Sunday, March 24, 2013

Northwest Sport Show

Minneapolis, MN

It's surely a tradition. Since I was a kid I always got excited for the annual Northwest Sport Show to roll into town and now living 1000 miles away and I still wouldn't dream of missing it!

The show was as to be expected and I was very fortunate to get back up north, see some familiar faces, shake some deserving hands and talk shop with those that make Minnesota such a fond place in my heart. I also get the opportunity to represent my sponsors and showcase some of the new products that are coming out in the near future.

Navionics is not only the best mapping company, they set the standard in the world of underwater high definition charting. I travel to new lakes and rivers everyday, there's no way I could be successful without the help of my Navionics chip.

New this season is Navionics highly anticipated Nav+, which will allow the buyer to download any area of the United States that fits their exact needs. For instance, if you live in Minnesota but frequent Florida you can add both states to your personalized card. Then if you plan a trip to Texas, simply add Texas. This way you as a consumer doesn't need to purchase areas you won't be using. Giving the consumer much more value for their dollar.

Navionics is the only true lake mapping software company that allows users to upload data and to make it better, they allow the buyer to have unlimited freshest data updates. Simply visit, place your Navionics SD card into your computers card reader and click a button. Just that easy you have all the freshest data that Navionics is updating by the day.

There was all kinds of buzz inside the Lowrance booth with everyone glued to the new Touch screens like a 13 year old is to his Playstation. I can't hardly blame them either, I've been rocking these new units for well over 6 months now and have been loving every second.

Lowrance HDS Touch offers up touch screen that is made to perform in extreme elements. The use of touchscreen enabled the larger screen in place of all the unnecessary buttons and made the entire system far more efficient and user friendly.

If you have any questions on any of these products please don't hesitate to contact me and I'll do my best to help you out!

Tight Lines!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

FLW Everstart Central

Lake of the Ozarks, Osage Beach, MO

First off, let's just get down to brass tacks and call a spade a spade. I never had a chance. Completely lost from start to finish.

Initially, I was eager and optimistic about this derby as I have some decent knowledge of the Ozark Lakes and always around this very time of year. I had never been to LOZ but from what I came to know, it was most similar to Grand Lake but with much clearer water. Let me tell you, on this go around, ole' LOZ was nothing like Grand, it was a beast all of it's own.

I stayed down by the dam for much of practice and though usually I feel more comfortable up river, all my previous success on Ozark Lakes in March came on the lower end of the lake near their respected dam. Also, we were in the midst of a week long Canadian clipper that felt more like an Antarctic clipper and my initial thinking was that these clear water main-lake fish would be less effected than the shallow and dirtier water bass up river.

Saturday and Sunday of practice I found success fishing way up a main creek arm and flipping a black and blue BassTEK Tungsten Jig to tapering bluff rock that met spawning bays. The water temp was in the low 40's and with the onslaught of rain that soaked the area ahead of this cold front I knew this bite was never going to hold up as the rain would surely muddy up my water.

Sure enough that bite vanished for me rather quickly and I instead focused my efforts on trying to back track out and fish secondary and main lake points with the tried and true methods for LOZ, a Umbrella Rig mixed in with a jerkbait.

Generally, this style fishing is not my strength but after moving to Tennessee and spending the winter learning on Lake Chickamauga, throwing both of these baits have been a mainstay. After fishing Monday through Wednesday without a keeper bite, the obvious started sinking in. This was going to be a learning deal for me.

I've worked very hard at learning what my electronics are telling me. Countless hours, face to screen studying my Navionics Map and breaking down structure with my Lowrance HDS network. I was very impressed with my ability to find bass in unfamiliar terrain and under unfamiliar circumstances but was disgusted with my lack of knowledge on how to catch them. I could idle main-lake points and secondary points and spot schools of bait suspended out over very deep water and I could also see small schools of bass that were hanging just beneath the shad. The key was finding the points that were near channel swings as this seem to be the general correlation. Transition banks like the one below were the key and were definitely the spots that were holding the right fish.

The problem was I had no idea how to catch these fish and even worse, I had no confidence in any creative attempt I was able to muster up. I could find these fish out in 65 feet of water but suspending about 25-35 feet down. I wish I could have got them to eat a Umbrella Rig better but the only other option was a suspending jerkbait like the Biovex Amp Stay 80. The key to capitalizing on this technique is light line, soft jerks and agonizing long pauses. Seriously, we're talking like 15 second pauses which has got to be the hardest thing in the world when you have no confidence in the spots your fishing.

It all proved to be too much for me and I posted up a career worst and very humbling 103rd place. Never have I been so lost in an event and felt so out classed to top it off. I was forced a hard learning lesson and still have a lot to work on in this area of my fishing ability. I had never really targeted suspended fish before and the combination of cold weather and clear water made for a challenge that I was not yet ready to accept.

On the good side, after loading up and blowing out of LOZ, I headed south to hang with some buddies that were fishing Table Rock Lake. Conditions were pretty similar between the two lakes and I took what I had learned on LOZ and put it to use on old Table Rock. Toward the end of the day I was following a old creek channel toward the back of a creek. It came up and bumped a secondary point just perfectly. I threw out and caught myself a 2 and a 3 pounder and this 8 pound gorilla.

I'm getting there one day at a time and enjoying the entire ride along the way!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

FLW Everstart Southeastern

Lake Guntersville, Guntersville, AL

Since I moved so close to Guntersville, I decided to throw my money in for this event even though I wasn't fishing the entire series. Being that Guntersville is an awesome fishery and only about two cups of coffee from my new home, I had figured I'd have all the time in the world to practice for this event.

Nothing ever works out the way I expected. Instead, I spent a good part of the winter down in Florida and then had my boat in getting serviced due to a small piece of wood that I had accidently gotten lodged in my return line and kept dropping lower units and melting prop hubs.

The week of the tournament and I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma working the Bassmaster Classic and as soon as that was wrapped, I drove through the night to get my boat and was finally on old G'ville bright and early Tuesday morning with a day and half to get things figured out.

It didn't take any time at all as I was having no problems catching fish and the size was there and was feeling good about my odds of putting together a good sack. I found some new submergent milfoil clumps that were only in about 3-5 feet that was holding a nice school of four pound bass. I also found some rock areas that were close to secondary channels. These rocks were holding the right ones and they were jumping all over Outkast Touch Down Jigs and shaky head worms.

Day one and I had a late flight. The weather had taken a swing from bad to worse with temps in the 30's. I stubbed my toe right away with a bad decision as I knew my grass fish would most likely shut down if they hadn't already and made the choice to stop there and try to bust one or two from that school first thing. I sat there for a good hour trying to force a bite and only got one short strike on a jig.

I left that area and ran to my rocks only to find another boat sitting there. The entire area was good but there was a juicy spot that was the prime meat and every time I'd try to work my way to it, the other competitor would do a great job at keeping me at bay. I watched him catch a solid 5 and one about 8 and I finally forfeited the spot. It was my mistake not going there right away. I let my head get the best of me and got greedy when I should have just used common sense from the get go.

At about noon, I had only a few strikes and no bass in the livewell when I decided to abandon that bite and instead focus on a creek channel that was holding good fish. I put the jigs down and picked up a Hog Farmer Bait Company 5 Wire 8 Blade Alabama Rig with 4" Biovex Kolt Ridgetail Swimbaits. I cranked up my Hydrowave to full sound and went to work. I managed 3 bass for almost 12 pounds including a 6 pound kicker. Unfortunately I was unable to weigh a full limit and basically threw myself out of contention on day one.

Day two, I knew I had an outside shot of getting a check with a huge day. I decided to get back to the same area where I caught those three and stay there all day with the Hog Farmer Rig. Even though I had gotten to the "juice"first, I decided to stay off it and see if that competitor was going to make it his first priority and if so, it was his. If not, game on. I wasn't in the area for more than a couple minutes and sure enough I see dude coming around the corner. He had thanked me for my sportsmanship and when I asked how he was doing he said he was leading. That spot pumped out 30 pounds of bass day one. It stung a bit but it's so rare to be the only one to find anything these days to yourself and I should have made that my priority day one. I didn't and feel I did the right thing by giving him honors but still told him that if he left it, I'd hit it. He agreed and said fair enough. I moved down to my creek channel and started throwing the rig. Nothing. After a couple hours, I couldn't stand it anymore and picked up the jig and on every pass I'd boat a keeper. Not giants but good ones and everyone I boated was spitting crayfish up in the livewell. Even the ones that tagged the A-Rig the day earlier. I learned something here, never did I ever boat a keeper on the A-Rig day two and only for about a 2 hour window day one. I must have hit that feeding window just right where these bass really got active. Not sure if the Hydrowave help stimulate these bass day one or if the timing was just right but either way, it sure didn't hurt!

I had a limit when I decided to check my grass again and still no takers. I decided to head back toward my creek channel and as I arrived I noticed homeboy was off that spot and moved in. I made three casts  with a Outkast Tackle Touch Down Jig and popped a solid 6 pounder, making for a nice cull. I sat there for probably another hour as time ticked away and out of desperation I pulled out a new Biovex prototype swimbait that weighs an ounce but has a small shad profile and is balanced perfectly to fall straight down like a well tuned rattletrap. On my first cast I was dragging the bait just like a football jig acting like I was bringing a dying shad across the rocks when big girl smoked it! Man, it was a giant and I'll throw my pride to the side and say this one pulled my arms down! I got her just to the surface when for no reason at all, she pulled off. I couldn't believe it and have no idea how I could have changed that outcome. I never got a great look but I whole heartedly believe that bass was well over 10. I don't throw that around lightly either and by all means read through my entire blog that I started since 2007 and find one time where I've ever had the kahunas to throw a statement like that out there. Either way, she was gone and I had to go weigh. I came to the scales with a respectable 16 and change and finished in 69th place out 156 anglers. All I needed was two more 14" bass day one and I'd a had a nice $1500 dollar check but instead was loading the boat and heading for home.

I still have mixed emotions as I should have filled a limit day one and would have cashed a much needed check. Unfortunately, I didn't but still take little satisfaction for a respectable finish despite my first ever tourney on Lake Guntersville. All I know is that ole' G is very much alive and well and will be for a very long time. I can't wait to get back!

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