I arrived at Leech Lake Saturday evening and was very excited to get on the water. Unfortunately I drew as a non boater for this competition due to my place in the standings with my club, Gopher Bassmasters. I didn’t bring my boat up although I wish I had. It would have proved smart since Leech Lake is a gigantic 120,000 acre body of water. So much to look at. Almost overwhelming. Although I was lucky I did get to practice with a couple real good sticks, Ryan Brant and Rich Lindgren. Last year Gopher had a couple club tournaments on Leech so both Ryan and Rich were pretty familiar with the waters.
I went out with Ryan on Sunday in his 20ft Ranger Comanche. It was a nice ride considering that Leech is known for it’s power. It is not uncommon to run into 4 or even 5 foot rollers out on the main lake. We started out fishing some small marinas that Ryan had targeted last year. Given that these areas were small and not likely to recycle itself of bass we decided to just pull on the fish. No sense putting a hook in its mouth and then expecting to catch it a few days later. Some marinas were good and some were not so good. I was throwing a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (black and blue) and a 3/8 oz. Stanley Platinum Jig (Craw), Ryan was throwing a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (fall craw) and a 3/8 oz. Stanley Platinum Jig (craw).
After spending hours in the marinas we decided to start looking for big ones in the rice. Leech Lake is known for it’s endless bounties of wild rice. State law prohibits boaters from getting into the harvestable rice but as long as you are considerate and not idiotic this wouldn’t be to big an issue. After limited success in some well known rice beds we stumbled across an area that was later nicknamed the “Monkey Box”. The area reminded me of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, were they have a well known area called the same. At first it didn’t look like much but I convinced Ryan to put down the trolling motor and give it a shot. I couldn’t have been his second cast with a Spro Frog (Midnight Black) when all you heard was the explosion. A nice 3 pound bass. Seconds later I had one, and then another, and then another. We were pulling on fish left and right. We went in for dinner and then came back this time Rich joined us. It was fun. Lots of fish. We did our best not to hook them. I was throwing a Scum Frog (Black).
Monday I launched with Rich. We decided we would work the East side of the lake. Headquarters and Boy Bays. We did a lot of Flippin’ and was able to find some nice rice beds. We also checked Boy Bay were Rich had done really well in last years club tournament. He was excited to see that the fish were still there. We moved a lot of water that day and probably fished more dead water than good water. But that is a good thing, it shows were not to go on game day. I caught most of my fish on a 3/4 oz. GrassMasters Jig (Black and Blue)
Tuesday was the final day of practice. Rich and I launched early and ran all the way up Steamboat River. We found some fish but were not convinced it would be a worthy spot during the tournament. We ended up finding some nice quality fish on some small rice points in Steamboat Bay. We also found a nice marina were I pulled on a real nice bass under a dock. Weapons of choice were a 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Black and Blue), 3/8 oz. Stanley Platinum Jig (Craw), 1/2 oz. Strike King Premier Double Buzzbait (Black), and a Sumo Frog (Black).
All in all it was a good practice. I got more familiar with the lake and had a real good idea were to go to find a big bag of healthy Leech Lake bass. Hopefully the boaters I get paired with will be on good fish! Wish me luck!!