Monday, December 3, 2012

December Potbellies!

The weather still seems to be sending us small windows of unseasonably warm Fall what else is there to do besides fishing in a t-shirt and jeans? For this entry I thought more about diving into my thought process on how I broke down the body of water I was fishing. Although as scary of a concept of being inside my head is, it made a lot of sense looking back on the day I had.

Water Depth, Water Clarity, and Weather...

The body of water I was fishing today was a pretty decently sized pond with a big dog leg to the left....below you can see what I am talking about. The deepest part of the lake was probably in the 6-8 foot range with some shallower parts in the 1-3 foot range near the shoreline. The water clarity was in the 2-3 feet range with the deeper water slightly cloudy. The weather shot temperatures into the high 50's to low 60's....which helped to warm the air up enough to change the barometric pressure. The water if I had to guess was in the low 40's to high 30's considering there was ice a few days prior on some of the shore edges. The wind was blowing steadily out of the South West around 5-7 mph.

What lures should I have tied on?

A lot of this is decided before I even leave the car. This is where some experience comes into play with having prior knowledge of the lake. But in the case of it being your first time there are some key lures that I have done well on in the Fall the past few seasons.

1) Weighted Plastic
Ex: 1/8 oz bullet weight, 3/0 wide gap hook, NetBait Baby Paca Craw
2) Spinnerbaits
Ex: 3/8 or 1/2 oz white spinnerbait
3) Squarebill Crankbait
Ex: Strike King KVD Squarebill in Gizzard Shad
4) Small Swimbait
Ex: YUM Money Minnow (4") with 1/8 oz weedless swimbait head
5) Lipless Crankbait
Ex: 1/2 oz Strike King Red Eye Shad
6) Jerkbait
Ex: 95 Lucky Craft Pointer
7) Swim Jig
Ex: 1/4 oz KVD Swim Jig with Big Hammer Tail

If you notice...90% of the lures mentioned key in on a shad bite. If there isn't much shad present in the lake you are fishing then I would start adapting to another food source like bluegill, worms, or craws. You will also notice that most of the lures focus on a reaction bite. When trying to fish a new lake I usually like to cover as much water as possible to find out where they are hiding....if there is even fish there to begin with. Once you find them then it is a matter of time to figure out what they are keying in on. Best thing to do is either stick with a similar lure that you caught them initially on or slow it down with a plastic or another slow moving bait.

Now what do I do when I get to the lake?

Best thing to do is pick a spot that has some form of cover....if the spot looks fishy to you then there may be a good chance that fish are hiding somewhere. Again, I have prior lake knowledge so I chose a spot that has produced for me the last two outings. I fished for an hour at that particular spot....threw several lures that produced for me in the last few weeks....and drew a big ol' blank. What changed? Was I doing something wrong? Are the fish even here? Should I just head home?

....absolutely not!

Ice was on the lake two days ago....and the ice was probably more prevalent on the side of the lake that received the least amount of sunlight. Which ended up being the side I was guess what? The water was probably colder on the side I was fishing! Then it hit me....what direction was the wind blowing? The weeks prior the wind was blowing directly at me in that spot and the fish were stacked up there. Today the wind was blowing in a different direction and the fish were no longer there. Wind blown shoreline = warmer water = baitfish! I packed up my stuff and headed to the next spot on the lake...a wind blown point. For some reason bass love points...and with this being the only point on the entire lake I figured one of them was sitting somewhere near by. I tried all of my reaction baits with no luck, so I slowed it down with the craw to give the area a different presentation. About 30 minutes into the new spot, I finally felt the "thunk" of fish picking up the Paca Craw.

11:22 AM: A 17" bass was on the board that weighed roughly 3.1 lbs.

No more fish to be had in that spot after a dozen more casts. I still wasn't fishing directly on the shoreline that received the most wind so I moved down to a third spot. I usually don't like fishing this shoreline since I rarely have caught anything there....and it is usually pretty shallow. I started off with a BPS Egg crankbait, casting towards the wind blown shore and working it back at a slow steady pace. A dozen casts or so into it and I finally had a bass smack the snot out of the bait! He was tugging hard and took one good run and the trebles popped free....S#*@! Lost a nice one.

I thought that was going to be the only fish on that side since I haven't caught more than one there...but I stuck it out anyway. No more bites on the BPS Egg so I switched up to a KVD 2.5 Squarebill in Blue Herring. The KVD squarebill has a slightly tighter wobble which seems to be somewhat more productive in colder water situations. That theory is debatable...but it all depends on the day I guess. Anyway, after giving it a few casts without a bump I decided to try one more crankbait. I thought it wasn't going to make a difference but I tried it anyway. I switched to a KVD 1.5 Squarebill in Gizzard Shad (white side with black back). A little bit smaller of a bait...and a color that probably more closely resembled the shad that I saw in there a few weeks prior. (Just a tip, but the gizzard shad, blue gizzard shad, and green gizzard shad match quite a few of the species of shad found in Illinois).

First cast with the different squarebill and BAM! And by BAM I mean the fish stopped the lure dead in its tracks!

1:30 PM: A 14" bass that weighed around 2.1 lbs.

Three casts later and another smack of a bigger fish!

1:40 PM: A 17.5" bass that weighed around 3.3 lbs.

It was like I just turned the switch on....the next hour I caught 5 more bass. A couple were small in the 10-12 inch range...but I snuck in a couple that weighed around 2 - 2.5 lbs.

After awhile of catching them on that particular squarebill I decided to experiment. Did they really key in more on the action, or was it the color driving them nuts? I took out a YUM money minnow in the same black/white pattern and put it on a swimbait jighead. First cast with the swimbait and it was slammed! Had him on for the first few seconds and then the hook popped free. Definitely need to get better on timing my hookset with weedless jigheads! Just goes to show you though that having a bait in the same color with slightly different action might allow you to pick up a couple more fish that weren't as interested in the previous bait.

I tried for a little while longer, but no more fish were interested in eating my crankbait. So I moved farther down to my fourth spot. Took awhile to get anything to bite in that spot...but after a little bit of time throwing the swimbait I had a bass finally erupt on it just below the surface. I reared back on the hookset and as soon as I went to turn the reel handle....he popped free. Lost fish #2. Not to be put to shame, I switched back to the squarebill to see if I could get him to bite again. Sure enough, three more casts and he about ripped the rod out of my hands!

3:05 PM: A 16.5" bass that weighed around 2.6 lbs.

Again, the bite turned off so I started making my way back around the other half of the lake. On the fifth spot I continued to throw the squarebill. The next bass I caught I saw the whole strike from start to finish. I saw the squarebill wobbling back towards me and I saw a big wake making a v-line towards my bait. I saw the bass come up right behind it....saw and felt the strike bolt right through my rod....and I set the hook. The fish all but swallowed the bait!

3:40 PM: A 15.5" bass that weighed around 2.3 lbs

I moved to my 6th and final spot after lull in the catching to see if I could find a couple more fish in another corner I usually do well at. Nobody home. Threw everything I had one last time without a bite. By that time the sun was starting to set and the air started to get a little cooler. Just about time to head home.

So in review....what worked for me today?

- Wind blown shorelines
- Isolated rock and weeds
- Plastics, Crankbaits, and Swimbaits
- Switching spots and changing casting angles
- Experimenting with different sizes and colors of lures
- Staying on a spot for awhile longer if it produced a fish

Here is an overview of my fishing spots that I chose....the lines show the direction of the casts where I caught my fish. The brown circles show submerged wood and brush, and the gray circles are submerged rock.

All I can say is that this is the latest in the season that I have ever caught fish in open water. Who would have thought I would be standing outside in jeans and a t-shirt fishing, instead of shopping for Christmas presents? Truthfully I couldn't have spent the day any better doing anything else.

I will confirm now that this is the last open water outing for me this year. No fishing until I can freeze my butt off on hard water! Hope you guys have a good Christmas, and you get tons of new fishing gear. I believe I am getting a few new things this Christmas....can't wait to get my hands on it and field test next year!

Tight lines,


Monday, November 12, 2012

700+ Bass Year

Open water season is officially over for me this year, but not without one last weekend of unseasonable fall weather.  This was roughly the same time last year when I hung up the rods to prepare for hard water, so I was hoping for similar results.  The weather settled in the low 60's which was warmer than I expected, and there was rain in the forecast for both Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday I was only able to fish in the afternoon from about 1:30 until 4:45...but in that short period of time I found myself in the middle of a feeding frenzy!  On days like that I look for several key things.  The first would be to target the wind blown side of the lake...although in the fall this makes casting a pain in the a$$, the warmer water tends to be pushed to the wind blown side of the lake.  The second thing was the warmer air temperatures and rain...warmer air will warm up the rain water which will slightly warm up the lake, which can cause quite a difference with lake water dropping into the 40's and 50's in recent weeks.  Next would be targeting isolated isolated cover I mean brush, remaining weed beds, non-accessible or overgrown shorelines, and rock.   The cold water kills off weedy areas and usually clears up the lake which allows you to locate cover you may have not seen earlier in the season.  Usually bass will hold onto what they have left for ambush points.  The last thing I look for is baitfish.  Bass boiling on the surface means only one thing....feeding time!  That is exactly what I saw when I arrived...wind blown side, some weeds and overgrown shoreline, and bass boiling the surface of the water.

Some lures that I keyed in on them with were crankbaits, spinnerbaits, small swimbaits, and the "old faithful" weighted texas rigged creature baits.  First cast to the adjacent shoreline with a crankbait....wham!  Fourth cast with the crankbait straight out from me...boom!  Then the crankbait bite died.  I switched to the small swimbait and the feeding continued.  The bass were out for blood...and they were gorging on these baits as soon as they got a hold of them.  Some were so aggressive to the point where they were biting the tails off of my swimbaits and bending out my hooks!

The crankbait that I was using was the Bass Pro Shops "The Egg" crankbait.  XXX Shad and Texas Shad were my go to colors.  The small swimbait that I was using was a 4" YUM money minnow in a silver/black back pattern.  That rigged up with a 1/4 oz swimbait jig head worked out perfectly.  The spinnerbait that I was using was a white/chartreuse double colorado blade spinnerbait by Flatlands Custom Tackle.  Great color for slightly stained water...worked like a charm on these hungry bass.  The last bait was my Netbait Baby Paca Craw in Summer Craw and Bama Bug with an 1/8 oz bullet weight.  If I didn't get them with the first three, I bounced the bottom with the craw and picked up the other sluggish bass in the area.  They were fat to say the balloons ready to pop.

At the end of Saturday I walked away with 15 bass between 12 and 16 inches.  Three or four were spared on bad hooksets and air acrobatics.

On Sunday I decided to start earlier around 9 AM and made my way over to a new big fish spot that I just started fishing last month.  If anything I was hoping for that one big bite before a good quantity like yesterday.  I started out with the Paca Craw and slowly combed the bottom searching for those 4 and 5 pounders...all the while trying to not let the wind push me into the lake with those 30 and 40 mph gusts.   Kind of nice though having the wind at my back because I was launching that craw halfway across the lake.  About a half hour into it I went to go pull in a couple more feet of line when it felt like my lure was stuck on something.  Unfortunately I didn't think anything of it and popped it free....just weeds I guess.   About 15 minutes later I felt the same thing.  I just left pressure on the line without popping it free and before I had a chance to get a better feel of what was going on a huge tug at the end of the line bent the pole over.   I laid into the fish as quick as I could and we were off to the races!  I knew it was a good fish and the size of the boils got my heart racing.  It was a tough and long fight, but I landed her without issue.  A nice and healthy 19.5" largemouth in the four pound range.  I took a quick picture and set her back down in the water.   It was interesting to see such dark colors on a bass this late in the season....but since the water is so shallow in this lake it wasn't too unexplainable.

I tried the craw for a good half hour after that fish, but no more takers.  I switched up to the swimbait, but no interest in that as well.  Switched up again to "The Egg" in XXX Shad and on the first cast I had a solid bite.   A few casts later I had another good hit.  It was about 12 o'clock and didn't have any more bites so I packed it up with three bass landed.  I decided to head back to the spot that I was at yesterday to see if I could pick up a couple more.

Next spot yielded three more bass with two lost.  Two on the crankbait and one more on the craw.  Just about when I left I ran out of the paca craws and switched up to a chigger craw to finish up the day.  A new thing that I just started doing was dipping the appendages of my plastics in some chartreuse "spike-it".   Especially in darker water, the chartreuse stands out really well and drives the bass bonkers!  First cast with the chigger craw I get a really faint bite.  I wait and wait and then I see my line taking off.  Set the hook and the hook comes flying out and I see the flash of a nice bass turn up towards the surface and back down into deeper water.  Crap!  I tried several more casts to get another bite but nothing.

21 bass for the weekend....and then it hit me...I just blew past my 700 bass mark for the year.  I finished out the year with exactly 710 largemouth + smallmouth.  To say the year was great is an understatement.  Of those 700+ fish, 3 of them were over 5 pounds, 15-20 of them were over 4 pounds, and 60-70 of them were over 3 pounds.  Not only were they quality fish, but they were caught on tons of different lures....some of which at the beginning of the year I had no clue how to use.  That was a feat within itself.

Next year is going to be different though.  Although I caught a ton of bass, the mission next year will be to catch more smallmouth.  I still have very little knowledge of those brown hitting the river next year will be on my to do list.  The other mission for next year will be breaking my personal best bass record....with hopefully a double digit bass.  My Dad and I are scheduled to head down to Lake Faclon for three days next that is going to be an interesting trip!

Until next year guys, look out for any ice fishing trips and possible river wades.  I know that fishing won't be completely cut out of the picture the next four months....cabin fever sets in pretty quickly around here.

Tight lines,


Monday, October 29, 2012

October Behemoth and the Bassin' the Midwest Prize Pack!

It is creeping closer and closer to hard water season and the dropping temperatures are definitely putting the pressure on to get the last bass of the season.  A few weeks ago I posed a challenge to the members to guess my final bass total for the it has been my mission until November 5th to catch as many largemouth and smallmouth as I could...and hopefully without freezing my butt off in the process!

At the start of the challenge I had a total of 664 smallmouth and being October 29th, I have a grand total of 684.  Only 20 bass in the last couple of you know that this weather has definitely put a limitation on my catching.  Although this is the case, the few bass that I have caught have been big!  The highlight of those big fish came last week when I locked into what could potentially be my biggest fish of the season.  I was fishing in a shallow lake that only a few souls know about which held the potential for a behemoth bass.  I threw a crankbait first for a little while without any luck so I switched it up to a new confidence bait of mine....a NetBait Paca Craw.  I rigged this puppy up on a 3/0 EWG hook along with an 1/8 oz bullet weight.  Since the water clarity wasn't the best I dipped the claw tips in a chartreuse dye that I have to make them stand out a bit.   First cast, let it sink...hopped it a few times...and repeat all the way back...nothing.  Second cast, let it sink...hopped it a few times...and let it sit.  Went to go hop it again and it just felt different....just a heaviness.  Usually on a weighted plastic the classic "thunk" of the weight getting sucked in is a tell tale sign of a strike...but this was not the same.  For some reason I instantly thought it was a fish and laid into rod stopped half way up on the hook set and she was off to the races.  A couple boils swelled to the surface and she took off to the right.  I kept pressure on her, reeling in as quickly as I could.  A few good headshakes and I finally saw her....HOLY CRAP!  I lipped the monster and just stood there in awe.  Nobody around to witness the fish....and then came the oh crap moment when I realized I didn't have my scale with me.  With only a bump board and a camera I snapped a few pics and tried my best to guesstimate the length and girth.  She was roughly 20.5" long and 15.5" around.  According to some calculators she could have been anywhere from 4.5 lbs to 6.4 lbs.  If I had to guess, it was easily 5.25 lbs.  A lot of people don't realize that these fish are just flat out heavier when the water gets cold.   As a point of comparison, Parker and I went out to the same spot a week later and he caught a 19.5" bass that was 4.5 lbs and not as fat as the one I had.  

Here is a picture of the monster!

If you guys get out in the coming week here are a few baits to have with you....
- shallow diving square bill crankbait in a shad pattern
- Small 4" shad swimbait on a swimbait or jig head
- Spinnerbait
- Rat-l-Trap
- Jerkbait
- Weighted Plastic
- Football Jig

The season is getting close to the end and the 700 fish mark is just in range...let's see if I can get enough fish to pull it off.  If I don't, no big deal...the fishing this year was remarkable overall and I couldn't have asked for more.   To go out with a bang with this big bass too was a bonus in itself!

Good luck to the participants on DA, your prize pack is going to be sweet!  For those who haven't joined DA....what are you waiting for???

Tight lines, and thanks for all the support this year!  Next year will be even better!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Final Results: Happy Hookers Classic (Mississippi River Pool 14)

Pool 14 on the Mississippi River ended up being a bigger challenge than expected.  Fish were caught on both Saturday and Sunday, but the size of them were just not what I was looking for.  Friday's practice brought promise with two keepers both over 14" but the cold front that moved in on Saturday and Sunday shut off the fish somewhat making them move from areas that we found them in on Friday.  River fish are less effected by cold fronts and pressure changes, but it still ended up being tough.  Water temperatures remained in the low to mid 70's with the air temperatures starting in the morning around 52 degrees and working up to the low 70's.  High pressure both on Saturday and Sunday with blue bird skies as well. 

I think the key thing that made it so tough was the water level...and I think that has been a pretty consistent theme for most tournaments throughout this season.  The river was at least 5-7 feet down which made a lot of the channels and cuts inaccessible for boats.  With the water being lower than usual a lot of the structure that the fish were used to holding to was also out of the water.  So after some thinking and practice on Friday we were able to find a handful of areas that consistently held a few fish.  One of those areas was an isolated point next to a main river channel.  Basically what it looked like was an island out in the middle of the river that seperated the river into two channels on either side of the island.  On the right side there was no current due to the river being low enough to expose a sandbar, and on the left side the channel dropped down to almost 20 feet of water.  So you basically had a nice flat at a point with no current with deeper water near by....which is perfect for bass in the summer.  It took all about 3 casts  to find out that there were fish there and we caught a couple keepers instantly.  So we left it alone until Saturday.  All of the fish were at the tip of the point and to the right where the sandbar dropped down into the water.

The other area that we found later in the day on day 1 of the tournament was a stretch of discharges from a set of industrial plants in a cut off of the main river.  This provided warmer water which made this specific channel less effected by dropping water temperatures from the cold front.  There were about 8 or so discharges in total but one of them was just on fire with the amount of action from fish busting the surface while chasing after shad.  We threw everything we had at them with no luck until I switched back to a texas rigged plastic.  Then I caught two 13 3/4" largemouth within a few casts from eachother.  No keepers for Saturday...but at least that was another spot we could return to on Sunday.  In any case where we found fish the other piece to the puzzle was baitfish...without a food source the bass were nowhere to be found.

Sunday was a little colder and we fished the same two areas again...which produced good fish but again nothing over 14".  My boater Joe pulled up to the point where we caught fish and he ended up picking up the only keeper out of that area that day.  I caught several 13" fish but just couldn't find that bigger one.  Same went for the discharge...had one just shy of 14" but nothing after that.  I caught about 12 bass on Saturday and 8 on Sunday, so I was happy at the fact that we did find fish and we did catch a decent amount for the conditions that we had.  I also caught a small 24" northern and a few hybrid bass as well, which gives you a glimpse of the diversity of this fishery.  Fish were caught primarily on crankbaits and texas rigged creature baits.
At the end of Sunday we knew that a couple of the guys figured the fish out and they shared with us what they had done.  I guess they found a cut with a couple of wing dams in them that had a good deal of shallow water.  Like I said earlier, the water levels were down so a lot of the guys were leery to venture into some of the cuts so they didn't damage their boats.  Well, that ended up being the big difference that added to their win.  Wing dams are long rock structures that jut out from the shore on some of the main river stretches and cuts that basically create a buffer for current in the river.  Since the water was so low some of the wing dams were exposed above the surface of the water.  These rock piles almost always hold fish...but are very hard to fish since they are hard to find if you don't have an accurate contour map.  The shallow areas that they were in were loaded with fish and the two guys that found them had limits on day 2.   Almost all of them were caught on spinnerbaits and were in an area where baitfish was plentiful.  Shallow water and cold fronts just didn't mix in my brain as being logical...but for some reason that is where the fish wanted to be.  That's the beauty of fishing...its always a puzzle and patterns always change from day to day.

The weekend still ended up being a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about a river that I have never fished before.  I finished the year on a positive note by coming in 7th place overall in our club standings this year.  That means then that I will be the first substitute for the 6 man state team for next year.  On the non boater side I finished in 1st which I was really happy about.  On the ABA side I finished with a ranking of 629 out of all of the members of the ABA circuit in the US.  If I would have fished the classic for the ABA I am pretty confident I would have finished in the top 500 which qualified me for the National Event.  So overall, I am extremely grateful for how I did this year.  All of the prep work, the learning, and the time spent on the water this year was worth it.  I couldn't really ask for more than that. 

Thanks to all who have commented and sent positive thoughts my way throughout the season, the encouragement really helped keep me on my game this year.  The fishing season is starting to come to a close in the next few months so I will still update you with my other catches this year....but until then happy fishing and tight lines!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Happy Hookers Classic: The Mighty Mississippi (Preparation)

In a few hours I will be heading out for a single day of practice and a two day tournament on Pool 14 of the Mississippi River.  All my hard work for the year has come down to this and I am ready to go!  I am currently sitting in 6th place in our club and if I can hold my own this tournament I will claim a spot on the 2013 State Team.  The main goal throughout the season has been to try and remain consistent and I am happy to say that I have achieved that so far.  On one side I have our bass club and the other was the ABA division 39 tournament series that I also competed in.  At one point I was 1st in points and got a letter about a month ago to let me know that I qualified for the National tournament in Kansas.  I would have loved to go and compete with the top 500 guys in points...but it just wasn't in the cards this year.  This whole season has also been aimed at just taking baby steps into the sport of tournament fishing.  It can really become a consuming hobby and one can lose sight of the fun in all of it...but I can definitely say that all of it has remained fun and enjoyable.  I got my butt handed to me in some tournaments and I kicked butt in some tournaments....that's just the way it goes.  Still lots to learn but I remain grateful for the opportunities that I have had this year, and the people that I have met and fished with along the way.  Not to mention those of you that have supported me and have read my blog entries...a big thanks to you all as well!

So rods and reels were all cleaned, relined, and starting lineup lures tied on.  The tacklebox has been organized and every last detail though about.  Now I just need to get out there and hit the water and get a pattern together.  The weekend calls for rain and cooler weather and the river is low.  Game plans will probably change as the weekend goes along....but keeping a clear head and thinking through things will help get some mojo going!

Wish me luck guys, be safe, and have a great weekend if you can get out on the water!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Why do you fish?

I am sure a lot of my readers have just as much passion for fishing as I what makes you keep wanting to come back for more?  Comment below and let's hear the answers!

Thanks a few weeks I will have some good news to give you all, and the plans coming up for next tournament season.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bassin' with Frogs

If there is one bait that I have loved learning more than others, it has been the frog.  Nothing gets your adrenaline pumping more out on the water until you see a violent strike from a bass attacking a plastic frog.  Just this past Saturday I had a run in with a massive bass that about made my heart skip a beat when it attacked my frog.  I was fishing at a forest preserve lake near Bartlett, IL with fellow DA member Parker Settecase.  With post cold front conditions, it was pretty cool early in the morning at around 65 degrees.  The lake we were at had a lot of vegetation so the frog was definitely on stand by to start picking apart the scattered weed flats.

We moved in on a spot that has produced fish in the past but the events that occurred soon after were definitely unexpected.  I decided to go with the frog after weighted plastics produced zero fish, so I grabbed my Kistler Magnesium 7' 0" Heavy Fast action rod paired up with my Shimano Curado 200E7 and 50 lb Power Pro braid.  I had a Koppers Live Target frog in black/chartreuse tied on and started working the weedline off to the left of where we were fishing.  I threw the frog onto the matted weeds pretty far away from where we were with the intention of bringing it towards open water just in front of it.  I gave the frog a few hops...paused...and then repeated the same motion again.  After getting out into open water I figured I would rush the frog along a little quicker.  After a quick set of hops I paused the frog in the section of open water just before the next weedline.  That was when the water ERUPTED!  What looked like a 4+ lb bass absolutely smashed the frog with a massive body slam as it swallowed the entire frog whole.  I gave it a quick one count and went to go set the hook hard.  In mid hook set...I felt the line slip away from the lure.  The fish was gone!  A 10 dollar lure and a hefty bass were gone in an instance left in nothing but a massive wake.  Parker turned over as soon as he heard the splash and realized what had just happened.  Heartbreaking is the only word to describe it.

If I could replay what I had seen you would have been in just as much shock as I was.  I don't know what was worse, seeing the bass leap out of the water after the bait...or finding out an instant later that I was going to lose him.  Just incredible.

Luckily for you guys I have a Youtube video of one of my favorite topwater frog strikes.  It pretty much sums up how sudden of strike it was when the bass hit.

Like I have said already....nothing beats a frog bite.  And to forewarn people in the future, if you don't have some heavier gear to back up a massive strike like this and you don't check every could have a missed opportunity just like I did.

So not to leave you hanging, and to provide further entertainment.  Here are some other topwater strikes that are high on my all time favorite list...

Good fishing guys, the topwater season is not over yet!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bassin' with Gatorshaun

Over the last couple of weeks I got a chance to get out with fellow DA member Gatorshaun on a couple local lakes to target some largemouth.  Our first trip was to Shabbona lake which is about 40 minutes or so West of Aurora, IL.  It isn't a huge lake by any means, but it has a lot of different types of cover which is perfect for some good practice.  I didn't know what to really expect so I brought a spinnerbait rod, pitching rod, dropshot rod, crankbait rod, and an extra all purpose spinning rod.  Probably way more than I needed....but I couldn't say I wasn't prepared to hit some new water.

We started out fishing the North end of the lake which has a couple nice points, submerged timber and a good amount of weeds and lilly pad shorelines.  I started out throwing a frog with little luck on the lilly pads, so as we moved towards the timber I switched up to a spinnerbait making sure I crashed my bait into every little piece of cover I could see under the water with my polarized sunglasses.  No takers though on the spinnerbait which was really surprising considering the amount of fry and baitfish around.  There were so many in some areas that it looked like there was current on the water when in reality it was just the baitfish moving along to new areas in the lake.

I switched it up to a jig after the spinnerbait wasn't working and it didn't take very long to land my first fish.  Gatorshaun by this time already had a couple fish in the boat so I had to make up some ground.  I was using a 3/8 oz California Reservoir Lures jig in their "Rusty Craw" color.  I used a Netbait Paca Chunk trailer in Alabama craw as well.  This combination has worked really well for me this year in slightly stained water because it really stands out and has a natural color to it.   After pitching to a few stumps I didn't get anything but then I saw a stump butted up right next to a weedline.  I made several casts to the same stump trying to hug the sides of it as best as possible.  I let the jig fall all the way down until I could see my line stop sinking.  I lifted the rod up just enough to feel the weight of the jig and that's when I noticed a difference.  There was a little extra weight to the line then my previous casts so I reeled down slightly and set the hook.  My line takes off and on the other end was a nice 3+ lb largemouth.  Shaun jumped for the net and we landed her after a few good jumps. 

That is what I have found so exciting about jig fishing especially on submerged stumps because that moment of anticipation to watch your line either fall to the bottom or start moving away slowly from your target will tell you if you have a fish or not.  You have to be really aware of how that lure feels normally as opposed to a fish on the line.  That is why a good rod and reel setup are so critical for this technique.  That day I was using a Shimano Curado 200E7 paired up with a Kistler Magnesium 7' 0" Heavy Fast action rod with 50 lb Power Pro braid.  I have to say it has been one of my favorite setups so far this year and has worked well when I needed a little extra power to pull fish out of some nasty cover.

Moving on though with the day...all I can say it was tough for awhile.  With 90+ temperatures and blue bird skies we didn't end up getting into any more fish until we moved into a nice flat with a bunch of scattered weeds.  I tied on a 4" green pumpkin chigger craw along with an 1/8 oz bullet weight and it didn't take long for another fish to tug at the end of my line.  The bullet weight allowed me to punch through some of the weeds and into the empty pockets in the weedline which seemed to be where the bass were hiding.   Within the next dozen casts I caught 3 more bass.  Not the size of my first fish but still in the 12-14" range.  After catching those 3 Shaun switched up to a similar setup with a different plastic and picked up a nice bass on a black and blue colored Havoc craw.

We fished the rest of the day and caught a few more fish.  Together we ended up with 10 bass with probably the heaviest 5 going about 10 lbs.  Not too bad for being the middle of July and after talking to other guys it was pretty slow for them as well.  For those of you wanting to hit Shabbona in the future they have a good amount of boats for rent so it is just a matter of getting out there.  It is a little expensive, but it would be definitely worth the trip.  Just wish we got into some Musky while we were there.  Oh well.

Round 2 was the following weekend but at a lake that Shaun and I fish fairly often around the Aurora area that has yielded some nice fish.  Shaun usually gets out there on his kayak so he offered to have me come along and borrow one of his other kayaks for the morning.  Now I was completely out of my element....especially from the confines of a single person kayak.  Only could bring one pole with me and a small bag of plastics and other miscellaneous lures.  Luckily I was there last week so I knew roughly what to expect and packed just enough stuff for short morning trip.

I met Shaun at 5 AM which was surprisingly rough for me to get up and out there that early.  I was still sleeping in the car when Shaun started knocking on my window to wake me up and let me know the kayaks were already down by the lake.  I have never fished from a kayak so I thought it was going to be a rough day, but after about 10 minutes of paddling around it actually wasn't too bad.   I threw on a buzzbait (my favorite 1/2 oz booyah) and immediately started catching fish.  It took a couple misses to finally get the hookset down but it worked out alright.  We worked a weedline that I have caught many fish on and after awhile Shaun and I just stopped counting.  Buzzbaits, craws, senkos, zoom flukes, crankbaits, we caught fish on everything.  I was mad though after digging through my small bag of tricks that I only had one Smokin' Shad Zoom fluke with me because bass were blowing up on shad for a good part of the morning.  I rigged up the only one I had and caught 3 bass within a few casts of each other just by throwing into the blowups and twitching it a few times.  After I brought back the mangled piece of plastic that once resembled a fluke I tied on my other stand by which was a watermelonseed fluke.  Same lure, just a different color and I couldn't buy a bite on it.  Match the hatch won that battle pretty easily, so I switched it back to a craw and continued catching.

We worked our way down to a hidden dropoff that Shaun found after his many trips to that lake and it wasn't long until he tied into his first pig of the day.  I saw his pole bend over as soon as the fish made it's first good run.  I watched Shaun battle him for a little bit and then I saw the rod tip pop back to its original position....line broke.  Man does it suck when that happens!  It wasn't long after though that Shaun hooked into another good fish with a crankbait around the same area.  He landed this one but not without getting a treble hook to the finger.  He weighed the fish and it tipped the scales at 4.5 lbs, not a bad fish at all for the area!

We fished until about 9:30 AM as we made our way around the perimeter of the lake.  After all was said and done if I had to guess we had roughly 40-45 bass landed with another 10 or so lost.  The biggest five weighed around 13.5 lbs.  Probably one of the better days I have had this year....and all out of a kayak with one pole!  Just goes to show you that sometimes you really don't need that 50 lb dufflebag of everything fishing to just catch a few fish.   But where would the fun of it be if I couldn't buy some new tackle every once in a

Just another testament to the memories you could have just being a member of Dupage Angler.  That's the whole point of it, getting out and having fun and making a few friends along the way.

Thanks for reading guys and good fishing!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Clinton Lake: Final 2012 ABA Regular Season Tournament

Time to play some catching up now that it has been a couple weeks since my last tournament.  This recent one was the final regular season ABA tourney on July 29th at Clinton Lake near Decatur, IL...same lake where I placed 2nd on a few months ago.

It was cloudy and a little cooler in the morning with the air temperatures warming up to the mid 80's during the day.  The cloud cover lasted most of the day and the water temperature remained in the low 80's as well.  Since Clinton is a cooling lake, the water temperature definitely played a big factor along with the drought we were the water level was down about 3 feet from about a month ago.

I started out throwing a black/silver zara spook along a rock wall near the shore, but couldn't find any bites for a good half hour.  I switched to a 5XD crankbait, the same one that I caught my keepers on last time around...and not even a nibble.  The crankbait bite was pretty much dead the entire day for most people so I definitely had to switch things up and fish a little differently than I expected to.

Our next spot was the bridge and we fished the points next to the open lanes and bridge pilings for regular boat traffic.  My boater got a bunch of nice hybrid bass...but not the largemouth we were after.  I threw on a 1/8 oz shakey head with a watermelon red flake zoom finesse worm and caught a couple small largemouth...but nothing over the 16" minimum that we needed to keep.   Shortly after my boater had a bad birds nest and after spending some time picking it out I hear a big "splash"....his pole fell in the water.  Oh crap...this was going to be interesting.  He started pulling up the line (luckily he was fishing with braid so the line was floating) and the line just kept coming.  A few f-bombs and he finally realized that the reel was still in free spool and he had to pull the entire spool of line off before he could pull up his rod.   Long story short, he got the rod back...but the line was toast after getting all knotted and bunched together.

Dysfunctional is what I would like to call the rest of our day since we were both back and forth working the trolling motor, retying, trying to come up with a pattern, losing fish, and ending the day with a few good laughs and wondering how the day went by so quickly?

I have to give ourselves credit though after we finally started putting 2 and 2 together when we saw another guy pop a nice fish on a topwater popper.  We fished a main lake cut and came out to the point at the beginning of the cut.  I threw out my Zara Spook from this morning and started working it past a submerged stump.  A couple nice twitches back and forth and...WHAM fish on!  15 1/4" bass....still not big enough to keep.  It's heart breaking seeing a nice fish having to get thrown back into the water with no keepers in the boat.  After a couple more blowups between my boater and I we focused on top water the rest of the day.  

There was a string of about 6 or 7 cuts with main lake points at either side and I would guess that at each point I had at least 1 or 2 good bites.  My problem though, I couldn't get one to hook up to save my life!  They would bull rush the bait, body slam it, and before I could react the lure came floating back up to the top of the water in the middle of the wake....just unbelievable.  2 to 3 of those bass could have easily been over 16" but I just couldn't stick them quick enough....I probably had a good maybe 1 count window and that was about it.  That was the breaks though, and I ended up getting a 0 for the tournament.  I wasn't alone though and only half of the field brought in fish.  The original guy that we saw catching bass on topwater was Mike Pappas who won the tournament with 3 fish at a little over 8 lbs.

To give you an idea what we were doing refer to the picture below...

The two lures that we focused on for the most part was the Rebel Pop-R and the Heddon Original Super Spook...

All in all it was a good tournament, kind of disappointing but not because we couldn't find fish.  I am going to need some more practice with the rod and reel setup that I was using with those two topwater lures to get the hookset down better.  Just another learning experience all for the benefit of becoming a better angler in the future.

And that's what I really wanted to drive home with what I have learned so far this year.  It's not so much just using a lure and picking up a technique specific rod and reel....its more so learning what the bite feels like, hooking the fish right, and playing the fish all the way to the boat correctly before you really understand the benefits of the tools you are using.

With that said, good luck on the water...and look for my next entry coming shortly!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Kankakee River ABA Results

The Kankakee river was another new stretch of water that I had the first opportunity to fish on Sunday...and man was it just as tough as the last few tournaments!  Warm water, dirty water, a ton of boat traffic, and hardly any current.

A total of 36 anglers showed up at 4 AM, and there was a lot of talk of the low weights being brought in the last few tournaments.  Limits of 5 fish were few and far between so getting a few fish today would put you in good contention for a payout.  I drew boat number 17 which was an awesome Nitro boat that belonged to a guy named Curt....a 5 year veteran of the ABA.  It was a pleasure fishing with him and got to learn quite a bit about the river after picking his brain most of the day.  We wanted to fish this one area first thing in the morning...but since we were boat 17 the cut was already loaded with boats by the time we got there.  So instead we flew to his next spot which looked like it could hold some decent fish.  A deeper 17 foot channel lined with lily pads, tons of brush and lay downs on the opposing shoreline...and there were shad and fry jumping everywhere!  We tried frogs, topwater poppers, swim jigs, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, c-rigs, name it, we threw it...big ol' nada!  Just could not believe it...a prime spot with a ton of food and the fish were just not willing to bite.  We were marking fish, but just couldn't figure out what they wanted to key in on.  After burning about 3 and a half hours there we made a run up to a submerged weed flat that was a money spot for a previous tournament.  We saw a few bass scatter and threw frogs and topwater for awhile...still nothing.

After looking at the clock it was close to 10:30...weigh in was 1:30 and we had no fish in the boat.  We went to the next spot up against a couple of barges and submerged trees.  I took out the dropshot while my boater fished a shakey head.  He finally got a bite and pulled in a small 5" bass.  It wasn't big enough to keep...but it was a good sign of active fish.  Fry were all over the place and there were plenty of gar following them.  With the day we were having...I was tempted to tangle with one of them!  But I stuck it out and continued with a dropshot.  I switched from a small senko to a finesse worm that I recently learned of from a fellow club member...its turning out to be one of my favorite drop shot baits.   I took a few more casts at the submerged tree and finally had a bite myself...a small 7" bass.  Still nothing in the livewell.  We stayed there for a bit more but couldn't get anything else to commit after several missed strikes and breakoffs on the submerged tree.

We continued to the other side and fished one final point before we trekked back towards the boat ramp.  My boater got a few bites on the shakey head and missed a couple...I immediately tied on one too but didn't get any bites.  That is one technique I will really have to start devoting more time can definitely get you some bites when you are hurting for some!  After still having zero in the boat it was about 12 pm and we made the run back towards the ramp and that first spot that we decided to not hit this morning.  HOLY CRAP was it a blessing he had a handle on his boat to hold onto...the boat traffic was a mine field in and of itself with all the party boats and jet skiers not paying attention going down the middle of the river.  I guarantee that Nitro got air at least 3 or 4 times!   It was nerve wracking, but man was it nice to run around in the boat for a bit after baking out in the sun for the last 7 hours.

We pulled up to the last cut with about a hour soon as we came up to the spot we saw 4 boats trying to still fill their livewells.  It was the last chance we had, so we moved in anyway with the heavy boat traffic and worked a shady section halfway down the cut.  My boater and I started throwing spinnerbaits....with the lily pads and thin grass all around mixed in with that perfectly stained water...spinnerbaits were all that came to mind.  Now when I mean perfectly stained water...I mean this water just had the right mix of tinge in the water to where you could see a bright colored spinnerbait perfectly about a foot and a half down from the surface.  White and chartreuse was all I had I went with it.  After about a dozen casts, my boater switched back to his topwater popper and was hitting the hardest to reach spots underneath the brush piles.  I had to give this guy a ton of credit with how he was dissecting every inch of water with a spinning setup...that popper would have been hung up in a second if I did that!  

Well, we continued on and we came up to one of my club members that was moving out of the cut.  He had two in the boat, which got me a little frustrated since I had nothing...but there was still some time left.  My boater continued with the popper on the right side while I fished with the spinnerbait off to the left.  I saw a nice lay down with a limb sticking up just under the water.  I tossed the spinnerbait in and slow rolled it past the limb....nothing.  I threw it in again...and as I was bringing it back I could only think of one the spinnerbait into the limb.  I have seen KVD and other fishing phenoms always talking about crashing their baits into what the hell, lets go for it.  It was like something out of a fishing show what happened next...I redirected the spinnerbait to run right into the limb, and as soon as it deflected off the limb...WHAM!  My rod doubled over as I set the hook and my boater dove for the net.  After a couple of good splashes we got her in the net...holy cow was I stoked!  My legs were shaking and I was just on cloud nine with what just happened.  It was textbook...nothing in that event could have went any more perfectly!  With a fish in the boat we fished the rest of the cut pretty hard.  I felt terrible at the same time for my boater since he didn't have a fish in the boat...and to make matters worse he finally got one to blow up on his popper and he lost it under the pads before he even got it to the boat.  

Here was where we were it looked like frogging heaven!

With only a few minutes left we packed it up and ran to the launch.  Again, a lot of people either zeroed or had 1 or two fish.  Only a few people had a limit with the most weight coming in at 8.35 lbs for five fish from Mr. Dave Schultz.  I was just guessing in my head...but I had a feeling my fish was pretty darn close to 4 lbs.  I brought it up to the weigh in and immediately people were looking into my bag to see what I had.  I pulled out the fish to weigh her in and immediately people stopped to see what the weight was....3.94 lbs!  It was just shy of putting me again in the top 6 but I finally claimed big bass honors for the first time!  It has evaded me twice this year...but now I can finally say I caught the biggest bass of the tournament.  My one fish was still good enough to get me 8th place out of 36 anglers...and our club claimed first, fifth, and sixth place in the money.  In our club though I came in fifth place in points.

A picture of Dave getting awarded first place....

Below is a picture of my fish which was caught on white/chartreuse Strike King spinnerbait...

And big bass = a nice chunk of cash...

It wasn't a stellar performance, and having a limit in a tournament still hasn't happened yet...but I would take the feeling of having big bass of the tournament any day.  It was a great ending and I learned quite a bit....big thanks go out to my boater Curt! But man was I wiped out after...anyone fishing in the near future, make sure you have a ton of liquids with you so you keep hydrated.  This hot weather is a terror!

Thank you for reading and I will be back on the water down at Clinton Lake for the last regular season ABA tournament.  Last I checked I was sitting in 5th in the ABA...and I am now holding 6th place in my club with one tournament left in September on the Mississippi.  Let's keep the momentum going!!!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cal-Sag Reservoir ABA Tournament

Well, this one will be short and sweet.  Had my first experience out at the Cal-Sag reservoir and to my surprise I didn't do too bad.  For those of you who haven't been there before, its actually a pretty cool place.  The water is a little sketch to say the least...but it was an interesting place to fish.  Basically all of competitors could fish two areas, the river or Lake Calumet.  The river is predominantly largemouth bass and Lake Calumet was mostly smallmouth.  From the previous tournament there that I didn't compete in...the key seemed to be finding as many largemouth as possible.  Unfortunately there were no limits to be had, and the field was lucky to walk away with what little fish that were caught.  Below is a picture of the lock we had to go through in order to make it between the river and Lake Calumet...first time I have ever done that!

Over the course of the 8 hour tournament I only managed a few bites, but luckily I made all but one of them count.  The first being a small 12" smallmouth I snagged on a crankbait earlier in the morning, and the last was a 2.1 lb largemouth caught on a frog in the last hour of the tournament.  I tried dropshotting quite a bit and flipping a jig...but fish were few and far between.  My first boater got into a huge drum which was fun to watch him battle.  The fish weighed over 10 lbs!

Unfortunately for the third time in a row this year, my boater had boat problems.  I am starting to think that I bring bad luck to my if you see me at any ABA's in the future...pray you don't draw me. lol.  So we ended up calling the tournament director and he allowed me to hop on another boat and we found Mike Pena, who I have fished with before, in one of the cuts on Lake Calumet.  I hopped on with him and we fished together the remainder of the day.

I was one of few that weighed in 2 fish and my 3.02 lbs worth of fish was enough to get me 6th place.  They only paid out to 5th place this time, so I was just out of the money this time. That didn't matter though, because I was more concerned about making up lost ground in my club and I ended up in 4th place out of all of our club members.   After getting the overall tournament point totals a few days ago, I am currently in 7th place in our bass club.  Luckily we can drop one bad tournament out of our point totals so if I take that into account I barely squeak by into 6th place.   The top 6 anglers of the club qualify for the 6 man team for the state tournament next year.  So if I can keep this good streak going I might have a chance to make the cut.  I have alot of good anglers though to beat before that happens, but I am really happy that I have shown what I can do so far this year.  Alot of the credit though goes to my boaters and having them help me along the way.  If there's one thing that I can really stress about joining a bass learn a ton in a really short amount of time from others.  That alone has been worth the experience!

Until next time guys, I hope to continue sending you guys good news!  For those that have followed my blog and are still thinking about joining a bass club next it!

Tight Lines,


Friday, June 8, 2012

The 3700 Bass Kit

Many pond fishermen always find themselves bringing way too much tackle with them when they only wind up using 2-3 baits at the most during an outing.  After the last few months I have tested quite a few lures in my local ponds and want to share with you a set of lures that will all fit into one 3700 Plano box and should consistently get you bit when heading out to your local area of water.  The reason why this set of lures is so effective is because they are not trivial...they are all straight forward, and with a little bit of practice any skill level fisherman can learn how to use them.

(1) pack of 3/0 EWG hooks
(1) pack of 1/0 EWG hooks

(1) pack of 1/8 oz bullet weights
(1) pack of 1/4 oz bullet weights

(1) pack of Watermelonseed ZOOM Super Flukes
(1) pack of Green Pumpkin Berkley Chigger Craws
(1) pack of 5" Green Pumpkin Yamamoto Senkos
(1) pack of 5" Black/Blue Yamamoto Senkos

(1) Heddon Tiny Torpedo in Baby Bass
(1) Heddon Super Spook in Black Shiner
(1) Booyah Buzz Blade 1/2 oz Buzzbait in Chartreuse/White
(1) Kopper Live Target Frog in Brown/Black

(1) 3/8 oz Revenge Spinnerbait in Shad Pattern (Single Colorado or Double Willow)
(1) 3/8 oz Booyah Spinnerbait in Chartreuse/White (Willow/Colorado)

(1) 1/4 oz Strike King swim jig in Bluegill with ZOOM Fat Albert double tail grub or Big Hammer 3" swim tail in Wacker
(1) 3/8 oz Strike King football jig in Green Pumpkin Craw or PB&J with Net Bait Paca Craw trailer in green pumkin

(1) 1/2 oz Strike King Red Eye Shad in Bluegill or Gold/Black
(1) Bass Pro Shops Egg in Texas Shad or XXX Shad
(1) Spro Little John in Nasty Shad or Chrome Olive
(1) Rapala Shallow Shad Rap (SSR07) in Black/Silver

Most of the baits mentioned are budget baits and can be purchased locally or online.  All of these baits have worked for me at one point in time or another and I guarantee if you can learn how to use all of these baits you will have a more rewarding time out on the water.

Tight lines and have a safe weekend!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Vermilion Lake Results

Had another good weekend with the club at Vermilion Lake, the fishing wasn't spectacular but some fish were caught.  The lake was just starting to come out of cold front conditions on Saturday with the air temps in the high 60's and the water temperature on the north end of the lake sitting at around 64 degrees.  Water was stained but I had no issues with that.  A little rain mixed in as well so conditions were not consistent for practice which made it a little harder to get a pattern going.  Seemed like most of the active fish were towards the mouth of the river at the north end and a little ways farther up into the river itself.  A lot of short fish were caught, but no 15" keepers that we were looking for.  Had a nice bonus crappie inhale a Berkley Chigger Craw that was 12" boater Scott Sheets had one as well that smoked his spinnerbait.  I was really surprised though that we couldn't get a a decent bite going with all of the shad around...unfortunately that cold front played a big factor.

Sunday morning was nicer with temperatures in the mid to high 70's with blue bird skies.  Water temperatures held about the same from Saturday. Would have probably helped out more if we had some cloud cover, but the high pressure day was all we had to work with.  The water was a little muddier than Saturday from the river, so loud and bright baits were what I was focusing in on.  Had most of my fish come on a Revenge 3/8 oz double willow spinnerbait with a shad color skirt.  The size of the willows and color of the skirt matched the bait fish really well but all of the bass caught were too short.  We went to the mouth of the lake where a lot of lilly pads were and chucked around a frog for a good part of the day, but they were just not cooperating.  A few members had luck with frogs yesterday with Mike Pena hooking up with a 5.5 lb bass, but unfortunately topwater wasn't working for them either.  I finally settled on mixing things up between a spinnerbait and a jig.  We were out by some of the lilly pads at the north end that was mixed in with a lot of lay downs and stumps.  I tied on a 1/2 oz black/blue rattle back jig with a zoom super chunk in saphire blue.  Took about a dozen or so casts until I flipped next to a pretty big stump and got my first decent bite of the day.  I didn't realize I had one on at first until my line started darting away from the stump.  Tried to set the hook as soon as I saw what was happening but it was too late and I missed the fish.  I can almost guarantee it was a keeper with it being able to hold up a 1/2 oz jig  and swim away with it.  Oh well, just had to keep trying.  

Without having any more luck we headed up farther into the river.  We worked a lot of shoreline and we finally started getting bit on one stretch.  Scott caught a couple shorts on a brown jig he had so I switched to a similar color.  I had one of my custom California Reservoir living rubber jigs in the "Rusty Craw" color, so I tied that on.  I also put on a Net Bait Paca Chunk in Alabama Craw which had a bright orange and green pumpkin color to it. The water wasn't as stained as the main lake so the color combo was pretty visible in the water.  We worked the shore over pretty well and we both were pitching right into the wood and little islands of grass. I threw the jig right into a little pocket and sure enough the line started taking off again...luckily I reacted quicker this time and set the hook.  Finally had a keeper in the boat!  Caught a few more shorts, but couldn't come up with any more by weigh in time at 2 o'clock

My keeper ended up weighing only 1.72 lbs but was good enough to get me 8th place in the tournament.  The rest of the field pretty much fared the same with one keeper a piece, Chris with 2 keepers, and a few others with no keepers.  Pretty much boiled down to whose keeper had the most weight.  Chris Gaertner stole the show with a massive female that he picked up further down the shoreline that Scott and I were working. He also took 1st place with his two keepers.  We knew he had a good one because we saw him put it in the boat but didn't realize how big it was until we saw it at the weigh in.  The fish tipped the scales at 5.70 lbs which claims big bass bragging rights for the year so far.

Ryan Boswell ended up in second place with one keeper that also weighed a good amount at 4.5 lbs.  Mike Pena took third then with his 1 keeper along with everyone else down the line.

I can't say that I am frustrated that I only showed up with one keeper because the rest of the field did pretty much the same.  The changing conditions and cold front really put the pressure on all of us.  To think though if I wouldn't have missed that first jig fish I might have been in the top three...but that is the breaks with tournament fishing and I was lucky to have at least the one. We'll get 'em next time!

If any of you get the chance to head down to Vermillion do it!  Pretty neat little lake with a good mix of structure and different types of water to get some good practice in on.

Special thanks to FSA Custom Rods...the flippin stick he built for me helped me catch my only keeper.  Crazy sensitive blank and a really well built rod!  If you want one built just like mine shoot Ed an email at...

Until the next tourney, tight lines!