Gregg Kizewski

Gregg Kizewski is a licensed guide, lure manufacturer and bass tournament angler from northwest Wisconsin.

Deep Water Smallmouth Fishing - Part 2

Posted by: Gregg Kizewski Updated: October 2, 2011 - 11:10 PM

On September 16th, 2011 I headed 2 1/2 hours northeast to Minocqua, WIsconsin, to fish 2 tournaments - an Open hosted by the Northern Lakes Bassmasters on Saturday the 17th, followed by and Angler's Choice Series tournament on Sunday the 18th. Both of these tournaments were to be held on the Minocqua/Tomahawk chain of lakes. My tournament partner for both Saturday and Sunday would be George Diller of Altoona, WI.

I was hoping that the deep fish I found on my Labor Day scouting excursion would still be in the general vicinity of the waypoints that I marked, but a lot can happen to a body of water in 12 days. During that scouting trip the fish were catchable, but the bites were so light that I knew I was not connecting with every fish that picked up a bait. When you have 60' plus of line out, by the time the bite transmits up the line and through the rod, the odds of the fish dropping the bait before you get a hook in them, is very good. I knew going in to these 2 tournaments that I would need to use the most sensitive rods in my arsenal. Earlier this spring the Skeeter Boat Center became a G. Loomis/Shimano dealer, and I had purchased several rods that would fit my needs perfectly!

My choices were as follows:

  • The G.Loomis NRX 852s JWR - This is a 7'1" Extra Fast action Medium power spinning rod that I chose as a drop-shot rod. This is the lightest, most sensitive spinning rod I have ever have ever handled, but yet the extra fast taper lets you maintain complete control of the fish from the deepest depths, all the way to the boat!
  • The G.Loomis NRX 873C CRR - This is a 7'3" Fast action Medium-Heavy power casting rod that I chose as a Carolina rig rod when using leaders shorter than 36". Once again, this is a super light rod with which you can feel every rock or pebble that the sinker drags over - you can also feel a transition from gravel to sand, sand to muck, etc. Equally important is the backbone that the rod has to sink a hook in the hard bone of a fish's mouth even with 100' of line out.
  • The G.Loomis NRX 893C JWR - This is a 7'5" Extra-Fast action Medium-Heavy power casting rod that I chose as a Carolina rig rod when using leaders longer than 40". This rod has all of the characteristics of the 7'3" rod I chose, but the extra-fast action helped me pick up bite transmissions when using extremely long leaders.

On Saturday morning the air temperature was in the mid 40 degree range and the water surface temperature was in the upper 60 degree range. This condition created a low fog that delayed take off for a little while. When we arrived at our first spot, the waypoint that held fish 12 days earlier was barren. Feeling that the fish may have moved up to the closest hump we sidescanned the area a with our Humminbird 1198 and and marked a school of smallmouth within 400'  of our original waypoint. I marked a waypoint on the school and drove over them with the 2D screen to determine the size of the school. These fish were suspended at the 46' to 55' ranges in 64' of water and were positioned directly below 2 schools of baitfish (Ciscoes) See the first picture below.

Within the first 5 minutes of fishing this school, we caught 3 small keepers with the drop-shot rigs on the NRX rods. The tournament limit was 6 fish per 2 man team so we were half way there. Almost as quickly as the fish started biting, the whole school turned off. We tried multiple presentations and techniques, but we could not produce another fish.

The next several hours we went from waypoint to waypoint and despite marking fish, all of the schools we fished were in a negative feeding mood.

Finally, at 2 pm we found a hump in 32' of water that had a school of cooperative fish suspended at 27' to 30 ' (see the second picture below). I positioned the boat directly over the school and we tried the drop-shot technique for 15 minutes to no avail. I dropped a marker buoy approximately 10' to the side of the school and backed the boat off of the fish so we could drag Carolina rigged baits threw the fish.

When fishing deep with a Carolina rig, it is very important to make as long of casts as possible as to have a horizontal presentation and keep the bait in the strike zone longer. My choice of reels for long casts, is the Shimano Curado (see the 3rd picture below to view the Shimano Curado on a G. Loomis NRX). The Curado is a light but powerful baitcasting reel with an adjustable brake system that will let you cast a country mile without getting a backlash. Once you have a fish on, the Curado drag system is the best in the business!

The first cast through the school yielded a keeper smallmouth but the fish immediately shut down. I pulled back on top of the fish to see if they were gone. The school was still there, but had risen another 2' in the water column. I backed the boat out again and in an attempt to get the bait to ride higher in the water column. I tied on a 12 lb. test 50" monofilament leader to the Carolina rig with a floating bait. Since monofilament line floats, this setup would let the bait move right through the school at eye level.

The next 2 casts in a row yielded consecutive keepers - we now had a limit but we had to be back at the landing in 7 minutes for weigh-in so we had to leave.

We loaded the boat, and I actually considered just throwing our fish back because our 6 fish limit was small. I started watching people weigh in one or 2 fish per team and had only seen 2 limits so we knew fishing was tough for everyone. We brought our fish to the scales and they weighed 10.07 lbs. which was good enough for 4th place - that was a big surprise for us. We actually had enough weight to collect a check AND we learned a little something to carry in to Sunday's tournament (I will cover that in part 3 of this blog).

I would like to thank the following sponsors:

The Skeeter Boat Center

G. Loomis and Shimano

 

Deep Water Smallmouth Fishing

Posted by: Gregg Kizewski Updated: September 20, 2011 - 10:19 PM

On Labor Day (September 5, 2011), I headed to Minocqua, Wisconsin to make a sponsor appearance at the Wisconsin Bass Classic Tournament on behalf of my employer, the Skeeter Boat Center in Chippewa Falls, WI.

This venue was a tournament that I have fished for the past 3 years, but due to a family wedding, I would not be fishing this year. I did take the opportunity to get on the water (Tomahawk) and shoot some Hummingbird images for some of my 2012 deep water smallmouth seminars. I was really quite amazed at the number of schools of smallmouth that were suspended in 50’ to 60’ of water (see the first Humminbird 1198 screen shot picture below). Although many of the schools were in a negative mood, some good fish were catchable on a jigging spoon as well a drop shot technique.

With my past experience on this body of water, the smallmouth typically had moved up to the humps in 25’ to 45’ of water by this time of the year, and the 70 degree surface temperatures were very similar to Labor Day week the past 2 years. Something was a bit off this year in regards to their current location, but the fish were still heading to the humps.

The common denominator that I found in regards to fish location, was that they were suspended over sand flats that had depths of 65’ to 75’ of water. All of the sand flats that held fish were located near a transition to gravel and rock bottoms (see the second Humminbird 1198 screen shot picture below – the yellow bottom is sand and the red bottom is rock).

These fish were all following Cisco forage. I was excited to see the number of fish that were in that deep of water – the good news was that the contour lines the fish were following would make them at least somewhat predictable for the rest of the fall.

The moment I returned to my motel room, I searched for upcoming tournaments on the Minocqua/Tomahawk Chain and found that there was 2 upcoming tournaments - the Northern Lakes Bassmasters had an open tournament scheduled for September 17th and Angler’s Choice had a tournament scheduled for September 18th. I decided to fish those 2 tournaments and my next 2 blogs will cover those tournament days.

 

Fishing With Dad!!!

Posted by: Gregg Kizewski under Fishing Updated: September 4, 2011 - 12:49 AM

I guess memories that are forever engraved in our minds and hearts are those that bring you the most happiness or those that hurt to think about. This piece covers both extremes of those emotions because it is about my dad.

Everyone has something in their life that is as far back as they can remember. For me, it was 47 years ago at the age of 4. This fateful day was not my first time fishing, but it was the first time we got in to fish good – real good! In the course of less than an hour, I caught 50+ bluegills – keeper bluegills. I don’t even think dad got to fish during that hour – he spent all of his time putting worms on and taking fish off of my hook! Had he only known the fire that he fueled that summer day, he might have taken us back to shore early. That was not just the beginning of a passion for fishing; it would truly be classified as an obsession.

I was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, and we did not own a boat when I was in grade school. Dad had a 5.5 hp late 1950’s vintage Evinrude Fisherman motor. We would go to Phanthom Lake in Mukwonago,WI, and rent a boat any chance we had. When I was 8 or 9 years old, we started to vacation in the Hayward area. Panfish were usually the target, but when dad thought it was time, he introduced me to walleye fishing, and then musky fishing.

Amazingly enough, I can remember many things about our fishing trips. Yes, there were the fishing items that he taught me, like reading the water, matching the hatch, driving the boat, stealth on the approach of an area, etc. There were many, many things that he taught me and I absorbed.

There were ethical things that dad taught as well. We ate fish a LOT. That being said, we NEVER, EVER took more than our limit of fish. If we caught a fish that was deep hooked and wasn’t going to make it, that fish became part of our daily bag limit. I learned that you never crowd other fishermen. I learned that if there was litter in the water or at the landing you picked it up, even if it wasn’t yours. I learned how delicate the habitat was and how precious the resource was.

By the time I was 11 years old, I had developed in to a pretty good fisherman and my head was starting to swell a bit. The resort we were staying at on Big Sissabagama had a weekly kid’s fishing contest. The biggest walleye caught by a kid during the week, would get the lucky fisherman a candy bar and a soda. Being a competitive little bugger, I wanted to win that contest. Fishing was tough that year, and we worked hard for the walleye bite. Three days into the week I caught a 17” walleye that I of course entered in the contest. The very next day, someone staying at the same resort followed us out to the weed bar we were fishing, and were anchored about 30’ from us. At dusk, the man in the back of that boat landed a nice walleye. When we went back to shore, they followed us and much to my dismay, one of the kids in that boat took his dad’s fish to the lodge to enter in the kid’s fishing contest. I was more than a little mad, I was hot! For a Milwaukee boy, I was very naïve – it was my first experience with cheating. How could anyone do something like that?

Dad knew I was fired up and he did what dad did best – he talked to me about it – not like he was talking to a kid, but like he was talking to a friend. When the conversation was done, I knew under no uncertain terms that what that family had done was between them and God. He finished the conversation by telling me that I was not just a lucky fisherman, I had skill. That meant more to me than any contest.

When I was 15 years old, dad bought a 14’ Mirrocraft Deep Fisherman with a 25 hp Evinrude. It was like I had died and gone to heaven!! Dad and mom had just built a new house, but even with all they had going on, dad was never too busy to take me fishing. Every trip I learned more about fishing and life in general. At that time in my life, I am sure I thought it was all about the fishing, but now I know better. It was a little about fishing and a lot about spending time with dad.

In high school I had a lot of friends, but none like dad. Our common bond was fishing and no other activity would trump that.

I left home to get married in 1982 at the age of 21. In 1986 we had our first child, a daughter named Holly, and then in 1988 we had our son, Jordan. During my own course of raising a family, working and trying to find time to fit in all of life’s duties, time spent fishing with dad, let alone visiting other than holidays became scarce. That lost time is something I regret, but I had to do the things for my new family that dad and mom did for me. What you get out of something, is inversely proportionate to what effort you put into it – I am blessed with a wonderful family!

So, all that being said, flash forward to January of this year when dad started to fail. This is where my sad memory comes in. He started to lose his footing and fall. His memory was going, and I mean quickly. By April, the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was replaced with metabolic dementia. That is a condition caused by organs shutting down and having too many toxins in the system from a lack of filtration. Even when he had forgotten so many things and could not find the words to say seemingly simple sentences, his eyes lit up when I would visit and he would always ask “how is the fishing?” or “do you have any tournaments this week?”

Days and nights got pretty messed up too. The last week in June, as I sat in the recliner next to his hospital bed, he was making casting and reeling motions all night long. He was wide awake until 6 am when he finally fell asleep. I’d like to believe he was in a happy place that night into early morning.

Friday, July 1st, mom called me in the morning and said dad was failing fast. I gathered up some clothes and made the 3 hour trip to their house in Central Wisconsin. When I arrived at the house I went into dad’s room – he recognized me, smiled and said “what the hell are you doing here?” He was unable to eat or drink and it was just a matter of time. Not once did he complain throughout his brief illness, but Saturday morning I asked him how he was doing and he just shook his head. He had a moment of clarity and knew what was happening.

Saturday evening dad kissed mom goodnight and the as weak as he was, he pulled her tight. It was his goodbye to her. Sunday night, July 3rd at 11:54pm he squeezed my hand and breathed his last breath – he was 85 years old. He died a beautiful death with me, my mom and sister in the room. He knew we were there and I am so thankful I was holding his hand when he passed.

I hope in the end, that I am half the father, friend and mentor that my dad was. All along I thought we were just fishing, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Fishing was a vehicle that carried life’s lessons and afforded dad the time to brand those lessons in my soul.

Thanks dad – I love you!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Bowhunt of 2009

Posted by: Gregg Kizewski Updated: October 13, 2009 - 1:45 PM
With the boat cleaned out and the last bass tournament of the year behind me, it was finally time to get out in the woods with my bow. Typically I will not bow hunt until we get a couple good frosts, and this year is no exception. My house is nestled right in my hunting area so to keep an eye on deer movement and patterns of movement is part of a daily routine.

Late last week I was seeing a noticeable positive change in deer movement and at least 3 new shooter bucks in the neighborhood. This activity is almost 3 weeks early this year over last - in 2008 my first day bowhunting was Monday, October 27th. I rarely hunt out of a tree when bowhunting these days, as my strong suit and what I enjoy the most is calling and decoying. That being said, Friday October 9th I went on a little milk run to check all of my ground blinds and freshen them with brush where needed.

On Sunday, October 11th when I woke to a 29 degree temperature and a forecast of snow late in the day, I could no longer contain myself and made plans for the evening hunt. A good friend of mine from Rice Lake, Chad Larson was coming out here to hunt Sunday evening as well, and the plan was that Chad was going to hunt on the edge of the woods overlooking the alfalfa, and I was going to hunt a ground blind in a 15 year old pine plantation around 400 yards north of him.

This ground blind in the pines has been very good to me, as it is a staging area that deer use prior to coming out to feed. On Sunday November 2nd, 2008 out of this very ground blind I harvested a typical buck that netted 172 3/8 points. That deer came in to the horns and I took him at 8 yards with a recurve bow.

I settled in to the blind at 4:10 pm and waited until 5:30 pm to begin my first calling sequence with the horns. This early in the season, the most effective calling you can do is lightly grinding the horns together to simulate a more playful sparring. This will draw in both bachelor groups of bucks, as well as dominate bucks that are curious to see who is infringing on their territory.

At 6:05 pm I hit my second sequence on the horns. Shortly thereafter I heard the sharp snap of a broken twig behind me, and as I slowly turned toward the sound I was shocked to see 2 does and several fawns feeding on aspen saplings 20 yards behind me. I watched those deer for approximately 10 minutes when a a tractor pulling a chopper box came down the road 80 yards to my west and they all ran off tails up.

The next 10 minutes I was still facing backwards to see if they would come back, when I heard a noise to my east. I looked over my left shoulder and there stands a 175" class 10 point buck with 12" to 13" G2's sparring with a 14" wide 8 pointer. They were 27 yards out (checked it with a rangefinder) and they were oblivious to my presence. I had a Mathews Conquest with me on this outing and at 27 yards, that is a dead deer so I slowly twisted myself in a position for a shot. Every time the two bucks lowered their heads to leverage each other I got my posture closer to being able to take a shot.

Finally, in what seemed like an eternity but was more like 45 seconds, I was at full draw with my 25 yard pin on the vitals of the big buck. I was breathing right and squeezing the release - the kisser button was resting firmly in the corner of my mouth. At the release of the arrow, my Scentblocker mask flew off my head, darn near taking my ear with it. Unbelievable!!  I tried to gather my senses enough to figure out what happened. Upon examination, my kisser button got hung up on the cord of my mask, and pulled the mask off my head and throwing my arrow harmlessly off target.

I hate making rookie mistakes and this was certainly one of those. The cord that comes on these masks are designed to go behind your head and cinch the mask tight to your face. I was real warm earlier and loosened the cord, moving it to the front of the mask - dumb!!!

There is plenty of hunt left, plenty of movement still happening, but I won't forget this one for a while. To be so close to harvesting 2 Booners 2 years in a row and screw it up, gets me sick!

2009 Wisconsin Bass Classic - Minocqua Chain

Posted by: Gregg Kizewski Updated: October 5, 2009 - 7:24 PM
September 29th through October 3rd, my team tournament partner Steve Crotteau and I had our last big tournament of the year - the Wisconsin Bass Classic. There was 8 qualifying events leading up to this tournament, and 61 boats that made the journey to Minocqua, WI for the Classic.

The format of this tournament was all 61 boats fishing the Minocqua Chain on Thursday and Friday, October 1st and 2nd, then the top 40% of the field fishing Championship Bracket on the Minocqua Chain on Saturday October 3rd, and the rest of the field moving to Squirrel Lake for the Consolation Bracket. Tuesday and Wednesday were official practice days (Squirrel on Tuesday and Wednesday and Minocqua on Wednesday only).

On Thursday morning we woke up at 5am, to a 31 degree temperature and a heavy frost. Water temperature was on a serious downturn from practice and pre-practice and we knew fishing would be tough. We also knew this was the nicest day in the forecast for the next 3 days. We made the 30 minute run to our starting spot and the fish were cooperative early, but big fish were hard to come by. At the scales, we had 12.26 lbs of smallmouth for our 5 fish limit, but we did have a dead fish (the only dead fish weighed on day 1) for a net weight of 12.01 lbs - good enough for 2nd place.

Friday morning we woke up to 42 degree temperature, rain and steady 20 mph wind out of the east so we knew it would be tough, as many of our spots had full exposure to east winds. That being said, we caught 2 smallies early before the gusts to 30 mph became evident. We hit one of our key areas and were treated to 4' waves and an inability to hold the boat let alone feel the bait. With only 2 fish in the livewell at 2pm, and needing to be at the weigh in at 3pm, we tried our luck for largemouth and picked up a 2.25 lb almost immediately, and another that was just short of the 14" minimum size. At the scales this day, our 3 fish weighed 6.77 lbs and dropped us to 4th place, but we still made the Championship Bracket for Saturday.

Saturday morning there was once again rain and 43 degrees, but the wind speed was down to 7 mph and out of the north. This was much more conducive to correctly fish our spots. Our game plan was to hit as many waypoints as possible until we found active fish. We did catch our limit of smallmouth, but we were missing kicker fish. Our 5 bass limit hit the scales at 10.70 lbs and when it was said and done, put us in 5th place for the tournament.

First place went to Cory Hauk and Andy Bylander - they had an awesome year and deserved the win!

The host site for the Classic was The Pointe Hotel and Suites in Minocqua - they really rolled out the red carpet and made sure everyone had a good time. Weigh ins were held daily at the Yacht Club - another great establishment in the Minocqua area.

Once again, Bill, Karen and Bear Schutts of the Wisconsin Team Circuit put on an incredible event. The 2010 schedule has been announced and I would highly recommend anyone that is looking for a series to fish, to look them up!

We really important to thank the following sponsors - without their support, fishing tournaments would be virtually impossible - words alone cannot express what that support means!

A special thanks to all of our sponsors!!
Grafe Auction Company
Props Sports Bar and Grill
Hauck Power Sports
Skeeter Boat Center
Crotteau Chiropractic
Super K Jigs
A&J Landscape and Maintenance
Miller Lite
Humminbird/MinnKota
Quantum

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