Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Bassmaster Classic Expo

Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, Tulsa, OK

The 2013 Bassmaster Classic has come and gone and left the naysayers searching for words to explain how the best of the best managed big sacks of fish everyday while fishing in water temps in the 30's and air temps down in the teens!

As I said before the event, Grand Lake is in my opinion the best non-grass lake in the country with maybe the exception of Lake Falcon but unlike Falcon, these fish are used to the cold water being so far north and a winter blizzard won't effect the outcome at all. It may only have made it better.

Congrats to Cliff Pace for finding the winning pattern and knocking their lights out the first two days before slow rolling to the official victory on day three. I've always liked whatever I've ever heard of Cliff, he's a die hard bass fisherman who day in and day out, just wants to fish. He makes a great champion for our sport and goes to show what hard work and passion can produce.

The Bassmaster Classic Expo Show was off the charts busy and the attendees came ready to spend some of their hard earned money on the things that matter most.....bass fishing! I saw everything from lures to electronics to boats being bought, showing that the future of our sport is bright. In fact, I was taken a back seeing all the kids that were there, wearing their favorite anglers jersey and talking bass fishing like some long lived veterans. That's what it's all about, the future and it sure seems as a sport we're doing something right.

Here's a few booths that I visited that seemed to always be packed with fans checking out their newest products.


I got the pleasure of spending most of my time working in the Navionics booth showing off our newest technologies and explaining how I count on their products to catch fish day in and day out. Being the only true "software" company to produce lake maps, they are so far ahead of the competition and offer you as a consumer much more bang for your buck. The new, soon to be released Navionics+, will allow consumers to update any lake or any state, no matter the region to better suite their customers individual needs.

To find out more, please visit Navionics website.


Talk about one of the best booth setups of the entire show, Trokar had their visitors on their mind and their Tour Pros were their signing autographs and giving away memorabilia around the clock.  Trokar does it big with their hooks and does it equally as big with their pros. With anglers like that, there's no doubt who makes the sharpest and baddest hooks on the market!

To find out more, please visit the Lazer Trokar website.


Generally in the sport of competitive bass fishing you have choices over what products you want to use and what suites your style. Rarely is there ever a single product that if you don't use it, you'll get beat by the guy that does. Now I'd like to introduce you to Hydrowave, a noise simulator that imitates the sounds of bass feeding on shad or other schooling prey. This product does things that I can't even explain and all I know is when I have it on and tuned to the appropriate setting, I'm catching more and bigger fish. I'm not the only one either, if you walked around the boat yard where the Classic competitors boats were stored you'd see exactly what I'm talking about. There's no fools in the Bassmaster Classic lineup.

To find out more, please visit the Hydrowave website.


Line may be boring to buy. I mean come on, who gets all jolly about dropping three bills (big bills) on fishing line? No one. Not like they do when they drop half a G on a G Loomis Rod. Truth be told though, line is the most important piece of equipment day in and day out. There's all kinds of line manufacturer's these days but most of them are owned by one giant group that makes everything from line, to lures to clothing. Not me, I depend on my line to get a bass that's potentially worth thousands if not millions to the boat. It's the only that connects you to all your dreams. Do yourself a favor, invest in a company that does line and does it right, Seaguar. If you think I'm being over dramatic ask the Cliff Pace or any Classic winner about the one fish that got them to that dance in the first place? Then ask them where they'd be if their line had broke on that bass? Case in point.

To find out more, please visit the Seaguar website.


That's a given! I mean come on, of course Lowrance is going to have a big turn out at the Classic, it's in Tulsa, their back yard! It also didn't have anything to do with a new product released that goes by the name HDS Gen2 Touch did it? Of course it did, touch screens are the way of the future and offer anglers much more user friendly option. If you don't think I'm sincere, my Ranger has two two 9's and a 12 hanging off of it. Convinced?

To find out more, please visit the Lowrance website.

G Loomis and Shimano

Enough said...

Seriously, I don't think I need to waste the time and actually spell it all out. I said, "G Loomis and Shimano" they've been pumping out the best for years, it's truly that simple. They have a reputation and they've earned it and by the looks of their booth, everyone else knows it too.

One note in particular, I've been using the new GLX rods for a better part of six months now and even though I'm skeptical to change, my rig is packed full of the new green blanks. They actually found a way to outdo themselves.

To find out more, please visit the G Loomis and Shimano website.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A GRAND Classic Preview

All I heard over the past year and a half since BASS announced the 2013 Bassmaster Classic would be held on Oklahoma's Grand Lake was what a horrible venue this was and that the guaranteed frigid weather would surely make for an impossible bite. To a degree, the naysayers were spot on, the weather is not just frigid, it's damn near treacherous as Winter Storm Q has wreaked havoc on the central region of the United States dumping snow, leaving sheets of ice on the freeways and plummeting temperatures to bone chilling lows. In fact, the morning take-off air temp is going to be sitting at a wicked 19 degrees.

Still, I'd much rather be running down the winding turns of Grand Lake O' the Cherokees enduring the frigid temps than working the Expo Show downtown Tulsa. Don't get me wrong, I'm very excited to represent my sponsors and myself at the largest bass fishing consumer show on the planet and without their support I wouldn't be in the position to even have a chance at qualifying for the most prestigious bass championship in the first place.

What's tough is that qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic has been a goal of mine since I was a kid. Seriously, not a day goes by that I don't think of it. To make matters a little tougher to swallow is that Grand Lake is the lake I know the best outside Minnesota's, Lake Minnetonka and I've spent at least five different trips on Grand during this very time of year. What the above mentioned naysayers are assuming is completely off base outside the obvious prediction of cold weather. Currently, Grand Lake is the best non-grass lake in the country and the cold that everyone is gripping about is a everyday buffet for these bass which are already fattening up and going into full-time prespawn mode.

How they catch them and where?

I was asked this an in interview by BassEast last week, which you can read here. I gave a couple scenarios for what can be expected but now due to the immense amount of rain, sleet and snow, I'm expecting my prediction of dirty water, a 1/2 oz. black and blue jig and anglers that like to go flippy flippy to excel to the top of the leader board.

A little more fuel for thought? I expect this thing to be won near the dam, like very close to the dam in fact I have a cove's name permanently stamped into my brain but in case I'm wrong, I'll keep that little piece of advice near and dear.

Besides all the frigid fun to be had on the water, the party continues in full forces at the Tulsa Convention Center where anyone who has anything to do with the sport of bass fishing will be promoting their products to the masses.

I'll be spending most of my time in the Navionics booth but will also be helping out at the Hydrowave, Trokar, Lake Fork Tackle and Lowrance booths. Please by all means stop by, introduce yourself and talk shop because besides actually fishing, talking fishing and buying fishing products is second best.

Hope to see you at the show and CONGRATS to the 53 best throwing down this weekend, may the best man win!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

C'Mon Maine!

You know me, or well maybe you don't, but one thing you should know is I frown on political jargon here on Not that I don't have my opinions and beliefs, cause God knows I do but I don't feel the need to use my website as a soap box to try to force my beliefs down your throat. In fact, I'm quite the opposite, I find what makes this country great is that everyone has an opinion and as long as it comes from their heart, than they're entitled to their opinion. I may hate it, you may hate it, but it's their opinion and that's all that matters.

I would much rather just talk fishing here and leave the politics to the late night conversations around the fire with a few buddies and case of cold ones. Nothing like annoying my wife with some good ole' Miller Lite fueled political talk, as if talking fishing with the same friends for the two hours prior to that conversation wasn't already mind numbing for her. Gotta love her, she's a trooper.

 ** Let's do our part to be sure these great products keep catching giant fish for years and years to come.

But, and of course there had to be a but coming, it seems that Rep. Paul Davis of Maine, who claims to be a serious fisherman, is requesting a state-wide band of "rubber" baits in his waters. Being that soft plastics haven't been made of rubber for some time, it seems to me that his lack of scientific evidence or anything even close to a logical thought will prove to be completely off base. However I would imagine, in his uneducated demands that he is also referring to that of soft plastics which may appear to a novice fisherman, pun intended, that it's made of rubber but really it's a liquid plastic that is heated, molded and then cooled into a soft plastic.

Even so, there isn't much of any scientific evidence that suggests soft plastics are any more harmful to our fish or our fisheries than that of any other artificial lure. In fact, what is proven is that artificial lures are far less harmful and way less lethal than that of live bait. I'm not throwing live bait under the bus here either as by the numbers they're all safe and should be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts and their families for generations to come.

Despite trying to strip outdoor enthusiasts of their rights, Rep. Paul Davis must also feel Maine and the rest of the United States is balling uncharted levels and doesn't want to consider the monetary side of implementing such a law. The last research I saw was done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where in the year 2006, it was estimated that at least 30 million U.S. anglers, ages 16 years or older, enjoyed over 403 million fishing trips, spending over 42 billion in fishing related expenses that year alone. I'm not saying that money is everything but come on Rep. Davis, how about you use your resources and public funding as well as your imagination and come up with a few better and more realistic ways to help our waters and our fish because if I'm not mistaken, it is us, the anglers, that provide the monetary allowances that keep not only our fish and our waterways but also our tradition of fishing alive and strong.

Please take a quick moment to sign this petition put together by Keep America Fishing, so that Maine's legislature not only here's their own anglers voice but knows loud and clear that we as anglers nationwide got each others back.

For more information please check out the following websites, Bassmaster and Keep America Fishing.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bassmaster Southern Open

Lake Toho/Kissimmee Chain, Kissimmee, FL

Frustrated and Heartbroken may just as well be the title to this blog post. No matter how hard you prepare for something, no matter all the precautions you take or the desire you have, in this sport there's variables that are just simply out of your control. I guess that's what makes winning all the better. To win, you bested a stacked field. You outsmart mother nature and found a way to skirt around the road blocks. When you lost, you acknowledged that you fell and got right back up, dusted yourself off and tried it again. A true winner will take a lump right on the chin and anxiously stick their head out for another. That's how you become a winner in the world of bass fishing, you gotta be a fighter.

I first need to apologize for my lack of posts lately but I have been down in central Florida practicing for the first Bassmaster Southern Open held on the renowned, Kissimmee Chain. My Father was able to fly out and meet me down there as we have always talked about how great it would be to spend some time in central Florida, dodging alligators in hopes of jacking up a double digit largemouth from the water jungle that is Lake Kissimmee.

My original plan was to never leave Lake Toho as this is usually the lake where most events are won but since my Dad got us a cabin at Camp Mack for the pre-practice, I decided we'd spend a few days there and it didn't take long for me to fall in love with what I was seeing.

Everyone including myself was thinking this was going to be a blowout because of the warmer temps and the full moon that was scheduled for the Saturday before our tournament. After spending a day or two combing the ultra shallows in search of bedding bass, instead all I saw was an occasional buck bass guarding fry and deserted beds. I know they spawn from February through April in Florida but I still think a good wave moved up on the new moon, which was a couple weeks prior and from what I was hearing, these fish had started spawning in December with a few claiming they caught 'em of beds in the end of November. 

Florida can be tricky with all the vegetation as everything looks so good but the key to Florida is understanding the grass, both submergent and emergent. Certain strains of vegetation will grow in silt or muck and others need sand to grow. Once I figured out which grass needs sand, I could quickly find these potential spawning areas. After not having much luck finding the actual spawners, I knew the next step would be finding staging areas that held both prespawn and postspawn females. I found that if I looked right outside these spawning flats to the next drop off that I could find these staging areas with the key being finding the thickest of matted vegetation and using a 1 1/2 oz. Eagle Claw Lazer Tungsten Weight, with a 5/0 Trokar Flippin' Hook and a Lake Fork Tackle Tube Craw (Black/Blue) and flip into these mats and hold on. Winter in Florida may seem nice to us but it's actually a very unstable time for these Florida-strain bass that are very susceptible to the slightest changes in weather temps. The overnight lows are key and all I know is when I have frost on my boat in the morning, the bass aren't loving life in the lake. These mats are filled with mud and even when the temperature is not favorable for bass, it's always sunny in Florida and these mats will heat up throughout the day and the bass put their backs up into the mat and use them as a way to stay warm.

My Dad and I managed some nice fish during our pre practice time and quickly my heart was telling me Kissimmee was going to be the place that I would try to win this thing in.

Official practice started and I spent a little time on Big Toho and all that did was confirm my liking for Kissimmee. These lakes may be close together but they are completely different from one another. Toho is more manicured than Kissimmee but if you got the time to search off shore structure and like deep weedlines, this is the place to be. Instead, I focused my time on the very southern part of Lake Toho, trying to find an area to fish while I was waiting for the lock master to get us through the lock. I should probably explain for those who don't know, the Kissimmee Chain is made up of basically four lakes though there are a few others. It starts up north in the town of Kissimmee with Lake Toho, then you lock through the dam and head down a few mile channel and come into Lake Cypress. Next you'll run across Cypress back through another long channel which of course is named the Kissimmee River and you'll end up in Lake Hatchineha, run through Hatch and back through the Kissimmee River and walla, you're in Lake Kissimmee.

I did manage to find some fish in Toho but was skeptical to their size. I spent the entire official practice and the weekend before pulling on all my bites on both Kissimmee and Toho so that I wasn't burning giants that I would need come tournament time. This takes every bone of confidence in your body too. You come all the way to Florida, the land of the giants and pull on bites without setting the hook being ultra careful not to actually catch them. It takes a special kind of dumb-ass to be a tournament angler!

To my astonishment, I drew boat 5 out of 198 anglers for the first day! Dude, it doesn't get much better for my game plan. Being that they will only allow about 15-20 boats to lock through at a time, I knew I would skirt right through and have dibs on the best stuff on Kissimmee.

It was one of those tournaments I just felt good about. It's not everyday you can show up to an unfamiliar body of water and have just four rods rigged up for this big of an event. Basically I had two G Loomis GLX Flipping Sticks, matched with Shimano Core MgFv high speed flipping reels and had them both spooled with 60 lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid. Both were rigged identical except one had a 1/2 oz. Lazer Tungsten Weight for sparse pad clumps and solo reed patches and the other had the 1 1/2 oz. Lazer Tungsten for the matted stuff. Both were equipped with a 5/0 Trokar Flippin' Hook and a Lake Fork Tackle Tube Craw and yes, both had an insert rattle in the body.

The other two rods were basically just time consumers in between good areas to try to smack a hungry bass. One was a 1/2 oz. Biovex Strangun Spinnerbait and the other was a Lake Fork Tackle Boot Tail Magic Shad rigged with a 1/8 oz. weighted Trokar Swimbait Hook.

At take-off everything went good until I got about 5 miles down the lake and I spun a hub. Are you kidding me? I rarely ever have engine issues and now? Keeping my composure, I got the Tournament Director on the phone who sent Tow Boats USA down to help me out. I got them a spare prop and as they were trying to get the prop off on the water, the realized that my hub actually melted to the prop shaft. Unusual, but they were able to pry the old prop off, replace it with a new one and send me on my way. At around 9:30, I was back in action and now waiting in line to try to lock through to head down to Kissimmee. At about 10:30, I was through the lock and racing for Kissimmee when all of a sudden my lower unit blew out. Damn it. Obviously there was more of an internal problem as the lower unit was getting so hot that it melted out another hub and completely wrecked my lower unit.

Now, I'm on my trolling motor trying to get back to the lock so that I can get towed off and get to the service trailer to try and attempt to get back on the water and salvage this day that I just soon forget. Thanks to Tow Boats USA, they had me off the water and to the service trailer where I got fixed up and sent back out with just under an hour to fish before I had to be back to weigh in. Not knowing where to go, I just jumped up on the first weedline and started fishing and managed one small fish, just over a pound and got back to weigh in.

I came to find out that my day 2 was going to be a trying day as well as there was a better chance than not that I had a more severe problem that was still not fixed that could potentially be causing these issues and no where near enough time to get it figured out. This ruled out Kissimmee and instead needing to somehow gain some points, I decided it best to just stay near the launch on the north side of Toho and just go fishing. I hadn't practiced there but we all know Toho has giants and a good fisherman will figure out a way to at least put something together.

I did manage to put together a small limit and move up the standings but I still couldn't have been more disappointed with the outcome. Looking back, it's unfortunate, in fact I could throw up just thinking about it but the fact is this is the beast of our sport. Just like Nascar, we as tournament anglers demand so much out of our engines and boats that I'm just thankful for all the days where it's gotten me on and off the water and performed at a high level. I've fished now competitively for over 6 years and sure I've had little issues but never a big one. That says volumes for today's engines and as a professional angler I need to learn to overcome events like this because anyone who's fished at these levels has had to do the same.

Looking back, I always try to think of what I could have done to perform better and in this instance there was none. I was around the winning fish, in fact I was sharing water with 10 of the top 12. I'm not saying I'd a been there but I had the bite dialed in, I surely would have done much better then I did staring at the back of a tow boat. All you can do is take care of your equipment, which God knows I do and practice for success because this is not something you can prepare for, you simply can't fish scared.

I'd like to personally thank everyone at B.A.S.S. as well as the service crews that helped me get back onto the water. I'd also like to thank Tow Boats USA and just say that the $65 I spent for a year of their service not only came back ten times over, but also aided me in moving up the standings.

I can't wait for the next time I get to get down to the Kissimmee area and get some much due revenge on these giant Florida bass. I'll be stewing over it until then.......

One more small note, with all that happened or I guess I should say didn't happen for me, I do have a highlight of the tournament. Being that I stayed so close to the ramp day two, I got my picture taken by Mr. James Overstreet. That may not be a big deal to some, but to me, a guy that appreciates awesome photography, Street is the best in the business in my opinion and it's an honor to see yourself being focused into his lens. Here's a couple of the pics for you to check out and you can surely see the rest of them here on the Bassmaster Website.

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