Bassmaster Northern Open

Lake Champlain, Plattsburgh, NY

Things have been pretty hectic leading up to us leaving town for the third and final stop of the Bassmaster Northern Opens. Held on none other than the absolute freak of a smallmouth and largemouth fishing factory, Lake Champlain. This time of year always seems to be a very busy time of year for an angler on the move. Tournaments mean so much down the stretch, proper preparation can be time consuming. When you’re a northern angler your guide trip days start getting numbered and trying to accommodate as many trips as I can manage sucks up the extra days with relative ease. I’m no where near bitching here either, I love guiding, it really keeps me sane and any day I can spend making a few bucks out on the water is a blessing in my life.

To really make things crazy, my homeboy and Bassmaster Elite Series stick Seth Feider decided it was time to show the world what we all been saying up north for a hot minute. Dude went dead off at the LaCrosse Elite event and rolled on the river for an eventual second place finish. His timely finish thrusted him up the points to do what he may even of thought couldn’t be done. His last minute push secured his spot in the Angler of the Year tournament on none other than his personal playground, famed smallmouth fishery, Lake Mille Lacs. As if he was done there, he wins the championship on Mille Lacs and officially thrusts his fishing career into stardom. Well earned I can promise you that. Good job my dude, keep it rolling.

Photo Courtesy – The Fisherman’s Widow

Photo Courtesy – The Fisherman’s Widow

After the LaCrosse event, my homeboy and travel partner Chad Smith and I were east bound. We didn’t screw around much on the drive out and hustled through the Great Lakes region desperate to hit the water. A solid finish here on Champlain and I punch my very own Elite Series invite. Two checks in the first two Northern Opens had me sitting just inside the top 20 in the AOY points race. A good check here and I kick the door open to every dream I’ve had since I was a little kid. I don’t know Champlain well, I’ve only been there once and spent 80% of my time in Ticonderoga. This time I knew that wasn’t in the cards. I’ve been upping my smallmouth game to a pretty high level and was thrilled at the idea of attempting to qualify for the Elites on a venue I knew I’d be strong.

Practice got under way and we were absolutely relentless. Savage even. We idled my Phoenix/Evinrude all over that beast of a lake. When the wind blew, it didn’t matter, I was out there sneaking around looking for areas holding tournament winning smallies. Practice went great too. Both Chad and I had a blast out there and the fat smallie’s was plentiful. I developed a few different patterns to get bit. Early in practice I got on a solid shallow topwater bite. It was the first cold front of the year and those big smallies were up shallow on them post frontal slick, sunny days. Any bank that had the right ingredients as well as a slight chop was the deal. On the windier banks I threw a topwater “walk the dog” style bait and on the slick banks I threw the Biovex Joint Bait 110. Both were deadly and quickly gave me the confidence I needed to make a run at this event.

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I also found a deep bite, where dropshotting a Biovex Kolt Fish Tail (Rame Gill) and a Reins Bubbling Shaker (Scuppernog) was catching both numbers and quality of good bass. The numbers were evident but almost annoying. You’d have to work threw the 10″ to 12″ variety and then all of a sudden bow up on a 3 pound fish or better. I’d use the clear-colored Kolt Tail in the gin clear water and the larger 4″ Bubbling Shaker in the greener, more shallow depths. My Lowrance electronics got their workout in this event and were my eyes under the water. When it came to dropshotting, I saw probably 85% of my fish before I caught them. My electronics are the deal. Straight up.

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Lastly, I found another mid-depth bite on a mixture of a 110 sized jerkbait, as well as burning a modified Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait and enduring that bone-jarring bite. There’s much more to come on that particular bait I was throwing but the setup was equally, if not more so important. I was throwing the all chartreuse blade on a Daiwa Tatula 7’2″ MH rod, paired with a high speed Daiwa Zillion and matched with 40lb J-Braid. This setup I could cast the bait a mile across them rocky flats and the 7.1 gear ratio Daiwa would pick up line quick and help me really burn the bait. I used 40lb. braid to help with casting distance and the no stretch factor needed to successfully hook them smallmouth a mile out. I also used a FG knot to join a couple feet of Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon to keep my line above the bait invisible but to also give the bait a little downward momentum and absorb the initial shock of a 5 pound smallmouth crushing the bait. More to come on the modifications I make on the Stangun, check back soon!

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Tournament day came around and I was 100% ready. I had more quality spots to fish than I’ve ever had on any tournament outside of maybe my home bodies of water, Lake Minnetonka and Lake Mille Lacs. I knew from experiance that Champlain blows, worst wave conditions on any body of water you will ever fish in the United States. It’s so important to have fishable water all over the lake so you’re always assured you got something stable to fish.

Day one and conditions were relatively stable. Big waves were plenty but manageable, surely nothing my Phoenix/Evinrude combo couldn’t handle. My goal was to hit as much as I could on Day one and really test my areas to see what had the potential for a top 12 finish. I knew I was going to catch them, I just needed to be sure I had 17 or more and set myself up great for day two. I went out there and did just that. I peppered every dot I had on the lake and in the end finished with around 17 pounds. I accomplished my goal but was still pretty disappointed. I had an opportunity to put up a 20 pound bag but I let a 4 pounder pull off on the jerkbait and missed a legit 5 pound brownie on that same bait right next to the boat just moments earlier. I also managed to cull in the same spot for a nice 3.75 lb. smallmouth. This area had very little pressure and had all the right ingredients to hold jammer smallmouth. There was rock, weeds, perch and lots of perch at that. Those fish were acting like wolves and kept them perch corralled all throughout the day.

Photo Credit to Ronnie Moore and Courtesy of Bassmaster.com

Day two started off rough. Unfortunately an unforeseen issue kept me sidelined for the first couple hours of the day. Giant thanks to Bassmaster and the service crew as they all came together to get me back on the water. I missed the morning cloud cover and launched to slick conditions and high skies. This definitely cost me big. I was headed to my big fish water and between the spinnerbait and the topwater was fit to put a hurting on a few good uns’ looking to feed in the hazy morning conditions.

I made the choice with the calm conditions to just run everything and see what, when and where the right ones were biting. Right away I boated a nice 3.75 lb on the dropshot off the edge of a reef. I put together a small limit very fast and though throughout the day I did manage three real nice bites, I still weighed in two small bass going just a couple pounds each. Despite grinding my ass off, I was never able to overcome and weighed in a limit of about 14 pounds, finishing just outside the money in 65th place and am forced to wait another year to earn that coveted Bassmaster Elite Series invitation.

I was close, eventually finishing the Bassmaster Northern Opens in 17th place, gaining checks in two out of the three events. I’m excited to compete in these again next year, just got to keep getting better. My day is coming soon.

On another note, my dude Chad Smith repped on the co-angler side of things and with an awesome two day performance, anchored by a giant sack on day two, Chad made his first top 12 and finished the tourney in a rock solid 4th place. Atta boy Bud, proud of you man.

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Up next, we headed south to Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Southeast Texas for the 1st Annual Sealy Big Bass Splash Pro Invitational Tournament. Time to go flip up some big heads and make me a little money. Texas bound!!

 

 

 

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Bassmaster Northern Open

James River, Richmond, VA

The second stop of the Northern Opens was a BIG tournament for me. After a good finish at Oneida, I desperately felt the need to back it up here with a even better finish on the James River. I was feeling good. I’ve been fishing well and have cashed checks in three of my past four tournaments. I’m really fishing good right now. Mentally I’m right and I’m putting the time in on the water to stay with the fish and hone my craft.

My worry… The James is a tidal fishery and with the exception of the past two times I’ve been here, I’ve had no other tidal experience at all. The first time I was here I had a great practice. Unfortunately, mechanical issues kept me sidelined the entire first day and horrible finish was the eventual result. Last year I took 20th on the James and kicked off my Northern Opens on a high note. Now, I need to do that or better and really get myself in the mix for the eventual all or nothing derby in September on Lake Champlain in New York.

Practice started just ok and maintained that way. Pretty typical for my practices here on the James and it’s strictly the tides. When the tide’s right, they freakin’ gack and when the tide’s wrong, they simply disappear, or don’t bite, or I can’t catch them, either way it gets tough. I fished the James a certain way last year and it paid off with a top twenty. I fished slow, ignored the tide and targeted “forgivable” areas to finesse quality bass into biting. This go round, with a little tidal tip from a local and good buddy, I searched ot “feeding areas” all throughout the system that when the tide was conducive, would allow one to get multiple bites. I worked hard at searching for these types of areas that would house numerous bass and not just singles. I managed to figure out a semi-solid pattern and the tide schedule worked out very convenient for my bite.

The key to these feeding areas where to target a relatively minuscule area of less pressured cover and since the feeding window was short, running moving baits like the Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait or the new prototype Outkast Tackle Heavy Cover Swim Jig through these areas allowed for more casts in a short amount of time, resulting in more bass in the boat.

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“Outkast Tackle Heavy Cover Swim Jig” Photo credit – The Fishermans Widow

I felt pretty good going into tournament morning. I had prepared myself well and knew that discipline and decision making was going to be what I would need to earn a check in this one. First day went perfectly as scheduled, I targeted hard cover while the tide was low and stagnant. Once the current started pouring in I started working my way with the tide hitting current spots that swept these feeding areas. Things went perfect, I was catching and culling at every spot I stopped. My timing was terrific and the result was a day one limit of 14.2 oz. and had me sitting strong in 14th place.

My goal day two was simply to do the same thing. The tide was a bit later but so was my flight number. This go round, my timing seem to be 30 minutes late every where I went. My timing felt like I should of been perfect and even matched accordingly to the tide charts but something was off or stronger about this tide. No matter how I tried to adjust, I wasn’t timing my spots well and with only 45 minutes to go and with only two very small keepers I reverted back to what got me a check last year and went to “smart” high water areas with a spinning rod in hand. Ten casts in and I finally get a bite, a good bite too. This was a boost of momentum and as I fought the bass, half way back tot he boat it jumped off. Ouch. I was crushed. I had no choice but to keep throwing and a cast or two later and I boat my third keeper. a dozen more casts and I boat my fourth. Running out of both water and time, I pick up a small crankbait and just start running water on my way back out. One about my last cast I boat my best keeper of the day. I was stoked! I never gave up and stuck with what my head was telling me to do.

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Day 1 Bassmaster Northern Open. Photo credit to Ronnie Moore and courtesy of Bassmaster.com

I weighed in small limit but in a relatively tough tournament, a limit is gold and I finished with a strong showing of 28th, good enough for another check to keep the streak alive!  This finish puts me in great contention for the Bassmaster Elite Series invite going into Lake Champlain late September. There’s no lake in the world that wants to punch you in the mouth worse than Champlain and there isn’t any style fishing that makes me feel more alive than big water up north. I can honestly say I’m excited for what lies ahead!

Big thanks to TEAM FEATHERWICK for another great time out in Virginia. Big things coming from this camp. Give ’em a follow!

Featherwick – Instagram Facebook

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Kruger Farms Don Nelson Memorial Tournament

This year was the first annual Don Nelson Memorial Tournament presented by Kruger Farms. Don was owner and operator of Kruger Farms before his untimely passing and though I never knew Don personally, he helped some of my good friends and gave them the opportunity to chase their dreams. When good buddy Andy Young called me up and asked if I wanted to pair up with him out on Lake Minnewaska, minutes away from the farm itself, I was all in!

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Honestly, my track record on Lake Minnewaska isn’t the greatest. I’ve fished two Silverado Pro-Am events there several years back and never got in the money. Now, Minnewaska just happens to be a smallmouth factory and I just so happen to know a thing or two about catching smallmouth. At the same time, giving credit where credit is due, my boy Andy ain’t no slouch on this body of water. He’s had a a few solid years of experience on the Kruger Farms Team and is a potential winner anytime he competes out there. Andy made the learning curve an absolute breeze and before you knew it we were locating quality schools of smallmouth in no time.

During practice and the tournament itself, we stayed out at Kruger Farms for the week and took part in a super sale the store was doing on the upcoming waterfowl season and joked around, ate Kruger cuts and drank our fair share of Miller Lite. The farm and everything that comes with it is one special place and everything Don worked so hard for is flourishing as a result.

The actual tournament and Andy and I got off to a fast start. Before the sun got high, we cracked a couple on the Outkast Feider Fly and Biovex Face 70 Popper. I was able to get a good cast in on some isolated cover and the result was a 5.1 oz. smallmouth on a topwater that ended up being the big fish of the tournament.

All day we chased down smallmouth and as the sun got higher we used that to our advantage to slowly cull up a good limit. In the end, we were just a tad short and ended up with a solid limit of bass and a nice check for a 3rd place finish.

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This tournament was a great time with great people. If you’re looking for something in particular in the hunting and fishing world, check out KrugerFarms.com.

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ICAST 2016

Leaving New York, Chad and I had a little time to kill on our way to Chicago where he was meeting a buddy to head back down to Winona and me down to Florida to take part in ICAST. Coming across the toll road on the southern banks of Lake Erie, we decided we needed a quick fishing break and next thing you know, we were well into a 47 mile run out to Pelee Island on the Canadian-side of the lake. Fishing was good too. Never been out there that time of year but was cool to see what these fish look like after the spawn. Plenty of length but the bellies were a long way off from where they are come September.

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Finally, I was done screwing around with the smallies and pointed the rig south to the sunshine state. Aside from a few informal meetings and quick video shoots in my other sponsor’s booths, my main focus was representing Biovex in their sophomore year attending ICAST.

Things went better than expected and the brand recognition is noticeably higher with plenty of people eager to see what was new from the Japanese-based Biovex crew. The hands down star of the show was the Biovex Joint Bait 142 topwater. A bait I’ve been using for a little while now and have blasted all three species of bass in largemouth, smallmouth and spots. There really isn’t anything on the market like it and the action of the bait seems to be catching both bass and anglers alike! I have a handful of good topwaters in my box but when conditions are slick and bass are looking up, nothing out fishes the Joint bait. She’s deadly.

I was excited to see all the new products, as well as plenty of familiar faces. The fishing industry as a whole is climbing to new levels and the bass fishing market might be the strongest yet.

Big thanks to all the Biovex crew from both the US and Japan, as well as our bad ass Pro Team. You all made the time inside a convention center almost as good as the times out on the water! Thank you.

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Check out the entire Biovex USA line at – www.BiovexUSA.com and for the entire Biovex Japan line visit – www.Biovex.jp

Aside from the business itself, I got the chance to hang out beachside with my wife Bri and even do a little saltwater fishing with good friend Paul Michelle. Good times. Except for the fighting a 10 foot bull shark part, that was hell…. Thanks Paul.

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Bassmaster Northern Open

Lake Oneida, Syracuse, NY

The Bassmaster Northern Opens are finally upon us! I get pretty stoked for any and every tournament I fish, however none more so than the Northern Opens. Traveling around the country, I get to dissect some pretty good fisheries, but the opportunity to fish northern-style waters that include smallmouth bass, fits my strengths so much better and gives me a real competitive edge in the Angler of the Year race.

Joining me on my trip to New York was good buddy and Bassmaster Open co-angler, Chad Smith. We busted ass East and as we were closing on our destination, we realized our homeboy Seth Feider was an hour away from take-off at the Bassmaster Elite Series event on Cayuga Lake. After a quick fist bump and a good luck, as well as a quick tire change do to probably driving too damn fast so that we didn’t miss take-off, we were finally launching on one of my favorite bodies of water, Lake Oneida.

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Having been to the lake twice, I was really starting to feel familiar with both the smallmouth and largemouth bass on this fishery. This time presented some challenges as I’ve only been here in the later summer previously and this go round, things seem to be more spawn/post-spawn. We had ourselves a slick first day, so I immediately grabbed a Biovex Joint Bait 142 and a wacky rigged senko and cruised the shallows with my troller on 100. I was simply looking. What I found was a handful of postspawn cruiser that were willing to bite and not much left for actual spawners. I did manage to catch a few nice largemouth off shallow cover and was more eager about that then the skinny cruising smallies. AKA, ghost fish.

The next couple days we targeted deeper areas that I’ve done well in the past. It didn’t take long at all to catch some nice sized smallmouth and it seems the newly introduced gobies joining this eco system have gotten the smallmouth fatter than ever. This in itself throws things off a bit as before, the smallmouth seemed to eat a good balance of perch, crayfish and shad, but now throwing gobies in the mix, have some fish acting an awful lot like their cousins out on the Great Lakes.

Over practice I was able to locate smallmouth feasting on all the above mentioned and felt I also still had a very solid largemouth game going as well. The smallmouth are definitely getting bigger on Oneida but there are still plenty of 5 to 6 pound largemouth that roam these shallows. My game plan was to get a competitive limit of smallies right away in the morning and then when the sun got high, go and search out a big largemouth.

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The key to the good fish and more importantly, a strong finish was ability to match the hatch. These bass eat sunfish, perch, crayfish, goby, frogs and shad on this fishery.

Tournament morning everything went exactly as planned, I started catching fish and good ones at that. Unfortunately for me, I broke off my biggest fish of the week right at the boat. The fish were forgiving and biting good so even without that fish, I was still sitting with a solid limit of smallmouth and had plenty of time to go upgrade on a big largemouth. I hit the shallows and caught my share of largemouth with the only problem being none of them were big enough to cull any of my smallies. I hit the scales with a limit of brown ones going 16.1 lbs and had me sitting 26th in what was a very tight race.

Day two I set out to fish clean and stick with the smallies as I didn’t see the forecast of heavy wind, clouds and rain as being good for my largemouth bite. The problem, the strong east wind was something I hadn’t seen at all in practice and really hurt the way I needed to approach these fish. I scrapped half the day just to fill a limit. I ran my Phoenix/Evinrude combo so hard all over a blustery Lake Oneida and in the end could only muster up a small limit of 13-10 lbs and finished in 39th place. It was tough to see a good start vanish but I am still extremely thrilled to land a always needed paycheck and start the Northern Opens off on the right foot and continue my string of checks in smallmouth tournaments!

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Looking forward to getting back home and spending some time with the family, as well as guiding and fishing a couple local tournaments.

Happy 4th of July! Be safe and don’t do nothing I wouldn’t do!! Tight lines.

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The Heart of Guide Season – Lake Mille Lacs

The 2016 guide season has been absolutely rocking with anglers from all over the country traveling north to take on one of the very best smallmouth bass factories in the country, Lake Mille Lacs. The Big Pond has been owning up to her reputation too, with my guided trips producing personal bests for the vast majority of my clients and the big bass have been plentiful too.

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It seems like the bite changes everyday and throughout the day for that matter, giving plenty of opportunity to stay on top of fish and learn the new hot techniques as we go. The Outkast Tackle Feider Fly has been red hot in most all conditions. Small grubs, swimbaits, jerkbaits and tubes have been great for picking off pre spawn fish moving up and a Biovex Kolt Fish Tail on a dropshot gets the nod for those giants that pull up to nest. The post spawn bite has been well in the early morning and evening hours by throwing topwater baits like the Biovex Joint Bait 110 on slick calm days and a walking style “spook” bait on the more windy days. Our weather has been fantastic but the days that we did have some big fronts pushing big waves, a custom-tricked, all chartreuse Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait gets the nod. I pair this bait up with a 7’3″ Daiwa Cronos MH rod, on a Daiwa Zillion TWS 7.3 reel to burn the bait across the windy reefs and straight Suffix 30lb. 832 Braid to a small 20lb. Seaguar Fluorocarbon leader to handle the missile when it strikes. The bite is freakin’ insane! They’re just mean I tell you…

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I have some more travel ahead of me for the Bassmaster Northern Open on Oneida Lake in New York, then it’s down to Florida for ICAST. Lots of travel but looking forward to getting back to The Pond for another round of guide trips. I still have some opening available and will work to try and accommodate as best I can.

Contact me TODAY!

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Bassmaster Central Open #1

Arkansas River, Muskogee, OK

It took me a while to get around to writing about this event. I’m still having a tough time swallowing the jagged pill of completely blowing my opportunity of qualifying for the Bassmaster Elite Series through the Central Opens. Aside from watching my one and only goal in life get flushed at the first damn event of the Centrals, but I also did it in the most embarrassing way possible, I failed to catch a single bass in the course of the competition. Easily, far and away the worst tournament of my entire life.

The fierce competitor in me is pissed. There’s no denying it. How in the heck can I not catch a bass? I fish almost every single day, all across the country and I always catch bass. In fact, at the risk of sounding over confident, I always catch them pretty damn good too, but all that goes entirely out the window when you throw up the big zero.

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As much as it may sound like a brother needs to be walked off the ledge, of course figuratively speaking, I on the other hand am somewhat good with it. I had absolutely no idea what to do to catch a bass and every decision I made from there on was completely the wrong one. Believe it or not, I actually fished fine and practiced hard. I was confident to a degree, kept my head on my shoulders all the way to the last minute of the final day and fished hard to say the least, but just never made the right decision. I learned everything not to do on the Arkansas River, during this time of year and under these same conditions.

I’ve actually been to the Arkansas River a couple times in the past though they were always in the Fall. I personally was hoping for another Fall tournament as I was just starting to get things figured out but whatever, we fish where we fish, when we fish there. I took a day each to practice in the upper pool, the main pool and the Kerr pool. Practice was tough, post spawn and though practice was slow, I still managed a few nice fish everyday of practice. I didn’t however feel that locking up or down was worth the chance of getting locked out or even the couple hours of lock time alone. I also managed to catch my biggest fish in a creek close to take off and also pulled on a couple. I didn’t love the creek, as I generally never did great in there in the past but hey, it was spring so I was a bit iffy and figured I would buckle down and catch my fish. Then decide the next day where to fish based on my first day weight, which was also my early day.

Day one started slow. I fished my creek for several hours in the morning and never got a single bite. I finally blew out and ran to the most community grass area on the lake and by the time I got in there, everything was well picked apart and I never got a single bite. All day not one bite. I blanked.

Day two and I originally was going to set out to learn something. I blew it the first day, hadn’t caught a bass and figured I would run down to the area in the Kerr pool that I had found and make myself learn something so that the next time I was here, I wouldn’t have to yet again feel the burn of the Arkansas River. Instead, I came to find out that a good portion of the top 40 were all fishing in these areas down in Kerr and instead made the decision to stay in the pool and just try to put together a big bag. I couldn’t be the guy that runs down into winning water and start taking pounds away from others when I was well out of it.

That decision though right in my heart and one I’d make every time if the situation was similar situation proved to not be the smartest. I stayed on the main pool, fished around in some community holes and my creek I originally fished the day prior. The bite was completely dying around me. I missed one big bite, caught a few shorts and again weighed nothing at the scales.

The 2016 Central Opens are most likely done for me at this point. I fish these deals to of course get better on the water, but to qualify for the Elite Series. Though it was a humbling event, I’ll take it on the chin and promise it’ll make me better. Every pro angler has their worst tournament, I just had mine.

Coming back swinging at the Northern Opens next month!

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Sturgeon Bay Open

Lake Michigan, Door County, WI

Last spring was my first time to Sturgeon Bay, a quite community nestled along Wisconsin’s Door County Peninsula. An area known for it’s tremendous smallmouth fishery located in the Green Bay side of Lake Michigan. Last season, due to conflicting tournament schedules I wasn’t able to compete in the annual Sturgeon Bay Open. I did manage to hop in the boat with good buddy and walleye hammer Mark Courts for the NABC derby and though we finished just outside the money, we did still catch 21+ pounds of giant smallmouth bass. I’ve been completely in love with the fishery ever since.

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This season, the schedule worked out and when the opportunity to jump in the boat with one of my best buds, John Figi, and see what we could muster against some of the best US and Canadian smallmouth teams around, I was all in.

Practice started very slow, oddly slow actually. I think I, along with so many others figured we’d be sight-fishing giant brownies off beds due to the early ice-out and the mild spring. Instead, the stiff and brisk east winds were making for a slow bite. With one wave of fish probably in and out and another wave slow to get moving with the cold water temps, things just weren’t ideal.

I should say here that the fishing was still ridiculous. Conditions were indeed not great but it’s just this body of water can absolutely spoil you to the point that catching a half dozen 3-4 pounders and a occasional 5 pounder is considered a tough bite. The fishery is very much so alive and well.

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Figi and I had located a few good schools almost all over the lake. Some close, some pretty damn far but nothing to the point that we knew for absolute certain where we would fish and where we’d eventually catch our bass. Conditions on the first day were windy which is good and the little bit of west we had in the wind set up for a bite. We made the early decision to stay close and see if the conditions would promote a good bite. The call to stay close and hit areas based of wind conditions and memories proved beneficial and before we knew it we had three good ones in the box. We did run around quite a bit and pegged off fish here and there but in the end we had one that was still 2.12 pounds and killed our overall bag with 6 weighing in at 22.25 pounds and had us sitting in the 44th, just outside the money cut.

We knew day two had to be a bigger day for ourselves but with what we learned day one, we both knew we had the chance to make it happen and jump up inside that top 10. We targeted prespawn areas close to take off that were in the wind, and utilized the new Navionics SonarChart Maps to find those sweet spots where the bass would stack up before moving up onto the flats. This gave us a huge advantage and allowed us to find fish were were less pressured. You ain’t seen nothing yet till you seen a Little Sturgeon floatzilla….

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Figi and put a hurting on ’em all day long, weighing in a very respectable 26.06 pounds and jumping into 12th to finish the Open, earning that always needed payday! We caught most all our fish this week by throwing jerkbaits, grubs and the Outkast Feider Fly to prespawn bass, as well as pegging bedders off beds with the smallmouth killer, the Biovex Kolt Fish Tail (Ayu). In the end, it was a great event, we tested our abilities against the best and proved that one day here soon we’ll rival for that top spot. Congrats to all those who caught them and for the folks responsible for putting on this annual event. It’s easily my favorite derby of the year amongst some of the best group of northern anglers out there.

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Bassmaster Southern Open #2

Lewis Smith Lake, Jasper, AL

First off, I must apologize for my lack of posting lately but we’ve been revamping a few things here on the back end. No worries for those who’ve followed my blog over the years, I’m by no means slowing down. After all, I did start this thing back in 2006 when I first started this crazy career of mine and have no plans of slowing down now that we are approaching a full decade. In fact, I plan to share the next decade of my fishing life with you all and then some.

After stubbing my toe at the first stop of the Bassmaster Southern Opens in Florida, I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to make the trip down to Alabama for the second stop on Smith Lake. Saving money is always a high priority for me so that I have enough at the end of the year, for what hopefully ends up being the biggest tournaments of my life as I attempt to earn my qualification into the Bassmaster Elite Series. Being that I blew my Elite chances in the Southerns, it was a reasonable idea to skip out on the remainder of the tournaments and focus solely on the Bassmaster Central and Northern Opens, as well as my guiding and electronics training business. The Smith Lake event also fell over the Northwest Sport Show in Minneapolis, an annual event that I look forward to every year to see some familiar faces, meet a few new ones and support the sponsors that so graciously support me. The problem, I’m just a bassin’ junkie at the end of the day and the chance to hear my Daiwa spool spinning viciously out of control with a magnum Alabama spot digging on the other end was all it took and myself, along with good friend Seth Feider, made up our caravan and was headed to the state of bass fishing. Heck better yet, the capital of bass fishing.

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I had been to Smith Lake once before a couple years back and though I had my best practice ever at that event, I had one of my worst performances. I could catch spotted bass with relative ease, but would need all day to cull up to 13-14 pounds. At the same time, I was also getting a few largemouth bites in the backs of the creeks but wasn’t get them often enough to really feel good about catching a limit. The bites I was getting ranged in heftiness from four pounds up to eight pounds, true toads indeed. I was in a very similar situation last time as I was in this go round. I had a poor performance in Florida and now was sitting in a position to not care so much about the points race and instead, focused solely on a top 12 performance. I thought if I could capitalize on just 5 good bites a day, I could put together a 20 pound bag.

In the end of that tournament, I was good for only two bites a day each day. Though they were indeed good bites, they weren’t nearly enough and not bringing a limit to the scales cost me what could have been a good check and a much needed confidence boost so early in my Opens career.

Speed ahead two years to now and things were shaping up much the same. The season had progressed a little more and the warmer temps had both the spotted bass, as well as the largemouth bass, pushing the banks hard in preparation for the spawn. I could catch both with relative ease early in practice but my spotted bass size was less than ideal. The largemouth were acting stupid at times and damn near jumping on whatever bait I could put in their face. I could move the bank with a 1/2 oz. Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait (Ayu) and then flip laydowns with a 1/2 oz. Outkast Juice Jig (Custom Tied Skirt) and peg off largemouths. I also was able to mark a few nice largemouths on beds, the problem was they were so few and far between and worse yet, they were all very spread out from one another.

When it came to the spotted bass, I could catch a limit everyday with ease by throwing a shakey head, a wacky senko or a small swimbait along spawning banks but trying to catch anything over three pounds was a challenge. It seemed like the bucks were up and active but the good females were still out hanging close, suspending off away from the beds and were kinda tricky and a lot a bit ghostly for me to feel good about catching on the regular. The water was just dirty enough that seeing the actual beds or fish for that matter wasn’t really much of a player, but you could tell by the way the spots were hitting the baits that they were moving them away from beds. I kept telling myself that giving all the specifics like water temp, moon faze and overnight temps, that these fat females were going to move up any day.

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You know you don’t got what they want when they do you like this.

Tournament time and I decided I was going to start with spots and once I had a good limit, I’d run and look for that big largemouth bite. Unlike last time, when I abandoned the spots and sold out solely on largemouths, this time I was going to cover my ass knowing that a limit in the box would allow me to settle down with the jig and get that bite.

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What I didn’t see happening was the female spotted bass pulling up as well as they did. I knew they would to a degree and thought if I could catch me two of them, as well as a couple of those average 2 pounders and a 4 or 5 pound big head, I’d be in contention for a top 12. By 9:30 I secured what I thought was about an 11 pound limit and eagerly ran to the backs of the creeks looking for that big bite. On the way up, I’d stop and check a few other areas that the spots were pulling up and though I’d catch a fish every few casts, oddly I couldn’t cull with none of them and that only confirmed my desire to go catch me a big ole’ buckethead.

Day one was supposed to be on Thursday but the entire field woke up to a text from the tournament director that we were canceled do to potential severe weather all throughout the day. I knew right away that this was going to change things. The rain expected most certainly would raise the water some and there was no doubt it was going to get dirty, especially in the backs of the creeks. Still, despite this I was only looking for one good bite and though I fished as hard and as determined as I could, I just never got that damn bite. I weighed in with just under 11 pounds and sat in the middle of the pack and a long way off the potential check line.

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Photo credits to James Overstreet and Courtesy of Bassmaster.com

Day two I figured I had no choice, based on the day one weights, I needed a BIG day two. I basically set out to fish solely for largemouth but made some stops on my better spotted bass holes knowing I’d still need to catch me a few good spots to go along with a couple big largemouth. The wind was hucking and I could tell right away that the spots had been pressured hard. This is when I knew for absolute positive that day one, most those anglers that weighed in a 14 to 16 pound bag did it on bedded spots that they couldn’t see. In fact, most all of us had and now day two, the effects of everyone’s constant culling of good tournament fish the previous day made for one heck of a different day two. The pressure and the wind slowed the spotted bass bedding bite significantly. I worked my tail off to get about a 8 or 9 pound limit and actually probably stalled a bit from getting to the largemouth cause I could tell things just weren’t the same and that weights would be lower. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the bites and finally ran to the back of a couple creeks I had wished I would’ve ran into the day prior. I got bit almost immediately by a decent largemouth on a 1/2 oz. Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait (Black with Gold Blades) and made a nice cull for a good pound or two. Then time just ran out. That was it. I weighed in with another small limit similar to the day before and finished somewhere in the middle of the pack. Not good to say the least.

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Photos credit to Thomas Allen and courtesy of Bassmaster.com

Despite starting off the season in the Southerns not the way I had intended, it’s all good. These were clearly not meant to be as I can’t honestly say I did too much in these two events that I regret. I was around them in Florida and just couldn’t capitalize on the good bites and sloppy execution cost me a check. Alabama, I had my hands tied behind my back a bit but still should have caught enough to at least leave with a check. It just didn’t play and now, I’ll simply turn 100% of my attention to the Central and Northern Opens and look forward to a clean slate and a world of potential opportunities.

For now, it’s all business as usual. It’s damn near smallmouth season up here in Minnesota and I’m booking both guide trips on famed Lake Mille Lacs already, as well as thrilled to see so many signing up for my On-Water Fishing Electronics Classes. I still have plenty of openings and am eager to do whatever it takes to work around your hectic schedules. Contact me today!

 

 

Posted in Blog Post

Practice Can Make Perfect

If not perfect, than as close as one can be to it anyway. I may never be perfect but I sure do try to prepare as if I could be. After a rough start to the year in the Sunshine State, I made it a point to clear my schedule and go do some fun fishing with friends and of course, grab some always needed content for our future media endeavors.

Good buddy and fellow basshead Seth Feider and I hit the water to pull some content for our upcoming webinar titled, “Pitchin’ & Punchin’ Shallow Vegetation“, but before we could start hunting down some groggy Florida largemouth, we took up Navionics National Sales Manager and of course good friend, Paul Michele, on his offer to go wrangle up a few sharks off Florida’s southeastern coast. Both Seth and I were in dire need for a quality way to let off a little fishing aggression and no better than on the ocean’s fiercest swimmer.

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Our time was great and not only did we put our fair share of hooks in some sharks mouths, but Paul hooked him a couple new shark fisherman. It was insane! The power and beauty of pulling up one of the most significant alpha predators in the world is something every angler needs to enjoy once in their life. In our cases, I’m sure we’ll enjoy that experience hundreds of times before hanging up the rod and reel. It truly is an amazing fight.

After enjoying a little salt and some badass Mahi fish tacos at a local favorite tiki hut, we were back to the swamps of the orange groves for a little redemption. The bite stayed difficult and even when good friend and professional video and photographer, Bill  Kohls of Whole Heart Studios flew in to film, we were still not putting much for quality in front of the camera lens.

There was a lot of spawning going on but these fish were experiencing a mega-ton of pressure and locating the females willing to bite was starting to become as confusing as the first time I launched a boat in central Florida. Florida lakes aren’t as seasonal as the majority of states as Florida only has Summer and Winter to deal with. Each lake offers anglers different stages of fishing and each stage has a puzzle to put together. Bass don’t generally leave and move off too far but they do set up differently and they most certainly get crabby. Adjusting to these changing are the keys to getting the dreaded 12 inch bite or that heavenly 12 pound bite. It almost seemed as if we were doomed for failure. Bill was doing his part of getting the quality video but we were failing to give him the content to film, at least with the actors that have come to be expected from a JD Fishing video!

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It wasn’t till that last day and the last few hours that I started to see the light. Getting off the beaten path, I pulled away and found some prespawn females all poised and ready to move in. The best part, there wasn’t a boat anywhere around us. Lesson learned.

Stay tuned for a release of our Bill Kohls and JD Fishing video educational punchin’ video. Hoping to do at least one thing BIG from this trip! Time to go home!

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Southern Open

Lake Toho/Kissimmee Chain, Kissimmee, FL

January is the perfect time for a Florida tournament if your a dude from Minnesota. In fact, in case we’re not on the same page, just look back and scroll through the lists of pro’s and co’s and count the ones repping the land of 10,000 lakes. There’s a couple distinct reasons for this. First, Minny hosts home to a bunch of badass bass fisherman, secondly, it’s frickin’ freezing in Minnesota this time of year. Flip flops, sunscreen and the chance to punch up a ten pounder is all it takes for this northern angler to hit the freeway and point the rig for the deep south and by the looks of it, it would appear I’m not the only one.

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This year marks my fourth stop to the sunshine state and never have I grabbed a check. I did indeed finish 13th last season on Seminole but understand that less than 20% of the impoundment straddles the Florida border and though similar kinda, they really aren’t at the end of the day.

Anyway, every single season I spend my winter in central Florida and every year I get better and better. However, better is not good and cashing a check, let alone cutting a top 12, is a feat that can only be earned. The Florida guys have obviously earned their place and they defend their water very well. The first year I was at the Toho chain I was lost. I was indeed on fish but I didn’t know why. Motor issues cost me the entire first day, so I’ll never know but everything seems to be a live and learn experience for me. I thought after a lot of my success down there last season that I was really onto something and this year was my year but yet again, circumstances that I’ve never seen caused me to make decisions on the fly and though catching fish wasn’t the problem, catching any kind of quality at all sure was.

Rewind back and everything started great. Longtime friend Ryan Brant, decided to come pond-hop with me for a few days and caught a flight down there. Things started slow but in standard Florida fashion, with only minutes left in the day, Ryan hooked up with and lost a battle with a real Yee-Haw Junction toad. In true Florida fashion, she gives and then she takes it right away!

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Things remained slow and long after Ryan was back home to his family, I still was failing to find any kind of quality in the heart of my practice. I located one good school while fishing Kissimmee. The size was there and so was the numbers. With not much else to go on, at least no other quality concentration of fish, I made the early commitment to lock through right away and spend the entire day down there. Getting bites was not a problem, hooking and landing them was. Day one I managed to sneak to the stage with a limit but a very small limit at that.

Day two I had a much later flight and decided to start my day in Toho and then lock back down after the masses get through the lock. This game plan never works for me as yet again, I was locking through with nothing but the residual water from this morning’s livewell check.

My Phoenix yet again got through the long haul safe and sound and I got right to work. Fishing was slower today but every 45 minutes or so I’d get a bite. Again, my execution was very poor. A lot of this had to do with the fish, I believe my bigger fish moved and I was dealing with the aggressive bucks that were merely attacking and not so much eating, but still missing twenty or so fish puts a guy into a mental whirlwind. I had decisions I should have made different in this tournament. I had all the opportunity in the world to attack this area a little differently but still I made a decision to stay with the bites and that the big ones would come but instead I should have went out and made the big bites happen. I know where they went, it’s another hard lesson to learn but one of these years I’m going to start a season off with a chance for the win in Florida. I truly do believe that.

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Defeated and wet, then stuck in two hours of Orlando’s traffic. On to the next one…

In the end I finished in 150th place, my single worst finish by far in over two years. It’ll happen, it wasn’t my first poor finish and won’t be my last. I got so much more to learn and ain’t backing down anytime soon. In fact, I cleared my schedule for the next week, time to live to learn.

I’d like to tell you more about what I learned at my time in Florida, as most my readers are aware, I’m not shy about the giving the details. This go round I’m scheduled to be co-hosting another online webinar with good buddy and BASS Elite, Seth Feider, titled “Pitching & Punching Shallow Vegetation”. We’ve put together tons of good content and as usual, have some of the best prize packages for those who attend the LIVE feed! Our webinars are FREE to join, register here.

https://navionics.zoom.us/webinar/register/ad4790bc4679c5388c34be5db4a05ad8

 

Posted in Blog Post

The Ultimate Bass Fishing Christmas List – JD Style!!

Everyone surely has a die hard outdoorsman in their family. Being we’re in the heart of the “giving” season, I’ll be quick to point out that they’re the simplest to holiday shop for. There’s always something we’re dying to get our hands on. Here’s a the ultimate hit list for that special outdoorsman in your life!

Stocking Stuffers

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Rockaway Fish Hook Remover

Every serious angler needs a quality pliers in the boat or tucked in their waders. There’s lots of quality needle-nose pliers on the market but no one has busted into the finesse pliers game, at least not till Rockaway opened the door. I’ve always felt it was important to keep a hemostat by my side whenever I’m making a cast. A regular needle nose gets the nod most of the time, but when fish are hooked awkwardly or you catch a fish that has a small mouth, nothing works better and safer than a hemostat pliers.

The Rockaway is built stronger than any I’ve ever seen, capable of still getting on those larger wire hooks but finesse enough to remove the tiniest fly from the throat of a brook trout. Available in all different sizes and priced at under twenty dollars, these pliers make the perfect stocking stuffer!

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SP Gadgets POV Pole

I never even heard of this thing until I was visiting with a family friend who just happens to own one of the best fly fishing shops I’ve ever seen up in the mountains of Colorado. The SP Gadgets POV pole is the best damn telescopic GoPro pole I’ve ever seen. The second I saw it and saw the affordable price, I jumped all over it. This is perfect for showing off your catch when no one else is with you, for recording a fish fight under the water and everything in between. I’m not entirely sure where to get these online but I’m sure a simple call to Rob at Clear Creek Outdoors and you can have one in the mail in no time!

Under the Tree

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Scangrip I-View

I’ve personally been using this light for a good six months now. Sent to me to review and I haven’t taken them off my head since! Getting the boat ready early in the morning, rigging tackle late at night, checking my rig out over a long overnight drive, placing out decoys on a duck hunt or climbing into my deer stand, the Scangrip I-View is the brightest and most comfortable headlamp I’ve ever worn. The battery life is incredible and charge very fast, no battery needed! Best part, it comes in two levels of brightness, 50% and 100%. My wife even steals it from me all the time, she throws it on 50% when she’s reading in the truck during road trips and flicks it to 100% when she’s shell hunting on the beach. They’re the deal, check them out!

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Daiwa Samurai Braid

I got the pleasure of using this braid exclusively all season long and never have I ever used a better braid than Daiwa Samurai Braid. Sure it’s strong and sensitive, but it’s also noticeably thinner, softer, smoother and more flexible than ordinary braids. The combined strength and sensitivity of this unique eight-strand weave braid, provides super thin diameter, smoothness, softness and flexibility.

This could be either a stocking stuffer or a under the tree present as it comes in both smaller spools as well as bulk spools. It’s no where near the most affordable of the braids on the market and no angler actually likes dropping a c-note or more on some damn string but let me promise you this, gifting line like this will most definitely set you apart for that special bass angler in your life!

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Navionics +

Over the past few years I’ve been using and promoting the Navionics + card and for no better reason than it’s the best all around cartography card around. Navionics broke the mold with this unique card by allowing users to customize their cards for their own personal needs. No more preloaded regions, simply download the maps of the lakes you want, anywhere in the US or Canada, fresh or saltwater. Locked and loaded with lots of nice features including the award winning SonarCharts, user generated data to take HD mapping to the next level! What we used to need a half dozen cards for, now you only need one!

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Hydrowave Mini

I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m a ice fisherman. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for sitting in a heated ice house and catching a good buzz but actually catching fish? Naw, not my deal. I’m more into rocking flip flops in Florida, punchin’ a hyacinth mat with the big stick in hand while my fellow Minnesotans are huddled around the ole’ sunflower heater. I will however hit the few hot pots that are scattered all across the state and when I do, the Hydrowave Mini is my go to. Whether you ice fish, wade, shore fish, kayak, canoe or rock the jon boat, the Hydrowave Mini gives you the nuts and bolts of what the actual Hydrowave does. Awesome gift for anglers targeting any species that swims!

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SIMMS ProDry Gloves

Talk about the ultimate gift! Everyone could use a good waterproof pair of gloves and nothing keeps the water out better than Gore-tex. With the efficient yet high-end craftsmanship you come to expect from SIMMS, matched up with the proven reputation of Gore-tex and you got yourself the ultimate pair of outdoors gloves. They’re far and away the best gloves I’ve ever put my hands into and best yet, each set comes with a inner fleece-lined, fingerless set to allow anglers to run from spot to spot in the cold weather, stay bone dry in wet conditions and still be able to tie up that FG knot with surgical precision.

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Biovex Hip Bag Tuned

I’ve been using these bags for as long as I’ve been competitively fishing. Honestly, I 100% completely take them for granted. I have so many that I use for all kinds of situations. Let’s start with fishing in a friends boat or perhaps a kayak, taking the handguns to the shooting range for a little target practice, carrying all my Go Pro’s and their accessories, traveling across country, hiking, photography gear, hunting, snowmobiling, the list goes on and on. These bags have quite the following from anyone who is in the know. New to the US from Japan, check these bags out. Best yet, they’re priced to sell and hold up through everything your willing to let Mother Nature throw at you.

Posted in Blog Post

Hunting Season Fall 2015

Allow me to quickly preface this entry with a jump back in time. When I was in High School, my father owned a small piece of wooded property up in northern Minnesota. From the ages of 14 to 15, I’d go up there with him and his friends almost every single weekend. I also played hockey year-round, as was to be expected from any well respected young Minnesota man (pouring it on thick here). It was what we did. The hunting season fell right over the prime part of the hockey season, meaning my varsity seasons we weren’t allowed time to go hunting. At least not if we expected to play the following week. This may sound harsh but it was only fair. Not everyone on the team hunted, so Coach would have to allow everyone equal time off for whatever they were into and that just wasn’t going to happen.

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I was always into hunting, almost as much as I am into fishing. Some of my best memories of my teenage years where of hunting with my father, my stepfather and my uncle Jeff. Pheasants and grouse were always one of my favorite but one thing I never managed to do was harvest a deer. One year when I was probably 14 or so I sat in a split birch tree with my Dad for my first season. We saw only one deer, a nice 8 point that happened to come up from behind me. Regretfully, it stayed behind me and my Father was forced to take the shot. Though we both wanted that buck to be mine, it was far and away the most exciting thing I had ever watched and knew right then that I was a full blown sportsman at heart.

Jumping to the next season and I was already considering myself the next Davy Crockett. Being such a pristine outdoorsman meant that I scouted all Fall, built my own stand in “the hammer hole” and was sitting in my deer stand an hour before sun up opening morning. Wouldn’t you know it, first thing that morning a nice mature buck comes gallivanting along the weathered trail. I zeroed my scope right dead to his inside shoulder, took a deep breath and click. That’s right…..click, as in no bang. Your great frontiersman forgot to put a round in the chamber. My deer was gone and I was devastated.

With now playing varsity hockey, I was forced to dwell on that defeat for my entire high school life. As soon as I graduated from high school, my father moved out to Colorado and had to sell his property in the north woods. I went all the way to this very season without ever hunting deer again. My last memory was “click”. Are you kidding me? Here I am now, a bass fishing junkie that travels all across the country, hangs out with literally some of the finest outdoorsman around and I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never harvested me a deer. It’s BS really. In fact, I’ve killed a 1200 pound bison but not a single deer.

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This year things were going to be different. I love fishing but fishing is also all I do. I needed a way to get away from it a little bit to clear my head and get myself ready for the next season. The urge to get out in the woods has never been stronger and lucky for me, my very good friend James Williams invited me and my ole’ man down to his family sweet corn farm to help them slim down their very healthy deer population. I’m now smiling ear to ear as I type, I got me my first deer!

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It definitely didn’t stop there either, my good buddies Seth Feider and Andy Young, who when not casting for a paycheck are sitting in the woods, both took me under their wing and have been teaching the art of waterfowl hunting. Dude, straight up, I cannot believe I didn’t get into this a decade ago. I completely understand why 80% of all serious fisherman are duck hunters as well. It’s a thrill like no other. Calling in both ducks and geese and actually having them fall for your decoys is a thrill like I’ve never experienced and one that I’ll never miss out on again. Sitting on the water while another morning’s sun rises from the shadows is an experience worth never letting go of. I don’t care if I have a fishing pole in my hand or a 12 gauge, I’ll work relentlessly to be sure I get the chance at seeing that sunrise every possible morning of the year!

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As much as I enjoy the actual hunt, I equally enjoy the processing of game into food for our table. I’m one that tries not to be hypocritical. I have so much respect for the animal I’m perusing. So much so, that I’d prefer to be the one that harvests it for my own table. At the end of the day, both Bri and I are meat eaters, as well as our rottweiler Kigen. I have a responsibility to provide for my family whether that’s by purchasing meat from the grocery store or harvesting it myself. I can assure that the ones I harvest are healthier for me and my family than that of commercially harvested varities. I want to be as organic as possible with my fruits, veggies and proteins. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy from the grocery store, but I do make an attempt to use 100% of the animal that I put down when I get the chance. Venison, bison and duck are all very good on the nutritional chart and not just for me, but the pooch too.

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We take great pride in doing 100% of the butchering process ourselves, from gutting and skinning, to processing into steaks, roasts and sausage. A couple awesome things you can do for your furbearer in the home is make them smoked venison bones and save the meat scraps for their food. It’s 100% healthy for them and with the addition of a good high end dog food, your dogs get what they are meant to eat, plus you’ll save a little by offering smaller portions of expensive dog food.

Smoked Venison Bones – Carefully saw the leg bones down into preferred size. Set an electric smoker to 150 degrees and lightly smoke for an hour or two depending on size of bone. It’s very important that you don’t actually cook these bones as you want to avoid the bone getting brittle and weak, as this could cause splintering. Instead, just put a little flavor to the meat and bone on the outside but inside should still be pretty raw. Put bones in a strong freezer bag and freeze until it’s time to give Fido a bone for being good. There’s nothing better for their health than the bone and marrow.

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Meat Treat Breakfast and Supper – My dog literally drools while I make him his meals. I’ll take all my venison and duck scraps and cut them into smaller chunks then separate and freeze them into weekly-sized freezer bags. Then I’ll take a bag, dump into boiling water and poach the meat. The boiling water will produce a warm broth while the meat cooks a bit. Then I’ll add a splash of this broth and poached meat into his dog food and mix around until it damn near produces a gravy. Of course, don’t add any salt or other processed foods as that would not make it healthy. In my opinion, this is what my dog should be eating. Healthy, organic and provided to him by me!

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Pictured Left: Northern Drake Mallard Kabobs for Bri and I. Pictured Right: Poached Northern Drake Mallard mixed with goldeneye for Kigen!

Hunting can be very rewarding but now it’s time to stop playing in the woods and get ready for the 2016 fishing season, it’s freakin’ go time ya’ll!

See you on the water…

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Southern Open

Lake Seminole, Bainbridge, GA

With both the Central and Northern Opens wrapped for 2015, I still had one last event of the year, the Bassmaster Southern Open on Lake Seminole, down on the Florida/Georgia border. I wasn’t going to fish this event largely due to the fact that I hadn’t fished the second stop of the Southern Opens on the Alabama River. Being that my worst performance of the year was a lackluster 88th place on the Kissimmee/Toho chain, I opted to skip the rest of the series since my Elite chances in that division crumbled after the first event and this would allow me the time to fish more big water up north like Mille Lacs and Sturgeon Bay.

As things have it, Bri and I planned our 10 year wedding anniversary trip to Savannah, GA and Charleston, NC. It also just so happened that I would get the chance to represent Navionics at the SEOPA Writer’s Conference held on Lake Eufala in southern Alabama. Wouldn’t you guess it, the Seminole Open just happened to fall beautifully between these two important obligations. No chance at an Elite Series qualification, no chance to earn my first Bassmaster Classic qualification, nothing except a chance at a check and perhaps a marquee finish. At very worst, I’d gain some credible knowledge of a legendary lake. That’s all it takes for a dude like me, let’s go fishing!

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As soon as the SEOPA conference broke, I trekked the short couple hours over to Seminole and was on the water making my first casts bright and early Monday morning. I spent the first day running up the rivers, dialing myself in with the waterway and getting an early direction on where these fish were hiding and where they would be heading.

I knew the lake had an abundance of grass both on the main lake and the creek arms. Grass is a strength of mine being from Minnesota but I knew I’d have my work cut out for me as I quickly came to find just how expansive the grass really is. For those from Minnesota, it was right on par with the abundance of grass that grows in Lake Minnetonka on a good year. Now multiply the size of Minnetonka but a few and you have Lake Seminole. The lake was largely wild, not many houses, lots of emerged and submerged grass, some wooden docks, main river ledges, stumps and laydowns. My best interpretation of Seminole is if you were to combine a Florida-style fishery like Kissimmee, with the likes of a Tennessee River hammer-house like Guntersville. There’s little doubt she’s an intimidating place to fish but there’s also no denying the rewards are there to be had.

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We came in to a pretty harsh cold front the week of the tournament. We were experiencing the first dramatic cold nights of the fall season. Like every Florida bass I know, they get severely lethargic at even the slightest cold fronts and major ones like these straight shut them down. I decided to use what I was given to decide my practice agenda. I’d try throwing reaction baits like frogs, Joint Bait 110’s, swim jigs and traps in the morning and then as the sun warmed up the day, I’d attack the grass flats in search of schools.

Outside of learning my way around the rats nest Monday was a general bust. I spent most my day punching hyacinth mats and working pad fields and just really didn’t have much to show for it. Tuesday things again started slow but toward the end of the evening I dropped a good one and caught two that were good sized, all out of the same massive grass bed and not more than a 1/8 of mile from each other. The final morning of practice I pushed it as long as I could and was able to get a nice blow up on a Biovex Buzzbait and pulled on at least 4 more flipping around my grass flat, expanding my water enough to really start giving me some confidence going into the tournament.

Day one and I drew an early draw and would have to make hey while the sun shines and honestly the morning bite was horrible, meaning I knew I was in for a dog fight. I quickly managed a keeper on the Biovex buzz. Nothing giant, but an ice-breaker none the less. After running around trying to luck out on a reaction bite, the sun started to get right for me and I moved into my grass bed. I was so surprised that I wasn’t sharing the area with a dozen or so other anglers. Instead there was really only one or rarely, two other boats anywhere near me. I put together a limit by noon and managed to cull a couple times and after weigh in I was sitting right where I needed to be in 18th place.

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Photo credit to Shaye Baker and courtesy of Bassmaster.com

Day two I decided to run it exactly how I did the day before. I started with the buzzbait, this time nothing. I made the quick decision to get into my grass bed and just grind it out. They were biting as soon as I got there, the problem was I wasn’t hooking. I was flipping a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a Reins 1.5oz. Tungsten and a VMC Flippin’ Hook. I had the prefect equipment for the job but no matter, I wasn’t getting the bites into the boat. I’d miss two or three and then land one. After a half-dozen bites and only two in the box, the bite quickly shut off completely. Not a single bite for 5 hours and though I could have very easily got shook and ran, my gut told me to stay and get extra focused cause and with 30 minutes left to fish the light switch went back on and I filled out my limit and blazed back to weigh in.

I ended up with another solid limit of bass and was sitting in 12th before eventually getting knocked to 13th place. I was sick that I barley missed the top 12 cut, especially given all those bites that I missed but it was hard to stay down long knowing I had still put my best foot forward, made some tough decisions and had the skill to follow through. That’s how you earn a paycheck at this level and was an excellent way to close out a solid 2015 performance.

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Photo credit to James Overstreet and courtesy of Bassmaster.com

Time for some much needed family time!

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Central Open #3

Table Rock Lake, Branson, MO

Headed back across country to Table Rock Lake and I’ll be 100% honest, I was tired. The emotional roller coaster that was Lake Erie, combined with the literal roller coaster that is also Lake Erie, had me feeling the fatigue. This was the third straight tournament in a row and yet despite all this, I was still 100% focused on what I needed to do.

I snuck myself in a healthy night sleep in my Silverado and before you know it, we were cruising into the Ozarks Mountains. The very history of bass fishing thrives from this region and many a good angler cut their teeth on this fishery before earning their reputation and here again, I find myself in position to secure a Bassmaster Elite Series invitation with a solid performance.

Practice was limited, I had about three days to break down this beast of a fish factory. I made the early choice to stay between Kimberling City and the dam. I know Table Rock is badass from dam to dam but this time of year, even the best reservoirs fish a little filthy and running around wasn’t going to do much to help my cause. I needed to spend as much of my day with a rod in hand.

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Practice was slow but I still managed to put together some keeper bites by throwing an Outkast Tackle 5/16 oz. Finesse Jig to chunk rock and bluffy-type areas for smallmouth and wheeled a Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait around for mag spots. I caught a couple chunky largemouth around docks but nothing that I could really pattern as a whole. I spent the last day of practice idling deep water and located a brush pile and a rock pile that was holding both spots, as well as smallies. I’d drop shot the brush pile with two baits, a Robo Worm and Biovex Kolt Shad Tail. These deep spots I had weren’t holding big ones but they did seem to be consistent.

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Tournament morning I ran to my brush pile first thing hoping for a small keeper spot to get things going. I crawled my trolling motor over the top of the submerged brush until I saw a mark come across my Lowrance screen. Sure enough I dropped the bait down to the fish and up came an easy 4 pound largemouth! I was shocked but happy to box that bonus fish up! Most my largemouth bites came ultra shallow and here I caught the biggest one I had caught all week over 32 feet. That’s awesome!

I caught me a small keeper smallie off a rock wall on the Finesse Jig as well as a real nice smallmouth off the deep rock pile. I worked rigorously and only managed three fish that first day for around 10 pounds. Not the showing I was looking for but still landed me well inside the top 30% after day one.

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Photo credit to James Overstreet and courtesy of Bassmaster.com

Day two started slow with all my deep stuff shutting off completely. Not sure what to do and only a few hours to figure it out, I decided to go back to what I do best and started skipping jigs under docks like it was 2009 all over again. It didn’t take but two skips and I caught a nice 3 pounder. I ended up staying with the jig for a good portion of the day and boated two more, including a nice spot and broke off another on a lift chain. The bite slowed way down and with over an hour to go I decided to try my deep stuff again. No dice. Stumped and now completely desperate for another bite, I took into consideration a little tip that friend and mentor Jeff Kriet told me. I ran to deep structure, idled around, located me a school of spots and dropped down and caught me one. It was awesome! Trust me, I wish I could share with you more of the specifics cause there’s obviously a lot more to it. Even if I could spill the beans, I really couldn’t. I still got so much to learn on this technique but with my electronics know-how and abilities with a spinning pole, this here deal is right up my alley… 🙂

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Photo credits to James Overstreet and courtesy of Bassmaster.com

Unfortunately,  I had just enough time to box that last spot and high-tail it back to weigh-in. In the end, I added 4 more to the scales and finished just outside the money at 44th place with a total weight of 18.9 pounds. This was another tough pill to swallow. I just missed the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series by one or two fish. The ability to catch limits in these tournaments get you checks, the ability to catch limits and a few big ones get you wins, and the ability to do both, well that’s Elite Series Qualification. This was another good showing but just not good enough. My ability is there, I’m getting better every single day and my dream is getting stronger. That’s all I can really focus on right now. My day will come.

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Northern Open

Lake Erie, Sandusky, OH

I love ALL types of bass fishing. If they’re biting, I don’t care what I have to throw, whatever they’re choking, I’m casting for them. However with that said, there’s several ways I REALLY like to catch them and one of them ways are finesse fishing small jaws on the Great Lakes. It’s like crack to me. Nothing makes me feel more alive than a violent body of water, waves so big they spew over the gunnel at a steady soaking pace, light line rigged on sensitive spinning poles and giant pissed-off bronzebacks leaping five feet out of the water while my spinning reel drag is screaming that beautifully tuned sound. I’m truly obsessed.

We didn’t waste much time getting out of Oklahoma and pointing the rig north. Joining me on the trip was good friend and Bassmaster Open co-angler Chad Smith, an up and coming 20 year old angler, also from Minnesota. He too, likes to jack up some big water smallmouth and was eager to spend a week and a half with me, breaking down the giant body of water.

Before heading North, he and I both decided we could use a recouping day after the grind of a tournament that Ft. Gibson turned out to be. Before leaving Oklahoma, we took it upon ourselves to go back out and utilize Navionics SonarChart LIVE to create some new maps for the Tulsa area reservoir. There was a major creek arm that had zero mapping and after spending some considerable time in there during practice, all the while logging sonar logs, we thought it be cool if we went back and finished the job. Now all the fine folks that frequent the lake can also utilize this new mapping.

I also got the chance to meet an avid basser from the area that was wanting to take me up on one of my On-Water Fishing Electronics classes. Chad joined in and we discussed features and tricked out the settings on his Lowrance Gen3 Touch units, as well as broke down the frequencies of his new Hydrowave H2. I’m fortunate to be able to offer these classes on a regular basis up in Minnesota but I do offer these same trips, at the same price, while I’m traveling across the country. If you see I’m in your neck of the woods, reach out and we’ll set something up!

No sooner did the Chevy/Phoenix rig roll into Ohio and we wasted zero time getting out on the lake. It didn’t take long at all and I had hooked into a couple of true Lake Erie giants. I have built up soooo much confidence in my smallmouth setups while fishing these big bodies of water. If you looked up the definition of a rod and reel snob in the dictionary, yours truly would have a picture of myself just cheesing right there front and center. I was throwing my custom built MHX-HM-DS822 rods, equipped with the best spinning reels I’ve ever used, the new Daiwa Exist 3012. I’m running 10 lb. Daiwa J-Braid, in high vis yellow so I can see the strikes and opted for a 10 lb. Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon leader to finesse my way around these massive schools of smallmouth.

My hook is the most important and the new Aaron Martens Gamakatsu Dropshot hooks are the best in the business. Obviously they’re super sharp but the coating on them just seems to produce more bites. No affiliation at all, just take my word for it and give them a try. My weight is a Reins Tungsten Dropshot Weight. I know tungsten is expensive but it does a far better job at translating the bottom, making detecting subtle bites all the easier. My bait of choice on the Great Lakes is a 3″ Biovex Kolt Stick (Green Pumpkin). The main forage for these smallmouth is the goby, an invasive species that has helped make Lake Erie such a phenomenal smallmouth factory. The Biovex Kolt Stick resembles these gobies better than any other bait I’ve tried.

Practice was a blast. High winds made moving around all the tougher but all through practice we were able to locate healthy schools of smallmouth and more importantly, we were sniffing out the areas that were producing those bigger bites.

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Tournament day and wouldn’t you know it, the winds were predicted to blow strong out of the northeast, making moving around difficult at best. I was sitting in a tie for 20th in the Angler of the Year points. This one tournament could make my lifetime dream of qualifying for the Bassmaster Elite Series a true reality. Come hell or high water, nothing was keeping me away from my fish. Honestly, they would have to cancel the day from competition outright because if they were to let us go, I was headed straight for the thick of it. You don’t sign up to fish Erie to sit in the bay, you go there to win the thing. Once tournament day came around and tournament officials deemed the lake good to go, I set out for what I came for, a giant bag of smallmouth.

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I arrived at my first area which was a rocky deep section that sat off a shallow feeding flat. I decided to run just past the juice and set my drift up on top off the drop in an attempt to pick off a couple actively feeding fish. My first drift across the flat and I hooked into a giant five to six pound smallmouth on the dropshot. I fought the fish beautifully and when I got to my driver seat to land her, there was a short struggle and the end result was broken line due to a small knick in my rub rail. Tough lesson learned. I’m not 100% sure what I could do to eliminate that in the future but it was a tough break none the less.

I shook it off the best I could. That was a big one, a true Lake Erie jammer. I did well moving on but there’s no getting past that one completely. It’s a fish I needed to land to win this tournament. Still, I’ve been doing so well at not wasting my energy worrying about the things I can’t control and what was done, was done. Nothing I could do but grin and bear it. On my next drift I loaded up on another good one going around four pounds and landed him with ease. I decided to stay on that spot well into the early afternoon. I managed to catch one more and sadly, ended up dropping a couple others and just had way too sloppy of a day on the water all together. When the wind is up and every single time you hook into a fish, you’re going to drift a minimum of a 1/4 mile off your spot. Before I knew it, I was running out of time and knew we had a significant and challenging ride back to weigh in. Unfortunately, I was never able to make up for my mistakes and ended up weighing in only three smallmouth for right around 10 pounds and sat close to 100th place.

I knew where I made my mistakes and was pretty upset I couldn’t offset them by simply landing a couple more bass. I knew I was out of it and I also knew that I had blown the opportunity outright. I was around the right fish. I also had zero pressure as I was fishing all my own water all day. I wasn’t around the quantity that the others were but I was around the quality and there wasn’t a doubt in mind I was going to whack a giant sack the next day.

Friday rolled around and again I went straight into the lions den. I didn’t change a thing, in fact I fished the three areas I did before and this go round I fished much efficiently, putting together a dandy of a sack going 22.5 pounds. I still didn’t fish 100% clean and honestly could have had around 25 pounds but I did catch numbers to boot and seemed every time I set on a fish it was a good one. Despite my best effort it still wasn’t good enough and I finished in a dismal 47th place. I earned a top 50 which is always nice but when the numbers got crunched, I finished 18th in the Angler of the Year standings, falling just short of qualifying for the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series. Literally landing a single fish, especially the couple that got away the day before and I would’ve earned the title. Instead a single bass that was in my hands twice before slipping out of my grasp is now preventing my dream from coming true. It’s the hardest reality of our sport. This game can be so volatile and yet I just can’t get enough it.

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Photo credit to Shaye Baker and courtesy of Bassmaster.com

I see great events in my future at that body of water and if I can get ever so lucky to go back there again with it all on the line, I won’t miss my shot…

No time to dwell. I’m still sitting 24th in the points in the Bassmaster Central Opens and the last tournament starts in just a few days on Table Rock in Missouri. Time to go a make this dream a reality!

I want to give a giant shout out to those that did earn their invitation as well as my traveling partner Chad Smith for cashing a check from the back of the boat! #co2pro

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Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Central Open

Lake Ft. Gibson, Wagoner, OK

The Bassmaster Central Opens are far and away the biggest grind of a tournament schedule by a freakin’ long shot. The venues we go to may or may not be good in spring and summer but come autumn, these venues grim up something filthy and doing well consistently in the Centrals requires a test of one’s mental limits. Having fished the Centrals now for three years, I felt I had a considerable advantage over the anglers that were new to these events. I knew for certain this would be a grind going in. Not getting a single bite for hours upon hours in practice is no longer as discerning as it once was. Heck, not getting bites is par for the course at the Bassmaster Central Opens. Please understand, this isn’t a bad thing either. Fishing isn’t always 20 plus pound limits and 8 pounder lip n’ grins. Sometimes catching five keepers a day is an accomplishment all on it’s own. A good angler figures out how to catch a limit even when conditions aren’t favorable and those who prove it day in and day out, earn their invitation to the Elites with flying colors in my book.

The “Dog Days of Summer” in Oklahoma feel a lot like what one may imagine hell to feel like. Hot is an understatement, as every single day was mild south winds, all sun and temps soaring well into the high 90’s. By noon your mind just completely starts to shut down so staying hydrated and focused is a key to a productive practice.

The fishing was mediocre this go round. The numbers were low but the size was to be had. I spent the first day of pre practice up the river with good buddy Joel Clark. With flipped laydowns and threw crankbaits for a pretty healthy limit. I saw enough that I was intrigued by what the river had to offer.

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Joel Clark showing off a good Oklahoma Bass.

The next few days I bummed around fishing the main lake. Fishing wasn’t great but again size was good. I started to figure out a solid pattern of fishing points and small shallow foundations. My baits of choice were two crankbaits, one was a discontinued Biovex squarebill that we are again testing for future concept designs and the other was a Biovex Shallow Runner (Ayu).  I also dragged around various soft plastics on the new Strike King Tour Grade Tungsten Swing Football Head. No sponsorship at all and I just want to give love where love is due, this Strike King product is the absolute deal. Better than any other swing head on the market.

I also caught a few good practice fish on  a shakey head with an Outkast Tackle Shake ‘Em Down Jighead and a Gary Yamamoto Senko, as well as an old fashioned Carolina rig. I started utilizing my custom built MHX FP885 as a c-rig rod and I have to admit I couldn’t build a better one if I tried. I paired it with a Daiwa Zillion high speed reel and ran 20lb. Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon and a 3/4 oz. Reins Tungsten Weight.

Day one of the derby and I ran straight up the river and started cranking laydowns on a couple productive stretches I had. I managed a quick keeper right away on the Biovex Shallow Runner. I played around with a few 1.5 style crankbaits which usually I’d prefer but in this case, the smaller profile of the Shallow Runner was getting more bites when the pressure of an Open practice was started to tighten things up out on the water.

I felt there was a bit too much pressure up the river so I decided instead of spending all day behind a few boats, I’d run down to the lake and try to grind me out a limit. That’s exactly what I did too. I leaned on that swing head and attacked key points and foundations until I had managed a solid 13+ pound bag and sat firmly in 20th place.

I felt good going into day two but still knew it was going to be very hard to duplicate what I had done the day before. I contemplated either duplicating that day to a “T” and hope for equally same results or perhaps if I should forget the river as a whole and just hit these deeper points that I had success on the day prior. I was intrigued by the size and numbers I managed off a few of those main-lake spots. Despite a complete change in weather conditions, I chose to stay in the lake. By noon, I didn’t have a single keeper in the livewell and just as I was about to pull my trolling motor and run up the river, I got a solid keeper to bite. I thought maybe things were going to heat up in the afternoon and decided it be best if I stayed with it. Before I knew it, I was checking in with only one in the box.

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Running and Gunning on Day Two. Photo credit to Shaye Baker and Courtesy of Bassmaster.com.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I was, it should go without saying. I needed one more keeper to secure I high check and move into the top 10 in the AOY race from my current 26th place spot. Instead, I finished in 59th place and only moved up to 24th place in the AOY Race. I hate letting one slip away but I really don’t know what else I should have done. I do believe that the river bite would have been a better call, largely due to the difference in weather conditions but it’s hard turning your back on what worked so well the day before. The good news is by moving up in the points I still have an opportunity to move up and secure my spot on the Elite’s with a solid performance on Table Rock in October. No time to dwell, I’m sitting 20th in the points in the Northern with only one to go on Lake Erie. Time to point the rig northeast and rig up a half dozen spinning poles. I can hear my drag zinging already!

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Northern Open

Lake Oneida, NY

There’s a whole bunch of states I get excited about fishing and New York is most definitely one of them. To me fishing New York is like fishing Minnesota on steroids. New York has an abundance of shad, as well as goby, plus a slightly warmer growing season, making both the smallmouth and largemouth have the potential to get bigger as a general whole.

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Courtesy of Navionics WebApp at Navionics.com

Me and good buddy Chad Smith from Minnesota, who travels with us throughout the country competing on the co-angler side, joined me for the long haul from Minnesota. This tournament couldn’t be any bigger to me either. After a strong showing at the first Northern Open on the James River, this event was a giant stepping stone toward all my hopes and dreams. A solid finish here and I hold my own Bassmaster Elite Series destiny in my hands, with only one more tournament to go.

I felt my strong suit was going to be smallmouth on Oneida, as last time I was here, I had trouble finding any kind of consistent largemouth pattern. After a half day of practice and only two small largemouths to show for it, I decided it was time to find some smallmouths.

Once I set the big sticks down and yanked out a half dozen custom-built MHX spinning rods, things started instantly heating up. We used my Lowrance electronics and Navionics mapping to scour points, humps, saddles, weed lines, steep drops and over the course of a couple days managed to pull solid 3 to 4 pound smallies of a couple dozen areas scattered throughout the fishery.

I was catching most all my fish by tossing two different dropshot setups, as well as a few on a tube and a swimbait. My dropshot was a Jackall Crosstail Shad for solo fish that I saw come across my Lowrance and then my main weapon was a dropshot with a Biovex Kolt Shad Tail, which is a slim but long paddletail unlike anything else on the market. I would cast this around deep areas where schools were hanging waiting for a ball of shad. Most the time the fish would grab it on the drop but the key to the big bites was moving the bait extremely slow. I’d feel a rock and let the bait sit, then “peck” and next thing you know the drag from my Daiwa Exist was screaming and a fat smallmouth was air born.

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I still took time out of my practice days to find largemouth but just never was able to nail down a pattern and after having success running around locating quality schools of smallmouth, I knew if I got my bites, I had top 12 quality in the works. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned with the lack of largemouth, I knew I’d have a better chance of winning this tournament if I had the potential and felt that a 5 pound largie would really help if things changed on me and my smallmouth pattern shut down. Still, it would take time to find the largemouth on game day and I felt a whole heck more confident with the dropshot in my hand, out hanging over some deep structure.

Tournament morning I felt real good. I wasn’t concerned, in fact I was just 100% ready to go have some fun and stick a bunch of giant smallmouth. My first spot things got interesting right away. On my second cast, I dropped the biggest deep dropshot bite I had all week. I have no idea what happened but the fish just hopped off about 15 yards away from the boat. It stung, no doubt, but I kept my head together and moved on. The problem with loosing one wasn’t just the loss of that fish but the fact that they seemed to completely shut down a school, making catching another one all the more difficult, however on the flip side, if I’d a landed that fish, I’d a stuffed a 4 pounder in the box right away and most likely got myself another one on the next cast.

After a little bit I pulled the trolling motor and rolled to the next spot which was a shallow shoal located in the middle of a giant grass bed. These spots seem to be one fish spots but they hold the biggest. In practice, I leaned on Chad to throw other things that I wasn’t and on these shoals, Chad managed a few really nice rogue smallies by throwing a tube and dead sticking it on boulders. Sure enough, I got the bite and after about 2 minutes of jumps and surges, I was once again forced to endure another 4 pound smallmouth pulling off at the side of the boat. I did everything right and just when the fish was ready to give, it just popped loose. It was a dagger blow but I still kept my head right and just kept going.

I managed to box me a small one on the dropshot and then on my next cast I hooked up with another deep bruiser of a smallmouth. I was shook no doubt. I had visions of another smallmouth getting away and honestly forced the process. Being we can’t use nets, instead of sitting in my driver seat and belly grabbing the bruiser, I self admittedly panicked and horsed the fish toward the boat, dropped to my knees on the deck and grabbed the line. Just as I was reaching for the lip, it made one little jump and off it went. I was devastated. I handle smallmouth almost every single day in Minnesota. I practice hand grabbing them on all my guide trips just to be perfect when it matters and I completely failed to land three bass all pushing that 4 pound mark. I utilize a Go Pro almost 100% of my fishing days. Usually, it’s there to capture my great moments on the water but as a quarterback uses game film to see his mistakes, the Go Pro does the same. The first two I really didn’t do much wrong besides maybe trust the superb drag of the Daiwa Exist better and just keep the fish coming to the boat but that last one I did absolutely everything wrong and I didn’t need a Go Pro to tell me either. I sat in disgust on the deck of my boat for a hot minute, retied my dropshot and wrapped my head around what happened and also what I needed to do next. After a quick couple minutes, I loaded up and ran to a new area for a fresh start.

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Photo credit to Garrick Dixon and courtesy of Bassmaster.com

Things got better instantly and I was able to some how save face and managed a small limit of about 9 to 10 pounds and sat in the middle of the pack of 200 boats. Despite the heartbreak, I knew I had no time to dwell on it and letting them demons haunt me wasn’t going to benefit me none the next day either. I regrouped, retied up my poles, wiped down the Phoenix and got in the mind set that I needed to just go out there and whack a bigger bag the next day.

I did just that too and things were off and running right out of the gates. First stop and I bagged up a solid smallie on the Biovex Kolt Shad Tail with a 3/8 oz. Reins Tungsten Dropshot Weight. In fact, every stop I made in the morning resulted in a bass and I was culling by early afternoon. I was sitting with about 13 pounds and things started slowing down considerably. The wind was null and the algae was starting to bloom into what looked like a pot of split pea soup. I went back shallow looking for that big bite and as I casted a tube I noticed it never hit the bottom and my line was cutting away from me. I set the hook and it was on, I had a another doozer shallow smallie on. I walked her all around the boat, fighting her beautifully and as I was getting in position to land her, she pulled off. It was just one of them tournaments that weren’t meant to be.

I weighed in with a 13 pound limit, good enough to jump up the leaderboard but not quite good enough to get a check. I finished 59th out of 200. This one stung considerably. This sport of ours can be so volatile at times. I did everything right and watched a top 12 potential, turn into a long drive home. One thing’s is certain, I’m getting better, in fact, I’m getting really good but I still have so far to go. It’s easy to say I had a top 12 in my grasp and maybe even a Open win but after hearing guys like Brandon Palaniuk, Jacob Powroznik and Boyd Duckett, true hammers in the world of professional bass fishing, talking about dropping too many but they all still left with a check in their pocket. I had a good practice, a good tournament and can even take some satisfaction of seeing the progress in the fact that I did drop my four biggest of the tournament and still managed 59th out of 200. In fact, the steady showing kept me in a tie for 20th in the Angler of the Year race and still very alive for a Elite Series birth with a super solid showing at Lake Erie.

As much as I’m stoked for that opportunity and eager to get this sour taste out of my mouth, I still have so much to fish for in the Central Opens and we’re only a couple weeks away from heading to Oklahoma’s, Fort Gibson Lake where I’m currently sitting in 26th place in the AOY race. A check there and I’ll be in very good shape to qualify through the Centrals when we finish up at Table Rock Lake, in Missouri. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have the opportunity to get out there and fish some awesome fisheries!

Lastly, Chad and I hit the water with good buddy and Bassmaster Elite Series Pro, Seth Feider. We had a great time on Onondaga and put together some awesome screenshots and photos for our upcoming FREE webinar titled, “Finding Bass in the Grass”. It’s packed full of great content and lots of great electronics screenshots. Tune in and check us out!

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Posted in Blog Post

ICAST 2015

Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL

I wasted very little time getting on the road and out of Virginia. Just as soon as Bill Kohls and I wrapped up our video shoot on Virginia’s other famed fishery, the Potomac River, I eagerly pointed the rig toward the Florida border to get things underway for my very first ICAST!

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I shouldn’t even begin to try to explain what ICAST means to me but I’m a self admitting tackle junkie and the finest of them I might add as well. I love good high-end fishing products and ICAST is the place where the best of the best gather to showcase what they’ve been working on for the past year. I was fortunate to be asked to come and help represent BIOVEX at what was to be their first ever ICAST showing as well.

Biovex, a very successful tackle manufacturer out of Osaka, Japan who have been making high-end bass tackle since 1997, has finally made the leap into the United States market. No better place to show the world what you got other than ICAST and their debut was as good as we could ever have expected! There was tons of hype over the new release of the Joint Bait 142SF topwater bait that was also featured in the New Product Showcase for the world to see.

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Photo credit to Kyle Wood and courtesy of FLW Fishing.

I was happy being able to show those not in attendance all Biovex has to offer by talking with as well as shooting quick video’s in the booth for some of the most major publications on the planet. It was a lot of work in the end but an opportunity I’ve waited a long time for and an event I was excited to be apart of.

Now that the work is officially over it’s time to have a little fun in the sun! Team Biovex headed out to a couple famed Florida fisheries for a little product testing!

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Northern Open

James River, Richmond, VA

I swear my anticipation for this event has been off the charts! It’s seemed like an eternity since my last Open event down on Ross Barnett Reservoir back in March where a solid 26th place finish earned me a check and more importantly, good points toward that coveted Bassmaster Elite Series title. This event was the first of the Northern Opens and similar to the Centrals, I needed a quick start to give myself shape in the Northerns. The James River, a popular tidal pool along the Virginia’s east coast, was going to be a challenge all on it’s own.

The last time I was at the James, I managed a relatively good practice. Unfortunately, I was to never see what was to come as my engine popped 25 miles south of take-off as I was blazing down the river channel tournament morning. I never got to make a single cast that first tournament day.

This go round and things were meant to be different. First off, I now run a bulletproof rig in my Phoenix Boat and Mercury Outboard. I knew all I had to do was find me some bass in practice, catch them during the tournament and my boat would handle the heavy lifting of getting safely to my fish and then back to the scales, no matter how demanding the run.

Similar to last go round, I found fish a considerable distance south of the take-off. I was still pretty green at figuring out how to effectively run the tide but towards the end of practice I started feeling assured that I could at very least, be sure I was putting myself in the right areas, making the right casts when the tide was in the right place. As usual, the outgoing tide proved to set the fish up in more predictable places. With more fish all congregated in the same places, the competitiveness increased and the bite was all the better. The higher the tide, the more areas these fish had to spread out, decreasing my chance of putting a bait in front of their face.

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Photo credit to Bill Kohls Media

I used practice to simply locate fish by power-fishing my way around. I wasn’t entirely concerned with catching giants as much as I was concerned with locating lots of quality. I knew that as practice went on and most definitely as the tournament got under way, these fish would tighten up and power-fishing would slow it’s roll, forcing me to back off and approach the same water with some finesse gear to pick off weary bass that are getting framed in by all the other competitors. I’m getting much better at having efficient practices. I know now that I can’t spread myself too thin on such giant fisheries. Once I felt I was around check cashing fish, I started to expand my water in the general vicinity, as well as along my “flight path” knowing these would be quick stops along the way, and not far at all off the main river channel. I started to simply ignore a lot of the other creek channels outside the couple that I would be fishing. Though they may very well be productive, getting back into them can take time and I needed to know that I was spending my time in areas that held fish. There’s lots and lots of dead water along the James, if I was to scramble, I wanted to scramble in an area that I got a bite, not try to figure it out on the fly.

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Photo Credit to Bill Kohls Media

I managed to catch my fish during practice on an array of baits and quickly knew this was going to take a professional junk fishing effort for me to come away with a good showing. I was throwing buzzbaits, toads, flipping an Outkast Tackle RTX jig, tossing a chatterbait, popping a Biovex Face 70 in laydowns and pitching light texas-rigged plastics to anything and everything I could that may hold a bass.

Tournament morning and I drew a very late boat draw. This would give me all day to figure out what I had and try to come away with a nice limit on day 1. The tide was set to work in the favor of the later flights though the second day my flight time would switch to an early flight and the tide would never favor me, making locating the “right” schools day 1 an absolute must.

I started on some cypress trees that I had caught a nice 4 pounder on very early in practice. This was an isolated group of cypress trees that stuck out near the main river and after fishing them all, I finally get a bite on the last tree, only to break it off just after setting the hook.

I quickly shook the pain from the brain and headed to another stretch of laydowns and cypress trees that I again had success on in practice. I managed a small keeper quick and then came to the sweetest of laydowns that was stuck on the roots of another cypress tree. I pitched in and hooked into a nice size bass, as I was trying to extract her free of the laydown, she made one good charge and split my line in two in an instant. Just that quick, I managed to break off yet another bass and this time a sure good one too. Later I come to find out that in this particular stretch of river, there are barnacles attached to the wood that has been sunk for sometime. I both instances, I later found out on low tide that they’re covered in these razor sharp barnacles. Lesson learned the hard way.

Shortly following, I landed a quick one a Outkast RTX Jig out of a small pad clump. Just when I thought I was off to the races, I went hours without a bite. The tide was perfect, but the power fishing presentation was dwindling. I went to an Outkast Money Jig with a small senko and managed to land a giant 6 pound bass that was sitting on the edge of the grass line. I put together another quick bite on the new Biovex Joint Bait 142SF on the edge of the pads and before I knew it, I was forced to strap everything down and make the 75 mile run back to weigh. I managed only 4 fish for 9.4 pounds and sat in 60th place. No where near ideal, but still well in the hunt no doubt.

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Photo Credit to James Overstreet and Courtesy of Bassmaster.com

The second day was a straight up sprint, I only had about five hours of actual fishing time and with the tide being high for those fishing hours, I had to be quick on my feet all day. Despite being crunched for time, I still kept calm. I knew I needed to focus on what was in front of me. I tried to power-fish but by ten o’clock, I still didn’t have a bass. Knowing the potential and what I had caught yesterday, I reverted back to a spinning setup, my custom HM813 – MHX prototype that I had built just days before this event and a Daiwa Exist 3012 spinning reel. Within five casts I landed a five pound stud and several casts later I roped up a another about four! I hunkered down, left the fairy stick in my hand and snatched up four more small bites, culling once and was forced to flee the area to get back to check in. I weighed in an early limit of 13.8 pounds jumping me up the leaderboard with a solid 20th place finish.

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Photo Credit to James Overstreet and Courtesy of Bassmaster.com

I was thrilled to get off the James earning a nice check and great points. This was a challenging venue for a Minnesota dude like myself who has very limited tidal background, but the last two stops of the Northerns have us at more “northern” style fisheries in Lake Oneida and Lake Erie. Two awesome opportunities for me to continue to move a top of the points race. I know how to catch a smallmouth bass, now I just need to go and do it.

Tight Lines!

Posted in Blog Post

Hardly a “Dead Sea”

My apologies for the lack of posts over the last month. Things have been going a mile a minute and the smallmouth bite has been truly world renown. So good, a bassin’ junkie such as myself has zero percent chance of sitting in front of a computer, when he could be long stringing reef roaches off the bountiful rock piles of Minnesota’s, Lake Mille Lacs. One thing is for certain, this blog has never wavered since it’s inaugural post back in 2006. I’ll always be back with photos sporting the tried and true lip n’ grin, with a fat bass and a big smile!

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Ever since getting back home from Sturgeon Bay early last month, I’ve spent the vast majority of my time up fishing, guiding and shooting videos on Mille Lacs, just south of Aitkin, MN. I get the opportunity to fish some of the best smallmouth fisheries on the planet and I can happily say that Lake Mille Lacs is without a doubt in the top 5, if not top 3 and given the bite is so good from early spring through late fall, it may even rival for the top spot in any educated debate.

I’m days away from hitting the road to start my 2015 campaign in the Bassmaster Northern Opens. It feels so good to have started the Central Opens off on the right foot. Now all my attention turns toward the Northerns. My goal is to not only qualify for the Elite Series but to double qualify. It’s just the mentality that I’ve learned I have to have if I’m going to consistently compete against the best anglers on the planet.

I’ve been staying in game shape by being on the water every single day, working on new techniques, always finding new schools of fish and guiding bass-eager clients out to their new personal best. I recently jumped at the opportunity to join teams with Daiwa, complimenting my custom-made MHX rods with the top of the line reels made. Everyone knows, I’m a self-admitting rod and reel snob. I play close attention to what’s out on the market and what companies are striving to the top spot. My new combo gives me every advantage available to me. The new Daiwa Exist 3012 reel on a MHX HM-DS822 is the most complete spinning setup I have ever used for catching a smallmouth bass.

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I’ve been feeding the smallies all sorts of new Biovex baits, largely to the fact that I’ve been testing some new products for Biovex’s debut at ICAST next month. I’m so excited for this, Biovex is my longest running sponsor and so much work has gone into this event. There will be many more, but the first is pretty dang special!

I’ve always leaned on the Biovex Kolt Fish Tail on a dropshot and the Kolt Shad Tail on a small swimbait head to catch smallies hanging on beds and clinging to visible boulders on any particular stretch of reef. The Amp Stay 80 is made to serve small jaws looking to pounce a small jerkbait but fortunately I’ve been playing with the new Biovex Joint Bait 112 and 142. Unique topwater surface action like non other. This is surely going to be a highlight bait at this season’s ICAST!

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My Phoenix bass boat and Mercury Outboard have been getting put to the test and performing at a high level as to be expected from such industry leading manufacturer’s. All my equipment has been getting it’s work out. My Lowrance units are straight dialed for finding big schools of bait-eager bass and I’ve been playing with some of the new Navionics SonarCharts mapping that I’ve help develop, along with others by utilizing the SonarCharts LIVE through my Navionics App on my iPad. Navionics has always had a good map of Mille Lacs, now it has the best.

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Guiding has been amazing. I’m not kidding when I say we’ve had so many personal bests this season that it’s honestly a disappointment if we can’t best a previous mark. That’s the fishery itself and the help of the anglers that deserves the credit on that front. The catch and release philosophies of the vast majority of those that chase these bronzebacks across the big pond, has and will continue to pay off with large numbers of trophy fish, 30 fish days of quality 3-4 pound bass and enough 13-15 inch fish to perfectly tear the crap out of that high end Japanese plastic that you’re throwing. Not to mention the abundance of 20″ to 25″ walleye that jump your bait on a given day. That’s not talking for the boat either, we’re talking every angler for themselves!

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The so called “Dead Sea” is very much so alive and well. Do yourself a favor, don’t worry about a couple walleye filets and instead stop by your local grocer and pick some up for much less than what a few bags of minnows and a few dozen leaches cost. Then go out and buy a few packs of tubes and a couple jerkbaits, throw your store-bought fillets into your Engel Cooler, load the kids up in the SUV and head to Mille Lacs and enjoy the awesome fishing with the family. Best yet, watch the satisfaction of your young one when he/she lands a 4 pound smallmouth or a 6 pound walleye and watches it swim back to the depths to be caught by another kid one day. I’m not saying we should never harvest a walleye, that’s just foolish, but by all means the resorts on Mille Lacs shouldn’t be closing after 30 years of service over a few filets. In fact, the fishing is so good, they should be booked into next year.

I know one thing’s for certain, me and the crew sure can’t find a single excuse for not pointing the rigs north and exercising our fair share!

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If interested in a guided bass trip to either Lake Mille Lacs or lake Minnetonka, I still have availabilites open for mid July and Mid August. Contact me now!

Posted in Blog Post

NABC Event #1

Sturgeon Bay, Lake Michigan, WI

I seem to have a rolling bucket list. I check one off and I immediately add another, maybe two. Either way, I’ve been fortunate to have checked off a bunch of my original bucket list bodies of water but for whatever reason, Sturgeon Bay, located on the Wisconsin shoreline of Lake Michigan, is an O.G. that I just never got the chance to fish. Worst yet, it’s only about a five hours or so trip from my house, so really I got no good excuse for not having been there yet. When good friend, fellow bass tournament angler and high-standing walleye pro Mark Courts asked if I wanted to jump into the first stop of the NABC event on no other than the prestigious Sturgeon Bay, I was all in.

Courts had a walleye tournament leading up to the NABC and even though he’s got a boat load (pun intended) of previous knowledge of this body of water, he’d only be able to get in one day of practice before we threw down. I took it upon myself to get out there, dip the Phoenix into the cold Lake Michigan waters and start to figure out what these massive schools of smallies were up to. I know, trust me I get it, it’s a tough job but hey, someone’s got to do it, may as well be me. 😉

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It didn’t take long to find a smallie willing to bite a bait, in fact my first day on the water and things just got better by the hour. At one point, I was throwing back smallies just shy of 5 pounders like they were peanuts! It was absolutely insane and honestly, if heaven is a fraction of this, I’ll be in good hands for eternity!

Most all my bass came on a tube, rigged with 12lb Seaguar Kanzen Braid with an 8lb. Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon leader. I used my custom built MHX HM-DS822 spinning rod with a Shimano Sustain 3000 reel and literally had the best day of smallmouth fishing I have ever had in my life. I was beyond terrific.

The next day, I went to a whole different area and did manage another good day as well, although the quantity was few and far between. I managed a few good bites on the tube, but the vast majority of my weight came casting and then slow rolling a Biovex Kolt Shad Tail on a Outkast Money Jig (Green Pumpkin). I used the same exact rod/reel setup as I did on the tube and it was perfect for casting long distances and still having the backbone to get 5+ pound smallmouth to the boat.

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The final day of practice both Courts and myself loaded up into his walleye rig and ran some productive water he had success on in the past. Things were slow, but my guess was that things were slow everywhere as the wind direction changed from a stiff and consistent south wind, to a blustering north wind and the temps dropped considerably as well.

Derby day we decided to make a long haul. I generally despise the “we went for the big risk, big reward” mentality because generally you only hear that from the winner and then those from the bottom of the bucket and it’s all good when you’re the winner, but sounds BS when you’re the loser. We did go for the home run hit and it indeed failed which could have made for a piss poor decision equals a piss poor performance, however after making a long run and indeed getting stiffed except for a couple jammer walleyes, we let our stubbornness slide and quickly realized that with the dropping water temps, this just wasn’t going to work resulting in a fast decision to scrap our morning and make the long haul back.

On a side note, I hooked and landed a solid 8 pound walleye, not the biggest I’ve ever wrangled but close to it and I also realized the action of the MHX MH-DS822 was the perfect blank for walleye anglers as well. I don’t often get the opportunity to show off a beauty walleye so I’m a take the opportunity to when I can, check this toad out!

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We got back to the action just after 10:30 with nothing in the livewells. We quickly got to making hay and located a school of quality smallies right away. A few casts and we had the school activated perfectly, it seemed every cast for the next couple hours we had a fish on and took turns culling bass and manning the helm. I’ll give Courts some awesome product endorsement on his trolling motor with spot-lock, straight up, it’s the deal when fishing for northern smallmouth. The ability to stay on the school when fighting a fish and culling another without being blown away in heavy winds is now essential in my future smallmouth fishing. Take that peice of advice for what it’s worth.

Another product that I’m happy to endorse and not only because I’m half business owner, is the Tonka Customs Wave Tamer Deck Mount. We took Lake Michigan head on and Mark’s electronics never moved a centimeter. Better than I can say for anyone running a R.A.M. mount on their deck. Don’t get me wrong, I did and still do run R.A.M. on my boat currently on my third Lowrance Touch 12 at the helm but on the deck, the Wave Tamer is the only mount I trust to protect my Lowrance electronics in such harsh conditions.

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The day turned around and ended in a flurry of culling that lasted all the way up to weigh in, in fact, I would have done about anything for another 30 minutes at the end of our day. We ended in 18th place with 5 smallies going just shy of 22 pounds and missed a check by roughly 5 ounces. I truly feel with another half hour on the water we would have made the cull we needed to jump into the top six. In the end, we didn’t but still catching over 20 pounds of smallmouth is a feat all in it’s own, even on famed Sturgeon Bay.

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Fishing with Courts was great, we both know our way around catching a big bag of smallies but I will say I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to fish side by side to the guy. I had no problem figuring them out or catching them but most certainly would have learned a particular lesson about this fishery the hard way had he not been there to guide me in the right direction. I gained a few years worth of knowledge in a few short days that will most certainly make me more of a threat in years to come. The lesson I speak of….well I’ll just keep that to myself. Some things are better kept quiet…

Tight lines all!

 

Posted in Blog Post

Okoboji Open

Lake Okoboji, Okoboji, IA

Been a few years since I got the opportunity to drive down to Iowa and partake in the annual Okoboji Open. In fact, I fished it back in 2009 with good buddy Ryan Brant and we finished second. Since then, Ryan has fished there two other times and took second as well. When Ryan called me up back in April and asked if I wanted to join him for another rendezvous, you can bet we weren’t heading down for yet another second place, that I can promise you!

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This go around things were much different, as to be expected in bass fishing. Generally, we are always freezing our back sides off as Mother Nature tends to throw us one last bout of winter the first weekend of May. This year things were pleasant, very pleasant I might add with the daytime temperatures pushing 80 degrees. We only gave ourselves a little over a half day of practice and set out to make the best of it. We were able to find fish almost immediately fishing new areas and though we had no problems catching them, we would need a bit of luck to put together a winning stringer. We decided to check out areas where we had past success and almost immediately got bit as well.

Generally, we would have considered this a good practice, but with the warmer than usual temperatures and still a few hours of daylight, we set out to see if we could find some bedding fish. It was a long shot no doubt, as we have never heard of Okoboji pumping out bedding fish this early but there was no denying the temps were about right.

We looked to our Navionics mapping to find sheltered “flat” areas that would potentially heat up the quickest. We located a couple ideal flats on the chain and dropped the trolling motor to start searching out beds. What we found ended up scrapping our current game plan all together as we found not only fish on beds, but fat ones at that! We went around and marked every good fish we spotted using Ryan’s Lowrance Touch 12 to save a waypoint directly over the nest so that in the morning, we could pull up to each one in stealth-mode and start boxing them up individually.

Derby morning and we drew a late flight, slightly concerning but confident if we could get to our fish, we could catch them. Things started off great when we pulled up to our first and what we believed as biggest bass we had marked. After about 15 minutes of coaxing, I was finally able to land what appeared to be all of a 5 pounder and jump-started our day with the kicker we needed very early.

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As the day went on, we continued searching out and landing nice bass, culling our way to 19 pounds, just barely good enough to squeak out the first place check out of roughly a 50 boat field. It was a great day from start to finish with a longtime friend.  We must have caught around 30 bass total, with all mine coming on three different setups.

Outkast Pro Swim Jig with a single-tail grub as a trailer. I threw this around while Ryan was working a bed fish or while creeping in on one stealth-mode. I threw my swim jig on a custom-made MHX HM-MB873 rod with 15 lb. Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon and a Shimano Chronarch 100D7.

4″ Biovex Kolt Fish Tail (AYU) on a dropshot. Pure bed fishing gold. There’s something about this bait on beds that both largemouth and smallmouth can’t handle. The bonus is the bait is very bright and I can see it in relatively clear water from a distance. My setup was a custom built MHX HM-DS822 Spinning rod, paired with a Shimano Sustain 3000 reel and lined with 12lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid, going to a 8lb. Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon leader. I used a 3/8 oz. Reins Tungsten dropshot weight to help the bait stay in the bed.

A Texas-Rigged Reaction Innovations Beaver on a 5/16 oz. Reins Tungsten Worm Weight, paired with the new Hog Farmer Bait Company Hog Nut Rattle. This setup should be referred to as “The Agitator” as this is what I used to visually sight fish these bass into biting. I employed a custom-built MHX HM-MB844 blank that was perfectly sized at 84 inches, perfect for those accurately placed pitches, yet has all the backbone in the world to pull big fat bass off their bed. I strung up 20lb. Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon on a Shimano Chronarch 100D7.

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We headed home knowing we’d probably never see Okoboji fish that way again, at least not that early in the season but were sure glad we made hay while the sun was shining. I’m equally as glad I was able to help Ryan grab the first place unicorn and do my part to help put a few quality betty’s in the weigh bag avoiding another second place finish. Good times as always, now it’s time to point the Chevy East and head out to what many consider a small piece of heaven, Sturgeon Bay on Lake Michigan! Time to switch out the casting rods for the spinning rods and go smallie hunting!

Posted in Blog Post

Open for Business

The show season is officially wrapped for the year and it’s timing couldn’t be better, Spring has officially sprung here in Minnesota. Most the lakes throughout the central part of the state and down to Iowa have completely shed their ice or are at least 75% open, including my personal favorite, Lake Minnetonka.

Minnesota’s bass fishing season may be closed for the most part with a few exceptions, but that won’t stop me from getting on the water every chance I get. This time of year is the perfect time to get in the boat and idle around looking for this summers prime spots well before the vegetation grows out and covers these gems into hidden haunts. I find some of my sweetest screenshots to share and to use for my on-water fishing electronics classes, as well as upcoming Navionics webinars.

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The Sport Show itself was fantastic, seeing old friends and meeting new faces made being there to support my sponsors all the better! I got to help host a fishing electronics class where the attendees each got a powered Lowrance Gen3 Touch 9 to use while attending the interactive seminar. Meanwhile, the Navionics had much buzz going on and interested consumers were eager to get more information on SonarCharts, in particular the northern lakes and Canada.

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Eagle Lake, Canada – BEFORE

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Eagle Lake, Canada – After (SonarCharts)

Now, there are those few fishing season exceptions that I spoke of earlier and wouldn’t you know it, I managed to sneak out with the crew from Hydrowave, as well as some local hammers Mark Courts, John Figi and Andy Young, to partake in a Hydrowave video and photo shoot. We did our part and collected some nice content for the video and big walleye for the still. Walleye? Yes, it’s true, but I do have to admit, I really enjoyed myself! We caught and released a handful of walleyes and a couple handfuls of white bass. The Hydrowave clearly isn’t just for bass, it’s a multi-species device that triggers them big bites.

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Talking about multi-species, let’s talk crappie. Tis the season to get a few packs of fresh ice-out crappie filets for the freezer. The thought of a plate full of crappie tacos out on the patio during some random summer night, sounds like a perfect way to top of a long day of bass catching. Throw in a Corona and it don’t get no better. Believe that!

Since I arrived home from Mississippi a couple weeks back, we’ve been making daily trips to the Minnetonka boat ramp on Cooks Bay to follow Mother Nature’s seasonal ice melting progress. It was up and down there for a while but I’m happy to say after the last couple windy days, we’re damn near there. If you haven’t took your boat out of storage, light a fire under it. Or better yet, you could just keep the boat ready to go all year round. I know some pretty cool cats that roll that way. Happy April!

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Posted in Blog Post

A Minnesota Tradition

Minnesota is a great and a wonderful place to call home. A state known for it’s abundance of natural habit that’s littered with endless lakes, rivers and streams. A society filled with hardcore outdoor enthusiasts ranging from shed hunters, snowshoers, hikers, bikers, bird watchers, agate collectors, farmers, hunters and of course, fishermen. You name it, Minnesota offers it.

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Tomorrow kicks off the annual Northwest Sport Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center. A state-wide get together that deserves to be in the same conversation as the State Fair and the Minnesota High School Hockey State Tournament. It’s that time of year where cooped up, cabin-fever having outdoors people, come in groves to see what’s new in the world of the outdoors, book their resort stay on their favorite northern hide-away and sling stories to one another of past years memories. All the while, gearing up for a new year full of opportunities in the great outdoors.

I make it a priority to be a part of this annual get-together every year, both as an ambassador to my sport, as well as an avid Minnesota-grown outdoorsman. This year I’ll be supporting three key electronics companies, who without their products, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the fisherman I am today.

Navionics

Mapping is an essential part of my fishing electronics arsenal and gives me a starting point every single morning I’m on the water as well as guides me in my decision making process throughout the day. Navionics has always been my mapping of choice, as they offer the largest and most detailed selection of maps throughout the entire country and around the globe. Here in this state alone, Navionics has developed and released hundreds of new and improved maps under their innovative SonarCharts series of user-generated content. The development of SonarCharts makes sonar logging down to a single inch possible instead of typical “mow the lawn” style of mapping which can run yards and then some between recorded swipes.

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After the success of the Generation 2 line of Touch products from Lowrance. Everyone is eager to get their hands on the newly released Generation 3 Touch line that has just started shipping across the country. There’s sure to be lots of question-hungry fisherman dying to play around with these new units and we’ll be offering live demos all day in both the booth, as well as in their classroom setting. Stop by and check out the new units and ask about any potential show specials and rebates that will be offered through the store vendors.

 

Lowrance

 

Hydrowave

I fish all over the country and Hydrowave is a staple in every bass anglers boat that lives around lakes where bass feed on shad. After the new release of the Hydrowave H2, it’s clear that the people behind the fishing sound simulator have been listening to us up north anglers and our need for sounds geared toward our area. The H2 comes packed with all the shad sounds that put the unit on the map and now comes fully equipped with bluegills, frogs and shiners to accommodate us anglers that cast north of the Mason Dixon Line.

download (2)Spring is coming but is slow to rear her head. As we slowly back old man winter against the ropes, be sure to spend a day with friends and family and come on down to the show. Stop by one of these great booths and let’s talk shop!

 

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Central Open

Ross Barnett Reservoir, Jackson, MS

Life has been good! Traveling all across the country is something I enjoy, no doubt, however this trip has been a long one as it’s been almost a month since I’ve been back home and still had more work to be done. I was heading to Ross Barnett, located just outside Jackson, Mississippi for the first stop of the 2015 Bassmaster Central Opens.

I’ve been just pumped to show up at Ross Barnett, as I felt I was in for a good tournament which would kick me off to an awesome start in the Angler of the Year race. I have every intention on qualifying for the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series and this is one of six potential events this season that can help get me there. I’m ready to prove that I’m developing into a top echelon angler, capable of competing against the best week in and week out.

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Even though I came to Ross Barnett both physically and mentally ready to play ball, unfortunately the bass that live in The Rez were not. Mississippi was being pounded by unseasonably cold weather and lots of rain. The water was dirty and better resembled the chocolaty goodness that comes from a bottle of Yoo-hoo and was as frigid as one too, holding firm at 48 degrees and even cooler in the backs of the creeks. I arrived for practice around mid afternoon on Saturday and I could count the number of bites I got on a single hand for the first two and a half days combined. It wasn’t until midway through the day on Tuesday that things started clicking for me. I was pretty sure I knew from past experiences on lakes similar to this one, where the bass would want to spawn. Looking at the extended 10 day forecast and things were on the mend. The forecasted temps called for a high’s of anywhere from the mid 60’s to low 70’s. However, it was the overnight lows that had me thinking most. The average overnight temp in the days leading to the tournament and even more important, the nights of the actual tournament, were anywhere between 56 and 65 degrees. Meaning that even overnight, the water temp should be on the rise. The forecast also called for an abundance of rain all through practice, as well as the tournament itself. Seeing how the temps were going to be up, I thought this rain would keep the water color stable but once again, help warm the water temp rapidly.

On the Tuesday of official practice, I located a main lake flat that held all the needed habitat to be an ideal spawning flat. Flats on Ross Barnett are abundant, with some being relatively non productive while others are pure hammer holes. I located a ditch that fed this particular bay and followed all the way up and into a few series of pad stems fields. My first cast with a 3/8 oz. Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait (Black) and the bait got inhaled by a beautifully plump prespawn five pounder. The fish was so white that I knew she had just moved up. I got a few more bites swimming a worm and another big bite on the Stangun and left the area.

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Photo credit to Bri Douglas – A Fishermans Widow Production

I was starting to feel very optimistic. The bite was still tough but I had two separate patterns to run. The first was more of a winter pattern and involved running riprap. This bite did produce size but numbers left me with a real uneasy feeling. Being that I was now curious about my potential prespawn pattern, I set out Wednesday on the last day of practice to try to take that further. I found another productive area and was able to get six bites in just a few hours by just fishing anything and everything that looked right. Despite getting bites on both reaction and flipping baits, I was so tuned in that I managed to successfully pull on all the bites and not burn a single bass. Bass would jump out and smack an Outkast Pro Swim Jig and I’d just open the bail and let them swim with it until they spit it. Then I’d get on the trolling motor and move on. The bass were in the shallow spawning areas and I truly felt they were coming up by the boat load. No pun intended of course.

At registration I drew a late boat flight. I wasn’t concerned, in fact I was hoping for one because as I grow as a tournament angler, I’m learning that at times, I have got to continue practice even during the actual tournament. Since, every single day seemed a little different, I wanted as much time as I could to figure out what was going on.

Since I was one of the last boats, I started on some riprap close to the main launch. I missed my first two opportunities and watched my co-angler capitalize on two of his opportunities with very fruitful results. Though I was a tad frustrated, I stayed in hopes of getting a few more bites with the end result being just one bass for me around two pounds that fell for a Biovex Shallow Runner (Hot Shad).

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Photo credit to James Overstreet and courtesy of Bassmaster.com

I got off the riprap and ran to the spawning flat I had located on Tuesday. It was still early and my gut told me that this flat needed time to prove productive. I started where the underwater creek or trench ran onto the stem field. Despite the vast pressure that was being put onto the area, I caught two bass right away going about 3 pounds a piece, both falling for the black Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait. As I continued to move around the flat, I’d peg off a fish here and a fish there to slowly cull up to about 12-13 pounds. I weighed in at a commendable 12.13 pounds and sat in 42nd place out of 200 boats.

The next morning I was an early boat out and was licking my chops to get back on my flat and load the boat before any of the other competitors could get there. I was throwing the riprap bite out the window as I watched my temperature gauge on my Lowrance go from 56 degrees, all the way to 61 degrees while we were competing that first day. If this area had received too much pressure the day prior, I felt I could go to my other prespawn area that I had found on Wednesday and grind out a decent limit. I also felt that if I was right, the potential for a 20 pound bag lay with that warming flat and I was chomping at the bit to get at it.

Things started slow, before I knew it the flat was loaded with hardcore tournament anglers and I hadn’t capitalized on squat. I kept my head down and slowly stacked up a small limit by throwing a plastic worm. I was relaxed despite not having a big bite but my instincts told me to stay when I thought about going. The discipline rewarded me with three more big bites. Not big enough to jump in the top 12, but those spinnerbait fish did push me up to a 26th place finish, a nice check and a great start to the Bassmaster Central Open Angler of the Year race.

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Photo credit to James Overstreet and courtesy of Bassmaster.com

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Photo credit to James Overstreet and courtesy of Bassmaster.com

Reflecting back, there were a few keys to my success this week on Ross Barnett and that helped me stay consistent through the event. My first was my Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait. Me and good buddy Andy Young, joke around that this bait is the Central Open Spinnerbait because it gets inhaled at rivers like the Arkansas River, Red River as well as joints like Ft. Gibson and Ross Barnett. It casts like a rocket and is extremely accurate to throw, as well as gets jammed on by big bass despite it’s compact profile. Though I also caught a bunch on a plastic worm, the Stangun got my bigger bites.

Another would be my Navionics card, in particular the SonarCharts for this system were insane. Part of my job as a Pro Team member of Navionics is to promote these new SonarCharts as I use them across the country fishing. I generally strive to be as solid as possible when it comes to meeting my sponsors needs but I have to admit I was being particularly mum on the Ross Barnett/SonarCharts combo at this particular event, especially after seeing how great they were during practice. I didn’t want any other competitor that just so may have their head in the mud with this SonarCharts deal, to all of a sudden become an aficionado on the topic, at least not until the derby was over and now I’ll happily yell it at the top of my lungs. SonarCharts are the deal!!! I used these new maps to find creek channels that came from the main river channel and rolled all the way into these spawning flats. These were the roads that led the females to the party if you know what I’m saying?

If you don’t believe me, here’s a few screenshots proving it. Just don’t think you’re getting the screenshot of “the flat”, there were some other hammers in there that did even better than I did. Some things are meant to stay under wraps…

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Lastly, I want to give credit to my sunglasses from Amphibia Sports Eyewear. This is for two reasons. The first being that I relied on my eyes to catch at least 30% of my fish this event. I’d see one move in the skinny water and throw my worm over and dead stick it until it picked it up. Actually, let me rephrase that. The water was so dirty I couldn’t actually see the fish but I could see if they made just the slightest ripple on the water when they did move and to me, that’s a bass in the box! My Amphibia’s really assisted me in this department. Secondly, these are prescription sunglasses, anyone who buys prescription high end sports glasses knows they aren’t cheap. The last day of the tournament the wind was ripping with gusts so hard it would blow my hat of my head. On one such occurrence, the wind did indeed blow my hat off and in the process, my sunglasses got caught on my hat and flew into the water. My co angler, trying desperately to come up huge for me, dives to the side of the boat gunnel only to find that they float. Needless to say, he was impressed.

Tight lines all!

Posted in Blog Post

JD Fishing Teams with Mud Hole and MHX!

MHX World Class Rod Blanks

Yes Sir! You heard that right, I am now a proud member of the Mud Hole and MHX Rod Blanks Pro Team! If this comes as a surprise, I completely understand cause I never saw this one coming either, that is until I started fishing the MHX rods.

2015 Josh Douglas MHX Bio

I originally started this website and my blog back in 2006, with a desire to give those interested a honest perspective from one bass fishing junkie who has admirations of climbing the biggest ladders in professional bass fishing. I always strive to continue this trend and shoot my readers straight. MHX as a rod blank, won me over. Originally, I was resistant to the change, but in the end I simply couldn’t deny it, these blanks make me a better fisherman and for good reason. Here’s the low down…..

Last season, leading up to the Bassmaster Open on Douglas Lake in Tennessee, I knew that deep cranking was going to be the deal, so much so, that this very fishery is the place that started putting long-lining on the map. Having never found a cranking rod that I truly thought was the cat’s booty, I contacted a friend I knew from Mud Hole Custom Tackle and explained what I was looking for in a rod and he recommended a couple right away and said that he would get them sent out. Building rods isn’t something Mud Hole does, they provide anything and everything you would need to build your own rods. I was fortunate in that another friend from Mud Hole agreed to build them for me and I was shocked when I received a call asking me exactly how I wanted these rods built. Are you kidding me? You want my specifications? I thought this was pretty cool but didn’t yet realize what I was in for.

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Days before I left for Tennessee, my package arrived with two MHX cranking sticks, a CB905 and a CB907, both with the exact features and specifications as I desired. Instantly I fell in love with the look of these rods, the lightness and sensitivity of these graphite-blended rods was amazing, the parabolic action was perfect for a crankbait and still had the tip to launch a Biovex Deep Runner and country mile. I took these rods and combined them up with a Shimano Chronarch D5 with 12 lb. Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon and deep cranked my way to a 31st place finish, a always needed paycheck and great AOY points to start the Northern Opens.

Going into the 2015 Bassmaster Open season and I have one goal in mind, qualify for the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series. To accomplish the goal, I set out this season to only use the best products that give me the best advantage against my quarry. I once again called my contact at Mud Hole and requested a few more rods that I wanted to purchase to help me with my 2015 season. Again, looking for rods for reaction bait fishing, I wanted a custom swim jig rod, a custom chatterbait rod, a custom lipless rod and a custom Speed Worm rod.

It was during this go round where things started to really get me thinking. I was actually ordering blanks and deciding handle styles for application needs for my body style and my personal preferences. Not for someone else’s. Yet, at the very same time, I was getting as good or better materials for these rods than what can be made by mass produced high-end rod companies.

Alright, now I’ll get to the brass tacks of this whole deal. If you know me at all or have been a reader on here for sometime, you’ll know I was always a die-hard G Loomis fisherman. In my opinion, G Loomis makes the best mass produced rods available and I still stand by this statement. However, as I was ordering these new MHX rods, I was starting to see how these custom MHX rods were better and offered me more than any mass produced rod company could. I’ve been very fortunate to have had a long and very loyal tenure with most all my sponsors, present and past. I have nothing bad to say about G Loomis or their products, it’s just that I couldn’t deny to myself that I had more better things to say about MHX and have more advantages building my own rods designed not for some other high profile angler, but instead designed specifically for me. Instead of a rod companies main goal of profitability, I don’t have to sacrifice and go with cheaper components either, I’ll always go with top of the line American Tackle or Fuji components to go with my MHX blanks.

Now, becoming very interested in making the switch, I developed the need to put the entire line to the test. I was headed to Florida so I ordered several punching and flipping sticks, I went with a FP936, a FP937 and a FP885. Along with all the other reaction-style rods I ordered, I also ordered their famous HM-MB873 and 874. These rods I swear I could have 20 each as their High Modulus Series of blanks are like non other out there. Light, sensitive and plenty of backbone to detect the lightest of bites and still got the guts to get a big one out of the thick stuff.

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I set out with these rods and used them during my first trip to Florida, as well as during the first Bassmaster Southern Open on the Kissimmee Chain. Every rod I used, was better than any other rod of it’s kind out there and better yet, the others were so awesome because they were so specific to my needs and demands that there isn’t any competition out there to compete with because literally these rods, with these specs, don’t exist because they are my personal specs!

I was officially sold on these blanks and wanted the opportunity to start making my own rods moving forward. The opportunity arose for me to join forces with Mud Hole and MHX and I jumped in head first. I may have ended a long relationship I’ve had with a company but I started a new one with a company I feel is on a one way track of providing the fishing public with the absolute best rod blanks and components for every class of bass fishing rods. Combining MHX rods with Shimano Reels gives me better tools on the water and gives me the best shot of obtaining my personal goals in the world of professional bass fishing.

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After the Bassmaster Classic wrapped up, I went straight down to Florida and learned from the best how to build my own rods. I worked with the great people at Mud Hole Custom Tackle and learned the ins and the outs in every facet of rod building. I built the best jerkbait and squarebill rod I could have ever imagined, as well as a couple spinning rods that I’m obsessed with and can’t wait to pile drive a tube into a five pound gorilla smallmouth’s mouth. I have many, many more to go but am off to the most bad ass line of custom rods built to my individual needs!

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It’s once again time to hit the road! I’m off to Ross Barnett Reservoir in central Mississippi for the first Bassmaster Central Open. I need a big time finish to get the ball rolling towards qualifying for the Bassmaster Elite Series. Time to really put my MHX blanks to the test. Wish me luck!

Posted in Blog Post

2015 Bassmaster Classic

Lake Hartwell, Greenville, SC.

One day…….

I don’t know much in this world but I do know one thing, if I continue on the track I’m on and continue to strive for greatness, one day I will compete in a Bassmaster Classic. I have goals that go well beyond this but without reaching this point in my life, I can’t see most of the rest come to fruition.

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If you aren’t fortunate enough to be competing in the “Super Bowl” of bass fishing and you’re one that still tries to earn their living in the bass fishing world, than there’s an excellent chance that you’ll still be in attendance at this great event, but instead of actually fishing, you’ll be at the Bassmaster Expo, showing off your companies top of the line products, products that anglers on all levels depend on to catch bass throughout the country.

Most often you’ll find me working in the Navionics booth, promoting their great maps to a fishing public that can’t seem to get enough out of their fishing electronics. This year, I spread my wings a little and joined the team at Hydrowave promoting an electronic device that I have learned to depend on over the past few years.

The idea is simple and unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand or perhaps buried in your hind end out of pure stubbornness, The Hydrowave is an electronic feeding simulator that stimulates the underwater environment in which I’m fishing. Fishing is another form of hunting and sound simulation has always been an accepted way to better your hunting odds. Why not with fishing? I can go duck hunting without a duck call and may still shoot me a few ducks, however with a duck call, I’ll over perform 99% of the time. It’s just that simple.

This Classic Expo was hopping in the Hydrowave booth with anglers both professional and weekend warriors flocking to the booth to learn more and purchase accessories and apparel to go along with their brand new H2 that was just recently released to the public.

Here’s a video we did with North American Fishing Club, starring Hydrowave Pro and Bassmaster Elite Series Angler, Jeff Kriet.

Click here to see video titled “A Tool Worth Having”. 

Outside the Hydrowave booth, the show was a blast and the best part yet, my wife Bri was also in attendance sporting our favorite line of sunglasses, Amphibia Eye Gear and helping assisting those looking for more information on these new popular shades that are earning a reputation as the best amongst serious bass anglers on both the Bassmaster and FLW tours.

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Also, one of my dearest homeboys, Andy Young, was also in attendance at the Bassmaster Classic but instead of working the expo, he was actually out competing, proving to the world that he’s one of the top anglers in the country and backing it up with a 36th place finish! Congrats Dude, you earned it!

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Last but not least, BIG GIANT shoutout to Casey Ashley, winner of the 2015 Bassmaster Classic and the perfect guy to call the Classic champ!

Posted in Blog Post

Fishing Electronics Webinar Coming in April!!

When: April 15th, 2015

Time: 8pm Central

Title: Utilizing Today’s Electronics for Better Tournament Results

I’ll be hosting a Fishing Electronics Webinar with Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie, Seth Feider! Our main goal is to help anglers better understand their fishing electronics to get more out of your tournament practice.

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I’m aiming to answer as many questions possible on how we can get more from your Navionics, Lowrance and Hydrowave equipment. Seth will be on LIVE to help answer any Humminbird related questions as well as answer any other fishing-related questions you may have. This webinar will be screenshot and video heavy and are looking for anyone interested in joining in on our free webinar, to please request an invitation via email and also provide us with questions that you would like to see answered.

This webinar will be hosted and promoted by www.BassEast.com and is for invite only. Early registration available to JDFishing fans only! Please get your early invitation by emailing your email address to Josh@JoshDouglasFishing.com.

Hope to see you online!!

Posted in Blog Post

Looking for Better Maps?

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Only Navionics accepts sonar logs from all major plotter brands and mobile devices! Millions of boaters all over the world can contribute to enhancing SonarCharts HD bathymetry map using many of the leading plotter brands, as well as mobile devices. Be part of the crowd and improve the detail of your favorite spots! Navionics empowers you to contribute real-time data that augments the quality and detail of the SonarCharts you see on plotter, mobile and PC.
CONTRIBUTE WITH YOUR PLOTTER
Sonar logs stored on any card can be uploaded to navionics.com. Many Lowrance, Simrad and  B&G units automatically store sonar data from day one, meaning a wealth of depth information can be contributed all at once. HumminbirdRaymarine and Garmin users can also contribute easily by recording and uploading their sonar logs. An amazing advancement called Plotter Sync allows Raymarine Wi-Fi multifunction displays that connect using the Navionics Boating app to upload sonar logs and update charts directly from the boat!
CONTRIBUTE WITH YOUR MOBILE
On mobile, your Navionics Boating app includes the SonarPhone feature, which connects wirelessly to the SonarPhone T-BOX by Vexilar to display a fishfinder as well as SonarCharts Live drawn split-screen in real time over existing Nautical Charts or SonarCharts (see video). Not only is it great fun to see the detailed contours develop as you move, the new chart layer remains resident within your app while data obtained to create those contours can help generate enhanced SonarCharts™.

GET THE RESULT!
The enormous amount of sonar logs contributed by all plotter and mobile users are processed together anonymously by Navionics and made available for all users and every compatible device after about one week. This incredible advantage – the most timely, detailed charts available anywhere – is possible because of Navionics exclusive software, data systems, and expertise in verifying and processing sonar data from many sources. SonarCharts is included with the following plotter cards: Navionics+Platinum+ and HotMaps Platinum. To get it on Silver, Gold or HotMaps Premiumcards, customers can purchase Navionics Updates. On mobile and PC, get SonarCharts with the Navionics Boating app found on Apple, Android and Windows stores. On the internet, view it through our WebApp: zoom in and click on the SonarCharts icon.
Want better charts? Go boating! See the video.
Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Southern Open

Toho/Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, Kissimmee, FL

Talk about being excited for an upcoming tourney. It’s been well over two months since I competed in a tournament and the anticipation to get the ball rolling this season was at it’s all time high. Not to mention, it was a frigid -2 degrees when I pulled the rig out of my garage on that brisk early Minnesota morning. I was 100% ready for flip flops and flipping sticks!

I have to admit, I do like living back in Minnesota however living in Chattanooga definitely had it’s advantages. For starters, Lake Minnetonka is well froze over and the only catching your doing out there is catching a buzz cause this guy isn’t for sitting on the ice. This time of year in Chattagonia, we’d be trying to stick a 30 pound bag of largemouth on The Chick, if not a 40 pound bag.

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Also, a drive to central Florida from south Tennessee is roughly 8 hours, from Minnesota, it’s a solid 24 hour drive. Lucky for me, I had good buddy and Bassmaster Elite Series angler Seth Feider along for the ride, so despite a quick stop in Chatt Town to visit The Hog Pen, the Hog Farmer Bait Company headquarters, we were wearing tires 24/7 and I was launched in Toho by the next day.

Practice started good and got progressively better as the days wore on. I used my previous years knowledge to know that I needed to find areas that were full of bass. It was still mostly pre spawn and I knew the way the weather was predicting that there was going to be big ones mixed right in with little ones. Pre spawn more so than any other time of year, is when you can catch two 12 inch dinks on consecutive casts and then haul in an 8 pounder on the very next cast.

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It took me very little time to figure out that this tournament would be an open ended opportunity for those willing to hunker down in the right areas and grind on them for eight hours. There was almost no good looking vegetation in Kissimmee and for a guy that thrives off flipping, this wasn’t an ideal situation by any means. Toho wasn’t any better and even though Cypress actually looked good, the pressure was pummeling the little lake and the high water spread out the bites, that is at least for me.

My priority was to find quality “fertile” areas in all parts of the Lake Kissimmee, so that no matter what the weather does, I’d have good water to fish. Another lesson learned the hard way in years past. I also wanted to make it a priority to find some good starting and finishing water in Toho. This chain has a lock system that works smooth but can suck up the fishing time depending on when you lock through. I wanted as much actual fishing time as I could get this year and was able to put together a couple areas that coughed up both numbers and size.

Rigging up was a bit of a surprise as I was planning or better put, hoping, to be rigging up a couple punchin’ sticks with heavy Reins Tungsten Weights and a snelled-up straight shank VMC but instead ended with a dozen or so rods rigged with a smorgasbord of different junk fishing baits. My mentality was to use Thursday to run all my water, see what’s holding true and then use Friday to really sack them up.

Day one and things started just as they always should. I had an early flight and was due back in at 3:15. I wasn’t overly thrilled with this as I really didn’t have much of a morning bite in Kissimmee, though I did feel as though I could catch a big one in Toho during the first couple of hours. This weighed heavy on my mind when I knew I’d sacrifice a first gate lock through to fish Toho and if I din’t lock through immediately, then I’d have to wait for at least two hours to lock down.

I had seen enough good weight in Toho during practice and though I didn’t have a ton of water, the grass line and pads that I did have would hold plenty of possibility if I fished it thoroughly. It didn’t take but 15 minutes and I caught my first bass on a chatterbait rigged with a Biovex Kolt Shad Tail as a trailer. It was a good start as well, weighing in at just under four pounds.

I moved in to target some isolated pads and managed another small keeper on a Zoom Speed Worm in between pad clumps. It was nothing to get excited about but it was number two. After about an hour or so without another bite, I locked through and started running water from Cypress all the way to the south side of Lake Kissimmee. I never got another bite until I settled down in a small stretch of bank that had all the right things I was looking for. The water was still clean despite a three day straight north wind, there was the perfect mix of ideal vegetation and held all the right ingredients to hold a good mix of pre spawn to post spawn bass.

In practice, I not only got a number of bites and blow ups from a wide array of different sized fish but I also managed an 8 pound bite as well as had one very similar in size blow on my swim jig. My good pal Hunter McKamey and fellow Biovex team member was with me when we found these fish and had another big blow up or two as well as a few limit fish to eat his Gambler Burner Worm.

A good Florida bass taken on the Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait.

With only an hour to fish this area before I had to get back to the locks, I went from two fish and limited out in a relative short amount of time. I caught some of the smaller fish I’ve seen yet but unfortunately, did miss a couple of what appeared to be much bigger bites. I locked back through and made it to weigh in with only seconds to spare. Despite weighing in a small limit of bass I was still very much in it in my mind and knew that the next day I would get all day to hunker down in there and grind out a sizable limit.

Friday I was in a much later flight and wasn’t due back in until 5:00, so my morning plan to fish Toho and wait for the lock to free was a no brainer. This time though, the north wind had finally managed to be too much for this protected area and the dirty water made getting a bite impossible. I locked through and made the long hard run but with my Phoenix 920 and Mercury outboard, the trip was a breeze.

It didn’t take long before I started to pickup bites but for the life of me, I couldn’t peg them for nothing. I figured out rather quickly that these fish were attempting to kill my bait but not eat it. They were getting territorial but were more interested in getting the spawn going than that of stuffing their faces. It seemed that the bucks would eat the bait if you killed it and let it sit but the females were way to cautious and after a long day, I was locking back through with another small limit. Better than the day before but not good enough. I finished the day in 88th place out of 200 anglers and all but assured my only goal of making the Bassmaster Elite Series is shot in the Southern Open Division.

I was disappointed no doubt but at the end of the day, I had a great event all the way around but just didn’t have great results. I practiced hard, located the right kind of stuff it would take to win despite the non-typical Kissimmee conditions but just lacked the size when it mattered. Another hard lesson learned although the signs of improvement are obvious. These are the type of “bad” events that I can work with. I was in contention, I had a shot. If I can always keep myself in this position than I’ll have a chance of qualifying for the Elites. I’ll get my bites. One bite was all that separated me from a top 20 and if I continue to put myself in that situation, it’ll be my best year yet.

Photo courtesy of Bri Douglas – A Fishermans Widow Productions

There’s no doubt I still got lots to learn and not a whole lot of time to do it. The first Central Open is coming up fast. Ross Barnett Rez, Jackson, MS. My kind of derby!

Posted in Blog Post

Navionics SonarCharts LIVE

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Enjoy the convenience of mobile sonar! Starting with Navionics Boating version 7.3 for iPhone and iPad, the new SonarPhone feature allows you to have a fishfinder on your screen and create your own personal HD bathymetry map with SonarCharts Live!

The fishfinder feature enables you to view live sonar and Navionics charts, both full screen and split screen, within the same app from your kayak, runabout, or any size boat! Every time you connect, future SonarCharts can be enhanced with depth data from anywhere you go.

Even better, SonarCharts Live allows you to create a new personal HD bathymetry map that displays on your device in real-time while navigating. The new chart appears as an additional layer over either Nautical Charts or SonarCharts. Data is saved for individual use and can be shared with Navionics to improve SonarCharts.

What you need

To enjoy the fishfinder feature, you need a Navionics Boating app on iPhone and iPad with version 7.3 or later. Also, SonarPhone T-BOX hardware, available for purchase from sonarphone.mobi/navionics. An interactive demo and link to purchase the hardware is included right in the app.

To create maps with SonarCharts Live in the free app version, you need to make sure you purchase a Navionics+ package from Menu > Charts & Upgrades. If you have a paid version, you don’t need anything else.

Get started                                                                                                                            

  1.  Install the SonarPhone T-BOX device on your boat. Turn on the SonarPhone T-BOX.
  2.  From your mobile, connect to the Wi-Fi network: Settings>Wi-Fi ON and select the “T-BOX” Network. When prompted, enter the Wi-Fi password provided to join. See the video.
  3.  Open the Navionics Boating app. The fishfinder display will automatically appear along with SonarCharts Live creating your new personal HD bathymetry map!
Posted in Blog Post

Hydrowading

It’s officially official, Minnesota winter is in full swing. This time of year used to send me into a reclusive depression that only springtime could heal with the first site of open water. In fact, it got so bad that I moved away from it for a couple years and spent my winters running the sloughs of Lake Chickamauga tossing Hog Famers to giant Tennessee River largemouths.

Don’t get it twisted, nothing has changed since moving back home to Minnesota, not much anyways. My mind is still on warmer climates. Real warm too. As soon as the holiday season wraps and after the ball drops to 2015, I’ll break it in with yet another New Year kiss for my beautiful wife Bri, knock back a couple tasty micro brews and then the next morning I’ll wake up, hook the Phoenix to the back of my Chevy and point the rig south to greener pastors. Literally, we’re talking a lot greener too, Kissimmee, Florida. The thought of punchin’ big weights into thick matts and rippin’ traps through hydrilla clumps gets this bass junkie ready for an all out relapse.

There’s lots to do from now till then. I got plenty of office work trying to get things ready to go for the 2015 fishing season. I’ve been working hard getting things lined up and fulfilling some other obligations like writing and editing video for my sponsors and of course, myself. It can’t all be work though, a guy still has to get out and rip a few lips. One thing I missed while I was away from the North Star State was the opportunity to get out and wade for beautiful winter-time smallies. There’s something so pure about it. It’s where it all started for me.

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The fishing has been good too. The key is to not get out when the sucker soakers are there in full force and it’s wise to avoid the day after as them resident fish tend to shy away from my offerings due to their newly given fat lip. I’m not against anyone using live bait, not at all, it’s just for me I’ve had aspirations of being one of the top bass pros in the world since I was a little kid. I’m trying to make a living tricking these bass into biting with artificial lures so I get no personal satisfaction out of catching one on a sucker.

There’s no denying however that the pressure has really gotten to these bass over the years. I can remember five years back when it was nothing to catch a 100 smallies a day and all on a tube. Those days are well in the past but a guy if willing, can still get out there and have a 40 fish day, you just need to make some adjustments.

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I’ve been making the trip north with fellow bass anglers and good buddies, Andy Young and Seth Feider. The bite was good as we caught bass on an array of different baits. Tubes, shakey heads and small jerkbaits like the Biovex Amp Stay 80 are all good choices. The key is to find the right kind of holes and depressions that offer sand and rock, as well as current flow with deep water in the vicinity. I like to target these deeper holes and rock points with soft plastics. Feeling every rock as if a smallmouth was staring at the bait will definitely put up the bites. The jerkbait is ideal for getting things going and exciting the school. More often than not, it’ll cough up the biggest bass in the school as well. I don’t jerk the bait much, I try to instead duplicate what the sucker soakers are doing by throwing the bait out over deep water and letting the current take the bait. Every now and again I’ll give her a slight jerk followed by a long pause. All of a sudden I’ll feel a little tension and next thing you know, I got me a three pounder jumping and I’m serious when I say, there’s not a better feeling.

Another little trick we thought of and am very excited about the results was incorporating the Hydrowave Mini into our arsenal. I wasn’t kidding when I said that this area is getting overly pressured. How can it not? It’s a small piece of heaven. The Hydrowave is killer for all three of us during tournament competition and now the big hype has been centered around ice fishing. I thought why wouldn’t the Hydrowave help us at the river and it didn’t take minutes for us to find out that we had stumbled across something real special. The Hydrowave seemed to call up the bigger bass from the actual river channel, bass that were out of our casting reach. I swear we were the only ones that have ever utilized a Hydrowave on these river banks but now that the Hydrowave Mini is getting so much attention, we won’t be the only ones for long….

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This coming weekend is the 22nd Annual St. Paul Ice Show and I’ll be hanging out in the Reeds and Capra’s booth talking about the Navionics App and how it has become a staple for ice fisherman. It’s literally a game changer. I urge you all to come out and talk shop. That is unless, you’re heading out to wet a line and if that’s case, tight lines!

Posted in Blog Post

Before the Ice…

I’ve always enjoyed fishing in the Fall. It’s the time of year a guy can pick up a big jig and hit shallow targets for fat ornery bass. I catch some big sows every spring too, but I just prefer fall cause I know what’s ahead in the months to come. My guess is that the bass do as well and that’s why cracking a bag of five pounders is a realistic deal when the leaves start falling from the trees. Big bass are smart bass, they know they got to get while the getting is good.

Growing up in Minnesota, I know the feeling of my playgrounds being frozen over by a few feet of ice and the chance of catching a big ole’ bass diminish by 99.7%. It sucks. It’s this very reason that I don’t cope well with missing a single opportunity to go out and rip some lips. Every year is the same too. Summer will give away to fall and things get a little weird out there, not bad, just weird. All of a sudden, the autumn nip drops the overnight temps and the whack fest ensues. It gets better and better as the vegetation slowly begins to die off and concentrates the fish in the remaining cover. Then just like that, old man winter rears his ugly face and it’s like the fish completely disappear. Not a bluegill peck, not a single roll from a carp, nothing. The environment goes completely dormant.

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This very time of year has always stumped me. It’s a tight window of available open water, we’re talking about the few short days before the cap freezes over entirely. I go because I have to, I’m built that way, but I rarely get a single bite.

This season things started as expected and I was once again following a track of a very familiar course. The shallows and mid depths were completely vacant. Not a single sign of life. I fished key structure out deep but when the lake temps are in the high 30’s and the water clarity is less than a foot, things just don’t feel too right out deep on a rock pile. After tripping over my identical foot prints for an entire day, I finally threw the stubborn hat to the side and flicked on the StructureScan of my Lowrance HDS Touch 12 and went to work searching out the deeper contours of “Lake X” in search of a willing sparing partner to join me in a sunset throw down.

As usual, I never saw anything and surely never felt a single peck from that of a bass.

Ready to call it a night and drink my defeat down with a couple tasty micro brews, I noticed one longer underwater point that offered a deep hole off the side of it. After a minute of rather intense inspecting of my Navionics map and I came to the conclusion that this twenty-foot hole was actually the deepest hole on the entire lake.

I idled the point and as usual, it was loaded with hard bottom. This is par for the course on these glacial lakes that litter northern Minnesota. Largely unique to this spot, I was actually showing a few fish marks. It wasn’t till I slid off the side of the point and into deeper water that I saw what has eluded me in my short but busy fishing career. It looked to me like almost every single fish in the entire lake was stacked into the deepest hole of the entire lake. Not just bass, were talking errthang, errthang from bass to pike to carp and all that exists in between. My Lowrance screen light up like I hadn’t ever seen in Minnesota. Ever.

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I let my Navionics map guide me around for about 15 minutes and all the deep holes around this piece of structure looked largely identical to this screenshot. All the fish in the entire lake seemed to be concentrated near ideal structure but only the structure that was located in the immediate vicinity of the deepest water in lake. The environment was scattered evenly on both sides but similar to the rest of this area, the heaviest concentration was on the contour transitions.  Aside from that, I’m not sure why this area over the numerous similar ones around the lake was the only spot that held fish. I don’t know if it was a oxygen/thermocline deal, perhaps a water temp difference or maybe they just all live there in perfect harmony over the winter. I was honestly starting to think they live there dormant and then when the pressure gets right they move up on the rocks and eat. This is an honest assumption. Perhaps when they get hungry, they turn slightly to either side and eat their neighbor? That’s a thought worth thinking and after I made a cast with a Dream Smasher swimbait along the transition seem and I bet you can guess what happened? I think it’s safe to say I have two legit theories to work from come next year. Doing my best to get better every day!

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Posted in Blog Post

2015 Bassmaster Opens

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying the off-season a little bit. It seems every year my travel obligations get more and more hectic, meaning my time away from family and friends suffers greatly. I try to stay home and soak it up as much as I can this time of year as it seems the holiday season tends to fly right by. On the other hand, I’m completely chomping at the bit to get things rolling for 2015. Once again I have a full slate in front of me and another year of opportunity to accomplish some of my biggest goals, or dare I say the dreams that I covet so greatly.

I have a lot of ambitions and my determination to gain my qualification into the Bassmaster Elite Series has never been so high. I love to catch a bass more than anything else in the entire world and the opportunity to showcase that desire has me putting in the extra overtime necessary to earn such a privilege.

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The upcoming season has a lot of familiar stops and my time is now to make the leap to the top. It’s going to be a great year!

See you on the water!

2015 Bassmaster Open Schedule

Southern Opens

No. 1 — Lake Tohopekaliga at Kissimmee, Fla., Jan. 15-17

No. 2 — Alabama River at Prattville, Ala., April 16-18

No. 3 — Lake Seminole at Bainbridge, Ga., Oct. 22-24

Central Opens

No. 1 — Ross Barnett Reservoir at Ridgeland, Miss., March 12-14

No. 2 — Ft. Gibson Lake at Wagoner, Okla., Sept. 10-12

No. 3 — Table Rock Lake at Branson, Mo., Oct. 1-3

Northern Opens

No. 1 — James River at Richmond,Va., July 9-11

No. 2 — Oneida Lake at Syracuse, N.Y., Aug. 6-8

No. 3 — Lake Erie at Sandusky, Ohio, Sept. 24-26

Posted in Blog Post

SEOPA Writer’s Conference

Fontana Village, NC

I was given the privilege to represent Navionics at the 50th Annual SEOPA Conference held where it all began for SEOPA, on the top of the Smokey Mountains at Fontana Village, North Carolina. This was my first ever writer’s conference and though most of you know who read my blog entries, I do my fair share of writing. I really didn’t know what to expect heading in but going out it was awesome. I met so many industry icons like Ray Scott, founder of B.A.S.S., as well as Bassmaster writers that go back to the early beginnings such as Bodie McDowell.

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Outside of bass fishing, I was able to shake hands and talk shop with so many other influential outdoor writers. There’s no doubt they were all ears about what was new with Navionics and so genuinely intrigued by the innovations coming from the global mapping company.

The dinners and cocktail hours were perfect for mingling and though I was there to promote one of my title sponsors, I also made life long friends from across the country.

The Break Out Day was such a success for me. I’ve done my share of consumer shows but this one was different, writer’s for major publications ask the hard questions but in the end, it was a success and besides working in the Navionics tent, I got to see some of the innovative products on deck from some of the biggest industry leaders. The outdoors world is in good hands no doubt.

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Aside from the formalities of business, I also got in plenty of fun time as well. Lots of fishing of course and my wife Bri and I got to put the new Navionics Hike & Bike App to good use along the well-known, Appalachian Trail.

For anyone interested, I urge you to check out SEOPA.

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Northern Open

Lake Norman, Charlotte, NC

Here we go, last derby of the year. I’d be lying if I said that I’m not ready for the 2014 tournament season to wrap up. Of course I love tournament fishing, but after stubbing my toe at the Arkansas River a few weeks back and being so close to qualifying for the 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series, all I want is another crack at it. I want it more than anything and unfortunetly, the Lake Norman tournament doesn’t offer such a feat. So it’s probably more accurate to say that it isn’t that I’m over the 2014 season, I’m just really excited for the 2015 season to get underway and to start my off-season preparations for success.

On the other hand, the Lake Norman Open does offer a last shot opportunity at qualifying for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic, a feat that sits a very close second on my must-do list, so finding the determination to succeed at this event isn’t exactly pulling teeth. A tough week at home with the loss of our family dog Madison, had me off to a late start and really limited my practice time. Basically I ended up with about three days, which on another point, is something that has been on my mind often as I start preparing myself for the 2015 season. A big part of me wants to have the longest practice possible as it opens up more opportunity to do well come tournament time. It allows me more time to see the lake and learn how it fishes despite different conditions. On the other hand, the goal is to qualify for the Elite’s and at that level, you need to be able to practice in three days. In fact, a part of me thinks a guy can do better if he limits his practice time but is efficent with the time given. Lots to think about but regardless, I had only a few days to try to locate a winning pattern on Norman. I spent the vast majority of my time around and above the 150 bridge with very limited success. Boat docks were my preffered pattern and though the overall size was nice, the amount of bites were not. I came to notice that I was spending my time in an area of the lake that was experincing a fall turnover. Not ideal water conditions for winning a bass tournament.

The last day I launched from the dam and fished the lower and mid lake area. I managed to find fish right away by targeting main-lake points and shoals. I got my better bites by throwing both the new Biovex Joint Bait 110F (JDM prototype) and a Hog Farmer Bait Company 5 Wire 4 Blade Finesse Rig. There was a decent buzzbait bite in the morning but I found the Joint Bait got bit all day and worked well on extremely shallow shoals as well as over 40-some feet off the edges of the shoals. There’s truly something special about this bait and though it requires a finesse presentation to employ, the slicker the conditions, the bigger the results.

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I also managed a few nice fish throwing the Biovex Stay80 jerkbait but that bite was slow and seem to worsen for me as the tournament grew nearer. I did manage fish everyday on a dropshot rig when I came across them on my Lowrance while targeting structure. There’s something about these southeastern impoundments that make paddletail style swimbaits so deadly. My dropshot was no different and I went between a Biovex Kolt Shad Tail (Rame Gill) and a Roboworm (Aaron’s Magic) to catch these fish that I would see come across my graph. The paddletail on the Kolt bait was definitly a producer and probably landed 80% of my dropshot bites all week. Looking back, if I’d a had more time in practice, I think I would of fished more docks with this bait and swam the dropshot in between the posts, then kill the bait on each corner. Hindsight is always 20/20 but this would of cleaned ’em up I’m pretty certain….

Speaking of docks, which is definitly the big fish pattern on Norman, I got all my bites on a 1/2 oz. Outkast RTX Jig and swimming a 3/8 oz. Outkast Pro Swim Jig. The key to getting good bites on docks was locating good docks that held brush piles. I think this deal was just a little early for this bite to really produce but if you ran enough of them in a day, you’d win this derby no doubt.

The tournament itself proved tough for me. I had my chances day one at about a 12 pound bag, which of course on Norman puts you strongly in the top 20. I didn’t fish clean at all, dropping my four biggest bites of the day. I had fish getting off at the boat, baits breaking and line getting hung up, as well as just loosing big bites under docks, in cables and brush piles. It was just that kind of tournament. Despite having the bites for a top 12 finish, I came up short and finished in a dismal 81st place. Proving that the Southern Opens were never meant to be.

That wrapped the 2014 tournament season and now starts the 2015. My goal is to have a very productive off season to be sure I’m competely ready to go for 2015. I got a lot yet to learn and a huge ambition to soak it all in. 2014 was a success in so many ways but also made clear I still have lots to learn. I’m off to pick up my beautiful wife Bri in Chattanooga, TN as we got a week together in the Smokey Mountains while I attend my first ever SEOPA Writer’s Conference at legendary Fontana Village Resort, located in the mountain tops of North Carolina along the shores of Fontana Lake, the very start of the Tenneessee River. I’m excited for the opportunity to promote Navionics and show off what’s new for 2015 to a bunch a the southeast’s most well-known writers. Time to get scooting!

Learning from the lessons of yesterday, to brighten to opporunities of tomorrow…….

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Posted in Blog Post

Navionics + and SonarCharts

The 2014 tournament season is one North Carolina trip away from being wrapped for the year. On my second full season fishing the BASS Opens on all types of venues, all across the country, I can say that in two full seasons I have only needed one Navionics card to run my entire system.

The Navionics + card allows you as the angler to download whatever bodies of water you want despite their geographical location. No more preloaded regions for me to choose from. Since I run a Lowrance system, I now need only a single card to run my graphs, instead of the old days (two years ago) or even when dealing with the current competition for that matter, where you need to have a card for each unit. I run three units, that meant that before the Navionics + card, I’d need to purchase five seperate regions for three seperate graphs. That’s fifteen cards I’ve replaced down to a single one.

Lastly and best yet, I have full access to all of Navionics newly added maps, wether it’s through the standard HD Nautical Charts or the new SonarCharts. I bet I used the new SonarCharts on 85% of the bodies of water I fished. Even lakes I’d visit last season, I’d need to do an update on my card because there would be lots on new and highly refined mapping available for me to use.

All this for a $179 price tag….. Navionics +

Here’s a few before and after screenshots of some of the lakes I saw this season.

Lake Amistad, Texas/Mexico

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Red River, LA

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Kissimmee Chain, FL

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Arkansas River, OK

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Posted in Blog Post

Madison May Douglas (2000 – 2014)

I had only known my future wife Bri for a few short weeks when she talked me into going on a day date to the Humane Society. We were literally still teenagers. I was completely head over heals for my new found love that it truly didn’t matter where we were going, I’d be there. Despite living in an apartment that didn’t take dogs, we proved no match for a new litter of lab pups. There was no argument from me when she looked over and asked if we should get a puppy. It wasn’t moments later we were off with our newest member of our newly formed family, the cutest damn puppy of the litter, Ms. Madison May.

Madison became an anchor to our family. She traveled the country by our side, lived in numerous states, swam in lakes, rivers, oceans and climbed mountains out in Colorado. She was with us through ups, downs and everything in between. For the past fourteen years she’s been by our side no matter what crazy event we had going on in our lives. She truly defines everything this family is and not a day will go by that we won’t miss and appreciate everything she helped build. Love you Missy…..

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Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Central Open

Arkansas River, Muskogee, OK

Since I was a kid I wanted to be a Bassmaster. I used to sit in my basement, watching recorded episodes of The Bassmasters, as well as staple shows like Roland Martin and Bill Dance and dream of the making that my living. I’d sit and organize my tackle box over and over again and scour through the latest issues of In-Fisherman Magazine. I was obsessed. The only thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a bass fisherman.

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Fast forward to this past weekend and you could imagine my excitement level was at an all time high. Going into the final stop of the 2014 Bassmaster Central Opens on Oklahoma’s heritage rich, Arkansas River and I found myself sitting 23rd in the Angler of the Year points. Top 5 or so will qualify for the 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series, a coveted qualification that I have dreamed of earning since I was just a kid and here I sit within a tangible reach of acquiring such a feat.

I opted to skip out on the final Bassmaster Northern Open on the Detroit River to allow myself more time down in the Oklahoma. Despite still being in the top 50 in the AOY points in the Northerns, my lame finish on Lake Champlain took me out of Elite contention and honestly that’s my everything. So really it was a no-brainer for me and after a long weekend with my beautiful bride back in Minnesota, I was south bound!

Practice started great and honestly, it stayed that way. I found a decent topwater bite on the Biovex Face 70 around the mid river area toward the dam. I also had a good bite going in the weeds by flipping texas rigs and winding a 3/8 oz. Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait (Funa Orange), as well as a 1/4 oz. Outkast Tackle Pro Swim Jig (Bruise). Lastly, I put together a big fish pattern by locating a handful wood spots that had the quality size largemouth on to win.

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Tournament registration came and I was more than confident. I drew a late flight and thought I would first try my topwater bite and see if I couldn’t pop a few quality spots, if not an entire limit in the first hour or so. Every morning in practice I tested the area with a Biovex Face 70 popper, at first I had hooks and busted a couple over 3 pounds, as well as a 4 pound largemouth. The remainder days I took the trebles off and got bites relatively at will. Morning of the tournament, not a bite…..

This was concerning, practice was entirely hot and sunny and now we had rain, clouds and 60’s. I would have thought the topwater bite would have be en fuego but the water dirtied up significantly over night and simply shut the bite down. I started toward my wood areas but again things were slow. The lack of sun meant the bass weren’t positioning tight to the cover and despite my attempts to trigger a bite on a spinnerbait or a square bill, I had no choice but to run to the grass.

The area was taking a lot of pressure but I quickly boated a nice three pounder despite it. Time was starting to work against me and I made the decision to blaze out of there with just two bass in the box. On the way back, I pulled up on a good stretch of wood and put a 4 pounder as well as a small keeper in the box. I fished the area for a while and finally had to bail on it. I weighed in 4 bass for 10.12 pounds and sat 36th after day one. Not ideal but definitely a solid start and left me within shot of a moving day top twelve.

 

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36th place, Day 1 Photo Courtesy of Bassmaster.com and James Overstreet.

Day two, I decided in order to catch a big bag my best chance would be to hit wood all day or hunker down in the grass and just grind out a 15 pound limit. Since I was in an early flight I thought the grass would be hopping early and opted to get the flipping rods out and get to work. Every hour either myself or my co-angler partner, Destin DeMarion would get a bite. It wasn’t fast and furious but it was steady and made running difficult when the possibility of getting a big bite at anytime, insuring a third day top twelve.

Unfortunately enough, I never got that bite and after a dismal performance I finished in 63rd place and ended the year 25th in the Angler of the Year points. It was a step in the right direction and despite being in the points race in both the Northerns and the Centrals, I managed to let an opportunity past me.

Despite still having one tournament left this season on North Carolina’s, Lake Norman, my sights are already onto next season. I proved to myself I belong but also see areas that need improvement and until I address these areas, I won’t be ready for an Elite Series birth. Next year’s a big season for me and one that I completely intend to make the most of. As long as I set my goals and not accept failure, I will be singing a completely different tune next season.

Big congrats to two of my good friends that got to watch their dream come into fruition, Seth Feider and Carl Jocumsen. Congrats Gentleman, you earned it! 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series Qualifiers.

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Posted in Blog Post

“Professional” Bass Fisherman

I’ve been traveling a lot and traveling for me is proving it can be a distraction. I work better when I have rhythm in my life, when I’m working out, eating right, fishing often and just living life at 100%, things are good. All the travel and uncertainty that comes with chasing a bass for a living, is proving to be a challenge for me when it comes to the mental side of my game. More so, when it comes to overall confidence.

When I’m on ’em, I truly feel as though I can beat them all. When I’m struggling, I seem to lack the confidence of believing I have the ability to just go catch a big bag despite it all. Lucky for me, I got the nose to sniff them out and the skills to put them in the box. If I want to be an Elite Series Fisherman and the true definition of a Professional Bass Fisherman, than I better start living my life outside of fishing like a professional as well.

I’ve set out to develop a routine. No matter where I am or however busy I may be, I need to take the time to fuel me both mentally and physically. Working out and eating right is key to my success, yet having a routine at home and then falling out of it on the road is counter-productive.

Despite the long practice days, I’m going to take 45 minutes a day to work out. The stronger I am physically the less fish I’ll loose and the more accurate casts I’ll get in a day. The stronger I am mentally, the more confident casts I’ll make and better decisions I’ll make on the fly. Running at least five days a week has always been a great way to exercise for me. On the road however, this proves to be a pesky task. Trying to figure out where to run and how long you’ve run all makes a guy just grab a cold bottle of Miller Lite instead. Lately, I found the Navionics Hike and Bike App as an awesome way to track where I’ve been, where I’m going and at what pace I’m accomplishing it. The App is free and best yet, it runs on my iPhone while I listen to music on my iTunes.

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Aside from running, fueling my body is even more important, after all, you are what you eat. Fast food chains along freeway exits may be convenient and even desired by some, but for me, I just live better when I’m eating right, not to mention, a recent doctor visit kind put things into perspective when it comes to my well-being. I’m a young and healthy dude, but I’m learning if I keep up this lifestyle without finding a better balance, that I may pay the price a lot earlier than I’d like and this is coming from a 6 ft, 163 pound guy. Nothing too serious but something that could if I don’t find a better balance.

Time for me to start ignoring those Subway and Jimmy John’s signs and start utilizing my Engel Fridge/Freezer while clocking hard miles. This small fridge fits perfectly in my truck and allows me to bring food from home as well as giving me the freedom to stop at grocery stores and keep my food fresh. Big time money saver too I might add.

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These couple accessories make a healthy and confident life on the road a possibility. The rest is up to me!

See you on the water!!

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Northern Open

Lake Champlain, Plattsburgh, NY

Leading up to this event, the Bassmaster Northern Open #2 had been very much on my mind. I was sitting high in the points after a solid performance at Douglas Lake in Tennessee a couple months prior and was excited to finally fish a northern lake that more closely resembled some of the lakes that I grew up fishing in Northern Minnesota. Lake Champlain is beast-like and having never fished here before, I knew I’d have my work cut out for me when it came to breaking her down. This body of water is giant, sprawling from Quebec, Canada and splitting south through Vermont and New York, edging the ever popular Adirondack Mountains. A world-renown body of water, known for it’s tremendous largemouth and smallmouth bass population, a true bucket list lake. My homework started at home and I’d often sit down in front of my computer to utilize the Navionics WebApp in search of a few places to start.

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When doing my homework from home, or in my case, my garage/man cave. I often shy away from reading too much into what traditionally works or what was reported by previous winners as generally there’s something pretty important left out of their post-victory interviews and even if they are dead accurate, it’ll still throw me off my game. I got a good nose for a bass, the more I use mine, the better the results. I do like to look at what the results were, this will give me an idea of what size of fish I need to be catching and also browse for common denominators. In this case, I couldn’t help but notice a giant common denominator known by the locals as Ti, referring to the heavily fertile part of the lower lake, the Ticonderoga area. You’d be foolish to not at least humor yourself by checking out this area as generally ten of the top twelve, including first through third will admit to plucking giant bucketmouths out of this weed infested area located a solid 55 to 75 miles south of the tournament take-off location of Plattsburgh, NY.

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I feel as comfortable chasing main-lake smallmouth as I do flipping for green ones in the thick vegetation, so I kept an open mind the entire time. I made the decision to start my practice in Ticonderoga and then move north for the official practice days and try to locate a decent smallmouth and largemouth bite. This is a must as Champlain is known to be one of the roughest and toughest bodies of water when the wind blows just the slightest.

Ticonderoga started slow for me. The first day I managed a bite here and there but despite a couple four pounders, the size and numbers were a concern. I told myself before coming down that if I wasn’t absolutely sure I could catch 18+ pounds in Ticonderoga, then it wouldn’t be worth the 70 mile jaunt and instead I should stay north. Still, the size was there, so I decided to give it another couple days to really get familiar with the area.

There was numerous ways to get bit in Ti but one thing was certain I needed to be fishing vegetation. I did manage to find a few schools in the grass edge winding a Biovex Stangun  Spinnerbait and flipping a 1/2 oz. Outkast RTX Jig into healthy clumps of milfoil would get the job done. I also found a bigger bite way up shallow by throwing a topwater frog and flipping a heavy texas rig with the new Seaguar Smackdown Braid into floating mats around the bank. In fact, my biggest bass of the week came in less than a foot of water, a true northern toad tipping the scales at 5.77 pounds.

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On that note, I decided it was time to head north. I was still very curious about the Ticonderoga area and felt another day would be beneficial but was running out of practice time and with the unpredictable wind, it was time to head north. If I ran to Ti for the derby, I felt 100% comfortable just “going fishing” and felt a 20 pound bag was doable.

Practice up north started slow as weather made things very difficult to move around. Tuesday things started to get better as I located a few good schools of smallmouth holding on the ends of points. I also managed my better smallmouth by targeting a shallow rock flat with the Biovex Face70 topwater. Despite being able to catch smallmouth, I was still pretty heart set on making the run south as 15 pounds of smallies wasn’t going to get me into the top 12. I made the decision that if I was going to stay north that I would need a largemouth bite to go along with these smallies so the final practice day I set aside for the extreme north part of Champlain, the well know Missisquoi Bay, bordering the Vermont and Quebec border.

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The final day went real well. I found a nice school of fish up shallow throwing the frog and also managed a lot of bites targeting the deeper weed line flipping the RTX jig. Best yet, I found a shallow bite targeting clumps that was odd man out on the flat but every other flip into that certain strain of vegetation and I’d catch a four pounder. The key to this bite was sunshine and no wind, if I could see the grass, I could catch them, but if I couldn’t, I was pitching aimlessly.

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Rigging up for game day and I was heavily conflicted. Run south and brave the elements or stay north and have options? I rigged for both and decided I would make it a game-time decision.

The morning take-off went smooth and I opted to tackle that topwater bite and stay north as I felt I had a more secure shot at catching a heavy limit. Decision making is something I’m openly working on and my first decision of the morning took me out of contention before we even got started. As I was making the 20+ mile run north to where I had topwater action, I passed a couple underwater points where I caught some nice smallies a couple days prior. My game plan was to leave these until the last hour before I had to check in but my goal was to catch 15 pounds of smallies and then be to Missisquoi by 10 a.m. when the sun got high and I could cull up a couple big largemouth. Passing these points got me thinking I could catch a quick limit of smallies and bypass the long run north, saving more time to flip of some good largemouth. Learning when to listen to the voices in your head separate the men from the boys or in my case, the pro anglers from the Elite anglers. I choose the points and after an hour and a half with only a few short strikes, I left with a single two pound smallie caught dropshotting the Biovex Kolt Fishtail (green pumpkin).

Now running north and trying to get back on track, I unfortunately was now chasing my own tail. The wind had picked up big time and by the time I got to my topwater area, the water was turned up and after an hour, I again only managed a single two pound smallmouth that fell for the Biovex Face70. Now desperately trying to catch up and save face, I folded on the smallies and made the long run to Missisquoi while the sun was shining only to arrive to the sun disappearing behind heavy clouds and a nasty band of thunderstorms. What happened next proved to be the best decision of the day though was too little too late. Not being able to see the weeds on the flat and failing to catch them despite the sunshine, I folded and ran to the area where I had gotten on a nice school by throwing a frog on shallow pads and reeds. If there’s a sure fire time that bass will eat frogs, it’s in the moments prior to a thunderstorm. Fortunately for me, they did bite. Unfortunately, the size was weak and by the time we fought the heavy winds and bone-jarring waves, I weighed in a measly 9 1/2 pound limit and shot myself in the foot for qualifying for the Elites.

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Day two all I could do is live to learn and do my best to sack up a twenty pound bag. I contemplated running south but instead decided I would stick to my original plan and do what I should have done day one. The results followed and despite loosing my three biggest smallies of the day, I still weighed in a 14.8 pound limit and finished in 100th out of 178 boats. I managed all my fish by throwing a mixture of three topwater baits, the Biovex Face 70 while the wind was low but as the wind picked up, I switched to a Reaction Innovations Vixen and a Lucky Craft Gunfish. I did manage a lot of bites late in the day dropshotting the Biovex Kolt Fishtail and Biovex Kolt Stick but none that were big enough to cull.

I couldn’t help but being discouraged leaving New York and heading back to Minnesota. I had an opportunity and left it for someone else to capitalize on. One very poor decision took away my opportunity to qualify for the Elite Series as I dropped from 31st to 46th in the Angler of the Year point standings, showing that I still have more work to do before I’m ready to achieve that title. Hopefully my never quit attitude and my relentless ambition to succeed at this sport will continue to grow because I’m still very much in the race in the Central Opens where I’m sitting 23rd with one more tournament to go. All sights for me are now on the Arkansas River. Wish me luck!

Posted in Blog Post

The Reaping

I LOVE this time of year! My birthday was just a few short days ago, we get to party all week in celebration of our nation’s independence and the big bass are chewing all over the country! I’ve been lucky enough to have been home the last couple weeks, spending lots of time with family and friends in the backyard around the bar-b-que pit and out on the deck of the Phoenix, holding up giant Minnesota smallmouth and largemouth for good ole’ lip n’ grin. Flipping burgers, sporting flip flops and gripping flippin’ sticks. I could never ask for more.

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Guide trips are starting to pick up and the timing is perfect as the bass fishing is really starting to heat up throughout the state. In fact, I titled this post The Reaping because in spirit of the true definition for the word, we’ve been mowing ’em down son! The largemouth on Minnetonka are starting to get to their summer patterns but there’s still a great shallow bite to be had with this higher than usual water we’ve been having. I know the No Wake law isn’t ideal but the bite is better because of it. Most of my fish have come throwing a Biovex Kolt Stick on a 1/8 oz. Outkast Money Jig on a spinning rod spooled with 12 lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid and an 8lb. Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon leader. I’ve been targeting certain types of weed clumps and the type of vegetation varies greatly from bay to bay. One thing for certain, if they’re there, there’s a lot of them.

Mille Lacs Lake is also going heavy and when I say heavy, I mean heavy weight pulling back when you set the hook. The lake has flat got them and I don’t think the bite will be as good as it is now for some time. Lakes peak and the smallies in Mille Lacs are definitely peaking. I’ve been catching smallies on both dragging baits and reaction strikes. Playing the wind is important and that’s for better or for worse, sometimes I’m looking for a chop and other times I want her slick. Targeting the right reefs is always key and using baits like the Biovex Stay 80 Jerkbait to find them and then slowing down to a dropshot to wear them out. A recent trip with buddy Seth Feider lacked in numbers, but the right size was biting and I’d happily settle on two dozen bites a day if all twenty or so look like these bruisers.

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Hiding underneath these two elephants are still a few dozen local Twin Cities lakes that are all chuck full of grown ones and honestly, I found the bite to be better pond hopping than I did at either Tonka or Mille Lacs and that’s saying something. Good buddy Corey Brant and I had one of the best fishing days either one of us have ever had. Best yet, it wasn’t just a single day, it was days and we were fortunate to get video footage from one of the days to capture it. Stay tuned, it promises to be a good one!

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I still have a few days available in July as well as August so contact me and book your outing today!  Hope to see you on the water and Happy 4th of July!

Posted in Blog Post

Logging Navionics SonarCharts

It’s been a while since Navionics first created lake mapping for SD cards to be used in correlation with different chartplotters throughout the globe. This development at the time went down as revolutionary and still to this day ranks way up at the top of fishing and boating game changing developments. In my opinion, I’d put them right in line with side imagery, the foot controlled trolling motor, of course traditional sonar and anchor systems like Power-Pole. Without the use of gps accurate on-water lake mapping, we’d simply be guessing on our next off-shore cast.

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Since this development, not a whole lot of jaw-dropping developments have come in the world of lake mapping. Sure there’s been some here and there and certainly there’s been a host of new competition, all trying to take their piece of the throne, but in the end, it’s just splitting hairs honestly. That is until recently, once again Navionics is paving the way to a revolutionary development in the world of cartography. The new release of SonarCharts has opened the door to endless possibilities and actually created a way to truly define HD mapping.

The concept is simple, the creation of the software is complex, but the end result is a user-friendly and deadly accurate way to create, refresh and refine mapping as we know it. Navionics SonarCharts gives anyone inside the Navionics community the opportunity to develop, share or use the best and most accurate maps ever. Navionics users can now create new maps of waterways that are yet to be charted, refine old data that is out-dated due to weather storms, heavy current and droughts or better refine waters that have been charted by industry standards.

Logging is simple, sharing is even simpler and using is the difference of night and day.

Navionics now accepts multiple formats of sonar logs as contributions to SonarCharts™. This includesHumminbird (DAT and GPX on all models, ION and Onix compatible within summer),Lowrance (GPX),Raymarine (SDF, GPX, NMEA),Simrad (GPX), andGarmin (ADM).

Learn more about SonarCharts™ here www.navionics.com/sonarcharts, and find tutorials on how to record sonar logs at http://www.navionics.com/en/plotter-tutorial. Once sonar logs are saved on a card, it can be plugged into a computer and sonar logs are transferred to Navionics through the internet to generate new SonarCharts™ in about one week. Raymarine WiFi plotters can also upload directly through the Plotter Sync feature embedded in Navionics mobile apps for iPhone and iPad.

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Posted in Blog Post

Heavenly Mille Lacs

Lake Mille Lacs, MN

What a fishery! I’ve been lucky to fish some powerhouse bass fisheries throughout the United States but Mille Lacs, located in north central Minnesota, has got to be one of the best all time. So good, I’d imagine it to be a lot like what heaven is for the avid fisherman, literally a bass fishing paradise.

What has been long known as a tremendous world-class walleye fishery, has earned another reputation of being a world-class muskie and smallmouth bass fishery here in the past decade. Littered with mud flats and rock reefs, Mille Lacs is a smallmouth factory and due to a DNR management rule of catch and release only, it allowed the smallies to grow big and where smallies grow big, the bass fisherman will follow.

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Mille Lacs is one of many Minnesota destinations that factored into my wife Bri and I’s decision to move back home. Of course, there was many more but Mille Lacs was definitely one for me. I love northern Minnesota as well as I love five pound bronzebacks, the blend of the two just make the long winters a tad more tolerable. This go round I was headed north with my long time buddy Ryan Brant, the one guy in Minnesota I’ve probably fished with the most and the one guy I knew would make the trip no matter what else he had going on in his world. There isn’t much that can keep guys like us away, it’s our addiction.

I hadn’t yet been up to Mille Lacs this year but the fishing sensors in my head were telling me that they have got to be close to spawning. I’ve been lucky enough to have been using a bait called the Biovex Kolt Fish Tail from Japan to catch weary bass off beds for years. It’s no joke, a dead ringer. The baits themselves are very durable, but the profile of the bait matches those pesky minnows that bass are constantly chasing off beds to perfection. It’s not just the presentation but even more so the action. When rigged on a small size 2 Gamakatsu dropshot hook and a 1/4 to 3/8 oz. VMC tungsten dropshot sinker, you’re dropping proverbial crack to a bunch of pissed off and ornery fiends. It’s 99 out of 100, literally.

Things started off quick despite the lack of sun in the morning. Seemed to me there was still a good population of fish that were in prespawn mode and pegging them off by blind casting the Biovex Kolt Fish Tail (Green Pumpkin) proved beneficial. As the day grew brighter, we started seeing the “right” kind of beds, we’re talking deeper and much bigger beds, ones that probably belonged to a muskie a few weeks earlier. These beds all had a giant one on them and the rest of the day we took turns catching them as the other used a Go Pro to record the action underwater. As the day went on, the ridiculousness ensued and every three or four minutes we were stopping the Go Pro as we just landed another 4 pound smallie. It was awesome!

Let me take a quick second to talk about my setup, as I think it’s important to finding success and I feel as though I have the best setup possible. First off, these smallies despite being able to see them, are still kind a tricky as to when they bite. Feeling them bite is not always a given, in fact looking back at the Go Pro footage, there’s times when the smallie would have the bait in it’s mouth and neither of us would know. It wasn’t often but it happened. We employed two colors of Biovex Kolt Fish Tail‘s, the first was green pumpkin, which did pull most the work in the morning. It seemed it was the most natural color and would peg off cruisers and bed fish alike although it did blend in with the surroundings better and often times we couldn’t see it on the bed, instead you’d have to study the smallmouth’s reaction to guess whether it ate your bait. As the afternoon wore on, the Ayu color Kolt Fish Tail did all the work. This bait actually glows back at you and seeing it get bit is a huge bonus when bed fishing. Better yet, there’s something about the color that drives bed fish nuts, they literally can’t stand it and will kill it every time. The Ayu paid giant dividends throughout the day and despite the constant fishing pressure, caught bass behind any and everyone.

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My setup for these smallies is three spinning rods all basically the same, a G Loomis NRX medium action spinning rod, paired with a Shimano Sustain 3000 or 4000 spinning reel, 12 pound Seaguar Kanzen Braid and a 8lb. Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon leader. The high end rod allows me to feel bites yet has the backbone to penetrate a small light wire hook into the jaw of a fat five pound rock reaper and the braid to fluoro leader is the perfect pairing to get the best of all worlds out of my line.

As mentioned, Ryan and I worked very hard to get some of the best video footage of both underwater action as well as front deck hook setting action. Sure to be one of the best Go Pro videos put together showcasing both this tremendous fishery as well as a bait that will do the job every single time. Please stay tuned as video should be released by the end of the week.

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Last but not least and purely fuel for thought…

I hesitate to get very political here at JDFishing. We all have our own personal opinions and I live my life by respecting others opinions, therefor I hesitate airing out my beliefs on a social website where others are forced to swallow my views and don’t have an option for a rebuttal. I rather us just spit bass fishing here, although today I have to exercise my right and request anyone that reads this to please practice catch and release on this awesome fishery. The DNR recently lifted the catch and release only ban and some think it’s due to the tougher than usual walleye fishing here as of late. It’s sad really. We all worked so hard to develop this world class smallmouth fishery and now we are risking throwing it all away for another fish who’s declining population is due to a tremendous amount of other factors not including anything to do with that of the smallmouth bass. There’s things we can control and others we cannot control but one things certain, smallmouth bass are being butchered by the hundreds daily on this fishery and at a time when they’re full of future generations of world class smallmouth babies. I understand there’s a difference in opinions on this subject, but a top five smallmouth fishery can bring in a lot of money to resorts, guides, grocery stores, gas stations, tackle shops and more importantly the lake itself. Money that could be used to continue the stocking of our state fish. Just a thought, hopefully one that will catch on before the damage is to late to come back from. Please practice catch and release!

All for now, time to start preparing for the Denny’s Super 30 on Minnetonka and since Tonka is entirely NO WAKE due to the high water, I got a lot of idling to do for the next week. Tight Lines!

Posted in Blog Post

Lake Chickamauga Smack Down

Just as soon as the Bassmaster Open tourney wrapped up on Douglas Lake, I took advantage of a powerhouse fishery located just two hours south and pointed the rig south toward Lake Chickamauga. I guess one shouldn’t be too surprised, after all I did just move back north and left this cherry of a fishery to be my home away from home. Since, the deep bite was on at Douglas, I figured Chickamauga would be ready to go!

After I made a few Navionics promotional stops at West Marine and Bass Pro Shops in the Knoxville area, I was dropping the boat in at the Chester Frost boat ramp and instantly went to work with my Lowrance Touch 12’s looking for mega schools of bass hanging around their off shore haunts. Right away, I noticed just how accurate the new Navionics SonarCharts were of The Chick. I was more than impressed and as the contributions keep coming in, the better and better it’ll become but from what I saw, it’s pretty spot on now and because of SonarCharts will stay that way. Mapping that evolves with the changing conditions, pretty crazy!

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I’ll admit now that throwing the new Dream Smasher swimbait at Douglas ruined me a bit and my new found addiction to that bait didn’t stop now that I was on Chick. No, in fact it got stronger, as my first five casts resulted in five bass all over the four pound benchmark. I was throwing the bait out over 45 feet of water and slowly working the bait on the bottom, back up to about 26 – 27 feet. There’s just something special about this bait on these Tennessee impoundments. Unfortunately for me, I lost the other two that I had in brush piles and the one I used all week at Douglas finally broke apart after another 5 pounder choked it. Time to snap back to reality.

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I decided to head shallow and see what the bite looks like up river. See, the whole time I was at Chick, I was feeling a whole lot a conflicted. I was invited to fish the Bassmaster Elite Series Bass Fest that was to be held in a few days here on Chickamauga. There is nothing more for me to want in this world than to be apart of the Bassmaster Elite Series and this here was an Elite event. The entry fee was stiff, a solid 5K but the purse more than made up for it. Basically, I gamble for a living and this was as good as an investment to return tournament as I was going to find. I also know Chickamauga, not nearly as good as I know other lakes but still, I know my way around but with a potential 160 boat field, I thought the venue would fish small and I hate fishing in crowds. Still, the thought of busting a big bag at a big event had me credit card in hand, but honestly something just didn’t feel right for me. There’s a part of me that feels like I’m not quite ready for this event as I’m a firm believer that I’m “Elite” material once I qualify for the Elite Series and not until then. There’s also a huge part of me that doesn’t want to fish an Elite event until I’m of elite caliber.  Same reason why I don’t physically attend a Bassmaster Classic weigh-in until I’m watching it as a competitor. I ended up passing on my invitation, something that has bothered me daily since. I’m not sure I made the best decision…

I’ve always had good success fishing shallow on Chickamauga basically year round. Twenty pound bags are not uncommon, it’s just that a 30 pound bag can be caught deep in the summer and the only way shallow fish hold up is if there’s lots of pressure on the deep holes or if the TVA isn’t pulling any water through the dam. Sure enough the bite was on fire and anywhere I could find grass and bluegills, my Outkast Pro Swim Jig would get accosted in the process. The swim jig is my bread and butter and though nothing makes me happier than swimming a jig, the overall size fish I was catching was suspect. Trust me, they were still quality fish being in the three to four pound range but the ledge fish were all good ones, you’re talking four to seven pound range and being this is Chickamauga, a twelve or thirteen is always possible.

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As the weekend wore on, I continued to spend most my time out reading countless hours of sonar and paralleling contour lines is search of deep schools. I leaned on a big spoon and of course the Biovex Kolt Shad Tail dropshotted directly over the school would do a good job of pegging off one or two disinterested bass. I’m really excited to see who does what next week when the Elite’s are in town. Bass Fest is sure to be a good time so those in the Chattanooga/Dayton, TN area be sure to get down to the docks and enjoys some of the activities being put on by BASS and their sponsors.

For me? MN Bound!

 

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Northern Open

Douglas Lake, Dandridge, TN

In the weeks and possibly even months leading up to the first stop of the Bassmaster Northern Opens on Douglas Lake, located up in the Smokey Mountains of northeastern Tennessee, I had my fair share of anxiety rolling through my head. Not necessarily the type of anxiety one would associate with being negative, more the type that just is always on one’s mind. These Northern Opens intrigued me from the get go in that the first stop was in Tennessee, clearly a southern state that fishes nothing like the more common northern stops of Champlain, St. Clair or Erie. No, Douglas is a perfect example of a southern impoundment, loaded with bass that set up in a very typical Tennessee summer-style of bassin’. Current, abundance of forage, depth and fishing pressure are all key considerations while practicing for such an event. My hope was that my two years spent in Tennessee fishing Guntersville and Chickamauga would help excel me from that of my northern roots and from the very start of practice, it did.

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I shy away from doing too much internet homework before a tournament. I know it works for some but for me, I find it’s hard to keep in open mind and if one guy airs it out, then all the competition knows about it anyway. At the same time, gathering key facts can help excel you but I find using your nose to sniff them out and going a bit against the grain, often times will put money into your wallet. From what I knew, Douglas is always won deep, probably due to the 50 ft. fluctuation the lake endures annually. My time at Amistad this year paid off and I spent most my first few days out deep, putting the quality time in with my Lowrance units. I started in the backs of creek pockets, slowly working my way to the main lake, graphing every hump, turn and point I came across until I found where the bass were staging. This was largely a post-spawn event and the last thing I  wanted to do was find fish early in practice up in the bushes or deep in creeks on secondary points knowing that come game day, I’d most likely be fishing ghost fish. Instead, I was set on finding fish that were coming to me and though it was a challenge, slowly day by day I was locating and dropping waypoints on more schools. As the days went on, the schools kept getting bigger and the overall size of bass was winning material.

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Looking back, most derby’s are won here long lining three different style baits, all meant to catch bass from deep haunts. Crankbaits, single paddletail swimbaits and of course, the umbrella rig which is essentially 3 to 5 paddletail swimbaits, which all earn their keep here on Douglas year round. This also means that for the next two weeks leading up to this Open, every bass that swims these waters was about to see a million of these baits a day. Not saying these baits won’t win again here, but thinking outside the box might just put a certain Minnesota dude in the money and maybe even present an opportunity for the win.

Still, to cover my hind side, I bought a million paddletail swimbaits with 1 oz. jigheads and scoured the internet for crankbaits that could dive a million feet. I also ordered a few baits that I thought would excel on bass that have seen the same presentation over and over again. Knowing the bass are very keen for paddletail presentations, I put in a big order of Biovex Kolt Shad Tail finesse plastics, that I would dropshot through schools of bass. The key to this bait is it’s finesse Japanese presentation but that offers additional flare from it’s small paddle tail. Finding these schools wasn’t the hard part, getting them to bite was. I could spend hours over a school and never ever get a bite. I did catch some in practice long lining a Biovex Deep Runner as well as other crankbaits and surely one or two fell for a spoon, however the Biovex Kolt Shad Tail caught them when others didn’t and though it wasn’t always a giant, it gave me the confidence that I could grind out fish if the schools weren’t chewing.

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On the other hand, I went polar opposite and instead tied up the new prototype from Dream Smasher Swimbaits. I’m lucky enough to be good friends with the owners of the company and when I showed interest in that bait for Douglas Lake, I had a care package of custom colors ready to go. My first day down there and I caught a seven and a four pound largemouth, the seven came on my second cast and absolutely choked the swimbait. The action on the baits is incredible and as my practice went on, I learned where and when to throw it. The key was to throw it out first, knowing these schools haven’t seen it. I’d target schools in deeper water and a slow methodical cadence was the key to triggering the big bite. After the first few casts, I’d size way down to the dropshot and take what I could get. If I did get the bite, it was a grown one and they would inhale it!

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I drew a late flight day one and worked mentally to not let that play with my head. Late flights weren’t ideal on the first day as it all but guaranteed me seconds, thirds or maybe even thirteenths on the good holes. I ran to a little tapering point up the river and managed two keeper bites right away by dropshotting the Kolt Shad Tail. As I was running around looking for an open school, I watched a competitor leave an area that I was catching some of my better fish off in practice. I ran in and hucked my Dream Smasher off the end of the ledge and as I was slowly working it up the face of the ledge it got throttled by a solid 5 pounder.

Despite the great start, this is where things started to go wrong in my decision making process. It’s these hard decisions that make champions. I could see them on the graph, I mean the spot was loaded, all with big ones. Getting them to bite was the closest thing to impossible. It’s like looking at a six pounder on the bed and not getting her to bite. These Lowrance Touch units are so dialed that what I see on my graph is the same as what I see with my eyes, and the ledge was stacked. I made the decision to stay and try to grind, knowing if I left the juice, I would never get it back. After four more hours without a sniff, I blew out of there, scrambling for a couple bites.

I managed one more keeper on the Biovex dropshot and weighed in with only 4 fish for 10.8 pounds and sat in 71st place out of almost 190 boats. Not a bad day, but gut wrenching when you know what one more two pounder would have done or God willing one of the fives, sixes or even sevens that I caught in practice. Still, I knew I’d be on the right fish the next day and if I got my bites, I’d have no problem moving up the totem pole.

Day Two and I was able to get on one of my better schools right away. First cast with the Dream Smasher and a four pounder in the boat. Choked it so bad, unfortunately I was forced to watch it pass as I was working to revive it in my livewell, 4 oz. penalty and just not something a bass lover wants to see. Either way, that bite gave me confidence that I could run more and lean on these two baits the rest of the day.

Second spot gave me a very small keeper on the dropshot, then things went from slow, to slower, to absolutely horrible as I ran from spot to spot with nothing to show for it but wasted boat gas. Finally at about 1 oclock, with only a little over an hour to go, I smacked another big one on the Dream Smasher. Now banking off the momentum, I ran around and managed to finally fill a limit one by one with the dropshot.

As I was working my way back to check-in, I saved myself a cast or two and I was astonished when I saw a boat leave my starting spot to go check in. I sat down made a single cast with the swimbait and got the bite I needed so desperately and made a giant cull. I checked in with only 3 seconds to go and weighed in with 13.15 with the 4 oz. dead fish penalty, which ended up being good enough for a 31st place finish, a nice check and good points for the precious Angler of the Year race. I feel as though if I had managed this lake better, that I would have had a top 12 finish, at least I knew I was around the fish to do it. For that I was a bit let down, but for staging a bit of a comeback on the second day and jumping 40 spots I was thrilled! I love that I have something so meaningful to fish for the remainder of the year. I’m now up in the points race in both the Central Opens and the Northern Opens. This is the exact progression I was needing and really enjoy watching myself get better on the fly.

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Photo by Bill Kohls Media

Now, time to head down to Lake Chickamauga and check out these new Navionics SonarCharts that have been compiled from contributions submitted from fellow anglers. I hear they’re ridiculously accurate. Of course, you know I’m going to make some time to take what I learned at Douglas and put it to good use on The Chick!

Posted in Blog Post

Bobber Down – Lake Minnetonka Crappie Report

It finally feels like spring in Minnesota and in my eyes the timing is perfect. Bri and I are officially all settled into our new home and I’m well on my way to enjoying the lake life here for a little while before hitting the road again to compete in the first Bassmaster Northern Open on Douglas Lake. A deep, clear reservoir situated just north of Knoxville, Tennessee.

It was opening weekend here in Minnesota for walleye and northern pike. Bass season is still closed for another couple weeks and since I’m really not all that into catching fish with teeth, I tend to focus more on something I can lip. With bass being off-limits, the paper mouths will have to do. After all, there’s nothing better than some Minnesota Wild playoff hockey, a cold Corona, some home-made chips and salsa and a few freshly caught fish tacos. C’mon, you know what I’m sayin’?!

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After a couple times out, I’ll say the bite is pretty good right now on Lake Minnetonka. The main lake water temp is still hovering in the high 40’s and the key to getting a limit of crappies seems to be finding water temps in the 50’s. Even when you find them, getting them to bite can be an issue. I’m not sure if it’s from the pressure or the ultra-clear water has them spooked but a crappie minnow seems to be the preferred choice amongst most of the filleted. DH Custom Rods and Tackle in Orono has an excellent selection of crappie jigs and lively minners to get the job done. This joint also has all the right bass gear and you can bet I’ll be popping my head in once or twice a week.

Aside from catching some crappie, I’m real happy I got to test a few new products that I was anxious to give a try. With all the travel I’ve been doing and with my desire to still eat right, I’ve been looking for a small road cooler that I could keep with me and that will hold ice long enough to not be a constant bother for me. Nothing worse than a few soggy sandwiches. After careful consideration I chose the Engel Live Bait Cooler. This cooler works great for keeping my minnows alive and active but best part, when I’m not using it as a bait bucket, it also plays as a top of the line cooler/dry box. I’m impressed with the quality and have noticed there’s few places an outdoorsman will go where the Engel won’t be right there. This cooler covers my needs and has already paid for itself when it comes to saving money, not to mention my health, from fast food joints while on the road.

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I’m also very pleased to say that I’ve been giving the G Loomis TSR 792S GL3 Trout and Panfish series rods a solid workout. Paired with a Shimano Stradic 1000FJ and 4lb. Seaguar Senshi Monofilament, this is one crappie kicking combo and trust me, this combo puts the sport back into crappie fishing.

All for now, It’s been a fun few days hollering “bobber down” with good buddies Andy Young and Corey Brant, but now it’s time to start gearing up for what I’m already pre-calling a “whack fest derby” down on Douglas Lake. It’s going to be a fun one and I got lots to do before then. Tight Lines!

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Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Central Open

Red River, Bossier City, LA

The good ole’ Red River. There’s no other place in the world quite like it. Despite the alligators, snakes, dirty red water, old rock levees, submerged rebar and millions upon millions of stumps that litter this vast waterway, I love this fishery. Sure the boat wrap is going to take a beating and the trolling motor, Mercury Outboard and Phoenix boat gelcoat are going to take their fair share of abuse, aside from that, this fishery brings out the bass fisherman in me. A true power fisherman’s waterway and if you can mentally withstand the abuse, you’ll have the opportunity to whack a quality bag. If you let the Red and all of her environmental daggers get to you, you’ll be left for dead.

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This event was a big one for me, I was sitting in 26th place in the Angler of the Year points after a quality showing last February on famed Lake Amistad. It’s no secret that I want into the Bassmaster Elite Series, it’s my only goal in life after of course family and friends. In fact, to get there, I find I have to sacrifice even that to try to obtain this costly dream. Still, the heart wants what it wants and in order to get it, I need to best some of the most hardcore hammers that have ever cast a rod and reel.

I got down to Louisiana and gave myself plenty of time to try to figure something out. Practice for me is a work in progress. I’m still trying to find my niche and develop an effective routine which means some days are more effective than others. I’m trying to cover water and locate a winning bag of fish. Sometimes I think a long practice is the way to go and other times I think three days would be perfect. Long practice allows me to cover lots of water, but I don’t necessarily move water fast enough. I also sometimes find to much productive water and in some cases, stretch myself to thin come tournament time. Also, things can change in a matter of minutes and what worked last Friday, may very well be old news come tournament morning. On the same note, I’m learning to fish these new fisheries and nothing is more productive than time on the water. As I said, work in progress.

Last year I had boat engine issues on my old boat and unfortunately was limited to the amount of water I could look at in practice. Now being in a trusted Phoenix Boat with a Mercury Outboard, I knew I had the reliability to move freely throughout the river and split my time evenly between pools 4 and 5. My good buddy Carl Jocumsen sent me a couple texts showing the future water level report of both pools. Pool 5 was to drop significantly early in practice and pool 4 was to stay steady. I decided to spend my first few days on pool 4 since the water was going to stay relatively the same, then plan to fish pool 5 the last two days leading up to the tournament.

I found both pools to be very dirty, yet I did manage to find two quality areas on pool 4 that had clean water, or better put, cleaner. The fishing wasn’t great, but I did manage to catch a couple nice ones throwing reaction baits and dead sticking a weightless Biovex Kolt Stick in isolated clumps of milfoil in a foot or two of water. Things were post-spawn and there was a lot of fry guarding going on in these clumps of weeds. The key to getting bit was to stay back and blind cast the Kolt Tail to these clumps. To throw the light setup, I used a G Loomis NRX 822S Spinning Rod equipped with a Shimano Sustain 3000FG reel. Line was important, I used 12lb. Seaguar Kanzen braid with an 8lb. Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon leader.

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I started Tuesday in pool 5 with high hopes of finding some quality water that would allow me to fish in pool 5 and prevent me from locking down to pool 4, saving myself 2 hours of running time. I got off to a quick start, catching and pulling on around a dozen bites but from the boat traffic in the area and judging by the size of what I did catch, pulling weight was a legitimate concern out of this stretch of river. At the same time, I figured if I needed a bite, I could count on this area to fill my limit. Aside from that, Tuesday was slow for me and it was looking more and more like I’d be making the haul south to pool 4. That is until Wednesday rolled around and while fishing with friend and fellow Outkast Tackle teammate Brain Washburn, that I was able to put something together that would get my excitement level up in anticipation for derby day.

I started the day in an area that I had some success in last year but was never able to fish due to a faulty boat engine. This go around, I was able to figure a little something out and despite the dirty water, the bite was pretty good and better yet, the quality was even better. There was a definite shad spawn going on in the morning and I was able to catch bass that were feeding on top of shoals by throwing either a Biovex Hyper 7 spinnerbait, a Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait, an Outkast Tackle Pro Swim Jig or a chatterbait through the stumps. I would set my Hydrowave to the Shad Spawn setting early in the morning and then later on in the day, when the bite slowed, I switch the setting to Power Pattern and would flip standing wood in the general vicinity. That morning we each caught and pulled on a few bass all that were over the two pound range and a couple near or over the 4 pound mark, which are literally gold on the Red River this time of year.

I made the decision to fish this area on day one and after drawing boat 2 out of a 190 boat field, I was dead set on it. The Red River isn’t the best place in the entire world to draw an early flight as it seems most good areas take a while to get in to and if you’re planning to lock down, you’ll have to wait for the majority of the rest of the field anyways.

Day one kicked off and I got off to a quick start by managing to put a few keepers in the box right away on the Outkast Swim Jig and the Chatterbait. Things started to slow in the mid afternoon and I had to adjust by sliding off into a little deeper water and flip the stumps to fill a limit and make a cull or two. I used a G Loomis 855 GLX with a Shimano Core 100 Mg7, spooled with 17 lb. Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon  and flipped random craw baits to old cypress tree stump roots. The result was a 9.11 pound limit and a 43rd place finish after day one. I was only three pounds out of the top 12 and felt ready to move up the leaderboard on day two with a full day of fishing.

Day two started off great as I flipped up a quick three pounder and then put three more little ones in the boat on the Biovex Stangun and Hyper 7 spinnerbaits in the first hour and a half. Unfortunately, I lost the best fish of the weekend when it got caught up on a piece of wood and then things went down hill from there in a hurry. The pressure in my area was at least double from what it had been the day before and worst yet, they began to pull the water out drastically making the area even more muddy than it already had been. I tried to stay in there and grind it out as I knew the quality was there, but after going hours without a bite and only having a little over an hour before I had to check in, I made the decision to run into the area I had found in practice that seemed to have lots of smaller fish. After a few short strikes, I finally boated a two pound keeper to fill my limit and checked in with only 10 seconds to spare. I weighed in with a disappointing 7.14 pound limit and finished in 53rd place.

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In the end, as disappointing as it was that I didn’t cash a check at a venue I had high hopes for, I still managed to move up in the points race to 23rd. It’ll be a long shot this fall but a solid top 5 finish at the Arkansas River and I just may find myself Elite bound. Aside from that, mentally this was the best tournament of my life, even better than some of the bigger tournaments that I’ve won before. If I can learn to build from that, there will be plenty more wins in my future. I have a new opportunity starting in May when the Bassmaster Northern Opens kick off on Douglas Lake in Dandridge, TN. Preparation starts now!

Posted in Blog Post

Home Sweet Home

Life can pass you by in the blink of an eye.

What a year and a half it’s been since Bri and I packed up everything we owned to head south in search of greener pastures in the hills of Tennessee. To be a bit more accurate, Bri may have been in search of the treasures that were stored throughout The Great Smokey Mountains, I on the other hand was much more interested in the things that swam beneath the moving water of the Tennessee River. Bass was about the only thing on my mind and the driving force that lead me away from my family and friends in search of anything and everything I could learn about the Tennessee River system and all the impoundments that litter its path.

What an experience. We enjoyed the laid back country life, chased bass all across the country and met some terrific people along the way. I learned so much, such as how professional golfers have to completely change their swings to be successful at the tour level, in comparison, I had to completely change my fishing approach from that of my up north roots. We don’t have shad in Minnesota, yet shad is the number one driving force of a bass everywhere north of Florida and south of Minnesota. I went from being a skipper, pitcher and dragger to a crankbait winding, A-rig chucking, spook walking type a dude in just 18 short months.

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Opportunity once again came knocking and the decision was a easy one to ponder, home is where the heart is. Being back around familiar faces and having the comforts of home is just the medicine after spending the better majority of my days out on the road. My tournament schedule and sponsor obligations will still keep me on the go, but the opportunity to fish and be at home is a dream within it’s own.

Now back, my priorities are simple. Fish, fish and then go fishing some more. My full service guide operation is back underway and I’m excited for a busy year. Mille Lacs Lake and Lake Minnetonka play host to two of the best fisheries on the planet and are the perfect venue for some none stop, fish catching action. Josh Douglas Fishing and Guide Service caters to the serious outdoorsman, athletes and business professionals looking for an upscale and professional operation to host a business meeting, company wide tournament, bachelor party or simply a day away from the office. I’ve aligned with some of Minnesota’s top anglers and put together the most elite group of guides, ideal for hosting large groups.

Last but certainly not least, I’m now booking on-water fishing electronics classes geared toward you getting more out of your investment. I’m very fortunate to be able to travel around the U.S. fishing and promoting for some of the best fishing companies, all making some of the best equipment available today. Specializing in Lowrance, Navionics and Hydrowave – my goal is for you to come away from this trip understanding the ins and the outs of your equipment, everything from fine-tuning your settings to specific situations, StructureScan and DownScan interpretation, SpotlightScan reading, classic sonar interpretation, advanced map reading, sonar logging for Navionics SonarChart contributions and map creating, as well as a slough of other tricks that will make up an educational day on the water. A day that will pay dividends on the water for a lifetime. Electronics installations and class room seminars available as well.

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Aside from getting my guide service up and running and finishing up the show season, which if I may add, the Northwest Sport Show was a blast and with all the Lowrance and Navionics sales, it was evident that the word has gotten out. Consumers are starting to see they can get more out of their hard earned money. Busy show meant lots of people and I have to say, it was refreshing to see a bunch of familiar folks.

Being at home definitely comes with its benefits and though spending extra time with family has been great, I’ve also been preparing for the biggest tournament to date. My main goal in life is to qualify for the Elite Series. No doubt there’s much smarter ambitions out there but I’ve been cursed with the constant urning to catch bass. It’s got me bad. Thanks to a solid 26th place finish on Lake Amistad back in February, I got a chance to set myself up with a check at the Red River. I’ve been to the Red and am extremely confident in the presentations that generally catch ’em up down on the ole’ bayou. A high finish would jet me up to the top 10 and make for an awesome and highly anticipating few months until the Central open finale throws down at the Arkansas River in late September.

I like all facets of the Red, including the rat’s nest that comes along with fishing such a history-rich venue and the anticipation of a good finish has got my head flowing. There’s just something about the stump hopping, mat punchin’ and alligator dodging that makes me feel like I’m doing some serious bass fishing. Time to go and grab it. Wish me luck!

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Southern Open

Lewis Smith Lake, Jasper, AL

After leaving Birmingham, I didn’t have much of a drive to get to Jasper for my maiden voyage on Smith Lake, a sprawling highland reservoir in northern Alabama. Smith Lake is known for it’s spotted bass fishing and since I was introduced to the Alabama spot last year while fishing the Bassmaster Southern open on Lake Logan Martin, I’ve been addicted to these green machines ever since. These little warriors are as mean as they come, full of heart and more muscle pound for pound than any other fish I’ve ever fought to the boat. Even when they aren’t actively feeding, they’re still beating up everything in sight. Aggressive is a word to describe a smallmouth, insanely vicious more better describes the Alabama spot. The only other bass that rocks the boat isn’t really in the same family at all but still when they hit, you better be hanging on. I’m talking about the striper and Smith Lake has got no shortage of these guys either.

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Despite being known as a champion spotted bass fishery, Smith Lake also holds it’s own as a largemouth factory. My initial thought was that I would prepare for this lake similar to how I did Logan Martin where I banked on a mixed bag of spots as well as largemouth to claim my first top 20 and bring home a solid 14th place check. I figured I’d play the conditions, if the sun was high and bright, I’d target spots. If the day brought a cool front with clouds and rain, I’d get shallow and catch largemouth. It seems on these Alabama lakes that a mix bag of both tends to reward you with a check and very possibly, a top 12.

Practice was as solid as I’ve ever had while preparing for an Open tournament. In fact, everyday I was able to not only catch quality but I was also able to catch quantity and better yet, I was staying with the fish as they transitioned from winter to spring. I spent most my time targeting areas in both Rock and Ryan Creek and paid extra special attention to transition areas between their wintering holes and where they would soon spawn. It seemed Ryan was loaded with spots and I could catch them with general ease but would need all day to cull my way up to 12 – 13 pounds. I needed some luck too and to crack 14-15 pounds I’d need a 2 pounder to all of a sudden be a 4 or 5 pounder. This was very possible as I leaned on two presentations to catch these spots out of Ryan creek. If I had sun, I could make hay on the Hog Farmer Bait Company 5 Wire, 4 Blade rig. I’d throw the rig with the new Reaction Innovations Little Dippers (Guntersville Shad) and 1/8 oz. Outkast Money Jigs. From time to time, these spots would get curious of the boat and react to my Hydrowave by coming up from the bottom to check things out. This happened a lot, but despite being able to see them, I had a heck of a time catching that fish. I used one of two baits when this would happen and my first choice was the Biovex Stay 80 jerkbait (Meshback Shad) and a quick erratic retrieve often enough would produce a strike. The Meshback Shad color was perfect as most the spots I caught were spitting up blueback herring on the way back to the boat and the size of the Biovex Amp Stay 80 matched the hatch perfectly, plus it’s just common knowledge that when fishing Alabama to have a hint of chartreuse in your bait. I don’t make the rules, just play by them. If I didn’t get any takers on the jerkbait or umbrella rig, I’d get the spinning rod and deadstick a Zoom Trick Worm (Green Pumpkin Blue) on the bottom, anchored by a 5/16 oz. Outkast Shake ‘Em Down Jig.

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Early in practice I was able to find some largemouth and what I found quickly changed my game plan in a giant hurry. The water temp stayed between 48 and 52 degrees for the vast majority of practice and for the most part, Smith Lake was running much dirtier than it’s generally supposed to be. In these dirty water areas, I was able to locate some largemouth and spots that were definitely ready to spawn. I learned a valuable lesson while at this event, I was rest assured that bass only spawned when the water temp was at or at least 60 degrees and generally prefer to spawn in and around a full moon. Instead, I found the biggest bass in the lake where already full of eggs and despite the weather not willing to play ball, the game was to still to go on. Not only were these bass full of spawn but they were the right ones too and from what I could tell, they weren’t seeing the pressure that you’d be accustomed to seeing when the fat girls are up in the shallows.

After catching a couple 5 pound females, a chunky 8 pounder and pulling on a dozen or so other bites a day, I had a giant decision to make. My instinct was to go and fish for spots until I had a limit and then run and try to cull up with a couple big largemouth bites. This sounds great, as I knew the afternoon bite seemed to be better for largemouth and having a limit of spots would allow me to fish a lot more comfortably waiting out a big largemouth bite. If I got a bite shallow it was big, however the bites were few and far between. On the other hand, I took the points race and the solid practice into consideration and figured this was my best shot to actually win one of these events. I hate when I hear anglers say, “I went all in today, went for broke and just didn’t get the bites”, after having a sucky performance and putting up a 100th some place finish. It just sounds cheesy, as really we all go for it every tournament and is generally just a poor excuse for not bagging them up. Trust me, I’ve at my fair share of lackluster performances but it was strictly due to the fact that I failed to out fish the rest of the field. At the risk of sounding cliche, I actually did go for it here at Smith. The weather was calling for cold and rain and that’s when I was having the most success up flipping shallow cover with a new Outkast prototype wood/dock jig with a Zoom Big Salty Chunk. I was flipping laydowns and rock transitions toward the backs of creeks where the water was much more dirty than the rest of the lake. I promised myself to stay committed to the jig as I figured if I got five bites, I would be around the 20 pound mark and even if I got three bites, I could still have 12 or 13 pounds. I knew when things got slow, I would be tempted to flee and run for the spots but just knew I wasn’t on the spots to win. I made the commitment, the forecast was aligning for a largemouth bite and I had the best practice I could have ever imagined, for the first time ever at a Bassmaster Open, I really thought I had put together a winning pattern.

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I drew boat 51 with a weigh in time of 2:45 and was pretty excited to get things rolling the night before. I kept things simple, left the spot gear in my rod locker and tied up two G Loomis 855 GLX’s paired with a Shimano Core Mg7 and the other with new Shimano Metanium 100XG, both spooled with 17lb. Seaguar Invizx fluorocarbon, for my jig rods. I also had my Hog Farmer Rig tied up to a G Loomis 894 GLX paired with a Shimano Chronarch 200E6 and 65lb. Seaguar Smackdown Braid. Lastly, as a back up, I tied my shaky head on a G Loomis 822S NRX rod, coupled with a Shimano Sustain 3000FG spinning reel and 12 lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid with a 8lb. Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon leader.

Tournament morning and things didn’t start as planned. We were supposed to wake up to rain and cold and instead it was bone dry and the forecast kept pushing the rain back by the hour. I stayed committed and started flipping my jig to anything and everything that looked like it could hold a solid largemouth. I got the bites, set into what I thought was a good fish and a good hook up, only to have them pull off after about three revolutions of the reel handle. This happened three times early and at about 10:00 I was listening to the voices in my head telling me to abort mission and go save face, live to fight tomorrow. On about my second to last flip on my way back out, I caught a solid 4.2 pound largemouth and decided to stay put.

Things were slow, but I still managed two or three more bites but to my dismay, left them all in the bushes. I’m still not entirely sure what happened, I run a Go Pro camera in my boat all day, everyday and though it’s original purpose was to get sick video for myself and my sponsors, I know use it more for studying my technique both for the positives and for the mistakes. Similar to how NFL quarterbacks look back and learn from their own mistakes. Looking back, I just don’t have any good answers for why I couldn’t hook up with these bass. I just don’t think the largemouth were eating it that good.

At about 2:00 the rain finally showed itself as I was making the run back. I stopped on a random point and managed to catch a short spot and a 12″ keeper spot and weighed in a disappointing 4.12 lbs. I had a great practice, managed to stay on good ones and adjust to their changing ways but on the day it mattered most, I stubbed my toe. There’s a lesson to be learned here and I’m going to do my best to learn from it. No matter how good a practice I’ve had, at this level to excel to the top of this sport, I need to fish the conditions. It’s a hard lesson to put into play but every time I do, I cash a earned check. For the most, part we’re all top tier anglers fishing the Opens, but the one’s that make the hard decisions on the water and are unafraid of the consequences are the ones that excel to the Elite level.

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Day two left me no choice but to swing for the fence no matter what the conditions presented just to get back into check consideration. In the end, I got the right bites but finished with three bass for just shy of nine pounds and left with an embarrassing 113th place out of 158 anglers. It goes to show that no matter how good a practice you have, you can never ever have a bad day on the water. I still have many questions rolling round and round in my head. Should I have fished for spots day one and first got myself in contention to compete day three? Was I right in going for the jugular and just didn’t fish clean? Was there more to my areas and just didn’t adjust? These are just some of the questions I’ll dwell on over and over again until I learn better.

The good news, I have plenty of time to dwell on it as I’m headed back up to Minnesota to get ready for the Northwest Sport Show and hang with my family. Finally, some much needed time to catch up on some business and get things in place for a big tournament down on the Red River in Louisiana, in late April. I’m sitting high in the points after the first Central Open and need to get myself a check at the Red to keep my hopes of qualifying for the Elites alive. Practice starts today.

Posted in Blog Post

2014 Bassmaster Classic Expo

Navionics Booth, Birmingham, AL

Always on the go! Lately it seems like I go from zero to one hundred on a drop of a dime, however it’s the life I’ve chosen for myself and honestly I’m happiest when I’m going a mile a minute. Things have been hectic and this gypsy life of mine doesn’t leave me in any one place for any extended period of time. Lots has happened since my solid finish at Lake Amistad during the Bassmaster Central Open. As soon as the tournament wrapped, I booked back home to Chattanooga just to load up the Penske, my beautiful wife and dogs and move us back up to Minnesota. Timing is epic as finally the North Star State is beginning to thaw out from their record cold winter and we are probably only about a month or so away from the lakes opening up and the northern bassin’ heating up!

I wasn’t in Minnesota for 36 hours and was already headed south again, this time to Birmingham to work the Navionics booth at the Bassmaster Classic Expo. Lots of exciting things being introduced from the Navionics camp and the buzz around the booth was non-stop. Birmingham and Alabama in general, is a mecca for bass fishing and for bass fishing fanatics. A good crowd is an understatement in Bama and this Classic was no exception.

Lots of people were showing interest in the new Navionics + card. There’s a couple reasons for this, first, the Navionics + card is a region-less card unlike more standard map cards that we have all been accustomed to over the years. This is a giant hit in the Southeast region where traditionally anglers needed to purchase both a East and West card to fish powerhouse lakes like Guntersville in Alabama and Chickamauga in Tennessee. These are two of the hottest lakes in the world right now for giant bass and are only about a 45 minute drive away from each other. Now because of the introduction of the Navionics + card, anglers no longer need two cards but instead can customize their own card for their own needs simply by downloading the lakes that they want, no matter where they are located in the United States.

Another reason for the booth chaos was SonarCharts, a new addition to most Navionics cards and a definite perk to the Navionics + card. SonarCharts is a completely unique and innovative mapping layer that compiles sonar logs contributed by the Navionics community to create the freshest and most accurate maps possible. The SonarCharts layer is a separate layer from that of Navionics more well known HotMaps layer and both are free for new users of the Navionics +, Navionics Updates, Platinum and Platinum + cards.

Sonar Charts has the capability of creating mapping on bodies of water that have never been mapped as well as fine tuning maps that have already been surveyed. In fact, the more contributions a single body of water receives, the more HD quality the map will become, far better than the best survey crews can accomplish.

Here’s a few SonarCharts I had used to help cash a check on world renowned Lake Amistad. I used these newly developed maps to locate structure in arms that had yet to be surveyed, as well as find key humps in areas that survey crews had originally missed. I knew these humps that were vacant off the traditional mapping would cough up less pressured bass, unlike the others that had been getting framed in during a long and very tough practice.

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For more information on the new Navionics + and Navionics Updates cards, please visit the Navionics website at www.Navionics.com.

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Central Open

Lake Amistad, Del Rio, TX

I didn’t waste much time sneaking across the panhandle and into south Texas to start preparing for the first stop of the 2014 Bassmaster Central Opens on Lake Amistad, located along the Mexican Border, in Del Rio, TX.

Sure I was excited to put Florida behind me and start casting giant swimbaits to all the 12 pound largemouth that litter this gin-clear body of water but more pressing, the panhandle was in the midst of enduring their worst winter weather since 1880. Yup, you guessed it, worst winter storm in the last 134 years and I just so happen to be rolling right on through. After some quick Navionics stops along the way to promote the new SonarCharts maps for that region, I was quickly in Del Rio ready to get to work.

It didn’t take 15 minutes of my first day practice when I came to realize that throwing 12″ swimbaits and sight fishing big betty’s off beds was only to be left in my most wildest dreams. Instead, I found a reservoir that has gin clear water, record low water temps, and a very pissed off community of bass. Most all the bass and baitfish activity I saw was in 35 to 65 feet of water, largely due to the steady water temp at the depth as opposed to the dramatically changing surface temps, the abundance of bait, lack of grass and their overall desire to relate to their old shoreline haunts from when the reservoir was 60-some feet low a few months back.

The water has been down for sometime on scenic Lake Amistad. Despite coming up over 30-some feet it still has another 30-some to go...

The water has been down for sometime on scenic Lake Amistad. Despite coming up over 30-some feet it still has another 30-some to go.

Instead, I was forced to throw an Alabama Rig to suspended bass and finesse them deep with a good ole’ dropshot. Practice wasn’t fantastic but some days were descent, I’d locate bass one day and the very next, they’d be gone. It seemed not only were the bass in a negative mood but they were also extremely pelagic as well. They just never wanted to commit to an area, making timing the most important asset to an anglers arsenal this week. Up north, we call them ghost fish, as bass can be notorious for being there one day, then vanishing the next.

All practice I spent searching for deep mega-schools of pre-spawn fatties but the best I could do was one here and one there. Never did I find a solid school that gave me them warm fuzzies. One common denominator that is important to point out was all areas I was fishing absolutely had to have extremely deep water very near by. I noticed the bigger bass wanted to travel vertically up the steepest drops to get to the top of a ledge, instead of traveling long distances to get there.

With the bite being so tough in the lake, I decided to start running up the rivers as these resident river bass don’t have near the places to hide. What I found was a semi-descent population of two pounders. Generally, bass this small would not even be worth the play on a powerhouse fishery like Amistad but with as tough of conditions as we were faced, this was a place a guy could cash a check this go round.

Day one started quick as I boated two keepers on the first main lake point I stopped at on a Hog Farmer Bait Company 5 Wire 8 Blade Rig with 3″ swimbaits and 1/8 oz. Outkast Money Jigs. I threw this rig on a G Loomis 894 GLX and a Shimano Chronarch 200E7 reel, spooled with 65lb Seaguar Kanzen Braid. I leaned on this setup throughout the tournament to help piece together a limit and used a dropshot to claim the more quality bites. I was using a G Loomis 822S SYR NRX Rod with a Shimano Sustain 3000FG, spooled with 12lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid and a 8 Lb. Seaguar Tatsu leader. I switched between the 3″ Biovex Kolt Stick and the 4″ Biovex Kolt Fishtail dropshot baits (Smoke Holo Flake), rigged on a size 2 Lazer Trokar Dropshot Hook and a 3/8 oz. tungsten sinker.

Day one I managed a limit and culled three times, though I did manage to drop the biggest bite I got all week late in the day Thursday when I spotted a giant come across my Lowrance HDS Touch 12. I was letting my Hydrowave scream and I swear it was just enough to make that big bass look up, just enough to help me separate him from the bottom. I dropped my Fishtail down, let it dead-stick for a minute and finally my line started cutting away from me, I got that fish within a foot or so of the surface and it just pulled off. Tough finish to the day, but still managed 5 bass weighing 11.12 and sat firmly in 9th place.

Photo courtesy of James Overstreet and Bassmaster.com.

Photo courtesy of James Overstreet and Bassmaster.com.

Day two, I set out to do the exact same thing, though my bite was slowed dramatically. The same issue I had in practice was now handcuffing me day 2 as my fish seemed to vanish yet again. After fishing comfortable all morning without a bite, I finally started scrambling a bit just to try to get a bonus bite anywhere that looked like it should have a fish on it. In the end, I failed to catch a limit and instead only weighed two measly bass for 3.2 pounds and finished in what was still a very disappointing 26th place finish given that I only needed another 3.5 pounds to crack the top 12, that’s only two small keepers day two or not dropping that giant on day one.

Photo courtesy of James Overstreet and Bassmaster.com.

Photo courtesy of James Overstreet and Bassmaster.com.

Still though, my goal was to get out of Amistad with a top 40 and put myself in position to qualify for the 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series and for that, I’m very excited! Cashing a check and gaining some much needed points is something to build momentum on. I’ve been to the Red River and the Arkansas River last season and both those bodies of water fit right into my wheelhouse. Exciting fishing ahead for me in 2014. Now it’s time to finally head back to Tennessee after a long month of travel. My wife Bri and I are headed back home and we will be moving to the shores of Lake Minnetonka, in Mound, MN. Time to get my guide service back up and running!

I’d like to personally congratulate my very good buddy, fellow Minnesotan and Biovex and Outkast Tackle Team Member, Andy Young on his impressive win and berth into the 2015 Bassmaster Classic! Awesome to watch one of our own punch his ticket and true inspiration to follow in his shoes. Hat’s off Drew!

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Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Southern Open

Kissimmee Chain, Kissimmee, FL

Let me start by saying, I love me some Florida. Since I was a kid, I’ve always had an infatuation with the sunshine state, everything from the sandy beaches, to the sunny skies and of course, the swamp-style bass fishing. I’m a flipper true and true. There’s just no two ways around it. I’ve tried adapting to a more Tennessee River-esque style of power fishing but it’s just not my forte. I can mix it up but if I’m flipping, dragging or finesse fishing, I’m generally on ’em. It’s the Minnesota in me.

Florida is the one state you know you can always, and I do mean ALWAYS, cash a check with a flipping stick in your hand. With old man winter deciding to cast a record breaking cold snap to the southern hemisphere of the United States, a flipping pre-spawn bite was looking better by every degree drop of the thermometer.

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Having some success last year in practice, fishing heavy vegetation in Kissimmee, I spent the vast majority of my practice in the very most southern lake on the chain. Things were different, which came at no surprise but there was a definite lack of good vegetation compared to that of last year. Fishing was slow, which was also to be expected as Florida-strain largemouth tend to pout when the water temp drops a degree or two, let alone 10. I was almost certain that the better bite would be on Toho this year as Toho has an abundance of deep submerged weed beds and is notorious for it’s lipless crankbait bite. I can catch them winding, but don’t feel I have  a shot to win ripping a trap like I do flipping heavy cover. So I made the decision to stay south and locate every good area I possibly could.

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The bite was slow but promising. I didn’t get bit a ton but when I did the quality was there, with my better days sacking up around 18 pounds for my best 5 not including the bites I’d pulled on that day. With the weather calling for an extreme cold front for derby days, I was liking my odds more and more by the minute, especially considering most the traffic was heading north to Toho.

I did manage to find some fish by swimming a swimbait, but the colder it got the worse that bite got for me. My mainstay was a 3/8 oz. Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait in #7 (Kurokin) and I was flipping the heaviest and most snagalicious cover I could find with a 1.5 oz. Eagle Claw Lazer Tungsten Weight, a 5/0 Eagle Claw Trokar Flippin’ Hook and numerous soft plastic baits, all in darker hues (Black Blue and Junebug). If I didn’t need to punch through the cover than I would opt for the new 1 oz. Outkast RTX Double Weed Guard Jig with a Lake Fork Hyper Freak (Blue Fleck Red) for a trailer. The key to the flipping bite was that even though the air temp and water temp was dropping, it’s almost always sunny in Florida and these bass learn to keep warm in these dense vegetation areas that will warm up the water by just a degree or two. For me, a guy that likes to fish isolated targets and not so much vast areas, was very eager to put in a hard day flipping on Kissimmee.

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3/8 oz. Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait (Kurokin) and a hand-tied 1 oz. Outkast RTX Prototype Heavy Cover Jig.

Day one, I managed to get through the lock and into Kissimmee in a descent amount of time. The wind was blowing and the temps were dropping but I was still very much set on three different areas I felt held quantity and quality. My first area, I was instantly thrown a curve ball. Of all areas this was on the north side of Kissimmee and with the steady north wind over the past few days, I felt this area was the best protected. Here’s where Florida will teach you a valuable lesson on the worst imaginable time. The north wind kept the area clean, which is extremely important when fishing in Florida, however the north wind also took all my mats and pushed them together into one giant mat the size of two football fields. This creates a needle in the haystack type of situation and after feeling my confidence in the area starting to slip, I ran to plan B.

Plan B was ideal, located on the East side of Kissimmee it had all the right stuff and the water was still managing to keep somewhat clean. I noticed I had only two boats in this area, Britt Meyers and local ace, Bobby Lane. This actually played as a plus as it gave me the confidence that I found something special and should be able to hunker down and grind out a nice limit. In the end, not the case as I got four bites all day and failed to boat a single one of them. Day one of the Bassmaster Southern Open and I didn’t weigh a bass. Not the start I was looking for, in fact I can’t think of a more humbling way to kick off the 2014 season. Sure my ego took a shot to the stomach but far worse was that the door was wide open to cash a check in this event as it was a grind and not capitalizing on those few bites tossed me from contention in not only that event, but for the entire Southern Opens as a whole. You work so hard but at this level, you just can’t ever have a bad day.

Day Two I set out to change nothing. Nothing at all. I knew I was around fish, I knew I was around good fish and had to prove to myself yesterday was a fluke or a growing pain, or whatever but I had no plans on selling out and saving the money or the effort and staying on Toho. Things got better quick, my first bite came on my third flip and finally, JD was on the board. Not trying to talk about myself in the third person but c’mon dudes, I stuffed a rat in the box. It felt good.

I worked that area the entire day, with cold conditions comes weak bites but I still managed to catch a limit and even make one small cull. Not the limit I was looking for but that 7 pounds jumped me up from 200th place to 147th. If I could have simply managed to boat those day one bites I’d been in contention for a check. Humble start to the season but yet again, lessons learned the hard way.

Time to leave the old sunshine state and head to south Texas for the first Central open on Lake Amistad.

On a separate note, good buddy Seth Feider caught this 13 and change down on a small lake in southern Florida immediately following the BASS Open and as if that wasn’t enough, flipped himself up another 10 pounder that same day. Oh boy….you got to love yourself some Florida! Nice day to say the least…

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Posted in Blog Post

Off and Running

The New Year has officially kicked off and 2014 is well on it’s way. I gotta say, this year’s shaping up to be a busy one. I’ve been doing a lot of running and gunning and the first tourney is still a little ways away. Tournaments are no doubt my favorite part of the job but to keep being able to compete, I got lots of work to do to be sure I keep gas in that thirsty boat of mine. I did enjoy every second I had at home with my wife and dogs over the holidays, but now it’s time to get back on the streets and make ends meet!

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I’ve been bouncing inside Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and West Marine’s, as well as a slough of other outdoors stores, educating staff and doing customer demos for Lowrance, Navionics and Hydrowave. There’s lots going on with these companies as all have introduced state of the art products for their respected industries. Being involved in these introductions definitely has it’s advantages as I’m able to keep up with the latest and greatest and the results are showing on the water. My “Electronics Only” on-water guide trips are worth the investment for any angler looking to get more out of their electronics. Contact me for more information and details on pricing. All locations are available and are just subject to my travel schedule. I’d be happy to schedule a trip and meet you on your lake when I’m traveling through the area.

I’ve also been preparing for the show season. I for one don’t mind these shows as I remember how much I enjoyed them years ago when I was walking the packed hallways as a visitor. It’s always nice to talk shop, see some familiar faces and of course, shake a few hands. I know for fact that I’ll be at the Bassmaster Classic working the Navionics booth all weekend down in Birmingham as well as working the Lowrance, Navionics and Hydrowave booth at this year’s Northwest Sport Show in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am scheduled to do a electronics seminar at the Sport Show as well and will pass along that info as it becomes available.

Aside from that, I’ve been out testing some new baits for Biovex that I’m very happy to see are under development. The more I partake in the development process the more I appreciate a fine tuned bait and Biovex is pulling out all the stops. It’s exciting to see baits made for American standards but created with Japanese technology and insight. The outcome is a line of baits that catch bass under both favorable and tough conditions alike. These new Biovex baits will not disappoint.

With tournament season fast approaching, my fishing time is definitely on the rise. I recently was up in the Knoxville area doing a little pre-practice for the first Bassmaster Northern Open on Douglas Lake, in northern Tennessee. The tournament isn’t until the very end of May but there’s good reason for my early visit. I don’t want to get to ahead of myself but hopefully my work ethic will pay off come summer time. If your still curious, here’s a link to a video better explaining myself.

Watch Video

Well that’s all for now, I still got lots to do before heading to Florida for the first Bassmaster Southern Open on the Toho/Kissimmee chain. I got some new sweet Outkast Tackle RTX jigs that need tying and an entire boat that needs to be organized and tricked for the upcoming season. There’s nothing like flipping up giants from the swamp, I absolutely love it! I’ll be doing a lot of videos this season from the water showing some of the different conditions I face and the presentations that prove successful along the way. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel if you haven’t already, hopefully I’ll be able to pass along a quality pointer or two. Until then..tight lines!

RTXDUB

Posted in Blog Post

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Here’s to 2014! Wishing you all “boat loads” of happiness and success! Happy New Year and thank you for another year of support from JD Fishing!!

JD_Biovex Douglas Lake (2 of 37)

 

Posted in Blog Post

Christmas on The Chick

Lake Chickamauga, Chattanooga, TN

Christmas is officially in the rear view and I have to say I’m excited about it. Don’t get it twisted, I appreciate Christmas, it’s just that this one lacked the traditional flair that you come to know growing up in Minnesota. The lack of snow, cold and family make it different no doubt. It’s easy to get annoyed with all the hustle and bustle that goes on during the holidays, jumping from house to house trying to spend time with your entire family but when you don’t have that, you miss it. We still do our best and I can happily say any extra time I get with my wife is well worth every second. We’ve been putting our buffalo to good use and no one is starving down here in our Tennessee home. Bison Short Ribs for Christmas dinner? Amazing.

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Bri’s (The Fisherman’s Widow) amazingly good bison short rib on top of homemade pasta and fresh baked bread. Christmas never tasted so good!

On the more positive side of things, I’ve been putting in the time on the water trying to catch my personal best largemouth and of course, shedding the rust for the upcoming fishing season. There’s no better place in the country right now to be sharpening your skills than that of Lake Chickamauga. Unfortunately, my fishing results have been horrid. I catch a fish here and a fish there, but there’s really no rhyme or reason to the madness. Things have changed pretty dramatically on a regular basis. While I was in Colorado hunting, conditions were just starting to get right out there for a good winter bite and anglers were reporting plenty of bass over 10 pounds being caught. Then all things went out the window when temps went from 30’s to 70’s and then back down to 30’s. Accompanying Mother Nature’s mood swings came rain, lots of it, turning Chick into a muddy mess of high water, lots of current and dropping temps.

My umbrella rig and jerkbait bite slowed dramatically, almost non-existent in fact. My gut tells me the fish would move more shallow and hold tight to cover but the results don’t compliment this theory. My guess is that running up the river would prove to be more worthy for catching numbers but I want a double digit bucketmouth bad and staying in the lake gives me a better opportunity at doing just that. Unfortunately, things aren’t looking great on the horizon either, just as the creeks are starting to push in cleaner water, we’re bracing for a rain/ice storm starting tonight through Monday. The Weather Channel calling for 100% participation is never a good thing down in these parts.

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Fisherman problems. Frozen rod locker’s have become a steady problem here as of lately.

With a slow bite and pneumonia offering weather on the horizon, now’s a great time to start preparing things for Florida and Texas as I leave in a couple weeks to kick things off for the 2014 bassin’ season. Preparation is key to success but really, I’m just overly excited to get things going that tinkering with tackle passes the time with a smile on my face. I’m also going to head up to Douglas Lake near Knoxville to do a little pre practice for the first Bassmaster Northern Open. The lake level fluctuates on the regular on Douglas more than any other I’ve ever been to before. A little run around of the lake when she’s at her lowest point can only prove productive come game time.

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and an even better New Year! Here’s to 2014!

 

Posted in Blog Post

A Rocky Mountain Christmas

Limon, CO

It’s been a good while since I took to the countryside without a single intention of slinging around a rod and reel and exercising a few bass. When fall gives way to winter, I’m usually still well into fishing mode and the most hunting activity I get is “Liking” a Facebook post of a friend posing with a big racked buck. Lately, I’ve been getting the itch to set down the rods and pick up the rifle so when my Dad asked if I had interest in splitting a buffalo with him, off to the shooting range I went.

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It was a long drive, leaving one mountain range and hightailing it across country to the other but a necessary one when my sole intention was to be coming back with a truck full of grade A bison meat. Our plan was to utilize almost all of our bull bison and to do it ourselves, everything from the initial harvest, to the breakdown and all the way to the freezer paper.

My wife Bri and I, pride ourselves on eating right and focusing our meals around “power foods”, instead of dieting. Meat is essential to a healthy diet, though at the same time, has as many negatives to the human body as it does positive. Bison meat, is by far the best for you and tastes as good or in my opinion better than that of beef. Here’s a diagram illustrating the benefits of bison over other popular meat sources.

NUTRITION

Fat
(grams )
Calories
(kcal)
Cholesterol
(mg)
Iron
(mg)
Vitamin B12
(mcg)
Bison
2.42
143
82
3.42
2.86
Beef (choice)
10.15
219
86
2.99
2.65
Beef (select)
8.09
201
86
2.99
2.64
Pork
9.66
212
86
1.1
0.75
Chicken
(skinless)
7.41
190
89
1.21
0.33
Sockeye Salmon 10.97 216 87 0.55 5.80
Source: USDA

The morning of the hunt, both my Dad and I were up early and headed out of the Rockies toward the eastern prairies of Limon, Colorado. We arrived at Prairie Ridge Buffalo Ranch, which has earned their reputation for raising some of the very best buffalo with zero hormones, stimulants and antibiotics. Being my first buffalo hunt, I didn’t really know what to expect. The ranch sits on rolling prairie acreage, which was absolutely ideal for free range buffalo and a test to any hunter looking to claim a true trophy.

After what seemed liked forever, we finally located a single bull and what a beauty it turned out to be. After a couple long range shots, I had harvested my first buffalo along side my smiling father. It was great. There is definitely something special about it and though I truly appreciate the life of these awesome animals, there’s something to be said about providing for my family and that I most definitely did. Even my dogs are thankful!

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Once the high fives, a fatherly hug and a few Instagram pics subsided, the work began. We had our work cut out for ourselves too, after all we were hovering over a 1200 pound bull bison. The hide was beautiful, with a great mix of both black and cinnamon fur, which Bri and I sent off to have tanned so we can drape over the couch and use to warm up on those cold winter nights. Being it was my first buffalo and has a ton of meaning, I’m also having the head made into a skull mount.

The real work came in the way of butchering, we had so much to do. It was an enjoyable experience as well as a learning lesson no doubt. A lesson that will surely assist my culinary ventures down the road, we’re talking everything from NY strips, rib eyes, prime rib and lean ground for the best of burgers! Bri claimed the bones for soup stocks down the road and we smoked up some jerky that not only has me up in the middle of the night but gets the dogs up as well.

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It was a trip to remember no doubt and an experience I happily recommend to any outdoors fanatic out there. A truly historic experience that will bring you back to the days of the Wild West and will resonate in your memory bank forever. Merry Christmas.

If you are at all interested in a buffalo hunt for yourself, I highly recommend Prairie Ridge Buffalo Ranch in Limon, Colorado. Visit their website for more information. www.PrairieRidgeBuffalo.com

Posted in Blog Post

Preparation for 2014

I’m officially registered and confirmed for all 9 of the 2014 Bassmaster Opens, guaranteeing another wild year full of ups, downs and a whole lot of bass lipping! Last year was indeed a true test, both physically, emotionally and financially. There’s no doubt that competing in a dozen or more national level events, all scattered across the United States comes with it’s pros and cons. I’m sure if you’re a true hammer or a seasoned professional angler, it’ll come with much more enjoyment and ease, but for this guy it was loaded with challenges. Being 2013 was my first true year actually touring around the country and spending far more time on the road than I did in the comforts of my own home, I experienced, endured and now looking back, learned a lot about myself and this tedious attempt at making professional bass fishing my life long career.

There’s no doubt I have the passion and don’t get me wrong, I had one heck of a fun year! I’m very thankful for every opportunity I’ve been given and know from the bottom of my heart that I am one lucky mofo to even be given a chance. It’s just from a business stand point, a guy needs to evaluate himself accordingly and find ways to trim the fat in every level of his game to insure that goals are met and bars are raised.

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I had some great moments last year, so good that you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for days. I also had a slough of bad moments, heartbreaking moments even, some were completely out of my control and some were completely in my control and were due to poor timed mental mistakes and pure inexperience.

2014 things are going to be different. I’m not going to sit and beat a dead horse and focus on what did go wrong, instead I’m using this off-season to focus on what I can do to better to insure these things don’t happen and when they do, have the game to work through it and still be productive. As I said, physical, emotional and financial strength are all things that need constant attention to be successful. I’ve been working on me and that involves eating right and exercising on a daily basis. I can already see a gigantic difference in not only my appearance but my mentality as well. I want to be a professional bass fisherman, key word professional and any professional athlete needs to take care of their body which will in return take care of your mind. If you feel good physically, then you’ll feel good mentally and you’ll gain confidence in yourself, easily the most important tool in any bass fisherman’s arsenal. This is something that will continue through the entire season. Not the easiest thing to maintain while on the road fishing sun up to sun down but none the less, something that will be necessary for me to be successful.

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Finances are important as well, actually more like critical. Boy, I sure wish I came from money cause maybe this would be a whole lot less stressful or maybe the grass is just greener on the other side but none the less, my truck and boat LOVE gasoline and last I checked, a guy damn near needs to take out a installment loan every time he tries to fill up both. I put on over 30,000 miles last year and that’s with moving from Minnesota to Tennessee to be closer to the action! I could only imagine how many more miles it would have been making that trek across the Midwest. Tackle, food, lodging and still having to take care of my financial obligations at home is a challenge. I’m serious when I say, without my sponsors I wouldn’t even be writing this blog right now. With that said, I need to do a lot for those that take care of me in an attempt to keep relationships strong and moving in a upward direction. I try to focus on always being an asset and promoting to the best of my ability. I will say that I only work with companies that I strongly believe in and when you have that luxury, it can actually be a very good time!

Combining the extensive travel of both fishing and sponsor work, there leaves very little time for myself and more importantly my family. I couldn’t imagine having kids because it breaks my heart every single time my dogs give me those long faces when they see me packing my suitcases. Being away from my wife Bri for extended periods of time is by far the worst and is something that I don’t think can ever be worked on per say. How can you get better at being away from your very best friend? You can’t, we can only deal with it but it does make this break in the action fricken’ awesome. I think we both learned a lot from last year and handled the demands of being away from each other in stride. I’m very lucky to have a wife who not only makes my heart stop when I see her but also pushes me to do my best everyday. I’m a very lucky husband.

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I’ve heard a lot of people tell me it’s important to take some time away from fishing, something about how it makes your desire to wet a line all the stronger. I say hog wash! I always have a desire to be on the water although this off season, I’m taking that advice. I’ll be heading out to Colorado to partake in a buffalo hunt with my dad. This should make those that travel with me during the fishing season very happy as I’ll be bringing home my half of a 1,500 pound bull bison, steaks for all! In preparation, I’ve been out in the woods sighting in my rifle and enjoying some of the other outdoor benefits the Smokey Mountains has to offer. If you’re into the outdoors, Tennessee will keep you busy!

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Other than that, I’m still making sure I hit the water as often as I possibly can. I mean come on, there was a reason I chose Chickamauga as my new stomping grounds. Never in my life have I caught a ten pounder and this winter I’ll be at it every single day until I do. After all, fun fishing is what stimulated this obsessive desire to chase bass around the country. So here’s to a ten pounder! I can’t wait till I get to write that blog!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted in Blog Post

Reading Navionics Mapping – Culverts

This morning, while on a run with my wife Bri, I came across something that got me thinking about bass fishing. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, in fact, it’s commonplace for me to come across something that makes me think to myself, if that was submerged underwater, I’d be catching donkey’s off it! It doesn’t matter if I’m on a run or driving down the freeway, I see perfect bass holding structure everywhere, the only thing missing is water and of course, bass.

Navionics

Having used Navionics mapping my entire bass fishing career and having also worked my fair share of Navionics booths at consumer shows, I’ve fielded lots of questions from anglers that are looking to get a better understanding on lake mapping. One such question came to mind today while on my run and prompted me to start this new segment.

This will take a bit of imagination but hopefully in due time, if you take these lessons to heart and try to incorporate them into your fishing, you’ll too find yourself staring off into the abyss on some county road in the middle of no where, thinking of big staging female bass loading up on a random rock pile you see sitting in the middle of an old farm field. All the while your wife questions whether or not you’re even paying attention to the road.

This morning while on my run, I ran over the top of an old culvert. Like clockwork, my brain instantly started to think bass and next thing you know, I’m no longer running and instead snapping pictures of this old culvert while my wife had to be questioning why it was that she ever married me? As I said, my brain doesn’t think like a normal person, if I’m not physically fishing, I’m thinking fishing. This culvert provided the perfect lesson on a common question that I get from other fisherman looking to better understand lake mapping.

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The culvert that I ran across today. Picture the field a shallow flat, where would you hide if you where a bass staging to move in to spawn?

 Most everyone else that runs that trail never even notice’s the old culvert and to the ones that do, think nothing more than exactly what it is, a draining system. To me, I see a bass holding structure. Again, take into count this is a running path, so you’ll need to use a bit of imagination as I bring this together but envision this running path is a submerged road bed along the lakes bottom. Which if this area was flooded due to the emergence of a new reservoir it would be just that. Underneath the path was an old culvert, probably built back in the civil war days and since this park is built on an old civil war trail, it makes perfect sense. Bass use old road beds because it provides a harder bottom and better yet, an abundance of prey. Culverts along these road beds may as well be stop signs, they provide something different and in a lot of cases, provide ambush points for big bass. Best yet, the presence of a culvert means the presence of a creek channel that is intersecting with a road bed, creating an ideal bass holding structure.

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Examples of other older culverts. They come in all shapes and sizes but one thing is certain, they look fishy!

Navionics, the leader in lake cartography, marks these road beds and culverts for us to find very easily and the addition of Lowrance StructureScan, will put you right on the money spot every time. These culverts can be found in all water depths and honestly I prefer them all but during different times of year. Summer and Winter, I target the deeper road beds and culverts that have a lot of shad in the general vicinity. Springtime, right before the majority of bass move up to spawn, locating shallow culverts can be the key to busting a giant bag, these prespawn females will use these harder areas on seemingly featureless shallow flats as staging areas before moving up to the spawning beds.

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Here’s a perfect example of a shallow culvert on Lake Guntersville. An ideal place for searching out giant prespawn females!

Fishing techniques for these high percentage areas vary greatly with most of it depending on water clarity, water depth and time of year. I’ve caught them in the dead of winter in depths of 25 ft. by slow rolling a Alabama Rig or dragging a Carolina Rig. Jigs, plastic worms and crankbaits are all good calls as well.

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Here’s a perfect example of a deeper culvert along another roadbed.

One last point, Navionics is obviously a tool for fisherman but also a tool for boaters. These shallow culverts at times can be dangerous underwater hazards, especially if the water is drawn down for the winter. Please be careful when searching these areas to not wreck your lower unit when you come across one. Remember, they were most likely all made some time ago and where put together by boulders or other prop wrecking material. Also, not all culverts are created equal, some have been well silted in over the years, so don’t get discouraged if the first couple don’t produce any bass. It’s still fishing at the end of the day, so you’ll have to do your due diligence along the way.

I’ll keep these mapping segments coming on the regular so please keep stopping in and checking them out. If you have any questions feel free to email me your questions and I’ll do my best to get back to you in a timely manner. Tight lines!

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Central Open

Ross Barnett Reservoir, Jackson, MS

Mixed emotions overwhelmed my head as I headed toward Mississippi to take part in the final tournament of the 2013 season. As a whole, I’ve been very disappointed in my year. First off, it’s my first year really out there trying to make something happen with nothing to fall back on besides the business of fishing. Aside from those normal and very real pressures, my season included break-down engine problems in four of the nine events this season. I’ll never use this as an excuse for my poor performance but being that I’m trying to grade myself against some of the best and judge my growing angling abilities, it sure makes things tough to gauge. Mental toughness is the most important weapon in a tournament anglers arsenal, yet I’d be lying if I said my mental toughness isn’t a tad bit gun shy right now. I want to shake it, but the letdown alone makes me excited to put this year behind me and re-focus my goals on building a game plan that will result in a better 2014 performance. Until then, I have business left yet this season and a win at Ross Barnett, or even a solid performance would go along way in ending this season on a high note and providing me a launching point of motivation to work with heading into the winter.

Out of the entire 2013 schedule, Ross Barnett interested me the most. I didn’t know anything about the lake but neither did anyone else, BASS hadn’t had a high-level event on this body of water since the late 90’s. This was as close to an even playing field as one was ever going to find. What I did know about Ross Barnett Reservoir was that it was a shallow fishery with relatively dirty water and an abundance of cover via docks, lily pads, riprap and stumps. This is my kind of fishing and though I was pretty mentally worn, I was still chomping at the bit for the opportunity. The competitor in me never dies and will continue to endure whatever this life has got to throw at me. As a friend recently told me, champions come scarred.

Practice was exactly what I guessed it would be for the majority of the anglers as the Central Opens tend to be a get a limit, and earn a check style of event. I found a few big bites in a small area up the river, hours would tick away in between bites but the overall size was more than promising. I looked for isolated hyacinth patches and punched an Outkast RTX Jig for the bigger bites as well as a Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait and an Outkast Pro Swim Jig to work up the limit. I managed to catch solid sacks each and every day including pulling on what I believe where added quality fish. The exception was the Saturday and Wednesday of practice which where each half days (first and last days of practice) and where also the two days I spent in the lake and not the river. I figured more bass lived in the lake and where probably easier to find but the size in the river kept me blinded even with the rarity in bites.

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On a positive note, I did find me an ace in the hole and lucky for me it saved my hind-end on day one. I focused the most of my effort on feeder creeks and the abundance of shad in these creeks meant the presence of bass. The problem was the abundance of cover in this area. There was just so many places for these resident bass to hide. The other issue I had was the shad themselves. It was just to difficult for me to get these schoolers to bite, no matter what I threw at them, they turned the other way.

Day one opened with cooler temperatures as well as a cloudy and misty sky. I knew from the go that my mat fish wouldn’t go but stubbornly went there first anyway. Just as I figured, I ended with an hour or so off the clock and not a fish in my livewell. Feeling the conditions just weren’t conducive for my flippin’ bite, I instead got out a Biovex Face70 Popper (Bone) and went to town. I noticed that the shad weren’t abundant and though rare, gave me an excellent opportunity to capitalize on a limit. Just because the shad weren’t there, the bass still were and the cloudy conditions had them roaming the open water, waiting on a school of bait to swim by. I threw my popper in the areas that were previously holding shad and instantly caught a keeper. Moments later, I put another one in the box and then an hour later I caught my best of the day around some mid creek timber.

The Face70 is without a doubt, the best finesse popper on the market. These bass were very pressured and the subtleness of the bait’s presentation along with the enticing sound triggers strikes from weary bass. I threw this setup up on a G Looms MBR 783 GLX combined with a Shimano Chronarch 100D7, which was lined with 15 lb. Seaguar Senshi Monofilament. I’m always overly OCD when it comes to my hooks on a topwater bait and often change them out on the regular. I use the Trokar Round Bend Treble (TK300) due to the simple fact that they’re the sharpest and strongest hooks available. When I’m dependent on hooking and landing weary biters, I need every advantage as I can get.

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Once I had four in the box, I started to just junk fish my way to a limit and the below result not only almost broke my wrists on the hookset but a 4 foot alligator strikes just like a 7 pound largemouth when it blows out from under a mat and smashes your favorite frog.

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With time dwindling down, I ran back to the main lake and started flipping some shallow boat docks. Not only did I limit out, but I missed a bite or two as well. I finished with an 8.6 pound limit and sat just inside the money cut at 40th place. What really got me to thinking was what I should do the next morning. I had wasted too much time in practice that I did a piss poor job of seeing just how good the shallow-water cover bite was in the lake. Something that embarrasses me greatly due to the fact that I consider myself a strong dock fisherman. Instead, I ran up the river on day two despite the high pressure system and tried to force a limit from the pads and hyacinth mats. Not only was that a bad decision, but then when things weren’t working my way, I got shook and blew out of there before I could give them the chance to start biting. It’s that kind of decision making that has killed me these past few months. I zig when I should be zagging and am fishing timid as a result.

With time running down, I got back to the marina and missed two, one of which was all of about 6 pounds and that had actually given me two opportunities on her in which I managed to blow respectively. I bagged up one small keeper off a Reaction Innovations Beaver and with time running out, I put the Phoenix back on the trailer. The end was again a disappointing effort and instead of capitalizing on the result of my strong instincts from day one, It cost me a top 12, a top 40 check and instead a dismal, 71st place out of 146 anglers. Mediocrity at it’s best.

The good news is, despite all, I know I belong, I’ve at least earned that and instead need to focus on ways to get stronger both mentally and physically this off season. I’d be lying if I said I’m not looking forward to a little time off as the road has kept me away from my wife and dogs and there’s nothing better than spending some quality time at home with my family. On the same note, Autumn is in the air and the big girls will be chewing out on Chickamauga and Guntersville and I don’t see any point in taking too many days away, after all, practice does make perfect!

Looking forward to what lies ahead for 2014!

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Central Open

Arkansas River, Muskogee, OK

Cruising west, I did my best to make up for lost time. Generally, I’d love the fact that I wasn’t leaving Lake Erie until Saturday night as that would mean I made the top 12 cut and was getting a late start for the Bassmaster Central Open at the ever-winding, Arkansas River. Instead, severe north winds caused for a cancelation of competition on Friday, setting up for a full field throw down on Saturday.

After unloading the smallie gear and loading up the largemouth goods, I was on the water first thing Monday morning. It didn’t take long to realize that the bite was as bad as everyone claims it usually is. I managed one fat spotted bass on the first day and a few handfuls of short fish and wrote off a descent chunk of the river on day one. I caught every single bass on a 3/8 oz. Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait (White Chartreuse #10).

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3/8 oz. Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait (#10 White Chartreuse)

Day two, things felt a little different. I located an area that felt a lot more like being back in Minnesota, a backwater slough that offered some nice wood and vegetation. I instantly went work throwing a Outkast Pro Swim Jig (Bruise) and managed a few fish but was able to catch a few better ones on that same Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait and a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver as well as a weightless Lake Fork Tackle Ring Fry (Green Pumpkin). It definitely proved that the bass were eating both shad and crawfish in the grass and around the wood. It wasn’t gang busters by any stretch of the imagination but I knew what to expect in this type of late summer/early fall eastern Oklahoma tournament. For the most part, catch a limit and get a check. There is some exceptions like Grand Lake but anything else is spot on. I figured I’d have lots of company but I’d just have to put my head down and out fish the competition.

Unfortunately for me, I missed a few and it showed with a less than stellar first day total that had me sitting in 142nd place out of 170 pros. Day two may as well went about the same, though I did manage to land a few more but also dropped a few nice ones and I finished in 122 out of 170. Disappointing no doubt.

Though the event didn’t go the way I would have hoped, I am excited for what the future holds. I see they added the Arkansas River again next year and I’m actually truly excited about that. This is the type of event where a guy like me can punch my ticket to the Bassmaster Classic.

Now I’m off to Dallas, Texas, to take part in a benefit tournament for active members of our military. If you are in or near Graham, Texas, come on down for the weigh-in put on by the Freedom Care Warrior Project. It’s going to be a time!

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Northern Open

Lake Erie, Sandusky, OH

I will happily go on record and state that if you’ve never been to a Great Lake before and attempted to fish out of a standard twenty foot bass boat, you are in for a serious learning lesson. This was me the week leading up to the final stop of the 2013 Bassmaster Northern Opens. Lake Erie’s a beast, there’s no two ways around it. Traveling out past the break walls isn’t for the faint of heart, or those with a soft stomach for that matter, but for those that can endure it, the world’s best smallmouth factory is living out under those eight foot swells.

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The first thing I came to realize after launching was just how giant everything was. Maps don’t really give this area it’s due justice, sure they’re accurate but nothing can compare to how big and vast everything is until you are riding four footers to an area that is a minimum of 20 miles away. Locals and Erie veterans say it’s the place to come to to test your equipment. I say it’s the place to come to to insure that your equipment doesn’t last as long as it’s supposed to. This is the lake you’ll either grow a special bond with your boat or you’ll be immediately looking for a new one. I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, I was one that grew a special bond with my new rig. My Phoenix 920 Pro XP did an awesome job of handling that big water and rode on top of them waves, instead of eating them over the bow. My built-in, four separate bilge pumps, did away with the excess water with little effort and my Mercury 250 ProXS chewed it’s way to and from, taken on one wave at a time. I’m telling you, there’s no better combo on the market.

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Second thing you learn, be sure you have enough spinning rods. Sure there’s a time and place for a casting rod but for the most part, you’ll be using spinning gear solely. Dropshots and tubes were the staple bait choices for me as rock piles in 15 to 25 feet were the preferred habitat for not only the smallies, but for the gobies and shad a like. The abundance of both these forage types, accompanied by near-by deep water, was the key to being around the big schools of smallmouth.

Practice was not easy for me, in fact I failed to catch a limit every day except for the one day I launched out of the Detroit River and fished the North Shore while the south shore was getting trashed by a stiff northeast wind. I liked the North Shore the best and got along with it’s clear water from the go, however the fact that it was 35 to 40 miles away from take-off made the odds of being able to fish this area during the tournament slim to none.

The last day of practice I managed to catch my personal best, a jamming 5 1/2 pound smallie, which on a side note, I jacked while the Go Pro was running. Needless to say, the video is coming soon. I dropped back down on the area and got bit almost instantly and shook off what I was hoping was a another toad. This area was located near Pelee Island on the Ontario side of Lake Erie and was about a 25 mile run from Sandusky Bay. I worked the rest of practice to find a few more areas near this one and made the decision to camp in these areas the entire first day. I basically wrote off the North Shore and decided that the largemouth I had found in the bay earlier in the week wouldn’t do me any good.

The ride out to my reef off Pelee Island went as smooth as one could ask for. I drew fellow Minnesotan Greg Mansfield and after thinning out a few drum, Greg put an impressive three fish limit of over eleven pounds in three straight drifts. I figured out that the smallies were stacking on the very edge of the drop and in my next two passes I loaded into two lunker smallmouths and broke off on a real nice one. What happened next will forever be a learning lesson for me. It’s common place on Erie for other anglers in the vicinity to see you activate a school and move on in. By rule, there’s really not much you can do about it besides out fish them on your turf and return the favor when things pick up on their side of the reef. After Greg and I managed to boat a few good ones, competition began to heat up and other anglers moved in. I’ve never really had to deal with that before and having never fished an event on Erie, I found it very frustrating that on a lake this gigantic, I was competing literally for the same spot. I started watching these other competitors catch fish while I seemed to hook nothing but drum. My mind started to spin out a little as I didn’t think this area could hold up to the abuse. Admittedly, I panicked. I left that area and tried to run c+ areas and rightfully so, nothing showed for it.

Now realizing my mistake and dealing with a winding down play clock, I made the worst of my poor decisions and ran to the bay in search of a limit of largemouths. I managed to put one in the boat right away throwing a Biovex Shallow Runner crankbait on the rip rap and with time winding down, I failed to catch a limit. I was very disgusted with my decision making and knew I threw myself completely out of contention with a horrible day one finish.

Day Two was canceled due to a strong north wind which honestly pissed me off a bit. I wanted to pack my crap and leave as I had a 16 hour drive to Eastern Oklahoma to compete on the Arkansas River and mentally was being a bit of a baby that I had made such poor decisions the day before. The unusual day off actually turned into a pleasant surprise as it gave all us at camp a chance to sleep in, organize our tackle, clean the boats, tighten the bolts and just enjoy a laugh or two. I started to instead refocus my goals for this tournament and instead decided to donate my spot to a few buddies that were in contention and instead fish some other areas and learn something from the day that will help me on my next trip.

I picked a popular reef and instantly went to work. On each of my first three drifts, I managed three nice keepers. I purposely stayed with the pack of other anglers as I knew I could out fish them to a good bag and leave this lake on a high note. Anglers around me slowly started leaving as they weren’t getting the bites, the ones that stayed seemed to manage a good one from time to time. I managed to keep getting bit throughout the day as I slowly strayed to the edges of the reef and started looking for them on my graph. The powers that be at Lowrance did an excellent job of helping me out with my settings as seeing these fish where the difference between a good bag and a not so good bag. In fact, my Lowrance HDS Touch 12 mounted on the bow was perfectly dialed in that I could tell if a fish weighed over three pounds or better, by the color of the inner arch. Once I’d see the bass, I’d drop directly down on it using a 3″ Biovex Kolt Stick (Green Pumpkin) on a size 2 Trokar Octopus Hook and a 3/8 oz. tungsten dropshot weight. My setup was identical on all my dropshot combos as breaking off in the zebra mussels was the norm. I used numerous 6’10” G Loomis NRX 822s DSR Dropshot Rods, coupled with the Shimano Sustain 3000FG reel. My line choice was 12lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid and a 8lb. Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon Leader.

A couple electronics to consider before launching on Erie is first, a Hydrowave. I’m telling you, this made a difference for me in both days believe it or not. The first day, we hadn’t caught a fish off that spot until the top of my drift when I realized I never turned it on after that long-ass drive in the morning. The next five drifts we went five for five before eventually leaving the area due to pressured concerns. Saturday I rode with the Hydrowave playing Power Pattern on high and when things got tough, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Hydrowave was the key to me being able to see them on my graph. When these fish are inactive, they sit on the rocks off the sides of these humps. The noise coming from the Hydrowave was enough to make them look up and it was just enough to see them separate from the bottom allowing me to drop down on them.

The other piece of critical technology I had at my fingertips was the new Navionics + card. I downloaded these maps as I left to make my trip north and was pleasantly surprised that there was a Sonar Chart of this body of water that showed off the many reefs with perfect detail. Navionics is the first and only mapping company that allows anglers to map their own body of water and add it to the Sonar Chart layer. The option is solely up to the user and I definitely like what I saw! Below are two pictures from the Navionics WebApp showcasing the regular map compared to that of the Sonar Charts.

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The before.

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And the after using Navionics Sonar Charts.

With the day winding down, we got back successfully and I weighed in a much better 19.9 pounds and jumped up considerably but still landed in a very disappointing 76th place. I can honestly say that I learned a ton about this fishery and truthfully can’t wait to get back. Knowing what I know now, I got the confidence to be a threat for the win. One thing is for certain, I will spend my practice time learning every reef in this fishery. You can’t possibly know enough spots on this body of water as the wind will always play a factor. It may not be a cancel-worthy of a wind, but it will effect a three day tournament to some extent.

Alright, no time to waste. I’m currently driving back across country to Oklahoma to compete an the second stop of the Bassmaster Central Open held on the Arkansas River. I got lots to do too, still got an entire boat of smallmouth gear to unload and an entire truck worth of largmouth gear to load. I think I’ll stop tomorrow just shy of Oklahoma and switch everything over in the Springfield, Bass Pro Shop’s parking lot. Nothing like living life like a gypsy. Now to bed, this writing a blog entry and sleeping in the front seat of my truck at a truck stop can get old in a hurry. It’s not for everyone but I’m loving every minute! Arkansas River or bust!

Posted in Blog Post

Great Expectations for a Great Lake

It’s strange saying, especially being I’m originally from Minnesota, but things have been pretty laid back for me here as of lately. This is something of an anomaly for a true northern angler. Generally, I’d still be in the thick of my tournament season. Up north, lakes freeze for the better part of six months, meaning we need to make hay while the sun is shining. Down south, things are starting to wrap up for the year. To be honest, I generally dread the very thought of winter but down here, I’m getting quite anxious for the old man’s return. Winter in Southeast Tennessee means giant bass choking big swimbaits and jerkbaits, the dog days can’t move along quick enough. Lucky for me, things are about to go crazy here again and I’ll be traveling all over the country and chasing bass on some world renown fisheries. One such fishery is a lake I’ve dreamed of fishing for a decade or better, a lake with a great reputation, Lake Erie.

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Photo Courtesy of Sam Young Studios

Lake Erie is the fourth largest of the five North American Great Lakes. Sprawling west to east from Michigan to New York, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, with it’s entire northern shore lying in the Ontario province of Canada. The lake gets it’s name from the Native American, Erie Tribe, a 15th century Iroquoian group that inhabited the southern shores of Lake Erie before eventually going defunct due to relentless battles with neighboring competing tribes in what is presently known as the Beaver Wars, which lasted sometime into the seventeenth century.

Today, Lake Erie is once again booming but the beaver is no longer the sought after gold, in fact it’s not gold at all actually, it’s bronze, the color of the beautiful smallmouth bass. The competition still exists on the Great Lake and though great historic battles to the blood are no longer the scene, blood, sweat and tears is exhausted as professional anglers from all around the world test their wit against one of Mother Nature’s roughest and toughest bodies of water. There’s no doubt the lake conditions can go from rough to severe in a matter of minutes, but it’s the reward on the lake’s bottom that’s worth it’s weight in gold.

Erie’s fickle eco system has changed drastically over the years. What was once known as a industrial lake with low water clarity has now turned into a gin-clear fishing haven, largely due to two exotic species that were introduced to the system through ballast water transfers on ocean-going cargo ships. The Round Goby and the Zebra Mussel have equally done their part to boost this system and turn on the growth of sport fishes such as the smallmouth bass. Smallmouth rely on their eyes to feed, since zebra mussels filter the lake water, this in return benefits the smallmouth and it’s ability to seek out prey. The introduction to the Round Goby did one of two things, it keeps the zebra mussel population in check and the goby itself makes for an excellent form of protein to these eagerly growing smallies. This proverbial perfect storm has made for one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the world, with common catches exceeding 5 pounds and the distinct possibility of landing an 8 pound lunker.

Fishing presentations have changed and evolved over the years but with water clarity always on the rise, the bite seems to get deeper and deeper. This is a true finesse fishing factory and sporting the ole’ fairy wand is a must. Common presentations include various dropshot rigs and tubes being dragged and drifted over key rock structure like drop offs and humps.

There is some largemouth fishing to be had but the true fisherman in me isn’t very interested in chasing three pound largemouth on the bank when six pound smallies are lurking out past the break walls. I’m going for a learning lesson and a check and God-willing, the right bites for a chance at a Bassmaster Classic qualification. It’s gut check time and to top this field I’m going to have to toughen the blows, one wave at a time.

Posted in Blog Post

FLW Turns Head on the Umbrella Rig

A major decision came today out of Minneapolis, MN that sent shock waves through the bass fishing community. FLW, one of the country’s top bass fishing tours, banned the use of the umbrella rig for tournament competition. A surprise decision for many as FLW was the tour that first brought the umbrella rig to the spotlight and went on to back it’s use for the past two years despite almost immediate bans from other professional tours such as the prestigious, Bassmaster Tour. Their decision went on to spark quite the controversy, yet at the same time kept Facebook loaded full of photos of giant bass being toted high and proud.

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Love it or hate it, the general consensus of the pros on the tours spoke for itself, with the vast majority of them voicing their dislike for the rig. Even anglers that won major tournaments on the rig have went on record saying they still disapprove of it’s use at such high-level events. Studded anglers Jason Christie went on record talking down the umbrella rigs use despite winning $125,000 this year throwing an umbrella rig to win the FLW Tour stop on Beaver Lake in April. In a post victory interview, Christie was asked for his feelings on the rigs use and FLW’s decision to allow it despite the ban put on it by BASS. Christie was quoted in a FLW interview saying, “My personal opinion is that I don’t like it. I really think its changed fishing”, admits Christie. “It changes the way I fish. Certain guys are defined by certain ways of fishing. With us able to use this rig, if they are biting it, you better be throwing it or you’re going to get beat. I just don’t want to see guys like Larry Nixon as a worm fisherman have to throw an Alabama rig. Each of us guys have certain personalities and we’re all different. To me, that’s what makes fishing special. Now I did win the tournament on it but I had to because that’s what they were biting. I respect the decision both organizations have made, but personally I don’t like it.”

After listening to both sides of the coin and speaking with anglers on both sides, FLW made the official decision to turn their back on the rig on tour and more yet, they put some massive restrictions on the umbrella rig on the other tours such as the professional Everstart Series, all the way down to their infamous BFL Series and FLW sanctioned Federation events. “FLW has thoughtfully studied the use of umbrella rigs for two seasons, and we’ve decided to no longer permit their use on the FLW Tour,” said FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel. “The rigs have simply evolved to a point that we can no longer wait for state-enforced restrictions to be developed. That said, umbrella rigs will be permitted in our other tournament circuits, but with restrictions that limit them to a maximum of five wires outfitted with a maximum of five spinners and five lures, only three of which can have hooks. This decision is consistent with the wishes of a majority of our anglers while heading off potential conservation concerns.”

Now the spotlight turns onto the PAA Tour, who’s soon voting on whether to join the masses and make the ban official. Mind you they are the ones that released the results of a PAA in-house vote last June that easily showed the members agree with the need of a ban. I guess one can say the writing is on the wall.

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FLW Pro Randall Tharp showing off two rigs he’s forced to throw at the FLW Everstart on Alabama’s, Lake Guntersville. Photo Courtesy of FLW Outdoors.

I have always fallen under the one lure, one line, one rod and reel kind of stance for tournament competition, so the ban is one that I agree with. Don’t get me wrong, the bite on the rig is awesome and it does give up the best opportunity to catch a true giant. I will continue to throw the rig while out fun fishing and doing guide trips but for tournament competition, let’s keep it to one bait.

The tackle industry will be fine, if not better. There’s no doubt the umbrella rig spikes tackle sales dramatically, especially during the winter months. However, the rig hasn’t been banned from the public and the word is already out, in fact now it comes with an endorsement of – “bait so good, it’s banned from the tour level.” That sounds like pure money to me. Also, for every one umbrella rig thrown, there’s a flat-side crankbait or a jerkbait that is not, so the argument that the ban will hurt the sport falls on deaf ears around here. The only person out money over this decision is the chiropractor’s that do practice within a few mile drive of the ole’ fishing hole. Those that continue to make the best umbrella rigs on the market, will still be seeing business as usual.

Posted in Blog Post

The Fairy Wand

I hear it all the time, “I don’t use one dem there fairy wands,” exclaims an angler, clearly referring to my spinning set up that I just pulled from my rod locker. In fact, I’ve heard this exact line time and time again, with the only real difference being the accent of the mouth in which it came from. It seems it doesn’t matter which end of this great nation you live on, there are still some serious-enough bass anglers out there that feel a spinning rod is for crappie and that a real man would only tout something close to 8ft in length with a backbone stiffer than a PETA members spine who’s lost inside a Bass Pro Shops.

I can see where the dubbed name “fairy wand” is the best name to describe my spinning rods but not because of their lack of so called muscle, but because some of the best days that I’ve ever had on the water came with spinning tackle in my hand all day. In my opinion, they’re known as fairy wands because they produce days on the water that your buddies will call a fairy tale out of pure disbelief.

I’m well known for being a die hard G Loomis and Shimano fisherman. I use the best of the best when it comes to my spinning tackle and for good reason, one being I’m a tackle snob but more importantly, because I feel spinning tackle is a finesse approach and finesse fishing should go hand in hand with sensitivity. I want the lightest and most sensitive equipment I can afford.

My choice of spinning reels is strictly limited to the Shimano Sustain in both the 3000 and 4000 size. I like the 3000 for dropshotting and the 4000 is great for about everything else. I do get asked about the 4000 size reel at times but this is actually very popular amongst my peers and has benefits that cannot be argued. A 4000 size reels has a better drag, larger spool for more line and longer casts and also picks up line quicker do to the faster ratio. Lastly, the wider the arm rotates from the spool, the better it manages lighter lines without near the line twist. Reels like the Sustain are built so that there is no unused space, making for a smaller and lighter reel. In fact, their 4000 is actually smaller and lighter than some other companies 2500 series.

The most important feature to a spinning reel is it’s drag system and Shimano’s engineers spare no expense in this department. With the exception of the Stella, there is no better drag on the market than what comes on the Sustain. The point to a spinning reel is to use very light line and not break it off, produce more bites but still have the power and efficiency to boat every sow that bites.

While I lived in Minnesota, I used three different spinning rods. I had the G Loomis NRX 822S, the G Loomis NRX 803S and the G Loomis NRX 852s. It should be seen as ironic that now living in the south on a powerhouse like Chickamauga, I actually own more spinning rods now than I ever did. This is due large in part because I’ve been fishing a lot more with heck of a good fisherman from back home who has clearly inspired me to put them to good use. It should also be noted that some of my recent and upcoming tournament venues demand the use of spinning rods and three quality setups just isn’t going to cut it. I added a G Loomis NRX 823S for New York’s Lake Oneida last month and after still not having enough setups to make me happy, I’ve since made the proper adjustments for Lake Erie and also added a G Loomis NRX 822S dropshot rod as well as a GLX 853S for dragging heavy tubes. I’m also looking forward to using the 853 for throwing around a weightless Lake Fork Ring Fry or a floating worm in the shallows down in Florida. See, us yankees even find a use for the ole’ fairy stick down in the southern most bayous, they’ll catch ’em anywhere!

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I think the number one mistake I’ve ran into while doing guide trips or from watching others that just aren’t that adept at spinning tackle, is their choice in fishing line. First off, spinning gear is made to cast lighter lines. With that said, I understand that isn’t always the case and that spinning tackle can make casting lighter lures on heavier line possible where it may not be with standard casting gear. However, the very features of spinning tackle highlight lighter line techniques with perfection. Generally, I use braid as my main line. It used to be Seaguar Kanzen Braid and though I do like the Kanzen, I have since fell head over heals for their newly released Smackdown Tournament Braid. This braid has the thinest of line diameters, in fact their 20 lb. braid has the diameter of a 6 lb. monofilament! That’s beyond impressive!

It’s important to incorporate a fluorocarbon leader when using braid as a main line and since I’m only using about 8 feet at a time, I’m using Seaguar Tatsu, a super fluorocarbon that resists stretch and abrasion and still offers industry leading sensitivity specifications. The marriage of a braided main line and a fluorocarbon leader provides the best of both worlds, braid gives me hook setting power with zero stretch and is far more manageable on spinning tackle. At the same time, I gain all the great features of using a super fluorocarbon in that I get near invisible line, not a lot of stretch but just enough to absorb the shock of braid and best yet, fluorocarbon sinks. The only time I use mono as a leader is when I need floating line, such as when I’m throwing small jerkbaits like the Biovex Stay 80. Often times I use heavy mono such as 15 lb. Seaguar Senshi Monofilament for this technique. The Stay 80 is so deadly in the late fall when the grass is dying on the shallow flats that the bass will seek out whatever little vegetation they can find. I want the heavier mono to keep the bait up in the water column so I can effectively power fish a shallow flat without hanging up on every cast. At the same time, without the braid, I wouldn’t be able to make long casts with such a small bait.

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There are a few things to remember when employing both braid and fluorocarbon leaders. One, be sure to always put on a small monofilament backer onto your spool before lining up your braid. The mono backing will prevent the line from just sliding around the spool. Use a simple blood knot to attach the two and cheap 10 lb. mono will work fantastic. Also, finding the knot that works best for you is critical. There are several proven knots out there but finding one you trust is the most important. I struggled here and until I found the Seaguar knot, I refused to risk fish period. For me, the Seaguar knot works fantastic! Although, I know many other anglers that use others and they work just as good. Bottom line, after you rig it up, your knot should be stronger than your main line on its own. This takes practice.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW DEMONSTRATION ON THE SEAGUAR KNOT

Rod selection is critical as well as I generally want a more parabolic rod than I would if I used straight fluorocarbon. When fishing bottom baits like a dropshot, tube or shaky head, I usually allow the fish time to hold onto the bait and then simply pull back and let the fish load onto it. Also, geeking out on your terminal components can be very rewarding in the end. Hooks, whether on their own or embedded in a jig, is as important as any other component you can think of. I take the time here and get as technical as possible and when it comes to hooks, there’s not much out there that can compete with a Trokar. When finesse fishing, it’s imperative to have the sharpest hook possible to penetrate the jaw of a true kicker and Trokar surgically sharpened points are the only way to go. I also pay very close attention to my weights and jigs. When working with light line, pay extra attention to things on your bait that could break your line such as burrowed holes in tungsten weights. I will only use tungsten weights that have an insert, as there’s no way any company could guarantee that there isn’t the smallest of impurities inside that weight that could potentially break me off with a good fish. Eagle Claw knows this and instead added small tubed inserts into each Lazer Worm Weight countering this potential fishing hazard.

Next time you’re on your favorite pond and the bite’s tough, lean on the spinning rod to get the job done. You just may find that it without a doubt, pulls it’s fair share of the weight.

 

Posted in Blog Post

Tackle Update: Lowrance 2.1 Software Update

I’ve been using the new Lowrance Touch series for the past year now and am proud to say just how impressed I really am. Thoroughly impressed to say the least! These units offer me everything I’ve come to expect from Lowrance underwater technology and then some. In fact, these units just keep getting better and better with each FREE update.

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The 2.1 software update is now available for download here or by visiting the Lowrance webpage. The 2.1 update includes everything from the 2.0 update but also has some very nice added features.

HDS Gen2 Touch Version 2.1 updated features:

  • Enhanced Point-1 performance- Heading data received from heading sensors, such as the Point-1, now rotates the vessel icon much smoother and faster
  • Improved GoFree networking- Ethernet networks with GoFree WIFI-1 modules are now more stable and reliable
  • Improved Page Selection speed
Posted in Blog Post

Swimming the Deep

No place like home…

It’s a necessity actually. After fattening up on some of my wife’s home cooked meals and catching up on some much needed sleep, I was off to the lake. Chickamauga is everything I was looking for in a home lake as it offers a little bit of everything in the way of catching. I seem to be able to catch them shallow or deep and often, everything in between.

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My main reason for choosing a Tennessee River impoundment was to learn how to fish “the ledges”. Chickamauga isn’t quite the ledge powerhouse as say Kentucky but still offers up some prime deep-water structure that just may pump out a 12 pounder. I’m learning new things by the day but by far the most apparent is when the currents flowing, the bass are chewing. If I see current behind them red and green buoys, I’m making hay. If not, I struggle to find them bunched up and instead bang out good structure looking for a fish here and a fish there.

I’ve been digging on the deep swimbait as of late. Things just dope. It’s catches the numbers you would on a football jig but hauls weight like a giant Huddleston.

One of my favorites is the new Biovex prototype (name to be released soon), which is a pre-rigged soft sided swimbait that weighs an ounce, ideal for slinging ledges in depths up to 40 feet. The action is also unique in that it offers a tight thumping action, more subtle than others and a far more natural look. The action of the bait perfectly resembles that of a fleeing gizzard shad, offering a unique look to even the most weary bass.

My setup for this is about the same as what it is for the rest of my carolina, football jig, structure probing, kinda gear. My favorite rod is the G Loomis BCR 875 GLX, with a Shimano Chronarch 100D, lined with 15lb. Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon. This is the exact same rod/reel combo as I use for my football jig but for my carolina rig, I generally step it down a notch and throw it on a 874 GLX. One thing I love, no matter where I’m at in the country no matter Minnesota or Alabama, if I’m fishing a big largemouth lake in the middle of the summer, I’ll be tripping over these setups as I have that much confidence in them to pull big fish away from snaggy structure.

There’s a couple ways I fish these swimbaits, first thing is finding some fishy structure. I’ve learned that when I think my Lowrance is displaying a good sized underwater fiesta to just keep going and look for something triple the size of that. Once you find that, you are around a whole lot of fish. I’ll cast the swimbait upstream and slowly drag it back along the bottom and if that isn’t doing the trick, than I’ll slow roll the bait at my desired depth until I figure out exactly where the bass are suspending.

Concentration is very important as is a sensitive rod. Bass are notorious for coming up from behind the bait or ambushing it as soon as it snaps free of a rock. Bites are light but hook sets are bone-jarring. Stay in tune to what the bait is doing and it won’t take long before some ledge shark tries to steal your sardine.

Tight Lines!

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Northern Open

Oneida Lake, Syracuse, NY

First derby out of my new boat! Well, almost first derby, I did take a 3rd place finish in a little Wednesday night dogfight while back home on Lake Minnetonka with good buddy, Ryan Brant. Always good times for sure.

Either way, I was excited to have a fresh start and fish out of a reliable rig for a change, for those that follow my blog at all, know this season has been one to forget. I took the jump to fish the Bassmaster Opens this year in an attempt to chase a childhood dream of qualifying for a Classic and/or an Elite Series berth. Yet, despite my countless effort, 4 of my first 5 Opens of 2013, I had severe boat issues, rendering my useless and unable to perform. Unbelievably challenging to overcome mentally, it wasn’t like I was fishing out of my grandpas beater, my engine was only two years old. My love for the sport and hungry desire to perform lead me to an all out boat change, now feeling good, I’m rocking the new Phoenix 920 with the ever powerful and reliable Mercury Optimax 250 ProXS.

Feeling good while driving north on my way to upstate New York, I had a lot of expectations for myself at Oneida Lake. After leaving Minnesota and moving well past the Mason Dixon line, this was going to be my first opportunity to fish water that more closely resembled what I had grown up fishing back home in Minnesota. I did little research on Oneida, in fact this is still something I’m trying to find my niche with. Lots of study or very little? Lately, I’ve been liking the “little” approach as it doesn’t set up for many preconceived notions. Instead, I find it better to depend on my nose and instinct and just sniff ’em out and put ’em in the box.

It was great being up north. Terrific weather and ballsy bbq make Syracuse a top destination for any serious bass angler.

It was great being up north. Terrific weather and ballsy bbq make Syracuse a top destination for any serious bass angler.

I arrived at Oneida mid afternoon on Thursday and took the day to just idle around and get familiar with my surroundings. My first notice was that there was much more grass that I had imagined and trying to find a definitive weedline was close to impossible. I also noticed the abundance of rock within the weeds, an absolute tremendous amount to say the least. This intrigued me almost instantly as I pride myself on being both a strong weed and rock fisherman. This situation left me a bit confused though as the areas were so small that power fishing them may not be an option. I also couldn’t help but notice the lake color or colors to be exact. Some areas were relatively clear and others looked like my Grandmas split-pea soup, the algae bloom was so thick I’m surprised the Mercury could cut through it at all.

Practice was hit or miss, which is the exact practice I look for. I want to catch them but I don’t want to catch them everywhere. That generally means that so is everyone else, instead I look for a happy medium of catching quality and eliminating both unproductive water and presentations alike. One day, I’d put together a respectable 13-14 pound limit and other days, I’d struggle to put together a limit at all. I’d never allow myself to fish areas more than once, I see no point unless you’re whacking them everywhere you go and you need to know which area “has” them. Basically, I was catching them on 3 baits. First and foremost, a dropshot rig with a 3″ Biovex Kolt Stick. For this setup, I’d use a G Loomis NRX 802 DSR spinning rod with a Shimano Sustain 3000FG spinning reel and I’d use a 6lb. test Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon leader on a main spool of 12lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid. The terminal components were an unnamed tungsten dropshot sinker and a size 1 Trokar Dropshot Hook.

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I’d also used a Biovex Face 70 Popper if the smallies started schooling and if I saw a lot of activity high in the water column on my Lowrance HDS Touch-12, then I’d heave the ole’ Hog Farmer Bait Company Umbrella Rig.

I noticed throughout practice that the smallies were focused on either crayfish and perch or of course, shad as their main forage. If they were around shallow vegetation than they were focused more on craws and perch but if I was out over structure, than they were all about the shad. The schools seemed to be out deeper and was my main focus throughout the entire practice but really wasn’t catching anything bigger than three pounds. In fact, it wasn’t until the last day of practice that I ventured out, left the trolling motor up and idled for 3 and a 1/2 hours in an attempt to find as much possible goods as I could find. It paid off, in that stretch I was able to depend on my Lowrance Structure Scan and Navionics mapping to find the slightest of contour changes in the midst of some giant weed flats. The key to these small contour changes were that they often had some incredibly snagalicious hard bottom areas that were free of weeds. Knowing smallies don’t like to live in the weeds, but instead around them, I found these area extra enticing for a “bigger” bite. After I felt that I had covered a substantial area and had marked a good 15 areas, I turned back and ran them all. On 7 of my first 8 stops, I managed to catch a bruiser smallmouth over 3 pounds in my first cast or two. Excited, I saved all the rest, put the boat on the trailer and went to rig up for day one.

Day one started with overcast and windy conditions, on my first stop I managed to catch a few smallmouth relatively quickly on the dropshot and on a 4″ senko on the new 3/16 oz. Outkast Tackle Shakedown Jig. My next area, I some how managed to get sawed off by two solid bites. These mini rock shoals that I was fishing were coated in zebra mussels, making for fishing them with light line a real challenge. I knew the bite would be slow in the morning, as I felt the bass would roam in the a.m. and then come home to these mini shoals in the afternoon. It wasn’t until my non-boater, jacked up two real nice smallmouth from the back of the boat by fan casting a chartreuse spinnerbait. I instantly grabbed my spinnerbait rod from my rod locker that I already had tied on a Biovex Stangun 1/2 oz. Spinnerbait in all chartreuse. I started toward the area he had caught them and come to find that there was a long sandbar that rose up to about 4 feet under the surface and cut off two large weedbeds that sat in about 8 – 10 feet. The smallies were using the sandbar to ambush bait and within only a few casts I caught a small non-keeper and a solid 3 pounder, unfortunately I also lost two real nice bites that pasted the spinnerbait but just never stayed on. Sometimes, I think they eat the blades and never really get the hook in their mouth even despite the trailer hook. As the rain opened up and the wind died, the bite vanished.

The heavy rain started settling in and as to be expected the smallies started to bite on my shoals. The action was slow but every stop I made I managed a cull. Knowing I had about 13 pounds, I reluctantly left these areas and instead focused on more community spots knowing I had what I needed to be in contention the next day, but was also starting to get concerned about how late in the day it took for these areas to fire up and how few fish were actually there. I never managed another cull and finished day one with 5 smallies weighing 12-11 and sat in 68th place, only a pound outside the top 40 money cut and 3 pounds outside the top 12 cut.

I was a bit anxious day 2, the wind was to be howling out of the west, which really didn’t help the areas I was fishing, instead it actually hurt them and that the early flight meant an early check in and I knew the bite was going to be better later in the afternoon.

My first stop was to a deep one, and both myself and my non boater loaded up on a keeper on our first cast. Then not another bite. My second area, I managed a nice 3 pound smallie before again going without another single bite. Still, happy about the early success, I went to my key areas and not a sniff, not even a peck. I started running all over, trying to hit any area I had caught a quality smallie and just never even got bit. With only a half hour left in my day and a thunderstorm brewing, I started seeing some action as the smallies started busting on a grass edge. I threw my dropshot at a boil and instantly got bit by a solid smallmouth pushing the 4 pound mark. The battle with this one was intense as it had me all wrapped in the weeds. FInally, with a little luck and a great netting job it was dropped in the livewell. My next cast to the same spot and instantly my Biovex Kolt Stick got picked up, I leaned back and snapped it off. I was pissed but knew in my heart that it was my bad. I knew after that last fight I should have retied, that smallie had me all twisted in the zebra mussel infested vegetation but I just didn’t have the time. In hindsight, I should have made the time as now I was sitting and retying but at the expense of a missed opportunity. The action closed and I was left to think of all the missed opportunities and bad judgement calls on my behalf. I weighed in a disappointing 3 bass limit for a total two-day weight of 20.8 pounds and a middle of the pack finish of 89th place out of 162 anglers. Nothing worse to me than mediocrity.

On the bright side, I got to compete. I got to see were my mistakes cost me and how to learn from them. My new Phoenix pushed by the black engine 250 had my back in all kinds of changing conditions out there. This tourney is a tough one, a real tough pill to swallow as I should have done better in this event. This is my kind of fishing, I’m very comfortable with a spinning rod in my hands and finesse fishing northern natural lakes is directly in my wheel house. Poor decisions and worse execution combined for a mediocre finish.

Next up, I’ll be doing some promotional pro staff work for Navionics next week traveling through Illinois and Michigan before finishing off working the tent at the Sealy Fishing event held in Paris, TN and Kentucky Lake. There’s a lot of new and exciting things being released it’s sure to be a lot of fun. Also, I hear the new Lowrance 2.1 Update has been released along with a .01 gps antenna update as well. I’ve yet to check them out but it’s on my list of to-do’s for the day. Stay tuned!

 

Posted in Blog Post

The Hiatus

Hiatus – a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc.

I had a long and semi-serious post written on where I’ve been and why I haven’t been posting, instead I figured I’d just let the pictures do the talking. To sum it up, after the start to this trying season up to this point, with all the mechanical failures and honest disappointments, I took a few weeks to just chill out, focus on business and get my head right. I’m always willing to take a lump on the chin, but enough is enough.

The new ride came in and as you can see, JD Fishing has joined a new squad and is very excited about it! Introducing the brand new Biovex/LSD wrapped Phoenix 920 Pro XP, pushed by the powerful yet reliable, Mercury 250 Pro XS. Since picking this boat up and rigging it at Wisconsin’s own, Warners Dock, I’ve been up in Minnesota breaking her in and sweating out the rust. Even managed a 3rd place for her debut derby at a little Minnetonka Wednesday night dog fight. It may be pretty but is stinks like bass now!

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Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Northern Open

James River, Richmond, VA

After coming off a good finish at the final Bassmaster Southern Open on Alabama’s, Lake Logan Martin, I was very excited to hit the water and test myself against the tidal waters of Virginia’s, James River. The first stop of the 2013 Bassmaster Northern Opens and a fresh start for an Elite Series qualification run.

Joining me for this stop was good buddy Bill Kohls, of Bill Kohls Media. I wasn’t a 100% certain on signing up for the Northerns in the first place, but after dealing with my fair share of boat issues and lackluster performances in the first few stops, I called Bill to see if he’d consider linking with me. Bill, who’s Media company is off and running saw it as a productive business opportunity and a even better excuse to go fishing so before you knew it, we were east bound.

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 I didn’t think I knew much about tidal fishing but to my surprise, I actually had a pretty good understanding after all. My wife Bri and I lived in Clearwater, FL a few years back and would fish from the bank throughout the Tampa/St. Pete inter-coastal waterways. These nights helped excel my learning curve when it came to the James and the tide, though I just had to use it all on a larger scale.

Practice went well, I basically started catching fish almost immediately and everyday I managed to find an easy limit with a toad or two along the way. I was focusing on fishing cuts in low tides by wheeling around an Outkast Tackle Pro Swim Jig and tossing the Biovex USA Face 70 Popper (Bone). Once the tide got higher and started pushing in that muddy water, I’d run and spend the high tide fishing flats that had an abundance of vegetation. This was the only way I could get bit during the high tide and it still wasn’t lightening-hot, but it was good for a bigger bite. I stuck with the versatility of the Outkast Swim Jig but also threw a topwater frog into the mix as that seemed to get the bigger bite, as was the case when Bill showed me what a bass weighing just shy of 6 pounds looked like. The James may be stingy, but it’s still got ’em.

Everything felt good going into derby day. The weather was calling for pre-front and stormy conditions which worked perfect with my flight 1 boat draw. Having a later flight on day 2, meant longer time to cash in on that bigger bite but also weather that post front funk.  I had about a 50 mile boat run in front of me, so that gave me a very uneasy feeling as my boat hasn’t exactly been stable to stay the least. It’s got a damn near brand new engine but when you figure in the amount of daily wear and tear we put on them, it’s a surprise they ever run period.

I blew off the anxiety as I’m a firm believer that to be successful at this level, you just simply can’t fish scared. No sooner did I shut out the anxiety and about 20 miles down lake, running in the middle of the channel, my lower unit went out. Horrible feeling to say the least and talk about de ja vu like a mofo! It was a spittin’ image of what had happened months earlier when I drew first flight and dropped my lower unit just past the lock on Florida’s, Lake Toho. First stop of the Southerns and now first stop of the Northerns and worse part, there was no one there to fix me. By the time I got towed off the water thanks to my Boat US Angler membership that is now worth it’s weight in gold, the complete first day was a loss and my engine was unusable for day 2.

My co-angler for day 2, allowed me to run his Bass Cat for the second day. Good thing because now I at least needed to weigh in something to avoid gaining zero points in the first event. Make no mistake, I watched my Elite birth vanish in front of my eyes now twice in the opening minutes of day one of the first derby and never got to make a single cast. It sucks. Money wise of course, but to not even have the chance to see how you stacked is what really hurts. I’d rather of fished and blanked so that I at least know I sucked and have areas to develop, but to not even get the chance makes for a sucky end to the week.

Good thing for me, I don’t back down to challenges and this has just been one of life’s big challenges. How I handle it dictates how bad it beats me. Tomorrow is a new day, with a new day brings a new opportunity. Besides, I love fishing! I’m very fortunate to have my family and my sponsors in my corner making this all possible in the first place. The only way I see it, is to set my sights full speed ahead! See you on the water.

JDF_James4WK

 

Posted in Blog Post

Get Up to Speed with Lowrance 2.0 and Navionics WebApp

Things have been busy for me, been anxiously preparing for the upcoming Bassmaster Northern Open on the James River, in east Virginia. One of such preparations was to be sure I updated all my Lowrance Touch’s with the new 2.0 Update. There’s a few real nice amenities that come standard with this free update, one of which is the ability to use contour depth shading on my Navionics mapping.

Here’s a few screen shots:

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Another killer deal coming form the Navionics camp that is sure to help not only tournament anglers prepare for a new body of water, but will also help those leaving for fishing vacations or just pleasure boaters for that matter, is the new Navionics WebApp. The WebApp is available on www.Navioncis.com and also key websites such as the main page of this very site you’re currently visiting now. A great new feature that you’ll find on this App as well as newly updated Navionics Platinum chips is SonarCharts. If you zoom in on a key body of water, you’ll notice a small circular button in the bottom left hand side of your screen. Press this button to view SonarCharts. This feature is user-created and offers you another look at your favorite body of water, scanned by others that enjoy that waterway.

It’s simple, when someone goes out for a day on the water, they can elect to record data at the same time they fish. Once home, they can upload their recordings through a simple feature with Navionics and have that very data available the very next day by simply updating their own card! Note that in it’s early stages, this has been going over so well that Navionics has been overloaded with eager users all uploading their recordings, pushing turnover to around 2 weeks. Here’s what one contributor did in a single trip to Allatoona Lake.

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Posted in Blog Post

The Bluegill Bounty

The days are getting warmer and in the southern part of the country, the bass are moving off their beds. At the same time in the north, the bass are just moving on. It’s rare to find similarities between anglers in the north and south, largely because northern bass don’t have shad as forage but bluegills instead. No matter which side of the Mason Dixie line you reside, this time of year is the rarity, the time in which we both have common ground, bass eating bluegill.

As bass move off their spawning beds, they turn to bluegills as their main diet source. Bluegills move to the ultra shallows by the millions to set up nesting area. Bass hang in nearby cover and wait for the perfect opportunity to ambush a bluegill that has let its guard down. This presents an excellent angling opportunity to the anglers that decide to stay shallow instead of head to deeper summer haunts.

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Generally, the bass won’t have to move far when they’re through spawning, it’s just too convenient for them as the bluegill take over the exact same areas the bass just inhabited. Plus, a good population of bass will also stay shallow to protect their fry, making for a lot of action to be had throughout the entire day.

Growing up on the shallow, natural lakes scattered across Minnesota, I’ve developed the perfect 1-2-3 and even 4, punch. My first choice is a Outkast Pro Swim Jig and the size varies depending on the cover, if I’m fishing heavier emerged cover, I’ll lean on a 3/8 or a 1/2 ounce, otherwise I generally count on a 1/4 ounce. I always go with either the Bruise or Sunfish color and the stain of the water dictates my initial choice in trailers, if it’s clear water, I’ll go with a single tail grub or a paddle-tail style swimbait and if it’s dirty water, I’ll opt for something that moves a lot of water like a Lake Fork Tackle Frog.

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I work this bait in these key shallow areas and vary my retrieve and my trailers until I start getting bit. The bass will be in the very immediate cover just away from the bluegills beds or “honeycombs” as more popularly known. Slow rolling the swim jig through the nests and causing a stir will get the active bites and targeting the actual cover will catch the rest.

My setup is critical and took me lots of rods, reel and line combinations to narrow it down to perfection. I go with a G Loomis MBR 844C GLX Rod, old school yes, but the deal none the less. The reel is critical and I go with a Shimano Chronarch 200E7, which offers long casts and a fast ratio allowing me to pick up line quickly. Speaking of line, I opt for 15 lb. Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon in open water and 30 lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid in the thick stuff.

Another fantastic option for post spawn bass in the shallows is topwater. There’s two style topwater baits that shine this time of year, a wake bait and a prop bait. My wake bait choice is the Biovex Amp Wake (bluegill) and my prop bait is the Brian’s Bee’s Prop Bait. Both these baits work extremely well in these same areas and one piece of advice, never think you’re throwing them too shallow because you’re not, in fact you can’t unless you’re bait lands on dry ground. You’d be surprised just how few inches a 6 pounder needs to stay wet, not many. I used to use braid for these applications but have recently switched back to monofilament and non better than 15 lb. Seaguar Senshi.

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Lastly, there’s very few baits that shine at catching shallow post spawn bass better than a Lake Fork Tackle Ring Fry (green pumpkin) with a JJ’s Magic chartreuse dip on the tail. It’s game over. Make long casts and target isolated clumps of vegetation. A slow dead-sticking action is absolutely lethal.

Running this pattern offers all day non-stop action and the opportunity to catch some real giants. The deep bite’s probably there but the shallow bite is explosive!

Posted in Blog Post

Making Waves from Japan to the U.S.!!

Bass fisherman in the United States are accustomed to seeing tons of innovative tackle come from all parts of the world. This is definitely the case with Japanese products, we all love the genuine innovation that comes with true JDM tackle but not so in love with the price tag that comes along with it. Sure, in some cases we open the wallet and take it where the sun don’t shine as there are some awesome baits that are fine tuned on the pressured lakes throughout Japan and are just the ticket to stuffing bass into our livewells.

Biovex

Lucky for us, one Japanese tackle company has found it’s niche here in the states by offering up their high-end line to the U.S. market at a much more pleasing price point. Katsushi Umeda, owner and founder of Biovex set out with a mission to offer not only Japanese and American anglers, but anglers worldwide with their innovative and priced friendly line of bass tackle, priced to compete with United States domestic powerhouses like Rapala, Bomber and Strike King.

The price hike normally seen with JDM products is largely due to the combination of high-end parts, the price of innovation as well as the price of shipping goods to the U.S. and counting on representation to move the product which in return creates more overhead, leading to a higher MSRP. Biovex, set to change the norm by setting up a U.S. headquarters out in sunny California, mainstreaming their line across seas. This bold move allowed Biovex to keep expense down on shipping and instead allowed them to keep funding their line of baits with the best quality components money can buy, confirming their slogan “Trust Our Craftsmanship”.

Since Biovex first released their line here in the United States in early 2013, things are taking off with giant online tackle sellers posting Biovex as “Weekly Top Sellers”! One such bait that is making waves is the Hyper 7 spinnerbait, a 7 bladed willow spinnerbait that gives off the presentation of a school of baitfish. Making for an excellent alternative to the already popular Umbrella Rig but instead of numerous hooks, the Hyper 7 only has one. A giant necessity for anglers that tournament trails have banned the use of the umbrella rigs in tournament competition.

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For more information on Biovex’s premier line of tackle, please visit their U.S. website at www.BiovexUSA.com.

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Southern Open

Logan Martin Lake, Pell City, AL

There was good reason why I moved from Minnesota to Tennessee and believe it or not, it wasn’t just the warmer climate. I know I’m a guy that cusses the very thought of winter but I knew in able to hone my skill of competitive bass fishing and to compete at the national level, I would have to put in the time and learn how to fish these southern impoundments. I was 100% on the money too. There’s lots to learn for a guy from Minnesota, especially when you think about factors like shad. We don’t even have shad in Minnesota with the rare exception of the Mississippi River. Bass up north don’t live the same life as a southern bass that follow every single move the shad make. We also don’t have to concern ourselves with things like current and water flow. Again except for the Mississippi crew again and I think we’re starting to see a trend here on why those rats are usually so good when they travel out of their back yard. They’re willing to change, in fact they have to in able to compete on the river, you need to be a good “pattern” angler.

So far this year has been full of ups and downs. There’s been tournaments like Douglas Lake and Lake of the Ozarks where I left just as confused as I showed up. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to targeting cold water bass that are suspended off over la la land following schools of baitfish. I don’t know about you but dead-sticking a suspended jerkbait for 20 seconds at a time out over 65 feet of water and targeting a lethargic bass that’s suspended in 20 feet kind of gives me the heebie-jeebies! Still lots to learn. The one thing I did learn, you may want to toss the ole’ umbrella rig around a little bit. I heard it may catch a bass or two. lol

On the other hand, I have events that just suit my style and proves that what I learned on my old stomping grounds up north will pay off against the big boys when the dough is on the line. I’m excited learning on the fly, I’ll take my lumps but when I find my bite, I can compete with the best of them. This was the case last week at Logan Martin Lake, a reservoir on the Coosa River Chain in Alabama.

I had never been to Logan Martin and have no experience with the Coosa River Spot either. Word was they fought but being a smallie slayer from Minnesota I was skeptical they would pull harder than a pissed smallie on a Mississippi River wing dam. As soon as I launched, the lake just started to gel with me, everything just kind of appealed to my eye.

Unfortunately, my engine on my current boat that we were hoping was fixed turned out to be wrongly diagnosed and now I was sitting in similar shape as I was at the Red River and Florida for that matter. I always try to stay upbeat but honestly the three events this season that I had engine problems were the events that I felt I had the best shot of making something happen. Kissimmee was right in my wheel house as was the Red, and now Logan Martin? I lost 3/4 of my practice in the repair shop and not out on the water. It was seriously starting to get debilitating. Fortunately, every time I hit the water, I figured out a bite. I was very limited to where I could go and was instead forced to stay near the take-off site to do my work.

I found a nice largemouth area that appeared to have them coming in to spawn. The problem was that it was so small and was vulnerable to one to many hook sets in the practice period from over eager tournament anglers checking for size. It was only a one boat spot, meaning I would need a very early flight to assure I could get there and claim it as mine. I located spotted bass with relative ease. I figured out I could catch numbers but no size on the main lake and could find size in the tributaries between the main points and secondary points. The spots wanted to be able to move up to chase bait and to spawn but instantly have access to deep water. I developed confidence fast and planed to practice on the fly even doing tournament days. My Navionics chip was my biggest asset this tournament, it didn’t matter that I was unfamiliar with the water system, once I knew they were holding in these key areas where the counter lines ran tight to the bank, I could simply run those areas with a skakey head. Basically all those years fishing the Rum River in Minnesota had me well seasoned for this bite.

I was extremely excited when I drew boat 5 out of 160 some boats. I knew I would be able to get to my largemouth cut and did, unfortunately the water level dropped and pulled the fish out of there, all except for one just shy of 3 pounds. I decided I would gamble a bit more in the morning and try running new water in search of a quality largemouth or two. It paid off as I boated my second fish a decent post spawn largemouth going just over 2.5 pounds on a 3/8 oz. Outkast Swim Jig (Sexy Shad).

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Photo courtesy of James Overstreet and Bassmaster.com

With an early weigh-in time (2:00), I decided at about 11:00 that I would scrap the largemouth and instead focus the rest of the day to spots. I ran three areas and did a whole lot of catching and slowly culled up a solid limit. Basically I was catching all my spots on 3 different baits, a Biovex Mid Runner when I had current or I’d go back and forth with one of two shaky head setups, one being a 1/8 oz. with a Biovex Kolt Shad Tail and the other a 1/4 oz. with a standard finesse worm or a weeny worm as the locals would call it.

I targeted these 45 degree banks and caught fish all the way up to weigh-in. In fact, the bite got so good later in the afternoon that I was ecstatic to be in the last flight on day two. I’d have an extra two hours to fish!

I weighed in a solid limit of bass weighing 13.12 pounds anchored by two chubby spots that had me sitting 20th overall. I’m telling you right here, right now. The biggest baddest smallies anywhere don’t have a thing on a Coosa River spot. These fish are down right from the other side of the tracks, they ain’t playin’ games. You need to have a good Shimano reel with a highly tuned drag because these fish have no quit in them. They pull and pull and pull, not much for jumpers but boy do they dig! I was very confident in my setup, on my 1/4 oz shaky, I was using a G Loomis NRX 852S JWR spinning rod with a Shimano Sustain 4000FG spooled with 12lb Seaguar Kanzen Braid that I tied on about a 8 foot Seaguar Tatsu 8 lb. fluorocarbon leader. I used this setup on the deeper drops and the longer rod with beefier backbone gave me a much better hook set. The braided line gave me zero stretch yet the fluorocarbon got the bites. The 4000 size Shimano made for longer casts and allowed me to pick up more line to stay with them. My 1/8oz. rig was very similar except I toned down the rod and reel to a G Loomis NRX 822S SYR paired with a 3000 size Shimano Sustain and focused this setup closer to the bank and out a to mid depths.

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Day two things didn’t really go as planned but it was my decisions on the fly that offset things. I felt again that I could catch enough spots to get a check but knew I needed a largemouth bite to get into the top 12. I decided to gamble and run shallow in the morning for a largemouth but after three hours with not a single bite I conceded and instead hit the main lake and start putting in work on the spots. Unfortunately, conditions had changed and getting bit the way I had the day before was proving to not be the ticket. In fact, I was barely able to scrap together a very small limit with only two half way descent 2 pounders and the rest were barely over the 12″ mark. The cloud cover had the spots roaming and though I tried a to switch things up, the result was simply not there.

I knew I needed to change and instead of being stubborn, I followed my gut and ran all new water in search of a largemouth kicker. I had constant flashbacks to what happened at the Red River and knew something big would happen that last hour and a half as long as I capitalized on the opportunity. I swam an Outkast Swim Jig past a giant stump and I felt it get nipped but nothing was there. I picked up a texas rigged Lake Fork Craw Tube and instantly got bit, culling out a 12 inch spot for a rock solid 4 1/2 pound largemouth. My main focus was to fish as many stumps as I possibly could. With time running out I worked my way back out of the creek when on the last stump on the point of the flat, I again got bit and boated a 3 1/2 pound largemouth culling out yet another 12″ spot. I was using 17lb. Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon and a 4/0 Trokar Flippin’ Hook and despite that last one wrapping me up around the stump, I still managed to keep both those key bites on and culled up about 5 1/2 pounds!

I knew things were going to be close, real close and when I saw that the weights were considerably down, I felt that I may have had enough to advance to the final day and the top 12 cut. With almost all the field weighed and feeling I had the weight, you could only imagine my when I went to bag my fish and came to realize two spotted bass died. I was crushed. There was really nothing I could do, I had added ice periodically and was running U2 but in the mad rush of the last hour I guess I should have taken better care of them, because the end result was going to be a 8 ounce penalty, 4 ounces for each dead fish.

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Photo Courtesy of James Overstreet and Bassmaster.com

In the end, I weighed in a total two day weight of 26.6 pounds and a solid 14th place finish. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’s at all disappointed, because I was. I’m a competitor and I was so close I could taste it. I would have still needed one more bite but just didn’t get the job done. It’s so hard to bring it together and best such a talented bunch but I had it on the line and it digs at me that I didn’t reel it in. Still, I was thrilled and very proud of my scrappy fishing. I’m learning, taking lumps but still learning and it’s starting to pay off. Not only did I leave with a nice pay day but better yet, a new love for the Coosa River spot. Largemouth saved me but the Coosa spots got my heart forever! I can’t wait to get back.

 

Posted in Blog Post

Welcome to the New JD Fishing!

I’m excited the day is finally here and I can welcome you to the new and improved JoshDouglasFishing.com! This site means so much to me and what started years ago as a way to gain clients for my small guide service up in Minnesota has slowly morphed into what it is today. Similar to when it all started, JD Fishing still has the same features but has grown to much more.

The Blog started as a personal journal if you will but one I wanted to share with who ever wanted to listen. I can recall being a kid and scouring through the internet, which was much slower than it is today I might add, desperately trying to absorb any and all information I could on the sport of bass fishing. I was like a sponge and still am, always trying to learn more of the sport that’s fascinated me since I was a kid. The only problem was no one was ever talking, not sharing their true stories and definitely not trying to teach what works for them. I never understood how the sport could grow if no one wanted to give back? So then it started, no matter if I went out and crushed the smallies till my hands were bleeding or if I couldn’t catch a cold in a ice locker that day, I set out to create a reader friendly blog that I would share my learning experiences with others out there who were just like me. To this day, I continue to religiously update and maintain my blog. Not just for you but for me too. I often get caught up reading through the pages of my past and it helps me see the direction I’m going. Every year, every post I can see myself getting better as an angler, the direction keeps going up but I never forget where it started.

Please also look around and check out the different features that are now offered here at JD Fishing. I may still be that diehard fish catching kid on the inside but at the same time I continue to grow in the business side of the sport. I work hard for not only myself but my sponsors on a day to day basis. I need their support to continue to climb up the ladder and am blessed to be in position to use the best damn products available to the industry. It’s not because I have to, it’s because I like to. I like the business side of fishing and often times feel like I’m a sales rep wrapped in a fishing junkies body. I love it all!

I’ve been working at obtaining my federal captains license so that I can start up my guide service down here on my new stomping grounds of the TN River. I love guiding, after all it is what started me into this mess 8 years ago when I bought my first Ranger bass boat. Heck, I didn’t even have a truck to pull it! I love seeing the satisfaction on my clients face when they tangle into their first true 5 pound bass or get that unforgettable first blow up on a topwater frog. I like the people, always have and the one thing I can always assure you is an unforgettable experience, one that we’ll both never forget!

Though I still offer regular guide trips my new field of expertise is electronics training. I’ve spent literally countless hours behind the screen of my Lowrance units and came to realize after working sport shows for both Lowrance and Navionics how many anglers out there are underutilizing their investment. Call me today and setup a 4 hour outing with me in your boat tricking out your graphs and customizing your settings as well as helping you with sonar and side scan interpretation. I promise 4 hours with me and you’ll be able to concentrate more on catching fish and less on how to find them!

Again, thank you for visiting. There’s still a lot of polishing going on to my new site behind the scenes. If you notice anything not working or just wanted to drop me a line, please by all means. If not, then I’ll see you on the water! Tight lines friends!

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Central Open

Red River, Bossier City, LA

This past weekend was the first stop of the Bassmaster Central Opens, a derby I was looking very much forward to and one I’ll soon not forget.

The site was none other than Louisiana’s historic Red River, where moving around this sprawling and stump filled waterway can prove heartache to any weary angler. Half the battle to locating fish on the Red lies in getting to know your surroundings. It’s nothing to find yourself working your way through stump fields, sand bars, levees and wing dams. All the while trying to avoid random rebar, fence posts, water moccasins and alligators in search of a 100 yard stretch holding bass that are busting at the chance to choke your Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait.

Finding your way around the Red is 75% of the battle. Mother Nature has an excellent way of protecting her trophies.


They grow em GIANT down in the bayou.

When practicing for the Red, the more time you can give yourself, the better off you’ll be. Most of your practice day is spent reversing off sand bars, pushing off stumps and creating routes to and from the main river channel. Running wide open in search of new water is simply not an option and idle speed will be the only thing preventing you from a busted hull and a misplaced lower unit. With this said, I was bayou bound early and planned on a solid week of practice. There’s a lot riding on the first tournament of the series. Sure, there’s the obvious, a win equals big bucks and a invitation to the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. More importantly, the need for points means the difference between an Elite Series birth and another season at the Open level. My main goal was a realistic one for never having been to the Red River or Louisiana for that matter. I needed to cash a check and put myself into position to make a push.

The first day of practice started real well and I was off to a great start. In fact, it was refreshing to be back around some shallow dirty water. Since moving from Minnesota last October, I have been spending almost all my time out targeting suspending bass on the Tennessee River and Ozark Impoundments. Breaking down the Red River was right up my alley and the preferred presentations fit my strengths. The main river had a lot of color and defined it’s name perfectly. With color that dirty and taken into consideration the time of year, I started by targeting the many backwater sloughs that make up pool 5 in search for some clearer water and vegetation.

The first day of practice was the start of a cold front following a 24 hour rain shower that dumped a good inch of water in the Shreveport/Bossier City area. Making some comparisons to Florida fishing, I was instantly attracted to the hyacinth mats on a deeper bank leading into a spawning pocket. The spawn was already well underway with more fish falling into the post spawn phase. Hyacinth mat root systems hold mud and this mud retains heat, perfect for attracting both post and prespawn bass on cold front days with stiff north winds. In fact, I was pulling on fish on my first couple flips. As practice moved forward and the warmer weather took hold, the bass started to roam from the mats and got out on the flats to feed. When this went down, I had no problem catching keepers on a Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait (Black) or a Outkast Swim Jig (Bruiser) by fan casting the high spots on flats and grinding the baits through the many stumps. I was able to find all kinds of water and had my best luck targeting dirty water that’s not too dirty and definitely not to clear, if that makes any sense at all?

Hyacinth mats are notorious living quarters for all animal life and provides clearer water under it’s dense mats.

After fishing clear water and seeing all the abandon beds and fry in the shallows, I knew we were on the tail end of things but knew there was still some love making going on. I left the flats in search for a happy medium between the back sloughs and the main river. I found a few smaller areas that were between two major sloughs but close enough to the main river to be off most anglers radars. I noticed quickly that things were a little further back in the spawning game as these areas still had bass moving up.

I’ll mention now that I was cursed with a bad engine this entire tournament and had to game plan for the worst. This meant pool 4 was not included in my options and instead I focused all my energy on pool 5. My engine’s main computer system was fried and was unfortunately not getting fixed for this event. Having a bad computer meant that there was no telling what issues I was going to encounter. I didn’t get enough time to practice for pool 4 even if I had wanted to as I spent half my practice off the water and at dealerships trying to get fixed. Knowing long rough idles would work against me, I became ever more intrigued by my dirty water spawning area I had located.

Day one of the derby, I ran to my area and quickly got to work throwing an Outkast Swim Jig and flipping a Lake Fork Tackle Craw Tube to shallow cover. I also targeted spawners along a rock levee stretch that dead ended in the back of the pocket. My problem was the dirty water wouldn’t allow me to see the bass I was targeting so I failed to hook up on a good 50% of my bites and I know for fact I messed up on a few of the better females that were in those areas. Since I didn’t have a engine that allowed me to run, I was forced to sit on these fish and grind them out which proved effective and I weighed in a above average limit going 10.3 pounds and put myself in perfect position to make a run on day two.

There are many man made levees throughout the entire Red River system and the key ones hold large schools of bass.

After I weighed in, I was instantly slammed with a serious case of anxiety as I wasn’t able to put my boat on the trailer as my engine was in SAFE mode. As I was stalled out and working on getting to my trailer which now was holding up the entire show, I looked around the slough that harbors Red River South Marina and noticed there really wasn’t many places for these bass to go as there was a good 3/4 mile channel to get back out to the main river. I knew this area had some fish in it and was about to receive a thousand or so more. That night, I figured I would attempt to run to my same area and stay in there all day. As long as my engine could get me there, I’d stay in there until the last hour and then get back and fish for some release fish. This way if I broke down I’d have plenty of time to call Tow BoatUS and get back to weigh and if I made it back to the check-in slough, I could use the trolling motor worst case.

I was in an earlier flight and was able to make it to my primary area with no problems, well except for the fisherman that beat me to the area. This area was a one boat spot and I couldn’t sit and watch the writing on the wall. The day before I did well out of this area but unfortunately I had left a few better bites in there. The bass were spawning in here and though the water was far to dirty to visually sight fish them, I had saved their exact location on my bow mounted Lowrance Gen 2 Touch 12 and new I’d have them dead to rights if I could just get in there and execute. Being that I got beat in there, I decided to hit a similar area on the back side of the levee that I had made a cull or two in the day before. Being that hooking up with these weary bass was such a challenge day one, I went to a three lure rotation and made some necessary changes to better execute. I stayed the course with my Outkast Swim Jig, I was throwing the 1/4 oz. Bruiser color with a black and blue grub trailer. I threw this all week on a G Loomis MBR 844 GLX with a Shimano Chronarch 50E and 15lb. Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon. I also kept the same flipping tube which was a Lake Fork Tube Craw (black neon) with a rattle insert. The difference was that I went from a 4/0 Trokar Magworm to a 5/0 Trokar Flippin’ Hook and also switched from fluorocarbon to 60lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid to help ensure stronger hook sets with no stretch for these finicky bass. I was pitching this setup to spawning rocks, laydowns and stumps with the new G Loomis GLX 855 JWR and a Shimano Core Mg7. Lastly, because of the shad spawn and heavy pressure, I tied on a Biovex Shallow Runner (Ayu) which I replaced it’s smaller hooks for larger size 6 Trokar EWG Treble. I threw this along the levees and whenever I could see bass chasing shad. I used the new G Loomis GLX 847 CBR, which is honestly one of the best cranking rods ever thrown and also went with the Shimano Chronarch 50E, spooled with 10 lb. Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon.

A chunk prespawn largemouth that choked a Outkast Tackle Swim Jig.

After making the move to a less pressured area I instantly went to work and was able to round out a small limit in no time at all. I still missed a few but all in all my hook up ratio was far better and that smaller profile Biovex crankbait was key in getting strikes without pulling up the mud bottom like more traditional square bill crankbaits. Despite the early limit, things slowed drastically and the bites were few and far between. My thought was that the day prior I most likely stubbed my toe on the females and ended up weighing more males and overnight some of those females moved on.

I decided to finally leave this area and make the run back. Upon my arrival, I saw that the 1/2 mile stretch of bank had about 15 boats lined up on it all with the same idea. I picked an open 50 yard stretch and claimed it as my own. The bank was lined with a few laydowns and on my first flip to one I managed a small cull. As I continued back and forth along my stretch I couldn’t help but notice the hard mud line that was present due to the rising water and boat traffic. Knowing I needed to make a change and having only about 20 minutes left in my day, I tied on a 3/8 oz. Chatterbait (Black and Blue) and threaded on a Lake Fork Tackle Craw (Black and Blue). I made three casts into a tumbleweed of a laydown and as my bait was coming along side the brush it got heavy. I leaned back and before I knew it a 7 pound largemouth rolled, opened her mouth and threw my bait in a split second! I honestly fell to my knees in disbelief. I’m not going to make excuses, I should have boated that fish. Closing on these opportunities are what separates the men from the boys and in this case, costed me a 12th to 16th place finish and a easy three grand. Instead, I was forced to weigh in my disappointing 5 bass limit weighing 6 pounds 11 ounces and finished 80th out of 186 boats. I know in my heart, that lost 7 pounder paired with the poor execution of the bedders will haunt me further as the year wears on and will most certainly be the difference of qualifying for the Elites and trying my luck again next season. All I can do is take pride in putting myself in position, learning from my mistakes and making sure next time the bites get put in the boat. It’s just that simple.

Bass aren’t the only ones gorging themselves on crawdads in the greater Louisiana area.

Louisiana is a great place and the Red River is one of my new favorite fisheries. It got the best of me this time but next time she’s mine for the taking! Up next, I head south to Alabama for some spotted bass fishing and the last stop of the Bassmaster Southern Opens on Lake Logan Martin before soon starting my track north in preparation for the upcoming Bassmaster Northern Opens. I’ll take any good vibes you want to send my way.

Stay tuned, I also have some very exciting news that I’ll be announcing soon!

Tight lines.

Posted in Blog Post

American Legacy Fishing Company

I’ve been a diehard G Loomis and Shimano supporter since I was a little kid. I remember going to the different consumer expo shows with my Uncle and eyeballing them when I wasn’t even old enough to understand the value of a dollar. Don’t get me wrong, these rods and reels come at a staggering sticker price especially if you’re looking high-end, but hear me, you’re going to get what you pay for.

G.Loomis

G Loomis and Shimano has been around long before I was setting hooks and have always had the reputation as the best. You don’t create your own reputation, you earn it. There’s a lot of different rod and reel companies popping up damn near daily and all claim to be the best but really don’t deserve to be in the same sentence. G Loomis and Shimano continually develop the mold to which the competition is trying to duplicate.

Once you purchase a G Loomis rod you are welcomed into the family as G Loomis offers a lifetime warranty on their products. When you spend as much time in the boat as I do, things are going to happen. I put my equipment under a lot of abuse but I have the self satisfaction of knowing that when my rod snaps in half setting the hook on a 9 pounder that’s buried under a hyacinth mat, that I can have a new one in my hands as soon as the next day.

American Legacy Fishing

When I say I’m brand loyal that doesn’t just mean the rod and reel but also the place I go to to get my hands on these very setups. American Legacy Fishing Company is the number one G Loomis and Shimano superstore and are a full service vendor for all the best fishing related brands. They have every rod imaginable, if it says G Loomis, they got it. Their staff is top notch and offer not only industry knowledge but are all fisherman themselves and offer their customers real advice where the other big box stores simply can’t compete.

You can also take advantage of their trade-in program and trade in that older model Shimano for the newest and greatest or find that hard to acquire item that has been discontinued like the Shimano Chronarch 100D7, Core MgFv or better yet, the old school Loomis rods with the Wiebe reels seats! You never really know what you can find at American Legacy! Check them out today and also be sure to join their club for email updates on everything G Loomis and Shimano!

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Southern Open

Douglas Lake, Dandridge, TN

Douglas Takes Douglas! This headline has been going through my head since I first registered for this event. Strictly for name sake reasons as I didn’t know the first thing about this puddle except that Jeremy Starks and the rest of the top 10 in last years Bassmaster Elite Series event, put long-lining aka strolling on the map by using deep diving plugs, light line and their trolling motor to sack up giant stringers of Douglas Lake bass.

This go round, I guess you could say things are different because most of the structures that Starks and the Cali’s own Mr. Aaron Martens were targeting were high and dry. Ole’ Douglas’s water level changes pretty dramatically in the course of a season. I’ve never seen anything too much like it since I was fishing in Southern California. Here’s a photo of a spot that was pounded in last years Elite Series event, hard to imagine they were using deep diving plugs to dredge these rocks and now seagulls are using it to rest after gorging on the shad kill.

Douglas Lake – Photo courtesy of Bill Kohls

That brings me to my second observation within minutes of launching. Douglas Lake was enduring a giant shad kill, worse than I’ve ever seen before. This isn’t a bad thing as Mother Nature has her ways of recycling her bounties but when it comes to fishing, it’s like a mayfly hatch on steroids and anyone from Minnesota feels a brothers pain.

The weekend before our Open, Douglas Lake hosted the first PAA event of the year and though I tend to ignore other events it was hard, as every angler that found success in that event was throwing an umbrella rig exclusively. That’s a hard stat to ignore and only pushed me harder to find something against the grain as I knew these bass had seen plenty of rigs and they were about to see a whole lot more.

I threw the kitchen sink at these bass and when finally disgusted, I picked up the old Hog Farmer 3 Wire Rig and started putting bass in the boat. Not bad ones either, the Rig definitely coughs up giants. I’m not sure exactly where I lie as a tournament angler on my thoughts of the umbrella rig being used in tournament competition as generally I’m a one lure, one line, one rod and reel type of a believer. More on this later…

Every single day of practice I was catching quality, not a lot but the overall quality was there. I was concerned about my ability to catch a limit. I was targeting main-lake points and secondary points in the mouths of creek channels. Whenever I’d get bit, I’d mark it and move on and hope that I’d have enough water to run it all come tourney time. My thought was that this could produce a limit both days and a winning limit at that. I seriously never caught anything except giants while I was there. I never caught a single small bass so I knew I was doing the right thing and around the right fish but with the shad kill making easy meals for weary bass and the abundance of pressure I still had reasons to be concerned. Still though, the size bass I was around was enough to keep my interest and keep me searching for solutions to these potential problems.

Hog Farmer Rig with 3 Biovex Kolt Ridgetail Swimbaits – Photo courtesy of Bill Kohls

The other issue I was having, as well as everyone else in the field, was the ever-changing weather conditions. Seriously, we’re talking rain, sun, snow, heat, clouds, fog and wind. You name it and we endured it. It was hard trying to put two things together that matched and when trying to find a pattern, this makes life difficult. Finally, with only hours left of official practice, I was forced to make the dreaded decision of commiting myself to the Rig or continue to treat game day as if it was a practice. I’ve never commit an entire tournament day to throwing the Rig and most certainly have been beat because of it. You’re looking for 4 to 7 bites a day in some cases but the bites are giant if your fishing the right areas. Even though bites were few and far between for me, the ones I was getting in practice were all 4 to 7 pounds so it was a gamble worth taking. If I could just manage 3 or 4 bites I should have anywhere between 17 to 22 pounds and if I weigh a limit, I should have 23 to 30. Sounds all G right? Well, on the flip side, I was still only managing a few bites a day and if I don’t happen to hit the timing right, I could just as easy zero.

I have been beat all winter by the umbrella rig, largely due to my stubborn and timid refusal to commit to it. This time I decided I had to find the kahunas some where to suck it up and chuck the chandelier   all day without any remorse. Being that I finished so poorly in Florida due to faulty engine issues, I figured this would be the best event to throw caution to the wind. I wasn’t on anything else but sometimes that’s when a guy just needs to drop the trolling motor and throw a shakey head all day and grind out the bites. Heck, often enough this proves a safe play and can result in a check, if not a top 10. Still, I had enough big bites in practice that my decision was already made.

Tournament rigging was a breeze, I had two rods. The first was my main bread and butter, the exact outfit I was throwing in practice and getting my big bites. I was using a G Loomis GLX 894C FPR with a Shimano Chronarch 200E7 and 60lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid. My rig was a custom Hog Farmer Bait Company 3 wire rig with 3 dummy baits and I used 1/8 oz. jigheads on the business end. My other setup was a G Loomis GL2 BBR 964C Salmon Bounceback Rod with the new Shimano Calcutta CT 200D spooled with 80lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid. This rig I went for a deeper bite with the Hog Farmer 3 Wire 6 Blade Rig with 3 Biovex Kolt Ridgetail Swimbaits.

The first rig I would use to fish points, secondary points and key staging areas to peg off bass that moved up and got active. The second rig, I used in the same areas but off the points and off to the sides of the points. I was always hoping to get lucky on one of the many bass that were suspending and holding off these key areas and that were extremely lethargic due to the abundance of food from the shad kill.

Me pointing out suspended bass hanging with shad schools on my Lowrance HDS-9 Touch. – Photo courtesy of Bill Kohls

Day one was some of the most miserable fishing I’ve had to date. Remember, I from Minnesota and have endured straight pain for a chance at a couple bites. This was right up there, in fact I’m pretty sure my day 1 non boater would have been totally content had I just put it on the trailer. No disrespect either, it was that nasty and don’t blame him.

It was very clear right away that this was going to be a grind as I ran point to point and never managed a bite. Although both our mentalities completely swayed when I was working through a staging area and hooked into a giant, the fish was an easy 7.5 but was spitting shad up like a teenager spews after getting drunk for the first time. Still, I was ecstatic, this was the earliest bite I had got all week and still had 6 hours left to upgrade.

I threw the rig all day and never got another bite. I weighed in one bass for 6.10 lbs. and was sitting 80th after day one out of 180 anglers. I had all sorts of thoughts running threw my head but decided to stay the course. I was catching quality, but not quantity. It would have been dumb abandoning these big fish since I was dropping the ball on really keying in on what would put together a limit, I retied my two rigs and began where I left off day one.

Take Off – Photo Courtesy of James Overstreet and Bassmaster.com

My second day started as slow as could be imagined. You really start to feel the aches and pains of throwing a Rig all week when you’re not getting bites. I assure you this, when you do get a bite on that damn thing, you don’t feel any pain, they straight crush it! It’s as addictive as it gets.

Finally, at about 11:30 I got the bite I was needing to breathe a little life back into me. I had moved across a steep main-lake point throwing the lighter rig without a bite. I decided to work my way back across it but this time target any suspended bass as my Lowrance was lighting up like the Griswold’s Christmas tree.

I made three cast toward the side of the point and on my third, I popped a good one that weighed at least 4. That gave me the boost I was looking for but the next 4 hours only brought a whole lot of chucking and winding and zero hook setting. I weighed in 1 bass going 4.4 pounds for a two day total of 10.14 pounds and finished a very disappointing 99th place.

When it comes to fishing umbrella rigs, the common phrase is don’t throw it and get beat by it. I definitely hold that true but also feel like it can be damned if you do and damned if you don’t kind of pattern. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one that thinks the Rig is a fool proof method of fishing and that it’s all a luck game. Heck, there’s plenty of anglers that are straight dialed on the technique and excel in the winter. However, because of the Rig, we’ll also probably never hear an angler win a big derby with 11 pounds because he got down and grinded out a small limit with a shakey head or a small 80 size jerkbait. With the Rig in play, those days are now over. I tend to fall in line with the ones that believe in  one line, one bait for tournament play. That’s just my thought.

If you can’t beat ’em – join ’em! Until you experience a 7 pounder commit suicide on your rig, you’ll never know the joy. I can only imagine what a 10 pounder will feel like? I vow to make that a reality next winter, until then I’m thinking I can finally get back to using my flipping sticks for what they were made for, summer is right around the corner, time to go flip, flip!

Posted in Blog Post

Northwest Sport Show

Minneapolis, MN

It’s surely a tradition. Since I was a kid I always got excited for the annual Northwest Sport Show to roll into town and now living 1000 miles away and I still wouldn’t dream of missing it!

The show was as to be expected and I was very fortunate to get back up north, see some familiar faces, shake some deserving hands and talk shop with those that make Minnesota such a fond place in my heart. I also get the opportunity to represent my sponsors and showcase some of the new products that are coming out in the near future.

Navionics

Navionics is not only the best mapping company, they set the standard in the world of underwater high definition charting. I travel to new lakes and rivers everyday, there’s no way I could be successful without the help of my Navionics chip.

New this season is Navionics highly anticipated Nav+, which will allow the buyer to download any area of the United States that fits their exact needs. For instance, if you live in Minnesota but frequent Florida you can add both states to your personalized card. Then if you plan a trip to Texas, simply add Texas. This way you as a consumer doesn’t need to purchase areas you won’t be using. Giving the consumer much more value for their dollar.

Navionics is the only true lake mapping software company that allows users to upload data and to make it better, they allow the buyer to have unlimited freshest data updates. Simply visit www.Navionics.com, place your Navionics SD card into your computers card reader and click a button. Just that easy you have all the freshest data that Navionics is updating by the day.

Lowrance

There was all kinds of buzz inside the Lowrance booth with everyone glued to the new Touch screens like a 13 year old is to his Playstation. I can’t hardly blame them either, I’ve been rocking these new units for well over 6 months now and have been loving every second.

Lowrance HDS Touch offers up touch screen that is made to perform in extreme elements. The use of touchscreen enabled the larger screen in place of all the unnecessary buttons and made the entire system far more efficient and user friendly.

If you have any questions on any of these products please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll do my best to help you out!

Tight Lines!

Posted in Blog Post

FLW Everstart Central

Lake of the Ozarks, Osage Beach, MO

First off, let’s just get down to brass tacks and call a spade a spade. I never had a chance. Completely lost from start to finish.

Initially, I was eager and optimistic about this derby as I have some decent knowledge of the Ozark Lakes and always around this very time of year. I had never been to LOZ but from what I came to know, it was most similar to Grand Lake but with much clearer water. Let me tell you, on this go around, ole’ LOZ was nothing like Grand, it was a beast all of it’s own.

I stayed down by the dam for much of practice and though usually I feel more comfortable up river, all my previous success on Ozark Lakes in March came on the lower end of the lake near their respected dam. Also, we were in the midst of a week long Canadian clipper that felt more like an Antarctic clipper and my initial thinking was that these clear water main-lake fish would be less effected than the shallow and dirtier water bass up river.

Saturday and Sunday of practice I found success fishing way up a main creek arm and flipping a black and blue BassTEK Tungsten Jig to tapering bluff rock that met spawning bays. The water temp was in the low 40’s and with the onslaught of rain that soaked the area ahead of this cold front I knew this bite was never going to hold up as the rain would surely muddy up my water.

Sure enough that bite vanished for me rather quickly and I instead focused my efforts on trying to back track out and fish secondary and main lake points with the tried and true methods for LOZ, a Umbrella Rig mixed in with a jerkbait.

Generally, this style fishing is not my strength but after moving to Tennessee and spending the winter learning on Lake Chickamauga, throwing both of these baits have been a mainstay. After fishing Monday through Wednesday without a keeper bite, the obvious started sinking in. This was going to be a learning deal for me.

I’ve worked very hard at learning what my electronics are telling me. Countless hours, face to screen studying my Navionics Map and breaking down structure with my Lowrance HDS network. I was very impressed with my ability to find bass in unfamiliar terrain and under unfamiliar circumstances but was disgusted with my lack of knowledge on how to catch them. I could idle main-lake points and secondary points and spot schools of bait suspended out over very deep water and I could also see small schools of bass that were hanging just beneath the shad. The key was finding the points that were near channel swings as this seem to be the general correlation. Transition banks like the one below were the key and were definitely the spots that were holding the right fish.

The problem was I had no idea how to catch these fish and even worse, I had no confidence in any creative attempt I was able to muster up. I could find these fish out in 65 feet of water but suspending about 25-35 feet down. I wish I could have got them to eat a Umbrella Rig better but the only other option was a suspending jerkbait like the Biovex Amp Stay 80. The key to capitalizing on this technique is light line, soft jerks and agonizing long pauses. Seriously, we’re talking like 15 second pauses which has got to be the hardest thing in the world when you have no confidence in the spots your fishing.

It all proved to be too much for me and I posted up a career worst and very humbling 103rd place. Never have I been so lost in an event and felt so out classed to top it off. I was forced a hard learning lesson and still have a lot to work on in this area of my fishing ability. I had never really targeted suspended fish before and the combination of cold weather and clear water made for a challenge that I was not yet ready to accept.

On the good side, after loading up and blowing out of LOZ, I headed south to hang with some buddies that were fishing Table Rock Lake. Conditions were pretty similar between the two lakes and I took what I had learned on LOZ and put it to use on old Table Rock. Toward the end of the day I was following a old creek channel toward the back of a creek. It came up and bumped a secondary point just perfectly. I threw out and caught myself a 2 and a 3 pounder and this 8 pound gorilla.

I’m getting there one day at a time and enjoying the entire ride along the way!

Posted in Blog Post

FLW Everstart Southeastern

Lake Guntersville, Guntersville, AL

Since I moved so close to Guntersville, I decided to throw my money in for this event even though I wasn’t fishing the entire series. Being that Guntersville is an awesome fishery and only about two cups of coffee from my new home, I had figured I’d have all the time in the world to practice for this event.

Nothing ever works out the way I expected. Instead, I spent a good part of the winter down in Florida and then had my boat in getting serviced due to a small piece of wood that I had accidently gotten lodged in my return line and kept dropping lower units and melting prop hubs.

The week of the tournament and I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma working the Bassmaster Classic and as soon as that was wrapped, I drove through the night to get my boat and was finally on old G’ville bright and early Tuesday morning with a day and half to get things figured out.

It didn’t take any time at all as I was having no problems catching fish and the size was there and was feeling good about my odds of putting together a good sack. I found some new submergent milfoil clumps that were only in about 3-5 feet that was holding a nice school of four pound bass. I also found some rock areas that were close to secondary channels. These rocks were holding the right ones and they were jumping all over Outkast Touch Down Jigs and shaky head worms.

Day one and I had a late flight. The weather had taken a swing from bad to worse with temps in the 30’s. I stubbed my toe right away with a bad decision as I knew my grass fish would most likely shut down if they hadn’t already and made the choice to stop there and try to bust one or two from that school first thing. I sat there for a good hour trying to force a bite and only got one short strike on a jig.

I left that area and ran to my rocks only to find another boat sitting there. The entire area was good but there was a juicy spot that was the prime meat and every time I’d try to work my way to it, the other competitor would do a great job at keeping me at bay. I watched him catch a solid 5 and one about 8 and I finally forfeited the spot. It was my mistake not going there right away. I let my head get the best of me and got greedy when I should have just used common sense from the get go.

At about noon, I had only a few strikes and no bass in the livewell when I decided to abandon that bite and instead focus on a creek channel that was holding good fish. I put the jigs down and picked up a Hog Farmer Bait Company 5 Wire 8 Blade Alabama Rig with 4″ Biovex Kolt Ridgetail Swimbaits. I cranked up my Hydrowave to full sound and went to work. I managed 3 bass for almost 12 pounds including a 6 pound kicker. Unfortunately I was unable to weigh a full limit and basically threw myself out of contention on day one.

Day two, I knew I had an outside shot of getting a check with a huge day. I decided to get back to the same area where I caught those three and stay there all day with the Hog Farmer Rig. Even though I had gotten to the “juice”first, I decided to stay off it and see if that competitor was going to make it his first priority and if so, it was his. If not, game on. I wasn’t in the area for more than a couple minutes and sure enough I see dude coming around the corner. He had thanked me for my sportsmanship and when I asked how he was doing he said he was leading. That spot pumped out 30 pounds of bass day one. It stung a bit but it’s so rare to be the only one to find anything these days to yourself and I should have made that my priority day one. I didn’t and feel I did the right thing by giving him honors but still told him that if he left it, I’d hit it. He agreed and said fair enough. I moved down to my creek channel and started throwing the rig. Nothing. After a couple hours, I couldn’t stand it anymore and picked up the jig and on every pass I’d boat a keeper. Not giants but good ones and everyone I boated was spitting crayfish up in the livewell. Even the ones that tagged the A-Rig the day earlier. I learned something here, never did I ever boat a keeper on the A-Rig day two and only for about a 2 hour window day one. I must have hit that feeding window just right where these bass really got active. Not sure if the Hydrowave help stimulate these bass day one or if the timing was just right but either way, it sure didn’t hurt!

I had a limit when I decided to check my grass again and still no takers. I decided to head back toward my creek channel and as I arrived I noticed homeboy was off that spot and moved in. I made three casts  with a Outkast Tackle Touch Down Jig and popped a solid 6 pounder, making for a nice cull. I sat there for probably another hour as time ticked away and out of desperation I pulled out a new Biovex prototype swimbait that weighs an ounce but has a small shad profile and is balanced perfectly to fall straight down like a well tuned rattletrap. On my first cast I was dragging the bait just like a football jig acting like I was bringing a dying shad across the rocks when big girl smoked it! Man, it was a giant and I’ll throw my pride to the side and say this one pulled my arms down! I got her just to the surface when for no reason at all, she pulled off. I couldn’t believe it and have no idea how I could have changed that outcome. I never got a great look but I whole heartedly believe that bass was well over 10. I don’t throw that around lightly either and by all means read through my entire blog that I started since 2007 and find one time where I’ve ever had the kahunas to throw a statement like that out there. Either way, she was gone and I had to go weigh. I came to the scales with a respectable 16 and change and finished in 69th place out 156 anglers. All I needed was two more 14″ bass day one and I’d a had a nice $1500 dollar check but instead was loading the boat and heading for home.

I still have mixed emotions as I should have filled a limit day one and would have cashed a much needed check. Unfortunately, I didn’t but still take little satisfaction for a respectable finish despite my first ever tourney on Lake Guntersville. All I know is that ole’ G is very much alive and well and will be for a very long time. I can’t wait to get back!

Posted in Blog Post

2013 Bassmaster Classic Expo

Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Tulsa, OK

The 2013 Bassmaster Classic has come and gone and left the naysayers searching for words to explain how the best of the best managed big sacks of fish everyday while fishing in water temps in the 30’s and air temps down in the teens!

As I said before the event, Grand Lake is in my opinion the best non-grass lake in the country with maybe the exception of Lake Falcon but unlike Falcon, these fish are used to the cold water being so far north and a winter blizzard won’t effect the outcome at all. It may only have made it better.

Congrats to Cliff Pace for finding the winning pattern and knocking their lights out the first two days before slow rolling to the official victory on day three. I’ve always liked whatever I’ve ever heard of Cliff, he’s a die hard bass fisherman who day in and day out, just wants to fish. He makes a great champion for our sport and goes to show what hard work and passion can produce.

The Bassmaster Classic Expo Show was off the charts busy and the attendees came ready to spend some of their hard earned money on the things that matter most…..bass fishing! I saw everything from lures to electronics to boats being bought, showing that the future of our sport is bright. In fact, I was taken a back seeing all the kids that were there, wearing their favorite anglers jersey and talking bass fishing like some long lived veterans. That’s what it’s all about, the future and it sure seems as a sport we’re doing something right.

Here’s a few booths that I visited that seemed to always be packed with fans checking out their newest products.

Navionics

I got the pleasure of spending most of my time working in the Navionics booth showing off our newest technologies and explaining how I count on their products to catch fish day in and day out. Being the only true “software” company to produce lake maps, they are so far ahead of the competition and offer you as a consumer much more bang for your buck. The new, soon to be released Navionics+, will allow consumers to update any lake or any state, no matter the region to better suite their customers individual needs.

To find out more, please visit Navionics website.

Trokar

Talk about one of the best booth setups of the entire show, Trokar had their visitors on their mind and their Tour Pros were their signing autographs and giving away memorabilia around the clock.  Trokar does it big with their hooks and does it equally as big with their pros. With anglers like that, there’s no doubt who makes the sharpest and baddest hooks on the market!

To find out more, please visit the Lazer Trokar website.

Hydrowave

Generally in the sport of competitive bass fishing you have choices over what products you want to use and what suites your style. Rarely is there ever a single product that if you don’t use it, you’ll get beat by the guy that does. Now I’d like to introduce you to Hydrowave, a noise simulator that imitates the sounds of bass feeding on shad or other schooling prey. This product does things that I can’t even explain and all I know is when I have it on and tuned to the appropriate setting, I’m catching more and bigger fish. I’m not the only one either, if you walked around the boat yard where the Classic competitors boats were stored you’d see exactly what I’m talking about. There’s no fools in the Bassmaster Classic lineup.

To find out more, please visit the Hydrowave website.

Seaguar

Line may be boring to buy. I mean come on, who gets all jolly about dropping three bills (big bills) on fishing line? No one. Not like they do when they drop half a G on a G Loomis Rod. Truth be told though, line is the most important piece of equipment day in and day out. There’s all kinds of line manufacturer’s these days but most of them are owned by one giant group that makes everything from line, to lures to clothing. Not me, I depend on my line to get a bass that’s potentially worth thousands if not millions to the boat. It’s the only that connects you to all your dreams. Do yourself a favor, invest in a company that does line and does it right, Seaguar. If you think I’m being over dramatic ask the Cliff Pace or any Classic winner about the one fish that got them to that dance in the first place? Then ask them where they’d be if their line had broke on that bass? Case in point.

To find out more, please visit the Seaguar website.

Lowrance

That’s a given! I mean come on, of course Lowrance is going to have a big turn out at the Classic, it’s in Tulsa, their back yard! It also didn’t have anything to do with a new product released that goes by the name HDS Gen2 Touch did it? Of course it did, touch screens are the way of the future and offer anglers much more user friendly option. If you don’t think I’m sincere, my Ranger has two two 9’s and a 12 hanging off of it. Convinced?

To find out more, please visit the Lowrance website.

G Loomis and Shimano

Enough said…

Seriously, I don’t think I need to waste the time and actually spell it all out. I said, “G Loomis and Shimano” they’ve been pumping out the best for years, it’s truly that simple. They have a reputation and they’ve earned it and by the looks of their booth, everyone else knows it too.

One note in particular, I’ve been using the new GLX rods for a better part of six months now and even though I’m skeptical to change, my rig is packed full of the new green blanks. They actually found a way to outdo themselves.

To find out more, please visit the G Loomis and Shimano websites.

Posted in Blog Post

A GRAND Classic Preview

All I heard over the past year and a half since BASS announced the 2013 Bassmaster Classic would be held on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake was what a horrible venue this was and that the guaranteed frigid weather would surely make for an impossible bite. To a degree, the naysayers were spot on, the weather is not just frigid, it’s damn near treacherous as Winter Storm Q has wreaked havoc on the central region of the United States dumping snow, leaving sheets of ice on the freeways and plummeting temperatures to bone chilling lows. In fact, the morning take-off air temp is going to be sitting at a wicked 19 degrees.

Still, I’d much rather be running down the winding turns of Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees enduring the frigid temps than working the Expo Show downtown Tulsa. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited to represent my sponsors and myself at the largest bass fishing consumer show on the planet and without their support I wouldn’t be in the position to even have a chance at qualifying for the most prestigious bass championship in the first place.

What’s tough is that qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic has been a goal of mine since I was a kid. Seriously, not a day goes by that I don’t think of it. To make matters a little tougher to swallow is that Grand Lake is the lake I know the best outside Minnesota’s, Lake Minnetonka and I’ve spent at least five different trips on Grand during this very time of year. What the above mentioned naysayers are assuming is completely off base outside the obvious prediction of cold weather. Currently, Grand Lake is the best non-grass lake in the country and the cold that everyone is gripping about is a everyday buffet for these bass which are already fattening up and going into full-time prespawn mode.

How they catch them and where?

I was asked this an in interview by BassEast last week, which you can read here. I gave a couple scenarios for what can be expected but now due to the immense amount of rain, sleet and snow, I’m expecting my prediction of dirty water, a 1/2 oz. black and blue jig and anglers that like to go flippy flippy to excel to the top of the leader board.

A little more fuel for thought? I expect this thing to be won near the dam, like very close to the dam in fact I have a cove’s name permanently stamped into my brain but in case I’m wrong, I’ll keep that little piece of advice near and dear.

Besides all the frigid fun to be had on the water, the party continues in full forces at the Tulsa Convention Center where anyone who has anything to do with the sport of bass fishing will be promoting their products to the masses.

I’ll be spending most of my time in the Navionics booth but will also be helping out at the Hydrowave, Trokar, Lake Fork Tackle and Lowrance booths. Please by all means stop by, introduce yourself and talk shop because besides actually fishing, talking fishing and buying fishing products is second best.

Hope to see you at the show and CONGRATS to the 53 best throwing down this weekend, may the best man win!

Posted in Blog Post

C’Mon Maine!

You know me, or well maybe you don’t, but one thing you should know is I frown on political jargon here on JoshDouglasFishing.com. Not that I don’t have my opinions and beliefs, cause God knows I do but I don’t feel the need to use my website as a soap box to try to force my beliefs down your throat. In fact, I’m quite the opposite, I find what makes this country great is that everyone has an opinion and as long as it comes from their heart, than they’re entitled to their opinion. I may hate it, you may hate it, but it’s their opinion and that’s all that matters.

I would much rather just talk fishing here and leave the politics to the late night conversations around the fire with a few buddies and case of cold ones. Nothing like annoying my wife with some good ole’ Miller Lite fueled political talk, as if talking fishing with the same friends for the two hours prior to that conversation wasn’t already mind numbing for her. Gotta love her, she’s a trooper.

 ** Let’s do our part to be sure these great products keep catching giant fish for years and years to come.

But, and of course there had to be a but coming, it seems that Rep. Paul Davis of Maine, who claims to be a serious fisherman, is requesting a state-wide band of “rubber” baits in his waters. Being that soft plastics haven’t been made of rubber for some time, it seems to me that his lack of scientific evidence or anything even close to a logical thought will prove to be completely off base. However I would imagine, in his uneducated demands that he is also referring to that of soft plastics which may appear to a novice fisherman, pun intended, that it’s made of rubber but really it’s a liquid plastic that is heated, molded and then cooled into a soft plastic.

Even so, there isn’t much of any scientific evidence that suggests soft plastics are any more harmful to our fish or our fisheries than that of any other artificial lure. In fact, what is proven is that artificial lures are far less harmful and way less lethal than that of live bait. I’m not throwing live bait under the bus here either as by the numbers they’re all safe and should be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts and their families for generations to come.

Despite trying to strip outdoor enthusiasts of their rights, Rep. Paul Davis must also feel Maine and the rest of the United States is balling uncharted levels and doesn’t want to consider the monetary side of implementing such a law. The last research I saw was done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where in the year 2006, it was estimated that at least 30 million U.S. anglers, ages 16 years or older, enjoyed over 403 million fishing trips, spending over 42 billion in fishing related expenses that year alone. I’m not saying that money is everything but come on Rep. Davis, how about you use your resources and public funding as well as your imagination and come up with a few better and more realistic ways to help our waters and our fish because if I’m not mistaken, it is us, the anglers, that provide the monetary allowances that keep not only our fish and our waterways but also our tradition of fishing alive and strong.

Please take a quick moment to sign this petition put together by Keep America Fishing, so that Maine’s legislature not only here’s their own anglers voice but knows loud and clear that we as anglers nationwide got each others back.

For more information please check out the following websites, Bassmaster and Keep America Fishing.

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Southern Open

Lake Toho/Kissimmee Chain, Kissimmee, FL

Frustrated and Heartbroken may just as well be the title to this blog post. No matter how hard you prepare for something, no matter all the precautions you take or the desire you have, in this sport there’s variables that are just simply out of your control. I guess that’s what makes winning all the better. To win, you bested a stacked field. You outsmart mother nature and found a way to skirt around the road blocks. When you lost, you acknowledged that you fell and got right back up, dusted yourself off and tried it again. A true winner will take a lump right on the chin and anxiously stick their head out for another. That’s how you become a winner in the world of bass fishing, you gotta be a fighter.

I first need to apologize for my lack of posts lately but I have been down in central Florida practicing for the first Bassmaster Southern Open held on the renowned, Kissimmee Chain. My Father was able to fly out and meet me down there as we have always talked about how great it would be to spend some time in central Florida, dodging alligators in hopes of jacking up a double digit largemouth from the water jungle that is Lake Kissimmee.

My original plan was to never leave Lake Toho as this is usually the lake where most events are won but since my Dad got us a cabin at Camp Mack for the pre-practice, I decided we’d spend a few days there and it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with what I was seeing.

Everyone including myself was thinking this was going to be a blowout because of the warmer temps and the full moon that was scheduled for the Saturday before our tournament. After spending a day or two combing the ultra shallows in search of bedding bass, instead all I saw was an occasional buck bass guarding fry and deserted beds. I know they spawn from February through April in Florida but I still think a good wave moved up on the new moon, which was a couple weeks prior and from what I was hearing, these fish had started spawning in December with a few claiming they caught ’em of beds in the end of November.

Florida can be tricky with all the vegetation as everything looks so good but the key to Florida is understanding the grass, both submergent and emergent. Certain strains of vegetation will grow in silt or muck and others need sand to grow. Once I figured out which grass needs sand, I could quickly find these potential spawning areas. After not having much luck finding the actual spawners, I knew the next step would be finding staging areas that held both prespawn and postspawn females. I found that if I looked right outside these spawning flats to the next drop off that I could find these staging areas with the key being finding the thickest of matted vegetation and using a 1 1/2 oz. Eagle Claw Lazer Tungsten Weight, with a 5/0 Trokar Flippin’ Hook and a Lake Fork Tackle Tube Craw (Black/Blue) and flip into these mats and hold on. Winter in Florida may seem nice to us but it’s actually a very unstable time for these Florida-strain bass that are very susceptible to the slightest changes in weather temps. The overnight lows are key and all I know is when I have frost on my boat in the morning, the bass aren’t loving life in the lake. These mats are filled with mud and even when the temperature is not favorable for bass, it’s always sunny in Florida and these mats will heat up throughout the day and the bass put their backs up into the mat and use them as a way to stay warm.

My Dad and I managed some nice fish during our pre practice time and quickly my heart was telling me Kissimmee was going to be the place that I would try to win this thing in.

Official practice started and I spent a little time on Big Toho and all that did was confirm my liking for Kissimmee. These lakes may be close together but they are completely different from one another. Toho is more manicured than Kissimmee but if you got the time to search off shore structure and like deep weedlines, this is the place to be. Instead, I focused my time on the very southern part of Lake Toho, trying to find an area to fish while I was waiting for the lock master to get us through the lock. I should probably explain for those who don’t know, the Kissimmee Chain is made up of basically four lakes though there are a few others. It starts up north in the town of Kissimmee with Lake Toho, then you lock through the dam and head down a few mile channel and come into Lake Cypress. Next you’ll run across Cypress back through another long channel which of course is named the Kissimmee River and you’ll end up in Lake Hatchineha, run through Hatch and back through the Kissimmee River and walla, you’re in Lake Kissimmee.

I did manage to find some fish in Toho but was skeptical to their size. I spent the entire official practice and the weekend before pulling on all my bites on both Kissimmee and Toho so that I wasn’t burning giants that I would need come tournament time. This takes every bone of confidence in your body too. You come all the way to Florida, the land of the giants and pull on bites without setting the hook being ultra careful not to actually catch them. It takes a special kind of dumb-ass to be a tournament angler!

To my astonishment, I drew boat 5 out of 198 anglers for the first day! Dude, it doesn’t get much better for my game plan. Being that they will only allow about 15-20 boats to lock through at a time, I knew I would skirt right through and have dibs on the best stuff on Kissimmee.

It was one of those tournaments I just felt good about. It’s not everyday you can show up to an unfamiliar body of water and have just four rods rigged up for this big of an event. Basically I had two G Loomis GLX Flipping Sticks, matched with Shimano Core MgFv high speed flipping reels and had them both spooled with 60 lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid. Both were rigged identical except one had a 1/2 oz. Lazer Tungsten Weight for sparse pad clumps and solo reed patches and the other had the 1 1/2 oz. Lazer Tungsten for the matted stuff. Both were equipped with a 5/0 Trokar Flippin’ Hook and a Lake Fork Tackle Tube Craw and yes, both had an insert rattle in the body.

The other two rods were basically just time consumers in between good areas to try to smack a hungry bass. One was a 1/2 oz. Biovex Strangun Spinnerbait and the other was a Lake Fork Tackle Boot Tail Magic Shad rigged with a 1/8 oz. weighted Trokar Swimbait Hook.

At take-off everything went good until I got about 5 miles down the lake and I spun a hub. Are you kidding me? I rarely ever have engine issues and now? Keeping my composure, I got the Tournament Director on the phone who sent Tow Boats USA down to help me out. I got them a spare prop and as they were trying to get the prop off on the water, the realized that my hub actually melted to the prop shaft. Unusual, but they were able to pry the old prop off, replace it with a new one and send me on my way. At around 9:30, I was back in action and now waiting in line to try to lock through to head down to Kissimmee. At about 10:30, I was through the lock and racing for Kissimmee when all of a sudden my lower unit blew out. Damn it. Obviously there was more of an internal problem as the lower unit was getting so hot that it melted out another hub and completely wrecked my lower unit.

Now, I’m on my trolling motor trying to get back to the lock so that I can get towed off and get to the service trailer to try and attempt to get back on the water and salvage this day that I just soon forget. Thanks to Tow Boats USA, they had me off the water and to the service trailer where I got fixed up and sent back out with just under an hour to fish before I had to be back to weigh in. Not knowing where to go, I just jumped up on the first weedline and started fishing and managed one small fish, just over a pound and got back to weigh in.

I came to find out that my day 2 was going to be a trying day as well as there was a better chance than not that I had a more severe problem that was still not fixed that could potentially be causing these issues and no where near enough time to get it figured out. This ruled out Kissimmee and instead needing to somehow gain some points, I decided it best to just stay near the launch on the north side of Toho and just go fishing. I hadn’t practiced there but we all know Toho has giants and a good fisherman will figure out a way to at least put something together.

I did manage to put together a small limit and move up the standings but I still couldn’t have been more disappointed with the outcome. Looking back, it’s unfortunate, in fact I could throw up just thinking about it but the fact is this is the beast of our sport. Just like Nascar, we as tournament anglers demand so much out of our engines and boats that I’m just thankful for all the days where it’s gotten me on and off the water and performed at a high level. I’ve fished now competitively for over 6 years and sure I’ve had little issues but never a big one. That says volumes for today’s engines and as a professional angler I need to learn to overcome events like this because anyone who’s fished at these levels has had to do the same.

Looking back, I always try to think of what I could have done to perform better and in this instance there was none. I was around the winning fish, in fact I was sharing water with 10 of the top 12. I’m not saying I’d a been there but I had the bite dialed in, I surely would have done much better then I did staring at the back of a tow boat. All you can do is take care of your equipment, which God knows I do and practice for success because this is not something you can prepare for, you simply can’t fish scared.

I’d like to personally thank everyone at B.A.S.S. as well as the service crews that helped me get back onto the water. I’d also like to thank Tow Boats USA and just say that the $65 I spent for a year of their service not only came back ten times over, but also aided me in moving up the standings.

I can’t wait for the next time I get to get down to the Kissimmee area and get some much due revenge on these giant Florida bass. I’ll be stewing over it until then…….

One more small note, with all that happened or I guess I should say didn’t happen for me, I do have a highlight of the tournament. Being that I stayed so close to the ramp day two, I got my picture taken by Mr. James Overstreet. That may not be a big deal to some, but to me, a guy that appreciates awesome photography, Street is the best in the business in my opinion and it’s an honor to see yourself being focused into his lens. Here’s a couple of the pics for you to check out and you can surely see the rest of them here on the Bassmaster Website.

Posted in Blog Post

2013 Tournament Schedule…..Almost.

I’m so happy it’s 2013! This is the year I’ve dreamed of for a long long time. Literally since I was a little kid I wanted to fish tournaments at the national levels. I got a small taste last year competing in the Bassmaster Central Opens and that just made me 100 times more determined and driven. I know I still got a ton to learn, the only way I roll is on my feet so I may as well learn on the fly. I’ll take my lumps on the chin but this year I’m aiming to win. I’m competitive, there’s no denying that. The more experience I gain, the more my expectations rise. This year is looking great but my mentality is exhausting, I want more, never ever satisfied.

My new present day goals aren’t set to judge my abilities. Last year I wanted to make the top 50 in the points, this year I want top 5. After all, my highest of goals are to qualify for the tour level. I thought strongly about fishing the FLW Tour this year but decided against it as I still want the sense of belonging. I’d like to prove my place through the professional open levels. Plus the sound of “Josh Douglas Bassmaster Classic Qualifier” has a great little ring to it doesn’t it?

I’ve been staying real busy these past couple months trying to get everything in order so I can simply concentrate on fishing when the season gets rolling. I’ve created a pretty hectic workout regimen to assist me when on the water and give me every advantage a guy can get. I’m a firm believer that a healthy body fuels a healthy mind.

The tournaments that I’m confirmed for are the Bassmaster Southern Opens (Kissimmee Chain, FL – Douglas Lake, TN – Lake Logan Martin, AL). I’m registered and awaiting confirmation for the Bassmaster Central Opens (Red River, LA – Arkansas River, OK – Ross Burnett Reservoir, MS) as well as the FLW Everstarts Centrals (Lake of the Ozarks, MO – Lake Pickwick, AL – Kentucky Lake, KY – Detroit River, MI). I’m also registered for the FLW Everstart Southeastern on Lake Guntersville, AL.

I’m awaiting conformation but am also looking at either fishing the Bassmaster Northern Opens and/or the PAA Tour. Right now I’m heavily leaning toward the PAA as they have the best payouts, television coverage, excellent competition and the top 15 qualify for the Toyota Texas Bass Classic.

Until then, business as usual!

Posted in Blog Post

Looking Forward to 2013!

Happy New Year! The year 2012 is behind us and the new chapter titled 2013 is now underway. Reflection can be a double edged sword, you remember the good but are forced to face the bad. This past year was one to remember, Bri and I up and moving to southeastern Tennessee with aspirations the size of Texas! It was kinda scary actually.

We’ve known for years we wanted to move south, so we planned, worked to change our lifestyles and followed the plan relatively flawlessly. We had to say goodbye to families and friends, this was easily the hardest. Then the stress of leaving good jobs, good people and a great place like Minnesota comes with its obvious anxieties, but ones we were ready to take head on.

Breaking in 2013 we now call Tennessee home. We’re attempting to and carrying out a lifetime dream I’ve had since I was a little kid and if it wasn’t for these great companies and their products, as well as my family’s support, I wouldn’t be turning this dream into a working reality.

As I continue to prepare for what lies ahead in 2013, I can’t help but be excited. I’d like to personally send thanks for your continued support!

Biovex

Biovex is a top of the line Japanese tackle manufacturer, known for their innovative Japanese design at a fraction of the price. Now that Biovex has moved into the U.S. market, please visit their website at www.BiovexUSA.com and start catching more bass!

Vintage Moose
The Vintage Moose Tavern,  123 16th Street, Idaho Springs, CO 80452

The Vintage Moose Tavern nestled in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains is a must stop anytime you find yourself cutting across I-70, to or from Denver. “A Tiny Tavern Big on Bull” is the perfect slogan for this cozy mountain joint. Known for their great beers and smoked meat, it’s also the perfect place to talk outdoors, in fact it’s welcomed. Their new website is currently under construction, until then follow them on Facebook!

Lowrance

Lowrance is and always has lead the way in boating electronics. The introduction to their new HDS Touch system has completely changed the direction of fishing electronics by making these units much more efficient and user friendly. Please visit their website at www.Lowrance.com and check out my video showcasing the new Lowrance HDS Gen-2 Touch System.

Navionics

The unchallenged leader in underwater mapping. Navionics offering free updates on all their new chips also has their award winning APP that essentially turns smartphones into handheld GPS units loaded with all their great underwater maps. Visit their website at www.Navionics.com.

Lazer TroKar

When I’m fishing, I make sure I got a hook that bites back! Trokar is by far the best and sharpest hook on the market. Innovative design and pure toughness is what I lean on when it’s all on the line! www.LazerTrokar.com

Lake Fork Trophy Lures

There’s certain companies that you learn to depend on when you embark in competitive fishing. They’re the ones that no matter what, you know you’ll be using their products. In the world of soft plastics, very few can say they’re in line with Lake Fork Trophy Lures. No matter the lake anywhere in the world, there’s a plastic in the LFT line that will flat bust their jaws. Just preaching truth. Order yours at www.LFTlures.com.

HydroWave

I depend on my Lowrance and Navionics to assist me in breaking down tournament waters, but there’s one electronic unit that flat out produces bites. If you’ve been living in a cave or are brand new to bass fishing than I’m happy to introduce you to the one and only, Hydrowave. Capable of literally starting a feeding frenzy, this is a mainstay on every tournament pro’s boat. Read why at www.Hydrowave.com.

Seaguar

I wrote an article for Bass Utopia titled, “Putting it All on the Line“. This couldn’t have been a more fitting title for a deep written lecture on why I trust Seaguar when it’s all on the line. They offer the best quality and most sensitive lines with everything varying from mid range fluorocarbon to extremly high end Tatsu fluorocarbon as well as mono and braid. www.Seaguar.com

G.Loomis

Since I was a small kid I wanted to own a G Loomis rod, now grown I can happily say I have 25 or so of them. Why? They’re the best! They were then and they are now. The competition keeps coming but the crown always stays with the king. www.GLoomis.com and be sure to check out the new GLX Crankbait series, they’ve broken the mold.

Shimano

Japan knows a thing or two about fishing reels and no one sets the standard like Shimano. When you’re used to fishing the best, the rest is simply not an option. Offering state of the art fishing reels in all shapes, sizes and prices to fit your needs. www.fish.shimano.com

Outkast Tackle

If there’s one bait I use the most it’s a jig and Outkast Tackle offers up everything and then some to help you pull big donkeys away from cover. Available in all shapes and sizes! The Outkast Money Jig is a mainstay for me whenever I’m around grass. Really, I mean it………it’s game over.
www.OutkastTackle.com

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

Posted in Blog Post

Recipe’s Off the Water

Blackened Crappie Fish Tacos

This is one of my all-time favorite good eats and one that requires zero guilt for enjoying. Crappie is a wonderful dish and ever since leaving Minnesota for the warmer climates and flowing water of the Tennessee River, I’ve traded in walleye for the ever popular crappie. Don’t get it twisted, walleye’s the BOMB but so is cold water crappie and these slabbers are stacking up in brush piles by the dozen. Even a diehard bass angler such as myself finds it a worthy stop for a quick few minutes. I’m out there anyway, may as well catch Bri and I some free dinner.

There’s nothing wrong with the traditional up-north style crappie eating where we roll ’em in Shore Lunch and give ’em a good frying before opening up a can of beans and a bag of Old Dutch potato chips. Now being in the south and picking up on the home-style way of eating, there’s also something special about deep frying these tasty filets smothered in beer batter, alongside some fresh made coleslaw, greens with pepper infused vinegar, jalapeno hush puppies and maybe even some rice and beans. Let’s not forget a generous portion of Bri’s homemade spicy chow chow all up on there! Son!!

With my upcoming tournament season right around the corner, I’ve been looking for better ways to eat by parlaying that with a healthy workout regimen. As I said before, I love taste but find taste is not something that I have to go without just to eat right and stay healthy. Learning to sub spice for sodium is a terrific way to enjoy true flavor and live right at the same time. Also finding ways to work around deep frying is beneficial too, but by all means you still got to live a little so everything in moderation.

Back to the tacos, after all that’s why you’re still reading. These are truly delicious, relatively healthy and a different all around way for you and your family to enjoy.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Blackened Crappie

1 lb. Fresh Crappie Filets
3 teaspoons Spanish Paprika
2 teaspoons Onion Powder
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Ground Thyme
3 teaspoons Basil
1 Full Ground Dried Cayenne Pepper

Jalapeno Tarter

1 cup Mayo
1 tablespoon Pickle Relish (Bri’s Homemade Relish if you’re fortunate enough)
1 tablespoon Minced Onion
1 Diced Jalapeno fresh or pickled
1 teaspoon Tobasco Sauce or Tobasco Pepper Vinegar
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
Pepper to taste

Corn Relish

1 Diced Roma Tomato
1 Diced Roasted Red Pepper
1 cup Frozen Corn or Grilled Corn
1 Fresh Diced Jalapeno
1/2 cup Diced Cilantro
Black Pepper to taste

You’ll also want to choose between corn tortillas and flour tortillas. Corn are much healthier and are more authentic as well as less expensive, but no matter your taste, either will work. Just make sure they’re the standard soft taco size. You’ll also want 1 head of cabbage.

Preparation is simple! First Prepare your tarter and corn relish and place in fridge to unify. Pretty simple to understand, just mix those above ingredients together, it’s self explanatory. If you’re not following perhaps you should stick to simply carry-out.

The tacos are next and you’ll want to put a little butter and/or olive oil and bring it to medium high heat. Roll crappie filets in a gallon ziplock with all above spices and shake until they’re well covered. Place filets in oiled skillet and let cook until filets turn from a translucent raw look to a white and flaky look, flip every minute. Once cooked through, place in a cooking dish and put in oven at 400 degrees. At the same time, place your corn tortillas (only if their corn) in the same oven on a cookie sheet and flip after one side starts turning to a light brown. After tortillas are cooked to your liking pull both the tortillas and the filets out of the oven. This should only take several minutes with a preheated oven. Take a spatula or a wooden spoon and break up the crappie filets making a big ole’ dish of torn up blackened fish.

Take your warmed tortillas and spread a little jalapeno tarter around, add a heaping spoon full of blackened crappie, top with corn relish and fresh chopped cabbage. Add a little Cholula Hot Sauce and/or cheese if you’re like my wife, as well as a little squeeze of fresh lime or lemon. ENJOY!

Posted in Blog Post

A Very Merry Christmas

My first Tennessee Christmas has come and gone and will be one I’ll never soon forget, summing up all the reasons why my wife and I packed everything and now call the Tennessee River home.

There’s no denying that the holidays are hard when you’re 1000 miles from home and away from all your family and friends that you love so much. However, it’s also hard to be in Minnesota when your sole reason for living is virtually impossible due to the 3 feet of frozen ice covering all our great northern lakes for 6 months of the year. It’s a give and take and though family and friends take rank over fishing, having the ability to hit the water on Christmas sure helps take away from the home sickness.

My good buddy and fellow bass pro Andy Young, decided to make the trip south and spend Christmas with Bri and I as well as help me exercise some of the fat Lake Chickamauga bass and boy was his timing right on! As I was saying in my previous post, Chick was days away from opening wide up and all the lake really needed was a good old fashioned cold snap to get the shad twitching and the bass eating.

The days before Andy’s arrival and we got just what we were asking for as the overnight temps dipped down into the 20’s and started grouping the shad up. The bass followed suit and instead of being one here and one there, they were one after another as the big ones starting eating up for the upcoming winter. In fact, as Andy was driving down I was putting a hurting on ’em and would have really put together a day but I threw a 8 pounder at the boat that was barely hooked with my Biovex Amp Stay80 Jerkbait. Heartbreaking for sure but signs of what was about to go down.

  
 

The fishing stayed great as we were using basically anything that would move to catch bass. I caught some nice ones the first day off a Biovex Kolt Ridgetail Swimbait and a balsa flat sided crank. Andy did work with a big ole squarebill and we both found some success with jerkbaits. We basically had one of each from a Biovex Amp Stay80 (Hot Shad) smaller profile jerkbait all the way up to a Megabass Ito Vision 110 for the larger size. We even got into some Alabama or I should rephrase, Tennessee Rig fish tipped with 3 Biovex Kolt Ridgetail Swimbaits in both 3″ and 4″ versions. I got to give props where props are due and give a shout out to Scott with Hog Farmers Bait Company and his 3 Arm 6 Blade Rig that outperformed all the rest that we had in the boat. It was a great couple days of fishing and we found most our success using my Lowrance HDS Gen-2 Touch electronics to find creek channels, road beds and points as well as looking for shallow dead grass to put ’em boat.

In fact, at one point we bagged up our best 5 going for just over 31 pounds and caught them in less than 20 minutes! Dude! It was so awesome we even caught a few 5’s in that time frame that didn’t even help! I’m telling you all, Lake Chickamauga and the Tennessee River is alive and well. Probably never been better.

I’ll soon be in the process of obtaining my USCG Captain License so that I can guide the Tennessee River and it’s lakes including Lakes Chickamauga, Nickajack and Guntersville. Until then, I’m running a special on my On-Water Lowrance Training Program, where I’ll take you on the water with your rig and help customize your setup and teach you all that goes into these great Lowrance products. I promise after one trip that you’ll be very in tune with your equipment and be able to better read what the water is telling you and catch big stringers of fish! My winter 2013 promotion for my On-Water Lowrance Training Program is half off, 4 hours for only $150 dollars! A great value when considering my normal price of $300 for 4 hours. Contact me at josh@joshdouglasfishing.com to take advantage of this limited offer and book your Lowrance lesson today!

Until then, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! See ya’ll on the water!!

Posted in Blog Post

Tackle Update: Biovex USA PRESS RELEASE

Biovex  

BIOVEX™ Lures from Japan, Now Available in U.S.

BIOVEX™, one of Japan’s highest quality lure companies announces its launch of their freshwater lures in the U.S.

About BIOVEX™

Since 1997, BIOVEX’s success in Japan comes from the precise calculation of technical specs to make easy to catch, result oriented lures for both professional and novice anglers. Better yet, their lures are a fraction of the price of other Japanese companies with an average price of $8. They have recently established their U.S. headquarters in Orange County,California.

U.S. Professional

Josh Douglas, professional tournament bass angler from Shakopee, Minnesota will be competing in tournaments such as Bassmaster and FLW in 2013. Josh uses BIOVEX™ lures and said “proven winners such as the BIOVEX™ Deep Runner and BIOVEX™ Wake I have so much confidence in.”

Availability

Currently the fresh water bait available in the U.S. is 9 types of Hard Bait, 2 types of Soft Bait and 3 types of Wire Bait in many sizes, weights and colors. Salt water bait will be available in summer 2013. For more information, visit www.biovexusa.com.

For further information, please contact:

Hiro Zusho
info@biovexusa.com
(949) 478 – 5695
P.O. Box 7905
Newport Beach, CA 92658

Posted in Blog Post

Holding Off on the Winter Blues!

What a change of pace! This time last year, I was day dreaming through a Minnesota winter with thoughts of four pound largemouth choking my Biovex Stay80 jerkbait on a cold December afternoon. I was well aware that this winter I would be calling southeastern Tennessee and Lake Chickamauga my new home. Fast forward to today and indeed I do call the flowing waters of the Tennessee River home. I’m out living the dream of being able to launch my Ranger and fish just days away from Christmas, instead of rustling through three feet of snow to stare at my baby in the garage.

Everything I was dreaming of last winter is basically right on par, except of course for the fishing. As I said, I was envisioning I’d be throwing my favorite jerkbaits on main-lake points with a cadence so slow I could check my emails in between jerks. That’s just not the case. So far the winter has been mild enough that the bass aren’t predictable at all. The grass that welcomed my arrival in early October is all but gone leaving helpless strands floating around only good enough to ruin a perfectly thrown cast. The shad that should be twitching so hard they make bass drool are so abundant and healthy that they roam from the main river channel, all the way back in creeks and everywhere in between.

The fishing is very hit or miss and wouldn’t you know it, I’m loving every second! You kidding me?! To be junk fishing days before Christmas! I was born for this man! You can catch them all over the lake right now and as long as you got a bait in the water you’re liable to get your arms ripped off!

I’m not exaggerating either. I can catch them in the backs of the creeks on a frog over whatever floating dead vegetation is left back there. An Outkast Swim Jig tipped with a Lake Fork Hyper Boot Tail is killer right now for that big bite. The main lake is also holding some good fish on key structure and nothing calls to them better than a Biovex Deep Runner. Heck, you can still whack a giant on a Spook!

I along with my new buddy, up and coming bass pro Gavin Smith have been out trying some new things teaching each other a little something and putting a few dandies in the boat in the process. The bite may be tough but you know where I’ll be……..gone fishing!

Posted in Blog Post

Tips of the Trade – Say NO to Rust!

What pisses a guy off more than one of his high end crankbaits getting rusted out? I’ll tell you what’s worse, when his entire crankbait box gets rusted out! That high end Japanese Biovex Crankbait and that old school Bagley’s that seemed to always pull the biggest bass away from cover, now are loosing the battle to the number one crankbait disease, the cancer if you will of our treasured underwater runners, rust.

It’s not the high end baits that are causing the initial problem, it’s usually that one old bait that still has that ancient split ring that causes the initial catastrophe. From there it slowly creeps one by one until it’s a ravaged every single plug in the entire box. Sure there’s ways to slow this process and clean up some of the damage, in fact I did a blog post on this very website last March. There’s a way you can clean the body of the bait and switch out the hooks to better anti rust options like the Trokar trebles as well as switching out all the components. Though this will assist in slowing the natural process of rust it surely won’t fix the problem. Like a car the only way to fix it is to sand it down, prime it and repaint it and even then it may creep it’s way back. I don’t use the term cancer lightly but you can see the relation.

Lazer TroKar

So are we doomed? Will all our crankbaits eventually meet their maker through this natural process? I think not, but the key is to prevent the problem before it ever happens. Here’s a few steps that may assist you in the future.

First off, don’t by cheap tackle. This doesn’t mean you need to run out and buy $30 dollar jerkbaits but you’ll get what you invest. There’s plenty of perfectly good plugs in the $6 to $10 dollar range, but one of the biggest reasons they are more affordable is because they use cheaper components. I won’t name any names here but I’m sure you all know of some great baits in that price range. It’s simple and affordable to make these baits all the rage by simply taking off the cheap terminal components and replacing them with better. You should always be changing these out anyways. You wouldn’t use the same worm hook for a entire year, that just sounds stupid! So why would you use the same trebles for an extended period of time? Get you some Trokar Trebles and Eagle Claw Lazer Oval Split Rings and know that not only are you protecting your precious cranks but you’re also pimping them out with the best business side of the crank possible.

Next, you aren’t getting bit and you decide it’s time to make a change on the fly and switch baits. Perhaps the bass aren’t appreciating your sexy shad color and would be better dialed in on a chartreuse black back. This is what makes a great fisherman, follow your gut and make the change but by all means don’t throw that bait right back into the box! Instead, lay that bait down on your boat deck or in a cup holder and let it dry off, putting it away wet is what is killing your entire box!

To really get your brain going, let’s step it up a notch. Of course I’m not the first one to foresee the problem of my fish catching arsenal being overtaken by one of Mother Natures best weapons. In fact, many companies are introducing rust free tackle storage options, but let me also tell you I’m not too impressed. I’ve been duped myself, in fact just yesterday I was doing a deep clean on my boat when I lifted up my square bill box and instantly got all the inspiration I needed to bang out this blog post! Last year I personally had went out and had bought a rust free box for my favorite crankbaits only to find that rust had indeed did what rust does best.

The only sure fire way to prevent rust is to use high end components and allow water to naturally evaporate. There’s a company out there that makes tackle boxes that are loaded full of small holes that in return allow moisture to escape, this in fact is a great idea although after doing much internet research I come to find that the holes are a little to big for their britches and allow hooks to come through meaning a trip to the E.R. with a full tackle box stapled to your finger is inevitable. So instead, let’s not be lazy and lets also save a buck by taking your favorite boxes that you already own and put a little elbow grease into them. Take your drill and drill a bunch of holes strategically into the box from every angle. Be sure to use a small enough drill bit to not allow your hooks to pop through because I promise you, you’re in no way any kind of match for a Trokar. Also, be careful to not push to hard on the drill as you don’t want to crack the plastic, let the drill do the work.

Rust is nothing anyone wants to mess with under any circumstance except of course those golfing types that want to get a little more spin out of their wedges but that’s not a conversation for this hardcore bass fishing website. In fact, the only golfing we’re going to talk here is how one should seek out the golf courses on your local lake as all the fertilizer makes for some of the best grass beds on the entire body of water. Nothing like a little hopped up run off to hold a heavy sack of fish!

I promise, if you take the time and follow these steps you’ll be throwing your favorite crankbaits for much much longer!

Posted in Blog Post

Tackle Update: TVA Lake Info APP

There are certain factors that bass anglers need to consider while out on the water looking to achieve success. Weather patterns, seasonal migrations, forage, these are all very important things to consider and when fishing the Tennessee or Cumberland Rivers there may be none more important than the water level and current.

Whenever I’m fishing a standard reservoir, I always make it a habit to go online and gather the Corps of Engineering data for that certain body of water. Things have just got a whole lot easier for me, allow me to introduce an awesome new app released by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) that shares a lot of excellent data perfectly organized and right at your finger tips. Available for both Android and iPhone users, the TVA Lake Info App is a must for anyone who navigates the Tennessee or Cumberland Rivers and its reservoirs. The best part is the App is totally free, yes FREE! My favorite price no doubt.

Here are a few features available on the app:

Lake Elevations
Water Release Schedule
Navigation Lock Information
Lock Master Contact Info
and MUCH MORE!

For more information on the app, feel free to visit the TVA’s website.

Posted in Blog Post

Home Sweet Home

It started as a pipe dream, slowly but surely morphing into a tangible thought. A lofty thought nonetheless but the deep desires that tore into my visions developed into a reality. A reality that needed to be planned, something so thought out that it was years in the making until one recent day when I sat back, turned another page of my life’s book and found an end to a chapter and a start to a new.

In life we all have numerous chapters, a book that tells the story of how our life plays out. For some, their chapters are longer than others, stuck in a rut until fate takes hold. Others work with fate, always looking for the doors to open and running face first through them with giant hopes and aspirations. At times we strive to new levels and other times we fall flat on our face, but it’s the act of jumping that opens the next. Not being afraid of falling but looking forward to picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off and aiming head first at the next, all the while learning to avoid the doorway that brought us down.

Just recently my wife Bri and I closed a chapter and now are working on writing another. It started with the dream of up and moving from our home and making a new one in the hills of Southeastern Tennessee. There are numerous reasons we wanted this for our lives, some are so evident some are very private but none the less it served as the motivation for us both to endure the plan and embrace the risk of running head first without the fear of falling.

Now we are home, all nestled in outside Chattanooga, Tennessee not but minutes from the rolling hills and moving water of the Tennessee River. This new chapter will be as challenging as was the past, full of goals, ambitions and dreams but also sure to present failures, hard work and disappointment. These are the challenges that make up the chapters and these chapters are what create the perfect book.

I will continue to share these successes and these failures with you as we continue to chase this dream that started years ago. I’m excited about what holds in the future and thanks to family, friends and my sponsors we find ourselves in an even better position to continue the climb to new levels. We’ve always dreamed big, aimed for the sky and thrown ourselves out there to be vulnerable. We take the road less traveled and though we may get lost we seem to find our way, all the while refusing to get stuck in life’s traffic jams. We turn our individual goals into one big dream and push each other to accomplish what some may consider the impossible, but to us is just another chapter. Where ever we are in this analogous book, we know in our hearts we are home sweet home.

 

Posted in Blog Post

Tackle Update – The Advantages of Seaguar

2013 is slated to be the biggest tournament season for me to date. I’ve worked very hard to get myself here but thanks to my family and sponsors, I’ll be competing in the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Everstarts and PAA Tour in hopes of qualifying for the tour level in the next few years taking a giant leap in a dream I’ve had since I was a little kid.

To some this may not be a giant deal, to me it’s everything.
Preparation starts now cause to compete at this level successfully you need to be at the top of your game on all levels. Of course tackle is as important as any when it comes to preparation and to me the most important piece of tackle in my entire arsenal when throwing it all on the line is well….my line. No pun intended. It’s the one thing that can make my biggest dreams come true as well as the one thing that can smash my dream and allow it to all disappear in a second. Sounds deep but it’s true. It’s the one piece of tackle that gets no thanks but is easily the most important. Everyone loves the quarterback but doesn’t even know who makes up the offensive line, yet they’re the ones insuring the quarterbacks success as well as his health.
My line is the same way and I’m absolutely meticulous with what I put on. I’ve done endless amounts of research in this department and by far my best choice is Seaguar. For starters, I’m a fluorocarbon guy but I wasn’t always. I started throwing mono then graduated to braid but after understanding the benefits of fluorocarbon and giving it an honest chance, I switched and started throwing fluoro 95% of the time. In fact, the only time I didn’t was when I was throwing topwater. This worked well for me, however with some of the new advances in Seaguar’s lineup, I’m more of an 80% fluorocarbon guy, 10% braid and 10% monofilament type of fisherman. Why the change? I’ll explain.
Fluorocarbon
Seaguar has numerous lines of fluorocarbon available and honestly there’s a place for all of them in my boat. When I look for fluorocarbon there are certain areas that I look at and that’s diameter, break strength, abrasion resistance, manageability and price. Price to me is the least of my worries when it comes to these issues and don’t get it twisted, I’m by no means made of money at all, it’s just that fishing at the level I fish at and considering what’s on the line at that level I want the best money can buy. However, when it comes to other anglers especially ones that may have other priorities, price is very important to consider.
Seaguar offers all kinds of fluorocarbons at all different price points. At the entry level you have Seaguar Red Label, which is on the inexpensive side of fluorocarbon and then you have Tatsu which is definitely on the more expensive side of things but offers it’s buyers a lot compared to the competitions elite brands.
One of Seaguar fluorocarbons’s most prized characteristics is it’s line diameter compared to it’s pound test or break strength. Comparing Seaguar Red Label, their entry level fluorocarbon to Berkley 100% fluorcarbon their premier fluorocarbon and you’ll see that on 20 lb. test Seaguar’s line diameter is .016 in. compared to Berkey at .017 inches. This may not seem like a lot but it’s giant in the world of fluorocarbon. Also consider that Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon is sold for $24.99 for a 200 yard spool of 20 lb. test where Seaguar Red Label sells for an astonishing $11.99 for a 200 yard spool.
The other reasons I choose Seaguar Fluorocarbon for the majority of my fishing is it’s virtually invisible under water which is key in fishing heavily pressured lakes that we are accustomed to fishing on a regular basis. It simply gets more bites. As important, fluorocarbon sinks where mono and braid float. When fishing almost any presentation with the exception of topwater, sinking line is key to getting the bait down in the strike zone and not effecting the baits natural presentation.
The last and as I said most important attribute is it’s overall break strength and lack of stretch for hook setting power. Fluorocarbon doesn’t have much stretch, it has some but not much. In fact, my favorite lines from Seaguar, InvizX and Tatsu are very hard lines but have just the slightest amount of stretch needed to insure a good hook set. I want the hardness for two reasons, similar to tungsten, harder is more sensitive and gives me better feel of what my bait is doing every second as well as assists in detecting bites. Secondly, hardness also lacks stretch, it has just the right amount of stretch to absorb shock when setting the hook and enables the hook to penetrate the fishes mouth but is not too hard to where it will pull out of the fishes mouth.
Braid
As I said, braid used to be my go to but since has taken a back seat to fluorocarbon however with the advances Seaguar has created to it’s Kanzen line, I now find myself using it more and more. The key attributes to Seaguar Kanzen Braid is it has zero stretch and it floats. I want this for a few different reasons such as when I’m dealing with an abundance of heavy vegetation or structure that has lots of cover that could pose a threat to my line. I will always have on heavy braid when I’m throwing a frog, one because I want my line to float and not sink and two because I want zero stretch line that Kanzen provides to insure solid hook sets and gets the fish to the boat in the heaviest slop imaginable. I also want heavy braid when I’m flippin’ heavy cover, as I said before I always prefer fluoro and will always try to get away with using it, however there’s just simply a time when braid will benefit me more such as when I’m flippin’ heavy matted vegetation or when I’m dealing with nine pounders chillin’ in mesquite trees on Lake Falcon down in Texas. You simply don’t want to bring a knife to a gun fight.
There’s also a place for braid on the total other end of the spectrum, I’m talking about finesse fishing. When it comes to spinning rods and finesse presentations like shaky heads and drop shots, I find braid to be invaluable. This may sound odd but it’s true. When using spinning rods I almost always use 15 lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid as my main line and attach a 8 ft. leader of 8 or 6lb. Seaguar Tatsu Line. This offers the best of all worlds. Braid doesn’t twist like fluorocarbon does and you don’t have to be well experienced to know that fluoro on a spinning rod can be a nightmare when it comes to twist. Also the extremely small line diameter of braid allows me to cast the bait further and with longer casts I need the zero stretch to ensure strong hook sets. Now include the positives of fluorocarbon to dismiss the negativity of braid by tying a 6 to 10 lb. fluoro leader. This will give your line the sinking qualities, make it invisible underwater and add shock absorbency to your set up. The only negative is knowing a good knot to attach the two lines and for that you’ll simply want to use a Seaguar knot. Watch for my soon to be released video on “how-to” correctly tie a Seaguar knot.
Some anglers also like braid for topwater, which is obviously much better then fluorocarbon but I still prefer monofilament.
Monoflilament
I honestly don’t use it much but when I do there’s nothing better. As I mentioned above, I prefer mono for topwater and nothing’s better than Seaguar Senshi Monofilament. I employ this line for all my open water topwater fishing because it floats, has stretch and gives the bait the best action without tangling up with the treble hooks that are so often used on topwater baits.
I use heavier action rods than most, even with my topwater fishing and mono gives my line that stretch it needs when bass engulf my spook. Also, mono is far more manageable than braid in that it doesn’t tangle to hooks nearly as often as braid does which is very important to me considering the more efficient casts I can make in a day results in more fish I put in the livewell. Another prime example that most bass fisherman have experienced is when bass are schooling on bait fish in open water. Your window for success is very small as you wait for the fish to explode on shad and then quickly heave your bait to all the commotion. If you’re late, you miss the action or even worse you chuck your bait perfectly but the braid wraps around the front hook turning a “walk the dog” action into a “limping dog” action and blows your opportunity. Not this guy, no more,  I’ve been there done that and tying on 15 or 20 lb. Seaguar Senshi puts more fish in the boat. Period.
There’s also a few more examples of when I’ll use mono and one good one is when I’m fishing current and throwing a carolina rig. I’ll always use fluoro as my main line but when there’s current I’ll opt for mono as my leader. This is important because when fishing current you want your bait to stay up in the flow to look as natural as possible and mono provides that perfectly. Fair warning though, mono doesn’t have the abrasion resistance that fluorocarbon has so it’s just imperative that you are constantly checking and changing your line as need be.
Last but not least, I also use monofilament when the water I’m fishing is very cold, usually in the dead of winter. For instance, when the water is in the 40’s or cooler I usually find myself throwing jerkbaits to entice a bite. I usually need to pause the bait for a long period of time to get a lethargic bass to grab hold. Sometimes in cold water, fluorocarbon will sink a little more than it should and actually hurt my jerkbait’s presentation by slowly sinking the bait during the pause instead of allowing it to suspend perfectly in the water. This is when using mono will allow the bait to sit in that deadly suspended position needed to convince bass to feed.
I hope this provides a better understanding of which lines to use in any given situation and why Seaguar is my line of choice when the money is on the line.
Posted in Blog Post

Tackle Update: Lowrance HDS Gen-2 Touch

The future is officially the present as Lowrance, leader in all fishing and water electronics has just announced the new HDS Gen-2 Touch! Everything has been upgraded into what is sure to take the fishing world by storm and why wouldn’t it? It’s bigger, more efficient, faster and comes with far more options. Do to it’s revolutionary touch screen, the need for buttons is unnecessary providing more room to stretch out the screen making the new Touch units available in larger 7, 9 and 12 inch models.

Lowrance

Days before Lowrance officially made their announcement I got the opportunity to partake in an early training session held in northern Minnesota on Mille Lacs Lake. I’m always impressed with the advances that come out of the Lowrance think tank but even I had to admit that I was partially skeptical. I’ve used touch screen for some time and also know how not user friendly it is when wet, knowing the conditions I put my equipment through, getting wet is the least of it’s worries. My questions were instantly answered when not only does it work perfect wet, the new screen is so crystal clear I could see the finest of details.

The touch screen also makes the units extremely efficient as you don’t have buttons that activate different menus, instead you just simply touch what you want to do and open up that exact function. Oh yeah, LSS is now internal to the unit and not separate, meaning you get the whole works including StructureScan right out of the box.

Saving the best for last, Lowrance has added an underwater camera plug and play option. This is what impressed me the most as I’ve spent hours upon hours underneath dark blankets trying to see the lakes floor without that annoying glare that comes with a cumbersome underwater camera. Now you simply plug in the exportable camera and drop it down to see a perfect crystal clear image of what’s below on your unit itself. No more glare.

I’m very excited to be sporting the new Lowrance HDS Gen-2 Touch on my boat for the 2013 fishing season! At this level, I need every advantage I can get and Lowrance has got my back!

Posted in Blog Post

NABC World Championship

Mississippi River Pools 4 & 5, Red Wing, MN

I’m a numbers guy. Plain and simple, I’m cut from the cloth that believes the numbers will never lie. So there should be no denying that when you give me odds to win 20K out of only a 30 boat field, I’m pulling out the big guns.
This was the case for the NABC World Championship held this past week on the Mississippi River. Good buddy Rich Lindgren and I had been licking our chops for this tournament all season, in fact it’s the sole reason we signed up for this series. Not like we didn’t know the competition would be fierce but why else would a guy put himself through the rigors of tournament bass fishing if this kind of event didn’t get your blood pumping? Our stretch of river is just awesome. It’s a rat’s nest of a fishery where if you learn to navigate it’s treacherous waters you can be rewarded with a beautiful mixed sack of rogue smallies and donkey slough largemouth.
Life leading up to this tournament was nothing short of stressful and this tournament meant even more in that for the first time in the past 2 years, I got to fish free of any other distractions other than where to find fish. Something I took for granted a few years back and something that was taking it’s toll on me. My wife Bri and I had decided that we were to up and move south to the hills of Tennessee and both had to make the commitments that came with such goals. Days before practice for this derby and I was on the road moving my family to our new home nestled in the hills of southeastern Tennessee.
Now back in Minnesota, I was ready to do what I love to do. Pr