Minnesota Bass Opener – Big Bag Challenge

Minnesota Bass Opener 20+ Challenge, MN Opening Weekend Celebration Challenge, Minnesota Opener Big Bass Challenge, these were just some of the many names that buddy Rich Lindgren and I came up with for the prestigious title to our day on the water. Being that we are both very competitive tournament anglers, it was only necessary for us to come up with some sort of challenge. We decided that instead of making it a head to head competition that we would take on Mother Nature as a team. The challenge was a testy one at that. We set a very lofty goal of our top five bass for a total weight of 20 lbs. We set our sight at a small South metro lake that has a reputation of coughing up some real lunkers.

We arrived at the boat ramp at about 8 a.m. and decided to run some shallow water. Being that it has been a very cold Spring we figured the bass would be in a nice pre spawn mode or possibly even sitting on beds. This posed a nice challenge because living in Minnesota we both don’t get to many opportunities to practice catching fish on beds. Usually the spawn is pretty much wrapped up by the time bass opener comes around. After a few casts of a spinnerbait with no success I switched to a weightless texas rigged 4″ Bass Pro Shops Tube (Clear), and and started pitching it to any open spots between the thick vegetation. We came across a bed that was sitting behind a boulder. I quickly skipped my tube to the bed and instantly got bit. Unfortunately on the hook set my fluorocarbon leader snapped right at the knot. I decided that I was going to try to use a different set up for the day. Almost always I would throw a weightless tube on a casting outfit, especially when around vegetation, but I thought I would try something new. I see a lot of guys do this and thought maybe I should see for myself what, if any, the benefit was. So far, I see none. Rich spotted the fish that broke my line and commented on how big it was. As I retied my line, Rich took a couple cracks at it with no success. We decided to fish on and come back later in the day. We were on a time crunch and were only giving ourselves 6 hours to boat 20 pounds. No time to mess around on a 4 pounder with a sore lip.

We continued to move water, staying very shallow. We saw a lot of nice bass cruising but quickly found out that if we saw the fish it was to late to catch them. They were very skiddish. We came to a tiny inlet and Rich quickly boated another keeper that went about 2 lbs. Nice fish but not what we needed to fulfill our task at hand. Just after he threw the fish in the livewell he set on a real nice fish, only to loose her at the boat. We definitely were making this hard on ourselves. We knew we were on the right pattern to boat some big ones, but were not going to get there fishing the way we were.

As we continued on, we quickly put together a limit of fish weighing about 9 pounds. Rich was catching his on a 4″ Lake Fork Tackle Ring Fry (Green Pumpkin) and I was getting mine on the same Bass Pro Shops Tube. I cast my tube to a nice laydown and as I was quickly reeling in to make another cast a big bass exploded on the bait, missing all together. Rich seeing this quickly pitched the Ring Fry to the ripples and next thing you know has a nice 4 pound fish! Now things are starting to look up. That was perfect team work and we were going to need that kind of action to push the scales past 20. Shortly after that I caught a nice one out of the lily pads that went about 3 pounds. The pads lead to a nice point that met up with all sorts of different vegetation like milfoil, cabbage, pads, and scum. My experience tells me that these types of places hold nice numbers of fish. The good thing was I was right on, the bad thing was I hooked and lost four nice fish in a row. Needless to say this ended my spinning rod extravaganza! I think that the spinning rod is a good bet in open water or rocky areas, but it just proved to not have the muscle in the weeds. I switched to a G Loomis 7′ MH IMX casting rod, paired with a Shimano Curado BSF reel, and 15 pound Seaguar Fluorocarbon Line. I also made the change to a texas rigged Lake Fork Ring Fry (Green Pumpkin) and added a Tru Tungsten Force Bead (Black) for just a little added weight. First cast with the new set up and I added another nice 3 pounder to the livewell. You live to learn!

With only a couple hours to go we were sitting pretty good. We had roughly 5 fish for 14 pounds. We continued to catch fish, culling maybe an ounce here and there and then Rich catches a good ‘un that was roughly 5 pounds. She was definitely all spawned out but had the mouth of a six pound fish. That was a good cull. Now we were sitting at roughly 17 pounds and were itching to blast a big one and exceed our mark. Further down the stretch and I boated another three pounder to cull away our last two pound fish. Sitting with roughly 18 pounds we decided to hit the main lake and throw some bigger baits for a giant. I started throwing a Basstrix Paddle Tail Tube (Yellow Perch) and a Sumo Frog (Black). Rich busted out a Tru Tungsten Swimbait (Bluegill) and a Ima Shakr Crankbait (Matte Bluegill). To be honest the first 20 minutes were spent admiring the action of the TT Swimbait. It’s AWESOME! It even does a 180 when stopped. After we finally got back on track Rich caught a couple on the Ima and I caught one on the Sumo Frog. No takers on the swimbaits. Our total weight was 18.4 pounds. Not a bad sack at all. We were on BIG bite away from hitting that huge goal.

Josh Douglas Rich Lindgren
**From left to right: Myself and Rich with some of our bigger ones

So far this year has been a great one. I have been doing a lot of fishing preparing for upcoming tournaments and have also been staying busy guiding. I will be spending all this weekend practicing for the upcoming Weekend Series tournament held at the Le Homme Dieu Chain of Lakes in Alexandria, MN. I will give a full report of my practice and tournament results as soon as I get back. Here are some pictures showing off some of the giants starting out an already awesome season. If interested in going out on a fully guided bass trip please feel free to contact me aJosh@JoshDouglasFishing.com.

Welcome to JoshDouglasFishing.com! A site dedicated to my avid fishing career. Join me as I share my honest approach to chasing a childhood dream full of obstacles, failures and successes, while traveling across the nation competing and advancing to the sports highest levels. I’ll share all that I learn from new tips and techniques as well as the hottest tackle and equipment. Join me as I document the everyday rigors of tournament bass fishing from the business as a whole, to the practice and all the way to the weigh-in stage!

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