The tournament that I've had my eye on all season long finally arrived! I headed down to La Crosse, WI to begin prefishing on the Mississippi River for the Everstart Central Division event on Saturday the weekend before the tournament.
The open pools for this event were pools 7 through 9, but because of the short fishing days and only being a 3-fish limit per the WI DNR rules, I decided I was going to focus on the Lake Onalaska portion of pool 7 and the south end of pool 8.
My first two days of prefishing were very beneficial to me, for several reasons. One, I was able to find areas on both pools that were holding fish. Two, I did catch some fish that were in that much need 3 lb. range and lastly, I was also eliminating much dead water.
Going into the first day of competition on Thursday, I knew that for me to stay competitive I would need to weigh in at least 8 lb’s and that ideally I would need to be shooting for that 8.5 to 9 lb. mark and I felt with the practice I had I could hit this range and with one kicker bite, I could easily be pushing for a top ten spot.
On day one, I locked up to the Lake and started throwing a swim jig and Carolina-rig on a weed line, but that yielded one small keeper for my co. My second spot did hold fish, but not the size I had caught in practice. I was fishing a grass/lily pad bed that had current running alongside of it and throwing a Snag Proof Bobby’s Perfect Frog, which put together a quick limit for me.
Shortly before midday I decided to lock back down to pool 8 in hopes to upgrade my catch. I fished several main channel spots, but had no success, so I ran to a backwater area that had current and wood and picked up my tube rigged on a Trokar Tube hook and began flipping every possible inch of cover.
Not too long after arriving in this spot, I stuck a nice 3 lb. fish and instantly the wheels started turning and was on the lookout for another key fish. Another strike, this time a 2.5 lb. fish! As the time ran out for the day, I finished with a 3-fish limit for 7 lb. 15 oz. and was in 52nd spot, not what I had hoped, but I didn't shoot myself in the foot and was primed for day number two on Friday!
Since I had burned my water on day one up on the Lake, I decided to run south on pool 8 on Friday. Armed again with my Snag Proof Frogs, Wright & McGill frog rod and Seaguar Kanzen Braid, I casted to and worked my frog around miles upon miles of vegetation.
The number of fish I caught was more than on day one, as I slowly began upgrading my limit. With every cull I made, I knew I was inching closer and closer to hopefully cashing a check in my first ever Everstart event. I also knew that anytime I could get a 4 lb. plus fish to bite and I could catapult close to the top ten cut.
As I crossed the stage I was hoping that my limit would be enough for cashing a check, as the scale settled, I again weighed 7 lb. 15 oz. and I knew that it was going to be close to the check line. After the weigh in had been complete, my two day total of 15 lb. 14 oz., put me in 50th place and just 8 oz. from cashing a check.
This was a disappointing result, but I stayed competitive, learned a lot and had fun fishing this triple a level event, against some stiff local sticks and national touring pros.
On to the next tournament and hope that big bite comes, right?!
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With the summer temps consistently pushing or going over the 90 degree mark the last couple weeks, it is safe to say summer is here! I couldn't be more pumped up about this, not just because I love the warm temperatures and longer days, but the big bass get biting good out deep.
I've been relying on several key presentations to target deep water bass that are keying in on deep weed edges and rock piles. Carolina-rigs, drop shots and football head jigs can be seen on the deck of my boat at all times. If I can really get the school of fish going, tossing a crankbait is a fun way to load the boat quickly.
On Wednesday, June 27th, my partner John Cline and I had the Denny's Wednesday Evening tournament. Our first stop was loaded and we had a great evening on the water, catching a lot of quality sized bass. I was using a finesse worm on a Trokar Drop Shot hook, which kept my big bass of the evening buttoned up all the way to the boat.
I feel the two other key pieces of my equipment was my Wright & McGill Micro Guide Honeycomb Drop Shot rod, this rod is super sensitive, but yet has a strong backbone to get the big ones in. I spooled my reel with 10 lb. Seaguar TATSU Fluorocarbon line, to give me maximum sensitive and ease of casting.
Our four fish limit weighed in at 14 lb. 13 oz. putting us in 2nd place and our biggest bass settled in on the scales at 4 lb. 14.5 oz. This second place finish felt great! Despite it just being an evening tournament, the competition was stiff and this was my first checked cashed on Lake Minnetonka.
One of the keys I feel to being successful when fishing off shore structure and deep water, is relying on your electronics. With larger screens, you can have your GPS on one side and your depth on the other when running your trolling motor and an bigger screen comes in handy when side imaging new fishing areas. See more tips and how I rig my Humminbird Electronics on my boat in this video.
Hopefully the knowledge and time on the water will continue to pay off this summer as we still have four Denny's Wednesday events left.
On the horizon for me is a FLW BFL tournament down on pools 4 and 5 of the Mississippi River on Saturday the 14th and then a Big Bass Bonanza event on that Sunday on Lake Minnewaska. Hopefully I'll have a blog for you following that weekend with some goods recaps!
With the rash of on the water accidents and drowning occurring in MN, I encourage everyone to wear your life jacket at all times. I know wearing a big, bulky life jacket gets hot, that is why I wear an Onyx Inflatable Life Jacket. I stay cool, comfortable and able to fish, but still I'm 100% safe.
Everyone have fun and be safe on the water this holiday week!
The first two events of the 2012 Big Bass Bonanza have come and gone and my partner, Nick Gross and I have put ourselves in a position that we will need to climb out of. The first event was held on Sauk Lake, which has the potential for putting out some big bass, which it did, with the winners bringing in over 30 lb's of bass for an 8-fish limit!
My partner Nick spent sometime out on the lake the weekend prior and found some scattered bass holding on several forms of cover. During our official practice day on Saturday we confirmed that Sunday would be a junk fishing day, to some anglers this is a bad thing, but for us its just a fun day of fishing. This day started off with Nick and I going left, when we should've went right and this cost us. We had a tough day on the water and only ended up with 6 fish for 11.83 lb's, putting us in 18th.
The second event was on Green Lake, near Spicer and going into this tournament Nick and I had a good feeling, after both of us having good practice days out there. Tournament day came and the bite was noticeably different from the day before, but we put together a pattern and continued to catch smallmouth throughout the day, but they were all cookie cutter 2.25 to 2.5 lb fish. These were not the fish we were going to need to win, nor finish in the money.
Throughout the day, we continued to upgraded, little-by-little and I was able to put our big bass, a 3.98 lb. fish in the live well. By the end of the day we had a limit that weighed 20.53 lb's, which put us in 12th out of 31 teams. Not a horrible finish, but not what Nick and I were looking for.
So taking the positives from this, we should move up in the year end standings for making the TOC in September, which is our goal. With the wind yesterday, we relied heavily on our Minn Kota trolling motor to keep our boat in good position. A trolling motor is as only good as the battery's powering it, which is why I rely on my Minn Kota Battery Charger. Here is a quick look at some of it's features.
Until then, I hope you get out to enjoy the great fishing the lakes and rivers have to offer and be safe as the boat traffic increases now with summer in full swing.
Wow, what an up and down weather pattern we've had here in the Midwest over the last couple weeks, one day it is 90 degrees and the next it is 60. This coupled with Noah's Ark like rains, have made fishing on the Mississippi River very interesting, good, but interesting.
I made the first trip down to the cabin two weeks ago to fish a club open tournament with my brother, this was the first time we were able to fish together this year and first time for my new boat getting wet on my home water, needless to say I was pretty excited on my trip south.
At this point the river was still above it's typical summer level and at it's highest point for the year. This coupled with muddy water, made searching out clean water vital to having a good tournament. So throughout practice we covered a lot of water to find clean water, getting bites wasn't our first concern, just clean water. Once we found clean or should I say cleaner water, the fish bit, but there was a handful of small buck bass and pike that were more willing to eat our offerings then the key tournament bass we were in search of.
On tournament day, we had two backwater areas that had clean water, baitfish and what we were hoping was bigger bass in them. I relied heavily on my Minn Kota Talon in this event, as we had 20 to 30 mile per hour winds and having good boat control was very important as I had to make several flips or casts to the cover to get the bass to bite.
We relied on two offerings throughout the day, an RC Tackle Swim Jig and flipping a variety of Texas-rigged soft plastics. Even though we weren't able to load the boat with any big bass, we did manage one 3 lb. fish to help anchor our 16.55 lb. 8-fish limit. This actually put us in 17th place out of 60 teams, earning us a small check, which is never a bad thing!
My Texas-rig set up ended up putting over half of our limit in the boat and I feel that the gear I used helped me be successful with it as I was flipping in very thick cover. My Wright & McGill Micro Guide Heavy Cover 7'6" Rod and Victory reel spooled with 20 lb. Seaguar TATSU, helped me not lose a single fish all day.
Only a few short days back in MN and I was heading back south to the cabin for a long Memorial Day weekend and lower water levels. These lower water levels would help concentrate the bass more and put them in their typical post spawn feeding areas.
The weather throughout the weekend was again ever so changing, which had me relying on my ScoutLook Weather app on my phone constantly. This helped me stay ahead of the storms and with their Fish Log app, so I can keep track of my catches and the weather conditions when I caught them.
The bass were on the feed and we were able to catch them just how I like to, with topwaters! In open water areas where the bass were pushing shad up against rock and current, we would use poppers and in the backwaters, we used Snag Proof Frogs and RC Tackle Swim Jigs.
I had to make extremely long casts with my popper and the Seaguar Senshi monofilament allowed me to make those casts and had just the right amount of stretch in it as a bass would inhale my bait. With Memorial Day comes the kick off to summer, so from here on out, you'll be seeing (well reading) a lot about my time on the water.