Saturday, June 23, 2012

North American Bass Circuit

Madison Chain of Lakes, Madison , WI

This tournament literally makes me laugh and not cause I was counting my money all the way to the bank, in fact it was quite the opposite.

Teaming up with me for this series is good friend Rich Lindgren. We both pulled our boats across Wisconsin to give our two days of practice the most potential possible. We did our research on the chain and broke up the waterway evenly deciding we'd adjust our game plan after the first day of practice.

I took Lake Monona and Rich took Lake Waubesa as well as some of the smaller lakes attached to the chain. His practice basically consisted of eliminating water as finding quality fish were close to impossible. I on the other hand had one of the best practice periods of my entire life. I was shaking off around 30 bites a day and the ones that I did check were all keepers with a few 4 pounders mixed in. We had previously figured that Monona would be the more consistent lake but it was easily exceeding my expectations by a long shot. Basically I was flipping three key milfoil areas that held both bass and their forage. All three areas sat out in front of shallow flats so baitfish were abundant in all these areas and the bass would use the milfoil clumps as ambush points. I was flipping small compact craw style baits on a 3/4 oz. Eagle Claw Lazer Tungsten Flippin' Weight and a 4/0 Trokar Flippin' Hook. I also was getting far more bites using 20lb. Seaguar Abrazx Fluorocarbon instead of Seaguar Kanzen Braid and the only downfall was the loss of precious tungsten weights to the many muskie that inhabit these same waters. My method of flipping was easy as I'd simply work the edge making a short flip into the visible milfoil, working the bait slowly trying to entice a bite. Working the bait slowly and methodically was important as I wasn't the only one who had figured out the milfoil's potential and pressure was setting in by the second. Still despite the pressure I had them dead to rights as whatever I was doing was getting the bites and good ones at that.

Tournament morning rolled around and we were able to get to our first stretch right away in the morning, things had changed in that we didn't have sun nor wind like we had all of practice. Despite these changes our confidence still remained high even when we weren't getting the bites I had come accustomed to all of practice. As the day wore on we'd get a bite about every 15 minutes or so but our hook up ratio was the worst I have ever seen. We had the bottom of my boat covered in craws that were missing pinchers as our hookup ratio was a disgusting 95% miss rate. I honestly felt like I could puke in disgust as the bites were there, quality ones at that but the livewell wasn't filling at all. In the end we ended up with only three bass weighing just over seven pounds, a tough tournament to say the least and one that will bug me for quite a while. I joked in the opening paragraph that I laugh about this event and though I'm 100% sincere it's not a conceded look, it's the only way I can gut it. Looking back there's obviously things we should have done differently as well as adjustments we should have made like adjusting better to the weather. The fish were on the outside of the grass with the lack of sun and we didn't need to be flipping to them since they were on the edge and probably should have leaned harder on baits like jigworms and dropshots to get the job done. However, when you've had a terrific practice doing one thing and was getting the bites on game day doing the exact same but not hooking up it's a real tough thing to abandon. It was necessary to adjust and would have been the difference between cashing a check and weighing three fish but all I can do now is acknowledge that I should have listened to the voices in my head, learn from my stubbornness, chalk it up to one of my worst tournament performances of my life and then laugh about it and move on.

There's plenty more fish in the sea and plenty more opportunities to showcase my talents then to sit and dwell on a bad one.

See you on the water!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Denny's Super 30

Lake Minnetonka, Mound, MN

Today was the second tournament of the Denny's Super 30 and team tournament partner Paul Coffey and I had some work to do. After a less than ideal first tournament where we finished somewhere in the 20's we knew we needed to shoot for a top 10 to get ourselves back into contention for the Team of the Year standings as well as give us a much needed shot of confidence heading into the middle part of the summer.

We put in the time as best we could leading up to tournament day and both were able to locate some quality fish. I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the lake and my decision making abilities once the summer months arrive and was feeling good about our early summer this season. In fact I had easily one of the best few practice days of my life as the bass are quickly starting to school up and once located can be a blast catching as they're one right after another.

Tournament day started slow for us as our first few stops didn't produce much but a fish or two here and there. Finally we managed to get on a school or two and it was a fun few hours putting the smack down as we quickly culled our way to about 24 pounds. Once the bite slowed we knew we were exactly where we needed to be and started running in search of a couple kickers to get our weight up into the high 20's. The bass kept biting for us but none that were able to help until about a half hour left in the event when Paul had an ace in the hole spot he located in practice that was close to the weigh in. After our first pass through with nothing we decided it be best to go back through instead of running as lures in the water are always better and quickly I got bit and in came a nice four pound bass making for a nice cull to end the day.

We weighed in our best 8 for a respectable 25 pounds and finished in 14th place. Missing a check by a mere two pounds but still had the day that most of the time would cough up a much deserved check. We fished well and fished clean and honestly I can say I had one of the best all around days on the water that I've ever had and if I parlay off that I'll be in great shape with the rest of my fishing career going forward.

The best part was that we moved up a ton in the Team of the Year points and are currently sitting tied with good friends Ryan and Corey Brant for 15th place overall with three more events to go. Still lots of work to be done.

See you on the water.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Searching for my Mojo

Denny's Super 30 &
Minnetonka Classic

Lake Minnetonka, Mound, MN

Usually I recap in detail each tournament I compete in no matter how good or bad it turned out. I rarely discuss anything about Lake Minnetonka though besides the very basics because it's my home water, the competition is just too stiff and I always seem to have another event out there right around the corner. As this still holds true, my latest week of fishing out there is nothing to brag about and I definitely didn't unlock any tried and true spring Tonka secrets, so here we go.

I teamed up with a good buddy this year, Paul Coffey. Paul has been fishing with myself, Ryan Brant and Corey Brant for the past couple years now and instead of the Brant's and I splitting up all the Tonka events between the three of us we decided it was time to make two teams and fish them all. We still work very close and keep an open book with everything we find since we have all worked equally as hard out there for the past three years that there's no reason to stop the learning curve. It's important to see both teams succeed.

The first event was the Denny's Super 30. I had spent a few days out on the water patterning moving fish. I found them on beds, inside weedlines, in the thick weeds, pads, laydowns, deep, shallow, you name it. They were everywhere but the overall lack of big ones was discerning as I just couldn't seem to get enough big bites and out there you need numerous big bites just to compete. In the end, Paul and I had a plan to just junk fish our way to a healthy limit. I always want to win but with not having more than a few days of experience ever on Minnetonka in the Spring, my main focus was on just saving face in the points race. I've won my fair share of money out there in the Summer and Fall and have a lot better feel for what it takes to bring in a winning sack. If we could get through this first one without falling on our faces than we'd have a descent shot at the Team of the Year going forward the rest of the season.

When the tournament ended we managed to not fall flat on our faces but we didn't turn any heads either. We weighed in 8 bass for 18.85 pounds for a very mediocre 26th place finish. Not what I was looking for but still in the hunt for the Team of the Year.

Next up was the Minnetonka Classic and though this marks the 20 or 30 something annual, I've only fished it once before a couple years back and managed to cash a check for 14th place. I was thinking this time that Paul and I could do much better giving all the time we spent on the water preparing for the Denny's. The weather seemed to change by the day and I really started getting confused. I was guessing that the fish were coming to me so I stayed deep, in hindsight I probably should have went ultra shallow. Either way in the end we ended with somewhere above the teams that chose not to weigh in and under the teams that did well. I always weigh and usually am pretty geared up to do so but I've always been one to take it on the chin and bring the fish to the scales regardless. It's embarrassing to not have a sack at the scales and that feeling will stay with me as I use it as added motivation in the upcoming weeks. In the end we zigged when we should have zagged and we ran when we should have stopped. Basically I don't know exactly what went wrong but we just weren't getting the quality bites we needed at all. You fish to learn and learn to compete.

I'm down but far from out. In this sport you take the good with the bad and need to have a short memory. If you win, you need to enjoy it but forget it the next day because someone else will rise to the occasion next week and you need to stay sharp. If you suck, learn from it and get over it because tomorrow's a new day and you can't dwell on it. Big bass are always only one cast away.

For now it's back to the drawing board, Bri and I as well as the pups are soon heading up to her family cabin for a little fun in the sun, some awesome bass fishing and possibly a beer or two around the campfire. After all, this is what it's all about!

See you on the water!

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