Thursday, October 08, 2009

My 2009 Bass Snatchers Season Review

In 2009 I fished all 6 Baxter Bass Snatcher tournaments.

In the clubs official standings for the year I accumulated 160 points, which with my worst showing deducted came to my official total of 142 points which put in a tie for 12th place out of the 32 guys who fished this year. Last year I had 152 total with an official total 134 points and I came in 15th place.

This year I weighed 32 fish for a total weight of 52.06lbs or 8.68lbs per tournament and 1.63lbs per fish. My big bass of the year was 3.19lbs.

Last year I weighed 36 fish for a total weight of 65.13lbs or 10.85lbs per tournament and 1.81lbs per fish.

Even though I collected more points this year, it is pretty obvious from the other statistics that 2008 was a much better year for me in terms of the fishing. I feel I should have done better at 3 tournments this year (Cedar, South Long, Leech) where as I felt pretty good about all of the tournaments in 2008.

Even with the frustrations and tough tournaments it was a good year and as of right now I plan to fish with the Bass Snatchers again next year.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Bass Snatchers Win The 2009 Challenge Cup Mission Lakes

Today was the Challenge Cup which is a longstanding contest between the Baxter Bass Snatcher Bass Club and the Range Bassmasters. The Cup was held on Upper and Lower Mission Lakes North of Brainerd. By virtue of the fact that other more highly seeded Bass Snatchers didn't want to fish I was allowed to be on this years 6 man team. There were 3 Snatcher boaters with 3 Range non-boaters and vise versa. My boater was Range Bassmaster Emmet Smith.

Going into the tournament the scuttlebutt on Emmet was that he was going to take me into the shallow junk all day and that I should use my allotted 4 hours in the front of the boat to hit weedlines. That isn't how it worked out.

The weather: From the low 40's in the morning to the low 50's in the afternoon. It was cloudy with a couple short rounds of light sprinkles. Wind was out of the North around 10mph.

Emmet started us off on a weedline spot on the West end of the upper lake. In the first hour Emmit managed 2 keeper bass around 2 pounds and a 10lb pike. I had a couple of hits on my black spinnerbait but they didn't hook up. One of those bites felt big. After about 45 minutes with no action we ran to the NE end of Upper Mission to a weedline spot I had fished before. I caught a pike and had my spinnerbait get bumped a couple of more times.

Next we headed to Lower Mission to try some docks, that was a bust, so we tried some reeds and that was a bust so we tried some weedlines and that too was a bust. We headed back to Upper Mission to our starting spot.

We spent a couple of hours flogging our starting spot and Emmet got a 12 incher and a pike, while I had a pike bite off and that was it. Totally perplexed we went right to a spot that I wanted to fish, even though I didn't mention the area to Emmit. We were fishing down a weedline towards Range boater and In-Fisherman Bass Guru Steve Quinn. We watched as Snatcher Bill Ludenia caught a small keeper. They were struggling like we were struggling and word was that the bite was very tough for everybody except Snatcher Chuck Steinbauer. We passed the Quinn boat and I got a bite on my tube, but it was a pike. Shortly after the pike Emmet caught 2 keeper bass on a jigworm off of the used water. We worked the weedline up the side of a point with no action so we decided to head back over the water where Emmit got the last 2 fish.

I was throwing my black spinnerbait and I hooked up, but once again it was a pike. Emmet caught a short, then Emmit got the idea that we should move a bit shallower. He was rewarded with his biggest bass of the day on a spinnerbait in the little reedbed up by shore. We kept working shallow into a slop bay. I thought I might have had a fish on for a second on a Strike King Pure Poison chatterjig when the next thing I knew Emmit was hauling in a 2lb bass. I picked up a Herb's Dilly Buzzbait and finally was rewarded with a bass just a little under 3lbs, at this point there was just an hour and a half left to fish; I was mighty relieved to have the skunk out of the boat with a good fish. We worked from the North side of the slop bay around to the South side of the slop bay where Emmit caught another 2lber on a craw tube pitching into the pads. Emmet had to cull, so I took the front of the boat and worked the rest of the South shore of the slop bay then I headed us quickly back to the North side. On the North side Emmet caught another 3lber on the craw tube and I got a pound and 3 quarter bass on the Herb's Dilly. Those would be our last fish although we would both miss bites in the reeds on our way back to the landing.

I don't and probably won't have the official numbers but I can report that 4 out of the 6 snatchers won in their boats. Chuck Steinbauer won with about 18lbs and Lunker that was right about 5lbs. I think Snatcher Dennis Lothspeich got 2nd and Emmet got 3rd. I think our Snatcher Club won total weight by around 4lbs.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gull Lake Bass Snatchers Sept. 19th

The Weather: It was a sunny day in the low 80's with light wind in the morning picking up to about 10MPH out of the South in the afternoon.

Here are a couple of Snatchers (Darren and Owen) waiting for blast off:

On the phone my boater Art sounded confident we would get fish but before blast off he informed me that he thought he would be lucky to get a limit under the expected weather conditions.

We blasted off a little before 8AM from the Government Point Public Access and we headed SW to Wilson Bay where we stopped on a weed flat on the South side of Hunters Point. There was a light ripple on the water and I started off throwing a buzzbait, but eventually switched to a purple Berkley Frenzy Popper. After about 7 minutes I put a 12.5 incher in the boat. That fish was followed by a 13.5", 12.75", 13.75" that totally went airborne when it hit, and 13.10" that started bleeding pretty good so I threw it back. We got off the flat and as we were making our way back on I threw a smoke tube along the deep weedline and got a 13". I started throwing the Popper again and got a 12.5" and a couple of shorts. At this point we were about an hour into the tournament. My partner Art had two fish at this point. The wind died and so did the action on top. I think I got a couple of fish that did not help on the tube.

Around 10:30AM we made a move to Green Lake which is a small round bay ringed by slop and docks. I pulled a 15.75" on a black blue jignpig on the edge of pads and slop. I got a couple that didn't help on a bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke off the docks and slop. Eventually I started throwing the smoke tube out into deeper water and I culled up to a 13" and got a few more that didn't help. Once we fished around the bay, we made a run to a spot on the South end of Wilson that had rice and pads near deeper water. Art had a fish miss his topwater frog. He had me throw in with a jig and I pulled out another 12.5" that didn't help. As we made our way down the rice I had a good fish swirl on my jignpig as I was swimming it but it didn't get hooked. Eventually we moved to a weed flat were I had a fish rise to but not hit the Frenzy Popper and Art got a couple of keepers.

We probably spent the last 3 hours back at our starting spot. On the first pass I threw a black spinnerbait because the wind was blowing pretty good and I got a small pike, a rock bass, a short and a 12.5 plus I lost one that was most likely a 12 incher. On the next pass I tried a chatter jig without any luck. Art pulled out to the deep weed edge and started catching fish, so I went back to the smoke tube and started catching fish; some short, some keepers that didn't help, and my final cull with a 13.5. I caught quite a few fish in the last 3 hours. Art filled his limit and culled a couple of times fishing with a red jigworm.

At around 20 to 4PM we headed in to Ernie's where we would have the weigh in. We tied the boat up on the dock and Art took this picture of my biggest fish which cut off my head.

Art went to the bar to get a drink and I decided to throw a cast out towards a dock with some boat lifts that was within casting range with the tube. I had a fish nail the tube but I didn't hook up. I couldn't get a re-strike as our tournament boats started coming in.

My 6 fish ended up weighing 8lbs 7ozs which put me in 12th place out of 24 guys. My boater Art had 7lbs 9ozs, so this is the 3rd time out of 12 Bass Snatcher tournaments where I "back seated" my boater. The tournament was won with 13lbs 4ozs caught by 2009 Baxter Bass Snatchers Mr. Bass Dennis Lothspeich which made this his 3rd win of the year. I back seated Dennis at Pelican this year.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Leech Lake Bass Snatchers August 22nd

This is the tournament I was looking forward to more than any other on the schedule and I ended up with a great partner draw for the lake. I rode up from Baxter to the Horseshoe Bay resort with my boater Bill Ludenia. Horsebay Resort on the map above is by the Y in Agency. There was some pretty good fog on my way to Brainerd, but it really wasn't to bad until we got up to Leech. Despite a fairly good fog we blasted off early at around 7:30AM. It turned out that after we got out a couple of miles the fog disappeared.

Our starting spot was a reed bed towards the NE side of Bear Island (Bear Island is the big Island on the SE side of the lake). Another club boat also started in this reed bed. I didn't even have my rods organized and Bill was pulling his first bass into the boat on his 2nd cast. We worked the area for about 30 minutes and I think Bill got one more fish.

Next we moved to some of the heavy cover in Headquarters Bay, which is South of Boy Bay. I think it was our third stop in Headquarters that I had a massive explosion on my white Zoom Horny Toad and I landed a thick 17" bass. We were fishing rice and the fish bit close to a nice sized clump of rice that had a pretty good open lane beside it. As we worked this rice bed Dennis, my boater from Pelican, pulled in a pretty good distance in front of us and Dwight, my boater from South Long, was also fishing in the general area. I had a couple of fish swat at my Horny Toad and one solid blow up that I should have hooked up with as we worked the area. I think Bill got 1 fish and we say Dennis land a bass and his partner catch a big dogfish. To be honest I think we worked through this rice a bit quicker than we should have because fish were definitely there. After about 45 minutes we moved a little ways to some undercut banks with pads and rice, but that was dead. We kept moving North along some good looking rice and I think Bill landed a fish or two before we made a move to some rice on the East side of bear Island. There were lots of signs of fish in this rice but we didn't catch any. The day was bright and sunny and the fish on this particular spot were spooky.

We moved North to the reed bed where we started the day and I got a bite on my tube jig but missed it. I cast right back to the same area and got hit again and this time I landed a 13.75" largemouth. I don't remember if I got one more fish in these reeds or not. I don't think Bill got a fish this time.

Next we moved up to Boy Bay to try some docks. On the very first dock my bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke got bit off. On this same dock Bill landed a 3lb bass. I think Bill got a 2nd dock bass before I connected with a 12.5" bass. I think Bill got another dock bass before I had a fish that I thought was a bass swim out and take the Fluke but when I set the hook I was bit off clean, so it was actually either a pike or muskie. Once we got to the end of the docks we pretty much kept working East in a mix of rice and reeds. Bill in the front of the boat was pulling an occasional fish while I was throwing the white Horny Toad, a brown Bobby's Perfect Snagproof Frog, and a tube jig hauling water. One time when Bill was culling and I was in the front of the boat I cast the tube a ways into the rice and pulled out a 15". We jumped around and worked some reeds and then more Rice with Bill pulling more fish and me getting blanked. We were working rice and I threw into an open area with the Bobby's Snagproof frog and got a strike which I landed but it was under the 12 inch minimum. You don't catch shorts on Snagproof frogs very often.

We moved to the South side of Boy bay into some awesome looking water and I landed another short on the Snagproof Frog, what is with that. After a long lull Bill moved us to an area where he thought I could fill my limit with some small fish. I managed to get a 12.5 on the Snagproof frog on this water.

Time was starting to run short, so we headed back to the area where I got my big fish. Unfortunately the long day in the sun was wearing on me pretty good at this point and I wasn't at my best. Right away I had a bite on the Horny Toad and missed it. About 5 minutes later I had another great bite on the Toad and I came up empty again. A few minutes after that there was a massive explosion on the Horny Toad but I didn't hook up this time either and that was my last bite of the day.

On the way in we did throw a quick hail mary for me in the reeds where we started. I was worn out and highly disappointed in my execution.

I ended up one short of my limit with 5 fish for 9lbs 4ozs which got me 17th out of 24. If I would have landed my bites I probably would have been 14th or better. My partner Bill had 13/11 and got 10th. The winner was Dennis with 19/13 and big bass was only 5/0 and went to Art Becker who will be my boater at Gull Lake.

Analysis: I just did not have a very good day on the water.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bass Snatcher Pelican Lake August 8th, 2009

The Weather: Morning light fog with a 5 to 8 MPH breeze, fog lifted around 10:30AM but it was a heavy overcast until about 1PM when the skies cleared and the wind died.

Pelican is an 8,000 acre lake just a bit North of Brainerd MN and it has clear water. We launched out of a small bay on the SW corner of the lake. I was in the first boat out but we were making a long run North in one of the slowest boats in the tournament, so my boater Dennis was worried about possibly not being 1st to where he wanted to start. We had a total of 12 boats and 23 guys fishing. As it turns out his worries were unfounded. We started by what I think is a big sunken island where a sand flat met a breakline with some weeds. Dennis had found a good school here during prefish and was quite confident in the spot. It didn't take long and I got a bite on my smoke tube but the bass was not a keeper at just over 11 inches. I think Dennis then caught a rock bass and things slowed down, Dennis was kind of miffed the fish were not cooperating but he eventually did bring the first keeper into the boat.

I decided conditions were conducive to a topwater bite so I put on a gold Berkley Frenzy Popper. After about 5 minutes the popper was smashed by 21 inch pike. After fishing for about 10 minutes with nothing I tried a white Spook, but that hauled water and Dennis decided it was time to move to a new spot. We moved to a depression in a flat that had weeds in it. I started throwing a bullfrog Frenzy Popper thinking I might need a little brighter bait in the heavy overcast. I had a fish miss the popper but it came back for a second try and hooked up; It was a 14.5" bass, so I was on the board. A little while later I had a fish miss the Popper 3 or 4 times before it finally hooked up and I landed the 15.5 incher. I think Dennis caught a couple on a Texas rigged tube, so I went back to throwing the smoke tube and I caught 12.25" squeaker. Dennis had a nice bass follow a blue/black tube to the boat which got me thinking that maybe the fish would be willing to chase something swimming so I put on a black/blue Strike King Pure Poison chatterjig, however I didn't get anything on it at this spot.

Eventually Dennis decided to move and we went to a weed bed on the North side of an island where the wind was blowing in pretty good. I thought it was perfect conditions for the Pure Poison and I was right. I nailed a 15" on my second or third cast. A few casts later and I was reeling in 18.25 that just engulfed the Pure Poison. Dennis was not quite pleased that I pulled a big fish off one of his big fish spots, so he was giving me crap. A few minutes later I was hooked up with my limit fish which was a quality 15.25" largemouth. We worked back over the area a second time and I had a couple of bumps that didn't hook up and I think Dennis missed a bite too.

Next we were off to another one of Dennis' big fish spots but a pontoon was sitting right on it. The next two spots Dennis wanted to hit were covered up by Bass Snatcher boats and we ended up fishing a little ways from 3 Bass Snatcher Boats. I think Dennis got a fish on the next couple of stops while I caught nothing.

Eventually we ended up at our starting spot and I started chucking a gold Berkley Frenzy Popper. I believe Dennis filled his limit and started culling which gave me confidence fish were in the area, so I kept throwing the Popper. On one of the retrieves about 20 feet out from the boat I had a strike and was able to land the barely hooked fish that went a little over 15 inches, which got rid of my squeaker. At this point I was pretty pleased that I would be weighing a pretty good bag of fish. Things kind of got slow for me for a while.

Around 1PM the sun came out and it got calm. We quickly tried the area by the Island again before the pleasure boaters would start to show up, but we didn't get anything. Next it was back to one of the weedy depressions.

I got a fish that didn't help then I got another hit that didn't hook up so I threw right back to the same area. I got another hit and it was a good fish that just inhaled the smoke tube; this fish went 17.25 inches. A little while later I had another good hit from a bigger fish but it got off before I was able to see what it was, I think it might have been a pike. About 2 minutes later I had another hit on the tube and brought in a chunky 17.00 inch bass. Dennis thought I was probably 1 more quality fish away from winning. I did get a couple more fish that didn't help and it turns out Dennis was right on the needing 1 more good fish.

My 6 fish went 14 even which ended up putting me in 4th, just 3 ozs out of 3rd place. 1st Place was 15lbs 7ozs and 2nd was 15lbs 6ozs and they came from the same boat; They spent a lot of time in one of those depressions on water Dennis wanted to fish. My partner Dennis was not so unhappy about getting "back seated" when he found out his 12/11 put him right behind me in 5th place.

Analysis:I owe my success in this one to my boater Dennis who was on good fish and made good decisions about where we should be fishing and when. Dennis also kept me entertained all day with his curmudgeonish trash talk. It is possible that I had the bites to win with that one good fish getting off but I'll never know because I never did get a look at the one that got away.

I am now tied for 11th Place in the club standings (32 fisherman club) but I am 9th over all in terms of weight of fish caught for the season which I think is maybe a better barometer about how you actually fished for the season.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bass Snatchers Lake Ida July 18th 2009

Weather: Overcast for most of the day with it being partly sunny the last couple of hours. Wind was pretty much out of the N NW at 5 to 10MPH.

We blasted off a little after 7:30AM and my boater Joe and I raced to our starting spot on the West side of the lake which was a string of small reed beds broken up by docks. I think it was fairly calm right along shore in the reeds but if you casted out into the lake and where the boat was sitting there was a ripple on the water. We were working North about 10 minutes in and Joe had a strike on his Snagproof Frog and landed the 1st bass of the day. We got down to the last or 2nd to last group of reeds which is where I caught a couple of bass on tubes casting out into the lake during prefish. I started throwing a smoke tube out into the lake and was rewarded with a fish that just went over the 12 inch minimum.

As I was casting out something just got smoked out over the weed flat about 2 and a half cast lengths out. I decided it might be a good thing to throw a gold Berkley Frenzy Popper. I didn't bring the rod I like to use for that so I had to rig up one of my swim jig rods. While I was rigging up Joe caught a high 2lb bass off a dock with the Snagproof frog. I started throwing the Frenzy Popper out over the weed flat as Joe worked us back over the water we had just covered. Something swirled about 10 feet off the back of the boat and I immediately hit the spot with the Popper and was rewarded with a 14.75" largemouth.

We worked down to where we started and then back North again to the dock where Joe got his fish. After that we moved out onto the weed flat and drifted South with the wind. There was a dead 3 to 4 pound Northern floating on the surface about 30 feet from the boat when a group of Pelicans flew by and the lead bird swooped down scooped up the pike and just kept right on flying, it was pretty cool. I think I had a swirl that missed the Popper and shortly after that I landed a 12.75" largie. I had another fish swirl on the Popper and miss. We worked an offshore reed bed and I missed a bite on a white Zoom Horny Toad, I think it was a small fish. Nothing more happened at the reed bed and so we pulled up stakes and headed South.

The next spot we went to was an area with lilly pads that are behind a large reed bed. Joe had got fish here both days of pre-fishing. I think I got bit at a couple of times by pike. Joe had a keeper bass take the Snagproof Frog close to the boat and as he was swinging it in his reel gave out some line and the fish hit the side of the boat and came off. That one hurt as it was close to 2lbs and Joe ended up one short of a limit for the day.

Next we headed to some small reed beds kind of like our starting spot. I believe Joe landed his 3rd keeper at this spot on the Snagproof Frog. I was casting a weedless tube into the reeds when I had a solid pick up and I set the hook hard into what felt to be a good fish. Unfortunately it was a 3lb northern pike. A little while later I nabbed bass number 4 (12.75") on a white Zoom Horny Toad in the reeds.

Next we went into a big shallow bay and started working the shoreline heading North. Joe missed a good hit right by shore with the Snagproof Frog. Sometimes I was casting in towards shore and sometimes I was casting out over the weed flat with the Zoom Horny Toad. On a cast out over the weed flat the Toad got annihilated by 14.75" largemouth. A little while down the shore line Joe pulled a 17inch 3lb 2oz beauty off an isolated piece of wood in the weeds. Eventually I took a break to eat a couple of sandwiches and Joe bird dogged a fish that turned out to be a small pike. The fish was in some super shallow slop and Joe could get it to wake to the frog but it wouldn't hit it. Eventually he motored up and got a look at it to discover it was a pike. Joe decided he wanted to eat something so he let me take the front of the boat and shortly after that I got my limit fish (12.75") on the Horny Toad. Joe got back up and started fishing and had his Snagproof Frog stolen by a little pike next to a dock. We tried to recover the frog but it was nowhere to be found so the pike probably ate it.

Next we headed up to the North end of the lake to work some more pads and reeds. Before we got into the pads there were some cattails and Joe pulled his 5th and last keeper on the Snagproof Frog. We worked some awesome looking pads but with the overcast it just wasn't happening. Finally as we were coming to the end of the pads and for some reason Joe had me take the front of the boat. I got hit in a pocket between the catails and pads with a watermelon Brovarney Swim jig with watermelon Zoom Speed Craw trailer. Despite a lousy hook set I landed the 14 incher and culled out my 12". We fished more good looking water in this area but couldn't get bit, so we headed back to our starting spot.

When we got to my tube spot, I naturally started throwing the smoke tube and I culled up 3 more times (13.75", 13.75", 14.25"). Both Joe and I got bit off by Pike and that was the last of our fish. We did go back to Joe's pad spot where he fumbled that keeper but didn't get anything and then it was time to head in.

My big bass was only 1lb 10ozs and my 6 fish went 8lbs 8ozs which put me in 15th out of 22 anglers. I had the lightest limit of the tournament. My boater Joe had 9lbs 7ozs and came in 12th. The winner blew everyone away with 16 and a half pounds by fishing docks in the wind using his Power Pole. Big Bass was this 6lb 6oz beast caught by Owen Lease.

Analysis- I felt like I fished well and pretty much caught what there was to catch and that is all I can ask. It was the first tournament of the year that I feel good about despite the mediocre showing. I feel bad for Joe, had he landed that fish that hit the side of the boat, he may have finished as high as 5th. Both Joe and I caught a couple of dinks that I didn't mention.

Where I Sit: With half the season now over I sit mired in 20th place, there are just 6 anglers beneath me that have fished at least 2 out of the 3 tournaments (we get to throw out our worst showing of the year). I actually am 1 point ahead of where I was at this time last year. Last year I ended the last 3 tournaments with a 17th, 3rd, and 20th which averages out to a 13th place showing. I would really like to improve on last years points and I think that will prove a challenge because I have only fished above 13th place once now in 9 Bass Snatcher tournaments. I guess all I can do is hope for good partner draws and fish as smart as I can.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bass Snatchers Ida Pre-fish

We will start this report at the end of the day. My boater Joe and I were headed home between Parkers Prairie and Eagle Bend when the truck shuddered and the next thing I knew a wheel was passing by the drivers side door. It was one of Joe's boat trailer tires. The tire went into the ditch and then into the woods quite a ways in front of where we stopped the truck. Luckily Joe was able to find the tire. Putting the tire back on was easy, getting the lug nuts tight was another story that I won't get into.

After about an hour and a half we were back on the road.

Weather: Yesterday it rained and stormed and the days forecast called for temps in the high 60's to low 70's with strong West winds and sun. When we got to the lake around 9:30AM it was quite overcast and windy. The sun eventually came out around 1PM.

The Fishing:Joe had been out on Ida on Saturday and found some fish shallow. Basically the day was dedicated to the search for shallow area's and fish. Joe loves to throw a Snagproof Frog and Ida has a fair amount of pads and reeds to explore and that is what we did for most of the day with mixed results. At times it was impossible to fish in the reeds due to the wind. The reeds tend to be tall and thick at this point of the year so about the only bait you can fish in that tangle is slop frogs like Snagproofs and Spro's. We did find a few fish and the bite seemed to be better when the sun was out. Here is Joe with his best fish of the day.

I didn't catch a single fish on a slop frog, but I didn't throw it most of the time like Joe. I did have a few bites on the surface, but I really wasn't trying to catch these fish only to get them to show themselves so we would know productive area's. Basically the bass I did catch came on a tube on weedlines and they were not very big with the exception of this 2lber.

We didn't really look for this type of water and I only threw the tube in a couple of spots but when the water looked right I got bit. I also got a few bites and caught 1 keeper bass on swim jigs.

Outlook: I am a little concerned about this tournament because I think it might be tough to catch fish behind Joe if we stay shallow for the day. From today's results it just didn't seem like there were good numbers of fish up shallow and where we did get fish seemed to favor the front of the boat although if there is less wind on Saturday that should open up some water. I think for me this lake is going to fish quite similar to what I did at the last tournament at South Long with heavy doses of the Zoom Horny Toad and Zoom Super Fluke. I will probably be throwing a slop frog more and a swim jig less. If I can catch 10lbs and a limit I'll be thrilled. I don't have high expectations.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bass Snatchers South Long June 21st 2009

South Long Lake was the location of my 2nd Baxter Bass Snatchers Bass Club tournament of the year. The weather forecast for the day called for overcast with showers arriving in the late morning and continuing into the afternoon with 10-15mph SE winds building in the late morning. The actual weather was pretty close to the forecast although the sun came out from about 9 to 11AM and the winds seemed to be lighter than predicted. At the end of the tournament day there was light rain that got a little heavier around weigh in at 3PM. I never put on rain gear and was saved at the weigh in because there was a tent set up for us. We were fortunate to be able to weigh in at a home on the lake.

My boater Dwight and I launched on the North end of the lake around 6AM and then we had to make our way South to the Public Access where we would have the blast off. On the way South Dwight pointed out some docks that we would hit first thing if a lot of boats went to the South end of the lake at blast off. Dwight and I were last boat to blast off out of 11 boats so we would see where everyone else went first.

I think we had blast off around 6:50AM and all but 1 boat went North, so Dwight and I went back to the original plan which was to go to the South end of the lake to start the day. On our way South we hit some docks that we pulled some good fish off of when we pre-fished. Nobody was home and so we made our way to the South End of the the lake just to the North of where the river flows out. The plan was to spend the morning and possibly most of the day working the slop in the South end of the lake. I started out throwing a white Zoom Horny Toad and had a fish blow up on it right away but I missed it. It wouldn't go after the Horny Toad again, so I followed up with a bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke which was promptly slashed at by the fish which turned out to be a pike. We moved on.

As we made our way North Dwight had a blow up on his Spro Frog and it was a good fish that we got a good look at when it jumped. Unfortunately it buried itself in the lily pads and got off. I think that was the only bite we got working North in this particular run of slop. When we got to where the slop ended there was another tournament boat so we headed across the bay to work some more slop, predominated by pads. While working this stretch I had a big blow up on a yellow Zoom Horny Toad that didn't hook up and I didn't get anything with my follow ups. We went for a long stretch without anything but when we got close to where the river flows out I had another blow up that didn't hook up. I threw right back and let the toad sink and there was a swirl so I set the hook and landed 12.5" keeper. As we kept moving North we were now reworking the water we started on. As we were passing a dock with a pontoon I made a nice long cast with a bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke beyond the pontoon in front of where a short section of dock came out. Sure enough there was a swirl and I set the hook. The fish moved to my left behind the pontoon and my line got caught up with a rope on the pontoon and the bass completely came out of the water. Dwight quickly moved us over there and netted the 12.75" bass. That would be the last fish on the far South end of the lake. After running pretty much to the end of the slop run we decided to move out of the area.

Once again when we got to the narrows we hit the docks that gave up good fish when we pre-fished. Dwight pulled a small keeper off of one of the docks. We ended up running a lot of shallow docks moving North and didn't get anymore bites. We moved out into some reeds and didn't get any bites. We moved on to a weed flat and didn't get any bites. We moved into some slop/pads and Dwight pulled a solid 2 pounder on a black/blue jig and beaver pitching in the pads. I was throwing a Horny Toad and not getting any bites. We worked the area without any more bites, so we decided to head to the North end of the lake to some slop where we got some hits in pre-fish.

The area we went to on the North end of the lake had junk weeds, pads, and some docks. Near a dock I spotted a 2lb bass close to the boat and cast to it with the yellow Zoom Horny Toad. It started swimming towards the Toad like it was going to take it, but then veered off and disappeared; none of my follow ups would find this fish. As we were moving along Dwight spotted a solid 2+ pound fish that had a lure in the side of it's mouth but all the fish did was swim right by the boat. We got to another dock and I had a blow up on a black Zoom Horny Toad but once again I didn't hook up. Dwight flipped into some weeds by this dock and had a pick up but he didn't hook the fish. I immediately threw back to the spot of my blow up with the bubblegum Super Fluke and was rewarded with a 14.25" bass. We kept working this area which looked awesome but couldn't find anymore fish.

Dwight conferred with me and I suggested we go hit an area about mid point in the lake where there was reeds, pads, maidencane, cattails and slop and so that is where we went. Dwight was working us into some docks before we would go into the reeds and pads when he connected with a 2lb bass on a white spinnerbait. I sent a short fish flying on a hook set with the black Horny Toad. As we got into the reeds there was a pontoon fishing to the South of us and Dwight spotted them pull in a dogfish and two bass on spinnerbaits, so he threw his spinnerbait and was rewarded with keeper bass that filled his limit. I started throwing a gold/white Brovarney Swim Jig with gold glitter 5" Action Plastic Super Mag grub and caught a 12inch keeper. I threw the swim jig into an opening in the reeds and something bit at the jig but didn't get it. I threw back and it was fish on. As I was reeling it in it jumped way out of the water and then dove and pulled off. Dwight thought it was a 4lb+ fish; I didn't get the greatest look at it but it was a 3lber minimum. Missing this fish really hurt me. I continued to throw the swim jig and caught a 14.75" and another fish that was just over 12.

Dwight culled a couple of times pitching a black/blue jig in the weeds. I tried a black/blue jig without success and then went to throwing the black Zoom Horny Toad with which I culled a 12 incher with a 12.75" and a 12.15" with a 13.5". We went back and worked over the most productive stretch of water but couldn't get bit so once again we headed South to the pads where Dwight pulled the fish on the jig. I was throwing the Horny Toad and had a couple of fish that had to be small swipe at it. It started to rain and conditions seemed perfect for the fish to get active so we worked ourselves into a reed bed but couldn't get bit.

We were running out of time, so we headed across the way to some sparse pads. I had a big dogfish follow my Horny Toad, but there were no bass to be found and it was time to head to weigh in on the North end of the lake.
At weigh in my big bass was a measly 1lb 10ozs and my 6 fish bag went 7lbs 12ozs which put me in 15th out of 22 anglers. My partner Dwight had 10lbs 15ozs and captured 9th place. The winning bag was 14lbs 3ozs and big bass was 3lbs 15ozs.

Due to the low club turn out, the 15th place finish tied my 2nd best placement in the club this far to date. Had I caught the big one that got off I probably would have moved up 3 more places and possibly as many as 6 if it was over 4lbs like Dwight thought.

Post Tournament Thoughts: This one was a disappointment in that the fishing wasn't nearly as good as I expected it to be. The quality of the fish I got on the Horny Toad was a let down. My execution on fish that bit was a bit of a let down especially due to the fact that my opportunities were limited. The size of the fish I am catching so far this year is a let down. Basically I am now scrapping the bottom of the barrel among those who have fished both tournaments and weren't disqualified. I am not fishing as well as I did at this point last year even though I actually have 1 more point than I did at this point last year. Bottom line is that I expect to fish better than the level I have been performing at this year in the tournaments.

Our next tournament isn't until July 18th and is at Lake Ida North of Alexandria. I have never fished the lake and don't really know much about it other than it has smallmouth in addition to largies. I am thinking that my partner draw in this one is going to be especially crucial to the outcome for me. My partner draws so far this year are better than my results should indicate. If any Bass Pundit reader wants to fill me in on Ida my email is .

Friday, June 12, 2009

South Long Lake Pre-fish

(My boater Dwight with a 4lber)

I'm going to try not to say to much in this pre-fish report because we had what would seem to be a pretty successful pre-fish. Had today been tournament day, my boater Dwight probably would have won things going away and I had enough bites to keep me interested even though the fish I caught were not huge, but they weren't Cedar Lake like short fish or barely keepers either. I also pre-fished a lot of the time in such a way that I wasn't going to hook the highest percentage of fish that bit.

I arrived at the lake a little before 2PM and club member Herman who I fished with at Farm Island lake last year was just pulling his boat out. I don't think he caught a fish and he said he only had two bites. He seemed to be a little disgusted with the amount of slimy green moss in the lake. About 10 minutes after Herman left, Dwight showed up and we were on the water by 2:20PM. There was at least 1 other club guy out pre-fishing today.

We did fish some good looking water and didn't get bit like we would have liked, but we found plenty of good looking water that was holding fish. One surprise is that we didn't really seem to run into lots of little northern pike, which was nice. I was hoping to tangle with a few nice dogfish but none of them made an appearance.

The way things are shaping up I think I am going to really like fishing this lake. South Long has a lot of water that is tailor made for fishing Zoom Horny Toads, slop frogs, and lighter swim jigs and I am all about that. Hopefully the weather and fish will cooperate with our primary game plan.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Bass Snatchers Cedar Lake (Aitken) May 30, 2009

Originally this tournament day was slated for Gull Lake, but due to the Minnesota Teen Challenge Tournament, they switched to Cedar Lake West of Aiken. I wasn't at the meeting when they made the switch and when everything was out on the table I was not happy about the switch. All that was left was to make the best of it and I didn't.

Going in our plan was to fish cabbage weedlines/weed beds and hit lots of docks. The forecast called for it to be sunny and mild but with 20-30mph winds out of the NW. A front came through the night before tournament day, so it was high pressure, post-frontal conditions. The tournament was from 7AM to 3PM For the 1st hour of the morning the winds were manageable and we were able to effectively fish a weedline/weedbed that was in the wind. I started out throwing a salt and pepper Zoom Trick Worm and got the first fish of the day for our boat, unfortunately it was a rock bass. Actually my partner Adam had the first bite of the day, it was a pike or muskie that bit him off on the strike. I got the second fish of the day and it was a small Northern Pike. I got the 3rd fish of the day and it was an 11.75" in largemouth bass. The minimum size is 12" so back in the lake it went. My partner Adam then got on the board with a solid keeper. On this weedline I would land 3 more largies that were just a little bit short of 12". We basically worked through the area one and a half times and stopped getting bit so we went to some wind protected docks. I believe Adam landed 1 good keeper off the docks. Next we went to some docks that were in the wind, but the wind wasn't terrible yet, and didn't get anything. Next we fished a cabbage weed point and Adam got a couple more keepers and I landed a couple more that were just under 12", I also had a bite that stripped the Zoom Speed Craw off my Brovarney Swim Jig. The wind really started whipping when we fished this spot.

Next we went to a point/cabbage weedline/weedbed that was in the wind. The spot looked great but to fish it effectively in the strong wind it called for horizontal presentations and the fish if they were there were having none of it. I don't think we even got a bite on this excellent looking area. Next we hit some more docks that were pretty much wind protected and I picked up 2 keepers on a bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke. I felt really fortunate to get the fish because by now I had learned that Adam is excellent at skipping jigs at docks with a baitcaster, very accurate and efficient.

We went to fish some more semi-wind protected docks and Adam picked up fish so he started culling. I got on the trolling motor while Adam was culling. I was coming around the end of a boat lift when I made an errant cast and got hung up. Not wanting to disturb the spot I broke off. Before I knew Adam was back fishing again he had a nice bass in the boat that just nailed his jig when he fished it in the spot that my Fluke should have been. Basically blowing this great opportunity to add a 3rd solid keeper would really cost me because for the next couple of hours things got really slow for me. Meanwhile Adam was catching an occasional keeper and also got a 30+ inch Muskie on a dock. At one point I believe Adam was culling so I was on the trolling motor and I got a bite on the Fluke and pulled in a 12 inch rock bass.

We were running wind blown docks in some serious waves when Adam added a nice bass in between docks. While he was culling I got a fish on brown Strike King Pure Poison Chatterjig and thought for sure I had a keeper bass, but it was a pike. A couple of minutes later Adam tied into a 40 inch class Muskie which we did land and Adam took pictures of me holding, which he hopefully will email me.

We were on a stretch of semi wave protected docks when Adam got a couple more keeper fish not under the docks but near them, meanwhile I landed a fish that was just short of 12" at around 11 7/8ths. Adam told me to clip it and hoped that it might grow a little in the livewell as he had seen that happen to fish before.

Basically we re-ran a bunch of water we had already fished for most of the rest of the day. I missed one good opportunity with the Fluke and I think Adam maybe picked up one more key fish and got 2 or 3 keepers that didn't help. While we were re-running a bunch of docks in the wind and waves I got my 3rd keeper and best fish on the Pure Poison chatterjig on the last dock in the line.

In the last hour we fished a new wind protected inside weedline with cabbage. I landed yet another 11.75 fish. A little later on my Fluke disappeared and when I set the hook, I thought the line had broke but actually the Fluke just got stripped off the hook. Adam got a keeper that didn't help him under a dock that had just been fished by another tournament boat.

In the last 20 minutes we fished a the wave protected spot that we had some bites off earlier. Once again Adam got a bass that didn't help. Our last stop was on a wave protected shoreline that I don't remember hitting. I got a solid hook up on the Pure Poison but it turned out to be a 25 inch pike and that was basically it.

For the day I got 3 keepers for 4lbs 2ozs which put me in 23rd out of 26 anglers. I landed 8 bass that were over 11" but short of 12" and a couple that were under 10", 3 pike, and 2 rock bass, so it wasn't like I wasn't catching any fish. My partner Adam got 2nd Place with 13lbs 10ozs.

Other than the fact that the fishing wasn't so great for me, I had a good time on the water with Adam who is a really good guy and excellent fisherman. My choice to not to take the front of the boat other than when my partner is culling probably more than anything cost me a shot at a limit, but it also had to be a factor in Adam getting 2nd place. He has come very close to being club Mr. Bass/Angler of the Year for the past couple of years. I hope he can show the old timers how it's done this season.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cedar Lake Pre-fish

(The only picture I got was when we were off the lake, so you can see the rig I will be fishing tournament day.)

Today I prefished Cedar lake West of Aiken in Aiken County for my Baxter Bass Snatchers with my boater for the tournament Adam. Cedar is a lake with lots of bays, plenty of undeveloped shoreline and varying water clarity. Most of Cedar is deep water and medium depth weed flats are seemed to be almost non-existent. Most of the time we were either in fairly shallow water or on a steep break near shore. I think we are hitting this lake a little too early because of it's depth the grass is late blooming and so cover right now is pretty scarce or last years growth.

We covered a lot of water and saw more fish than we caught which isn't saying much. We saw quite a few crappies which looked like they were bedding, but very little bass bedding activity but there were some. The sunfish seemed to be scattered and not very abundant. I also saw quite a few pike and 1 muskie.

I caught 3 small keepers and 1 dink and 2 pike. I missed several strikes on the Zoom Super Fluke which I assume probably were pike because they were swirling on it and not hooking up which is rare for bass but common for pike. I caught all the keepers on a swim jig.

Assessment: If it is a good bass lake it didn't show it today, maybe if the grass was farther along that would make a big difference as there would be some good pad and reed area's and even a little rice. We did talk to a boat that was bass fishing that said the fishing on the lake was much better yesterday, so maybe the cold night pushed em back.

For the tournament their will be heavy doses of jigs, Zoom Super Flukes, and Zoom Horny Toads. I eliminated hard jerkbaits and hard topwaters because there really won't be good water for these things. I don't anticipate using spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, or chatterjigs unless there is significant wind. There wasn't much wind today and there is a very good chance you are fishing at least semi protected water because of the many bays.

Since I got 3 keepers when we were covering and eliminating water I think there is a good chance I will get a limit, but size is a real concern.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Blast from the past.

Back in 2004 with the help of my friend Mike Davis I fished 3 Excel Singles events put on by Joel Stokka. The Picture is from Rabbit Lake where I placed 3rd. Some of the best bass anglers in the Brainerd area fish Excel Singles and at Rabbit I was beat by two good one's in Pro Fisherman and Guide Tom Whitehead (brown shirt) and fellow Baxter Bass Snatcher Chuck Fields (blue shirt). I might have placed higher but my kicker was a really skinny fish that could have weighed a 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound more if it was filled out.

Here are my Excel Singles Results from 2004:

6/6/04 Gull Lake 11.88lbs for 12th out of 36 anglers. I had never been on Gull Lake before that morning and it might have cost me because I didn't find the channel that I wanted to fish first thing in the morning. Mike Davis was actually in the boat with me to observe how I went about my tournament day. I didn't go far from the launch point, in fact I caught most of my fish on Flukes and Senko's on the other side (South) of the point where the HQ Ernie's on Gull is located. I was proud of my finish in this one.

6/27/04 Rabbit Lake 10.92lbs for 3rd out of 34. I caught em on a bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke shallow and my biggest bass was a fluke that I was very lucky to get in the boat.

7/18/04 Whitefish Chain Skunk! Last out of 30. I had only been on Whitefish once and caught lots of fish that day pre-fishing with Mike Davis; By tournament day they vacated the area and my lack of familiarity with the lake just killed me. The up side is that I won a Fig Rig rod (6'6") in a drawing before the tournament started in the morning. At the dock someone said, "You probably used up your luck for the day when you won that rod." I guess he was a prophet. That rod has served me well, I primarily have used it for Frenzy Poppers, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits for eye's and bass.

I didn't fish the last two tournaments of the year.