Monday, March 26, 2012

Bass and Crappie March Madness!

Day 1:

With all of the frustration with work coming to a grinding hault on Friday I knew that the coming weekend was going to be my only opportunity to unwind before I started over again on Monday.  The forecast for Saturday and Sunday continued to push the 72+ degree mark so I knew I was going to be in for some decent fishing.  I called my Dad up Friday night to ask him if he wanted to join in on the outing and told him where to meet me at the following morning.  Fortunately I was off the hook for most of the day on Saturday so my Dad and I decided to hit two separate ponds...both in the Dupage County area.  My Dad arrived at the first pond about a half an hour before I did since I lazily snuck in a few more minutes of sleep before I headed out to the lake.  Unfortunately I missed a good opportunity because by the time I showed Dad had already landed 5 bass.  Luckily for me...that action lasted the entire day!  Every spot we hit up and down the first lake we pulled out atleast 6+ fish a piece.  Both of us switched off between crankbaits, zoom flukes, and zoom brush hogs.  The fish were all within the 8 to 18" range with the average fish coming in at 12-15".  I have never seen my Dad have this much fun in a while catching this many I was happy I was able to spend that time with him.  Of course the trash talking came out with him being in the lead most of the day, but after awhile we just lost count of the number of fish that we hooked into.

Well the fun came to a screeching hault when my Dad yelled over to me that there was a cop parked behind my car on the side of the road.  To retrace my steps as to why this was happening...earlier this morning my Dad decided it was OK to park on the road next to the lake where there was obvious signs that said "NO PARKING".  I went against my better judgement and left my car there and my Dad ended up moving his truck farther back down the road when he moved to his new spot.  Needless to say I dropped all of my gear and ran half way around the lake as I saw the cop putting a parking ticket on my windshield!  I yelled to the cop what had happened before he drove off, and luckily he was nice enough to just tell me to move my car and that he only gave me a warning.  Note to self...never listen to my Father again on where to park. 

As a side note to all of this...GatorShaun, a fellow, member was on the same lake in his kayak when this happened and witnessed me running clear across the lake to catch the cop before he left.  I didn't realize it was Shaun in the kayak so of course I get a text message a few minutes later from him "enjoying the parking ticket?".  I was busted! haha.  With my Dad also being parked illegally further down the road I knew we were pressing our luck and decided to leave for the next pond.

We headed to spot number 2 and found two cars already parked next to it.  I was kind of mad at the fact that our favorite secret spot was starting to become not so secret...but hey, you can't keep the fun from everyone.  My Dad and I started at our usual spot and made our way around the lake picking off a few bass here and there.  I saw that the bass were schooling up on shad coming out of a drain pipe so I decided to throw on my shallow BPS Egg Crankbait in Texas Shad...and it was game on from there!  Bass were slamming the crankbait every 5-10 casts.  I would feel the subtle side to side wobble of the crankbait moving through the water followed by a good THUMP and the crankbait would stop dead.  At that moment I would throw all my weight into a right side sweep of the rod and FISH ON!  This continued until 2:30 in the afternoon when my fish count came to about 35 bass for the day so far.  My dad on the other hand had close to 50!  By that time I saw another DA member, Darkstar72, making his way along the pond catching a few fish here and there and snapping pictures for his buddy he was with.  I yelled to him across the lake jokingly that this lake only allows 1 DA member at a time.  He laughed and yelled back to me ask me how the fishing has been.  We finished up the short conversation and headed our separate ways along with my Dad heading home since my Mom had dinner ready to go.

I left that lake by myself and headed back to the spot we started at this morning...making sure that I parked in the correct spot this time! lol.  Gatorshaun had been in touch with me most of the day after this morning's incident so he headed over to meet me along with his girlfriend SunnyPhish.  I had a few more fish on the board before they showed up...but when they came the Super Fluke run was over!  Senkos became the diet of choice for these bass.  The whole day turned out to be unbelievable as far as fishing the time I finished up I had 40 bass and 1 crappie landed.  If I wouldn't have missed the other fish that I missed the bite on or lost on the hookset I probably would have had close to 60 bass.  Deadsticking the Super Fluke and slow rolling a crankbait became the producers for the day.  Luckily I still had Sunday to refine my patterns to see if they produced even more fish!

Day 2:

The second day I had alot less time to make my mark on the lake...the numbers ended up being about half of yesterday's take, but man the quality today was there!  MWolf, another DA member, planned on meeting me out at the lake around 4:30 pm and before he arrived I already had 1 bass landed and 1 lost.  I saw him parking his car and I waited before I made my next cast.  I threw the Zoom Super Fluke out as far as it could go.  Let it sit, and gave it three twitches before it stopped dead.  I set the hook and the bass was off to the races!  The head of the fish never broke the surface until I could see MWolf walking down the sidewalk.  I yelled at him to hurry and that this fish was much bigger than any of the ones that I had on yesterday.  A couple head shakes later of the beast and I finally lipped it.  She taped at 18.5" and weighed in at 3 lbs 10 oz.

We worked our way down the shoreline picking up one or two as other fisherman in the area were nailing smaller bass on senkos.  I put on a senko just to see if that changed things up a bit, but I lost interest and was more concerned about hitting my favorite spot on the lake before sundown.  Unfortunately there was a smaller family fishing off the point so I waited patiently until they moved off.  Knowing that we would have company fighting for the spot I told MWolf to book it as soon as we saw the family leaving.  We got settled at our final spot at around 7-7:30ish and we had no idea what we were about to get ourselves into.  Since the fluke wasn't working anymore and the wind was picking up I switched up to a crankbait and the feeding frenzy commenced!  One bass after another with the biggest one pushing the 17-18" range.

It wasn't until the 6th or 7th bass until I felt a lighter bite on the line...reeled it in, and come to find out it was a 9" crappie that inhaled the crankbait!  MWolf then hooked into one of his own after also switching to a crankbait with this one being in the 11" range.  Unfortunately it was gut hooked and bleeding badly so we decided to keep the crappie instead of letting it die in the water.  I am usually opposed to keeping fish, but that was too nice of a crappie not to eat.  Once the sun started setting the crappie madness kicked into high gear!  Another 9 incher then a 10 incher...with MWolf and I switching off catching fish.  Next thing I know my crankbait gets slammed by something alot bigger.  I thought it was a bass but to my surprise it was a 14" slab of a crappie!

That had to be one of the biggest crappie I had seen in a long time and was amazed to find it in a Dupage County forest preserve lake.  By the time it was all said and done we walked away with 7 keeper crappie that weighed about 5 lbs in total with my 14" weighing in at a pound and a quarter.  MWolf took the 7 home to his family since his Dad had been waiting for a good amount of crappie to cook for dinner.  All I wanted was a couple pictures of my beast in return before it ended up in a frying pan.  After back and forth promises of "this is my last cast for the night" going on for about 30 minutes we finally wrapped it up.  It was interesting trying to get back to the cars with all of our gear and trying to hold 7 crappies by hand between the two of us...but some how we made it. 

It was one of the best two days on the water I have had in awhile and the final total ended up at 54 bass and 6 crappie.  I know I won't have numbers like that very I soaked it all in as much as I could!  Good fishing with good friends and family...doesn't get much better than that!

Thanks for reading...and tight lines!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Braidwood Aftermath

Well guys, yesterday ended up being a brutal first day back on the tourney trail for me.  No fish to weigh in...caught 2 cats on a crankbait and that was it for me yesterday.  My boater caught 3 bass but only 1 was a keeper.  I can't say why or how I ended up with no fish, but that is the breaks with fishing sometimes...but I did have a lot of fun with the guys out there today and I know that I will be doing my homework next time around for the tournmaent in April.

I can't say that I didn't try to mix up the lure choices that I had because I threw everything that I had confidence in...flukes, cranks, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, shakey head, jigs, swimjigs, creature name it I probably had it tied on for a few casts.  My partner was at the lake on Saturday and said that he did really well but unfortunately his go to spots just ended up not producing.  That happens more often than not....maybe the slight change in pressure from the storm the night before moved them off the area...or maybe the average 83 degree water temps drove them to cooler water areas.  Who knows really, but if I had to put a blame on anything it would have been my inexperience with fishing the lake and limited time fishing from a boat.  I have been to Braidwood maybe twice in my lifetime fishing from the is a whole different ball game being on a boat and not knowing the lay of the land.   I have to say though I did have a few follows from bass and a couple bass that I could see making their rounds to shadey areas...but I couldn't get any of them to commit.

After the totals were calculated at the weigh in I was impressed with the amount of fish caught.  Out of 20 anglers I believe more than half came in with a limit.  First place came in with about 14.5 lbs of bass and the second place finisher had a little more than 9 lbs.  So there was a good gap between first and second...and the winner, Mr. Dave Schultz, is one hell of a fisherman....he knows Braidwood like the back of his hand.  All of his fish came on a white/chartreuse chatterbait...and if you want to learn how to use that lure he is the one to talk to about it hands down.  Dave also came in with the biggest bass of the tournament at 4.90 lbs.  Because of Braidwood's strict rules you are only allowed to hold bass in your livewell over 18" so the other bass that were caught were rounded to the nearest 1/2" and marked down on a sheet of paper.  Those fish that were less than 18" were put into an fish weight equation and the total weight was calculated from that.  It was kind of unfortunate that was the way we had to do it because I gaurantee those fish caught were heavier than the equation calculated....all of the fish were full of shad!  That's why I was so surprised I couldn't get a crank bite going...I though for sure those fish would have been keying in on shad to stock up on food.  The other 18+ fish came from Mr. Mike Pena with his fish weighing a little under 4 pounds.  Here are the two biggest fish caught....first was Dave's fish and the second was Mike's fish!

It was tough getting skunked out there, but I was happy with how my equipment performed and all of my prep work was well worth it!  That new FSA flipping/pitching rod is A-MAZING!  Subtle bumps from rocks felt like an earthquake in my hands!  Only lost a couple hooks and one rat-l-trap all day to rocks so overall it was a good day.  Weather was great and the camaraderie between the group after the fact was second to none!  Special thanks go out to my boater Chaz for trying his hardest to get me on fish and having free reign on his 2005 20 foot Ranger bass boat...that thing was a sweet ride!

Until next time guys, I will continue to do some write ups on different techniques and outings, and how my prep work will change for the next tournament at Lake Shelbyville on April 29th.  Thanks for reading and supporting me in these competitions...I really appreciate it!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Prep for Braidwood Tournament (Part II)

The next thing that needed to be packed was the tackle bag that I purchased from Bass Pro.  I ended up getting Bass Pro XPS Rigging Bag which can hold either 6 Plano 3700 boxes or 10 Plano 3600 boxes. It also comes with 2 side compartments and 1 front compartment.  In order to effectively pack everything I needed I got some tips from others in my bass club and decided to do a mix of box sizes to fit all of my lures.

The first thing that I did was buy a deep 3700 Plano box that could store all of my plastic baits in their bags without being shoved in my bag in multiple places...

After that I bought (3) 3700 boxes (One FTO for crankbaits and two regular 3700).  The FTO held all of my cranks from shallow to deep diving.  The first regular 3700 box stored all of my football jigs, swim jigs and chatterbaits.  The second regular 3700 box stored all of my rat-l-traps, topwater lures, and jerkbaits. 

The last set of boxes that I packed were (5) 3600 boxes.  One box for terminal tackle, one for spinnerbaits, one for Zoom Super Flukes, one with Senkos, and one with plastic Craws. Terminal tackle was put in the center compartment of the tackle bag and the other 3 were put in either the side compartment or the front pocket.

The last items that I needed to pack would also be handy to me while out on the water.  Anything that would be of value to you while out on the water should always be within reach in order to be fishing effectively on the water without wasting time...

- Bug Spray, Lure Scent, Line Conditioner
- Split Ring Pliers, Wire Snips, Angled Pliers, Knife
- Cull Tags, Measuring Tape, Bump Board, Scale
- Sunglasses, Hat, Sunscreen, Gloves, Rain Suit
- First Aid Kit
- Rod Socks, Spare Reels, Spare Spool

Oh and can't forget the SECRET WEAPON!!!  The A-Rig!!! haha.  Probably won't use it but I have it rigged up LEGALLY and may throw it if nothing else works out for me tomorrow...wouldn't hurt to try it.

I will be checking back in with all of you guys tomorrow to let you know how I did.  I feel prepared and hopefully those of you just getting into tournaments find this useful to help you get organized for your own competitions. Any questions, don't hesitate to email me at

Thanks for reading and tight lines tomorrow!


Prep for Braidwood Tournament (Part I)

It is the night before my first tournament and I am glad to say that I am all packed and ready to hit the water tomorrow.  There is a chance of AM thunderstorms but should clear up by the afternoon.  Winds are expected to be 10-20 mph and the temperature change will be from 58 degrees in the morning to 79 in the afternoon.  So I better be prepared to fish in wind, higher temps, and rain.  My BPS Pro Qualifier rain suit and a couple of layers of clothing should do the trick, I can always take them off later on if need be.

My rod and reel choices continue to change depending on the fishing situation but for tomorrow I settled on the following 6 rod and reel setups...

1) Topwater/Jerkbait : Baitcasting

Reel: Lew's Tournament Pro Speed Spool (7.1 gear ratio)
Rod: Shimano Cumara 7' 0" MH Moderate Fast Action
Line: P-Line CXX 12 lb test
Starting Lure: Rapala Shallow Shad Rap (Black/Silver)

2) Spinnerbait : Baitcasting

Reel: Lew's Tournament Pro Speed Spool (7.1 Gear Ratio)
Rod: Shimano Crucial 6' 10" MH Xtra Fast Action
Line: Seaguar InvisX Flourocarbon 15 lb test
Starting Lure: 1/2 oz Strike King White spinnerbait with white painted willow/colorado blades

3) Flipping/Pitching : Baitcasting

Reel: Shimano Curado 200e7 (7.1 Gear Ratio)
Rod: FSA Custom Hydra Rod 7' 3" MH Fast Action
Line: Power Pro 50 lb test
Starting Lure:  3/8 oz California Reservoir Lures Pro Series Jig with Netbait Paca Craw trailor

4) Squarebill Rod: Baitcasting

Reel: Shimano Chronarch 200e6 (6.5 Gear Ratio)
Rod: St. Croix Mojo Bass Rod 7' 0" MH Moderate Action
Line: Power Pro 50 lb test
Starting Lure: BPS Egg Shallow Diver (Texas Shad) w/ upgraded Gamakatsu No. 4 treble hooks

5) Rat-L-Trap Rod: Baitcasting

Reel: Lew's Tournament Pro Speed Spool (7.1 Gear Ratio)
Rod: St. Croix Mojo Bass Rod 7' 0" MH Moderate Action
Line: Power Pro 50 lb test
Starting Lure: 1/2 oz Strike King Red Eye Shad (18K Tennessee Shad)

6) Texas Rigged Plastics/Finesse Plastics : Spinning

Reel: Shimano Saros 2500F (6.0 Gear Ratio)
Rod: Shimano Crucial 7' 2" MH Fast Action
Line: Fireline Smoke 10 lb test
Starting Lure: 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG hook (Plastic: TBD)

(Part I of II)