Minnetonka Bass Classic

Lake Minnetonka, Mound, MN

This was my first time fishing the Minnetonka Classic and was really eager to finally be able to get out and test myself against the lake this time of year. After having a pretty good finish a few days prior at the Denny’s Super 30 I had a lot to work from during practice.

Overall I found the bite descent although finding big ones was more than a challenge. My team tournament partner Ryan Brant was also finding the same so we instead focused on finding good numbers of average size fish.

We found that the fish where scattered all over the lake from depths of 1 foot all the way out to 20. They where for the most part in a hard post spawn funk and I think most the quality females where still rehabilitating themselves after the spawn.

Tournament day went well overall, we were able to fill a limit rather quickly and was culling before no time, the size wasn’t fantastic but we kept focused and slowly where able to box up some 3 pounders.

In the end we ended with 8 fish for 21.80 lbs. good enough for a solid 14th place out of 125 boats and cashed us a nice paycheck just in time for the upcoming first stop of the Silverado Pro Bass Tour on the Le Homme Dieu Chain.

Posted in Blog Post

Denny’s Super 30

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

Man have I been busy! Sorry about the length in my last post but I’ve been fishing from sun up to sun down almost everyday! I have two big tournaments back to back on Lake Minnetonka, the first event of the Denny’s Super 30 and the Minnetonka Classic. Usually I would feel comfortable with only a day or two of solid practice on Minnetonka as I know the lake better than any other, though historically I don’t fish out here in the Spring. I’m not really sure why, this is my fourth year of competitive fishing and prior to this year I’ve only been on the lake once before late June.

I really excel on Tonka in the summer and fall but my three man team of myself, Ryan and Corey Brant decided two switch things up this year. Usually Ryan and Corey fish the first one since a couple years back they sacked them up nice and cashed a paycheck right away in the season, though last year they struggled a bit and we all had to work like crazy throughout the rest of the year to make the Shoot Out.

This year it was Ryan and I that got the nod to start things out and I can easily admit it was a very humbling practice. We manage to catch a couple decent fish but when we’d return the next day they’d all be long gone. The fish were scattered and I was catching them out of anywhere from 1 foot to 16, patterning them was tough and honestly if it wasn’t for a spot that Corey found while practicing it may have taken us even longer to start to pattern good fish.

As you know, I’m always real hesitant to get into details on how we caught them on Minnetonka as I have a half dozen other big events there this season and I have two other team partners to always be thinking about. To be vague, we moved a lot of water and unfortunately fished the good with the bad. Ryan and I filled a limit rather quickly but nothing that made us feel confident and we continued to slowly cull fish after fish. Of course it wouldn’t be a Tonka tournament without us dropping one or two toads that would have really excelled us up the leader board, but I’m sure it happens to everyone. Minnetonka is known as a power fisherman’s lake, one big reason Ryan and I seem to finish strong there, though finesse was our dominate pattern. Corey is definitely rock solid in the finesse department and if not for some of his advice we may never had done what we did.

In the end we weighed in at 20.3 lbs. just good enough for a solid 14th place. We landed just outside the money but in the end we got what we were after, we’re high in the points after the first tourney and have a lot of confidence going forward! In fact, I can’t wait for Tonka to change over in the next couple weeks! I love it!!

Up next is the Minnetonka Classic, another event that I’ve never fished before and after that it’s off to Le Homme Dieu for the first stop of the Silverado Pro Tour! See you on the water!

Posted in Blog Post

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Posted in Blog Post

Gopher B.A.S.S. Federation Club Tournament

Mississippi River Pool 2, St. Paul Park, MN

Pool 2 of the Mississippi River is easily becoming one of my favorite bodies of water, which is nice considering the boat ramp isn’t but 15 minutes from my front door. This stretch of river is chucked full of gorgeous largemouth and smallmouth bass, not to mention I haven’t had an outing out there yet this year where I didn’t catch at least one nice walleye or sauger, on accident of course, I mean I do have a reputation to uphold, I don’t want anyone to get it twisted.

I set aside a couple practice days for this tournament, first day I spent checking areas that produced well last year and found success right away. The second trip I spent searching for new water and anyone who understands river systems especially upper pools of the Mississippi know that you spend more time searching than fishing. Generally everything looks so good on the river, but finding the key fish holding spots can be tough mainly because it’s such a challenge to navigate backwater areas. In fact I spent over an hour idling a shallow flat trying to get to a deep rocky area, after I got a mile back I got stuck on a sand bar and spent even more time pushing myself off just to idle my way back and try a different route. However once you find that sweet spot you usually have something special.

After a long day I did manage to find a couple more spots, one was a beautiful shell bed in a backwater area that held an awesome school of smallmouth and also found a new cut that was loaded with rock and laydowns that had some nice fat largemouth. The shell bed was really something special, it lays off a rock point that has current and then slack water on both sides. My first cast with a Biovex 3/8 oz. Stangun Spinnerbait produced a 17″ smallie and my second cast coughed up a gorgeous 21 1/2″ rogue smallmouth.

Tournament morning started great, and my first cast produced a nice 18″ smallmouth. After catching a few more I headed to my shell bed and just like clockwork the Biovex Spinnerbait was suckering smallmouth after smallmouth on cast after cast. I was upgrading my limit within the first hour.

Through out the day, whenever the bite would die down I could run to another and start catching fish. I spent all 8 hours in 4 different areas, recycling each spot and every time I returned back they would be biting again. In fact the fishing was so good that I must have caught nearly 60 bass by the end of the day. The only down side was that I only caught 2 over 17″ and since this is a paper tourney I knew that was going to cost me. I weighed in at 16.14 lbs. only good enough for 4th place. I really thought I had the areas that could produce a winning bag, but just never got the big bites that I needed. With the exception of two break offs, I fished perfectly and made really good decisions on the water. I may not have won the tournament but I got a trophy, two ripped apart hands from all the bass I caught! That’s what it’s all about.

Posted in Blog Post

Speed Up or Slow Down?

The title of this entry is something I as a tournament angler fight with almost every time I’m on the water. Throw fast moving reaction baits or slow it down and go with more of a methodical approach? This is easily my worst fishing demon as I prefer to fish slow and methodical, trying to cover each and every piece of the key structure or cover. I have this problem of leaving a fish behind and in my mind have thought that if I slow down, I’ll catch every catchable fish in that area.

On the other hand, there’s anglers that go with the mentality that the more casts you make, the more fish you’ll catch. Instead of picking apart a key area, they instead fish a lot of key areas and catch the active fish.

The question is which is better? The answer is really simple though and honestly both would be the right answer. I have had a lot of success finding the fish producing areas and picking them apart. In fact, I’ve fished right behind some of Minnesota’s best bass fisherman and watched them catch a fish or two tops before blowing out of there and I catch a quality limit right behind them and go on to cash a nice paycheck. On the other hand, some of the world’s best bass anglers are power fisherman, most notably Kevin Van Dam and Skeet Reese. Rarely do these two ever slow down, in fact it can be exhausting watching guys like this fish. Cast after cast, burning calorie after calorie and the results obviously speak for themselves, they are hands down two of the best bass fisherman in the world and are living a life that all bass fisherman could look up to.

Still though, even the best two bass fishermen have bad days on the water and when they do, you usually see your slower fisherman like Denny Braurer, Kevin Short or Greg Hackney on top the leader board. The fish obviously weren’t all that active on that given day and the slower presentation produced the better results.

My goal is to be in the same conversation as all the anglers mentioned above. The key to this is versatility and even though I pointed out their strong suits, each one of those anglers can do it all and that’s why they’re on top of their sport. What I’m quickly realizing is that you need to be versatile to compete but can’t abandon your strong suites. Every angler has strong points and weak points, though the best have more strong than weak. They’re always practicing new techniques and building confidence in them which is by far the best weapon an angler can have.

There is still a common denominator in either approach, to have success you have to be fishing fishable water. That is by far the best part of a fisherman’s arsenal, the ability to find good concentrations of quality fish. It doesn’t matter if you fish fast or slow, you’re not catching squat if there’s no fish there. After you’ve found these fish holding spots, than the question is, what’s the best method to catch them? I am quickly learning the answer to that question can change at any time, there is just too many factors that one needs to consider. Time of day, weather, forage, time of year, activity level of the bass are all just a small fraction of the potential variables to consider when deciding which way to go.

I made a personal goal that I was going to start forcing myself to fish faster, but to be successful at this I knew I had to change my mentality. I have a habit of fishing slow because I hate the idea that I’m leaving good fish behind. This method of thinking hinders my ability to learn to be more versatile, because it doesn’t allow me to really be open minded when I’m throwing a crankbait on a structure that I would be more comfortable throwing a football jig on. It’s the confidence factor. To combat this, I make sure to line up a half dozen or so rods with my favorite go to baits, usually bottom dwelling baits like jigs and soft plastics. I also make sure to line a half dozen or so rods with reaction baits, like spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and crankbaits. This way I’ll fish each area that I find with both techniques, through trial and error I’m learning what baits are best for what situations. Like anything, added hard work is making me a better angler, I’m building that sixth sense for when, where and why should I be throwing the baits that will produce the best.

For instance, last weekend I was fishing pool 2 of the Mississippi River, practicing for an upcoming tournament. I decided to check some areas that I had previous success on. One of these areas is a very small rock pile that held a good amount of staging smallmouth. In the past, I always approached these fish by pitching a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a pegged ¼ oz. Tru Tungsten Weight and if the bite was tough, I would really slow down and fish a shakey head straight tail worm or a dropshot.

When I pulled up on this spot, I instantly went with good old faithful and started pitching my Beaver to the rocks. I got bit after about five or so casts but didn’t hook up, kind of a picky bite. So instead I picked up my shakey head and dropshot and after about 15 minutes without another bite, discouraged I blew out of there thinking they just weren’t there. As I got about a mile away from that spot, I started getting down on myself that I didn’t do what I promised myself I would do. I never once thought to throw one of the six reaction baits that were littered on the deck of my boat. Instead I let my stubbornness get in the way and went with my “trained” mentality that if fish where there, I would have got bit because I was sticking the bait in their face.

Instead of continuing on I turned the Ranger around and ran all the way back to that rock spot with a whole new open minded attitude. I first picked up a jerkbait and quickly boated two nice smallmouth, then after having to break off the bait because it got hung in the rocks, I picked up a spinnerbait and started catching smallmouth after smallmouth, on cast after cast. Not only was the area full of big smallmouth but I was also catching quality three pound largemouth right with them. I’m not exaggerating when I say this was some of the best fishing I have ever experienced, these bass where all but ripping my rod from my hands! All of a sudden I had a new, more confident attitude. Most important, I learned something that is very valuable. It was an overcast, low pressure day and there was also a strong wind blowing onto these rocks. Another thing I noticed was the abundance of shad that where around these rocks, I knew this because every cast I retrieved with the spinnerbait would cause the shad to jump out of the water, something I didn’t see when I was fishing slow with the Beaver and dropshot. The bass in this area were very active and they were gorging themselves on the shad, they were looking up not down.

Another way to force yourself to be more versatile is to fish with people that excel in other fishing styles than you. They most likely look at water in a different way than you, not any better, just different and you can learn an immense amount of knowledge in a rather short amount of time. You’ll see how they look at an area compared to how you would look at that same spot. Usually you’ll both learn something. Trust me, there’s no better way to open your mind than by getting your hind end handed to you by the guy your fishing with. If they’re throwing a lipless crankbait and you’re slow pulling a texas rigged worm and he’s out catching you 10 to 1, you’ll be throwing a lipless crank in no time. Again, a humbling confidence builder, but it goes both ways, he’ll learn something when you’re whooping him up with the worm.

There’s a time and a place for every lure in your tackle box, the best build a sixth sense for knowing which one will produce in that particular situation. Next time you’re out fishing don’t be afraid to experiment, you just might produce some new found magic.

** This is my most recent article from the Star Tribune’s Outdoor Page, Minnesota’s largest newspaper. Please check out this from time to time as I try to post different material as I have here at Josh Douglas Fishing. Click here to view my Star Tribune page.

Posted in Blog Post

Dick Hiley St. Jude Tournament

Mississippi River Pools 4 & 5, Wabasha, MN

This past weekend marks the second time I competed in the annual St. Jude Bass Tournament held on the Mississippi River in Wabasha, MN. An annual fundraiser tournament that in my opinion, is one of the most prestigious tournaments in Minnesota, mainly because it’s for a great cause, but also because a lot of Minnesota and Wisconsin’s best come out to compete.

Two years ago I left this event with my tail between my legs. If in any given tournament I don’t finish as well as I would like to, I at least take some satisfaction in that I learned something that will make me a better angler and help me to cash more checks down the road. The first time I competed in the St. Jude I left not learning a thing except I knew nothing about the river this time of year and not only did I weigh only a few fish in both days of competition, other anglers whacked them! I was so humbled, I didn’t know what to do. In fact, the next year when it was time to sign up again, I was still licking my wounds that instead I passed and headed to Iowa for the Okoboji Open. I wanted nothing to do with Ole’ Miss that time of year, I was clueless.

This year was different, I had taken 2nd last year in the Okoboji Open my very first time fishing the lake and felt that I would best challenge myself by heading back to the river. I’m a competitor and I want to always be fishing against the best, it’s what will make me better. After fishing the entire Bassmaster Weekend Series last year on the river, I felt I had a better grip on the water and when a good buddy of mine Connor Summers needed a partner, I was all in.

Practice was slow though I was covering water. Unlike two years ago, I was putting my self in better areas and was able to catch limits each day. I knew I wasn’t on winners but was getting closer. There’s just so much water to cover and understanding the current plays so much this time of year. Current plays a role all year on the river but it’s much easier for me to pattern them in the summer when they’re active and have food on their mind. This time of year is all based around the spawn and the bass are more worried about putting themselves around spawning areas and this is where my lack of experience really turns to a disadvantage.

Connor and I felt we had put together a pretty solid game plan and was pretty confident that if we could just get a couple big bites each day we would have a real good shot at cashing a check. We knew the big ones where on the move and hoped they would be moving right to us.

Of course we drew last, boat 70 and at take off decided to run down river to a spot where in practice I was able to catch a nice 4 pound smallie. I was only able to boat a small 14 incher and we decided to run to one of Connor’s proven spots to try our luck on some largemouth. Unfortunately, we arrived and our areas where being worked over by a few other boats, with really no option we decided to fish some of the stuff that had already been worked. I was able to quickly boat a 16″ largemouth on a Super K Swim Jig, but after going another hour or so without a bite we got out of there.

Fishing continued to stay slow and with only a couple hours left to go, Connor catches a 15″ largemouth on a spinnerbait on a weed flat, but also dropped a nice 3 pounder. With only 3 in the box and an hour or so to go, we knew something had to happen and decided to run out of there and fish a cut that was loaded with wood. It was popping back there and even though Connor and I both dropped a couple 3 pounders, we still where able to catch a quick limit. We caught all our fish off wood on spinnerbaits, I was throwing a Biovex 3/8 oz. Stangun Spinnerbait (Baby Bass).

After a tough day fishing we still managed to put 6 in the box! We knew we weren’t in the top 10 but knew we had a chance for tomorrow. In a two day tournament you can’t win it on day one but you can surely loose it. At this point, we where just happy to be in contention. We weighed in our 6 for 13.39 pounds.

Day two, we started in the same cut and the fishing was just as good, though we weren’t finding the quality we needed. Again I was throwing a Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait but the better keepers came off a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a pegged 1/4 oz. Tru Tungsten sinker, largely because the fish weren’t as active as they where the day before where the spinnerbait banged off the wood would initiate a strike every time.

We ran a few spots on pool 4, knowing we needed a couple big kickers. I did spook a nice smallmouth off a bed, but after waiting for 20 minutes, she never came back. We ended up rounding out our limit in the same cut and just never got our big bites, unlike yesterday when we dropped 3 good ones that could have helped huge and gotten us into the money. We weighed day two at 12.82 pounds and finished in a disappointing 36th place. Not what I had in mind, but WAY better than the last time I fished the Jude. I can happily say that progress is being made and I can’t wait for this event again next year.

I want to congratulate Aaron LaRocque and Joe Hall for there outstanding first place finish, these guys spend a lot of time down on the river and really deserve the win. Also to Matt Larson, the defending champ and his partner Pat Schlapper and Jim Johnson and Eric Ronningen as these guys rounded out the top three! Not only did they whack them but combined they raised over 8 grand for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital! Hats off gentleman!

Posted in Blog Post

BASSMASTER Weekend Series

Grand Lake, Martin’s Landing, OK

I was pretty confident when I arrived at registration. I had my boat all ready to rock and relined all my rods and really felt I had a solid game plan for the tournament. I took a small setback when I drew boat 85 out of 92. This is a factor that can potentially hamper ones odds, especially in a tournament where bed fishing was going to play such a factor because it can be a first come, first serve deal. I started to change my tone when I instead decided to redirect my focus and use the fact that I didn’t have to be back until 3:45 and the bigger fish where showing up later in the afternoon.

We awoke to cloudy skies and more rain in the forecast. It had rained all through the night but nothing to heavy. I wasn’t really sure how this would effect the bite as I’m really not that experienced as a bed fisherman. I decided I would start just a few miles from the take off and try to capitalize on a quick bite and it really only took about a half hour and I caught a decent 16″ largemouth and got the quick skunk out of the boat. I fished for about another hour and did manage to break off on a good bite but after not putting any more keepers in the box, I decided to make the run down lake.

The fishing still remained relatively tough as these fish really weren’t interested in a meal. Instead they had mother nature on their minds and were not going to bite a bait unless they felt they had to. I knew eventually the bite would pick up, I stayed the course and by noon I managed 4 keepers, only 1 short of my limit. I had switched to a texas rigged Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a small pegged 1/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Worm Weight. These bass weren’t much to brag about, but I knew I needed to fill my limit and I’d be putting myself in the thick of it.

With only a couple hours left in the tournament, I decided it was time to start heading back, I had a few more spots I thought I could catch my limit fish and maybe even pop a kicker. As I was idling out of the cove, I noticed a real nice laydown on some rock that I hadn’t even checked in practice. It just looked like it had to have a bedded bass on it. As I approached it slowly, I couldn’t see the bed and instead started pitching the laydown and as I got to the other side I noticed a pretty nice bass spook from a bed and head to deeper water. What to do here was a real gamble. I had spooked a female bass off a bed and have no real true sight fishing success to my credit and could be wasting valuable time putting in the effort. Though if I stayed and I did it right, it could be a HUGE momentum swing and really give me a chance to make a couple key culls and put me high in the money.

You can’t succeed without taking a chance, so I decided I’d let the spot rest for a couple minutes and instead used the time to retie my bait, no need for any added drama if you know what I mean. I slowly creeped my trolling motor to about 20 feet from the bed. I crouched down and waited another minute or two and finally the bass came back to the bed. I didn’t want to spook the fish by letting the bait smack the surface of water, so instead I pitched the bait a good 5 feet over the bed, onto the bank itself. I carefully pulled the Beaver onto the bed and the bass at first swam away. I repeated the process and the bass started showing that it was getting annoyed with the bait and started to focus her attention. I couldn’t really see my bait to well so after a couple more pitch’s, I ripped off the Beaver and instead threaded on a white tube. On my first pitch, the bass instantly showed extreme displeasure, she started fanning her fins and was nose to nose with the bait. I could really tell I was getting close with this fish and knew I had to stay calm and persistent. On the next pitch, she got nose to nose with the tube again and then turned to her side and I tapped her with the tube. Instantly she turned and just barely smacked the bait with her mouth. I was really working this bass’s nerves and knew I was getting close, kinda like when I try to purposely annoy my wife Bri. I reeled in, pitched the tube again and for a split second my white tube disappeared, I set the hook and I saw her mouth open at the surface and a second later I boated my fifth keeper, going 2.8 pounds. I cannot express how cool of an experience that was, I listened to myself, trusted myself and was rewarded with a limit. That was the first time I had ever truly sight fished a largemouth successfully and I thought I wasn’t any good at it, when in fact, I just wasn’t that experienced at it. Minnesota protects the spawn, so I can’t practice it year after year, though that was by far one of the most addictive catches I’ve ever had. I’ve caught thousands of bass in the 2 pound range, but that sole fish is easily in my top three catches ever. I was shaking for a good half hour after that, it was awesome!!!

**Above Picture: Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver, 4/0 MiHatchii and a pegged 1/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Weight.

**Above Picture: 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig and a 5/16 oz. Picasso Shakedown Jig with a 5″ Amp Lures Mimi.

After making the run back closer to the weigh in, I was able to make two small culls on a riprap bank by slowly working my shakey head. With only 20 minutes to go, I ran back to the spot where I had caught that 5 pound toad the first night. I pitched a Tru Tungsten Jig (Fall Craw), meanwhile I was envisioning my line cutting to the side and setting the hook on a 5 pounder just like my first night of practice. I knew a kicker like that would catapult me into the money. Just then my line starts running under the boat, I set the hook only to boat another 2 pounder, not exactly what I was envisioning, but hey it was still a cull.

We weighed them in and I ended up with a respectable 12.27 lbs, good enough for 37th place out of 92. I sign up for tournaments to win paychecks, yet my main goal is to always be in the thick of it. This event tested me and really forced me to fish outside of my comfort zone and I know I left Oklahoma a far better, more confident angler. That can prove to be more rewarding than a check. Then add in the time spent with my Dad and the look on his face when I weighed in, it was a great trip!

Now back in Minnesota, I’ll be headed down to one of my favorite fisheries, the Mississippi River, to start practicing for the St. Jude. This tournament means a lot, it’s for a great cause and the best of the best will be there. I’d really like a strong showing at this one. Wish me luck!!

Posted in Blog Post

Bassmaster Weekend Series Practice, Grand Lake, OK

You have no idea how excited I was to get out of Minnesota and head down to one of my favorite bodies of water, Grand Lake, in Northeastern Oklahoma. Joining me for this trip was my Dad Kenny, who made the even longer trip out from the mountains in Colorado. Being that my Dad just opened his new bar “The Vintage Moose” in the small tourist town of Idaho Springs, he was in dire need of a get away.

Researching for this trip I had mixed emotions. I was really hoping for cooler water temps and staging fish, mainly because this is what I had so much success targeting on Grand in years past. Though I had never been to Grand this late in the year, I was still thinking that I had a good chance. When I started to see reports that the main lake’s water temp was already heaving into the high 60’s and the backs of the coves hitting the low 70’s, I knew the odds of catching them the way I was hoping was diminishing fast. Then when I saw the extended forecast called for sun and temps in the mid 80’s all week, I started scraping my game plan and leaning toward a spawn bite.

When I arrived on Tuesday evening, I decided to hit the water and run all the way to the back of a major creek arm that offered a giant shallow flat in search of bedding fish. There’s not many shallow flats in Grand Lake, mostly everything falls from zero to 8 ft. to 20 ft. and then off to 60 plus. It’s a deep reservoir with no vegetation, which is one of the many reasons I like the lakes in this area. Being that I have much experience in our weed choked lakes up north, Grand offers something totally different and since I’m always trying to up my game to be a better tournament angler, it’s essential that I learn how to fish these types of waters.

When I arrived in the back of the creek, I noticed the water was much more dirty than it was mid way when I launched. I started by working a jig and a texas rigged beaver along a riprap bank that had a nice laydown every 15 feet or so, not a bite. I starting fan casting a Super K Swim Jig and a Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait across the flat,again nothing. It was starting to get close to dark and I decided it was time to head back to load up and check into our resort. When I pulled up to the ramp I noticed a nice deep water staging area, very similar to what I’ve done so well on in years past. I made no more than 5 casts with a 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Fall Craw) with a 2.75″ YUM Chunk (Green Pumpkin), when suddenly I noticed my line start cutting back toward the boat, I set the hook and up came my first bass, weighing 5.2 pounds! Man was I stoked, this had me thinking that I could run my old water that I’ve gotten so much confidence on in the past and whack myself a 20 pound limit.

The next morning we launched way down by the dam as I wanted to spend all day checking these proven staging areas and pull on fish so that I could start heading back north looking for new water and to leave these fish alone days before the actual tournament. My first couple spots produced not even a bite and when I was just about to get discouraged I caught another bass on the Tru Tungsten Jig going all of 4 pounds! I remembering saying to my Dad that this is fine, if I can just get 5 to 10 bites all day, they’ll be the right ones. Anyone who knows me knows that my confidence level is through the roof when I have a jig tied on, I have zero problem taking my time and milking these areas, cause when I get bit, it’s a good one.

After a few quick day dreams of me bringing a giant 20+ pound sack to the scales a few hours went by and I was quickly brought back down to reality, after my first two fish being good ones, I went the next 7 hours without a bite and I was fishing all my best water. As night starting to close in, I decided to work my way out of the cove I was in. I tied on a Megabass Ito Vision 110 Jerkbait (Wakasagi), since the water was much cleaner down by the dam, I figured it would be a good choice. I did manage to catch fish, but no real keepers, maybe one or two of them would of bumped the 14″ mark but they weren’t the fish I was looking for. I finally loaded my boat and on the way back to the cabin knew it was time for a new game plan.

The next morning I was on the water while it was still dark and had all the motivation in the world to crack Grand Lake. I picked one of the major creek arms and decided I would fish my backside off until I found a solid pattern, then go from there. I started by fishing that spot where I popped that 5 pounder, nothing. I moved to the back of a creek that still had some deep water in it, I pitched jigs, tossed jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, swim jigs, crankbaits, nothing. I powered up my Humminbird and starting scanning nice ledges and secondary points, I threw a prototype Biovex Deep Crankbait, a Picasso Football Jig and a Carolina Rig, nothing. Though on another note, I did find some awesome ledges that will be popping once the summer bite comes around.

Now starting to feel like an out of place yankee, I ran back to the resort that we where staying in to grab my paper map and make a quick sandwich. I pulled my boat into the resort marina and as I ran up the plank that connects the slips with the land I noticed I spooked a nice largemouth. She was literally on the bank, on it, like in six inches of water. This was the shot of adrenaline that I needed! I knew the bass had to be bedding but wasn’t finding the beds, now it was obvious that I was searching all the wrong areas. I’m accustomed to searching the backs of shallow weedy flats up here in Minnesota, but they just weren’t back there, instead they where on the rocky banks that lined the coves.

This quickly gave me mixed emotions, I felt awesome that I had found the fish but was really discouraged in catching them. Being from Minnesota, I don’t have a lot of experience with bedding largemouths, Minnesota protects the spawn. The little experience I do have is nothing to be confident about. In fact, I had never successfully caught a largemouth off a bed by visually sight fishing it. I just have always written it off as a weak point in my repertoire. I always seemed to spook the fish or just never had the patience to actually annoy the fish into biting. Being that I want to be the best of the best though, I was up for the challenge. There’s no better time than now to become a better angler.

I pulled out the fairy wand (spinning rod) and tied up a shakey head using a straight tail 5″ Amp Lures Mimi Worm (Green Pumpkin) with a Picasso Shakedown Jig. I starting slowly creeping up down the banks, casting the worm literally on the bank and pulling off the rocks and before I knew it I had managed to catch a few limits, nothing giant but plenty of 14″ to 16″ fish.

The next morning and final day of practice, I headed down toward the dam again and picked two of my best coves and started searching, as the afternoon wore on I starting coming across more and more beds. Knowing that I didn’t want to stick these fish the day before the tournament, I instead kept my rods in the rod locker and just cruised the banks with my trolling motor on 100. Whenever I saw a bass on a bed, I would just save a waypoint and move on. My plan was to fish these areas and try to pick these bass off by long casting my shakey worm without actually seeing the fish, this way I’d avoid spooking them.

That night I had confidence that I could catch 10 to 12 pounds, but knew I was going to need to pop a couple big ones to end up in the high teens and since I hadn’t caught a good one since the first day of practice, I was a bit concerned. I knew that most the fish I had been seeing on the beds where the males and was yet to see a pair, all I could do was hope that tomorrow the big girls would move up and put me in contention for a win. I was happy though with my practice and knew that no matter what, I had learned a ton and would leave this place a better overall fisherman. All I can do now is stick with my game plan and hope my areas could hold up against a 92 boat field of locals. Bring it on boys!

Posted in Blog Post

Shaking Off the Cobwebs!

First off, I’d like to thank the good Lord for the early spring season as winter is long gone! The best part is, this weeks most recent warm spell pushed 70 degree weather into the Twin Cities and opened all the major lakes, freeing them from their depressing layers of ice. This is exactly the fix this bassaholic was jonesing for.

I was able to get out to Bryant Lake Wednesday morning for a few hour run around. Bass fishing season is closed here in Minnesota until May, with the exception of the Mississippi River and some other less known bodies of water. With fishing being a none issue on this day, I took every opportunity to make sure my boat was up to par and the rest of the time I spent learning my new Humminbird 998. At first, I got all worked up, but like anything new it just takes time. I had to remind myself of the day I couldn’t fish a jig, I never fished them much and had no confidence, though with a little time and determination I started building that confidence and now you can’t peel a jig rod out of my hand. In fact, I’m more confident with a jig than I am with any other lure ever made. The Humminbird is to be no different, I’m determined and though getting off the water that day I was still a bit discouraged, I know it’ll take time and what’s better than spending my spare time learning how to better find fish? Bring it on!

Friday and Saturday where even better in that I got to hit one of my favorite bodies of water with two of my real good buddies, Chris Campbell and Eric Aske. These two have been buddies of mine for a long time and I really enjoy being able to get out and stick toads with these two any chance I get, it really reminds me why I love bass fishing. With my hectic tournament schedule, I don’t get the chance to get out on the water enough with these two fools, so I really cherish every time I get the opportunity. Don’t let me fool you though, there’s nothing charismatic about these guys, they can fish with the best of them but they’re absolute clowns, we have a riot in the boat! My stomach still hurts from all the laughing!

The water was surprisingly warm when we arrived and I spent the morning again screwing with my Humminbird. I can now say, it’s awesome and I can’t wait to get out on the lakes and really start putting in the work. I was able to really pick apart the water and find things that would have taken so long with standard sonar. It shows weeds, rocks, bridge pilings and wing dams perfectly, this should be one of my best tools for years to come.

Once I had both Chris and Eric sold on the benefits of side imaging, it was time to go hog hunting. The bite started a bit slow, but like any other prespawn spring pattern we had to search out the warmest possible water and as soon as we found it, we got bit. Most the bass where on the small side but again, when it comes to spring fishing, all the bass move shallow, it’s really the only time of year that you can catch a half pound bass and then haul off and boat a five pound giant. Which is exactly what happened, as we worked toward the back of a flat we came to a very small, shallow cove. I fired my spinner to the back and instantly hooked up with a peanut, probably the smallest bass I’ve ever caught, seriously the thing was meant for an aquarium. As I was trying to get the little guy off my hook, Chris fired into the exact same spot and all hell broke loose. In the end Chris landed what ended up being his biggest bass ever, 7.4 pounds. Congrats Buddy!

Saturday was a bit different in that the weather changed and made the shallows cool rather dramatically. Again the fishing started slow but as the afternoon wore on the shallows again started to produce. The fish overall where much smaller, where Friday we where catching 3 pounders with relative ease, Saturday was producing their babies. Eric had an idea to try a smaller flat that he’d done well in the past. The fishing wasn’t much better and as we where talking about leaving his crankbait rod loaded up on another toad. After a good fight he landed a absolute whopper going 6.3 pounds! Man the fishing is good right now!

This brings me to another topic. I spent Easter morning with my wife Bri dropping off my guide brochures to all the major hotels around the metro, before enjoying the rest of the afternoon with our families. I’ve already been booking trips and am expecting even more now. If you have any desire to hit the water please contact me as soon as possible and reserve your dates. Maybe we can get you the bass of your life!

After an awesome weekend it’s back to work. I need to start preparing for my upcoming tournament on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this event because the bass grow big and the timing should be perfect for busting a nice bag. I do have some experience on Grand though I’ve always been there in late March and early April, this tournament isn’t until the 17th of April which is giving me mixed feelings. I’m not exactly sure what the fishing will bring, in the past I’ve done well by fishing staging areas and catching big females that are on the verge of moving up to spawn. I’m hoping that these areas will still produce, though I’m expecting some spawning activities to be in the mix as well. Hopefully if this is the case, the post spawn fish will also pull back to these areas and I’ll be able to capitalize on them as well. If this doesn’t hold up I’m all in on throwing reaction baits looking for pods of good fish. I want to be sure to not just show up and fish memories and instead focus on the moment and use my past knowledge of the lake to assist me in finding where they are. Either way, I’m confident and that’s all I can hope for before a big tournament. I’m quickly learning that there’s not another more critical tool in a bass fisherman’s arsenal than confidence. It’s a mental game, your lost without it!

I’m planning on heading out to some lakes here in the metro this week, since the bass season is closed up here, I’m going to devote the entire time at working with my Humminbird. Might as well find a few money making spots since I can’t fish and instead pay my dues. See you on the water!

Posted in Blog Post

Tackle Update: Navionics

With the MN Sport Show rolling in for their annual visit, I got to man the Navionics booth for the past three days and educate all the fisherman on the advantages of using these lake map cards to hunt trophy fish on their favorite bodies of water. Sure, most people understand the importance of why it’s necessary to use some sort of mapping chip for their sonar and GPS units, I want them to understand why Navionics is leading the way.


For those that don’t know, Navionics Hot Maps are small media cards that provide in depth lake mapping for your favorite GPS units. They have thousands of lakes per region within six regions, North, East, South, West, Canada and the Great Lakes (Fish N’ Chips). These maps are loaded with detail providing structures, reefs, drop-offs, vegetation in contour lines up to 1 foot, not to mention navigational aids like hazards, lock and dams, channel markers, boat ramps and wing dams.

The obvious reason that Navionics is the first choice for any serious angler is that each chip is arranged by region, not just by state. They have by far the biggest assortment of lakes on each chip, for instance the North chip is made up of all of MN, WI, MI, ND, SD, IA and even a small part of Canada, including all the major border lakes like Rainy and Lake of the Woods. This is by far your biggest bang for your buck.

Another reason I choose Navionics is because how simple it is to navigate a body of water without any confusion. Each map shows depth in both numbers and colors, so when traveling at high speeds I can easily tell where I need to be without running risk of damaging my prop or lower unit. This is a must for any tournament fisherman.


Another “must have” from Navionics is their new iPhone application. This app, which is marked at under ten dollars, offers everything that the chip does and turns your iPhone into a hand held GPS, capable of navigating any body of water. It’s a no brainer at under ten bucks! Click here to download to your iPhone.

All for now, with the extended forecast in the 60’s and 70’s and the ice finally giving way on our Minnesota lakes I can finally say, see you on the water!!

Posted in Blog Post

Pimp my Ride

At last, Spring is officially here! Up here in the Northern US it doesn’t exactly feel like Spring but I’m not complaining either. In fact, it could be much worse. We haven’t seen snow fall at all in March and the extended forecast looks as if we won’t see any in the future either, at least not till next winter. The average high this month has been in the high 40’s with some high’s floating near the mid 60’s. The negative though is that the temp is well warm enough to be fishing but the lakes and rivers are still unfishable because the ice hasn’t given way yet. Though we are days away in some areas and I’m thinking by Easter most all the lakes in southern Minnesota and around the Twin Cities will be good to go.


Since I haven’t been able to wet a line since returning home from Falcon, I’ve been curing my fever by getting my ride ready for a full season of hardcore tournament fishing. Last weekend I spent down at my buddy Brent Haimes place, rigging my new Humminbird 998 as well as remounting my three Lowrance units. I’m very excited about my new setup, It’ll change the way I practice in that I will be way more efficient with my time. Time is money and this is an advantage that I no longer could afford to ignore.

Another added feature that we installed was a LGC-4000 GPS Receiver Antenna to replace the older LGC-3000 puck. The advantage of the 4000 is that it communicates with it’s satellites 5 times per second as opposed to 1 time per second with the 3000, this will definitely give my Lowrance Units a extra boost and assist in navigating backwater as well as zeroing in on my waypoints, plus it gives me a better overall GPS connection.

I also took care of some much needed maintenance by going over all my electronic connections and cleaning them as well as greasing them with dialectic grease, assuring a good connection. I put on a brand new shiny prop, with the intention of keeping it that way. Mind you that I use the word “intention”, there’s no guarantee with me, ask my beautiful wife Bri, she’ll easily attest to that.

After all that I pulled the Ranger out and gave her a good bath as well as put in an order for a new seat skin. The boat looks great, all winter it was over at Bottom’s Up Repair, getting any and every blemish in the fiberglass repaired and anyone who knows will easily back me when I say there’s no one better at fiberglass work than Jim at Bottom’s Up. I mean that, he matched the glitter perfectly.


Now that I got everything taken care of with my money maker, it’s time to focus on the fishing. I leave in a few weeks for a Bassmaster Weekend Series tournament down on Grand Lake, in northeastern Oklahoma. I do have some experience on this body of water and am really looking forward to catching some good fish and hopefully cashing a much needed paycheck right away to start the season. Then once back home, I’ll be spending all my free time down on pools 4 and 5 of the Mississippi preparing for the St. Jude Bass Classic. I’m glad I’ll be able to fish this event again this year, it’s an awesome fishery against an awesome class of fisherman and best yet it’s for a even better cause. If you have any desire at all to donate money to a fantastic cause, please contact me either by email, josh@joshdouglasfishing.com or on my cell at 952-412-8088.

I’ll also be working the Navionics booth at the annual Northwest Sport Show this weekend. I’ll be working mostly nights, so if you have nothing going on, come down and enjoy the show and be sure to drop by the Navionics booth and say hi!

Summer is around the corner, be sure to follow the ice out report for your favorite body of water by following this link.

Happy Spring!

Posted in Blog Post

Peter Perovich for Minnesota Senate

If you know me well, you probably know my take on politics. For those that don’t, let me give you the very quick run down. I don’t side completely with any one party, in fact, I think it’s a bit irrational to 100% completely agree with any one side. If you can’t find at least one thing on each side to agree with than I think people are being a bit biased. This is one reason I never talk politics on my site, however, now I find myself making the exception. Please understand that I am not supporting any one party but instead supporting a candidate that I know can represent Minnesota well and be the voice we need in that position.

Peter Perovich, who I’ve come to know through the Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation, where he does an excellent job of heading the board of directors as president. Peter’s values and beliefs when it comes to the environment are what first caught my attention. When I learned that Peter was running for a seat in the Minnesota Senate, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. We as bass fisherman and outdoor enthusiasts need someone who can hear our concerns and actually care to do something about them. That’s when I started looking deeper into his campaign and found that some of my values, especially when it comes to the sport of fishing, aligned on the same side. Below I’ve pasted a article from his campaign.

Peter Perovich, a life-long resident of Anoka County, has announced his candidacy for the Minnesota State Senate, District 48. Perovich, who is seeking DFL endorsement, is a first-time political candidate who is running to give local communities a more proactive voice in state government.

“I want to work on the quality-of-life issues that I believe will strengthen our communities today and in the years to come, and that currently are receiving less-than-ideal attention and support in the State Legislature,” Perovich said.

He cited concerns with current funding and support for education, healthcare, and environmental protection as key to his decision to seek DFL endorsement, calling it “the party that most closely aligns with my positions.”

“As a citizen and as a father, I believe these are the areas government can impact for the betterment of society and also where it has a responsibility to be involved in order to protect the interests of those without a voice or monetary resources to protect themselves,” Perovich explained. He said his orientation on social issues was directly impacted by growing up in the small town-turned suburb of Anoka, which he credited with having had a strong sense of community and shared purpose.

In the years that followed, Perovich said his career as a realtor and mortgage banker gave broader insight into the challenges many families face every day as they work to secure their futures. “As a state senator, I would be committed to representing the interests of every resident in District 48 and to uniting diverse interests for the greater good,” he added.

Perovich became interested in elected office while working in support of Minnesota fishing and environmental protection. He serves on the Department of Natural Resources’ Citizens Budget Oversight Committee (BOC), Fisheries Division—a position appointed by the DNR Commissioner

In addition, he serves on the DNR’s Bass Advisory Committee and Tournament Organizers Advisory Board and, in 2009, was the lead speaker for the Annual DNR Stakeholders Roundtable.

Perovich also holds leadership positions in statewide fishing organizations. He is treasurer of the executive board of Anglers for Habitat. And, after serving as the state director and second vice president of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Bass Federation, was elected this past December as president of the organization, which represents more than 500 angler’s state wide.

“I look forward to extending my civic activities to public office and anticipate a grassroots campaign that will elevate the interests of citizens throughout our local communities,” Perovich said, adding that he wants to give voice to the issues area citizens feel demand more attention in the public arena.

Perovich resides in Ramsey with his wife, Sally, and their four school-age children.

For more information, contact: Peter Perovich, 763-421-3689 or email him at perovichforsenate@yahoo.com

Posted in Blog Post

el Lago de Falcon, Zapata, Tejas

Man, what a lake! Falcon is no joke and either is the size of the fish that inhabits this 80,000+ acres of ridiculously good looking water. For those who have never been, imagine flooding a national forest and calling it a lake, the cover in this fishery is beyond conceivable. Everywhere you look there’s trees that could hold the bass of a lifetime! The problem, is which one?


The forecast for the week was favorable with the exception of cool nights. The moon phase was also a negative strictly because this time of year you ideally want warm days and nights and a full moon phase. Some of the bass have spawned and are in a funk, the biggest group of bass are on the verge of moving up to spawn but the cooler water temps in the high 50’s and very low 60’s are keeping them back. The only common denominator is that these fish are scattered and if you can find the key staging areas, your liable to catch the sack of a lifetime. With all the structure and cover in this lake, that little chestnut is easier said than done.

Joining me on this trip to the Texas/Mexico border is good friends Brent Haimes and Don (Hootch) Hanson. Both Brent and I had goals of catching the biggest bass of our lives. Brent’s big largemouth of his life was 6 lbs. flat and mine was 7.14, caught last April on Grand lake in Northeastern Oklahoma., barely edging out my 7.6, caught in Northern Minnesota. Falcon, known for it’s gordo largemouth, gives us the best shot of accomplishing this very feat.

Things started tough and bites where few and far between, though when we did set the hook it was a good one and Brent’s second bass coughed up a new personal record at 6.33 pounds. I managed a nice 4 pounder on a 3/4 oz. Picasso Football Jig, fishing deep hard spots on the main lake. We couldn’t get anything going shallow at all, which is extremely humbling when everything shallow looks better than anything I’ve ever seen before. So after three days of desperately trying to make the shallow trees work, we refocused all of our attention on deeper staging areas that had bigger females on it. Though the bites where scarce, the result was far worth it.

We used a combination of our Lowrance Sonar and Hummingbird Side Imaging units, to carefully dissect the deeper areas, keying in on hard bottom areas that held bigger fish. Without the use of Side Imaging, we never would have found all these areas, and that’s a pretty powerful statement, but it couldn’t be more true. Over the next few days we where able to find a dozen or so very small areas that when everything was right, held big fish. The key was simply being there at the right time. On one day in particular, we fished these areas for five or six hours without a bite and all of a sudden I caught back to back six pounders on consecutive casts. That’s a first, never in my life has that happened to me and I have to say it’s easily the most addictive feeling in the world. Then a few minutes later, Brent hauls off a new record and boats a solid 8.33 lb. giant, crushing his personal best!

The very next day, after a really slow start I finally got bit and also got to celebrate my new record when I boated a 8.27 lb. largie, out of about 24 feet on a Hootch Plunker rig. In fact, all of our big fish came of this rig with the exception of a 4 and a 5 that came on the Picasso Football Jig. The key about this rig is that it’s a heavy finesse presentation and with all the pressure these fish had, I truly believe it was the difference maker between getting bit and getting blanked. Though the heavy equipment was essential in winning the battle to the boat, I was using a G Loomis GLX (BCFR 894) Flippin’ Stick with 50 lb. Power pro braided line, perfect for hook penetration and steering the fish away from all the cover.

On the last day of the trip, I joined FLW co angler Jeff Ziermann, who was on a shallow flippin’ bite down lake. We where able to boat around 35 bass total by flippin’ the trees, no giants but no peanuts either. Jeff caught two nice ones going five and six respectively and I managed a couple just shy of four. Both of use where using 3/4 – 1 oz. Tru Tungsten Flippin’ Weights and I added the MiHatchii Pro Flip Hook and several different soft plastics. Meanwhile Hootch and Brent found success by winding a spinnerbait through the shallows and because of the stormy front that moved in the fish where in the mood to chase.

In the end, the trip was awesome and I can’t wait to get back down there. I learned a lot and was able to catch some real nice bass even when the lake was fishing tough. If you’ve ever had thoughts to fish Falcon, GO!! You won’t regret it. I’m expecting this lake to bust wide open in the next couple weeks!

Zapata, I’ll see you soon….

Posted in Blog Post

From Smallies to LARGIES, Literally!

Being that I’ve been a worthless pile the last week because of my upcoming trip to both Lake Falcon and Fork, I decided I had to get out one last time and do some much needed smallmouth fishing before our season ends. I went with two of my real good buddies, Chris Campbell and Eric Aske. The bite was slower than usual, but in the end we all managed a few good ones and a couple dozen mid sized smallies as well. It’s odd to think that in a few days I’ll be fishing in extremely different ends of the spectrum. Instead of chasing 3 pound smallmouth in 20 degree weather here in the north country of Minnesota, I’ll be fishing for 15 pound largemouth in 80 degree weather in extreme southern Texas along the Mexico border.

Yeah that’s right, I said 15 pound bsndckssqld wsmndkswnd qlkdsqapjkd.

(Sorry, I couldn’t type there for a second, my arm was twitching from the very thought of it.)

I’ll be joining two others, one being my good buddy Brent Haimes. This trip is sure to be a good one, every time Brent and I get in the boat together we manage to catch some good fish. Late last summer on a trip to northern Minnesota’s Lake Pokegama, we managed to catch all sorts of tanker smallies and had a blast doing it. This trip should be no different, all things are coming together to potentially set up for a whack fest. The temp should stabilize perfectly the whole time we’re down there and the shallows should warm up quickly into the low 70’s, forcing those giant Jim’s (or should I say Betty’s) to move up and put on a feeding frenzy preparing to spawn.

**Above Picture: Brent and I with some Lake Pokegama tankers smallmouth.

The reports are saying that fish can be caught anywhere between 2 feet to 40 feet, but the vast majority of the fish are staging in about 7 feet and hanging tight to all the submerged trees that litter the entire reservoir. They’re simply waiting for a solid week of high temps and they’ll be all over the place, as long as the weather report holds true, we just may be there for the best week of the whole year. It’s safe to say that both my fingers and toes are crossed.

After doing a ton of research I was able to zone everything down to about six rods, mostly all are flippin’ sticks of course and if the rod blank doesn’t have the word “heavy” on it than it doesn’t make the trip. I made the commitment that I was after quality not quantity, I don’t care if I catch one bass as long as the scale tips past 10 pounds. I’ve never caught a 10 before and I would love to check that off my list of things to do.

I’ve attached pics of my set ups that I’m anticipating will do the trick. I’ll be sure to give a in depth report on what did and didn’t work once I get home. Here’s the starting line up.


This rig is sick!! It’s a Zoom Brush Hog on a MiHatchii Pro Flip Hook, a Gambler KO Flippin’ Skirt, with a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Flippin’ Weight pegged with a Tru Tungsten Smart Peg. I’ll be using this to flip the wood on a G Loomis GLX Flippin’ Stick, and a Shimano Core, lined with 65 lb. Power Pro Braid. I’ll be hard pressed to set this rig down.


Here I got a 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig with a YUM Trailer. No matter where I’m fishing around the country, you can always be rest assured that I’ll have one of these tied on.


With reports of some real lunkers still being caught deep, and when I say deep I mean it, up to 40 feet, there’s no way I won’t be employing my favorite technique of throwing heavy roller jigs. If I can catch a 10+ out of deep structure on a football jig, I don’t even know what to say, I’d be speechless and anyone who knows me knows damn well it’s tough to make me speechless. Here I got a 1 oz. Super K Football Jig with a Gary Yamamoto Twin Tail Grub.


When you think prespawn shallow water, a spinnerbait better come to mind and this is no ordinary spinner. It’s a 3/4 oz. Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait, after I land the fish of a lifetime I want this bait to be absolutely pretzled beyond repair, it’ll be a trophy all on it’s own!

All for now, be sure to follow me via Facebook for updates from this trip and all others in the future. Wish us luck!

Posted in Blog Post

Tricks of the Trade – Swim Jigs 101

There are all sorts of different lures on the market, all offering different styles and actions, promising extraordinary results. One of these baits is the swim jig, the spinnerbait with no blades. At first glance there’s really not much to a swim jig, a cone shaped head, a silicone skirt, weed guard and a stout hook, but once you couple this with an action filled trailer and add some tried and true techniques, this simple bait turns into a bass catching machine.

**Above Picture: Two Super K Swim Jigs in black chartreuse and white flash.

Being a self proclaimed jig fisherman, this technique is actually somewhat new to my repertoire. To be honest, I never really saw all the hype in the bait and just thought a crankbait or a spinnerbait would be a better bet, therefore I ignored most of the rumors and never really gave the technique a fair shake. It wasn’t until this past spring when I signed up to fish the Bassmaster Weekend Series, where all the events where scheduled on different pools of the Mississippi River. A swim jig, amongst others, is known on the river to be an effective method to catch nice limits of both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Going into the season I hadn’t had a whole lot of previous experience fishing the Ole Miss and after finishing 2nd in the AOY points standings the year prior fishing popular lakes throughout northern Minnesota, I was looking for any advantage I could get.

I made a sincere commitment to myself that I would take the time and figure out why this bait was so popular. It didn’t take long and it quickly became one of my go to techniques and not only did I find success on the river, but also found the swim jig to be equally as lethal on lakes and reservoirs. This bait straight up catches fish and big ones at that. My first time really using it was on a trip to pool 2 of the Mississippi where I managed to catch 10 to 15 solid keeper largemouth, while my two friends couldn’t buy a bite on any other bait.

A month later, I counted on a Super K Swim Jig to help catch some prespawn smallmouth at the first event of the Bassmaster Weekend Series and was able to ride the success to a first place finish. When it came to a reaction bite, I couldn’t find any bait that could better perform and the quality of these fish was surprising. Being a jig fisherman, I’ve always said that jigs are big fish baits and the swim jig is no different.

The key to a swim jig is that it’s a finesse bait that can be power fished. Not a lot of flash and a very subtle action that can catch pressured fish. Rich Lindgren, my good friend, tournament competitor and fellow Tru Tungsten Pro Staff member agrees, “Swim jigs are one of many great baits or tools in my arsenal. I also catch fish on spinnerbaits, lipless cranks and chatter style jigs, which often cover the same water column. I like swim jigs when the fish are more pressured because it’s a more subtle presentation that gets a bit overlooked by other anglers.”

Another factor in a swim jig is its versatility, you can truly fish them almost anywhere. They come through snags and vegetation better than any other bait. I’ m able to fish this bait in areas that the only other option I’d have is a topwater frog. Rich couldn’t agree more, “The swim jig really shines around thick vegetation and slop where other baits would foul up and if your bait is consistently fouled then you’re not being efficient with your casts.” He continues by saying, “When I have a wide variety of cover I lean toward the swim jig strictly because of its versatility; if I come to a stump, dock, laydown or hole in the grass that I feel like needs more of a vertical presentation, I can pitch and hop my swim jig like a normal jig through it and not have to switch baits or rods, plus I can skip a swim jig into places that would be tough with other baits.”

Since this is generally a shallow water presentation, you’ll want a rod with both a light tip capable of throwing 1/4 oz. swim jigs, as well as a strong backbone capable of pulling big fish through thick vegetation. Both Rich and I use a 7′ heavy action baitcasting rod (G Loomis IMX MBR 844), and a fast 7.1:1 gear ratio reel. I find most often that 15 or 17lb. Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon line works best, but if I’m in the real thick stuff I’ll opt for 30lb. Power Pro Braid, to insure that I get the fish through the mess without breaking off. Also a sensitive rod is real important to me because depending on the bite, a swim jig strike can feel awfully similar to that of a worm bite. All you feel is a “tick” as the bass engulfs the bait from behind, knocking slack into your line. This is also why line choice is so important, you really only want to be using fluorocarbon or braid, because mono has way to much stretch, making hook sets a real gamble.

When it comes to river fishing, the swim jig has turned into a staple for fisherman because it consistently catches fish. Brent Haimes, well known river rat and Bassmaster Classic qualifier, uses this technique every time he’s on the water. Sure he admits that there can be other ways to better catch them, but says when the conditions are right, there’s no better bait than a swim jig. “When fishing secondary channels, a guy would normally need a buzzbait (tight to the bank), a spinnerbait and a jig to cover all the areas that fish hold, where a swim jig covers all these.” explains Brent. He adds, “What I really like about the Super K Swim Jig is the weed guard is soft enough where hook ups aren’t an issue, but stiff enough that it doesn’t get hung up in the wood.”

After having much success throwing swim jigs on the river, I decided I needed to start incorporating this method on some natural Minnesota lakes. I really wasn’t too surprised with my findings, swim jigs catch fish on any body of water, the key is to match the forage that the fish are biting. Usually rivers and southern reservoirs require your standard shad colors as well as darker hues when the water muddies up. Lakes on the other hand, require more of a bluegill or perch presentation. Gregg Kizewski, a Wisconsin tournament angler and creator of the Super K Swim Jig, has daily success fishing swim jigs in lakes and has really turned me onto the tactics in which he approaches this style of fishing. “On natural northern lakes, I look for weight in regards to my swim jig fishing”, explains Gregg. “Many of our northern lakes have weeds in 8 to 20 feet, soft plastics and plunking jigs are not the only methods to pull fish out of these deep weeds. Often times the fish will want a moving bait and a 3/4 oz. swim jig with a FG30 weedguard is made to order for this application.”

For this deeper style of fishing, Gregg suggests to beef it up with a 7′ 11″, heavy action graphite rod, a slower 5 to 1 gear ratio reel with 50 lb. braided line. I particularly find this deep bite to be more productive in the middle of the summer and into the fall when bass are relating to deeper water. This is also where some of the gnarliest vegetation is as well as some of the lakes biggest bass, it’s essential to have beefed up equipment to get the job done. I do my best with a 7 ‘ 5″ G Loomis GLX Flippin‘ Stick and a fast 7.1:1 Shimano Core Reel with 20 lb. Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon. I like the faster ratio reel for catching up the slack before setting the hook, where as a slower reel is better for presenting the bait during the retrieve.

Swim jigs are made of five key elements, a weighted head, weedguard, skirt, hook and some sort of trailer. In my opinion, Super K offers the best version on the market. Some of their qualities include a weedless cone shaped head along with a custom hand tied skirt. The hook is all muscle using a 5/0 Gamakatsu Round Bend that Gregg custom bends to 28.5 degrees.

The trailer is important because it’s what gives life to the swim jig, by imparting a vibrating action into the water. Dan Elsner, owner of Get Bit Baits, and founder of the popular Hypertail Grub, insists that the action of his grub when used as a trailer will elicit a feeding response from all game fish because of its unique vibration. “Bass feed off prey by detecting vibrations in the water column through use of their lateral line.” he explains. “The Hypertail Grub will trigger their natural instinct to grab an easy meal.”

Although grubs tend to be the most popular choice amongst swim jig fisherman, there are other options that can be more effective depending on the conditions. When the water’s dirty, I like to use a bait with dual appendages like a Sizmic Toad or a Zoom Speed Craw, largely because these baits will disperse more water, making it easier for a bass to locate it. Also baits like a Basstrix Paddle Tail or a Lake Fork Live Magic Shad, provide a great look when bass are hitting larger prey like gizzard shad or tilapia.

When retrieving these bait’s it’s important that you play with your speeds. Most of the time I get ’em by using a slow standard retrieve and occasionally killing the bait and letting it free fall as if to suggest it’s injured, yet at times burning the bait will get the best response. Smallmouth are especially vulnerable to this tactic, a fast retrieve can really activate a school of rogue smallies in a quick hurry.

**Above Picture: Me with a Old Hickory largemouth, caught on a 1/4 oz. Super K Swim Jig (Darin’s Shad)

Next time you’re out on your favorite body of water, pick up an extra rod and tie up a swim jig. If you’re not a believer now, you will be in no time.

Tight Lines!

Posted in Blog Post

Vamos Pesca de la Lubina en el Lago Falcon!

Yeah, that’s right! If your not up to date on your espanol than I’m sure you’ll understand this, We’re going bass fishing on Lake Falcon! The mecca of giant 10+ pound largemouths located on the Texas and Mexico border.


In a few weeks, myself and two buddies will be making the long 23 hour haul from ice covered Minnesota all the way to the border for what could set up to be some of the best fishing any of us have ever experienced.
Lake Falcon is the hottest lake in the world right now for the chance of catching true lunker bass and numbers of them as well. Every tournament held there seems to break records and if your not holding a 30 pound bag every day of competition than you ain’t cashing many checks. I mean a 40 to 50 pound bag is a definite possibility. It’s crazy, but it’s true! I just got done watching this video on YouTube of a guy catching donkey after donkey and when he was done his best five tipped the scales at more than 56 pounds! Could you imagine if he did that four days in a row? He’d have a four day total of over 200 pounds!!??

My only goal for this trip is to catch a 10+ pounder. My personal record is 7 lbs. 14 oz, caught last April on Grand Lake, in Oklahoma. My previous big bass was 7 lbs. 6 oz. caught in Northern Minnesota which my Dad had gotten a replica made for me. I’ve always said since that I wouldn’t get another replica until I caught a 6 pound smallmouth or a 10 pound largemouth and I’m hoping this trip is the one that yields that award.
Mid to late February on Lake Falcon is a great time in that we should see all three stages of the spawn, the pre spawn, spawn and post spawn. During this time, large females are up and moving making them a easier target for a self proclaimed “trophy hunter” like myself.
I decided I am going to make the most of this trip by adopting the “don’t bring a knife to a gun fight” type of attitude. I’m throwing big baits for big fish, something I don’t get the chance to do everyday living in Minnesota. I’m stocking up on baits like the Weedless Huddleston and the Tru Tungsten Tru Life Swimbaits, heavy 1 oz. Super K Plunking Jigs and plenty of large 1 oz. Biovex Stangun Spinnerbaits. I’ll also have plenty of 20 pound Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon as well as a few spools of 65 lb. Power Pro Braid to handle all the flooded trees that Falcon is known for. The last thing I need is to hook into a fish of a lifetime and then break it off.
With all this I’ve also been preparing for next season. I’m especially anxious for my trip to Oklahoma’s Grand lake where I’ll be competing in the Bassmaster Weekend Series. Grand is an excellent fishery and I’ve managed to do well there in the past. My Dad is also driving out from the Rocky Mountains to join me in practice and then he plans to compete on the am side. I’ve never visited a lake that fishes to my strengths as well as Grand, it’s a jig fisherman’s dream!
I also put in my order for a new Hummingbird 998 SI Combo, to compliment my two Lowrance Units. There’s no doubt the addition of side imaging to the fishing world has some serious advantages. I plan to be out on my favorite lakes the day the ice breaks getting accustomed to all that the Hummingbird has to offer. I’ll be able to accomplish so much more during my practices and I’m hoping better practices will help get me a spot this year at the Silverado Championship, held on good ole’ Lake Minnetonka. Last season I felt I struggled a bit in a couple tournaments and the difference between cashing a check and getting a early start on your ride home, was done in the few days leading up to the event. Tournament day should simply be execution.

All for now, stay warm!
Posted in Blog Post

Sights Set on 2010!

With only hours remaining in 2009, I can’t help but look back at this past year and reflect on both the good and the bad times. Economic times of our sport have been tough, but being a “glass half full” type of guy I look at this as a plus. I work hard everyday for my money and making sure my head stays above the water in both fishing and family alike. With the country in a bit of a downward spiral financially, sponsors are tough for pro anglers to get, let alone keep. Being a up and comer in this industry I use this to my advantage. I’m using this time to continue to learn and the best way to do that is time on the water. Big money sponsorships are fading a bit but this means there’s more opportunity for guys at the semi pro level like myself to build relationships with companies. Opportunities that may not have been there a few years ago are available now and if I continue to do my part, these relationships can really grow.

With this said, I am really picky on what products and what companies I align myself with and put next to my name. I use products that give me an advantage on the water and more importantly give me the edge over my competition. Honestly I see no reason in representing products that don’t absolutely dominate when put to use. With the exception of being a good husband and son, my only goal in life is to be the best bass fisherman I can be. Life is short and the competition is stiff, I need to be able to trust my equipment when chasing this type of dream.

Biovex – One of Japan’s most popular tackle manufacturers. Although not well known in the US, that will change in the future once these baits find their place in other angler’s boats across the country. Biovex, leads the way in both lure design as well as lure action, thanks to well known designer Katsushi Umeda. I’m really looking forward to some of the new products that will be released in the near future. I’ll be sure to post these baits as they become available.


Tru Tungsten – When on the water, I stop at nothing to give myself every advantage available to me. If your not using tungsten, than your missing the boat. There is no denying all the hype that comes from using tungsten tackle, in fact the hype isn’t opinion, it’s fact. Tungsten is much more dense than lead, which is better in that it is more sensitive and smaller. I get hung up much less and the hardness of tungsten relays information much better than that of lead.


Gamma – Every good fisherman knows your no better than the line your using. My opinion is that line is the most important part of your fishing arsenal. This is why I trust nothing but Gamma to get the job done. I use Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon for almost all my fishing. It’s the strongest and most sensitive line on the market. I’m excited to announce the release of Gamma Touch Fluorocarbon for 2010. This fluoro is made for the spinning reel and is exceptional on dropshot and shakey head rigs. It provides all the benefits as it’s well known brother Edge, but also is extremely manageable on spinning gear where other brands of fluorocarbon lack.


MiHatchii – Truely the most unique and efficient hooks on the market. Just when I thought that they couldn’t make hooks much better than they already where, Fish Harder Companies teamed with some of the top tour level pros and the outcome has be awesome. Take one look at the Pro Flip Hook and you’ll see what I mean. Use it once and you’ll be hooked for life, no pun intended.


Super K Swim Jigs – Swim Jigs are one of the most deadly baits on the market and Super K is leading the way. These are finesse baits that can be power fished through anything and catch pigs. All Super K Swim Jigs come with a hand tied skirt that match any forage you can think of and best yet each one comes equipped with a stout 5/0 hook, bass bite and don’t let go or should I say Super K bites and doesn’t let go?!


LSD Designs – When your on the water as much as I am you find yourself in all sorts of different elements. LSD designs is who I trust to protect me and my gear. LSD’s products protect in the harshest of conditions yet still have plenty of style. When your business is establishing a name in the fishing industry, appearance is very important and this is what separates LSD from it’s competition.


Tacklesmith – There’s no denying that internet is the way of the future, it’s where I go to buy all my gear. www.Tacklesmith.com is where I go to buy my hard to find products at the best prices. Check them out for all your tungsten needs!!


Ranger Boats – Is there anything more important than your ride? I’ve dreamed of owning a Ranger since I was a little kid and you could imagine just how thrilled I was the day I brought my first one home. There’s no denying that Ranger Boats are the mold in which every other boat manufacturer strives to produce, why use any less?


Looking forward to 2010, I’m very excited for what’s to come. This upcoming year is sure to be a test. My tentative plans are to fish the Silverado Pro Tour and some select local and Bassmaster Weekend Series tournaments as well. I’m looking real forward to the 2010 MN BASS Federation State Tournament held on Lake Minnetonka, where a top 12 will insure me a spot on the divisional team, which is one of my biggest goals for the season. Another goal I have my sight set on are competing in the Bassmaster Opens starting in 2011. I really want to make the push for the tour level and this is the most efficient way there. To better prepare myself for this level and everything that comes with it I’ve decided to enter into a couple this year and fish them on the Am side. Some of the lakes I’m looking into is Lake Amistad and Lake Texoma, both are regulars on every tour and good ones to learn from. I feel I’m ready to take the jump and begin to close the gap between mid level pro tourneys and tour level events. I’ve never fished on the Am side before and a couple events would be good for me. I’m hoping it will quickly excel my learning curve and give me a better shot for quick success competing against the best of the best in 2011.

Well I have a lot to be excited about for the upcoming year, but now it’s time to go out and celebrate the end of a year to remember. Here’s to 2009!

Have a Happy and Safe New Year. See you in 2010!!

Posted in Blog Post

Record Breaking Christmas from Minnesota!

It’s almost unbelievable how quickly things can change. My original plan for Christmas Eve was set to be a perfect one. I was going to be headed to one of my favorite winter fishing holes to tug on some brute smallmouths before heading out to spend the rest of the time with my entire family. Thank mother nature for ruining my plans. Now I’ll be trading a G Loomis for a snow shovel and instead of excersizing smallies, I’ll be the one getting the workout by shoveling up to a foot of snow from a blizzard that is set to break a 65 year old record in our region. Though disappointed, I do take some satisfaction in that our lakes are low and I was hoping for a lot of snow this winter to help fill them back up. I wasn’t expecting it all to come at the same time though!

I did get out last Friday and thumped the smallies once again. Joining me where my good friends Rich Lindgren and Ryan Brant. The bite was consistent though there where no giants caught the overall size and numbers where good. I did manage a couple that where trying desperately to push the four pound mark, maybe in another month or so they’ll be there.


Well I’m off to make sure the snow blower is locked and loaded. I want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday! Merry Christmas!

Posted in Blog Post

Lights, Camera, Action!

My excitement level is already through the roof with the upcoming 2010 tournament season. First off, I’m ecstatic about my new relationship with one of the most influential tackle developers to date, Tru Tungsten and the rest of Fish Harder Companies. Included under the Fish Harder umbrella is not only the leading developer in tungsten made tackle in Tru Tungsten, but also well known companies, Picasso and Mihatchii. I have depended on a endless number of products from all these companies for years now, so to actually represent them out on the water is a feat all in it’s own. I seriously can’t say enough about what Fish harder has done for our sport, knowing I’ll be using their products gives me a distinct advantage over the competition. What more could you ask for?


I’m also very pleased to announce that Josh Douglas Fishing, is now equipped for video. Recently I have been a guest for a couple episodes for “All About Bass” with Rich Lindgren. I’ve added our first episode which was shot over the 2009 MN Bass Opener and soon will be uploading the newest episode in which Rich and I head out for some early winter smallies.

This upcoming year I’m planning on adding a new “how to” style of episodes, little 6-10 minute shows where I’ll be showing off the baits and teaching the techniques that have proven successful for me.

Well on another note I finally managed to get out and do some much needed smallie fishing. The temp never broke 20 degrees but the fish still managed to cooperate. With the cold snap that took over our region it definitely put the bass in a funk and it took some patient finessing to get them to bite. I managed to catch most of my good fish on a 3″ Yum Tube (Green Pumpkin) with a 1/8 oz. Kalin’s Tube Jig Head, and 8 lb. Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon. I also got to break in a new rod and am more than impressed with the outcome. The G Loomis Bronzeback GLX spinning rod (SMR822S-SP-GLX) may be the best smallie rod on the market. With a fast yet sensitive tip and a powerful mid section, this rod offers all the advantages one could ask for and is surely worth every penny. The reel was a Shimano Sustain 2500. When I found myself around thick cover I would change to a Strike King Coffee Tube (Green Pumpkin) and a 1/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Ikey Head Jig, with 8 lb. Gamma Edge Fluorcarbon. For this I went with a bit heavier action rod in the G Loomis GLX (BSR852) and again had it equipped with a Shimano Sustain 2500 Spinning Reel. Check back soon to the “Video” portion of this site to view all the action from that day on the water.

Stay Warm!

Posted in Blog Post

Tackle Update: L.S.D. Designs

Things have been great! First off, the weather around here has been more than terrific. Being that we’re just days away from December and I live in Minnesota, yet there’s not a single speck of snow in the whole state. The lakes are no where near ready to freeze and best yet the smallmouth bass have been just chomping!

**Above Picture: Owner of Biovex and L.S.D. Designs, Katsushi Umeda, with a nice Minnesota smallmouth bass.

A couple weeks back my wife Bri and I got the opportunity to do a photo shoot for Katsushi Umeda, owner and founder of Biovex and L.S.D. Designs, a tackle and apparel company based out of Japan. As most of you know, I’ve been with Biovex now for a couple years and have all the confidence in the world in their tackle, and for the record some of the new products that will be coming out will surely take the industry by storm. Unfortunately I’m not at liberty to talk about these new products just yet but I assure you they’ll be worth the wait. The photos we took are going to be used for both companies 2010 catalogues but even better, will also be used in some of Japan’s most popular fishing magazines. I decided on one of my best smallie spots for two reasons, one that Katsushi had never caught a smallmouth bass and two, maybe more importantly, I’d be very hard off to be holding a small fish for all of Japan’s die hard bass anglers to see. I mean come on, I have a reputation to withhold here.


Lucky for us the fish where biting and the size was good. Katsushi also managed to catch his first smallmouth and a good one at that. We got some excellent photos and got to try out some of the new lures that will be released this year. Bri and I where also impressed by the outdoor gear that L.S.D. has been creating. We sported a new line of waterproof boots, as well as sunglasses and hats. Bri loves their new jackets, the Amsterdam Series, that offers a lightweight, breathable, waterproof, yet stylish look that is sure to be a big hit anywhere. I’ve always been a big fan of their tackle bags. There’s none better on the market, they offer all sorts of sweet styles yet have all the efficiencies one could possibly think of. More importantly the quality of all these products are second to none, when your in the elements as often as I am this is something you don’t take for granted, it’s a must.

**Above Picture: Bri and I on a L.S.D. Designs ad as seen in many of Japan’s popular fishing magazines.

Well with the weather forecast still staying favorable for days to come, I’m planning to get out and exercise some bass over the holiday weekend. I just can’t get enough of those brown fish, as a good friend of mine always says, I’m diseased!

Oh yeah, did I mention the Vikings are 9-1??!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Blog Post

Tricks of the Trade – Autumn Small River Smallies

Fall is quickly turning into one of my favorite times of year. As the weather forecasts shift, bringing in cool temps and cold rains, our northern waters start to go through a rather dramatic change. The biggest change that occurs is the drop in water temperature making the lakes abundant vegetation and forage start to die off or hibernate. This pushes the bass out of their deep summer haunts and schools them up in large groups in the shallows, gorging themselves for the long winter. Over the past few years, the fall has produced some of my best fishing of the entire season. No matter if it’s largemouth in a lake or smallmouth in the river, these fish all move to relatively shallow water and put on their feed bags, making them all more susceptible of falling for one of my baits.

While in Tennessee last month, I found the largemouth to be in big schools in less than a foot of water on the shallow flats in the creek channels. These fish where feeding up for the winter and they where wreaking havoc on the many schools of shad that where doing their annual migration up the creeks to spawn. Now back home Minnesota, I’ve been spending every extra hour out chasing smallmouths in some of our local rivers. The success is been good and the size has been rewarding, but the key to catching them has been to trigger the school. Once the school gets excited, it can result in fish after fish for cast after cast.

Targeting small river smallmouth this time of year I find micro ledges off flats to be especially productive. There will be times when the fish roam the flat chasing baitfish but the majority of the day you can find them hanging off that immediate first drop, for instance where the 1 foot flat drops to 5 feet. The fish tend to stack in these areas, and when fished correctly can result in check cashing bags at the scales.

**From left to right: A picture of my front deck Lowrance Unit as I’m am Paralleling the ledge break.

One river in particular I found the ledge to go from two feet down to seven rather quickly. I fished my bait thoroughly along the 7 ft break concentrating on the bottom. Once I caught a good smallie I would instantly slow down, or better yet, I STOP! It’s critical to not spook the school. Once I release the fish my next cast is to the exact same spot that the last one came from and more times than not I’ll get met instantly with another bite. It’s not uncommon for me to throw back 10 times and get bit on 9 of those casts.

I find bait choice not to be to big a deal this time of year. The bass are not always that picky to what they eat. Mother nature says it’s time to fatten up for winter so they do, they start eating anything and everything that comes there way. Not to mention the competition to eat because of others in the school. Although I do still have my favorites that have produced so well for me over the past few years.

Early in the fall I like to throw crankbaits like the Biovex Micro Crank and Biovex Mid Runner, these work real well at impersonating baitfish and can be fished fast on shallow ledges. When there’s a presence of baitfish or fish are busting bait on the flats, there’s nothing better than a topwater spook, or my favorite, the Reaction Innovations Vixen. Another great reaction bait this time of year is a Super K Swim Jig, which subtle action locates these schools of bass rather quickly. Last but not least, there is no bait better at catching cold bass than a jerkbait and lately I’ve been using either a soft jerkbait pegged with a 1/32 oz. Tru Tungsten sinker to keep the nose down or a hard plastic jerkbait like the Megabass Ito Vision 110.


Once I’ve caught one or two from the school on the reaction bait, I slow down and pick up a bait like a tube or a beaver and continue to pick apart the ledge. I like the YUM 3″ Tube and a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver. The tube I usually rig hook exposed with a light tube jig. Last weekend my buddy Rich Lindgren went out with me and had success by rigging a stupid tube, which you can read in one of his recent blog entries. Basically, the stupid tube is a texas rigged ball head jig, which when rigged correctly works it’s way through cover with relative ease. I’ve also been finding success with this method and the Tru Tungsten Ikey Head Ball Buster is extremely effective for the job. The Beaver, I texas rig with a 4/0 Mihatchii Hook and a pegged Tru Tungsten Sinker, size ranging from a 1/8 oz. to a 1/2 oz.

The rod and reel I feel are critical to your success in that once the schools are located, it’s important not to miss hook ups or drop fish during the fight. Just as a fighting smallmouth can fire up the school, a spooked smallmouth can turn them off in a second. To better combat this I use a G Loomis 843 casting rod with a Shimano Core 100MG lined with 12-16 lb. Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon for the beaver and the tube I go with a G Loomis SMR822 GLX spinning rod paired with a Shimano Stella 2500S and 8 lb. Gamma Touch Fluorocarbon.

Lastly, not all ledges are created equal, in fact some never hold fish. This time of year I stick to the main river channel. If I was on a big river with larger creek channels than those may prove productive, however the rivers I’ve been fishing are northern rivers that are not that wide and don’t offer much for creeks. I look for turns in the river where current has made these ledges over time, then the key to really dialing them in is the bottom content. I look for rocky areas on these main river turns, in my opinion the more snags the better. This is where tungsten comes into play, it’s smaller diameter allows it to be worked through the rocks and snags without getting hung up. When the sun is shining, any emerged wood in these areas can be especially productive, for this I like to pitch a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a 1/4 – 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Sinker. I use 16 – 20 lb. Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon for this to assure I get the fish out of the laydown, and there’s not a stronger line on the market than Gamma Edge.


With the next week showing a very favorable weather forecast, try taking a break from raking leaves and try these tips on your favorite river. Maybe, just maybe, when you mix football, brats and trophy smallmouth together you’ll see why fall has become my favorite time of year.

See you on the water!

Posted in Blog Post

What Lies Ahead?

With the tournament season all wrapped up and winter just right around the corner, I find myself wasting no time preparing for what lies ahead in 2010. My plans are to step it up and really concentrate on tournaments that can take me to the next level and eventually pave the way to accomplishing my life goal of competing at the tour level. To be fortunate enough to actually obtain this goal would be incredible. I plan to continue to fish in the top circuits throughout the midwest, at the same time start preparing for larger national level tournaments. My next major move would be to enter the FLW Strens and the Bassmaster Opens, in an attempt at earning my way onto either tours, the Bassmaster Elite Series and/or the FLW Tour. The lakes that host these national pro tourneys are scattered throughout the United States and to consistently finish at the top requires an extremely versatile angler. I do have some knowledge of lakes outside Minnesota and Wisconsin, but really want to spend the next year or two learning how to fish other lakes throughout the country before I make the commitment and take that plunge to the next level. I want to be sure to give myself the best opportunity to succeed. Which also leads to the question of what happens if I do make it to the Elites? Being financially secure enough to compete at the Open level is manageable for a younger guy like myself, but having the financial security to compete at the tour level is a whole other thing. I could really use the next few years to save money and even more important, continue to develop business relationships with companies that have the same visions and the means to offer that security.

This year I plan on fishing a Weekend Series event as a non boater on Kentucky lake in either May or June in an attempt at helping me get more familiar with classic ledge fishing. This style of fishing is not something that we do here in Minnesota and there is no better place to get a crash course than Kentucky or Tennessee in the early summer. I’ve also got plans to fish the Bassmaster Weekend Series event on Grand Lake, OK, in mid April on the Pro side. I’ve been down there the past 3 years in a row and every year I’ve managed to do well. Going down there and competing against locals on their water would be a great test for me. I’ve also not decided on which one, but I will be registering into a Open tournament as a non boater. Before I put up the cash I want to be familiar with all that goes into one of these tournaments. Most of it is basic tournament bass fishing I would imagine, but in the long run I think it would prove beneficial.

I’ll be fishing the Silverado Pro Tour again next year with my sights set on both winning an event, as well as the top honor of winning the Angler of the Year title. I’ll also be competing in the Bassmaster Weekend Series with the main goal of qualifying for the National Championship. In the two years I’ve fished this circuit I’ve been fortunate to do well, my first year I finished second in the Angler of the Year points and managed to cash a check in 3 out of 5 tournaments. This year I won the first event of the season against an 88 boat field and both seasons qualified for Divisionals. Neither year though have I qualified for the National Championship. Accomplishing this definitely is at the top of my list. Plus to sweeten pot, the championship is being held on Alabama’s pride and joy, Lake Guntersville.

This winter I’m looking to have the most productive off season yet. I want to establish a few successful habits that will assist me on the water. One is preparing for tournaments off the water by studying maps and using tools like Google Earth and getting better familiar with the body of water before I ever even launch my boat. This will help develop better game plans well before the first day of practice.

I also think it’s very important to be in the best physical shape I can be. Tournament bass fishing requires extremely long hours in less than perfect conditions. The amount of wear and tear on both your mind and body can be debilitating. I’ve been spending a lot of time at the gym working on my strength and endurance. The more reps I make in the weight room the further I’ll be able to cast that spook and the more accuracy I’ll have flippin’ a jig to a tournament winning largemouth. The biggest benefit is the more you work out the healthier you are in both body and even more importantly, the mind. To a tournament bass fisherman, mental strength is the biggest asset, it’s what separates the pro’s from the legends.

Though with all this, you know I’ll still be spending time on the water! Chasing around smallies this time of year is as addictive as it gets. I’ve managed to get out a few times the last week and had some pretty good success. Look for pics to be posted soon.

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To My Loving Family

With the tournament season starting to wrap up for the year, I think back to all the ups and downs I’ve had throughout the past seven months. Some where real good and others not so good, either way they where all worth it. The bad times gave me something to learn from and made the high notes all the better.

Through these times though I’ve been extremely fortunate to have someone with me every step of the way, my lovely wife Bri. Baby, I cannot begin to express how much you mean to me and I know that I couldn’t do any of this without you. You have turned my goals into our goals and continue to push me to higher levels.


Since I was a little kid all I’ve wanted to be when I grow up is a professional bass fisherman. I want this more than anything I could ever imagine. I’m 29 years old now and am getting ready to make an even harder push at accomplishing these goals. Long days on the water, away at nights for tournaments, financial commitments, and through all these you are right there standing next to me, pushing me and believing in me every step of the way.

Bri, I know in my heart the level of committment you bring to our family and every time I’m on the water, every cast I make, I’ll be pushing to accomplish these goals we’ve made for us. I blog about myself and my career all the time, this one’s for you. Thank you.

I love you,

Josh

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American Legacy Fishing Company

Last Saturday, I was paired with Adam Daywalt for the final day of the Bassmaster Weekend Series Regional Qualifier. Even though the fishing wasn’t great, the conversation through out the day made up for it. This guy’s just as big of a tackle freak as me! Adam was telling me about the company he works for American Legacy Fishing Company, www.gloomis.us, an internet based company that carries full lines of G Loomis and Shimano. Being that I’m a 100% G Loomis and Shimano junkie, he instantly had my attention. Not only do they carry G Loomis but they have EVERY rod in stock. I’m especially interested in the brand new G Loomis Topwater Rod (TWR802C), a 6’8″ Meduim action rod perfect for throwing around poppers like the Megabass Pop-X.


They also will accept warranty rods and offer a trade in program. They’ll give you the going rate for your used rod, so you can use that to upgrade into the rod you’ve always wanted. Who does that?

American Legacy also is up to date with all the new Shimano and Diawa reels that are on the market. I’ve already been putting together an order and am getting really close to pulling the trigger on that new Shimano Core 50MG. I just love the Core 100 MG and MGFV that I expect big things out of the 50 MG. I’ll pair that up with the new topwater rod from Loomis and have the sweetest set up imaginable. It’ll cast those light poppers a mile!

They also have the complete line from Megabass, which is actually incredibly difficult to find specific baits here in the states. Lately I have been really catching the smallies on the Megabass Ito Vision 110, this jerkbaits the real deal, crazy action and mimics a baitfish to perfection.

With Christmas right around the corner, remember to check out American Legacy Fishing Company. Not only do the cater to bass fisherman, but have a full selection of walleye, muskie and fly fishing rods and reels.

Just for the record, Adam was the first non boater partner I’ve had that paid me gas money in Megbass lures and custom cranks! How sick is that?!!

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BASSMASTER Weekend Series Regional Championship

Old Hickory Lake, Hendersonville, TN

My anticipation for this event was through the roof. Being that both my wife Bri and I want to move to Tennessee, it made this trip all the more special. Bri was even dedicated in that she put aside four of the first five practice days to be out on the boat with me. In the end she got pretty good at throwing a buzzbait as well as feeding the ducks our granola bars.

The first day of practice I put aside for fishing down in the river and decided I would spend all day in Spring Creek. I had done a lot of research prior to launching and had an idea where the bass would be, but really wanted to dial them in early and instead of running all over the lake I figured I would work this entire cove and once I felt I had them dialed in, I would duplicate that pattern all over the lake and start looking for more and more productive areas that held bigger fish. In the end this concept sounded a lot easier than the reality would be. I managed 4 keepers and a dozen or more shorts. The fish where shallow for the most part but the keepers where scattered around different structure and came on different baits. I caught a 15″ largemouth on a bluff wall on a Rapala DT Flat 3 (Parrot), I caught another 14″ largie on a Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait, as well as another 14″ on a Biovex Micro Crank Shallow Runner (Fune Orange Belly), and my best keeper, a 18″ largemouth came off a laydown in 7 ft. of water on a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver (Xmas Pumpkin) with a 1/4 oz. Tru Tungsten pegged sinker. I caught most my shorts by throwing a 1/4 oz. Super K Swim Jig in a Pro Staff only color (mostly white with a bit of black and green pumpkin).

After day one I was pretty convinced of one thing, I was going to have to move water and make as many casts as possible. This is a bit out of my comfort zone, just in that I like to locate good fish and then slow down to catch them. I don’t like feeling that I’m leaving good fish behind me. This is something I know I need to work on to continue to develop into a versatile angler. So I was more than happy to step up to the challenge.

Day 2 and 3 of practice I continued to spend my time up the river and fished the Bartons Creek area as well as some other smaller, less known creeks and pockets in the area. Fish where easy enough to catch but finding keepers where more than difficult. Both days I believe I caught 4 keepers each day with none being more than 15 inches. Most of these keepers came on one of three different baits, a 3/8 oz. Chatterbait (White), a Strike King 1 XS Crankbait (sexy shad or chart. blue back), and the Biovex Micro Crank Shallow Runner (Fune Orange Belly).

The final two days of practice I spent closer to the dam in Cedar Creek, Drakes Creek, Station Camp Creek and several other smaller creeks in the area. Both days I managed my standard 4 keepers but had a kicker each day. One day I whacked a healthy 4 pounder from a boat dock in Drakes Creek on a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Green Pumpkin) and then went on to fish another 100 or so docks in the creek and never got another bite. Then the last day I managed another 4 pounder by throwing a homemade football jig on a secondary point in about 12 feet of water. I went on to fish a dozen in a half other points and never got a bite. I guess this is standard on Old Hickory. Like I said before, trolling motor down chucking and winding as fast as possible for 8 hours and maybe I could get myself in contention to qualify for nationals.

Day 1 of the tournament started out tough near the dam, so around 10:30 I decided to make the run up river to Spring Creek where I finally manged a keeper off that same laydown but instead of a toad 18″, I got a barely bumper 14″ rat. In the box it went. After another 2 or so hours with nothing more than a handful of non keepers I ran back toward the dam and managed to catch another 14″ largemouth on the chatterbait. Day one I weighed in a very disappointing 2 fish for 2.88 lbs. and was sitting in 108th out of 169. The good news was that I needed to make the top 50 to qualify for nationals and was only 4 pounds back from 30th. So I knew I still had an excellent chance of making up ground. The bite was tough for everyone which I was quickly learning was common place for Old Hickory.

Day 2 came and I ran to a spot in Cedar where I had missed a big one in the last minutes the day before and managed to catch two small ones and dropped a good 3 plus pound largemouth. It was still pretty dark and I was throwing my chatterbait threw the tulle grass, when I realized it was on. The problem was that it was all to common to hang up on the stem of the plants which felt the same as a fish grabbing the bait. By the time I realized I had a fish on it was way to late and she got off.

From there I ran up a creek arm close by where I had seen a lot of shad up in the dirt shallows, literally dirt shallow, 6 – 8 inches. I got a few short strikes but ended up catching a barely 14″ largemouth on the Strike King 1XS. The fish choked the bait and was bleeding real bad, I quickly sunk the fish in the livewell by employing a heavy ice fishing weight to keep the bass from turning on it’s side and added a bunch of Please Release Me.

I fished and fished all day and in the end only managed small ones that wouldn’t cross the 14″ mark. At weigh in I checked my keeper and because of all the blood loss was just barely touching the 14″ mark, I wasn’t sure if it would go, it was the closest I had ever seen. Since I had revived the fish and it was healthy I just let it go instead of risking a DQ and it wouldn’t of helped me get to Nationals, it would of only made me look a bit better on the final standings. With a 15 hour drive ahead of me back to Minnesota it seemed like the most logical decision. In the end the lake proved to be as tough, if not tougher than I had thought, to make the top 50 a guy only had to catch a two day total of 11 pounds and was in. To make the top 25 I only needed a two day total of 14 pounds. That’s a tough bite!

I had a lot of time to think back on the week while I was driving home and really don’t have many regrets. I learned a lot of solid info that will pay huge dividends in the future. I learned a lot more about shad which is the primary forage in that part of the country and even better I feel a lot more comfortable with a crankbait in my hand. Being a die hard jig fisherman and topwater guy, this was much needed. From here on out, I’ll always have a crankbait tied on and on the deck of my boat. My strength is slowing down and flipping cover, whether it’s wood, docks, mats or milfoil, and if that’s the pattern of any given tournament I have all the confidence in the world that I’ll be in the top when it’s all said and done. I also feel more than comfortable with smallmouth gear like spinning rods, 8 lb. test and a 3″ tube or shakey head and my most favorite way to catch them would be throwing a football jig probing deepwater for giants, but crankin’ just hasn’t been my thing and I know if I can incorporate that technique as a go to strength I’ll be able to contend with the best all over the country. Challenge accepted!

Now back home, old man winter is letting us all know he’s right around the corner. Most people start getting all ready for hunting and or ice fishing, not this open water junkie. No not at all, it’s time to go whack some schooled up smallies and toad smallmouth at that. Rivers and small creeks this time of year get chucked full of smallies that school up for the long winter, where the current keeps the water from freezing solid you will find me. This is the only way I know how to recharge my batteries after a long grueling tournament season.

This winter keep checking back as I’m looking at adding a lot more tips and techniques for others to try. I’ve been getting a lot of emails and am humbled by all that read and follow my blog all over the country. Really I can’t believe how many are out there that frequent my site. Thank you. Being that I am a tournament fisherman I can’t always give to much information that can be used against me, however while out fun fishing working on new techniques on non tournament waters, I’m going to break down what I look for and what works for me so that it may help another angler out there looking to sharpen their skills. If anyone has any ideas or questions please email me and I’ll be sure to address them personally or do a blog entry on the topic.

Good luck to all the hunters coming up, even though I haven’t been doing much hunting the past few years I can still smell it in the air. I just can’t seem to put down the rod and reel. Also hats off to all the fisherman that where able to weather the storm that is Old Hickory and qualified for nationals on Lake Dardenelle.

Posted in Blog Post

Brant Brothers Claim Top Spot!

Generally here at Josh Douglas Fishing I don’t go to far out of my way to promote other anglers, it kind of defeats the overall purpose of a self promotion website. With that said I have always prided myself on giving credit where credit is due, especially when the credit goes to my team tournament partners and very close friends.

Ryan Brant and brother Corey Brant found themselves both in the number one spot of the Silverado Angler of the Year standings when the season ended on Lake Minnetonka earlier in the month and both got to fish together in the year end Shoot Out!


The season had lots of ups and downs but both managed to make all the right decisions and in the end where better than all the rest. “I don’t think we could have scripted it any better”, said Ryan on being paired with brother Corey for the Shoot Out. Ryan contributes his success to long hours on water that he wasn’t all that familiar with. Corey, who fished on the Am side, gave his pro’s the credit on finding good areas but also on the time he spent himself perfecting different patterns form the back of the boat. I personally have said this since the beginning of the year, it’s hard to find a better Am to have in your boat than Corey and I guarantee any of his Pro’s would say the same!

Hat’s off gentleman!

Posted in Blog Post

Denny’s Super 30 Shootout

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

I hurried home from the river with just enough time to line up a few rods, get some baits prepared and get ready to take to Tonka for the year end Denny’s Super 30 Shootout. After talking over the game plan with team tournament partner Ryan Brant, we came to a very specific pattern that we felt would give us the best shot at taking the two grand first place prize.

Tournament morning started slow with our first couple spots not producing anything. Even our third spot was getting a bit depressing until we came to a small isolated area that always looks good but never seems to produce for me. I even made a comment to Ryan that we never seem to catch anything off this when all of a sudden I get a nice bite. I quickly set the hook on a giant 4+ pound largemouth and as I was getting it to the net it just came off. I couldn’t believe it! This has been a thorn in our side on this lake all season. If it isn’t me than it’s Ryan and if it’s not Ryan dropping a big one than it’s Corey. I’m sure it’s starting to sound like a broken record but sadly it’s true. I guess we should just chalk it up to a type of slump, like when a NFL running back gets a case of the fumbles, but believe me this is a slump that will end soon. We all put way to much effort into finding good schools of fish that we just CAN NOT drop the big ones when we hook up. If I sound a bit annoyed it’s because I am, unfortunately this wasn’t the only big one that we dropped in this tournament. Luckily though, before we could let it get us down Ryan hooked into a nice one that definitely got into the livewell. I managed a few smaller ones and before we knew it, we where well onto our way of filling a descent limit.

We caught fish through out the day making small culls here and there. As the day was starting to get long and the images of dropped fish haunting our thoughts, we decided to call an audible. I told Ryan that not far away was a spot that fishes small but produces good ones. In fact I’ve fished this area 10 to 12 times and only caught 2 fish of it but both where over 5 pounds. We worked the area and as we where about to leave Ryan sets on what ended up being big fish of the tournament at 5.05 lbs. In fact we made another nice cull like this within 20 minutes and where within sight of winning this thing.

Unfortunately time wasn’t on our side and we weren’t able to make any more culls to help our bag. We we’re one of the first to weigh in our 8 fish limit which came to a solid 23.10 lbs. and landed us in third place with big fish honors when it was all said and done. We where both more than thrilled with the outcome. It was an up and down season but we where consistent enough all year to make the top 12 and in the end walked away with the much needed $1000 dollar pay day plus another $300 for big bass!


Now I’m planning to take a week or so off from fishing and start getting things ready for the upcoming Bassmaster Weekend Series Regional Championship held on Old Hickory Lake, just outside Nashville, TN. I’ve been doing all sorts of research trying to put together as much useful knowledge of the lake before I head down. Though it calls for an extremely hard bite, my anticipation level is through the roof. I really feel like this tournament could set up well for my strengths. I’ll try to put up a prelude entry to the event before I go. Tennessee here we come!

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BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tournament

Mississippi River Pools 3, 4 & 5, Alma, WI

It was important going into this event for me to have a strong showing. There’s multiple reasons for this, one being that because I missed the last tournament out of LaCrosse due to conflicting tournament schedules with the Silverado, I would have to have a strong finish to assure I made divisional’s held on Old Hickory, in Hendersonville, TN. Before the LaCrosse tournament I was sitting strongly in 5th place in the Angler of the Year standings, but after I missed an entire event I dropped like a rock and was sitting in the low 40’s.

Another reason I was looking for a strong finish was more of a personal one. I really like fishing the river and my favorite time of year to be down there is definitely during the fall. Although in the past the river hasn’t been very accommodating to me during this time of year. Last year I put in lots of time preparing for the MN State Federation Championship held nearly at the same time. What ended up being one of the best practices of my life quickly turned into a nightmare on all sorts of different levels. Day one of the tournament my engine’s impeller quit causing me to overheat before I could even get to my starting spot, eventually causing a DQ because I had to be trailered off, I never even made a cast. The next day after getting my engine fixed, we all sat due to fog, during this time I received a call from my wife Bri that our four year old rottweiler Kairo who had been diagnosed with lymphoma cancer a few weeks prior, had just taken a major turn for the worse. Then after the 3 1/2 hour fog delay I got to my spot and was able to finally start catching some good fish, on the way back to weigh in one of my injectors popped. So with this all said, it was personally real important to me to have a better outing down here this time around.

I spent almost all of my practice focusing on pool 5. After two solid days I was able to come up with what I felt was going to be a solid game plan and I had multiple spots that held both quality largemouth’s and smallmouth’s. I spent a few hours on pool 4, mainly finding areas that had potential for a good fish or two and where located close to the weigh in site, somewhere I could spend my last 45 minutes in the day. When I went to load my boat to get off the water I thought of an area much further north (30 minutes or so) that always has good smallies on it this time of year. I only had an hour before I had to be off the water for registration so I trailored my boat to the closest ramp and launched again. On my second cast I hooked into a 3 1/2 pound smallie and the best part was that shad was flickering all over the place, a key ingredient for this place to be on.

All night I rigged rods wondering what I should do, If I ran up river it would take 30 to 40 minutes in perfect conditions and then take at least 45 minutes to get to my second spot and that’s if I could lock straight threw without waiting on a barge. After going round and round I finally came to a commitment that I would make the run, I mean I had to, I always live by the no risk no reward philosophy, it’s just not always a bullet proof way of thinking though.

After a nice run, I made it to my first spot and on my second cast throwing a Amp Lures Pop (Parrot), I put a nice 3 pound smallmouth in the boat. The shad started blowing up everywhere but the problem was I couldn’t get anymore bites. There was a nice school of smallies there but they where way more content chasing around real food and wouldn’t commit to anything I was throwing. I did manage a few but they where all just an 1/8 of an inch short of the mandatory 14″ size requirement. Finally afternoon was really starting to close in and I had to make a decision, I had managed one more 15″ smallmouth, it was either stick out the day up here and maybe run to a couple more mediocre spots and scratch out a limit or make the run back down river and lock threw to pool 5. I decided it was time to go.

After the 45 minute run back to lock I was devastated to find three barges sitting at the lock. I come to find out that the lock has been down all day because a barge had broke down inside the lock. Being that I spent all practice in pool 5 I had to come up with a plan quick. I decided I would just slowly pick apart the area that I had planned on saving for the last 45 minutes and just spend 4 hours there and try scratching out a limit. After two hours quickly went by with nothing more that a few shorts, which I might add where again an 1/8 of an inch shy, I finally hooked up with a quality largemouth going about 4 pounds. This really put the fire under me because if I could manage to just fill a limit than I would have a nice day 1 sack and haven’t even touched my stuff on pool 5. Although I gave it my all, the small area that I had to fish just didn’t have the quantity or quality needed for me to put together a limit and I ended day 1 with 3 bass for roughly 9 pounds.

Going into Day 2, I had a slightly different agenda, I found myself way out of the money, but my day 2 Am partner Jeremiah, was sitting in 4th place after he had a successful day 1. My goal instead turned on making sure he got a check as well as showing face and putting together a nice limit of my own. After an up and down day, we where both able to catch fish and in the end Jeremiah was good enough for a solid 5th place finish. I myself ended in a tough 41st place, though with that said it was still a good enough showing to make divisionals, believe me when I say I can’t wait to get to Old Hickory!!

No time to rest though, I’m off to Minnetonka tomorrow for the Denny’s Super 30 Shootout Championship. Wish me luck!!

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Denny’s Super 30

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

The pressure was really on for this tournament largely because it was the 5th and final Super 30 of the year, with the exception being the top 12 in the AOY race will get to go at it next week in a one day year end Shootout. A no entry fee, 5 grand for first showdown between the best teams on Tonka. Corey and I found ourselves sitting in 13th place, one spot away. We figure we need to at least make the top 10 today if we where going to make post season play.

Our plan of attack was to go after big fish, we where truly looking for 8 good bites. We had a lot of water to run but figured we’d let the first few spots dictate how we fished out the rest of the day. Our first area worked well when I was able to boat a solid 4 pound largie within the first half hour. Area two was almost as good when I added a 3 pounder to our bag. Our third area proved most productive when things really started hitting the fan. Corey went back to back on two nice 3 pounders and I managed to ad a few small ones to round out our limit.

With an already good bag with only two hours down, we knew we had put ourselves in perfect contention to go for the win. We knew we need 2 more solid culls and we’d have a sack. Fishing started to slow a bit, which we knew would happen but we said we’d stay patient and look for those big bites. Finally Corey set into a donkey of a largemouth and as he was fighting the fish to the boat he switched sides with his rod and we managed to catch the rod into the landing net and the fish come undone. Not exactly the team work we had come accustom to and to make matters worse Corey got another big one caught up and unfortunately for us that one got off to.

We ran water the remainder of the day and both managed to make a few small culls, but still had a few small two pounders left when it came time to weigh. Our sack put the scales to 23.01 lbs. on a 8 fish limit and in the end we finished two spots from the money in a solid 10th place. Because of our effort we where able to move up one spot to take 12th in the Team of the Year race and hold the last spot in the Year End Shootout. It’s going to be a blast!

Up next I’ll be headed back down to the Alma, WI for the final Bassmaster Weekend Series two day event on the old Mississippi River. I am very much looking forward to this event, I really like fishing the river in the Fall. Wish me luck!!

Posted in Blog Post

Silverado Pro Am Bass Tour

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

I’ve been really excited about this tournament for some time now, that I did everything imaginable to get ready for it. I found time to practice and put in hard work 8 of the past 14 days. I knew that because of my 49th place disaster last month, I would have to finish at least in the top 3 to have a legitimate chance at making the shootout. Even more importantly, I consider Minnetonka my home lake and would love to notch a win here in such a big event. It would just mean a ton to me personally. I’ve only been fishing the lake for 3 years but since then I have put in my fair share. In my defense Minnetonka can be real addicting, it’s got some really nice fish in it, four pounders are the norm here.



**From left to right: A few pics from practice of me rigging up some tackle.

At take off I was pretty confident. I had a good practice and was really on some nice fish. The fishing wasn’t fast but the quality was there, when I’d get bit it was a good one. I was able to put together around 15 or so spots that where more than productive in the weeks heading in but the problem was that I couldn’t pattern when they would be there. I would check them periodically through practice and found that one day they would bite in the morning and the next day not until late afternoon. So my plan was to milk run these spots and at least try to fish everything twice. The bad part was that I was on the move a lot but the good part was that every cast I made I knew I had a legitimate chance to catch a four pounder. It’s not every tournament a guy gets that opportunity.

The tournament started out great with a quick limit and a nice nearly 4 pound largemouth hitting the livewell. I decided to go check a small isolated spot that I knew had great potential. It didn’t take but a minute and I hooked into a solid 5 pound fish just to have it come to the surface and spit my bait. It got off!! Man, I can’t even begin to explain how much that hurts when that happens.

As the afternoon wore on the fishing really started to slow and I just wasn’t able to get enough of the big bites that I needed to put together a winning bag. In the end I weighed a limit of 6 bass for a total weight of 12.93 lbs and a disappointing 28th place finish. Although it wasn’t the outcome I was looking for, I was still somewhat happy in that I worked very hard and was extremely prepared for this tournament. Frankly I just didn’t get the bites needed, but I put myself in the best position to win. If I can continue to prepare for all my other tournaments like I did this one, I’ll have a very highlighted future. It’s going to take a ton of self determination, but that’s the challenge I live for.

A sincere congratulations to my two real good buddies and my team tournament partners, Ryan and Corey Brant, who after a very successful year both found themselves on the top of the Angler of the Year points. Ryan finished 1st on the Pro side and Corey ran away with the honors on the Am side and now the brothers are paired together in next week’s Shoot Out. Way to go guys!

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Gopher B.A.S.S. Federation Club Tournament

Lake Minnetonka, Twin Cities, MN

Tonka, Tonka, Tonka. In the next couple of weeks, I could be competing in four different derbies that will combine for a total first place earnings at 70 grand, all of which are being held on none other than Tonka itself. Needless to say that I jumped all over the chance to join my MN Federation Club, the Gopher Bassmaster, for a weekend throwdown.

It has been decided by the MN B.A.S.S. Federation that next years venue for the state Championship will also be held on Lake Minnetonka. This is an event I am extremely looking forward to. Since the tournament is local, I figure it gives me the best chance at advancing myself to divisionals and make a run at the BASSMASTER Classic.

Being that Minnetonka is only 15 minutes from my house, I’ve been spending every extra second out there, trying to put in my time and piece together a solid pattern before the Silverado lands there in two weeks.

I was out there both Thursday and Friday before the club tournaments and managed to locate good fish relatively quickly. Since the lake is being divided in half each day I spent most of Thursday on the east side and friday on the west. I checked a few spots that had help me secure a solid 7th place finish last year on Minnetonka for the Bassmaster Weekend Series, but more importantly I spent a vast majority of my day trying to locate new areas. All in all, I was very pleased with the outcome and was pretty excited to get out there Saturday morning and start filling up livewell.

Unfortunately, because of these big tournaments that are coming up in the next few weeks I really can’t get into many details on what worked and what didn’t. Saturday we awoke to our first cold night, touching the high 40’s. Although the bite was really tough, I managed to use my patience to help me to a awesome 2nd place finish with a total of 5 bass weighing 12.59 lbs.

Sunday’s Tournament, held on the lake’s east side, started out even more chilly with overnight low’s in the low 40’s. Again I was able to put together a solid game plan and rode it to a very gratifying 1st place finish with a winning weight of 16.32 lbs.

Although I have lots of work to do, I can’t help but to be excited.

Check back soon!

Posted in Blog Post

Denny’s Super 30

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

After a rough finish at Saturday’s Silverado tournament at Lake Minnewaska, I was anxious to get out on Tonka and get that bad taste out of my mouth. Pairing up for this tournament was my buddy Corey Brant.

We managed to get out on Sunday to practice and found the fishing to be great. The big ones where biting and we didn’t even fish any of our tried and true spots. Instead we searched new water and where able to find some nice areas holding good schools of fish.

Tournament morning went very slow and we left some of our best areas with not even a single bite. After fishing about three productive areas with nothing to show, I knew we needed a change. We’ve found that power fishing some of these areas proves to be most effective, but after these tactics weren’t producing, we needed to scale back and throw a bit more finesse at them. Being that my boat was in the shop, I didn’t have the proper tackle along so I made the suggestion to Corey who was obviously thinking the same thing. It wasn’t two casts later and Corey sets the hook. We managed to put a small limit in the boat and things started turning for the better, so much better that Corey managed to get a solid 4 1/2 pounder safely in the boat after it was completely pinned down in the thickest milfoil and he was only using 8 lb. line!! It was sick. That’s just not how it happens, but things started going our way.

We weighed in with 8 largemouth’s going 23.10 pounds, good enough for a solid 9th place finish. Unfortunately they only paid out 8 spots, but we moved up from 20th to 13th place in the Angler of the Year points race and are only sitting one place outside the top twelve who all get invited to fish in the no entry shootout.

I’m excited because next week Bri and I are taking the dogs up to the cabin for a fun relaxing weekend. Then when I get back it’ll be nothing but Minnetonka, with a lot of big events taking place there next month I need to be sure to be a top my game. I’m really looking forward to it.

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Silverado Pro Am Bass Tour

Lake Minnewaska, Starbuck, MN

This whole tournament was a challenge for me literally from start to finish. Two weeks prior to the actual tournament I put aside a couple days to get out there and practice. Being that I had never even seen the lake before, I wanted to at least get out there for the weekend and check things out, get a good feel for the fish and more importantly get familiar with the lake itself. Unfortunately, an hour after I launched my trim went out completely on my motor and instead of figuring out the mystery of Lake Minnewaska, I was forced to limp back, load up and head back home to get things patched up.

Once tournament week came around I was charged up and ready to go. I got a new trim motor put in my Evinrude and it was running great. I was able to practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and it wasn’t until mid afternoon Friday that I finally found a few good schools of fish. I didn’t have a backup plan at all but if this pattern held up it could produce winners. I’ve never had this challenging of a practice and worse yet, had never felt this uncomfortable about my opportunities get a check.

Well to make a not so long story even shorter, my pattern definitely did not work out. After four straight days of sun, tournament day gave way to stormy and cloudy skies which definitely effected my fish. I struggled half the day to even coax a single bite and when I finally wised up and made the proper adjustments I dropped the few good fish needed to fill a nice limit. Instead I managed to only weigh in three bass for a total weight of 4.56 lbs. and took 49th place, dead last. I once said after winning the first event of the 2009 Bassmaster Weekend Series, that in order to actually win one of these tournaments everything has got to go right, from practice all the way to the the weigh in. The competition is just too stiff and someone ALWAYS manages to catch them. On the other hand, to finish last, most everything has got to go wrong.

Although very disappointing, I’ve still managed to learn a very important lesson that will make me an even better tournament fisherman. I’ve learned to be a bit more humble. In only my second season fishing at this level, I’ve been so fortunate to have had the success’s that I have. I’ve done this by putting in my time and trusting my own decisions on the water. This tournament I didn’t listen to the voices in my head telling me I needed to adjust, instead I was stubborn and didn’t make the proper changes until it was to late and then panicked and didn’t stick with the adjusted game plan long enough to make it work and it resulted in my worst performance by far. Someone once told me to be a true winner you must first learn what it’s like to loose. Point taken….

Congrats to my good buddies Ryan and Corey Brant for their strong finishes, 3rd and 7th respectively. Hats off gentleman!

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Japan to Hold New World Record Honors?

I’ve waited a few weeks to post about this topic but as more time goes by it seems all things are legit and George Perry’s tanker 22.4 lb. largemouth bass that held the world record for the past 77 years is on the verge of being trumped. Manabu Kurita, 32, has reportedly caught a reported 22.5 lb. largemouth from Lake Biwa in the Shiga Prefecture of Japan.

Early reports where that Kurita caught the giant early afternoon on July 2nd using livebait, a species similar to a bluegill. The Deps pro also caught a 18 lb. largie a few years back on a swimbait.


Lake Biwa, the largest lake in all of Japan, is known for it’s beauty and and it’s depth, bottoming out at a gnarly 300 feet. Despite all the giant bass that Biwa holds, Japanese officials have been working to oust largemouth bass from the lake, trying to eliminate all invasive (non native) species from the lake. Even the Lake Biwa Museum Restaraunt serves black bass on it’s menu.

With Japan leading the way in the bass tackle industry, it seems fitting that they may now hold the big bass honors. Although with all the giants coming out of California in the past decade, I feel it won’t be long until the record gets toppled once again.

Congratulations to Manabu Kurita and his awesome catch. In my humble opinion it’s by far the most prestigious record to hold in all the world.

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BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tournament

Mississippi River Pools 9 & 10, Prairie Du Chien, WI

What a tournament. Literally from the beginning of practice this was a grind it out type of event. The venue was the Mississippi River Pools 9 and 10, which borders both central Wisconsin and central Iowa. I have never been to this stretch of the Mighty Miss before and wasn’t sure what to expect. I had a very hectic week before with sponsor meetings and guide trips and was only able to allow myself two full days of practice. Being that I don’t know the water at all and have limited time to prepare, I decided to cut out pool 9 all together and concentrate on only pool 10. I figured since the tournament blast off was on 10, it made more sense for me to stay there and not waste valuable fishing time locking threw. Plus from the internet research that I did, it didn’t sound like any one pool was much better than the other.

I got on the water early Friday morning and quickly starting running south figuring I would slowly make my way back north as the day wore on. Six miles down river and all of a sudden my run came to a quick stop when I spun the hub in my prop. Surely there is worse things that can happen, but annoying and a waste of time none the less. As I crawled my way back to the boat ramp fighting current and going no more than 5 miles an hour, I was able to get a hold of a traveling partner and fellow competitor Brian Brown. Luckily for me he was only about 7 miles from me and was happy enough to come down and lend me a hand. After about an hour or so I was back in business and on my way. Fishing though was slower than expected and finding keepers was next to impossible. I found areas that I knew had to hold fish but couldn’t get bit to save my life. This was discouraging because I knew the conditions where perfect for catching fish. It was mildly hot and we where dodging thunderstorms all day. Literally the bass should have been jumping in the boat and from what I was told from other competitors they where having awesome days on other stretches of the river. Finally around 5 o’clock I was forced off the water when all hell broke loose and a mother of a storm was headed straight at me packing baseball sized hail, lighting and flood producing rain.

The next morning I found out that local highways where closed due to mudslides and knew for certain that this would drastically effect the river’s water clarit, making finding clear water a challenge. When I launched, I instantly noticed the main river channel was already getting muddied up. Despite all this my last day of practice was a huge success. I was able to find a nice area that offered deep water and had some great laydowns and the key was it maintained clear water. I flipped a Tru Tungsten Jig (black and blue) to the timber and and on the first flip caught a chunky three pounder. Two flips later to a different piece of brush and out came a 2 1/2. I continued a ways pulling on what had to be around 15 to 20 nice bites.

I decided this would be a great place to start and then headed out to find a secondary spot. I figured since the conditions where going to set up right that I should look for some slop areas that I could finish my day on. It didn’t take long at all and I found a few key areas and also as equally important when river fishing, I found my routes in and out of these areas. By about 4:30 it was time to get off and head over to registration where I again got a bad boat draw and was in the third flight, boat number 55. The good thing was that I knew I was fishing two solid areas both having the potential to produce winners.

After take off I arrived at my first spot and was disgusted to see the water had turned to chocolate milk. I knew this would effect the bite but wasn’t sure how bad. After three hours of fishing lets just say it was horrible and I finally called the areas quits leaving with one 14″ largemouth. Leaving this area and heading to my back up area I was a bit discouraged but knew I still had about five hours of fishing and knew I wasn’t out of this at all.

My second area started no better for me and after a couple hours I was yet to catch a keeper sized bass. I was mainly throwing a 1/4 oz. Super K Swim Jig, a Sumo Frog (black) and flippin’ almost everything. I must have tried 15 different plastics trying to get bit. A few other guys where saying how the bite in this area really died down and that it was much better earlier in the morning. This was discouraging to hear, but as long as bass are in an area I’m determined to catch them. Finally after about and hour or two I caught my second keeper, a descent 16″ largemouth on the rat.

With only about a half hour remaining before I had to check in, I was really starting to get anxious. I had only about 20 minutes of actual fishing time because of the 10 minute boat ride back to weigh in. Finally the slop exploded and within seconds I had boated my third keeper. Feeling I had an outside chance now to get a much needed limit I called an audible and shot to one last small area that I knew could have two keepers on it. The area was a nice little point that was surrounded by pads and duckweed. After a few casts with the rat a nice bass came flying out the water missing my frog all together. After a few more throw backs with the frog and a Sweet Beaver, I decided to move on, I only had a minute or two before I absolutely had to get back. A few more casts and I whacked another keeper! That made 4. Now extremely determined to catch a limit I swung back around and made a few more casts at that nice one that had blew up on my frog and wouldn’t you know it, on literally my final cast it inhaled my frog and I put my fifth in the boat, a nice largemouth going about three pounds.

I raced back to barely make it in on time and weighed in at 10.78 lbs, good enough for 21st place. I generally would be disappointed with this kind of finish. I fish these events to cash checks, but I couldn’t help but happy with the outcome. EVERY tournament angler will have bad days, days they will not come in with a limit. Leaving I felt this should have been one of those days, however I impressed myself by staying focused and using every available second I had to put a limit in the boat. Probably the biggest part of being a successful tournament fisherman is to develop mental toughness and today I feel I took a step in the right direction.

Congratulations to my boy Brian Brown for his outstanding first place finish and big bass honors. Since he plans on buying a house down in Kentucky in the next couple weeks I’m sure that 10K payday will come in real handy for him and his wife. Congrats Buddy!!

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Silverado Pro Am Bass Tour

Le Homme Dieu Chain, Alexandria, MN

Today was the second stop of the Silverado Tour held on the Le Homme Dieu Chain, in Northwestern Minnesota. After a solid sixth place finish here last year in the BASSMASTER Weekend Series event, I was more than eager to get back up there and try to do even better.

During practice I was having no problem catching fish and was able to catch them both deep and shallow. Big fish where few and far between though and I could tell right away that it wasn’t going to take a giant sack to win this event. In fact, I figured everyone was catching them and it would take about a two and a half pound average to be at the top. If I could manage to put a true four pounder in the boat and a bunch of two’s, I would be in great shape.

It wasn’t until the day or two before the tournament when I was out practicing with my wife Bri that I found a couple areas that where holding some quality Le Homme Dieu keepers. I was getting plenty of good bites and even hooked up with a solid four pounder and Bri managed to boat a nice three pound largemouth on a Biovex Stangun Omega Spinnerbait (Bluegill). I knew if I was lucky enough to get an early boat draw, I would be in the driver seat the rest of the day. I don’t want to get into to many specifics on the bite but let’s just say my number one pattern fit right into my wheel house.

The unfortunate part was that my confidence quickly took a blow when I found out at registration the night before the tourney that I drew boat 49 out of 49. I was dead last to go at take off. Usually I wouldn’t be so bummed about this but the way the lake was fishing, I knew that the areas I wanted to fish weren’t any secret and was certain that I was going to have sloppy seconds once I finally managed to get there. Despite all this, I knew this area was holding winners and was still committed to getting there.

After take off I quickly discovered that I wasn’t getting left sloppy seconds at all, no it was more like thirds or fourths. I did manage to put a few keepers in the boat, but we’re talking about text book peanuts here, aka dinks, going all of 12.5 inches. With my mind starting to scramble a bit I just started running to all kinds of water, anywhere that I had gotten good bites during practice. I caught fish all day, some pretty good ones and even made plenty of culls, but in the end I still had three 13.5 inch bass in the well and knew that wouldn’t be enough to get a check. I weighed in at a not so hefty 10.66 pounds, only good enough for 25th place.

I hold myself to such a high level that I couldn’t help but be disappointed in the outcome, though I know I did with what I could. I’m probably fortunate to finish as high as I did. On the upside I only dropped three spots in the Angler of the Year points race and am currently sitting 19th with 2 events left. With the top 14 getting invited to compete for a brand new Ranger Boat in the Silverado Shoot Out, it’s more than important that I finish strong the rest of the way.

Looking ahead I get only a day or two off and I’ll be headed down to the Wisconsin/Iowa border to compete in the third stop of BASSMASTER Weekend Series going out of Prairie Du Chein, WI. Being that I’ve never been there before I have no idea of what to expect. I’d like to say that I’m just fishing this one for the points but the competitive side in me won’t settle for much less than the win. I guess that’s why I live for this, wish me luck!

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BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tournament

Mississippi River Pools 3 – 5, Alma, WI

After winning the first event of the 2009 BASSMASTER Weekend Series last month, I was more than stoked to get back on the Mighty Miss and attempt to go back to back. Since my 29th birthday is only two short days away I couldn’t think of a better birthday present for myself.

I was able to get out and give myself ample practice time and really felt I had found some good areas. The other thing I spent time on was learning the vast backwaters that line the main river channel. Running these areas can be as difficult a task as actually locating and catching fish. A guy’s really got to know where he’s going when running at high speeds and idling isn’t always an efficient way to get around. It just simply takes to long to get from one area to another and makes it actually impossible to get into some of the best areas. Since the backwaters are littered with sand humps, stumps, weeds, wing dams, rocks and whatever else floats down river, it’s essential to know what your doing.

Every day of practice I was able to locate good fish but finding them grouped up was a bit difficult. I did manage to catch good largemouth and smallmouth each day and figured I would just have to run lots of water and I’d be in good shape. I didn’t have any one lure that was always working and I was truly junk fishing the entire time. At one point I counted 21 rods on the deck of my boat all equipped with different lures that where all somewhat catching fish, everything from topwater to bottom baits and everything in between. Do you have any idea how much Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon I went through preparing my rods for game day? It’ll make you cringe, but better safe than sorry. Good thing it holds up for a long time and I won’t need to change it until my next major tourney.

Unfortunately I drew boat 72 out of 78 and was forced to wait a while tournament morning before I could got to work. My plan was to lock down to pool 5 right away and try to be back to pool 4 by 11 o’clock. Since I was one of the last to take off, I wasn’t able to lock through with the first group and had to burn even more time waiting to get into pool 5.

Finally I got through and quickly arrived to my first stop. On my second cast I loaded into a nice smallie going 3 to 4 pounds, but because of a bad hookset the fish came off. Not the start I was looking for, but before that smallie could get back to the school and snitch me out I made another cast and hooked up with a nice smallie that weighed 3 pounds 11 ounces. That got me back on track and after a few more casts with no results I headed to another spot that I had caught some real good ones at in practice. One my first cast I managed to hook up with a HUGE smallie going well over 5 pounds and after about a good 30 second fight my line snapped and what was easily the biggest smallie I have ever been hooked up with disappeared. This was a hard pill to swallow, not only would it have been a personal best but it would have really put me in awesome shape to repeat a win. I looked at my line and saw it was tattered up and looked like shredded cheese, I had been fishing around rock and shells and must have had my line pretty beat up before I even made that cast. I maybe break off a fish once or twice a year, sure they get off but they don’t break my line that often. I should have checked before I ever made that cast, but lesson learned, it was just horrible timing, but I can easily say that I won’t make that mistake twice.

I needed to build some momentum so I decided to go do some flipping for largemouth in an area not to far from where I was and attempt to put together a quick limit. After loosing two giant smallies in the first half hour of actual fishing, I needed to start going in the right direction. It didn’t take long and I put a 16” largemouth in the box. I also caught a few more but they where in the 13″ range and where not past the mandatory 14′ mark to keep. After about an hour or so of flipping I decided to head back to my spot that I broke off that toad. I was able to catch a nice 17″ smallie but that was all. I guess when you send the queen of the school back with a hook still in her mouth, things tend to get a bit “spooky” in that area.

At about 11 o’clock it was time to lock back through to pool 4. I had a few areas that had coughed up a couple 4 pound largemouths in practice and figured this would be a good area to fill a limit. I knew I had to fish fast and just started chucking and winding a Super K Swim Jig and was able to fill a respectable limit.


I weighed in at 12.42 pounds and tied for 27th place out of 78 boats. Not horrible but disappointing none the less. I couldn’t help but think what could have been had I landed those two smallies early in the day. I was less than a pound away from cashing a check as it was and with those two I would’ve had the chance to take the win. But what if’s surely don’t cut it and I tilt my hat to those that made it happen. To be at the top of the leaderboard in one of these events means you had one heck of a good day on the water, limited your mistakes, and was better than the rest. Congrats to those that did!

I’m currently sitting in 4th place in the Angler of the Year points with the next stop in July at Prairie Du Chien, WI. I can’t wait!

Congrats to my good buddy Rich Lindgren for his solid 8th place finish! That a boy Rich!

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Tackle Update: Super K Swim JIgs

Over the last two years swim jigs have become a staple for me on waters in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. Known largely for it’s effectiveness on river systems, I’ve found it to be equally productive on our lakes as well. When worked correctly, the swim jig comes through the thickest of vegetation when little or no hangups and at the same time offers a very unique subtle presentation.

Since swimming a jig is generally known as a shallow water technique, this subtle presentation becomes even more important. Most “weekend anglers” are shallow water fisherman and the shallow flats on heavily fished waters get very tough. There are always a good number of big bass shallow but these fish simply see a lot of flamboyant baits like frogs, spinnerbaits, and big jigs. Swim jigs on the other hand can still be power fished and move water quickly, but also offer that finesse factor to get shy bass to strike.


Over the past year or two, I have experimented with all sorts of different swim jigs and quickly realized that they are not all created equal. I’ve found that a little tackle manufacturer out of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, has got it down to a science, Super K Swim Jigs. Their superb design of the bait starts with the perfect cone shaped head that insures the bait slips right through the grass. You can throw this bait anywhere! It also comes standard with a hand tied skirt and is offered in many bass catching colors. The best part of this jig is in the business end, Super K Swim Jigs come standard with a stout 5/0 Gamakatsu hook. Fish bite and don’t come off!

Please feel free to visit Super K online and see for yourself just how many more strikes you’ll get!

www.SuperKFishing.com

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Denny’s Super 30

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

Today was the second tournament of the Denny’s Super 30, held on Lake Minnetonka. This is a team format tournament, which consists of Myself, Ryan Brant and Corey Brant. Being that we all are in other tournaments we split up the events. The first tourney held last month was taken by Ryan and Corey and this month was Me and Corey. At the end of the year the top 8 teams qualify for the Shoot Out and compete for an additional 5 grand and even last place takes a check.

I was able to get out on the lake on Friday morning and all day Sunday. I found the fish to be scattered. I stayed away from any of my good water and instead looked for new areas, I just didn’t want to stick any good sized fish a day before the tournament as I knew I would be fishing there no matter what.

I did find a new area that was holding some good smallmouth. It wouldn’t be a winning spot but could definitel cough up a couple nice 3 pound smallies. With an 8 fish limit those could be crucial.

Most the bass seemed to be scattered anywhere from a foot of water to twenty feet, it was just hard to nail down a solid pattern. Although at the end of the day Sunday, both Corey and I where pretty confident in our game plan. The fishing was going to be hit or miss for everyone and it was just crucial to have a solid three pound average when we took to the scales. We knew we had a lot of water to fish and made the commitment to run and gun, spending no more than 15 minutes at any one spot without catching a keeper.

The weather tournament day was great. It was sunny and 80 degrees with a nice 5 – 10 mph wind. Corey and I managed to put a limit in the boat rather quickly but size was an issue. I did haul off and put a quality 4 pounder in the boat right away in the morning but all the rest where between 1 pound and 2 pounds. We made plenty of culls throughout the day. I was pretty much power fishing, while Corey was following up with more of a smaller finesse presentation. I think this is important at times. When some bass are active and others are not, having a one two punch like this can really be beneficial. Corey was catching fish all day but the size really wasn’t there. None the less we where culling, even if it was only for an ounce or two at a time.

With about an hour left it was beginning to be crunch time for us to make a move. It was starting to cloud up so we made the decision to head shallow and try to pop a couple good ones. I was able to catch one more solid keeper a nice 4.8 pound largemouth, that ended up being our big fish and culled out a 1.7 pound peanut.

We weighed in at 20.3 pounds only good enough for 18th place, about two pounds out of the money. We did manage to move up a few more spots in the Team of the Year race though. In the end we where one big fish or two descent fish away from cashing a check.

Next tournament is the second stop of the Bassmaster Weekend Series held back on the Mississippi River. After winning the first event last month, I’m really looking to back it up with another strong finish. I’ll have plenty of days to practice so if things go well it should be a great birthday for me! Wish me luck!

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Denny’s Wednesday Nighter

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

Tonight’s tournament was the second time I’ve been on Tonka this season. With other tourneys I haven’t even been able to get out on one of my all time favorite bodies of water. The sad thing is Minnetonka is one of the best bass fisheries in all the Midwest and it’s only a half hour from my house. And I’ve only been out there twice?? Well, needless to say that will change now that summer is officially here. I’ll be spending every available second out there sticking 5 pounders from the abundant vegetation that amasses the lakes interior.

Fishing these with me is my good friend Joe Perez from Mobile Marine Pros. We where able to get out and practice last Sunday. Fishing was poor for the most part. We fished deep, shallow and everything in between and just weren’t able to put together a good pattern. The fish seemed scattered and inactive. We probably caught 10 at the most but I did manage a nice 4+ pound largemouth, but most all the rest where just peanuts. With limited practice we decided we would just go by the seat of our pants and hope some older areas worked out. We figured I would power fish from the front and Joe would size down and try to pick up the inactive fish with some well known Tonka finesse presentations.

At blast off we headed to one of my favorite deep spots. On my first cast I boated a nice largemouth weighing just shy of 4 pounds. That really gets the blood flowing, but we still knew we had a lot of work to do. On Tonka you have to almost always have nothing but a 4 pound average if you want a legitimate shot at taken first. We continued to work the area for the next hour and Joe did manage to boat a small keeper.

After fishing another hour with not even a bite, Joe recommended a very obvious spot, that I think most people overlook, including me. We caught a lot of small bass under the 12″ mark and I did manage one small keeper on a drop shot.

With three in the box, I decided to try some shallow water that has worked well for me in the past. I managed to boat two more around the three pound range and unfortunately dropped another solid three after an awkward hookset.

With only 45 minutes remaining we headed to the first area we started. I did manage to make one small cull before time ran out. We only weighed 11.53 oz. and finished somewhere in the middle of the pack. Dean and Ted Capra won the tournament by almost 3 pounds with a weight in the mid 18’s.

The weather forecast calls for plenty of sun and temps in the 80’s. The hotter the weather, the better the fishing! See you on the water!

Posted in Blog Post

Silverado Pro Am Bass Tour

Green Lake, Spicer, MN

Today was the first stop of the 2009 Silverado Pro Tour. For the past few years I have been looking forward to being apart of this tour as it’s probably the top tournament circuit in the mid west. So naturally you can see why I have been so eager to get out and prove myself amongst the best bass fisherman this area of the world has to offer.

The first stop was to Green Lake, a clear and rocky lake that’s chuck full of smallmouth bass. This lake also offers a fair amount of largemouth bass, but generally if your targeting them in a tournament your most likely missing the boat all together. What the lake lacks for in vegetation, it more than makes up with it’s abundance of off shore structure and shallow rocky infested flats.

Being that I had only been to Green Lake for a total of maybe 10 or 11 hours last year, I knew I had a lot to learn. I was able to get up there around 5 pm on Wednesday evening and quickly launched my boat. I used what little time I had left in the day to just get a feel for the lake. The water temp was in the low 60’s, making me believe that the smallmouth had to be in the heart of the spawn and with the full moon approaching figured I would spend all day Thursday searching out shallow area that held a good number of spawning fish. I was able to catch a few nice sized smallie’s by burning a spinnerbait and also managed to catch a 4 pound largemouth on a jig. Remember what I said in the last paragraph? Now that’s great. Just another thing to get in my head while trying to piece together a quality pattern.

Thursday brought sunny skies and relatively calm winds. Perfect for searching for bedded smallies. I found them pretty easy to catch and was able to mark anywhere from 50 to 60 beds. They could not stand a 3″ Biovex Real Craw in their face. I rigged it on 8 lb. Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon and secured it on a Tacklesmith Banana Jig XL (3/32 oz). I also was able to catch a few by simply chucking a 3/8 oz. Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait (#10 White Chartreuse).

On Friday I was able to get out with Aaron Teal. He was my Am partner and was paired with me for this event. Aaron is one heck of a good stick, he understands how to break down water and has all the mechanics to fish both shallow and deep water.

I had my mind made up that I was going to use this last day of practice entirely to searching out some deep water areas. I wanted to find some good pre and post spawn fish that could give me a winning sack. It didn’t take long and Aaron sets the hook on a nice 4 pounder. I worked with that and headed to another area that looked relatively the same and like clock work I caught a nice 3 pounder. I continued to do this all over the lake and the fishing was fantastic. I would simply pull up to these deep rocky areas and catch a fish, all around 3 pounds and a couple in the 4 pound range. Literally I’d catch one on my first cast, way point it and leave.

This left me in a pretty good position. I had both a shallow and a deep pattern that was catching good numbers and good sized fish. Even though the forecast called for high winds, I made the commitment to stay deep instead of joining the crowds by fishing for bedded fish. It was just icing on the cake when I found out I drew boat 47 out of 49 for take off.

Morning started out windy from the get go and the temp was in the very low 40’s. The high was called for around 45 to 49, down from 75 the days before. The forecast also called for plenty of rain.

Catching fish was really not a problem at all. I easily a had a limit within the first hour and a half and a good one at that. The problem was all the fish where around the same size. All where right in the 2.5 to 3.5 pound range. I caught all my fish on a Tacklesmith Tungsten Football Jig, which worked perfectly for those deep water smallmouths. I never broke one off, it came through the rocks perfectly. Aaron was also catching them by employing various soft plastics.

The wind was definitely an issue though when it came to efficiency. When your fishing for schooling smallmouth it’s important to stay on top of the school. They’re so competitive that they almost get to easy to catch once you fire up a school. Usually once you hook into a good smallie off of structure like this you want to get your bait back down there right away. Usually I wouldn’t even put the fish in the box before I would make my next cast. This proved to be a problem in that the wind was so strong it would blow me 100 yards away from the spot before I could even get the bass unhooked. Not to mention fighting wind like this all day really wears on the boats batteries. My Minn Kota 101 was able to keep up but my cranking battery was really taking a load being that I had multiple Lowrance Units on, running livewell to rejuvenate these deep fish and a constant bilge pump to get rid of all the water that was coming overboard by both the rain and the three foot waves. Seeing that my battery was really running low I decided it was important to get to the other side of the lake where if something happened I would be within trolling motor distance of the weigh in site. When points are critical a disqualification due to late weigh in can be devastating.

With an hour or so to go in the tourney, I decided to work a shallow flat out in front of the loading docks. I caught a few more that weren’t able to cull on the Biovex Spinnerbait and did manage one more small cull by sight fishing a nice smallie off her bed.

I knew I had a solid limit but didn’t know if it was worthy of collecting a check. I knew I didn’t have the fish to win it but thought a top 10 was possible. After it was all said and done I was disappointed to find out that my limit of 17.53 pounds was only good enough for a 16th place finish. I didn’t get a check but a top 20 is very important in the long run. It’s not a sprint it’s a marathon and after the first stop I’m in great shape at making the top 20 and fish for a brand new Ranger in the Shoot Out this September.

Up next is the Denny’s Wednesday Nighter in a few days. Ahh finally, I get to get out on Tonka! I hope they’re biting!

Also please check out the article on my win at the BASSMASTER Weekend Series, on the American Bass Anglers website.

http://www.abaproam.com/newsdetails.php?news_id=177

Happy Fishing!

Posted in Blog Post

BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tournament

Mississippi River pools 3 – 5, Hager City, WI

Today was the first stop of the 2009 Bassmaster Weekend Series MN/WI Division. After finishing second last year in the Angler of the Year points, I was more than eager to get this year under way. Although honestly, I didn’t know what to expect this year. I always hold myself to high standards but have to admit I was pretty nervous on how I would perform now that all the tournaments are being held on various pools of the Mississippi, as opposed to different lakes in northern Minnesota. Since my desire is to compete in more upper echelon national level tournaments, which are mostly held on some sort of river system throughout the south, I figured this would be great preparation on understanding current and other various variables that rivers provide.

I was able to get out the weekend prior and do some much needed practice. The tournament was held on a considerably large portion of the Mississippi so I had a lot of water to cover. First day I headed to the St. Croix and the upper portion of pool 3. I fished some new water and also fished a few areas that I had done real well on a couple years back in a club tourney. With the water temp in the low 60’s, I figured the smallmouth in this stretch would be preparing to spawn. It didn’t take long to locate fish but size was an immediate concern. Most bass where under the mandatory 14″ minimum and if they where larger it wasn’t by much. I was locating fish by throwing a Biovex Intro 50 Minnow Jerkbait (Ayu) and a Super K Swim Jig (White Flash), and followed them up with various soft plastics. I did notice some nests and figured that by tourney day the big girls could possibly move up and join the little bucks that I had catching.

The next day I headed to the southern part of pool 4 and also checked out some areas of pool 5 that have been good for me in the past. I got a special treat in that my wife Bri joined me to help insure I had a good practice day. Hmmm, I wonder if the 80 degrees and sun had anything to do with it? Fishing for us was fair but the fish where scattered. Putting together a solid pattern down there was a real challenge. I caught a good largemouth early on a flat with a 6″ Basstrix Paddle Tail Tube swimbait and also a good smallie on a rip rap bank on a Super K Swim Jig (Tequila Blue). I also managed a few more small keepers on a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver, but although I did manage a limit, I never managed a good pattern. The fish where random with no two bites coming on the same lures or same locations. Since the run alone from take off would be no less than 25 miles with the possibility of over 60, it just wasn’t worth the loss of fishing time without a more confident pattern.

Since I felt I had something going on pool 3 and the St. Croix I decided to recheck those areas. I got out early Friday morning and was able to catch a limit within the first hour. The big ones where starting to do just what was expected and where moving up on to the shallow ledges, preparing to spawn. I was also able to duplicate the pattern in other areas giving me more potential of finding the fish needed to bring a winning sack to the scales.

Since I was committed to my pattern, I used Saturday, the last day of practice on figuring out my route and finding some good areas around the lock and dam. Since we where launching in pool 4, I had no choice but to lock through to pool 3. Lock and dams can be a disaster when fishing a tournament if you don’t manage your time well. Barge traffic always takes rank and can at times take up to 2 hours for a single barge to get through the lock, so it is critical that I gave myself ample time to lock and not risk be disqualified because I couldn’t get back to weigh in on time. Weigh in was at 2, so I wanted to be back to the lock by at least 11:30, which meant that I would need to have some good fishing areas on both the north and south side of the lock, but not much more than a mile away.

I caught some good post spawn smallies along some rip rap on a Amp Lures Midshooter (Ayu), and also had a couple good ones following my swim jig along a wingdam. I checked some backwater and pulled on a few pretty good largemouths as well. All in all, I was confident in my pattern, although I knew there where other possible patterns out there, all of which could potentially win this tournament.

On tournament day, I drew boat 9 and had an early 5 am take off. I headed north and when I came to the lock, I noticed it was holding a barge. For 45 minutes, I fished some rip rap and random lay downs and just as the lock doors where opening for us to enter I caught a nice 17″ smallmouth.

After a long run, I finally arrived at my first area that had a few nice beds that I had marked the other day. I had a couple good bites but missed them all together. I guess I had what is called a case of the jitters. I decided to go check some other stuff and give that area a chance to calm down. When I returned the wind had picked up and I wasn’t able to see the beds but still knew where they where, which actually proved to be helpful in that I stayed back and made longer casts to the area. On the first cast I hooked up with a nice 3 pound smallie. Then on the next cast I duplicated it by boating another solid 3 pounder. I had really sized down my presentation and went to a 6’8″ medium heavy G Loomis GLX Spinning Rod and 8 pound Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon. I set the drag low on my Shimano Sustain 2500 to insure that the fish wasn’t going to be able to get awayf.

After a good start, I decided to check out some random marinas but only managed to catch a few small ones, nothing worth keeping. With three solid fish in the livewell, I started making my way back down river stopping at a few other areas that had the same type of structure. At 2 of the 3 stops I managed to catch two more good smallies, one was my biggest 3.7 pounds, which I might say put up one very nerve racking fight until finally giving in. I am very fortunate to have been using 16 pound Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon, because without it there’s a good chance that fish would have broke me off.

I made it back to weigh in and was one of the first to take to the scales. My five smallmouth went 15.25 pounds and I was able to take over the lead. I anxiously waited while all 80 some pros weighed and in the end no one was able to take it it away from me. I can’t even begin to explain how much this win means to me. I was able to overcome some unfamiliar water against some of the best fisherman in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. My beautiful wife Bri was there along with her whole family and even our two dogs and with all that I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of the first place 5,000 dollar check! There’s truely not a better feeling in the world!

With the second place finish on Okoboji earlier in the month I’ve managed to gain some good momentum and hope to continue right along for the upcoming Silverado Tournament on Green Lake, in Spicer, MN. I have a couple days to relax and enjoy this win but then it’s time to get back to it. Look for a full report soon. Happy Fishing!!

Click here to view the full tournament results.

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Gopher B.A.S.S. Federation Club Tournament

Mississippi River Pool 2, St. Paul Park, MN

Today was the first tournament of the year with the Gopher Bassmasters. In practice I was finding largemouths in much of the river’s backwater areas. Catching wasn’t much of a problem, with most largemouths coming on anything from jigs and tubes to spinnerbaits and swim jigs. Smallies where also abundant and I was very pleased to find a few areas that where consistently holding good ones in the 4 pound range. Most of these quality smallmouth came off rock that had just the right amount of current sweeping past it and wasn’t to far off the main river channel. I felt pretty confident heading in and knew I had that right areas to produce a winning bag.

There was one interesting twist in that this pool of the Mississippi is strictly catch and release. Which meant that this would be a paper tournament and whoever you got paired with would verify the fish’s length. Since the other angler is technically fishing against you as well, you know it makes for an honest competition. Then back at the “weigh in”, the tournament director uses a conversion formula to get the fish’s weight, which then gets added for your 5 fish total. For this tournament I drew first year member Paul Coffey.

My first stop of the tournament was to a shoreline that had a lot of laydowns and was holding both largemouth and smallmouth. After making a few flips with a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig with no results I picked up a 1/4 oz. Super K Swim Jig (Tequila Blue) and quickly stuck my first bass, a 14.5″ smallie. Continuing to work down the shoreline, I came across a nice laydown and pitched my jig and instantly noticed a nice bass roll on it. After a poor hookset, I carefully managed to get the nice 4 pound largemouth to the boat but as I was reaching for her she came unbuttoned. That stung a bit but I convinced myself it was still very early and new I would have more opportunities at a few more that size.

After a few more casts I started seeing more and more tournament anglers working into that area and since Paul and I only had one bass a piece after a good hour I decided to split and run to another area that held some real nice smallmouth.

I pulled in and quickly starting casting a tube up to a nice rock wall. After a few casts I hooked up with another 4 pound fish except this one a bull smallie. As I was getting the fish close to the boat I saw her come up dance around and spit my hook. Without even a moment to think about what just happened I quickly grabbed my Super K Swim Jig and fired it back to wall before that bass could get back to the school and snitch on me. As soon as I starting winding in the jig my rod loaded up and again I was hooked up with another 4 pound smallie. I get this one to the boat quickly and just as the fish was all but in the net I saw my jig pop free of it’s mouth and the smallie dive back out of sight. Ouch. That stung. I really don’t loose fish that often, in all of last year I can remember loosing fish like that maybe only twice. Never two in one tournament.

After talking a second to regroup and let the area die down for a minute, I made a few adjustments to my tackle and far more importantly my attitude and went back with the thought now of just putting together a limit.

I caught four bass in the next hour, 3 smallmouths and 1 largemouth, with one smallie measuring 19″ and change. Paul also managed to boat some key keepers but really couldn’t seem to get that big bite to really bring together a solid limit.

As the sun got higher the smallmouth bite slowed and instead fish like sauger, crappie and drum moved in. With only an hour or so left in the day I figured the largemouth bite would be heating up so we ran back to the original area that we started. I quickly managed to boat a nice 16.5″ largemouth on a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver and culling nicely by getting rid of a small 14.5″ bass that was really hurting my overall bag. On my very next cast i noticed my line cutting to one side and instantly set the hook into another good one but before I could manage that thought my lined snapped! When it rains it pours.

Back at weigh in I totalled 13.89 lbs and finished in 6th place. A respectable finish but I couldn’t help feeling pretty disappointed in the outcome. If I could have boated three of those four fish, I would have had the winning bag. In the end, “what ifs” don’t cut it and the best learn to overcome it. Hopefully I got it all out of my system for the year. Paul finished in a very respectable 8th place, even better considering it was his first tournament with the club. Paul also managed to throw a couple nice bass, one being a toad largemouth that surely would have moved him up a few spots in the final standings.

Up next is the first stop of the Bassmaster Weekend Series held on Mississippi River Pools 3 thru 5. I plan to get out there a few times in the next week to get in some good practice and hopefully piece together a winning pattern. After that I head straight out to Green lake in Spicer, MN for the first stop of the Silverado Pro Tour. I can’t hardly wait!!

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Okoboji Open

Lake Okoboji, Spirit Lake, IA

Finally the first tournament of the 2009 season! The forecast called for higher temps in the mid 60’s along with plenty of sun. Ryan and I got on the water early on Saturday and started in some of the areas that we had caught fish the weekend before. We had decided that we where going to target pre spawn largemouth and had a few areas we thought would produce some solid keepers. We also made the commitment to not burn any fish by actually hooking them. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Although it may have proved very successful. I made three casts and got three real quality bites and where able to shake all of them off without actually hooking any of them.

After a quick start, we staring moving around and dissecting similar areas, again finding a lot of nice bites. For the most part we where targeting transitioning largemouths that where moving back toward the shallow flats to spawn. The odd part was that we where getting bit all morning but couldn’t buy a bite after 10:30. I’m not exaggerating either, literally that was it, just like an on/off switch. So around 2:00 in the afternoon we decided it was best to get off the water and get an early start on preparing our tackle and making a game plan for the next day. We decided that we where going to live or die in our few areas we had that we knew held quality keepers. This time of year big bass are all bunched up and if a guy can figure out a way to get them to bite, a big stringer can rack up relatively quickly.

At take off we headed straight for our most productive area and quickly discovered that we weren’t the only one’s who where going to be starting there. In fact we actually ended up sharing the area with 4 or 5 other boats, which just made us work even harder and since the bite seemed to fade in the early afternoon, we found it even more crucial to put together a quick limit.

It just goes to show that a good game plan can really go along way, because I manged to catch a 3 1/2 pounder within the first half hour of fishing and it got even better when I stuck a jig into the mouth of a quality 4 1/2 pound largemouth just 20 minutes later.

After making the first set of rounds we decided to go back through the area and work it a little more slow and thorough. That again played into our hands when I added a nice 2 1/2 pounder on a swim jig. Shortly after, Ryan gets in the action and boats a solid 3 pounder on a hand tied Ryan Brant custom tungsten jig.

It was about 10:30 and the fishing was really starting to get tough. We where one shy of a limit and bites where getting few and far between. When we did manage to get a bite they where all to short to keep and I was starting to get a bit nervous. I knew that the bite was only going to get tougher as the skies got higher and really knew we had to get that crucial limit fish into the livewell. Feeling the pressure, Ryan and I decided it was time to make a move. We headed for another area that proved pretty productive in practice. We came to a nice dropoff that fell from two feet to eight and formed a perfect drop just before a subtle shallow flat. I pitched my jig to the drop and instantly set on a nice largemouth, she rolled once for me and then come off. Before I could get overly disappointed I pitched right back to the drop and set again this time on a short fish. Now pretty determined I made another pitch to the same location and managed to catch a squeaker of a 15″ largemouth, just long enough though to round out a nice limit. Then wouldn’t you guess? We where never able to catch another keeper big enough to cull for the next four hours. Ryan did have a couple real good bites but neither managed to make it in the boat.

We weighed in at 15.38 pounds and held the lead until the last boat in the tourney knocked us off with a winning weight of over 19 pounds. A tough pill to swallow but second place finish is a very strong showing for our first time fishing there. We also managed to cash a nice paycheck to hopefully jump start an awesome season.

With the first tourney of the year in the books, my anticipation level for the rest of the season is through the roof! Like I said before it has been way to long of a winter and I don’t want to have to tough through many more of them. Bri and I are really looking forward to moving to the Nashville, TN area sometime in the very near future and our starting to make plans to get our house ready to be put on the market. Hopefully if all goes well and things manage to fall into place we will be making the move in the next year or two. Until then though I have a lot I’m looking to accomplish here, starting with strong showings in both the Silverado Tour and Bassmaster Weekend Series. Practice starts now for the Weekend Series held just across the border in Wisconsin on Pool 4 of the Mississippi River. Traditionally I haven’t done all that well fishing this stretch of river in the Spring but I’m hoping to change all that and I think some extra practice days will be very beneficial for me to find some quality areas that hold good fish.

I’d also like to congratulate Dave Ham and John Fairbanks on their impressive win this year at the Okoboji Open. I really thought we had won this one until you guys strolled up and smacked us all! Nice limit guys!

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Setting Sights on Okoboji

This weekend I will be heading down to Iowa to compete in this year’s Okoboji Open, an annual team tournament held on Lake Okoboji. Teaming up with me for this event is my good buddy Ryan Brant. Being that neither one of us has any experience on this body of water we decided to head down for a little pre practice and get and idea of what this lake is all about. Lake Okoboji is actually a chain of lakes located in northwestern Iowa and is known for it’s good population of both largemouth and smallmouth bass. West Okoboji is made up of deep rocky structure, while East Okoboji and other lakes in the chain are far more murky and shallow.

Last weekend Ryan and I where met with some very difficult weather that made fishing a little on the tough side. We did manage to catch a couple quality bass though and have a pretty good idea of what we need to do to catch a good sack of money earning fish. The key now is to locate enough of these quality areas to help insure us the fish needed to cash a check.

Over the last few weeks I have managed to get out a few times to Pool 2 on the Mississippi River to do some fun fishing but also prepare for an upcoming club tournament that will be held there in the middle of May. I was really excited when this stretch of the mighty Miss was selected because I had never been there and I knew it held an excellent population of both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Better yet, it’s only a 15 minute drive from the front door of my house to the boat ramp. I’ve been able to locate some good fish, but some days are far better than others. I’m starting to figure out that’s just how the river works. I figure if I spend some extra time fishing this stretch of river it will help me get an even better idea of how bass operate on other pools further south. Hopefully this added knowledge will help me to another successful year competing in the Bassmaster Weekend Series MN/WI Division, held solely on none other than the Mississippi River.

Well all for now, I have a lot to get done before I leave town to fish Iowa’s Big O. Wish us luck!

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Grand Lake, Vinita, Oklahoma

I recently got home from a trip to Oklahoma’s, Grand Lake. This was my third time there in the past three years and I have to admit my expectations where real high. Every trip I take to this lake seems to getter better and better and this year couldn’t have followed suit any more perfectly. I was joined by a bunch of good buddies Cris Campbell, Jamie Short, and Ryan Brant. Also we were met by two more friends who tugged their Ranger over from Colorado, Chris Beddow and Brandon Jensen.

The first day we awoke to balmy and cloudy weather. When we launched I instantly noticed the water temp in the low 50’s and the water wasn’t nearly as dirty as last year. Ryan and I started by working from the back of the cove out to the main lake, it didn’t take but a few casts and I stuck my first bass, weighing just shy of 5 pounds. Awesome! After catching a couple more good sized fish, Ryan joined in the party by boating a solid 5 1/2. What a nice fish! We where quickly developing a pattern, before we got here the water temp was pushing 60 degrees and the bass where getting prepared to spawn. A cold front moved through the area and knocked the water temp back down, which in return pushed the bass back into a holding pattern, just waiting to move up and spawn. We where able to find most fish off drops in 8 – 15 foot of water, close to spawning areas. Shallow fish where few and far between and high winds kept us off a good majority of the main lake. On our way back in to the cabin, Ryan and I where pretty pumped about the remainder of the trip. We where on fish and good quality ones at that. I decided I would try the same spot that I caught the 5 pounder in the morning. I tossed a 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Peanut Butter and Jelly) to the ledge and as soon as it hit bottom I noticed my line running off to one side. I set the hook and was instantly stopped dead in my tracks, the fight was on and after a not so graceful landing I had a awesome Grand Lake toad in the boat. She weighed in at an astonishing 7 lbs. 13 oz. and after a few pictures I released her back unharmed for another angler to one day enjoy.

Campbell and Shorty also had a good day but found success a little differently than we did. They caught some good ones by cranking Norman crankbaits on secondary points. They said they seemed to hit on the stop and after looking at the proof on Jamie’s camera, you could guess that I would have a similar crankbait tied on as well.

The next day the forecast called for a stormy front with lots of rain and much cooler temps. Ryan and I started by following the same pattern that worked so well the day before. We caught a lot of fish but better yet the overall quality was a little better than the day before. Surely we didn’t catch any more 7 pounders but pretty much everything was a solid keeper with a few real nice ones as well. The best part was we really got dialed in our pattern and were able to look on our map and jump from spot to spot knowing which areas had the most potential for quality fish.

After the front moved through it left us with cool temps in the 50’s and low 60’s and bright bluebird skies. It was nice to enjoy the sun after a long Minnesota winter but the fishing got tougher. We still found success with jigs like the Tacklesmith Bronzeback Football Jig, but we also had to employ the skakey head to just barely catch keepers. Ryan and I both had the spinning gear and light line in our hand’s for a good majority of the trip. I found success going back and forth between an 1/8 oz. Reaction Innovations Screwed Up Jighead with a 4″ Zoom Brush Hog, on a 7′ medium heavy action Carrot Stix spinning rod, with a Shimano Sustain and 8lb. Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon and a 1/4 oz. Reaction Innovations Screwed Up Jighead, with a Amp Lures 6″ Mimi shakey worm, with a 7’1″ medium action G Loomis GLX spinning rod, Shimano Sustain and 10 lb. Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon.

Campbell and Shorty also had to slow down their techniques, they started really catching them good by following our same pattern but instead tossing Berkley Chigger Craws on 1/2 oz. Picasso Shake Down Jigs.

All in all it was a great trip. “Flipping Jigs and Drinkin’ Beers” was the motto of the week. We fished hard all day and kicked back at night. I enjoy fishing more than anything, but between guiding, tournament practice, and the tournaments themselves, it’s very rare to have a stress free, relaxing and just plain fun trip like this. Although believe me, I can’t wait for the next major tournament to come to Grand. Where do I sign up?

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Headed for Open Water!!!

Finally it’s time! I’ll soon be headed south for Oklahoma’s well known, Grand Lake. I have been doing a lot of homework in preparation and am really liking what I’m learning. I’ve been to Grand the past two seasons and found success in a lot of different ways. Two Springs ago we where met with a record breaking cold front. It was sleeting and 30 degrees the first day and the high never went above 40 the whole week. Weeks prior to then the average high was 70 – 80 degrees, making fishing more than difficult. The spawn was already over and a vicious cold front mixed with a post spawn funk, made bites few and far between. Although it did take some work I ended up doing alright. The size was never there, with most all fish weighing about 2 to 3 pounds but the quantity was great. I found most fish on main lake points in 10 to 20 foot of water, throwing 5/16 oz. finesse style Jewel Jigs.

Last year the weather still was a bit cooler but it was a pretty chilly Spring all together. The lake had seen record rainfalls and the water level was very high. This also made the water color very dark, almost the same color as chocolate milk. With the water up in the trees it didn’t take long to get bit by pitchin’ a 1/2 black and blue jig to the timber. I would average 10 or so bites a day, but almost all of them where over 3 pounds, with most being 4 and 5 pounders and a 6.1 pound toad just for kicks. Almost all the bass came on the jig but the big fish came on a 1/2 Jewel Football Jig on a main lake point that has always proven good for me down there.

This year we are looking at a pre spawn bite with the spawn right around the corner. I’m expecting males to be attacking anything shallow and the females just waiting to move up. The water temp is pushing 60 and the week forecast calls for lots of sun and highs pushing 70 degrees. One day will be a bit chilly and lots of rain but to me those are the best days to catch big females. With the warmer days and nights and a full moon on the way, I’m hoping to see a good bed bite by trips end.

I’ll be sure to give a full report as soon as I get back. With all the rain we’ve been getting here in the cities I’m expecting ice out on most metro lakes to be right around the corner. Hopefully before I get home. I’ll then be headed down to the Mississippi to get tuned in with those river smallies. Follow this link to know when your favorite lake is officially ice out!

On another note, I’m just got my 2009 tournament jersey’s in the mail and I am more than impressed. They look awesome thanks to the people at Gemini Sports Marketing, who were more than helpful and the best part is I got to design it myself. These jerseys are made of the best high grade material on the market. Not only do they offer protection for your skin but also breathe better than anything on the market. I’ve used other companies in the past but have to admit Gemini knows their stuff. See you on the water!!

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Tricks of the Trade – Jig Tying 101

Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I’m a die hard jig fanatic. Any jig really, flippin’ jigs, football jigs, finesse jigs, tube jigs, swimming jigs, whatever, there all awesome. Plain and simple they’re big fish baits and I’ll happily go on record saying that at least 70% of the real big bass that I’ve caught over the years have all come on some sort of jig. I absolutely love it! It’s all about the bite and the hook set, they eat it and I jack their jaw for it.

Being that I’m 100% comfortable when I’m slinging a jig, I have picked up a few tricks of the trade that I truly believe help me catch more and bigger fish. In my opinion, a jig directly out of it’s packaging isn’t ready to be fished until I have put some love into it by tricking it out a bit.

Not all jigs on the market are created equal and I only trust a select few to get the job done. I am a huge advocate for tungsten and the benefits it provides to fisherman. So my first selections are a Tru Tungsten Jig for any weed and wood cover or a Tacklesmith Bronzeback Tungsten Football Jig for the rock piles and points. Other jig companies that I trust are Boivex, Kietech, Jewell and Piccasso.

First thing I do is rip the factory skirt off the jig I’m going to be using. When deciding what color skirt to tie on, I take a couple different factors into consideration. The two most important factors are water clarity and forage. I always use one of three different colors as my primary color when tying a jig. These colors are black, brown and green pumpkin and no matter where you are in the country those are fish catching colors. If I’m fishing real dirty water I’ll go with black and when the water is clear I’ll go with brown or green pumpkin. I usually go with about 50%-75% of the skirt being my primary color and 25% as the flair color. Some good flair colors are blue, pumpkin, orange, purple and chartreuse. By combining these colors I make my version of the already popular skirt combos like black and blue, green pumpkin/brown and peanut butter and jelly.

To tie your own jigs you’ll need to purchase some equipment to get started. The following is a list of what you’ll need to have.

Jig Tying Vice – Also known as fly tying devices, these range in value from $10 to $500. It doesn’t matter what you spend on these as long as you get one that’s sturdy and will easily hold a 5/0 hook. A lot of the vice’s on the market don’t get that large as they’re more meant for small flies and not bass jigs.

Bobbin and Tying Thread – The bobbin holds the spool of tying thread making it a lot easier to tie the jig. These also vary in price but I have never spent more than five dollars or so on a single bobbin. As far as the thread needed to tie the jigs, I go with Gudebrod 3/0 Kevlar Thread or feel free to use small diameter braided line like Power Pro. Both are very strong and neither weaken when saturated in water.


Skirt Material – I like to use a lot of round rubber when tying my skirts. I believe the action is second to none, however I also like to add a little silicone skirting as well. The one thing round rubber or hydro silk skirts lacks that silicone doesn’t is the printed patterns. Round rubber is a solid one color where silicone comes in many different patterns and colors, making it ideal for adding that bit of flare to the jig.

Accessories – These are rattle, trailors, and chunk slings. I go with a good rattle, the Picasso Tungsten Pod Rattle. Trailers I switch up a bit but usually prefer the Yum Chunk or a Gary Yamamoto Twin Tail Grub and I always add a Vertical Lures ChunkX Sling to keep my trailor in tact. You really can get more out of your trailers by taken the time to rig one up. One other trick that I have been getting into is removing the factory brush guard and replacing it with a homemade fluorocarbon one. I’ll save that for another day though.

Being that I’m getting ready for a fishing trip to Grand Lake in northeastern Oklahoma, I’ve been tying up some jigs that I know will get the job done. In the past I have done extremely well there on the deep points with football jigs and one color that has performed well for me over the years is peanut butter and jelly. For the demonstration I will be tying up a 1/2 oz. Tacklesmith Bronzeback Tungsten Football Jig in the peanut butter and jelly color.

The first step in tying your own jig is to securely clamp your jig to the vice. Then take your tying thread along with the bobbin and tie a over hand knot along the very top of the jig collar. Using a tight line, start wrapping the upper collar, usually about 10 to 15 full wraps.

Next, start adding in small strips of skirting material. I always get all the skirt strips in on one pass. For this jig, it goes one strip of brown, then a strip of purple, another strip of brown, followed by another strip of purple and finally ending with a strip of brown. When first starting out, this part proved to be the most challenging, but after just a few attempts you’ll have this mastered. It just takes a few tries to train your hands to work with all the different strands while trying to keep a tight wrap on the thread and the material at the same time.

Once I get all the material tightly in place I’ll continue on wrapping the skirt. Again I stress the importance in keeping a tight line while wrapping. A tight wrap insures the skirt will not easily unravel on me. I wrap about 15 more times before doing the first set of three consecutive overhand knots. After I get done with the last knot, I make 5 more wraps, followed by three more knots. This helps insure the wrap will not come undone. Once I have the jig all wrapped up nice and tied off securely, I’ll cut the thread and start preparing it for a haircut. This is also where I would cut the crown on the head of the jig if I where looking for a finesse cut. Simply cut the outer strands of the skirt, leaving just a inch, that will make the skirt stick up and form a crown on the head of the jig. For this jig I left the outer strands long so it provides a bigger profile in the water.

The jig is now ready to go with the exception of adding a few accessories. First I thread up a Vertical Lures ChunkX Sling, followed by a rattle, and then a trailer. For this jig I went with a Gary Yamamoto Twin Tail Grub (Green Pumpkin).

A big part of having a successful day on the water is having confidence in what your doing and that comes with having confidence in what your using. I hope this helps anyone that is looking to give themselves an edge against the bass in their lakes. If you have any further questions on any of the information I just went over, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Happy Tying!

Posted in Blog Post

Tackle Update: Gearing Up for the 2009 Tournament Season – Part 2

In the next few weeks I’ll be headed South to Oklahoma’s, Grand Lake. With the bass season closed in Minnesota I’ve been just itching to get out and stick some six pounders right in the lips. Lately, in an attempt to get ready for the upcoming season as well as keep my sanity, I’ve been spending some time looking into the new products that are hitting the market.

The first on my list is the Texas based company, Power Tackle. This company offers some of the best built and most sensitive rods on the market. Every rod in their lineup is built to the most exact specs for ultimate performance. I know I’ll be getting my hands on their Ultimate Football Jig Rod to aid me in dragging jigs over the deep rocks for tournament winning bass. This rod reeks of success. It comes with 7 foot 3 inches of the highest quality graphite available, that’s not only the most sensitive on the market, but the strongest as well. I have always been a G Loomis guy and have put them at the top of the totem pole, but let me say that they may finally have some serious competition to contend with. I do believe Power Tackle has everything needed to become bass fishing’s most elite line of bass rods.

Today was a good day, I finally picked up the new Shimano Chronarch D. I’ve been waiting a long time to own this reel and see myself getting a lot more of them in the future. I’m a giant fan of both the Chronarch and the Core and this new reel is the perfect mix of them both. It’s the Core MG with an aluminum body and a fast 7.0:1 gear ratio. It will make the perfect addition to that Power Tackle Football Jig rod. I plan to use that combo as well as the new Tacklesmith Tungsten Football Jig on Grand Lake in the next few weeks. There should be a pretty solid pre spawn bite and the big fish should be found on the deep points of the creek arms that lead back to the spawning flats. Making this the perfect setup for picking those points apart.

Other tackle that has found it’s way into my tackle compartment is the Jackall Giron swimbait. This small sized sunfish look alike is the answer to swimbait fishing in the Upper Midwest where bluegill populations are plenty. Swim these under boat docks or along submerged weedlines and prepare to get bit.

I’m also looking to the Biovex Bio Jack Hog Master to flip up giants from the thick mats that litter the gnarly backwaters of the Mississippi River. These soft plastic baits are designed to entice the biggest bass out of the roughest terrain. Match this with a 4/0 Youvella Pro Flip Hook, a 1/2 to 1 oz. Tru Tungsten Flippin’ Weight, along with some 20 lb. Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon and you’ll be flippin’ up toads one after another.


Jackall Giron SwimbaitBiovex Bio Jack Hog Master
**From left to right:the Jackall Giron Swimbait and the Biovex Bio Jack Hog Master.


Just when I was about to pull the trigger and add the Hummingbird Side Imaging Unit to my boat, I found out that Lowrance is soon to release their version of side imaging. This will be an accessory that will adapt to Lowrance’s new HDS line of sonars. I have also heard that they will work with LCX units as well. I don’t know that for fact but will update something as soon as I have a definitive answer. This is going to be a very hot product once it releases and I’m imagining demand to be pretty high. I’m thinking they will be found in stores and online by mid to late summer.

That’s all for now. Check back soon for my preview on Grand Lake. The weather has already been in the 80’s down there and I’m expecting a strong bite again this year. I can’t wait!!

Posted in Blog Post

Tackle Update: Gearing Up for the 2009 Tournament Season – Part 1

With the start to the upcoming tournament season right around the corner, I have been staying real busy preparing tackle and stocking up on the baits and equipment I know will be needed through out the year. I’ve been going through all my hard baits and cutting off any old line as well as checking hooks and replacing the ones that are needed. I’m also cleaning all my reels and lubricating them to assure they will perform as well as they did the day they came out of their box. Shimano makes great reels that last forever but a little love assures better performance. I also check all my rods especially the guides for any issues. A broken guide will cost not only a tournament angler precious money, but can cost any fisherman the fish of a lifetime.

As I wrote in my last post, I also have been starting to get my boat ready. First on my list was to add a Loc-R-Bar. These are one of those things you’ll wish you had but probably won’t realize it until the day you walk out of your hotel room and find all the tackle and equipment you have spent a lifetime to put together is gone. I have been very fortunate to not have this happen to me, but after walking out to a smashed window on my Suburban and finding my briefcase missing along with a digital camera and some Navionics chips, I decided to do everything in my power to prevent that from happening to my boat. Sure everything is insured but not everything is replaceable, and I have no problem dropping $300 dollars on a rod the least I can do is spend a hundred or two and get a Loc-R-Bar installed. It’s an extra insurance policy that also could save the headache of missing a big tourney because I don’t have anything to catch fish with!

Gamma FishingTackle is a necessary part of the game but some things are far more necessary than others. One of those necessary things is fishing line and I make sure to stock up plenty of it. I would guess that I use fluorocarbon 90% of the time and one of my favorite brands is Gamma. It can run a few dollars more than some of it’s competitors, but I feel like it’s well worth the money. I have played around with a lot of different brands but Gamma is one that always prevails in both sensitivity and strength. It doesn’t break and handles awesome. One way to cut down on the cost is to look into buying bulk spools. Line is the one things you know you’ll always need so it shouldn’t be to hard to buy in bulk, and buying a 1000 yard spool knocks a couple bucks off what you would spend on a smaller spool off the shelf.

That’s all for now. Be sure to check back later for part two of this entry where I’ll show off some of the newest and hottest baits to hit the market, as well as proven must have baits for any serious bass anglers tackle box.

Posted in Blog Post

Skeet Reese is the 2009 Bassmaster Classic Champion!!

Skeet ReeseAs most of you already know, California’s Skeet Reese won the most prestigious title in bass fishing, the Bassmaster Classic. The Red River proved to be an excellent fishery, but it wasn’t easy. The 51 anglers in this competition all had to overcome harsh weather along with the gnarly backwaters to even have a chance at being a top competitor in this event. Skeet was able to hold off the field with a three day total weight of 54-13 and barely held off a charging Mike Iaconelli who brought 20-3 to the scales the final day for a three day limit of 54-2.

Skeet stayed in pool 5 for the final day to maximize his fishing time. He was targeting shallow wood by throwing a Lucky Craft Redemption Spinnerbait and then slowing down by flippin’ a Berkley Crazy legs Chigger Craw directly to the cover. In the end the decisions were perfect and Skeet took home his first Classic title and added it to an already impressive resume that also includes the 2007 Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year title.

All in all, my fantasy team did pretty good. I’m involved in three different leagues and I’m in the top 90%+ in all of them. Mike Iaconelli took 2nd, Kelly Jordan 10th, Terry Fitzpatrick 17th, Greg Hackney 20th, and the biggest surprise Kevin Van Dam missed the cut and finished in a disappointing 30th place. Next up for the Elite Series is hog heaven AKA Lake Amistad. I’m expecting a big time showdown on one of the best lunker lakes in the world.

I have to be honest, all this fishing has got me completely antsy to get out on the water. The problem is all the lakes in Minnesota are frozen shut and the bass fishing season ended yesterday and doesn’t reopen until the end of May. My wait will be short lived however, I’ll be heading to Oklahoma’s Grand Lake the start of April, and then I get back for an early Spring tourney in Iowa on Lake Okoboji and then a few in Wisconsin on the Mississippi River. Then I have a full schedule from there. I’m anxiously awaiting the 2010 Bassmaster Opens schedule to be released. My lifelong goal isn’t to be watching the Bassmaster Elite Series and Classic, but instead to be competing in it. The vast majority of competitors qualified for that level by doing well in the Opens. I’ll be fishing either the Central or the Northern Opens, possibly both if the schedule permits. I can’t wait!

I have to admit though the time off is much needed. I have been sorting threw all my tackle along with my rods and reels getting it all ready for the upcoming season. I’m also in the process of upgrading somethings on my boat. I’m looking at adding a new Lowrance HDS unit to the console of my boat and I’m awaiting the arrival of my new Power Pole, as well as making plans to have a Loc-R-Bar installed to protect all my equipment on overnight stays. To much to do and so little time!

Congrats to Skeet Reese, the 2009 Bassmaster Classic Champion!!!

Posted in Blog Post

Gearing up for the BASSMASTER Classic!

The top 51 bass anglers along with Louisiana’s Red River are getting ready to throw down this weekend at the BASSMASTER Classic. The Classic in my mind is the most prestigious bass tournament available. We’re talking about the best going against the best and there is no better place to do it than the Red River. I’m expecting the weights to be pretty high for this tourney. The time of year is setting up a great prespawn bite and reaction style baits should just be the thing going. Consider those two alone and it should be obvious that the big girls will be biting. They are reporting a pretty dramatic cold front moving in but I see that as only helping insure bigger stringers. Anglers are reporting some good fish being caught shallow, showing that indeed the first wave of spawners are moving up. When this cold front moves in I would bet that they move back out to deeper water. The front won’t be drastic enough to effect the deeper fish, meaning the bite should be steady and all the good ones will be schooled up together waiting to move up. Get on a good school and the possibility of a 20+ stringer becomes a lot more likely.

Going with that way of thinking, I have selected a pretty solid group of power fisherman to lead my Fantasy Fishing campaign. Of course I sold out and picked Kevin Van Dam as my first pick. I’m a firm believer in the phrase,”the numbers never lie”. Take into consideration that KVD has finished no worse than 5th in his last 5 Classics, that includes to seconds and a first. Not to mention he’s coming of his 4th season as Angler of the Year and not only has the one Classic win from ’05, but also has another one from the ’01 Classic on the Louisiana Delta. I’d be stupid not to have him as a starter. I’m expecting KVD to contend for this years title. The scary part for the other 50 is that, he expects to win it.

I also added Mike Iaconelli to the starting roster. Ike has both an Angler of the Year and a Classic victory to his resume. He’s no stranger to winning big events and Louisiana seems to set up nicely for the New Jersey native. ESPN reports that he’s claiming he’s on ’em good, even going as far as saying he has a “magical area”. This doesn’t fair well with his competition, because a confident Mike Iaconelli is a tough one to beat. I’m sure we’ll be hearing A LOT of what Ike has to say this weekend!

I also went with Lake Fork’s own, Kelly Jordan. Kelly is a great fisherman, that often excels in deeper water but he’s also known for catching big ones in and around the spawn. Plus he quotes the Red River as “being in his own backyard”. Jordan is one of my favorite anglers on the tour and I’m thinking we will be watching him put in work on the final day.

When I think of Louisiana and bass fishing the name Greg Hackney instantly comes to mind. You would naturally think the Red River would be considered his home lake, that isn’t the case at all. In fact he has spent very little time fishing this body of water. Don’t let that fool you, he still knows Louisiana fishing, and the Hack Attack also knows how to work a jig for gorilla bass. Add in a cold front and schooled up toads, you can expect the bayou fisherman to have heavily stuffed livewells.

My dark horse pick goes to Iowa’s Terry Fitzpatrick. This is a river rat true and true. Terry qualified through the BASS Federation Nation, and although this is the biggest tournament he has ever been involved in, I expect to see some surprising results. He understands current and he’s proven at running extensive backwaters in search of good fish. If he keeps his nerves under control I wouldn’t put it past Terry to contend against the very best.

Also for those of you that are not signed up yet be sure you do it very soon. Click here to be directed to the BASS Fantasy Fishing Page to register and put in your starting lineup. Also once registered look for teams like Tackle Warehouse to join. Their giving away tackle, rods, reels, and gift certificates. Be sure to tune into ESPN2 on both Saturday morning and evening for highlights of both days 1 and 2. Then absolutely make sure your tuned in Sunday evening for the third and final day highlights and see who gets to be titled World Bass Champion!

Posted in Blog Post

Tackle Update: Tacklesmith.com Introduces their New Tungsten Football Jig

I’m really excited about the new products that have recently been added to the Tacklesmith line of products. www.Tacklesmith.com is a tackle distributor that only sells non lead based lures. They carry companies like Tru Tungsten, Keitech, Zappu Inchi, and River to Sea, but to be honest, it’s their own line that’s getting all the buzz. I recently started employing the Tacklesmith Tube Jig for all my tube style applications for smallmouth bass. Instead of using lead, a known toxin to our waters, they made them from a bismuth/tin alloy. More often than not you fish these rigs with the hook exposed and considering that most of the good smallie areas are on beautiful rock piles, snags are going to be inevitable. I can’t even imagine how many lead jigs are scattered across the rock flats on Lakes Mille Lacs, or worse yet, Lake Erie. By using bismuth, tin and tungsten in their products they are doing there part to insure our lakes and rivers stay healthy.

Anyone that’s read my blog knows that I’m a giant fan of tungsten in my baits. Tungsten just offers so many advantages when fishing. It’s a harder and heavier metal, that offers smaller profiles, while also producing more noise underwater attracting fish to the bait. The only downfall is the price and with the addition of companies like Tacklesmith the price is starting to come down.

Very recently Tacklesmith added a tungsten composite 1/2 ounce football jig to their lineup. This is something I have been begging for in the past and was just shocked that no companies could put two and two together. Until now. The Tacklesmith Bronzeback Football Jig is the first I have found of it’s kind. I recently received one to try out and am really excited about the possibilities this jig will provide. I throw football jigs as often as possible, pulling up giant bass form the deeper depths. The key is feeling the bottom for key changes in the structure. A lot of the times I’m looking for small rock piles that are holding schools of lunker largemouth and smallmouth bass. The key is to finding the sweet spot. The advantage of a tungsten head over lead is the head of the jig is smaller than your average lead jig of it’s same weight, producing less hang ups. Also there is much more density to tungsten, this produces more sensitivity making it easier to feel the bottom and detecting subtle bites.

The jigs comes skirtless so you can easily thread up a double tail grub. I took the liberty to tie up a custom skirt made of silicone and round rubber. I also added a tungsten rattle and a Gary Yamamoto Double Tail Grub. The results are great. I can’t wait for my upcoming trip to Grand Lake, Oklahoma! These jigs are going to cash me some serious paychecks!

Posted in Blog Post

Welcoming Home the Newest Member of the House, Kigen

Finally! He’s here. Last Monday, Bri and I picked up our new puppy, a 9 week old rottweiler named Kigen. Kigen is awesome! He’s been adjusting great. Bri has got him on an all raw meat diet. Something that is proven to help the age long health of dogs. I do encourage any dog owners to take a look into it sometime if they haven’t already.

With the new addition I haven’t had the chance to get out fishing, which worked out perfectly since the high all week has been hovering right around 15, but that’s all about to change starting tomorrow when it’s supposed to hit 40 and then is offering highs in 30’s the rest of the week. I’m planning on heading up to northern Minnesota for a largemouth slug fest on open water! A warm water discharge keeps the water from freezing so don’t think I sold out to drilling holes!

After talking with my buddy Rich Lindgren about the ridiculously good outing he had there last weekend, I decided to put down my light smallie gear and bust out the serious ammo. In Rich’s most recent blog entry, he talked about sticking quality largemouths with baits like Tru Tungsten Jigs, Basstrix Paddle Tail Tubes and even Tru Tungsten swimbaits! Not many people can say that in Minnesota, at least not in February when 99% of our lakes and rivers are covered in at least 2 feet of ice. So after listening to all that non sense I was quickly making plans to do just the same. I mean come on, it ain’t no fun if the homies can’t get none, right? I’ll be sure to give a full report when I get back.

I also plan on getting out and exercising some smallies on Sunday. Last Saturday, Seth Fieder and I caught somewhere between 75 and 100 quality smallies in just a few short hours of fishing. We didn’t even make our first casts till right around 11 in the afternoon. We caught our first dozen using tubes, grubs and darters. Later in the afternoon we revived the bite by throwing dropshots rigged with 4″ Jackall Cross Tail Shads (Green Pumpkin). As the afternoon wore on I started nailing the bigger schools with a Biovex Real Craw (Green Pumpkin) and 3″ YUM tube, rigged with an environmental friendly 1/8 oz. Tacklesmith Tube Jig, made of bismuth. We never did catch one over 4 pounds but we did get real close a few times. Hopefully on Sunday I’ll get a 5! Wish me luck.

For more information on raw diets for your dogs, please feel free to email myself or Bri at Josh@JoshDouglasFishing.com, or if you live in the Twin Cities here’s a link to Raws for Paws.

Posted in Blog Post

Slinging Grubs for Schooling Smallies

With day time highs not breaking zero degrees and night time lows hovering around – 30, the only thing I’ve had on my mind is fishing. When the forecast showed a few days of almost 30 degree weather, I instantly tied up a couple spinning rods with a few select baits and headed to my favorite winter smallie water. I tied on a Biovex Kolt Grub (Green Pumpkin), with a 1/16 oz. Kalin’s Jig Head and on another rod I went with a Yum Tube (Green Pumpkin), rigged with a 1/8 oz. Kalin’s Jig Head. As far as line I used 8 lb. Vicious Fluorocarbon, and spooled it onto a Shimano Stradic 2500FH with a G Loomis 6’6″ IMX meduim action rod and a Shimano Sustain with a G Loomis GLX 7’1″ medium acton rod. These setups are perfect because they have the sensitivity to pick up those delicate cold water bites, yet have the backbone to get good hook sets and play the fish, as well as the length to be able to cast light weight baits as far as I need to.

Unfortunately because of other obligations I was only able to get out for a few hours in the afternoon. We arrived at around 1:30 and I instantly started throwing my tube to select rock piles in the area. After about 30 minutes with only one missed bite I moved along and started fishing some small points. Being that the current goes only one way, this set up the points to be the perfect ambush areas for small schools a good sized smallies. The current carries sediment that causes there to be a shallow and deep side off the points. The deep side is going to be on the down river side of the point, and that is exactly where I ended up finding my smallies. I started by throwing my tube and caught a couple nice two pound fish, but I was getting hung up frequently in all the debris, so I switched to the 1/16 oz. Biovex Kolt Grub and was rewarded with more and better quality fish. I would throw the lightweight bait up stream and let the current push it across the point like an injured baitfish and the smallies would come up from the deeper water and grab it.

Unfortunately for me I had to leave early as well to give a lesson on pouring soft plastics otherwise I may have stayed till after dark trying to coax smallies into biting. So at around 4 o’ clock we headed back to the cities. I had caught ten good smallmouths with two of them being over three pounds. It felt good to get out there and set some hooks. Although the next week is looking mighty frigid, however next weekend is shaping into a pretty nice one. I’m looking forward to getting out yet again soon. If anyone is interested in going on a winter guided smallmouth trip please don’t hesitate to email me at Josh@JoshDouglasFishing.com, to book your trip.

Speaking of guided fishing trips, I was recently contacted by Sport Smith, of http://www.sportsmithfishing.com/, to help him with a corporate ice fishing trip on Lake Minnetonka. After hearing the details I was more than excited to help out and for good reason. Sport put on one heck of a guided trip. We spent the better part of the early morning setting up a nice big tent to house all the guests, than drilled the holes and set up the heaters. There was plenty of room for everyone to move around and mingle and of course, catch fish. Everyone one was furnished with panfish set ups in the tent and then we set tip ups around the house for northern pike. Sport picked a great dropoff on the weedline that hosted all sorts of different fish species from bluegill to crappie and even largemouth bass and pike. Inside the tent was coolers full of water, soda and beer, along with more than enough coffee and hot chocolate. Sports father Bill was a great grill man, serving up hot dogs, burgers, and chicken kabobs, along with baked beans, potato chips and even cookies. John Haynes, Sport and myself stayed busy helping people land fish, taking pictures, and keeping bait on hooks. It was a blast for everyone involved! What a great way for a company to give back to their employees, have some fun and most importantly, create some some quality team building time. Please email me at Josh@JoshDouglasFishing.com, for more information on our corporate ice fishing events. Great Job Sport!

On another note, I am very excited about a new line up of hooks that are hitting the markets this winter. Youvella USA has teamed with Fish Harder Companies and is getting ready to start sending out their new edgy products in the next month or two for public purchase. A rep with Fish Harder Co. has informed me that they will be available to local tackle shops as well as big box retailers like Bass Pro Shops as soon as February. I’m particularly excited about the release of the Little Flip Hook and it’s bigger brother the Pro Flip Hook. The Little Flip was designed to flip and pitch finesse plastics with heavy gear and in heavy cover. The unique pro designed hook keeper keeps today’s soft plastics firmly in place. The Pro Flip was designed to keep the soft plastics perfectly in line with the hook point for optimum penetration. The pro designed hook keeper keeps plastics from sliding down the shank, helping you fish harder, longer. Look for more innovative and efficient hook designs to come from this company in the future.

**From left to right: Youvella USA Little Flip Hook and the Youvella USA Pro Flip Hook.

I recently read a great article on BassZone, about a persistent pro named Mark Burgess and his determined drive to make it to the top level of bass fishing. It goes to show that with hard work and endless determination dreams can come true. In fact it’s the only way they will.

Posted in Blog Post

Schooled by Denny Brauer

With the day time high floating around 15 degrees, Rich Lindgren and I decided to head over to Warner’s Dock in Wisconsin for a seminar by the BASSMASTER legend, Denny Brauer. Denny has always been a role model of mine, mainly because of the style fishing that he excels at, he’s the master of flippin’ and pitchin’.

There’s good reason why we would venture all the way out to Packer land to hear Denny speak. Please keep in mind I hate the Packers, but Denny has got a long list of credentials that should make any die hard fisherman sit and listen. Starting his list of accomplishments is his 16 wins on the BASS tournament trails, where he has totaled well over two million in tournament earnings. He is the 1987 BASS Angler of the Year, as well as the 1998 FLW Angler of the Year and his most notable victory has got to be his 1998 BASSMASTER Classic win on North Carolina’s High Rock Lake, where he beat out second place finisher George Cochran by a whopping ten pounds!

During the seminar Denny broke down some of his basics to fishing shallow water. Gave some tips and techniques to flippin’ and pitchin’ and also went through some of the equipment that works well for him on the tournament trail. Given that he spends a vast majority of his time in shallow water working isolated cover, he was eager to show off a new Ardent reel that he help develop, the F500 Flip-N-Pitch. Being pretty much a Shimano snob myself, I have to say that reel intrigued me. It is the first reel on the market to not employ a star drag system or a levelwind guide. Ardent has factory preset the drag on the reel to a hefty 22 pounds and when your main duty is pitchin’ a few feet of line at a time there is no use for a standard levelwind, in fact it would only complicate the reel. Tackle Tour recently did a great article on the new Ardent F500, if interested click here to check it out.

The second part of the day included a Lowrance seminar put on by walleye pro and fishing electronics expert, Doc Samson. I personally am going to sign up for an advanced class to better help me understand my Lowrance units and be sure I’m getting the most out of them. There’s so much out there in the world of fishing electronics that the more I can learn the more successful I will be.

I also learned today that the BASSMASTER Elite Series has dropped three tournaments next year on Pickwick Lake, Big & Little Bay de Noc, and Lake Champlain and instead added a no entry postseason for the top twelve in the Angler of the Year race. Though the biggest change has got to be the $25,000 dollar entry fee cut. Instead of the standard $50,000 dollar entry for the season, BASS has cut it back to $25,200 in hopes of helping the anglers financially in these current rough economical times. So far there has been no changes to the already set 2010 season.

That’s all for now, hopefully the upcoming weather will be sympathetic and give me the chance to get out and jerk on some smallies! I mean seriously, is asking for 25 degrees to much? I’d also like to thank Warner’s Dock for putting on such a educational free seminar! Tight Lines!

Posted in Blog Post

Tackle Update: Introducing the Shimano Chronarch D

I am proud to inform that Shimano has set a date this upcoming March to release the new Shimano Chronarch D. Being that I’m a die hard Shimano junkie, this has got me trying to think of the many reasons why I need to get a couple of these for this upcoming season.

Personally my favorite reel on the market is the Shimano Core, followed closely by any Chronarch ever made, and the great thing about this reel is it’s a hybrid of both. It wears the exact frame of the Core but instead of magnesium, the new Chronarch is made of lightweight aluminum. Another new feature I’m excited about is the CH100D7 is the first Chronarch offered in a high speed 7.0:1 gear ratio,making catch up time minimal on those giant hook sets! The CH100D5 will be offered in a 5.0:1 gear ratio, sure to be one of the premiere crankin’ reels on the market.

Tackle Tour recently posted an excellent review of the new Chronarch D, offering the first inside look at what is soon to come. They do a great job explaining the differences and similarities of the current and past generations, as well as highlight some of it’s key new features.

Shimano has consistently pumped out the best the fishing industry has to offer and after the success of the new Citica and Curado, you can be rest assured the Chronarch D will be everything it’s cracked up to be.

Posted in Blog Post

Out with the Old and In with the New

Only a day away until we look back at 2008 and look ahead to 2009. I for one am really looking forward to the New Year.

As you can now see the new version of JoshDouglasFishing.com is up and ready to rock. We followed a lot of the same guidelines that the old version went by, but with the help of Roth Knight, and his company Cantankerous Design, we put a whole new and improved face on it.

Some new features to the site is you can now subscribe to my blog. Simply scroll down to the bottom of the blog page and click on the appropriate link, fill out the information and then you will receive a email when I have submitted a new post.

Another nice feature to the blog is the archive, where you can look back at older posts a lot more efficiently by looking up by month and year.

Some other changes for the new year is the sale of Stick ‘Em Lure Company and Guide Service. Because of this, I will now be doing guided bass trips under the name Josh Douglas Guide Service. Look for the link to the guide service on the home page. Trips are starting to book up quick for next season so please contact me soon to set up your next fishing outing.

The bad news is the extended forecast isn’t ringing in the new year in the way I would have hoped. Instead of day time temps in the 30’s, it’s more like the teens. Making fishing close to impossible, unless of course I wanted to go ice fishing, which most of you know just isn’t my thing. I’d rather hook up the boat and head south for a bassin’ get away. Which this year looks like it won’t be until the first week of April, when I head down to Grand Lake, in northeastern Oklahoma. I am very much looking forward to this trip, Grand has been good to me in the past and is quickly becoming one of my favorite fisheries.

I also have been using this down time to get ready for next season and get my tournament schedule all figured out. It’s sure to be a hectic one. My tentative plans are to fish the Silverado Tour, the BASSMASTER Weekend Series MN/WI Division, the Denny Super 30’s, the Denny’s Wednesday Nighters, and a few solo events like the Pan O Prag, St. Jude, MN Federation TOC, and more. As well as some of the Gopher Bassmaster events. My plans are to start to prepare for 2010 when I plan to be competing in the BASSMASTER Opens and FLW Stren Series to continue my push to fishing at the Elite levels of both BASS and FLW.

I would like to hear people’s feedback on my newly updated website. Feel free to send me an email by clicking on the Contact link of the website or by simply emailing me at my new email address of Josh@JoshDouglasFishing.com.

That’s all for now. I’d like to wish all a safe and wonderful new Year! See you in 2009!

Posted in Blog Post

All I Want for Christmas is the Chance to GO FISHING!

First off I need to apologize for the lengthy amount of time since my last blog entry. I usually am a lot better at keeping up. This is the time of year for me to catch up with some things that get put on the back burner during the lengthy fishing season. I usually spend a lot of time chasing around cold weather smallies, but I think I have only been out once or twice since mid November, due to the horribly cold weather we have been having. Trust me, I’m no fair weather fisherman, but when the temp dips under 25 degrees, standard fishing becomes impossible because of line and spool freezing and it’s been hovering steady around 0 degrees!! It simply makes it impossible to cast and reel in, especially when a slow retrieve is standard this time of year. So instead I’ve been saving some money, doing some sponsor work, getting in my entry forms for next years tournaments, and most importantly spending some quality time with my wife Bri and dog Madison. Bri and I are also getting ready for the new member of the family to be able to come home, our new rottweiler puppy! He should help make sure the rest of the winter flies by.

I also have been doing a little equipment upgrading. I recently just got a few of the new Shimano Curado reels in and I have to say that they are even nicer than I was expecting. I’m also real excited about getting my new Power Pole installed. I just know it will compliment my style of fishing so much by the versatility and anchor support it will provide.

On another note, hopefully some of you are making plans for your winter get away. My good buddy Chris Campbell just got back from a business trip to Palm Beach, FL and was able to sneak out one morning for a guided trip on one of Florida’s world class bass fisheries. Chris hooked up with Captain Art Canahan, who with his brother Doug Kimball run a very successful guide operation for largemouth bass, peacock bass, and also saltwater species like snook and tarpon. Chris, who is an avid basser himself said that this was the best guided trip he had ever been on, if not one of the better fishing outings to date. They caught both size and numbers of both largemouth and more notably, the beautiful peacock bass. If planning any trips to the South Florida area, give either Doug or Art a call for a awesome day on the water. http://www.palmbeachbassin.com/

Chris Campbell Chris Campbell

I am excited to share that www.JoshDouglasFishing.com is currently being reconstructed and so far the results have been awesome. I have teamed up with Cantankerous Design and we’re hoping to have the newly upgraded version up by very early in ’09. I will post a link in the near future. Also look for my 2009 schedule to be updated soon. It’s already looking to be an exciting season.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday. Merry Christmas!!

Posted in Blog Post

Tennessee Valley Adventures

Kentucky & Barkley Lakes, KY, TN

On a recent trip to Kentucky Lake, I got the honor of meeting Mr. Randy Nichols and his wife Nora, owners of Tennessee Valley Adventures. My wife Bri, my dog Madison, and myself got the opportunity to stay at their fully furnished lodge, while I was competing in the BASSMASTER Weekend Series Regional championship. Even though Randy was so busy taking people out on guided fishing trips, we still had time to get to know each other. Randy takes southern hospitality to the next level. Every night I would get home from a long day on the water, the gate to the backyard was open, the grill was already burning, and the delicious smell of Nora’s freshly baked brownies and cookies, were just the things needed after a long day. There is a lot of hotels and lodges in the area, but none that can even come close to competing with the service provided, and that are as affordable as they are.

Private Backyard Kitchen Lodge Living Room
**From left to right: The lodge living room, kitchen, a private backyard with more than enough boat hookups.

Tennessee Valley Adventures offers everything from hunting turkey and ducks to world class fishing trips for crappie, largemouth & smallmouth bass, and stripers. Day after day, Randy had his clients on fish and not just numbers but giants as well. I couldn’t believe the size stripers they were bringing in. I just recently talked to Randy by phone and he had just got off the water, with his clients catching slab crappie, one after another. Randy could easily be touring the U.S. competing as a top level bass pro, heck he used to, but he enjoys taking people out on guided trips more. That says a lot about a guy, he turns every client into a fisherman with just one outing. Something very important in keeping our sport healthy for years to come.

Randy Nichols
**From left to right: Your guide Randy and some of his client’s awesome catches.

If your planning a hunting or fishing trip to the Kentucky or Tennessee area, I highly recommend you contact Randy and set up not only an awesome guided trip, but an experience of a lifetime. Combine one of the best lakes in the country with one of the best fisherman in the country and your sure to have an action filled trip. I know for a fact that I will be back to Kentucky Lake for many more tournaments in my life and not only do I have a Kentucky Lake connection but I also acquired a new friend for life. Thanks for everything Randy!

Tennessee Valley Adventures
Specializing in Fishing, Hunting & “Adventures”
Randy Nichols (618) 315-5058 or email him at TVAdventure@Yahoo.com

Posted in Blog Post

Chasing Fall Time – Small River Smallies

With my tournament season slowing down for the winter, I have had a lot more time do get out and do some fun fishing, chasing Minnesota’s smallmouth bass. This time of year the smallmouth action can be at it’s best and small rivers can be one of the best places to get out and really whack ’em. With Fall upon us and the water temp falling the smallies have been starting to bunch up and prepare for the upcoming winter. When I say bunch up, I don’t mean four or five fish schools. I’m talking twenty or thirty good sized hungry smallies.

The key to catching them is to first find them and then trigger them to bite. A lot of the times if I can get one to bite, that will literally start a feeding frenzy. The bass will actually compete over my lure. It is non stop fish catching action. However the second I let one get off, it’s over. The bite will shut down just as fast as it took off. Usually, I count on a finesse presentation to get the job done, as 95% of the time it will do just that. Although just a week ago, I can remember fishing with my buddy Rich Lindgren and doing better by doing just the opposite. I remember I went from 8 lb. fluorocarbon to 16 lb., setting my spinning rod down for a 7ft. heavy casting stick. Rich was throwing a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Sunfish) and I was going between a NetBait Paca Craw (Green pumpkin) and a Biovex Real Craw (Real Zarigani), with a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Sinker (Green Pumpkin). We went from a relatively slow day to a great afternoon.

Rich Lindgren Josh Douglas
**From left to right: Me with a nice smallie caught on a Biovex Real Craw and Rich with another beauty

To find these schools I usually start with throwing a mid running crankbait until I locate the school, then I’ll position my boat so that I can make long casts. My proven cranks are a Rapala DT-6 (Red Craw), Storm Wiggle Wart, and a Biovex Amp and Mid Runner (Fire Tiger, Ayu). Once fish are found there is no better way to catch them then by slowing down and casting small soft plastics on light line. The last couple of days I’ve done really well by casting a 3″ Biovex Real Craw (Green Pumpkin), a Biovex Kolt Grub (Watermelon Seed), and a YUM tube (Green Pumpkin). All of which I was applying with 8 lb. P Line Fluorocarbon and light wire Gamakatsu hooks.

The Setup Biovex Real Craw in water Weapons of choice
**From left to right: Weapons of choice, Biovex Real Craw in the water (there’s nothing more realistic), and the go to setup for hog smallies

When the fish are real active I usually do well catching them off shallow rocky flats that are close to deeper water dropoffs. Once the bite slows down and the shallow bite dies, I’ll start working the dropoffs. I also look for wingdams to hold both good numbers and quality sized bass. Topwater can also prove extremely productive in the Fall, given the right conditions.

Josh Douglas Josh Douglas Josh Douglas

Well as I’m writing this the snow is already starting to fly here in Minnesota. The extended forecast looks very favorable for some quality smallmouth fishing. I’m also trying to get out to Lake Minnetonka a few more times before it ice’s over for the winter. I’ll post a report next week. I also may be heading to South Dakota to do some pheasant hunting next weekend. I don’t get out hunting to often it usually conflicts with fishing, but one of my good buddies promises an awesome time so wish me luck! Or better yet, I think it’s the pheasants that need the luck!

Posted in Blog Post

BASSMASTER Weekend Series Regional Championship

Kentucky Lake, Kentucky Dam Village, KY

Kentucky Lake. I have dreamed of fishing this lake since I was a little kid. So it should be more than obvious that I was extremely eager to get to Kentucky and start practicing for the BASSMASTER Weekend Series Regional Championship, a tournament I qualified for by finishing second overall in the 2008 Angler of the Year points race, in the Minnesota pro division.

The first day of practice I decided to fish Lake Barkley. I started by fishing some main lake points and secondary points, figuring that it was going to be an early fall bite and the fish were going to be starting their push from the main lake summer areas to the backs of the creeks. I started by throwing a Lucky Craft Sammy (Citrus Shad) on the main lake point but had no success. I switched to a Jewel 1/2 oz. Football Jig (Peanut Butter and Jelly), again nothing. I worked the bank into the secondary point where I instantly noticed bass blowing up on schooling shad. This time I threw a Zoom Baby Brush Hog (Green Pumpkin) with a pegged 1/4 oz. Tru Tungsten Sinker, and hooked up with my first Lake Barkley bass. Not the best sized bass but it was a start. I moved back up the bank and was quickly hit by a good solid four pounder but it came off at the boat. That one was sitting in a brush pile that was in about 10 feet of water, just off the bank.

I thought that I might have a pattern going but never managed to catch a keeper bass the entire first day. I did catch a lot of 12 – 14 inch bass but none of the minimum size limit of 15 inches.

Josh Douglas Bri Douglas Josh Douglas

After not having much success on Lake Barkley I decided I would give Kentucky Lake a try. My research told me that unlike Barkley, there is grass in Kentucky Lake. I thought that would set up better for me in helping find the better schools of bass. I knew that the further south you go on Kentucky the more grass you find. I decided to launch the second day of practice out of Aurora, Kentucky. I figured I would run down to Paris, TN and start fishing my way back up in search for some good water.

Right away I ran to a small creek channel that comes off a big main lake flat. I managed to catch a couple shorts right away on a Biovex Amp Mid Runner Crankbait (Wakasagi Ghost). As I head into the creek channel I noticed some patchy milfoil and a little coontail sitting on the bank in about 3 feet of water. I made a few pitches with the Zoom Baby Brush Hog and boated a nice 17″ largemouth. I worked the cove for about an hour periodically getting bites but managing to shake them off and hopefully save them for the tournament.

I tried to duplicate the pattern in similar creeks and coves but just managed to catch fifty or so small schoolers. Again after spending all day on the water I only caught one keeper and countless shorts.

The next day I awoke to a nasty weather front moving in. It had been sunny and 85 degree’s the first two days and now it was 45 degree’s and down pouring. My morning started very slow but around mid afternoon it started picking up. The weather stayed pretty nasty for the vast majority of the day, but the fishing was red hot. Again for the exception of that they where all small ones. Looking back I spent way to much of the day trying to chase around schoolers that where blowing up little threadfin shad. The problem was that they were everywhere, but for every fifty dinks there would be only one that would keep, and even the keepers where barely bumping the 15″ mark. I could see that many of the other competitors where also chasing around those fish which made me think if I could find a school of bigger bass, I may have a great opportunity to win this thing.

The last day of practice I decided that the best fish that I could find where in the the hydrilla that was mostly around Paris, TN and further down lake. I launched in Paris and headed south in search of some real good grass and indeed found it. I found some great main lake areas that had perfect matted hydrilla in about three feet of water that also had the main river channel come right up and bump the weedy flat. There was a lot of baitfish activity in the area and the presence of gizzard shad helped to assure the bigger fish where in the area. I started by throwing a Heddon’s Mega Moss Boss (Black) and was instantly awarded with a nice quality keeper bass. I switched to a Gambler Cane Toad (Green Pumpkin) and again another good keeper. I started flippin a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver pegged with a 3/4 to a 1 oz. Tru Tungsten Flippin’ Weight and managed to pull on a few more quality bites.

I had to get off the water pretty early in the afternoon to be sure to get to registration in time. I was really starting to build some good confidence and felt I had a good game plan to not only catch a limit, but figured I could catch a solid limit. I was going to make the 65 mile run south of Paris, and start with some early topwater and spinnerbait and try to limit quick on the shad bite, then as the sun got high start flippin’ the mats for a few key culls. I filled my boat with gas and headed to the registration meeting.

After the meeting I got back and instantly got to re tying and gearing up for the big weekend. I opened up my front rod locker and was instantly met with the powerful odor of gas. It was the worst I have ever smelled gas before. Worried I opened my battery compartment and the smell intensified. Figuring I had a leak I tried for hours to find the problem and fix it, finally figuring that the tank itself had the leak and was spilling gas into the hull of the boat. Unfortunately for me I had to disqualify myself from the tournament. It’s better to be safe than sorry. I wanted to fish this tournament so bad, but logic told me that I would rather be sure I’ll be able to fish many more. This was a very disheartened decision to make, but most likely the smarter one.

I ended up having a bad seal on my starboard side gas tank that was spilling gas into the hull of the boat. I major problem to say the least. One spark from all the electrical wiring that runs through the boat and that could have been my very last tournament. Looking back I’m obviously more than bummed about the outcome, but I know I will be back to Kentucky Lake many many more times and now I have a much better understanding for the lake, which will only play as an advantage to me in the future. I had a great time and learned a ton. I just can’t wait to get back down there!

Posted in Blog Post

BASSMASTER Weekend Series State Championship

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

Finally it’s here. When I saw this tournament on the 2008 schedule, it ended up being the deciding factor for fishing this entire series. The weather has been starting to change over from summer to fall. The leaves are changing, the weeds are dying, the water temp along with the air temp is starting to descend, and the bass are leaving their summer haunts and starting to put on their feed bags in preparation for the upcoming winter. Being that “Tonka” is close to my house, I was able to get out there a few times and prefish. The first thing I noticed was that the water had quickly dipped into the high 60’s and that the emergent vegetation was starting to back track already. I started by fishing some of my deeper summer areas that had been going good for me months and even weeks earlier. I was catching fish but the size changed from 3, 4, and 5 pounders to 1 and 2 pounders. Worst yet, at times, I wasn’t even getting any bites off the structure. I decided right away that these fish were not going to do it for me and began searching for new water for bigger bites.

The day before the tournament, I had found some real good water that had both abundance and quality size. I felt even more confident because I had found some deeper water and some shallow water that were both holding the fish needed to do real well in this tournament. I planned to start focusing shallow and if for some reason the bite slowed I could still put together a good fish out on some of the deeper weeds. I figured this would end up being a junk fishing tournament for me, and I prepared by lining up about 15 or 16 rods ready to go for what ever the day could bring.

Day one of the tournament and I was in the last flight to take off. I was hoping for an early take off as I had a few “solo fish” spots that I wanted to get to right away. It is sort of like sight fishing. I had a few very quality fish that I had pulled on in practice and was very careful not to hook. Being that they were hiding up in some shallow cover be it boat docks, a clump of pads/milfoil, tree laydown, stump or reed patch, I figured that there was a good chance that fish would still be there the morning of the tournament and I wanted to be the first one to them.
I started on a small riprap edge and managed to miss one on my first cast. I headed to a stump that was previously holding a good fish and flipped my jig to it. Almost instantaneously my line started running off to the side and I set the hook….missed again. Frustrated, I continued on with no bites.

After about an hour or so I caught my first keeper, a small 14″ largemouth that fell for Swim Jig by Davis (Green Pumpkin). I headed for another riprap shoreline and put two more in the boat. I arrived at a good stretch of boat docks and quickly managed to throw together a quick limit of fish on a 3/8 oz. tru Tungsten Jig. I went back to one of my “solo fish” spots to see if this time anyone was home and instantly was awarded with a solid 4 lb. largie.

At about 11:30, I decided to leave my better areas and head out to some of my backup areas. Being that I had a good limit and that I was only one or two good culls away from a real nice limit, I decided to save my fish for day two. I figured that I could definitely make at least one more good cull, in not two or three, and not risk burning any more good size fish from the water I would go all or nothing from tomorrow. Well, things don’t always go as planned and I never made another cull. I weighed in at 11.91 pounds and sat in 13th place. I was a little disappointed in my decision making, looking back, it’s easy to say now that I should have given it a little longer and try to get my bag up in the 14 or 15 lb. range before heading out. Although because I left so early I knew that I had the potential to sack a HUGE bag the next day and instead I set my sights on doing just that.

Day two, I drew boat number 11, in the first flight. I drew Dalon Schmidt, and he was sitting in third place on the non boater side. So needless to say we were both looking for big days. At take off I headed straight for a very small milfoil clump that had been producing in practice and managed to swing a solid two pounder in the boat. After a few more pitches to the milfoil I headed over to that same stump that I missed on yesterday, and this time I set on a quality three pounder. I pitched back to the stump and again caught another one but it was only about 13 inches. With three down and two to go, I headed over to a nearby boat slip and managed to fill my limit, with one of them being well over four pounds.

On my way through a long no wake zone, I noticed the wind was pounding in on some reeds and decided to start chunking and 3/8 oz. Amp Lures Musashi Spinnerbait (Sweetfish), and was able to cull out one of my dinks for another three pounders.

I headed out another riprap stretch and started flippin’ my Tru Tungsten Jig (Fall Craw), along the steep edges of the rocky shoreline. I caught a couple of shorts and then hooked up with another good three pounder just to have it come off at the boat. In my mind you shouldn’t loose a fish when you stick them with a jig. If you hook up they should get in the boat. I was only a hour or two into the tournament, and already had a good bag but that one stung a bit. I fished some pads and docks with nothing. At least nothing for me, my non boater Dalon, couldn’t say the same. He had two 12 inch dinks in the boat, when we came across this weed infested jet ski lift. I pitched my jig in there first with no prevail, and then Dalon placed a perfect skip under there with a 7″ YUM Dinger and out came a giant 5 to 6 pound largemouth. Unbelievable! He wouldn’t eat the jig but took down the senko with no hesitation at all. Of course I wish I had hooked up with that one but it goes to show you that sometimes you need to offer the fish a few different presentations to trigger a strike and if it wasn’t for Dalon’s perfect skip there would have been no bite at all. Dalon is a real good stick and a great guy to have in the boat with you. I truly couldn’t have been happier for him. That put us both with a good limit. I managed to make one more good cull and then time ran out.

Back at weigh in, the buzz, was that over all, the bite was a lot tougher for people and that worked out for both Dalon and myself. I managed to weigh in with a good bag of 15.90 pounds, and with a total two day weight of 27.81, I walked away with seventh place and a five hundred dollar check. Dalon won the non boater side with a good day two bag, anchored down with a hefty 5.6 pound lunker, which was also big bass of the whole tournament. Congrats Dalon!

I managed to finish in second place in the Angler of the Year race. Which is awesome being that this was my first year fishing this series. Next up is the BASSMASTER Weekend Series Regional Championship on Kentucky Lake, near the border on TN and KY. I’ll give a full preview on that shortly. Until then I’m spending a little time fun fishing for Fall smallies and hanging with my lovely wife Bri.

Posted in Blog Post

Gopher Bass Fall Classic

Lake Waconia, Waconia, MN

I have been looking forward to this year’s Fall Classic for quite a while now. It’s a true “just for fun” tournament, that has absolutely no meaning except pure bragging rights and of course a few dollars for the top dogs. The name of the game is that you get randomly paired with another member of the Gopher Bassmasters and compete as a team, trying to best the field with the biggest 6 fish limit. Also every member of Gopher votes for a lake that he would like to fish. The top nominations are put to a random draw, with this years pick being Lake Waconia. There is also no prefishing allowed. This posed to be a little difficult being that I have never been to this lake before.

I drew Cody Seiben, a member of our junior club, but don’t let that fool you, this kid’s one heck of a good stick, with already an impressive tournament resume under his belt. Lucky for me he had been to this lake a couple times in the past and new of some pretty good areas for us to start.

At take off we headed straight to a shallow weedy flat that we thought had to hold some nice Fall time bass. I started by throwing a 3/8 oz. Amp Lures Killa Buzz (Ninja Black) and was quickly rewarded with a quality 15″ largemouth. After a dozen or so more casts with the buzzbait with no more bites I picked up a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Green Pumpkin/Brown), with a 2.75″ Yum Chunk (Green Pumpkin) and started fan casting it across the flat. I managed to catch a couple more bass going about 13-14 inches. Cody was pulling a topwater frog across some floating vegetation, when suddenly he was blown up by a big bass that managed to quickly come unbuttoned. I picked up my Scum Frog (Black) and also started throwing it across the veggies and was awarded with another bass about 13 inches. We tried working some boat docks in the area but nothing was going. I came to a nice wind blown section of reeds that sat right off the end of a point and started swimming my jig threw them and managed to catch two more small bass to fill our limit.

We worked some more boat docks and after again no bites, I decided to head for some deeper water in search of some bigger bass to start the culling game. I found a nice point that had a great weedline full of milfoil and coontail and started throwing both a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig and a 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig on the deep weedline in about 8 – 12 feet. Cody and I both got a couple real quality like bites but were unable to hook up. A little frustrated we left and headed back to our weed flat. This time we pulled back in about 5 feet and started throwing everything but the kitchen sink trying to find some good bites. I was throwing a Biovex Amp Shallow Crank (Bluegill) and an Amp Lures Musashi Spinnerbait (Sweetfish), but only managed to catch a couple short fish. Cody started tossing a jig and quickly set into a good fish but again it managed to come loose. Seeing this I grabbed my Tru Tungsten Jig and quickly set on a nice 14″ bass culling out our almost 12 incher. Giving up on the reaction bite I started throwing a 7″ Berkley Power Worm (Motor Oil) with a 1/4 oz. Tru Tungsten Slip Sinker (Green Pumpkin), and on the very first catch I hooked up on a real nice bass but my line managed to wrap around the tip of my Carrot Stix and the bass came off. I continued to throw the worm for a good half hour but no more takers.

With only ten minutes to go I started aimlessly throwing my Scum Frog to any sort of vegetation that I could see and all off a sudden a real nice bass jumps out at kermit, missing it all together. I put my trolling motor on 100 and got over to the area and started pitching a Berkley Chigger Craw (Black Neon) with a 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Flippin’ Weight (Black). On the third flip, with only minutes to get back to weigh in, the bass bit, and I flipped in a quality 3 1/2 pound bass into the boat culling out a small 13″ bass.

With only minutes to spare, we raced to the weigh in. There were some nice bags weighed in and some not so great, which was expected given there was no pre fishing. The team of Ryan Brant and John Haynes won the tournament with an impressive 6 fish limit weighing 17.82 lbs. Second place went to the team of Dave Cindrich and Jason Elmes with a weight of 15.60, and Cody and I took third place with 13.66 and a much needed pay day!

Next on the agenda is the anxiously awaited BASSMASTER Weekend Series Championship on Lake Minnetonka. This two day event has a lot riding on it. I’m currently sitting in third place in the Angler of the Year points with this one event to go. Also I would like to bank a nice paycheck to take down with me to the Divisional Championship on Kentucky Lake, KY. Not to mention, I spend a lot of time fishing Minnetonka and a good showing would mean a lot to me personally. I’m going against some of Minnesota’s best anglers on one of Minnesota’s best fisheries, it’s setting up to be a great event. I can’t wait!!!!

Posted in Blog Post

Kairo Douglas: 9/17/2003 – 9/5/2008

Kairo Douglas
9/17/2003 – 9/5/2008

The Rainbow Bridge

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food and water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing: they miss someone very special to them; who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. The bright eyes are intent; the eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to break away from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. YOU have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Author Unknown.


Posted in Blog Post

MN B.A.S.S Fedration Championship

Mississippi River Pools 4 & 5, Wabasha, MN

I have been anxiously awaiting the start of the Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation T.O.C. since I saw that it was picked to take place at the Mississippi River, over a year ago. I don’t have a lot of experience on this stretch of river, but unlike Spring, I tend to do pretty well this time of year. I made a point to cover a lot of water in the few days we had of practice and be sure to have good stuff in both pools. I was able to find new water that harbored both smallies and largemouths and also found that a lot of the water I had done well on in the past was also still holding good fish. I was real confident heading into the first day and I really felt I had a better than not shot at making the top twelve and qualifying for the Divisional team. This tournament brought a bit of a twist to the table in the fact that it was a no cull style tournament. The state law in Wisconsin states that you may never cull a smaller fish with a larger one and once you establish a fish as a keeper by placing them in your livewell, it has to be weighed in. Since this stretch of river shares water with both Wisconsin and Minnesota that law has to be enforced. Because of that this event was made to be a five fish limit but only the best four would be weighed. That way you could still be able to insure a limit and play a gamble on the fifth fish. Once all five are in the box, there is to be no more fishing. This made things a little tougher but I thought with the size fish I had going in practice that it may actually play out in my favor.

This was a draw style tournament, where partners were randomly selected. All 150 participants were fishing for the same goal, making the top twelve and moving on to Divisional’s, and getting a shot at competing in the BASSMASTER Classic. Each person is allowed four hours on the trolling motor to run their water. This was one reason why I made sure to cover a lot of water in practice, so no matter where I was fishing, I would have an idea of what would work in that area.

Day one I drew Nate, from Range Bassmasters, and we both agreed to take my boat for day one. We drew boat number 39 and was first boat out in the third flight. Right at take off we headed straight for the dam and was greeted with a barge. Knowing this would take a while we ran some water that was close, killed some time and after a good hour headed back to the dam. After locking threw, I noticed my boat wasn’t spitting any water and my heat gauge was quickly rising. As I began to take off to head to my honey hole, my boat instantly started beeping that it was way to hot and my gauge was going through the roof. Not the start I was looking for. For the next two hours we sat there trying to get the boat to work and was completely unsuccessful. We got on the phone with the tournament director and he sent a car down to pick up my partner so he could go back and get my truck and trailer, so we could tow it back and get into Nate’s boat and try to fish for a miracle. After wasting hours and hours we were finally back on the water with a very limited time to catch some fish. With not enough time to head back to my water we fished some stuff that was close by. We both caught some short fish going a bout 13 or so inches, not big enough to cross the 14″ line and also managed to miss a couple. Way to quickly time ran out and we both put up a big zero for day one. I was very disappointed to say the least. Back at weigh in, I was made aware by the boys at Mobile Marine Pros that my engine was fixed. They drove all the way down from the Cities to fix my boat to make sure I was on the water the next day. The reason for the break down was a broken impeller key, that would not allow the impeller to spin and pull water through the engine, resulting in overheating. Tough break but all part of the game.

Going into day two, I knew I had no real shot at making the top twelve, instead I put my focus on helping my team, the Gopher Bassmasters and going for the big fish pot, and I also have to admit that I still held out little hope of a Tiger like comeback. I drew Steve from Zumbro Valley Bassmasters and after not having a great first day he agreed to go with me to my water that I was unable to fish the day before. At launch we were held up more than three hours because of fog. Right before we were about to finally take of, I received a call from my wife Bri, that our four year old rottweiller, Kairo, had just took a major turn for the worse. Kairo was diagnosed with Lymphoma cancer about a month prior and wasn’t expected to be around much longer. Hearing news like this shattered me. Kairo is much more than just a dog to me, he’s my best friend and a son. I knew I had to fish and Bri told me that I just had to go out there, give it my best, and hurry home so I could be with him and the family.

Finally at about 10:15, we took off and I headed straight for the lock, and again was forced to wait for another barge locking through. After about an hour and a half we were through the lock and had arrived in my best area. I didn’t take long and I caught a 16″ largemouth on a texas rigged Berkley Chigger Craw (black neon) and a 1/2 oz. pegged Tru Tungsten Flippin’ Weight (black). After a minute of contemplating, I decided to throw the fish back. I figured I had absolutely nothing to loose. I was working some deep emerged vegetation (pads, arrowhead, elephant ear, and cane). I power fished a Scum Frog (Black) and then would slow it down with the Chigger Craw. I managed to miss a couple good bites and also let a couple bush me in the thick weeds. Then I got one of my best bites yet, and set into a nice fish going all of four pounds, and some how managed to snap my G Loomis GLX in half and eventually lost the fish. Man, let me tell you……..ahh never mind, I’ll keep this blog clean!

After brushing that one off, Steve and I finally started boating some bass. This time I played more for the team and my sanity and started putting all eligible bass in the livewell. I caught a couple 14.5 inchers and another 16 inch. Then I caught a good 3 pounder. With about five minutes to go before we had to leave for our long ride back to weigh in, I hooked up with another good one about 17 inches but a bit skinny. We luckily made it through the dam without a hitch and had a good ten minutes to make it back to weigh in, when wouldn’t you guess, I blew the powerhead in my engine. Are you serious? Some how, Steve and I made it back to the weigh in with only seconds to spare. Steve weighed in at an impressive four fish for 8.06 pounds, and I with 8.63 pounds. Not bad for only getting two or so hours to fish. It was one of the stronger bags brought in that day, but with a zero the first day, I finished with a very disappointing 79th place. I really felt I had a chance to not only qualify for Divisional’s but maybe even win the whole thing. I know boat issues are part of the game, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

As soon as my boat is back in action, I will be right back at it, looking for some revenge at the BASSMASTER Weekend Series two day event on Lake Minnetonka.

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BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tournament

Lake Vermillion , Cook, MN

My wife Bri and I, as well as the two dogs, Kairo and Madison, headed up north for a semi relaxing week. Bri’s family has a cabin in the McGregor area and the lake is full of trophy largemouth’s. After much relaxing I decided to launch the boat and go fishing for just a half an hour or so, and make sure the boat was running good before leaving the next day for Lake Vermillion.

As usual the boat ran spectacular, largely in part because the guys at Mobile Marine Pros, make well sure that it is in it’s optimum running condition. I fished some reeds and only managed to catch one bass in that half hour but she weighed all of 5 pounds. She fell victim to an 1/2 oz. Amp Lures Killa Buzz (Black Ninja).

I woke early Thursday morning to be sure I made it up to Vermillion by the still early a.m. Vermillion is a great lake full of smallmouth and largemouth bass. These bass are fortunate in that they are not sought after nearly as much as the walleye, crappie, pike, and muskie are.

After launching I started on a nice shallow stretch that I have never fished before. It was chuck full of reeds and laydowns. On my third flip of a good ole’ trusty 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (green pumpkin/brown), I stuck a beautiful 4 1/2 pound largemouth. That is what you like to see when your fishing a lake your not used to fishing. I managed to pull on a few fish that seemed of good size and decided to waypoint the area on my Lowrance LCX 37c, and venture out to see what else this 50,000 acre lake had to offer.

I started fishing looking for some good smallmouths and was instantly attracted to the islands. I mean how could I not? There is over 365 of them. I managed to catch mid range smallies all over the shallow areas, but couldn’t seem to get a deep bite going. I do know that traditionally on this lake if you can tune into the cisco bite, you will find big packs of three and four pound smallmouth’s. Although for me I couldn’t seem to get that bite going. It was hard to leave the shallow’s. I was catching crawfish left and right. I’ve never eaten crawfish before but I could have had a good ole southern boil with all the craw’s I was catching. They were everywhere!

Needless to say, but I opted to use crawfish imitating baits most of the day. I managed to catch a lot of smallies, they seemed to be all over the place. Reeds, docks, islands, humps, reefs, it really didn’t matter, the key was finding the good ones. I got off the water kind of early on Thursday. The wind was blowing hard and I noticed around four o clock in the afternoon that my trolling motor batteries were loosing some serious juice. Being that I have a MinnKota 101 lb. Pro, this should not be an issue. I new I better get off the water and go get my batteries checked and as you can imagine I ended up leaving the marina with three brand new group 29 Interstate Deep cells and even made plans to buy a new Interstate cranking battery once I got back to the cities.

Friday morning I awoke to cool temps, overcast skies, and some good rain. I decided to try the other side of the lake and thought it would be best to pull my boat and launch once I got there. Conserving on the gas. The morning bite was pretty good and I managed to find some deeper smallies, that were of better size. I also pulled on lots of fish and checked a good largemouth area that my wife Bri and I found a couple years ago while on vacation. Soon enough I was rained off the water. Leaving for registration I was pretty confident in my patterns and new that getting bit shouldn’t be that difficult and felt that I had some good water to catch a winning bag.

Tournament morning I had a late boat draw and decided to start fishing some of the largemouth areas that were producing for me. I pulled into the area and instantly noticed all the good anglers that were also fishing that particular that area. Not just any anglers either some of the better hooks fishing this event. Looks like there are no secrets here. I fit myself into rotation and was quickly awarded with a nice largemouth just shy of four pounds. I missed another bite and then decided to go hit some of my smallie areas hoping to get a quick limit. No such luck. The smallies were there, but they were just pecking my offering. I decided to make a long run to some of my largemouth areas, figuring that with the overcast skies they would be better targets. The run was a windy and rainy one, that took about 40 minutes. Although I did make one pit stop on an area that I was catching good smallies and instead of a brown fish, I was awarded with a nice 3 pound largemouth. This assured me that I was doing the right thing, so I quickly got back at it. I ended up making one more pit stop and again was awarded with a solid 3 pound largie. This one was sitting in a clump of pads and bit my TT jig.

I got into my better area and on the first cast I boated another three pound largemouth on a Scum Frog (Black), underneath some hangdown trees and around some floating vegetation. I caught a couple one and two pound fish but nothing else so I decided to find some similar areas and power fish them quick, figuring they would all hold a good fish. My next stop I caught a quick couple three pounders, next area same, and the next again the same. Awesome fishing but all were about the same size. Next thing I knew time was running low and I had to get back to weigh in.

I arrived pretty confident I had a good bag. I knew it wasn’t winning but I figured I had a good chance of cashing a check. I hit the scales at 15.12 lbs. and walked away with 15th place. No money but a strong finish none the less. With that 15th place finnish I was able to claim sole possession of 3rd in the overall Angler of the Year race in the Pro Division, with only one tournament to go, a two day championship on Lake Minnetonka.

Up next is the Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation State Championship, held in Wabasha, on the Mississippi River Pools 4 and 5. I’ve had some past success on the river in the past this time of year, and I’m hoping that will help out for me this time. I’m spending all next week going back and fourth to the river in preparation. I would love to make the top 12 and get a berth into the 2009 B.A.S.S. Federation Divisional Championship. Wish me luck!!

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Life Can Deal Some Pretty Tough Blows

KairoIt’s been a little while since my last entry, due to the lack of fishing. My wife Bri and I, were delivered some horrible news that our four year old rottweiler Kairo has what vets believe to be a type of cancer called lymphoma. It’s never easy hearing news like that, especially since there is not many options available for him. Kairo, aka Big Rig, aka Haus, aka Kill, aka Podgers, is truly my best friend and I’m going to cherish every opportunity I can with him. I opted out of a couple of club tournaments that was on Pokegama Lake, instead making plans to take the family up to the cabin for a long week of fun, fishing, and relaxation.

It’s not all relaxation though, I will also be heading up to compete in the fourth stop of the BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tournament, held on Lake Vermillion. I have every intention of doing real well there. Currently I’m sitting in 3rd place for the Angler of the Year race in the Pro Division and a strong finish on Vermillion would be huge, because the final stop will be on my home waters, Lake Minnetonka.

This morning I was able to get out to “Tonka” for a few hours early in the morning. The fish were scattered but still very catchable. No big ones, but still caught a dozen or so of solid two’s and three’s. In the last week, the only on water time I’ve had was doing guide trips so it was nice to get out there and take my mind of things for just a little while. Nothing like taking out some anger by exercising the bass.

Well that’s all for now. I’ll give a full report of Lake Vermillion and all the smallmouth action when I get back. I also have some real big tourneys coming up, like the B.A.S.S. Federation Tournament of Champions, the BASSMASTER Weekend Series State Championship, the BASSMASTER Regional Championship, on Kentucky Lake, KY., and hopefully the BASSMASTER National Championship, in NC. Wish me luck and please say a prayer for Kairo.

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BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tournament

Pokegama Lake, Grand Rapids, MN

Pokegama is a great lake that is quickly becoming one of my favorite bodies of water to fish. There’s a lot of different reasons for this, but mostly I love the diversity that it offers us tournament anglers. With that though, comes choices to make, these choices are either hit or miss. The lake itself has a great abundance of big smallmouth bass, it also has an above average population of largemouth bass. The chain of lakes to the north connect with the upper Mississippi River. There you will find largemouth’s that are probably a little bigger in average size but a little harder to locate due to the abundance of rice, cane, reeds and lily pads. Sometimes I hear people say that to find bass up in the river it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. I agree and disagree with this philosophy because it seems that if you know what type of environment the big bass are holding in, you can find them pretty easily.

About two weeks before this tournament I had the opportunity to head up to Pokegama with my buddy Rich Lindgren, and do nothing but fish the river. I had a lot of confidence in Pokegama, but was clueless in the river, so this gave me a good opportunity to get dialed in, helping me to decide what pattern I was going to attack once tournament day rolled around. During the practice day we were able to locate good fish simply by employing a strong power fish style. Rich caught the nicest one, a easy four pounder, by flippin’ a texas rigged Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver (Black and Blue). Leaving that practice I felt pretty confident in how to catch them in the river and figured that I could get a few key bites during the tournament. My game plan was to fish the lake a couple hours in the morning on tournament day, catch a quick 12 to 13 pound sack of smallies, and then head up into the river and work on those few BIG bites, and make some huge culls. I knew this lake would take close to 20 pounds, if not more to win, and thought that would give me the best shot at doing just that.

The day before the tourney I headed up with my wife Bri, and met up with another good buddy Corey Brant, to practice on the lake. Right away in the morning I caught a nice three pound smallmouth on a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig, tipped with a 2.75″ YUM chunk. I continued to check out some of my better smallie areas and Corey quickly caught another nice one in the three to four pound range. After confirming that indeed my smallies were right where they were supposed to be, we decided to check some weedlines and shallow water for largemouths. Just a few casts and I caught a nice 3 pound largemouth, then Core Dog hooked into a nice one, but was able to shake it free. We continued that pattern for an hour or so and pulled on numerous nice largemouths along the way.

With only a few hours to go I wanted to check one more area that I thought would hold good smallmouths. Did it ever. Corey caught a nice one going every bit of 4.5 pounds. Hmmm. Things to think about. Figuring the general rule that where there is one nice smallmouth bass, there is a lot more, and the fact that I had good sized largemouths going, started leaning me in the direction of staying on the lake, and avoid killing time running up the river. I figured I could weigh at least 15 to 16 pounds staying on the lake, with the possibility to weigh in 18 to 19 pounds. I figured I would let tomorrow dictate what I was to do. Fish for the moment right? Either way, I got off the water with some real good confidence of what tomorrow was to bring.

At the launch the next morning I came to find that my trim was not working. Making it real hard to get on plane. This was ok. I could still fish, I just threw any thought of running up the river out of the equation. The lake it is. I was lucky enough to draw boat number five and had an early start to my morning. I decided to actually run to my shallow largemouths first thing and leave my smallies until a little later. I generally would not do so a foolish thing but I had seen anglers go through my smallie areas all of practice and not catch anything. That gave me confidence that I had the right set up for the job. After ten minutes or so with no bite in the shallows, I decided to run to another laremouth spot that was also very close to one of my better smallmouth areas. My first cast and I managed to catch a two pound largemouth on a Amp Lures 6″ Mimi Worm. After a few more casts not resulting in anything but a couple small largemouths that wouldn’t bump anyway, I decided to go after my smallmouths. There I managed to catch what ended up being my biggest, weighing over 3.5 pounds. I also managed to catch two more in the two pound range before heading out. I saw a boat dock nearby and decided to give it a try, there I was able to fill my limit with a tiny little 12″ largemouth. Nothing spectacular. but a limit’s a limit! I decided to run to another smallie spot, where I ended up catching another good one that was right around three pounds. The weird thing, is that after catching one good smallie, I wouldn’t catch another one. Usually they hang out in packs and catching one can excite all of them into biting. Not so this time, the area would just shut down.

I again headed to another smallie area of mine and like the other times quickly caught a good one but than wasted another 30 minutes trying to rein act it. Through out the day I kept running to my largemouth areas, hoping they were ready to start biting and it was like they disappeared. Frustrated I decided to hit some deeper weedlines and was able to make a couple small culls for and ounce or two. Before I knew it time was out and I had to head back to weigh in. I knew I had a respectable bag, but knew I had no real shot of winning. I weighed in at 13.06 pounds, with my big fish being a 3.84 pound smallmouth. The winner won the tournament with 19.60 pounds and there was a good second place bag with 18.06 pounds. Both sacked up the largemouths in the river. Big fish for the tournament was a giant 5.75 pound smallmouth bass, AWESOME! I finished in 22nd place and am sitting in a tie for third in the Angler of the Year points with two tournaments to go, Lake Vermillion and Lake Minnetonka. Looking back I wish I would have stuck to my guns and headed up river once I had a good sack. I had pretty much all my weight by 9 am, and it’s not every tournament a guy gets a chance to truly go hog hunting for five hours knowing he has a good sack already. It takes a lot of the anxiety out of the situation. You live to learn though. Most of the top ten were fishing the river this year and were able to convert those quality bites into better than quality bags.

Mobile Marine ProsThe next few weeks are going to be very busy for me. A lot of tournaments as well as guide trips, mix in practice and making plans for upcoming big events like the Minnesota Federation tournament of Champions and the BASSMASTER Regional Championship in Kentucky and I’m thinking time will just fly by. Lucky for me the boys at Mobile Marine Pros already have my boat all fixed up, running better than she ever has. They are truly the best at what they do. My next tournament is on Wednesday on Lake Minnetonka (aka Hog Heaven) I’ll give a full report when it’s done.

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Gopher B.A.S.S. Federation Club Tournament

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

Today was the sixth tournament in the Gopher Bassmasters season, held again on Lake Minnetonka. I was lucky enough to draw boat number one and headed right for a nice deep hard bottom spot. I figured that if I got there right away in the morning that I could get a quick limit weighing 10 to 12 pounds minimum. I pulled up slowly and there was a boat fishing the weedline that was just a short distance from my area. I pulled in close and made a couple of casts and just tried to wait patiently for the other boat to move on so I could position my boat just right to be able to give myself the best shot at making perfect casts to the area. After the other boat moved on I was able to get to where I could make long casts with a hand tied 1/2 Jewel Football jig. After a few casts I was able to catch a nice largemouth that was an easy 2.5 pounds. My next two casts and I reeled in another weighing 2 and the other going all of 3 pounds for sure. I threw a few more times without a bite and decided to give that area a rest and go hit another similar area only a minute away. My first cast in the new area resulted in another nice 3 pound largemouth. After a 15 minutes I headed back to my first spot and caught another nice largemouth about 2.5 pounds as well.

Within the first hour I had a solid limit weighing around 13 pounds. This was a great position to be in because it usually doesn’t happen like that too often. It’s not everyday you put a quality limit in your tanks in the first hour of the tourney. This gave me the opportunity to “hog hunt” the rest of the day. I quickly pulled out a 3/8 oz. and a 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig, and start working the deep weedlines for some good bass. I was able to catch a lot of 2 pounders but maybe only culling for an ounce here and there. Finally I hooked up with a nice 3 pound largemouth on the 1/2 oz. jig. Upping me to a estimated 14 pound bag.

As the afternoon wore on, I caught fish but none that would make a difference. Finally with only an hour left in the tournament I went straight for a nice deep weedline turn, soaked the jig and managed to catch two more 3 pounders, rounding out a nice bag for the weigh in. I finished with 15 pounds, just good enough for a third place finish. I was also fortunate enough to sneak pass Corey Brant in our Annual Gopher Bassmasters Ultimate Match Fishing Contest and now am in the final four competing against Sport Smith, which will take place in Grand Rapids, on Pokegama Lake, at our next club tourneys next month. Also with these two strong finishes I fought my way back up in the Gopher Bassmasters Angler of the Year standings, currently sitting in fourth. Setting me up for a run at club stick!

Next up for me is the third stop for the BASSMASTERS Weekend Series also at Pokegama Lake. I have a lot of ideas in my head, that I’m confident will help me to another great finnish. I’m currently sitting tied for first in the BASSMASTER Weekend Series Angler of the Year race and really want to continue that trend on. It’s going to take a lot of hard work but I’m definitely up for the challenge! Wish me luck at Pokegama!!

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Gopher B.A.S.S. Federation Club Tournament

Lake Minnetonka, Mound, MN

I was very excited to wake up this morning and head out to one of my favorite lakes, Minnetonka, for a Gopher Bassmasters Club Tournament. I spend a considerable amount of my time out here and definitely consider it my home lake. So I was pretty excited about my chance to catch a good limit. It’s important that I do well in this weekend’s two tournaments for a few different reasons. I’m pretty disappointed in some of my tournament finishes. I had two pretty solid tournaments and two very bad tournaments. Because of this, I find myself sitting in 8th place overall in the Angler of the Year standings. I also find myself on the bubble to make the 2009 Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation State Tournament, held at Pokegama Lake, in Grand Rapids, MN. Today is also the start of the first round of our annual match fishing contest and I find myself matched against Frank Whiteside.

I drew boat number five and headed to a location that had some nice deep scattered rock. After about four or five casts I catch a solid 2.5 lb. largie on a hand tied 1/2 oz. Jewel Football Jig. In the next five casts I catch another two bass both weighing roughly two pounds each and managed to let a nice solid three pounder get off. After checking another spot similar to the first without any success, I decided to get out of there. I was slowly putting thru a long no wake area and when I got to the out side of it I turned back and pitched a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Green Pumpkin/Brown) to the seawall and caught a little pound and a half smallie. After having a little success pitching to one corner I decided to to flip one to the opposite corner and instantly set into a good largemouth, only to have him throw the jig at the boat. Generally I would start getting pretty worried about loosing two good fish in the first hour but I knew this lake and knew it’s potential and I knew the areas I was going to fish held both weight and numbers.

With the sun starting to warm things up I decided to hit a pretty good point that wasn’t to much of a distance from me. I worked the whole point all the way around, switching between a 3/8 oz Tru Tungsten Jig, 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig, and a 1/2 oz. Jewl Football Jig. I was catching numbers but they were all in that solid two pound range. I knew the area had potential to cough up some real toads but decided to head out, but planned to hit it again on the way back to weigh in. Opting instead for a deep hump with a solid weedline, that has been good to me in the past for some solid three pounders. I was able to catch numbers of both largemouths and smallmouths, but at most maybe only doing two or three culls for a couple ounces. My boat partner for the day, John Atkins, hooked up with a nice 3 to 4 pounder and also filled a limit there.

We headed to a deep weedline that I have just lately been starting to figure out, but this time we couldn’t get it going. I managed to catch a few more fish running the same type of pattern, targeting deep weedlines and rocks, but none of them culled any more than a couple ounces. Heading to the scales I was pretty happy given the day. I ran good water, worked my areas confidently, but just never got those big bites that I needed to win. I weighed in with 11.6 pounds and finished in 4th place. I managed to get past Frank in Ultimate Match Fishing and will be facing my boy Corey Brant (Core Dog), who is also leading so far this year in the Angler of the Year race. This fourth place finish also made up a little ground in the AOY standings. Tomorrow we will be launching from the other side of the lake for another tournament. Good Night!

Posted in Blog Post

BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tournament

Whitefish Chain, Cross Lake, MN

Tournament two of the BASSMASTER Weekend Series, held at the Whitefish Chain, in Cross lake, MN, is finally upon us. There was over a month gap between the first and second tournament and I was dying to get on the water and put it to the test against some of Minnesota’s top bass fisherman.

I had went up and practiced for a couple days a few weekends back and have to say that I didn’t have a great practice at all. A friend joined me and the fishing was good on Saturday for the morning and than we got stormed off, literally. We woke up Sunday morning to a less than ideal forecast of a cold front, with high skies and a cool north wind. We were able to find them Saturday morning all over the lake, shallow around docks and in the pads, and deeper along the maturing weedline. Sunday did produce some nice fish, but they were rather scattered and didn’t really offer any set in stone pattern for game day. Looking back it was probably for the best considering that the lake was going to change pretty dramatically by the time I got back there. It made me keep in open mind.

The day before the tournament, Bri and I launched out of Hay Lake and headed right up into the main lake and began poking around on the weedlines. I did catch fish but none that were really good size. Although still the area had great potential. I then ran some of my shallow stuff where I found that it wasn’t going to be that difficult to bag a limit but that size was the worry. I spent most the afternoon being careful to pull on fish and not actually hook them in their mouth, pretty much guaranteeing that the fish won’t be willing to bite on tournament day. By the end of the day I was feeling a bit more comfortable. There were a lot of fish to be caught and I felt I was in the right areas to catch them. I even managed to visually see a couple 3+ pounders, and on Whitefish those are real good fish to have at the scales.

After take off I headed straight for a sandy flat that had a few good docks and a nice inside turn on a weedline. I started by swimming a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Green Pumpkin/Brown) and on my third cast I boated a 14″ inch largemouth and got the skunk out of the boat. That’s when everything really started taking a turn for the worst. I set into about five or six real good fish and missed them all. Were talking like setting and half way to the boat they get off! Honestly I was getting pretty discouraged. Finally I came across a good looking boat dock and flipped a solid 2 pound largie into the boat. One cast later and I caught another one that just bumped the 12″ minimum line. With a couple hours gone I decided to run to a bay on the South side of the lake where I had one magical boat dock that always seemed to produce for me. I worked the entire dock and on my last hail mary skip under the dock I caught a good solid three pound bass.

With only four fish in my livewell, I decided it was time to get on the weedlines and start catching some fish. Again after loosing a couple I finally boated my fifth keeper that literally bumped 12″ on the dot with 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Black and Blue). I also tossed the topwater frog around for twenty minutes and didn’t even manage a single blowup. Knowing that I needed some quality culls I decided to head back to the sand flat that I started on and try for some of those better fish that I had seen in practice and hope that I could get one or two of those earlier misses to bite again. It started slow and all of a sudden I hooked into a solid largemouth on a jig. I was out in about seven foot of water and blind casting in front of me not to spook the fish. The bass was landed and weighed approximately 4.5 pounds, a true Whitefish kicker! It’s a great feeling to cull a little 12 inch bass for a solid 4 pounder. Next cast after dropping her in the livewell and I instantly get bit under a near by boat dock, resulting in another solid 2 pound bass.

With three hours remaining and an approaching storm starting to give way to rain, I headed to a great weedline that I knew had to hold good fish. The area was great. I was fishing a saddle in about 13 to 18 feet, that was surrounded by two underwater points that were loaded with coontail. The area produced well, I was able to cull a few times, nothing major but a ounce here and a ounce there. Time ran out and back at weigh in I managed to weigh in at 13.32 pounds and took another solid 6th place finish, good enough for another paycheck! I was second for big fish with 4.42 lbs. and lost to a nice 4.6 pounder that was weighed in just before me. Best yet my two strong finishes in the first two tournaments have me in a dead tie for first place in the Angler of the Year race. Pretty awesome but there’s still three tournaments left, and it’s going to be a tough test to manage to stay at the top. Next up we have Pokegama Lake, in Grand Rapids, MN. Last year in my first ever BASSMASTER Weekend Series event I took 18th at Pokegama. I have a few ideas going that I think can really put me on some good fish! Wish me luck!

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Five Alive Tour

Green Lake, Isanti County, MN

Today was our second Five Alive event held at Green Lake, in Isanti County. Neither Ryan and I had time to prefish for this tournament and since neither one of us had ever fished the lake before we decided that we would just show up and fish. Today I also picked up my boat from the shop, which is a huge relief going into the BASSMASTER Weekend Series on the Whitefish Chain. I really was wanting my boat for that tournament.

At take off, Ryan and I headed straight for a row of docks. Never fishing this lake requires us both to power fish to be able to compete in a three hour tournament. After spending twenty minutes with no quality bites we headed for a slop area on a nice looking flat. I picked up a Scum Frog (black), while Ryan continued working boat docks with a 3/8 oz. hand tied Tru Tungsten Jig. One my first cast I missed on a nice blowup. After trying to get the fish to come back with no success, I spotted a great looking opening in the scum and fired my frog right into it. As kermit landed in the opening I noticed three or four different wakes from all around the bait, a tell tail sign of interested bass. I didn’t twitch that frog but twice and I landed our first fish, a nice 2 pounder. Next cast rewarded me another one pushing three pounds, and the next cast another 2 pounder. Ryan dying to jump in the action ties up a Spro Frog (Black) and quickly puts another in the box. I make a couple more casts and limit us out with another 2 pounder.
We continued on this pattern and did find some similar areas. One area in particular did offer us a few nice bass that were able to cull out here and there for a couple ounces. With limited time left in the tournament we headed back to the area that coughed us up a quick limit. There we saw another tournament boat about 250 yards up bank. We snuck up into the mouth of the scum and started throwing frogs and I also tied up a Gambler Buzz Toad (black). We did catch a few but none big enough to cull. With only ten minutes left in the tournament we went back towards the launch and continued on throwing the frogs, again catching a few but none big enough to cull.

At weigh in we were approached by the tournament director, apparently that boat that watched us whack a bunch of fish in front of them claimed that Ryan wasn’t wearing his safety vest when we pulled away with the big engine. Unfortunately for us, this was not the case. We argued our case as best we could, I never saw Ryan without his jacket and think the guys just made a mistake. A costly one for somebody else if your not positive. After going round and round, Ryan and I tactfully withdrew ourselves from the competition with no hard feelings, just an unfortunate situation. They great staff of the Five Alive Tour did allow us to weigh and we would have taken a solid third place finish. Not to bad for never being on the lake. Ryan and I aren’t sure when we will be able to attend another Five Alive event. I know we have our eyes set on the last event of the year at Forest Lake. Hopefully we will find time to fish another before then.

Now it’s back to business, I have a couple nice guide trips and then leave town for the second stop of the BASSMASTER Weekend Series, held at the Whitefish Chain, in Cross Lake, MN. I finished with a strong 6th place in the first event and am looking to do even better. Wish me luck!

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Pan-O-Prag Bass Tournament

Lake Marion, Lakeville, MN

This was my first year participating in the annual Pan-O-Prag Bass Tournament, held on Lake Marion, in Lakeville, MN. Marion is a small lake located just South of the Twin Cities, right off 35W. Even though this lake gets a tremendous amount of both fishing pressure and recreation traffic, it still coughs up some big bags of fish every year. This was a team tournament and my partner was fellow Gopher Bassmaster, John Haynes.

I was able to get out and practice twice for this event. The first time John joined me and we did pretty good. Not a lot of fish, but the quality was there. I was catching them all on a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig, tipped with a 2.75″ YUM chunk. Most of them came shallow but they were all very scattered. Some came off docks, some off rocks, some in the weeds, and some weren’t even by anything at all. Leaving after the first practice day we were a bit frustrated but happy at the same time. It was one of those practices that you wish was actually the tournament, because we caught a winning limit of bass, except we didn’t really have a pattern for how we did it.

The second day of practice was a complete joke. It was the 4th of July and my Wife Bri was joining me. We arrived to a very long line that took over an hour to launch and then came to find that my engine wouldn’t start. Frustrated, I decided to fish for a while with my trolling motor but after a half hour I figured it would be best to load up and drop my boat off at the shop to get fixed. Although I did manage to catch one fish that was just shy of four pounds on a 4″ Bass Pro Shops Tube (Clear with Blake Flake), with a 1.8 oz. insert weight and a 4/0 Gamakatsu EWG hook..

At take off for the tournament, we drew an early let out and knew we would have a great shot at getting to some of the better areas that held some quality fish. We decided to hit a row of docks that had some nice vegetation around them and on my second flip, I caught a nice three pound largemouth. Being that this lake is not that big we were quickly surrounded by other boats and I decided to get out of there and go check another area before that was also tapped.
We got to our area and I instantly got bit, but when I set, there was nothing there. John lobbed his Lake Fork Ring Fry (Green Pumpkin) to the same area and instantly set the hook on what turned out to be another nice fish that went all of three pounds. A hundred yards down and I got bit again, and again added another three pounder to the livewell.

Knowing we were on to a great start, we decided to go back to the area where we first started and see if we can still get some bites. We arrived to see that there were still four boats working that area. I knew this would be an issue at this tournament. I usually don’t like fishing in crowds, but I knew it was going to be this way so we decided to stay. Talk about calling the right shot. My first cast and I caught another nice three pound fish. I came across a nice looking boat dock and even though I watched two other boats fish it, I decided to give it a try anyway. After working the dock all the way around I decided to skip my jig up underneath the start of the dock, right where it meets the land. My first skip missed the mark by two feet, but I instantly got a peck from a couple bluegills. Looking closer I noticed the traditional honeycombs, meaning that there was a bunch of bluegills spawning. Wherever there are spawning bluegills, there are hungry bass close by. I skipped my jig again, this time perfectly under the dock and out came another three pounder. Good call Douglas!

Sitting with five nice three pounders in the livewell, we just needed one more for a limit. (Pan-O-Prag is a six fish limit) We went about an hour without catching anything and with the sun starting to come out and the wind picking up we decided to go throw a frog and flip some plastics back in the slop. We wasted about an hour and a half back there. I know that past tournaments have been won out of the slop on this lake, but I’m going to have to spend more time back there to figure out the real good areas. Although when we were on our way out, I had the trolling motor on 100 and made a desperation cast with a Scum Frog (Black) and caught our limit fish. Not even a two pounder, but it was a limit.

We went back out to the main lake and was met with some real strong winds. I did manage to catch a couple more but none big enough to cull. We headed back to the weigh in and ended up with 16.26 pounds, good enough for a strong 6th place finish! Pretty sweet! First time fishing this event with limited practice and walked away with another much needed paycheck. It goes to show, when in doubt, go with your strength. Good things will happen more often than not.

I would also like to thank my buddy Ryan Brant for letting me borrow his Ranger Commanche for this tournament while my boat is in the shop. I owe you big time!

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Denny’s Wednesday Nighter

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

Tonight was the second tournament of the Denny’s Wednesday Nighters, held on Lake Minnetonka. Ryan and I were real eager to launch and get this tournament under way. I still had a horrible taste in my mouth from that fat largemouth that got off at the boat, costing us a second place finish and $700 dollars at the last Wednesday Nighter two weeks ago.

Our launch number was 17 and we headed for one of our best spots and when we arrived there we both took note that there was no wind. After about 45 minutes of nothing, Ryan finally hooks up with a two pounder on a Lake Fork Creature Bait. With nothing going at all we headed out of there in search of some better bass. We arrived at a little point and I was able to catch a nice three pounder on a 6″ Amp Lures Mimi (Green Pumpkin). After that fish though, the bite just wasn’t there. We decided to run some pretty well known boat docks that usually hold some keeper bass. Ryan did manage to catch one small one that barely bumped, but still it was a keeper. Stumped, we decided to try a couple main lake milfoil points. I caught a couple but they were to short to keep. After about twenty minutes we shot back to our better areas and decided to go all or nothing with our last two hours.

After about an hour I finally got a nice bite and caught a bass going about 3.5 pounds, on a Texas rigged Lake Fork Ring Worm (Green Pumpkin), pegged with a 1/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Worm Weight (Green Pumpkin). Ryan also caught another one that was about 2 pounds, rounding out our limit.

With only about a half hour left, we decided to run some docks. Ryan caught a solid two pounder and culled away the twelve incher, then time ran out. We weighed in with a very disappointing 10 lbs. 2 oz., for 23rd place. There were some real big bags brought to the scales. I think you needed at least 17 pounds to cash a check.

Ryan and I find ourselves in a tough position. We’re in the middle of the pack in the team of the year race and need to do real well in the remainder of the tournaments to get to the top spot. It will take some serious work but I feel we are still in close enough position to do just that.

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Five Alive Tour

North & South Center Lakes, Lindstrom, MN

Lately things have been a little chaotic for me. I have a lot of tournaments coming up but luckily for me, most are team tournaments. I recently found out that I am going to be with out a boat for a couple weeks. What started as a small, unknown exhaust leak in the middle of my engine turned out to cause some pretty serious problems. I came to find out that I need a part that won’t be able to be shipped out for about a week and a half due to the holiday week. Luckily, I am fishing with my boy Ryan Brant and we can use his Ranger today for the Five Alive Tour and also again tomorrow for the Denny’s Wednesday Nighter. He also came through for myself and John Haynes for the Pan O’ Prag tournament on Saturday on Lake Marion. Then again I lucked out and my buddy Chris Campbell is going to let me use his Ranger for a guide trip next week and for the real important BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tournament on the Whitefish Chain, in Cross Lake, MN. The nice thing is that Chris has the same boat as me, so it shouldn’t be too bad of an adjustment.

After figuring out my boat situation, I was off to meet Ryan for the Five Alive event on North and South Center. I had seen it on their schedule and figured we should give it a try. Late last Fall, Ryan and I had really sacked them in a end of the year tournament, catching five bass for over 22 pounds! Although going into this tourney we were a little nervous. Sure we had done really well there but that was last year, it was very late September and we were just on a really good pattern. We didn’t know the lake well, we won it our second time ever fishing on it. This year I have yet to fish it and knew I wasn’t going to have time to pre fish for it. It really was looking bad when Ryan called me the night before and said he had got skunked earlier that night.

The tournament is only three hours long from 6 PM to 9 PM, which just means that we have to work very efficient and timely. We started on a set of docks that worked well last year and Ryan put a nice three pound fish in the livewell on a texas rigged Reaction Innovations Smallie Beaver. As he was retying, I caught one that went about 13 inches on a 3/8 oz. jig. We continued in the area and I caught a couple more smaller ones leaving us one shy of a limit. We headed to another good area and Ryan caught our fifth keeper, a nice two pound bass.

As we were getting ready to leave the area I made a cast with a swim jig and hooked into a 15″ largemouth and we made our first cull. We got to our next destination and Ryan pitches his Beaver to a set of lily pads and hook into another good bass that weighed probably just shy of three pounds. Another pitch later and he hooks another good sack fish that was all of two pounds for sure.

As the night wore on the bite slowed dramatically. We must have went an hour without a fish and we decided to head back towards the loading ramp and fish out our last twenty minutes. Ryan again pitched to a set of pads and hooks into the biggest bass of the day going all of 3.5 pounds. Two minutes pass and I catch an easy three pounder on a Scum Frog. Then with only three minutes to go, Ryan picks up my 1/2 oz. Amp Lures Killa Buzz (Black), and starts tossing it along a weedline and manages to catch another keeper, this one only culling out for maybe and ounce or two.

At the weigh in we won the tournament, with 13.05 pounds. We took home a much needed paycheck and also decided we were going to try our hand again next week when the Five Alive Tour heads to Green Lake in Wyanett, MN. Up next tomorrow is the second tournament of the Denny’s Wednesday Nighters, held on Lake Minnetonka. I can’t wait!!

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Denny’s Wednesday Nighter

Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN

Today started the first tournament of the Denny’s Wednesday Nighters, held on the one and only, Lake Minnetonka. Also referred to as “Tonka”, this lake is known for it’s trophy largemouth bass and also has a few nice, but elusive schools of smallmouth bass. These are team format style tournaments and my partner for these series is my good friend Ryan Brant.

Going into this tournament we were very excited because we have really been getting dialed into the fishery and have some really good areas that have been holding both quality and quantity. We were real stoked when we drew boat number five and were pretty sure we could get to our areas without much competition. At take off we headed to a spot that has been holding some real nice fish and expected to put together a quick limit with a few nice ones and put ourselves into position to hog hunt the rest of the evening. Since these tournaments are only 4 1/2 hours long, time management is extremely important. As we pulled up Ryan was first to add a nice 3.5 pound largemouth to the livewell. I believe she was suckered on a homemade football jig. As time quickly started to pass, I was able to boat one that only went about 14 inches but still another keeper. We both missed a bunch of bites and just couldn’t get anymore bass to commit to our offerings so we opted to head out and start running some water. We arrived at an outside weedline that I had done so well on in practice and I started cranking the weedline with a Storm Wiggle Wart (Red Craw) with no success at all. Again we left disappointed. With a couple hours gone and a pathetic situation going on in the livewell, we decided to run some boat docks and try to scrap our way to a limit. Ryan quickly adds a two pounder into the well and I quickly follow. We decided to continue on and get our fifth keeper. A little way down and I set into a nice largemouth that was about 3.5 lbs, but it threw my bait at the boat. That was rough, but fortunately for me I was able to semi make up for it by boating our fifth keeper that went about 2 pounds.

We only had about an hour and a half to go and Ryan suggested a nice point not far from the row of docks that we were fishing. We pulled up and I quickly caught a good three pounder on a modified carolina rig. The next 3 out of 5 casts I was able to boat a fish, culling nicely two more times.

With about 45 minutes to go, and sitting with roughly 13 pounds, we decided to hit up my money spot in hopes of a nice kicker. We arrived and instantly we both missed a nice strike. With about twenty minutes left I got a nice bite and set into a great fish. I instantly yelled to Ryan for the net knowing this was the fish that would place us in the top three for sure and maybe even a chance at the top spot. The fish quickly surged to the top showing off her big ole’ belly, an easy 4 to 5 pound fish. After the initial leap, she surged back to the bottom as I played her to the boat. Ryan was eagerly waiting with the net as it started floating up from under the boat as if it was giving up the fight. Just as I was inches away from having her in netting position, she decided it was not over and again leaped from the water and shot straight back down just missing the net and that was it, the hook popped free from her mouth and left us with nothing but to watch her quickly swim out of sight. I swear to God I almost puked. After a few choice words and a toss of the fishing pole, we tried everything to get back on track and focus on trying to actually catch, not hook, but catch another one. We both did, but neither big enough to cull and time ran out. At weigh in we weighed 5 for 13.13 lbs. and finished in 12th place, three positions out of the money. The worst part was that we would have had second place easily had we boated that bass and would have won $700 dollars. Thats the bad news, but on the good side, we had a solid finish and are in good position for the team of the year race. The top two teams at the end of the season join the top eight from the Denny’s Super 30, and all ten teams compete for a first place prize of $10,000.

I’ve had my share of fish get off in a tournament but never in the last minutes and never that would have been that big of a deal breaker. I suppose I better get used to it because when I make it to the level that I am desperately trying to get to, I see those guys do it and instead of loosing a $700 dollar fish, they loose a $250,000 dollar fish. I couldn’t imagine.

Another good thing that came from this tournament was that we now have even more confidence that we’re on the right kind of fish to put ourselves in position of winning some good money. This weekend I will be heading up to the Whitefish Chain, in Cross Lake to start preparing for the next BASSMASTER Weekend Series event and than will be coming right home to celebrate my 28th birthday on June 30th, and than will start preparing for the Pan O’ Prag tournament on Lake Marion. Happy Bday to me!

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Gopher B.A.S.S. Federation Club Tournament

Green Lake, Spicer, MN

Every fisherman has a bad outing on occasion and finds themselves saying “the fish just weren’t biting today”. I have never agreed with that way of thinking. In actuality, the fish are always biting somewhere on the lake. The likelihood is that the fisherman didn’t have them patterned correctly by making mistakes to seasonal patterns, presentation, location, the list goes on and on. So really 90% of the time it isn’t the fish weren’t biting, it’s the fisherman wasn’t catching.
I’ll get to my point later. This tournament was held on Green Lake, in Spicer, MN. A trophy smallmouth fishery, that also has a ok population of largemouth bass. The lake is a clear, deep, and rocky lake. I had practiced the week before and managed to do pretty well. I caught a bunch of descent sized largemouth and even stuck a four and a half pound smallie. I spent most of the time checking out the lake and putting together a game plan. My pre tournament strategy was that the majority of the largemouth had already spawned and that the smallmouth were in the spawn. Meaning that sight fishing and shallow water was going to claim the biggest bags. I decided right away that I should concentrate all my efforts in the tournament on smallmouths because it is highly unlikely to do well with a bag of largemouths on this body of water.

The club format is that you are paired with another member of the club and split time on the trolling motor. It’s not a team event, your actually competing against each other, but still bounce ideas off one another to give both a good shot at a nice limit. My game plan was to search out the rock flats, in 5 to 10 feet of water, for smallmouths. I had one area in practice that held a nice weed clump that I figured I could possibly get some nice post spawners from. I knew the lake had being getting a ton of tournament pressure and it was getting a little late into the spawning season for the to still be on beds. So just in case I had some back up areas to fish.
At take off my partner John informed me of some nice post spawn smallies in the three to four pound range that he was on just days before the tournament. The weather was great except we were expecting 20 to 30 m.p.h. winds, so we decided to hit his area first. Arriving at his spot I have to say it looked great. It was a nice weedy shelf in about ten feet of water and was surrounded by deep water. It also had some mixed rock piles along the edge. I started throwing a Amp Lures Pop topwater bait, but quickly decided it was already to windy for it to be effective, so I switched to a 5/16 oz. hand tied Jewel Jig (Brown) and started tossing it to the weedline. On my second cast my rod buckled and I knew I had a good fish on. The smallmouth surfaced, danced, and threw my jig! I couldn’t believe it! Your not supposed to loose a fish like that on a jig!

The worst thing about it was that smallie was well over four pounds! That hurt. I was pretty worked up about that but found some excitement in the spot we were on. After spending another half hour or so in the area we decided to give it a rest figuring that fish may have spooked the school, and go run some of my water. We pulled up to a nice rock flat and only spent ten minutes there. No excuses but that damn fish was still in my head so I said we should go try my deeper weeds and try for some post spawners. We arrived to the weedline and I caught a couple quick largemouths but they were to small to keep and John hooks into a nice three pound smallie. That did it. That convinced me that the fish were in the post spawn. So we abondoned the area and spent the rest of the day fishing deeper water, that held nice weed clumps, in search of a good bag.

Arriving back to the area where I lost that good smallie, John starts catching them right away. A few small largemouths, but still keepers, and another good smallmouth. I caught a couple two pound largies as well. We continued to work similar areas and next thing you know it was time to head to the weigh in. I weighed in at four fish for 6.0 pounds and John had four weighing 6.7 pounds. I finished in 12th place, my worst performance in a club tournament to date. My good buddies Ryan Brant and Rich Lindgren took first and second respectively, fishing wouldn’t you know it, rock flats for spawning smallmouths. Needless to say it was a long drive home for me. I understand that I will have bad tournaments, sometimes you just never got on them, but to be on them and make horrible game time decisions is a hard one to swallow. So back to my earlier statement. On the way to the weigh in I remember saying to myself “they just weren’t biting, they must be in a post spawn funk”, instead the truth to the matter is they were indeed biting, I just wasn’t catching.

Mid way thru the season and I find myself in eighth place in the Angler of the Year standings. The good news is this tournament will serve as excellent motivation to do real well in the last four events and make a run at club stick. I have a lot of confidence in the bodies of water that we will be fishing, Lake Minnetonka and Lake Pokegama. Both lakes are capable of coughing up 17 to 20 pound bags. I have every intent at trying to do just that! There are so many skilled fisherman in the Gopher Bassmasters that it takes excellent fishing to be at the top. Now my plan is to put this one behind me and concentrate on the next.

This weekend I am heading up to the Whitefish Chain, in Cross Lake, MN, to do some prefishing for a BASSMASTER Weekend Series event held there in a few weekends from now. I had a nice start in the first event at the Le Homme Dieu Chain, where I walked away with a sixth place finish. I have been doing a lot of studying to prepare so I give myself every opportunity at having a great finish. Wish me luck!

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Gopher B.A.S.S. Federation Club Tournament

Lake Koronis, Paynesville, MN

Today was the third tournament of the year held at Lake Koronis, in Paynesville, MN. Koronis has an excellent population of both largemouth and smallmouth bass. After take off I headed straight for some main lake islands that I knew was the best bet for some nice smallmouth bass. I started with an Amp Lures Pop and switched back and forth with a Reaction Innovations Barely Legal Vixen, neither producing. After figuring that the topwater just wasn’t going to work for me, I quickly switched to a hand tied 5/16 oz. Jewel Jig (Brown) with a 2.75″ Guide Series Chunk (Purple). I threw that along the deep side of a rock spine and quickly caught a 14″ largemouth and a couple largies that wouldn’t bump 12″. With one fish in the livewell I continued down the spine and hooked with with a nice 3.5 lb. smallmouth on the same jig.

After spending another thirty minutes around the rocks with no fish I decided to switch it up completely and headed for some nice looking slop areas. After about an hour of slop fishing I was just about ready to head back out to the main lake when I bass exploded on my Scum Frog (Black), missing it all together. Being in this situation many times I didn’t panic. I simply waited for the ripples to stop and twitched the bait once or twice and that was all it took. The bass came back and smacked it adding about three pounds to my total weight.

I headed back out to the main lake and decided to run some boat docks that were productive during practice. They were very productive except they only produced dinks, but none the less they helped me fill my limit. Looking back, I probably spent to much time on the docks. I think it was a good call to hit them up to fill a quick limit but I probably spent two to three hours on them hoping I would hook up with one big un. I should have made a better decision when I caught a nice smallie around the rocks and a nice largemouth in the back slop areas. Instead of trying to make something happen, I should have let the lake dictate where and how to catch a better bag. With that said I finally headed back to the rock in search of another football shaped smallmouth. I switched to a YUM 3″ Tube (Green Pumpkin) and quickly hooked into another good sized smallie. Being that I forgot my landing net in the truck, I lost that fish right at the boat trying to hand land him. Bummer. Lesson learned. When fishing for smallmouth bass in particular, DON”T FORGET THE NET! They will never give up fighting.

I continued to catch smallie’s one after another mostly to small to cull. I was able to cull one and probably gained a few ounces on the deal. I also broke off another nice one, but that’s part of the game when your rocking with 8 lb. fluorocarbon around a bunch of sharp rocks. With about twenty minutes to go, I headed back to the slop and again started flinging my frog across the pads. With literally three minutes to go I hooked into another bass just shy of three pounds. I weighed in at 12.3 lbs. with a .3 dead fish penalty, which was good enough for a solid fifth place finish. Looking back I was happy with the way I fished considering I only prefished the lake for about an hour and a half. My only regret was that I wished I had studied a map a little harder and that I would have got of the boat docks after filling a limit on them.

No time to think about what if’s though. I have another tournament the next day on Green Lake, in Spicer, MN. A trophy smallmouth lake! I can’t wait!

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Tackle Update: Shimano Steps Up Again!

Anyone who knows me is well aware that when it comes to reels there is only one brand in my opinion, Shimano. I have a great assortment of these reels both oldies and newbies. I am very excited to inform you all that Shimano has redeveloped the very popular Curado line of reels. The Curado has long been one of my absolute favorite reels on the market. Their excellent craftsmanship paired with their very fair price makes them an excellent option for any angler.

I still own multiple Curado BSF and Curado D reels that I can’t get myself to upgrade, but I have to admit the new Curado E looks like the best yet! Weighing more than 2 ounces less than the Curado D and sporting a more compact design similar to the Curado 100 and the Chronarch 100. The best part of it is they are actually set to be twenty dollars less than the older version. Look for the discontinued Curado D to be on sale at stores near you. Here is a review from Tackle Tour, click here.

Shimano Curado E E21 Boyd Duckett Series Carrot Stix
**From left to right: The new mean green Shimano Curado E and the E21 Boyd Duckett Series Carrot Stix

Also new to my arsenal is the new E21 Boyd Duckett Series Carrot Stix. Almost all of my rods are made by G Loomis and I have to admit I was very skeptical when the Carrot was first released. However after trying one out for only a half an hour I found myself ordering one days later. I opted for the 7’2″ MH casting version and paired it with the Shimano Chronarch 50mg. I have never held a lighter combo in my life. Don’t let the weight fool you either, the set up has zero problem yanking that 4 pound largemouth out from under a boat dock. Click here for more information from E21.

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So Many Tournaments, So Little Time

I have been real busy lately to say the least. Between guide trips, preparing for tournaments, and tourneys themselves, I have spent some serious time out on the water. The good thing is, there’s no other place I’d rather be, with the exception of course, of spending some quality time with the love of my life, my wife Bri. With the weather getting better and better, or should I say with the tanning season coming around, I get the privilege of her joining me more and more for a day of prefishing. I have to be honest, it’s not all tanning, she’s really becoming a pretty good fisherwoman.

Lately I have been up to Koronis and Green Lake preparing for a couple club tournaments that I have. Both lakes harbor smallmouth and largemouth bass, with Green Lake being a championship smallmouth venue. The wind was really rough when I was on Green, but I still managed to catch fish, one of which was a nice four pound smallmouth. I also had a pretty good practice at Koronis. I caught lots of fish, but size was an issue. Although I have a pretty good idea where I can get into them on game day.

I also took part in the Gopher Bassmasters Junior tournament on Lake O’Dowd, in Shakopee, MN. I drew Zach as my partner and we had a fun day. We missed a lot of fish but still had a respectable day besides. After the tournament, I went back out on the lake to work on some summer patterns, preparing myself for some upcoming tournaments that I know could potentially have me doing some heavy vegetation fishing. I found some nice clumps of a certain vegetation (which will remain un named for the fisheries sake) and started flipping a pegged 3/4 oz. Tru Tungsten Flippin’ Weight, with a 5/0 Reaction Innovations BMF Hook, and texas rigged a YUM Big Show Craw (Black and Blue). It did not take very long and I was lipping a near six pound largemouth. Man does it get any better than that? That is what I live for. I also was able to catch a 4, a couple 3’s, and a handful of 2’s, duplicating the same pattern. Heavy flippin’ is a style that I really enjoy fishing. It seems that I catch BIGGER fish when employing that technique. This is something you will hear a lot more from me as the year goes by.

Tanker Green Lake Smallmouth Twin Cities Largemouth
**From left to right: Myself and a Tanker Green Lake Smallmouth, and Myself with a near six pound Twin Cities Largemouth

This weekend I will be in the Willmar area fishing two tournaments with the Gopher Bassmasters on Lake Koronis and than Green Lake. I would like to do real well in these events because next month we will be fishing Lake Minnetonka and that is a lake I have a lot of confidence on. After that I will be heading right up to the Whitefish Chain to start practicing for an upcoming BASSMASTER Weekend Series event. After taking a respectable 6th place on the first event on Le Homme Dieu, I am going to be putting in as much practice and research as I can, to make sure I do real well on the Whitefish Chain.

Also recently I did a Pod Cast interview for Bass Fishing in the Midwest, which can be heard on either Bass Fishing in the Midwest, or on iTunes. The subject in which I was interviewed was on practice and pre tournament strategy. Be sure to check it out and leave any feed back for me at Josh@JoshDouglasFishing.com.

Until next time, Tight Lines!

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BASSMASTER Weekend Series Tournament

Le Homme Dieu Chain, Alexandria, MN

Today was the Start of the BASSMASTER Weekend Series, put on by B.A.S.S. and ABA. This is the first of five events with a guaranteed five grand payout for first. I was also able to get out and practice yesterday and had some success despite the massive storm front that rolled in. According to the Weather Channel we had some gust blow over 40 mph. Despite the wind and rain, my pattern that I had developed last weekend during practice was still holding up strong. I usually try not to actually hook the fish in practice especially the day before the tournament, however, I do a couple just to verify that one they’re bass and two, check their size. My first bite of the morning hailed a five and a half pound largemouth. Cool but not so cool at the same time. It was nice to see that I was on some tankers but was hard accepting that it was only practice and not the tourney itself. What do you do?

I drew boat number 18 for takeoff and was third in the second flight. I headed straight to one of my best stretch of banks and instantly started going to work throwing a 3/8 oz. Amp Lures Musashi spinnerbait (Sweetfish). I quickly caught a 12″ squeaker that got the skunk out of the boat. It wasn’t the size I was looking for but none the less, it was a start. About a half hour later and a little further down the stretch I caught a pretty nice fish that was between 2.5 and 3 pounds. This fish was a nice Le Homme Dieu keeper but I noticed it was bleeding pretty good from the gill. I decided to keep the bass even though I was worried about it dying on me. A dead fish penalty carries a .25 lb. penalty on your total weight and it’s against tournament law to release a dead fish. An hour later I caught another 12 inch keeper and when I put in it the livewell I noticed the injured fish was floating, still alive but in real rough shape. I instantly added Rejuvenade to the livewell water in hopes to give the bass the kick it needed to live. Not to jump ahead but that fish was by far the most liveliest bass at weigh in. I knew for sometime that Rejuvenade was a good product, but good is an understatement. It’s great! Any tournament angler should have a bottle in their boat. Not only did it save me a couple ounces at weigh in but more importantly it benefits the health of our fish. With how much we enjoy the sport of tournament fishing we owe it to the fish to make sure to take good care of them.

Back to the tournament, I was able to put together a limit rather quickly in the morning. I was moving water throwing an Amp Lures Midshooter crankbait (bluegill) and a Amp Lures Musashi Spinnerbait (sweetfish), and then would target isolated cover with a jig, a 3/8 oz jig for semi deeper water and a 1/4 oz. for the real shallow clean areas. I was convinced going into today that the bass would hold of on the first deep ledge and then as the afternoon approached they would move up shallow. I had the game plan of following this pattern and relying on the bite to get better as the afternoon wore on. At one point I came across a boat dock and I could see 6 or 7 bass holding underneath it. Most weren’t even 10 inches but I kept getting glimpses of a pretty nice fish. After taking a few shots under the dock I managed to catch a couple but they weren’t big enough to cull. I decide to come around the dock and pitch my jig from the backside. I watched as two juvenile bass fought for my jig and purposely didn’t set the hook. Suddenly I saw the three pounder fly in and snatch the bait away from the other two. This proved to be effective as I was able to cull out a one pounder for a three. As I was pulling away from the dock I spotted another three pound bass cruise from deep water straight under that same dock. I instantly turned the boat around and skipped back under the dock and instantly set, culling away another little twelve incher. Now I knew I was in pretty good shape although I still had a 13″ bass in the well. An hour later and I was able to set the little guy free and replace him with one that was about 2 lbs. Not huge but could prove to be critical.

At weigh in I brought 12.36 lbs. to the scales that ended up good enough for a solid 6th place finish. I was one big fish away from a top three but I just never really got that big bite when I really needed it. Which just made that five pounder from practice a little harder pill to swallow. That aside I was very content with my finish. I walked away with a pretty nice paycheck, sitting in great shape for the divisional tournament on Kentucky Lake, in Tennessee, and gave myself a boat load of confidence. No pun intended. This confidence is going to be very important on assuring I do well in the next four events.

Well from here my schedule only gets more hectic. I have a an all day guide trip tomorrow and then will be going directly from that to meeting my buddy Ryan Brant for some evening practice on Lake Minnetonka to prepare for the Denny’s Wednesday Night Shootout. This weekend I will be heading out to Green Lake in Spicer, MN, preparing for an upcoming tournament and then will be coming back to do a Gopher Bassmasters youth team tournament in Shakopee, MN. As I said, hectic but fun doesn’t even begin to describe it!

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BASSMASTER Weekend Series – Le Homme Dieu Chain Practice

I made it up to the Le Homme Dieu Chain in Alexandria, MN. Being that I had never fished this chain before, I put in a lot of extra preparation and research. I knew who and what weights had won in past years. I knew this chain was notorious for its massive weedlines and clear water. I also did some serious map work to better acquaint myself with this body of water. I obviously take my tournaments very seriously but these BASSMASTER Weekend Series tournaments I take especially serious. Besides the guaranteed five grand their giving out for first place, there’s also the fact that I can qualify for regionals on Kentucky Lake, TN. Doing well at the regional tournament can put you into contention for the BASSMASTERS Classic or maybe even the Elite Series. Also Tennessee is where my wife Bri and I want to soon move. Tennessee is a beautiful area and better yet it’s smack dab in the heart of bass fishing. I love tournament fishing and guiding. Here I’m restricted to six months fishing and six months of ice covered hog heavens. Also being that I plan to start fishing more tournaments at the national level, it will put us in a more central location. And in addition, on the record, Bri and I hate winter! So doing well at the first event of the series is on high priority for me.

Arriving at Le Homme Dieu I decided to launch on the North end of Lake Carlos and instantly starting moving water with a 3/8 oz. Amp Lures Musashi Spinnerbait (Sweetfish). I was targeting some wind blown reeds and was catching fish left and right but none of substantial size. This chain is known for its numbers of bass but lacks a little on the size. Not that there isn’t any brutes but they’re a little harder to track down. I also caught a couple in between boat docks in about 3 feet of water on a 5″ Basstrix Paddle Tail Tube (Chartreuse Blue), rigged with a 5/0 Gamakatsu 1/8 oz weighted wide gap hook. I expected the bite on these swimbaits to be a massive explosion but was surprised to find it kind of like a worm bite. I would be reeling in slow and suddenly feel a slight “tick” in the line and the hook set was awesome. I searched out some other areas and found fish that didn’t carry much weight and I missed a couple around boat docks with a 3/8 oz. Ten K Jig (green pumpkin). I noticed that because of our extremely late Spring this year the weedline hasn’t had the weather to really bloom. I tried fishing some of the areas that looked good on the map but only caught small ones and really felt that the weedline may actually not be the ticket this year. I noticed the water temp was in the mid 60’s but remembered when I was doing some internet research a day or two before that the lake was only in the very high 50’s then. So I figured that the majority of the fish were still well in the pre spawn pattern. Knowing that since the water was very clear the shallower water would warm the quickest and decided to head there. I threw a lot of baits but caught some quality fish under boat docks and tree laydowns on the jig. They were few and far between but at the end of the day my best five would have weighed over 17 lbs. Looking back as far as I could only a handful of people have needed more than that to win a tournament here. This was by no means tournament conditions but it definitely gave me some confidence to build on.

Since I’m on this topic, last week I did a Pod Cast interview on tournament preparation and practice for Bass Fishing in the Midwest and it should be airing soon. I will post links to it as soon as it is available. Check back soon!

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Minnesota Bass Opener – Big Bag Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mobile Marine Pros "Servicing All Your Boating Needs"

Mobile Marine ProsAs you may have read on an earlier post I had an unfortunate run in with a wing dam on the Mississippi River earlier in the month fishing the St. Jude Bass Classic. It was obvious the prop was shot and that I had a pretty nice chunk of the fiberglass missing from the back, and not to mention a broken skag. What I wasn’t sure about was whether my prop shaft was bent. If it was that would lead to a whole lot more repairs that I was hoping I wouldn’t have to open the wallet for. I was put in contact with Joe from Mobile Marine Pros. I was able to schedule an appointment for the SAME DAY and best of all he came to my house to inspect the boat. With the price of gas these days it is real nice to not have to load up the boat and haul it to some shop just to have to leave it there until whenever they can find time to get to it. I can not be with out my boat during the season and the guys at Mobile Marine Pros definitely understand that. After inspection it turned out my prop shaft was perfectly fine and we scheduled an appointment to have the fiberglass patched up.

I was so impressed with the convenience, affordability and quality of service that I thought I would share their information:

Mobile Marine Pros

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Gopher B.A.S.S. Federation Club Tournament

Deer Lake, St. Croix Falls, WI

Ahh….Good ol’ Deer Lake. Let’s just say that I had zero confidence going into this tournament. I had prefished this lake twice and had really no problem catching fish, the problem was catching one that was over 14 inches. As I stated earlier, Wisconsin state law says that a bass must be 14″ minimum to keep or in our case even put in the livewell. Trust me, admitting over the internet that in two practice days (eight hours total between the two days) that I couldn’t catch a bass over 14″ is self degrading on it’s own, but I’ll let the truth be known.

When John Haynes and I went out to practice we were met with a real bad cold front and lots of wind. We were able to locate small fish on some pretty nice weedy shallow flats. It’s obvious that the bigger fish are going to spawn there, but it’s just a matter of when. We also spent some time fishing deep points and humps with no success. The one good thing was that 5 minutes before I had to load up my boat on the second practice day, I hooked what seemed to be a real nice fish. I was in about ten foot of water on a nice drop that went from that shallow flat to deeper water. I was using a texas rigged 6″ Amp Lures Mimi straight tail hand poured worm (Green Pumpkin), with a 1/16 oz Tru Tungsten sinker pegged about 16″ up the line. Unfortunately for me after a pretty nice fight the fish got off. The one good thing though is it was minimum 3.5 pounds. That gave me just a little confidence for the tournament. I figured that I was in the right area and that the bigger fish were staging on those drops in front of the spawning flat. With the weather forecasting 70 degree days and 55 degree nights I figured at worst they would still be staged there or even better that they would have moved up onto the shallow flats and would be putting on their feed bags.

Well wouldn’t you know that at tournament time we were met with another post front, high skies, cold temps and a nice stiff wind. I still figured the bass would be on that drop and right away we headed to that location. After about an hour with no bites we moved up onto the flat and I caught a couple small ones again under the 14″ mark. After wasting nothing but time we decided to go try our luck on the other side of the lake. During practice we had found this certain bay to be very productive with the little fish and figured we should be able to at least stick a couple 14 inchers. I mean come on a 14″ bass isn’t that big. It isn’t like I’m asking for a five pounder or anything! We arrived in our bay and found that there were numerous other bass boats from the tourney fishing in there. We decided to give it a try anyway. Wouldn’t you know, again we had no problem catching fish but what does a guy have to do to get it over 14″? I was catching them like crazy on a texas rigged Reaction Innovations 4″ Flirt with a pegged 1/16 oz. Tru Tungsten sinker.

With only a 4 hours to go in the tournament I decided to go hit some docks. We pulled into a nice stretch close to where I had lost that bigger one during practice. I figured with the sun getting brighter later in the day the bass would hold under the docks. On the very first dock I had a nice bite and missed. Second dock, same thing. Then on the third dock, I had a great bite, set the hook into what finally felt like a real nice fish, she bullnosed, wrapped me around the dock post and was gone. That hurt. We fished out the rest of the docks on that stretch with no success. The only good thing that came from that was the fact that we found fish and they could be caught under boat docks. We decided to go into a real small bay that had a few nice pontoon boats and was loaded with docks. On the very first dock I finally caught a nice one on a 1/4 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Watermelon) with a 2.75″ Gander Mountain Chunk (Green Pumpkin). I headed down to the next dock and pitched the jig all around the dock. A few pitches and I got another nice bite, I set the hook hard and my 20 lb. Fluorocarbon snapped inside my reel. Are you serious! That has happened to me only a few times in my life and now it happens during the last hour of a tournament. I guess that is just the way the day was going to go.

At the end of the day I found myself weighing in one fish for 2.5 pounds. Oddly enough still good enough for a ninth place finish out of 22 boats. I guess it was a tough bite for everyone, 16 people either caught one fish or blanked completely. Ryan Brant won the tournament with four fish and a total weight of 9 pounds. On the ride home I couldn’t help but think of what could have been had I landed a few of those nicer fish. The fact that I didn’t fish well at all mixed with a tough bite and I guess I ended up right where I should be. I have some real big tournaments coming up, one of which is the BASSMASTER Weekend Series on the Le Homme Dieu chain of lakes. I plan on using this as motivation to do real well there and the rest of the season. From here on out it’s fishing, fishing, fishing! I have a lot of homework to do to prepare myself for the upcoming season and one thing I know for certain is you can’t expect to do well if you don’t give the effort. There will always be bad days on the water, but with the right frame of mind, I can definitely out number my bad days with good ones!

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Gopher B.A.S.S. Federation Club Tournament

Bone Lake, Luck, WI

Today was the first tournament of the 2008 Gopher Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Federation season. Our first tournament was held on Bone Lake in Luck, WI. Bone is known for it’s excellent muskie fishing but also has a very good bass population as well. I had prefished this lake on Wednesday with new Gopher member Matt and we did pretty well. I had found an area that was holding some nice fish around the three pound range holding up under boat docks. I was pitching a 3/8 oz Tru Tungsten Jig (Green Pumpkin Brown), with a 2.75″ Yum Chunk (Green Pumpkin) into all the small areas within the dock. After setting on a few nice ones I continued to run that area and pulled on what felt to be some real quality fish. I tried to get this pattern to hold up all over the luck but only managed to get minimal success. It was something about this area, I’m thinking it had a lot to do with that it was on a semi flat with some nice early vegetation coming up, but more importantly the bottom was made up of pea gravel. We also were able to find a couple nice early weedlines that were holding fish, although none that we caught were over 15 inches, however there were numbers of fish holding up there.

Right at take off I decided I would go straight to my set of decks. It didn’t take two skips and I set on pretty nice 15 1/2 inch largemouth. Decision time. Tournament rules in the state of Wisconsin is that a bass has to be at least 14″ to keep and there is no culling allowed. Which meant I had to gamble. Throw the bass back and gamble that I’ll catch bigger and possibly risk catching not another one? I opted to put the first one in the box and get the skunk out of the boat. Two flips later and I set the hook on what appeared to be a HOG! 10 seconds later and a nice 40″ muskie surfaced from under a dock. Pretty cool but not the right kind. He was still fun though. As the morning went on I was having no problem catching bass, the only problem was their size. Since I was catching so many I kept throwing them back banking on that I was going to catch some bigger ones. I even threw back one that was just over 16″. As noon passed I started to get antsy and started keeping anything over 14″ to make sure I still came in with a nice limit.

As the afternoon wore on I decided I would try to work my deeper weedline to see if maybe the bigger ones that I was catching in practice had decided to move out a bit. Again it was quantity over quality though. On the weedline I was having most of my bites come on reaction style baits. I caught a few on a Strike King Red Eye Shad (Bluegill), but most of my fish fell victim to the Amp Lures Midshooter (Bluegill) or a Amp Lures 3/8 oz. Musashi Spinnerbait (Sweetfish). The funny thing was that I also caught another muskie over 40″ on the Musashi Spinnerbait as well. And they say the muskie is the fish of 10,000 casts!

At the end of the day I weighed in four fish for 8.7 pounds. Keep in mind the tournament had a four fish limit. My weight was good enough for seventh place. I was definitely hoping to start out the season with a little better finish but all in all I was happy. I fished real well but I just never got the big bites I needed. My next tournament is at Deer Lake, hopefully I’ll get those big bites there!

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10th Annual St. Jude Bass Classic – Day 2

Mississippi River Pool 4 & 5, Wabasha, MN

After making all the wrong decisions on Day One of the tournament, Ryan and I decided we would let the weather dictate our pattern for Sunday. If the wind would allow us we would head for Pepin and try to cash in on the good sized smallies that we had patterned in practice. If the wind was blowing and again making Pepin impossible to fish than we would head South to Pool 5 , lock thru and fish for the nice smallies we had found a week earlier in practice and possibly get a nice largemouth to boot.

At take off we decided that with the cold temps (high 30’s), the relatively light wind, and the high bluebird skies, that we would once again venture north to Lake Pepin. Decision making is extremely important on this body of water. The winds seem to turn on and off within seconds. Making a decision to either go North to Pepin or South to Pool 5 so critical because there really isn’t any turning back. The amount of time it would take to get to our fishing holes on the North end of Pepin is about twenty minutes at 65 mph in perfect conditions. If the wind picks up it could take at least 45 minutes. If you get all the way up there and find that your areas are completely washed out it would take more than and hour to run all the way back down river to Pool 5, lock through the damn, and get to your fishing areas. Than take your drive time back, again through the damn for weigh in, and you can waste at least half of your day driving and not fishing.

We arrived on our spots on Pepin and were pleasantly surprised that are areas were very fishable. The only problem was we couldn’t catch anything. We decided to work a couple nice underwater points very slowly, we did get bites but the only fish boated were to small to keep. There is a 14 inch minimum on this stretch of river and I’ll tell you they are always 13 1/2 when you really need a fish. After spending half the day on Pepin with no success we decided to head back to the river and fish the backwaters of Pool 4 and try to get a limit of largemouths. WIth only a few hours to go, no fish in the livewell, we arrived in a pretty nice looking area. Ryan got a couple bites early, some that missed and some that broke off. Not really sure whether they were bass or northern pike, it was still incentive enough to continue to fish hard through the area. We were both flippin’ light weighted tubes with rattles, 1/8 oz., into the grass around the current. With about 45 minutes to go I finally boated a descent largemouth, about 16 inches. Than two flips later I got bit again, but as luck would have it, the fish came unbuttoned. At this point it didn’t surprise me.

Back at weigh in there were teams who did have big sacks and there were a lot of zeros. With the unseasonably cold weather we were having it appears that the smallmouths were still in big groups and if you could find them you could catch them all day. After the weigh in was over it appeared that all the teams that did real well were fishing mild current in the cuts off the main river of Pool 5. That’s were the biggest schools of smallies seemed to be staging. After the tournament I couldn’t help but think what if we never would have had such luck on Pepin on the last day of practice. We probably never would have headed that way at all. Although that’s what I mean when I say decision making is so critical in bass tournaments. Could a, should a , would a, does not cash paychecks, although they are a great learning lessons.

Needless to say after this tournament I can’t wait to head out to Wisconsin and start preparing for a couple of club tournaments on Bone and Deer Lake. Happy Fishing!

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10th Annual St. Jude Bass Classic – Day 1

Mississippi River Pools 4 & 5, Wabasha, MN

Talk about a weekend to put behind me. I woke up real early on Friday morning to get down to Wabasha by 6 am and awoke to temps in the mid 30’s with sleet. I headed down to the mighty Mississippi and found it was mighty indeed. The waves were starting to pick up on Lake Pepin and the current was blazing on the main river. Historically this time of year I have never done that well on this stretch of the river. Knowing this I made sure to spend an ample amount of time trying to prepare for this event. The weeks before the tournament I spent my time everywhere from the backwater sloughs, the shoots on the main river, and the main river itself. All the while I was never able to put together a confident pattern. Water temps have been extremely cold (40’s and very low 50’s), so I spent most of my time working areas slow with tubes, jigs, and rattle trap style baits. I never caught many fish during practice and when I did there was no rhyme or reason to why I caught them. They were real scattered.

So once I arrived to Wabasha on Friday morning I decided since I wasn’t having any luck on the main river that I would spend the majority of the day fishing Pool 4, mainly Lake Pepin. After running lots of water, my tournament partner Ryan and I were able to put together the best pattern yet! We were concentrating on small points and underwater points, as well as marina’s and we were throwing jerkbaits with some nice success. I was throwing a Lucky Craft Pointer (chartreuse Shad) and Ryan was throwing a Husky Jerk, the biggest one I caught was just over four pounds. We decide instead of fishing and actually hooking the fish we would search for good looking water and waypoint our spots to my Lowrance units so we could more efficiently run our water during the actual tournament. After doing this we decided to check a couple of backup spots and get of the water so we could fill up the boat, register, and get our tackle ready for the next day. Our main plan was to attack Pepin in the morning, get our limit of smallmouth and then head to the river and look for a couple nice kicker fish in the afternoon, once the backwater warmed up a bit.

Little did we know we woke up Saturday morning to a horrible cold front, lots of rain and heavy winds. Being that we were both inexperienced on this body of water we decided to stick to our game plan. That would end up being our biggest mistake. Once we hit the mouth of Lake Pepin we were met with four foot rollers, not the most ideal conditions when we needed to get about twenty miles up lake. Lake Pepin is a monster in the fact that when the wind is howling there is no place to hide to get out of it. We arrived to our first and best area and saw that it was completely washed out. We attempted to fish it but only beat ourselves up in the process. The water was coming over the bow of the boat, and the trolling motor kept coming out of the water so we were mainly at the mercy of the waves. Luckily for us as I worked on just controlling the boat Ryan was able to catch a nice three pound smallmouth.

After wasting way to much time on the lake, with only one fish in the livewell we decided to head to the river. We hit one of our better spots we had in the river and Ryan flips a 4 pound largemouth into the boat! That was huge! With three hours to go all we have to do is get a few more bites and we should be doing real well. When it rains it pours. My trolling motor batteries started to die. After spending so much time on the lake dealing with those massive waves I hardly had any juice left. Which meant we had to get out of the current to insure we could continue to fish. We fished some marinas with no success and then decided to check some of the way backwater areas where the current should be minimal and the water temps should be rising. Getting to these backwater areas can be hazardous though. This time of year the river is in a flood stage and you never really know what’s safe and what’s not. A lot of times you just need to get up on plane and say a prayer. Well remember when I said it when it rains it pours? Well after getting all the way back there, not catching any keepers, we had to make it back to weigh in. With 15 minutes to go I was idling out from under a bridge and CRUNCH, I hit some rocks. Not good. Can this day be any better? After weighing in on day one we were at 7.16 pounds and way out of contention. It was either hit or miss for the rest of the field as well. Either you had a HUGE sack or you were in the bottom looking way up. After loading up my boat we checked out the damage, broke of a chunk of the skag, bent back to blades on the prop, and cracked some of the fiberglass on the bottom of the boat. Hopefully all is still in tact with my prop shaft and lower unit.

After the weigh in we attended the benefit dinner put on at Slippery’s bar and grill, and also listened to a benefit put on by the St. Jude organization. I can’t tell how touching it really was. I quickly realized how lucky I am to be able to do what I enjoy and there are kids out there that may never get that chance. It puts a guy in his place in a quick hurry and I remembered exactly why I was there. It was great to hear how our donations go out to help thousands of kids, so that God willing one day they will get the opportunity to case their dreams. Going to bed that night everything didn’t seem so bad. The boat will be fixed, hopefully the fishing will be better, but we were all fishing for a great cause and that’s all that really matters.

Ryan and I were able to raise over $1,900 dollars for the St. Jude’s Children Hospital, and together as a group the tournament brought in over $120,000 dollars. I would like to thank everyone who donated to such a wonderful cause! Check back soon as I will update our second day of the tournament.

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Practicing for the St. Jude Bass Classic

Mississippi River Pool 4 & 5, Wabasha, MN

This weekend was an interesting one to say the least. On May 3rd and 4th, I will be fishing with Ryan Brant in the 10th Annual St. Jude Bass Classic, held on the Mississippi River pools 4 and 5. This is a two day team tournament, with an eight fish per day limit. I have some experience on these waters but not usually at this time of the year. When I have fished pools 4 and 5 this early in the season I haven’t been to successful. Although this year I’m hoping to make different. Unfortunately I don’t want to give to much info away until after the tournament, then I’ll break it all down with a lot more detail. All I can say is that the bite was very tough. There was a Fishers of Men tournament going on while we were there and that further proves my point, it only took 8 pounds to get in the money and out of 39 boats 22 of them blanked.

So instead of talking about how we fished and what worked and didn’t work, I’ll talk about the fishery we are fishing. Pools 4 and 5 are border waters between Southern Minnesota and Southern Wisconsin, and not to far from Northern Iowa. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are in abundance on this stretch of the river. Both have to be 14 inches to weigh in and there is a “No Cull” rule for all of this stretch of river. Generally the smallies can be caught around the main river and largemouths are found all over the abundant backwater sloughs. Pool 4 is mostly made up by Lake Pepin, a beautiful lake that is also heavily fished by walleye fisherman. Going South from Pepin you will get back on the main river channel until you hit the lock and dam, which after you lock threw becomes pool 5. Both the South side of pool 4 and all of pool 5 has endless miles of backwater area. A little tricky to navigate but once your familiar with the area it becomes a little easier. None the less, I seem to get my self in a few real hairy situations out there every year. You never really know where there is a rock, tree trunk, wing dam, or a sand flat. If you add it up I have spent hours trying to free my boat from being accidentally beached on a sand flat. In the summer time the slop fisherman seem to excel nicely in the backwaters and the finesse fisherman do great searching out the smallmouths.

Upper Mississippi River Pool 4 Upper Mississippi River Pool 5
**From left to right: Mississippi River Pool 4 and the Mississippi River Pool 5

The next two weeks I will be spending a lot of my days pre fishing for this tournament and then I will shift my focus to Wisconsin and get myself ready for a couple more events out there. The bad news is it is late April and the vast majority of our Minnesota lakes are still well froze over. This is crazy considering last year they where all open by late March. The weather is starting to get nice so it should be any day now. I’m happy to be spending my time down on the river and in Wisconsin because Minnesota’s bass fishing opener is until May 24th! Still over a month away! Oh well I will stay way to busy anyway. After the tournament I will post a lot more detail, until then wish Ryan and I lots of luck, 10 grand for first place. That would be a great way to start out the season.

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Grand Lake, Vinita, Oklahoma

Quality over quantity ended up being my theme this year on Grand Lake in Northeastern Oklahoma. Last year it was the exact opposite, lots of fish but no size to them. The weather this week was going to be anything but stable, with daily highs ranging anywhere from mid 50’s to low 70’s and the overnight lows were projected to be in the mid 30’s. I had done my fair share of research for my trip and knew all the obvious things before I even left from Minnesota. Since April of last year Northeastern Oklahoma has been pounded with rain, making the water levels extremely high (about 8 feet higher than this time last year) and the water clarity was not more than a foot. In some areas it resembled chocolate milk. With the air temp cooling off at night and the water temps staying in the mid 50’s I knew I really had no serious chance of getting into a good spawning pattern. Instead I prepared myself for a prespawn pattern by tying on a lot of jigs for both deep and shallow water, crankbaits ranging from 2 to 20 feet, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, lipless crankbaits and jerkbaits. Right after launching I headed out to the main lake where I did so well last year. I started by running an Amp Lures Heavy Hitter (Rayburn Red) in about 15 feet over some main lake points and secondary points. After no success I tried slow dragging a hand tied 5/16 oz. Jewel jig all over the point from 2 to 30 feet, again without a bite. I thought by starting out on the main lake points that would help me figure out where the bass would be staging. This time of year the bass are wanting to spawn and they will be staged somewhere from their wintering areas to their spawning flats where they will eventually bed. By ruling out the main lake points I knew they would be somewhere between the inside edge of the points to the shallows deep in the backs of the coves.

I left the points and started working my way into the coves by throwing a Amp Lures Mid Shooter (Bluegill). Usually I would go for more of a shad color but with the water so dingy I wanted a little chartreuse in the bait to help it be more visible under the water. I picked up a couple small male bass relatively quickly. This told me that the fish were present. This time of year where ever the bucks are the females are close by just waiting for their beds to be ready. I decided to make a change and slow down my presentation. Seeing that murky water up in the trees looked like an ideal spot to start flippin a jig and hope for a big bite. I opted to first start out with a 3/8 oz. Ten K Jig (green pumpkin). After about a half hour with no bites I came to the conclusion that I needed to switch to a heavier jig, with loud rattles and in a different color. I tied on a 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Black and Blue) and continued flippin the trees and buck brush. It wasn’t three flips and I caught a nice 2 pound bass, a few more flips after that I caught a better one, 3 pounds. I was catching these fish right on the bank but it was a certain type of bank that was producing. The best banks were in the smaller coves off the main lake and they had to have a steep shoreline. I would position my boat about ten feet from shore and my Lowrance unit would read a depth of about 10 to 15 feet. I would catch them anywhere from 1 ft. in the brush to 15 ft. on the bottom of the dropoff.


**From left to right: Me with two nice Grand Lake toads, Matt with a nice one on the Basstrix Swimbait, and Matt and I showing off our day one catches.

I stuck with that pattern all day and in total I caught eight largemouth’s, most in the three pound range with the biggest weighing in at exactly four pounds. It was imperative to weigh the bigger ones because my buddies and I had an ongoing bet of $20 each for big fish for the whole week. That four pounder barely gave me the tentative top spot. After loading up my boat for the day I come to find out that the rest of the people in my camp struggled to get bit. That helped me solidify my pattern because they were mostly throwing jerkbaits and spinnerbaits and having no success, which meant I was on the right track. My buddy and boat partner Matt caught the second biggest bass of the day weighing 3.13 lbs. on a 6″ Basstrix Paddle Tail Tube Swimbait (yellow perch).

Day two I decided to make a long run. I made this decision for two reasons, one being I am new to my Ranger Z20 and really want to give it a nice test run and two, I was headed to a a well known spawning area way up in the northern part of the lake. The water was said to be clearer up there and the area is one big giant flat of flooded timber. I had to know whether the fish were there. The boat ran awesome but the fishing was horrible! This area in a week or two will be absolutely lights out but the fish just didn’t seem to be there yet. Being that the water was more shallow I opted to go with a 3/8 oz. TEN K Jig (black and blue) and I added a rattle. Matt and I spent all day back there searching and between the both of us I only caught three small fish between the 1.5 and the 2 lb. mark. I literally threw every kind of bait I could think of and just couldn’t get any bites. The three fish I did manage to catch all came on a good ole’ TEN K Jig. Usually I would be extremely upset with these kind of results but the Ranger runs great and best yet I ruled out another area of the lake. When getting to know a new body of water this can be as effective as finding the fish. It’s a delicate balance of knowing where to go and where not to go come tournament time.

Thursday started off soggy but the temp was a comfortable 60 degrees. The weather man reports strong storms hitting the area later in the evening and cool high skies for tomorrow. With the warm air, overcast skies and a nice wind I knew this would be my best opportunity for some big fish. I made a commitment to keep the jig in my hand and just flip the cover all day. Bites were few and far between but when they did bite they were all good size. I started with two nice ones about 2.5 lbs., than two more at about 3.5 lbs. I came across a nice point in the cove that was surrounded by deeper water and the bottom was full of rocks. I quickly tied up a 1/2 oz. Picasso Football Jig (peanut butter and jelly) and added a Gary Yamamoto Double Tail Grub (green pumpkin), I also dipped the tails in Spike It Dye (chartreuse) to help the fish see it in the dingy water. This proved to be very effective because after a few cast I set the hook on a beautiful bass weighing 6.2 lbs. I caught her in about 15 feet of water and what a great fight she put up! After weighing it and snapping a few pictures I released her quickly. Of course I always practice catch and release but I didn’t want to keep her in my livewell long, figuring she was getting ready to spawn. Later that day I also caught a 4.6 lb. and a 5.7 lb. bass. The five pounder came out from under a boat dock in about ten feet of water on a 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (black and blue). After catching a big one like that I tried very hard to make a dock pattern work but I never got another bite off them. Thursday proved to be a great day. If it was a tournament I would have brought about 22 pounds to the scales. That’s a great bag anywhere. Matt caught one fish about 2 pounds on a Basstrix Paddle Tail Tube (yellow perch). I am serious when I say this, bass absolutely annihilate the Basstrix swimbaits. I got myself a sweet selection of these and I know they will pay dividends at certain events this year. My long time buddy Chris Campbell also had a good day flippin a black and blue jig and our buddy Shorty caught two nice bass on a Ten K Jig that I had given him. He was very excited because he is a walleye fisherman turned bass fisherman and that was the first bass he had ever caught on a jig.


**From left to right: Myself holding a nice 6.2 lb. largemouth and it’s a good one when you can fit your whole fist in it’s mouth!

1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten jig 1/2 oz. Picasso Football Jig 6 inch Basstrix Paddle Tail Swimbait
**From left to right: 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten jig, 1/2 oz. Picasso Football Jig, and a 6″ Basstrix Paddle Tail Swimbait

The rest of the trip was tough fishing. A cold front moved in with blue bird skies and the bite slowed down. The little fish could be caught but the big ones vanished. It’s to be expected this time of year. Chris was able to catch them on lipless crankbait, Matt with a chatterbait, Robert on a spinnerbait and myself on a jig and a Lake Fork 8″ Worm (black and blue). None of which produced any big ones though. All in all it was a great trip and an excellent preseason. Great times with good friends and good fishing is exactly what I needed. Not to mention the satisfaction of collecting $20 bucks each from all my boys for big fish!!! Even better.
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Preparing for the Pre Season at Grand Lake, Oklahoma

Now we’re talking! Tomorrow I leave for Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, just outside Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is my pre season for what is to come of a pretty hectic tournament season. My good friend Matt and I are meeting up with our other two buddies, and headed down to where the ice doesn’t exist. I was at Grand Lake last year for a few days and had some pretty descent success. There were no five pounders, or even fours for that matter. However I had huge expectations the weeks previous last year. I was watching the weather and it was in the 70’s and 80’s for three weeks prior to our arrival. Keep in mind when you are coming of the tail end of a Minnesota winter that type of weather seems a bit like heaven. Well when we pull into our cabin right on Grand Lake it was snowing! We dealt with a viscous cold front. The four days we were down there the high never got over 40 degrees. The first day I really sucked and only boated a few small bass on jerkbaits and shakey heads. However the second day I started figuring things out a bit. I could tell that most fish moved from the shallow water out to the deeper staging areas. They wanted to spawn but with that drastic of a cold front they were in no major hurry. I ended up having all my success by fishing main lake points in 10 to 30 feet with a 5/16 oz. Jewel Jig, casting it out along the edge of the points and slowly creeping it back to the boat. From there on I was on a good pattern that I feel would have done pretty good in a tournament at that time.

This year is going to be something different all together. The weather has been very mild for a few weeks and we’re looking at highs in the 60’s and 70’s. My assumption is that we will be fishing shallow and possibly even some spawning action. Grand Lake is a great lake but is like none I’ve ever fished because of it’s extreme lack of vegetation. Not to mention it has really stained water. The lake is known for it’s largemouth and spotted bass, but also has a small population of smallmouth bass as well. Grand Lake is also an impoundment, that is known for it’s deep water and abundance of baitfish. I’m counting on a variety of ways to catch fish. First I think I will probe the shallows. One exciting thing about this year from last is the amount of rain they have received in the past year. So much that it has elevated up past the shoreline and into the trees. This is nice for me to get up in the heavy stuff and search out those toads with a 3/8 oz. Ten K Jig. Also I could imagine that I can do well around the many boat docks with a Ima Flit jerkbait. If I get the opportunity to bed fish I already have tied on a texas rigged Amp Lures Craw. The great thing about this bait is the claws are equipped with air pockets that make the Craw’s hands float. If the bass isn’t interested in my bait at first once I bump a Craw claw in her face then we’ll see if interested. Although I expect to still do most of my damage with two baits, a 5/16 oz. Jewel Jig and Amp Lures Midshooter Crankbait.

Well I suppose I better get to my gear. I leave in 24 hours and still have to tie up all my rod and reels and pack up the boat. The best part is I get to break in my new Ranger Z20 for a whole week. When I get back it’s all business. I will start prefishing for the St. Jude Bass Classic on the Mississippi River in Wabasha, MN. Hopefully when I get back I will have some nice (heavy) stories to tell about Grand Lake!

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Fishing for an Excellent Cause, The St. Jude Foundation

During the weekend of May 3rd and 4th, I will be fishing in the 10th Anniversary Dick Hiley St. Jude Bass Classic. This two day event takes place on the Mississippi River pools 4 and 5, in Wabasha, MN. I am very excited to fish this particular event, not just because it’s my first tournament of the season, but more importantly I’ll have the opportunity to fish for such a great cause. I get much pleasure being able to chase my childhood dream, that it hurts to think there are kids that may not get the opportunity to do the same.

The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the first institution established for the sole purpose of conducting clinical research into catastrophic childhood diseases, mainly cancer. They are also the largest childhood cancer research center in the world in terms of numbers of patients enrolled and successfully treated.

I will be accepting donations to present to the St. Jude on behalf of myself, my family and friends, and anyone else who wishes to do the same. The hospital’s daily operating costs are $1,216,247.00, which are primarily covered by public donation. If interested in contributing to the St. Jude Children’s Research Center please contact me at Josh@JoshDouglasFishing.com for more information.

If you are interested on receiving more information on the Dick Hiley St. Jude Bass Classic go to Zumbro Valley Bassmasters and for more information regarding the St. Jude Children’s Research Center go to www.StJude.org.

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Tackle Update: Stocking up for ’08

Now that the 2007 season is all said and done, it is time to start planning and preparing for the upcoming tournament season. There is a lot of different things that I can do now so that when it’s time to fish, I’ll be sure to have more time on the water. First and foremost I have to make sure my boat is all ready to go. I’m so excited because this year I got a new boat! I’ve already had it in to be fully serviced by Frankie’s Marine, now it’s just a matter of getting the boat fully rigged. I just ordered two Lowrance sonar/GPS units, a Lowrance LCX 37 C for my console, and a Lowrance LCX 27 C for the deck. These units are very important because they are my eyes underwater. Not only are they a sonar but they have built in GPS to help navigate the water. A few companies offer mapping data chips for these units that will give you high definition mapping. I suggest either Lake Maps or Navionics. I am also looking into new batteries. These are real important. A matter of fact they cost me a great finish in a tournament last year. So you can imaging that is a priority to me to make sure my batteries are the best.

Lowrance LCX 27C Lowrance LCX 37C
**From left to right: Lowrance LCX 27C and a Lowrance LCX 37C

I also make sure to stock up on tackle and make sure to keep up with new products. During the course of a season a guy can go thru the tackle. I never truly know what I am going to use in a single day but I do have a good idea. The first thing I go threw is my “go-to” baits. These are the ones that I feel most comfortable with and use on a regular basis. Some of my every day tackle consists of the Ten K jig by 10000 Lakes Tackle, Net Bait’s Paca Craw, or Lucky Craft’s Sammy. There are many more baits that follow under this category and I want to make sure I am fully stocked on these before the season starts. Usually it’s easier to get stocked up during the off season when I have more time on my hands but most importantly, I can find what I need. Way to often I will need something in a certain color and won’t be able to find it anywhere because their more likely to be sold out in the middle of the season.

Another thing I take into importance is my terminal tackle. Lets be honest, it’s not as fun to buy hooks as it is to buy some new Japanese crankbait, but it is more important. I make sure to stock up on things like fishing line such as P Line fluorocarbon, Power Pro braid, and Berkley Sensation for mono. I also stock up on Gamakatsu hooks for everything from trebles to Super Line to the drop shot. I also am a huge fan of the Reaction Innovations BMF hook for all my flippin’. Also I make sure I have a huge selection of Tru Tungsten Flippin’ weights and Worm weights in all different sizes.

Probably the most fun I have is stocking up on new products. This year I am really excited to be using the new line of baits by Amp Lures. These Japanese influenced baits are sure to fool many bass this year. I’m especially excited for their Air Shot Jig matched with a High Low 5.5″. I’m counting on this lethal match up to entice those finicky bites from a 6 pounder.

Amp lures Air Shot Jig Amp lures High Low 5.5 TEN K Jig TEN K Jig
**From left to right: Amp lures Air Shot Jig and the High Low 5.5″ and 10,000 Lakes Tackle, TEN K Jigs

Also new is the one and only Basstrix Paddle Tail Tube. By far the most sought after bait on the market. This hollow belly swimbait has been silently cashing paychecks for pros for a few years now. Now let me assure you the cat has been let out of the bag. This lure is extremely hard to come by. There are alternatives that will do a great job such as Poor Boy Bait’s Silly Rabbit or Berkley Power Bait’s Hollow Belly. Although all are fantastic lures, in this case I tend to lean in favor of the Basstrix. Each one is hand made for the perfect presentation and it’s hard to beat the original. Chatterbait used to be a “craze lure” until it became more accessible, now there are dozens of imitators. Some of them are real nice baits but I think Chatterbait is still number one.

Basstrix Paddle Tail Tube Basstrix USA Basstrix Paddle Tail Tube
**Basstrix Paddle Tail Tube Swimbaits.

Also I spend a lot of time studying maps of lakes I will be fishing. I try to figure out what the primary forage is and what the cover and structure are like. This usually helps me come up with a good idea of certain patterns that may work. From there I have an idea of the baits that I may want to stock up on as well. I better get going, I have some work to do!!

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A Weekend of Fishing and Watching the BASSMASTER CLASSIC!!

With the weather starting to show small signs of Spring, I got one last opportunity to get out and catch some smallies! Today is the last day of the fishing season here in Minnesota. Since bass season won’t be reopening until May 24th, there will be a lot of time to practice in other areas. Coming up in the early part of April I have planned on spending some time on Grand Lake, in Northeastern Oklahoma. From there I will spend a lot of my time fishing the Mississippi River between Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa, but mainly concentrating on pools 4 thru 7. I will also spend some time preparing for early season tournaments on a few lakes in Wisconsin.

So needless to say I was ecstatic to be able to get one last time before the serious work begins! Both Pops and Matt accompanied me on this trip and after a quick trip to Cabela’s, we arrived at our fishing destination to find that everyone else including their mothers decided to take the same opportunity as we did. IT WAS PACKED!! There were fisherman every where! Most were live bait fishing for walleye and catfish, but that really didn’t matter. This area is extremely small and I had never seen it so busy. I guess with being the last day of the season and almost 40 degree’s everyone was thinking fishing.

7lb WalleyeWe must have fished for around two or three hours and had very limited success. I caught 4, Matt caught 4, and Pops 2. I would have been pretty disappointed with my limited success except for two reasons. One, all four of my fish were nice ones all being two pounds or better and I caught my personal best walleye ever. The brute weighed in at 7 pounds! I know that there are people out there who have caught better, but I spend literally every available second fishing for bass, so to catch one of that size was pretty cool! I have to admit though, down deep a good portion of me wished it had been a 7 pound smallmouth! I was able to get a couple quick pictures and released her unharmed back to the waters for another angler to appreciate.

After fishing I was eager to get home and watch the final weigh in of the 2008 BASSMASTER Classic, at Lake Hartwell, SC. This Classic was holding up to all its hype! The weather was nasty and some of the top names made the top 25 cut. Most notable were Kevin VanDam, Aaron Martens, and Mike Iaconelli, although in the end Alton Jones, from Waco, TX, took home the most coveted trophy in our sport, with a nice 3 day total weight of 49-7 lbs. and claimed the winning check of $500,000.00 dollars!! Jones targeted bass in 25 to 30 feet, on the inside edge of the standing timber submerged in Lake Hartwell. Alton used three lures to catch his bass: a Booyah Pigskin jig and a Booyah AJ’s Go-To jig, both rigged with a Yum trailer, and a Cotton Cordell CC Spoon.

As much as I look forward to watching the Classic every year, I can’t help but dream of one day being there competing. Or better yet of being lucky enough to hold that trophy up in the air! God willing with endless days of hard work and practice, I’ll be able to one day live up to my childhood dream…….Winning the Bassmaster Classic!

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Give It Up for the 2008 BASSMASTER Classic Qualifiers from Minnesota

In just two very short weeks, the 2008 BASSMASTER Classic will be kicking off at South Carolina’s, Lake Hartwell. Among the 50 star studded anglers that will be competing are two from my home state of Minnesota, Derek Remitz and Brent Haimes. Remitz, who now resides in Grant, Alabama will be fishing his second Classic in two consecutive years. Remitz is a former member of the Sunrise Bassmasters, a Minnesota BASS Federation Club. After spending just a few short years at the state level, Remitz went on to try his luck at the national level, fishing in the Bassmaster Opens. From there he qualified for his first Classic and earned a spot on the Bassmaster Elite Series. At the first event of the 2007 Elite Series Tour, Derek beat the whole field on Lake Amistad to earn his first Elite Series win. From there on he rode through his highs and lows and snatched the 2007 Bassmasters Rookie of the Year title.

How one goes about getting to that level of fishing can be done in numerous ways. Never easy though. Brent Haimes, from Mazeppa, MN, qualified for the 2008 Classic by succeeding so well through the grueling BASS Federation ladder. Haimes, a member of the Zumbro Valley Bassmasters, a Minnesota BASS Federation Club, started his road to the Classic in 2005, by qualifying through is club for the 2006 BASS Federation State Championship, held on Gull Lake, MN. At Gull, Brent went on to place 11th, and the top 12 advance on to the 2007 BASS Federation Northern Regional Championship, which was held on none other than Lake Erie. At this stage, the top place angler from their own state advance. Brent took 11th overall, but was first among the Minnesota anglers, advancing him onto the 2007 BASS Federation Championship on Florida’s very own, Lake Tohopekaliga (Better known as Lake Toho). At this tournament it is all on the line. The top angler from each region goes onto fish the BASSMASTER CLASSIC! Brent worked extremely hard to take 7th overall, and 1st in his region, and qualified for his first Classic appearance!

Derek Remitz Brent Haimes

**From left to right: Derek Remitz, showing off his Lake Amistad catch and Brent Haimes, going to the Classic!

I recently went to a seminar hosted by Brent Haimes, at one of our Minnesota BASS Federation State meetings. His topic was very interesting in the fact that he shared with us his road to the Classic and all the ups and downs he went through. For me this was a great learning experiance. It is my life long goal to one day be lucky and good enough to qualify for the Elite Series and the Classic. To see and hear how one of my fellow Minnesota tournament anglers did it, I would have to say it was motivating to say the least. I personally wish both of these fine anglers the best of luck at the Classic. I know I will be watching from home and rooting them on the whole way! Stick ‘Em Boys!!!!

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Smallmouths Curing my Spring Fever

It has been a miserable couple of weeks since my last bass outing entry. The weather has been awful for a die hard fish lipper such as myself. It has just been brutally cold. So cold to where it is beyond shivering, your bones actually hurt. I can recall jumping into my frozen Chevy Suburban on a frigid Saturday morning and my temperature gauge read -19 degrees. Hopefully the housing market gets better so my beautiful wife Bri and I can move somewhere in the South. But until then, I’ll suck it up and not take for granted the couple of “lucky for me” spots that I have where I can still stick football sized smallmouth when the weather permits.

Today Matt and I where blessed with a “heat wave”, all of 35 degrees, and made it a point to get out and exercise the smallmouths. It was blue bird skies when we started the air temp was only 20 degrees, but trust me, it felt like 70. The fishing was good right away. I caught a dozen or so pretty quick. The only issue was the lack of size. They were all dinks. I was using my bread and butter, a 3″ YUM Mega Tube (green pumpkin), with an 1/8 oz. Kalin’s tube jig. I was working the tube near a laydown, that was serving as an ambush point for the smallmouths. They like to hide on the down river side of the brush and when some food source comes by they ambush it. I am limited to the angles I can cast to being that I was fishing from shore. I don’t think it is a good idea to dump my 20 ft. Ranger in a super shallow, rock infested body of water in the dead of winter. Matt was fishing some scattered rock mixed with sand and really wasn’t getting many bites. After a while my laydown stopped producing and I to was looking for a new spot. We stumbled across an area that was very shallow and the water was moving across at a pretty good rip. I thought with the sun getting higher and the temp warming a bit that maybe this area would hold a nice school of fish. It turned out it did. Nice ones to. After a few unsuccessful casts I laid into the best of the day, and after that it was one good one after another. Smallmouth bass are like that. They tend to hang out in little wolf packs. If you can get one to bite you can really stimulate the activity level of the school. It is really common to be fighting a fish to the boat and seeing two, three, or even four smallies with him. They’re actually competing for the bait. Although like I said before, if you break one off or don’t get a good hook set, it is just like you turned the light switch off, they’re done.


**From left to right: Myself with a beautiful Minnesota smallmouth bass, and a victim of the Mississippi River Fathead.

After a quick burger stop we decided to try another spot. It was much slower though. The sun tucked behind the clouds and the fish were few and far between. After close to an hour without a fish I decided to make a switch. I put on a prototype lure from Stick ‘Em Lure Company called the Mississippi River Fathead (green pumpkin w/ black flake). It is a 3.5″ soft plastic with a fat head and a ribbed body. Fished properly it imitates a feeding minnow pecking at the bottom. Not having the right jig for the job I decide to give it a try any way. I was thinking maybe the crawfish bite turned off and the minnow bite may entice more bites. In five minutes I caught five fish. I was pretty excited when I set into a HUGE bass. It was easy 4 plus pounds. She started dancing and jumping all over and on one jump managed to come unbuttoned. Wouldn’t you know it that fish ended up proven my earlier point, the school vanished.

Looking at the forecast I can see nothing good about the upcoming weather. More negative double digits. But hey, on the bright side, for every day that passes brings me that much closer to Spring. I can’t wait for my upcoming tournament season!

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Tackle Update: Amp Lures

Since the weather is so brutally cold around here. 0 degrees. I think that says enough. I thought it is time to add a tackle update to the blog. Today I received some new crankbaits by Amp Lures in the mail that I am very excited to try. Japan born, Texas based Amp Lures is new to the US. Although don’t let that fool you, they have been around for a long time. Known as Biovex in Japan, they have been steadily taking over the market, putting out quality baits at reasonable prices. Part of their success is due to Katsushi Umeda, who is responsible for the designs of many of their high end baits. BASSWEST USA recently ran an article on the Amp Lures, Midshooter, a medium diving crankbait, that runs 5 – 8 feet deep. They are quoted in saying, ” Their colors are amazing in that many of them have a translucent external color and inner color”. They also go on to say, “In field testing the baits ran true right out of the packaging and are sure to catch fish.”, and “In a few hours on Clear Lake in September, we were able to catch 5 fish on 5 consecutive casts on the midshooter.”

Amp Lures Midshooter Amp Lures Pop Amp Lures Musashi Spinnerbait
**From left to right: Amp Lures Midshooter, Pop, and Musashi Spinnerbait.

I received both their Midshooter and their Shallow Runner. The colors are great and the quality is next to none. I am soon putting in a order for their Pop, Musashi Spinnerbait, and their Heavy Hitter. Not to mention, I am also very excited to hear that they are adding a deep diving plug to their already fantastic line of baits. Rumor has it that it will dive to 30 feet! Smallmouths beware! For more information go to http://www.amplures.com/ Please keep in mind that the website is still under construction. Amp is working very quickly to get it all put together. Check it out, it’s a pretty sweet site!

Hopefully this cold weather will move out of here and I can get to lipping some smallmouths. It isn’t that bad though. I can watch the NFL playoffs from the comfort of my warm house, to bad for the Giants and Packers though. I hear it will be below 0 at kickoff time. Until next time, Happy Fishing!!

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One More Time Before the Real Cold Comes Back

My buddy Matt and I decided we just had to get out one more time before the weather hits single digits again across Minnesota. We left the Twin Cities and the temp was 30 degrees. When we arrived to our destination it was all of 19. Burr. I started strong with 3 quick smallmouths. All of which were over 2.5 lbs and one weighed in at 3.6 lbs. After that quick stint of greatness everything starting unraveling on me. I was faced with a problem I haven’t encountered here in a while. I am generally always a fluorocarbon guy but after trying all sorts of different lines in the cold over the years I have found that in this certain area and using this particular fishing style that 8 to 10 pound Berkley Sensation line fits me best. It isn’t as brittle as fluorocarbon and has some nice stretch to it. Usually I wouldn’t want that but since this area has so many rocks and snags it helps. Usually once I get dialed in I can differentiate what’s a snag right away and can usually use the stretch to my advantage to snap the lure off the rock. It also allows me to cast a light weight tube far on the light line. Also when the air temp is between 20 and 35 degrees it is easily manageable in that kind of cold. In the summer I would opt for 6 to 10 pound fluorocarbon but in the cold the mono works better for me. Although not this time. I’m not sure if it is that we were fishing in the teens or not but my line was freezing up like crazy. Literally into icicles. I snapped nice fish off, I snapped off on casts, I dealt with the line freezing right on the spool, it was a nightmare! I spent an hour retying up baits. I probably retied at least 12 times in that hour. Mean while Matt was using my other rod that was spooled with 10 lb Vicious Fluorocarbon and was pulling in fish hand over hand. The fluorocarbon wasn’t freezing up half as much as my mono. Everything that I thought I knew went right out the window. After an hour and a half, Matt was at 9 and I was still chilling (literally) with 3.

As the afternoon wore on the temp got up over 20 and luckily for me my line issues stopped. Good thing for me I over come things relatively quickly and the hook setting followed. In the next 20 minutes I evened us up 9 a piece. When we left that spot I had a small advantage of 14 to 9.

We arrived at the same spot that Rich Lindgren and I had fished a couple nights back. I started right where I left off and landed a nice 3 pound smallie. I really wanted to catch a 4 pounder before the night was over since I hadn’t seen one all week. Matt feeling the exact same way decided he was going to try to find some new water that no one had fished. He did just that. I saw him pull in two consecutive 3 pound smallies back to back and thought I better do the right “friendly” thing and move to where he was. Matt snickered at the move but accepted me nicely, even pointing out his newly found strategy. He said that it was extremely shallow in front of us for about 20 feet then it dropped of quickly. The drop off was full of basketball sized rocks, which made it also full of nice sized smallmouths. With only about ten minutes of light left in our day we worked the heck out of that area. In the end we finished with 34 smallmouth total. Matt caught 14 and I had 20. No four pounders, but still a nice day none the less.

I learned something interesting today and yet I am still not totally convinced it would happen that way again. I will have to test both lines in the same conditions another time to be 100 percent certain that is the way it is. Maybe it was just that particular spool of line or maybe it wasn’t. Looking at the upcoming forecast I can see that I will have a while to ponder it. Until then…Happy Fishing!! Or better yet, Happy Dreaming of the Day You’ll Be Fishing! Unless of course your in the South, then I’m jealous!

Posted in Blog Post

2008 Gopher Bassmasters Tournament Schedule

MN B.A.S.S. Federation Club

Last night my fellow Gopher Bassmasters had our monthly Federation club meeting. This particular meeting was set for us to layout our 2008 tournament schedule. I am very excited with the lakes that were chosen for this upcoming season. This year we are headed to a lot of well established “big bass” lakes. Lakes known for their huge largemouth and or their huge smallmouth potential. It is real critical that I do well in these tournaments. They are the starting point of qualifying for other qualifying tournaments that lead to the MN B.A.S.S. Federation State Tournament, than divisionals, nationals, and the ultimate goal of a birth into the BASSMASTER Classic. Due to my strong finish in the 2007 club tournaments I have already qualified for the 2008 MN State Tournament, but with another strong season I hope to qualify for the 2009 State Tournament. Which could potentially be held at a body of water I am really excited to fish. So as you can imagine I have already started my research on our tournaments to come. The following is the list of the 2008 schedule:

May 17th, 2008 Chetek Chain of Lakes, Chetek, WI
May 18th, 2008 Chetek Chain of Lakes, Chetek, WI
June 21st, 2008 Lake Koronis, Paynesville, MN
June 22nd, 2008 Green Lake, Spicer, MN
July 26th, 2008 Lake Waconia, Waconia, MN
July 27th, 2008 Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata, MN
August 16th, 2008 TBD (2009 State Waters)
August 17th, 2008 TBD (2009 State Waters)

Click here for more details.

The Chetek Chain in Wisconsin should give us a good mix of pre spawn, spawn, and post spawn. This is also a diverse lake in that it offers both lake and river scenarios. Lake Koronis and Green Lake are equally known for their big smallmouths and numbers of bass as well. Lake Waconia and Lake Minnetonka are both heavily pressured lakes, being that they are both in the heart of the Twin Cities, yet they both produce HUGE largemouth bass. I am not very familiar with these lakes with a notable exception of Lake Minnetonka. Planning starts now!!! Wish me luck!

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