My 2011 tournament season got a later start than usually this year due to the high water on the Mississippi River, many of the early season tournaments were canceled. So I was very eager and excited to be fishing my first tournament this past Saturday (May 21st). Long time fishing friend of mine, Jeremiah Shaver and I decided we were going to fish the MSBC Bass Circuit, a team tournament being held out of La Crosse on pool 8 of the Mississippi River.

This tournament circuit is one of the most fished on the Mississippi and has some of the best river anglers competing in it, so I knew the competition would be stiff, but if you are going to get the year started you might as well start the right way! The other cool thing about this circuit is that a 50% of the money raised goes to fight Multiple Sclerosis.

I headed south to start pre-fishing Wednesday evening on was on the water first thing Thursday morning checking out Lake Onalaska, which is part of pool 7 of the river. Their are many areas of the lake that yield bass in the 4 to 6 lb. range on a regular basis, so we knew that we should try and dial in these big bass. After a full day of checking out water, both shallow and deep we had found only two areas holding quality fish in the 2.5 lb range, which is nothing to write home about.

Here is a quick photo from pre-fishing on Thursday, this bass hit a Texas-rigged tube on a 4/0 Trokar Tube Hook. What I was keying in on were areas that the bass were moving up and starting to prepare for the spawn. Since we didn't find the mother load, I knew that I had to check out pool 8 on Friday.

Right away Friday morning we started to get a good pattern dialed in by catching several bass in the 3 lb. range, along with one pushing the 6 lb. mark! The area we were targeting had all the elements the bass needed this time of year and we were targeting them along an inside weed line.

After checking several other areas, we made the decision that during the tournament we were going to concentrate on the one area we found first thing Friday morning and fish it all day, since the more time you are fishing the better!

Despite some strong winds during the tournament and a brief point of showers, my Onyx Pro Tech Rain Gear kept me warm and dry and able to concentrate on sticking to our plan of fishing this one area all day. By doing this we were able put together a solid 6 fish limit of bass that weighed in at 18.58 lb.'s! We knew that to be in contention for a check, we would need to bring at least a 3 lb. average to the scales. All of our bass were in that 2.75 to 3.5 lb. range, so the only thing we were missing was that elusive 6 lb. bass from Friday.

My key lure for this event was an RC Tackle spinnerbait that I fished around the vegetation and popped it out as it became hung up, many times this generated a reaction bite from the bass. To be able to make long casts and be able to feel some lite bites, my 7' Spinnerbait Wright & McGill Skeet Reese S-Curve, combined with 15 lb. Seaguar Inviz X was key.

When the scales were finally closed, Jeremiah and I ended up in 13th place out of 58 teams, not bad for my first tournament of the year, first tournament out of my new boat and first time fishing an event on this section of the river not in a pro-am format. So all in all I was very pleased with the result as we stuck to our game plan and fished our water until the last second.

Before I took off to La Crosse, I installed a recessed trolling motor pedal tray and it was very key to me being able to fish comfortably and have better balance in the wind on Saturday. If you have knee or back problems and our on the trolling motor a lot, I suggest you check out EZ Troll Tray.

Well now that the tournament season is underway and the bass season in MN opens up this Saturday, I'm jacked and ready for the year. I'll be fishing the Mississippi River at our cabin this weekend and then have my first Big Bass Bonanza event on the Horseshoe Chain on June 5th.

Check out my website for new videos and updates on my schedule. See ya on the water!