing now. Autumn is rearing its head and the cold nights and high winds are starting to change things at a rapid pace. Yesterday was the final Denny's Super 30 tournament of the season and instead of putting in lots of practice on Minnetonka preparing I instead was way up north getting familiar with Leech Lake, the host of next weekends NABC World Championship, where $20,000 grand is on the line.

I was met with 26 degree mornings while up at Leech with highs in the low 50's and things weren't much better down here as I found once I got home and launched on Minnetonka. Things are changing and the fish are moving. After a rough weekend of practice I had wished I had more time in between tournaments to do more work to prepare for this Denny's event. A lot was on the line, we've had some really good finishes on Tonka and were sitting 6th in the overall Team of the Year points where the top 8 in the end cash a rewarding end of the year payout.

A rough practice for me still brings hope, I knew we were fishing big fish areas but the utter lack of overall bites was my worry. The whole weekend was cold, windy and rainy but since race day called for 80 and sunny all a guy could do was hope that change would activate the bite.

Lets say that the bite never got activated and we probably should have adjusted better. Between being stubborn and lacking the confidence to make the right adjustments resulted in the poorest performance of the year and honestly one of the worst tournaments I've participated in in a long time. The one good thing that came away from this is that I definitely learned a few things that will make me even more of a threat on the water next season. I feel very confident every time I launch my boat, especially on Lake Minnetonka, being served a piece of humble pie made me open my eyes to an area in my game that is lacking a bit. I can promise you that myself as well as tournament partners Corey and Ryan Brant will have a workload ahead of us but like with anything bass related are super anxious and chomping at the bit to get out there and master it.

We finished this event in 24th place which dropped us from 6th to 10th or 11th in the Team of the Year points. I always look forward to the Denny's events and am looking forward to participating in as many as I can next summer before heading south. It's a well ran trail with stiff competition, the best of the best competing on their home waters makes for big bags, nice paychecks and a boat load of bragging rights.

Now time to focus on Leech Lake and the NABC World Championship. Wish us luck!

Monday, September 12, 2011

MN B.A.S.S. Federation Tournament of Champions

Whitefish Chain of Lakes, Cross Lake, MN

What a week of fishing, literally I'm exhausted. My practice was good though the overall size of fish I was catching was disturbing. At best I figured I was probably looking at only 13 pounds a day, at very best, yet recent tournaments have been posting numbers closer to 18 plus pounds.

Everyday of practice that went by my size kept getting smaller and smaller and the bite in general just got worse and worse. This year smallmouth played a factor in winning weights but I wasn't able to get a solid pattern on them at all, something kind of disturbing to me as I consider myself a bit of a smallie guru.

Basically I was on a shallow cover and deep structure bite. My best presentation for overall numbers was dropshotting a Biovex Kolt Fish Tail on the edge of productive weedlines. I figured I could bank on this and also whack a kicker or two in the shallow stuff. By the end of practice I figured I needed roughly 12 pounds a day and I'd move on.

First day things started slow but around 10:30 I managed to put together a limit. I fished strong all day and culled all the way up to the final minutes but the culls were only for an ounce here and a ounce there and I finished day one with a disappointing 5 fish for 9.98 pounds though still easily in the top 40 out of 160 and within striking distance of the top 12.

Second day started better but the culling was a minimum, I just never got a big bite in either days of competition. I managed to come in a little better with 10.33 pounds, 2 pounds shy of what was needed with a 2 day total to move on to divisionals. When it was all said and done I finished 28th overall out of 160. Not bad but I was there to get into the top 12 and unfortunately came up a bit short. On the good side my team consisting of myself, Dean Capra, Brad Leifermann and Jim Severson took the top honors for Team of the Year. It's always nice earning a plaque but I was there to move on and just didn't come through this time.

Congrats to Jim Severson and Dean Capra from 10,000 Lakes for their 1st and 4th place finishes respectively and also a shout out to the remainder of the top 12 for their impressive showing, it was truly a grind.

Time to shrug this one off and get ready for some big upcoming tournaments on both Minnetonka and Leech. There's a lot of money to be claimed, hopefully hard work and determination will prevail. In this sport you need to have a short memory.

Friday, September 2, 2011

On the Grind

September is sweet! An entire month packed full of fishing starting with the B.A.S.S. Federation State Championship on the beautiful Whitefish Chain in northern Minnesota. This tournament is special to me as I have set a goal for the season of qualifying for divisionals and because of my soon to be relocation to Tennessee's Smokey Mountains this looks like my only opportunity to do so.

I haven't participated in a State Tournament in a few years since it was held on the Mississippi River and I still have a bad taste in my mouth from that event. I was definitely on a winning sack of fish but a blown injector and a tow off the water caused a zero on the first day, blowing my opportunity. Other tournament obligations kept me from participating the past couple years even though they were held on fisheries that I have a lot of knowledge on in Pokegama and Minnetonka. This year I made State a priority as adding a State Team to my resume would mean a lot to me. I got a lot of work ahead of me in practice but if I fish to the level I've come to expect of myself I have every opportunity to find myself in the top 12. Time to put up or shut up.

As soon as State wraps up I'll head even further north to Leech Lake for a pre practice of the NABC World Championship were $20,000 grand is on the line. I love Leech Lake and though I've only fished it once this tournament should be right in my wheelhouse. I'd love to talk shop but we'll just hold off till the $20,000 dollar payday has been awarded to the deserving team. Lets just hope it's us.

I hurry home for the last event of the Denny's Super 30 held on Lake Minnetonka. We're currently sitting in 6th overall for the Team of the Year points and hopefully we'll be right in the mix come weigh in time. We're coming off a couple wins and good showings out there so I'm really confident in our chances.

Finally it'll be back up to Leech Lake to leave it all out on the water and try our damnedest at claiming the 20K payday!

See you on the water!

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