Mississippi River Pool 2, St. Paul Park, MN
With Bri and I’s upcoming plans to move south, the preparation has found myself on the outside of the hardcore Minnesota bass fishing scene looking in. It’s honestly a tough pill to swallow but is setting the stage for big things and truly preparing me to be able to chase my life long dreams on the big stages all across the U.S.
I told myself that I was going to use this time to go back to the chalk board and remaster the basics and develop more skill that will be necessary to compete with the big boys. One way to do this was to go back to the grass roots of bass fishing and fish with the same individuals that I first cut my teeth with, the Gopher Bassmasters. These guys are some of the best sticks in the state and doing well here says a lot about your fishing ability.
The first tournament of the year was on Saturday and was on a venue that I’m very fond of, the Mississippi River Pool 2. This body of water suites my strengths very well. There’s a lot of main river smallies as well as backwater largemouth.
For the most part, practice was a success though it was different than I had expected. I usually tend to favor the smallmouth on this pool but because of the delayed Spring and the very high water, getting the smallies to cooperate was a huge challenge. I knew they were getting close to grouping up and preparing to spawn but consistency was a big deal.
I instead focused my energy on largemouth and found an ideal backwater slough that I felt would be the ticket with winning this event. The largemouth bass in this area were preparing to spawn. During practice I was able to catch a few off beds with relative ease but with the weekend weather forecast calling for non stop rain and thunderstorms I knew sight fishing would be more than difficult so I instead planned to fish these key backwater areas very slowly and pay extra special attention to my line so that I could detect the very subtle bites.
Tournament morning I was one of the last boats to take off but because of my new Evinrude ETEC H.O. I was one of the first to get back to my key areas. I quickly was able to put together a limit within the first couple hours, because of the low light conditions I wasn’t having to much success flipping the trees so instead I fan casted these areas with a hand tied 1/4 oz. swim jig and was rewarded very quickly. Once I had a decent limit put together I reverted back to flipping but keeping an open mind I instead started catching better bass by flipping the main shoreline where there was an abundance of grass, wood and most importantly rock shoreline. This was very key to have the three types of cover as the bass where spawning in these areas and I had to pay very close attention to my line as detecting these bites was extremely difficult. My main weapon of choice for this tactic was a Reaction Innovation Sweet Beaver with a pegged 1/4 oz. Eagle Claw Lazer Tungsten Weight and most importantly a 4/0 Trokar Magworm Hook. The Trokar hook was seriously a difference maker as the fish were not eating the bait they were simply trying to move the bait from the beds and then would spit it out and the sharpness and the over-sized hook would assure that they fish got stuck and stuck well. I went with 15lb Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon which seemed to be a perfect compromise between finesse and power.
Towards the end of the day the pressure really started to get to this area and I decided to take the last hour and try my luck on some smallies. This proved to be a very good decision as I was able to cull twice on two smallies around the 18″ mark.
I weighed in 3 largemouth and 2 smallmouth for an impressive bag of 17.33 pounds and claimed the top spot at the first event of the season! It felt good to notch another victory but it felt even better knowing that I developed a game plan and stuck to it all day, trusted my instincts and kept my head under control the entire day. Something I’ve set out to master this season before throwing down in the years to come.
Tomorrow Pool 4!!! I can’t wait!