Saturday, October 09, 2010

Bass Snatcher Win!!! The 2010 Challenge Cup@ Sylvan Lake

The Challenge Cup is an annual bass tournament that pits 6 guys (3 boater, 3 non-boaters) from my bass club the Baxter Bass Snatchers vs. 6 guys the Range Bassmasters. I think the Brainerd Lakes Bassmasters have also fished in it in years past. Last year was the first time I got to fish it. This year it was held on Sylvan Lake which is just South of Gull Lake West of Brainerd, MN. This year I fished with Emmet Smith who was also my boater last year. Before blast off he was talking up what a great lake Sylvan is, but it really didn't show it on this day.

Conditions were phenomenal for October with air temps in the high 70's and a fairly light wind out of the East. Water temps were in the low to mid 60's.

Here's the run down:
Bass Snatchers 52lbs 3ozs
Range Bassmasters 47lbs 14oz

Tounament Winners
1st In-Fisherman's Steve Quinn with 10lbs ??? Range Bassmasters
2nd Place and 4lb 10oz Big Bass Dennis Lothspeich Bass Snatchers
3rd Chuck Steinbauer Bass Snatchers

Everyone caught a 5 fish limit.

My weight was 6lbs 12ozs and Emmet weighed 7lbs 6ozs, so we were pretty close. Last year he destroyed me. I was actually 11th out of the 12 anglers, but I beat 1 Range guy, so I pulled my weight sort of. I caught at least 9 keepers, culling 4 times and my big fish was a 14.5". It was my last fish of the day and it was caught on a blue shiner Berkley Frenzy Popper. I did catch several small bass at or below 12 inches that I didn't bother to measure.

I caught keepers on:
white single white Colorado blade spinnerbait
Bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke
blue/black jigNpig
blue shiner Berkley Frenzy Popper

We caught fish all day long and almost everywhere we went, Emmet and I just couldn't buy a quality bite, even our pike were small. We fished inside and outside weedlines, flats, and docks. Slop was totally unproductive.

Friday, October 08, 2010

2010 Challenge Cup Sylvan Lake Preview

Tomorrow I will fish in my second Challenge Cup which pits my bass club The Baxter Bass Snatchers vs. The Range Bassmasters. Last year the tournament was on Mission Lake and I didn't fair so hot. This year the tournament is on Lake Sylvan which is just South of Gull Lake. Once again my boater will be Emmet Smith of the Range squad. I have never fished Sylvan and I think the RB's fished it last year. I remember Emmet said they fished Sylvan and I had no clue about where it was located. The lake is only 803 acres and is made up of two basins connected by a fairly wide channel. Apparently one of the lakes is very clear and the other one is stained, not sure about the channel. We have been having warm stable weather this week and that will hold for tomorrow, so the bite should be good. Naturally I will be trying to make topwater happen, but having never seen the lake I don't know what we will be doing. I paired down to 7 rods because if Emmet has the same boat as last year, it really has limited room for a non-boaters rods.

Here's how my rods are rigged.
Zoom Horny Toad
Herb's Dilly Buzzbait
White Spinnerbait
Texas Rigged Crawtube (I only have one crawtube, so if it is demolished I will fish a Yum Wooly Bug next)
Texas Rigged Tube
Dock Rod: Zoom Super Fluke spinning gear
Misc topwater or crank rod (Norman speed clip)

I hope the bite is good and I finish above all of the Range non-boaters.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

B.B.S. Serpent Lake Tournament Oct. 2nd

Serpent was the 6th and final tournament of the 2010 Baxter Bass Snatcher Bass Club schedule.

Conditions: It was in the mid 30's at blast off, but I think it got into the high 50's by tournament end. It was mostly sunny with a few clouds. Water temps seemed to be in the high 50's.

My Day:
A little before blast off I asked my boater Tony where we were headed and he basically told me we were going to the same bay that I had fished so successfully with boater Mark Munson two years ago. Just after Tony told me, Mark pulls up next to us and says mostly in jest "you better stay off my spots." I informed Mark that I hadn't told Tony anything, which was the truth, and that we were going where Tony wanted and I had nothing to do with it. It turned out we stopped more to the West and they started more to the East and then we fished towards one another.

First thing in the morning I was casting with a white/silver Herb's Dilly Buzzbait and actually had a fish show behind it but not take it. Eventually I switched to a black/red spinnerbait with a large single Colorado blade. I put the first fish in the boat with it, and it was a pike. This is almost the exact same way the tournament on Serpent started two years ago. Mark and his boater 2010 Minnesota Federation Nation Tournament of Champions Champion Nate Steinbauer were approaching us when I got the fish. They were covering water quite a bit quicker than us and said they had one small bass and had caught a couple of pike as well. After they were well past us I was the first one to put a keeper bass in the boat with 13.5" fish. We were working our way East first on the deep weedline without success then we went to the inside weedline and Tony connected with a couple of keeper bass on a white spinnerbait. I switched to a white with white single Colorado blade spinnerbait and got a 14.5" largie and then a 13.25" largie on it. Just after my third bass of the day, Tony brought in a 14"+ smallmouth, which had to go back because they are now in a immediate catch and release season. Tony caught a nice bass off a dock. We worked our way back over the productive water but only caught pike and I missed a couple of bites. We worked our way back West to some docks and I dropped a small bass in front of one of them. Nothing happened after that so we moved to a weedline and some docks on the South East shore. The docks gave up nothing and we kept working down the weedline. I was casting out towards deeper water and bringing it shallow when I connected with a 16" bass on the white spinnerbait.

For a long time we fished a weed flat and picked up several pike, but the bass just were not on the flat. Eventually we went West to a point on the North shore. As we approached the point I flipped a junebug crawtube into some weeds on the break and I had a very bassy pick up. I set the hook and was disappointed that it was another pike. We started fishing the inside weedlines and docks going east. Tony picked up a dink (non-keeper) on a dock and I stuck keeper #5, which was a 13.5" largie on a bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke in front of a dock. Tony stuck a couple of more non-keepers. Eventually we ran out of docks and made the decision to run to where we got most of our fish, which was a good call. It wasn't long and Tony filled his limit. Soon after that I stuck a 14.5" largie on the white spinnerbait and had my tournament limit. Tony stuck a good 17"+ bass, but it turned out to be a smallmouth.

With my limit, I became totally fixated on topwater and got a 12" keeper that didn't help on a Paycheck Baits Repo Man. Not long after that the day ended with 7 keeper bass and 11 pike.

The Results:
Weigh in proved that the fishing was kind of tough and quite a bit of drama as well. My weight came to 9lbs 4ozs which put me right in the middle of the pack in 8th. I edged Peter Johnson by 1oz despite the fact that he had the days "Lunker" (4lbs 4ozs). Beating Peter was significant because it put me 2 points over Peter in the end of the year standings and helped me capture 6th Place in AOY. 6th Place in Angler of the Year is significant because it gets a plaque and traditionally is the last slot for the Club State Tournament Team. I am not a MN State Federation Nation member, so I am not eligible to go to State but still being in that position is an honor.

My boater Tony had 10/1 which put him in a tie for 4th Place with Chuck Steinbauer. Tony won the tie breaker with Chuck by 1oz on big fish and that 1oz cost Chuck the club Angler of the Year title (Mr. Bass). 5th Place put Chuck in a tie in end of the year points with Guy Henkensiefken for Mr. Bass, but Guy owned that tie breaker. Chuck was totally out of luck.

Analysis: Man was that a squeaker. I probably spent way to much time trying to make a topwater bite happen, but as it was I got lucky and it didn't cost me. The day was a bit of a thriller not getting my limit until the last hour. I think switching to that white spinnerbait was probably a key move. I could cast it farther than the black spinnerbait and a couple of my keepers came right at the start of the retrieve.

Note: Mark Munson who was my partner at Serpent in 2008 and came in 2nd at that tournament got his revenge and captured 1st Place with 11lbs 13ozs.

Next Tournament: Bass Snatchers vs. Range Bassmasters Challenge Cup at Sylvan Lake in South Cass County.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Bass Snatcher Serpent Lake Tournament Preview

Tomorrow morning I return to the scene of my best Baxter Bass Snatcher Club tournament finish (3rd), Serpent Lake out of Crosby, MN. That tournament was on Sept. 20 1998, so we are pretty darn close in terms of time of year. The weather has been pretty nice this week, but tonight it is forecast to get below freezing and temps are not suppose to get out of the low 50's tomorrow. Fortunately winds are suppose to be fairly light but it suppose to be sunny, which means cold front conditions.

The tournament two years had a morning topwater bite follwed by picking off fish here and there throughout the day on spinnerbaits and a jigNpig, with a 4+lb kicker caught from a dock with a Zoom Super Fluke. I will try and get away with a topwater bite tomorrow. The lakes maximum depth is 65 feet and it has a lot of water 15 feet or deeper, so one cold night probably won't effect the lake temps that much. If we are lucky the little extra bit of cold will turn the fish on. Besides topwater I have rods rigged for spinnerbaits, jigs, texas rigged crawtubes or beavers, and Flukes and am packing jerkbaits, rattlebaits, senko's and a few crankbaits.

My boater Tony is currently 12th in the standings, but hasn't had a particularly good year. His best finish this year was a 9th at the last tournament, Washburn Lake. I do not believe he got out pre-fishing and I'm not sure how much experience he has on the lake. He did fish the tournament 2 years ago and got 5 fish for just over 8lbs which put him in 14th out of 24. We only have 16 guys fishing, which translates into pretty good points no matter where I finish provided I catch a keeper, you get 0 points for a skunk. I will need a very strong finish to make my way into the coveted Top 6 for the year. There are 4 of us closely in contention for that 6th spot.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fishers of Men Club Twin Cities Fall Outing 2010

(FallEE WallEE the Fall Outing Tournament Trophy)

On Friday it was cold very windy and wet in the morning. Nobody wanted to go out in it. Around 1PM it dried up, still overcast, and I was willing to go out but nobody with a boat wanted too.

On Saturday I fished with Gary Pflipsen on Mule Lake. Conditions were clear, then cloudy, then clear again with little to no wind and it got warm enough that I fished for about 3 hours in a T-shirt.

When Gary and I arrived we motored a fair ways North of the access and started fishing the West shoreline. I got the first fish which was this largemouth.
It bit on a green pumpkin Strike King Pro Model tube on a leadhead jig. Gary got then next bass which was a 15+ largie caught off a dock. I got another decent bass on the tube. I was missing a few bites.

In the calm and overcast I started throwing topwater and I caught an 18" pike on a Lucky Craft Gunfish. Gary caught a nice mid 20" pike off a dock with a Senko. Finally we got down to the Narrows and on the North point I got largies number 3 & 4 on a PB&J Yum Wooly Bug. 4 Bass was the limit for bass in the FallEE WallEE Tournament. I believe bass #4 was 15" and my biggest of the day. To the East of the narrows we started seeing a lot of baitfish activity on the surface so I started throwing topwater. I got an 8" largie on a clear bluegill Deps Buzzjet Jr. I put on a motor oil Yum Wooly Bug and caught my second pike which was a meager 14 inches long. 2 was the tournament limit on pike and it was this fish that won me the top spot for 2010 on FallEE WallEE. I caught one more 11" largie on the bluegill Deps Buzzjet Jr. and a 12" largie off a dock on the Strike King tube.

When the sun came out in the afternoon the fishing got tough and I didn't catch any more fish.

As it turns out fishing was kind of tough on everybody. Several of the guys had their 4 bass, but didn't get there limit of pike. Because of this and Gary Pflipsen and Mike Thompson not participating in the tournament I won the top spot on FallEE WallEE. Gordy got second and Jim Druk got 3rd. Gordy was fishing out of his new boat on Boy Lake and Jim got his fish on Three Island Lake fishing with minnows.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

B.B.S. Washburn Lake Tournament August 28th

Note-Washburn Lake is made up of 3 distinct basins (West, North, East)

Conditions for the day would be a little hazy for about the first hour giving way to sun and wind 12-20MPH out of the S or SW.

A number of our guys were none to pleased with the welcoming committee at the public access. Basically a number of people from the Washburn Lake Association wanted to make sure we weren't bringing any exotic species to their lake. The lake already has Milfoil in it. Apparently they also quizzed some of our guys about what lakes they have had their boats in recently.

We blasted off around 10 to 8AM from the Public Access on the South end of the East basin. My boater Darren and I headed North to a large rice and pad bed in the East basin. The wind was blowing close to 10mph at this point. I quickly switched from a white Spro Bronzeye Frog to a white Zoom Horny Toad because the slop wasn't the thickest stuff in the world and there were lots of open pockets. About 15 minutes into the day I landed a 13.75" largie. About 2 minutes later I had a blow up that didn't get the Toad. I cast right back to the area and let the Horny Toad sink in a whole and sure enough it got picked up and I put a 14.75" in the boat. Right after that my partner Darren missed a blow up on his black Spro Frog. At one point we worked our way down a lane in the weeds towards a beaver hut. I made a cast to the South into another open lane in the weeds and had a good blow up that didn't hook up. I cast back to the spot and got a good backlash. Right as I got done pulling out the backlash I realized a fish was running with the Toad. I set the hook and landed a 11.5" which was a short fish (12" minimum length). We kind of got stuck for a couple of minutes but eventually were able to get away from the beaver hut. We worked out way down a trail in the weeds but it was super shallow and we didn't get nothing.

Next we headed off to some docks in the channel between the West and North basins where my boater had success in pre-fish. We were between docks where there were reeds and pads when Darren said he had a bite. At the time I was throwing a texas rigged junebug Crawtube out into the lake. I switched directions and started pitching the Crawtube into the pads. Sure enough I had a pick up and I brought in a 15.5". We kept working down the shore and I started throwing a white Strike King Burner spinnerbait out into the lake. I got a hit and brought in a 12.75" bass. Eventually we worked our way into a little bay. When we didn't get anything there we headed out to work a rock pile in the West basin. I started out throwing the spinnerbait and had a couple of hits that didn't hook up. Eventually I got a very small pike. When we got on the back side of the rock pile where Darren had gotten a couple of bites in pre-fish. I switched up to the Crawtube. Darren caught a rock bass, then I caught a pike. We worked the area good, but no bass.

Next we headed to go hit a fallen tree where Darren got a good bass in pre-fish. We actually started a little North of the tree at the first dock on that side of the bay. There were good looking emergent and submergent weeds here and I got hit right by the boat on the spinnerbait by what I'm guessing was a little pike. We got to the tree and Darren got first crack at it. Eventually I started pitching a black/blue Crawtube to the tree and on about my 3rd pitch I had a fish nail it. I set the hook and it was a good one. 18.5" and it would go 4lbs even. We kept working down the shoreline and I got a little pike. We were not getting any bites, so we headed to the other side of the bay to work the weedline and docks where Darren had gotten a number of bass in pre-fish. I pulled a couple of pike off the reeds weedline transition and then we got into fishing docks. On about the 6th dock I had a bad skip that went through and then under the dock. Sure enough a fish picked up my Zoom Super Fluke. I set the hook, but being that my line was over part of the underside of the dock I didn't get a good set and the fish came up and got off. I ended up hung on the dock, so we had to go get me un-hung. That would be the only bite we would get on a dock. We did fish several more docks and then we decided to make a move to another rock pile.

I started throwing a Mann's Baby Minus One and got a little dink of a pike. Next I tried some topwater, then I switched up to a mushroom jig with a wacky rigged Zoom Z-Nail. I had a pike steal my jig. We worked this area hard as my Ace in the Hole said this was his favorite rock pile, but we came up empty.

Next we headed off to find a dock that was recommended. I am not sure we found the right dock. It was about 1PM and Darren informed me that the trolling motor was losing power. We fished a little pad filled bay that was out of the wind. It looked awesome but there weren't any fish.

Next we headed to the slop in the NW corner of the West Basin. It was a challenge working in this stuff with a dying trolling motor but at first the wind actually helped us a little bit. I was fishing with an albino Spro Bronzeye and I had a fish just bump the lure in the duckweed. I cast back to the spot and very slowly worked the frog. Sure enough it took it and I landed my limit fish, which was 14.5". The wind was starting to be our enemy and Darren missed a good blow up on his black Spro. Right after that I had a blow up and landed a 14.25". At this point Darren was really struggling with the wind and we almost got stuck in the junk.

Basically we were not sure what to do next so we headed to the SE end of the lake and just started a controlled drift down the East side of the West Lake. I got a couple of pike on the spinnerbait, I switched up to a white Pointer 100 but couldn't get bit on that, so I switched to a black/blue Strike King Pure Poison chatter jig. I got a couple of pike on that. Darren caught a couple of pike on a spinnerbait. I had a big pike hit but not hook up on the Burner spinnerbait. With about 1/2 an hour left we decided to head back and try the shallow pads by the access. I did get a hit on my Spro, but I think it was something small. And that was it.

As I wrote before my big one was 4lbs even and my bag went 12lbs 13ozs and was good for 4th Place, which equals my best showing of last year and this ties for my 2nd best result in the club. My poor partner Darren got skunked. The Tournament was won by Nate Steinbauer with 14lbs 11ozs and big bass was 4lbs 6ozs. I believe 1 smallmouth was weighed and a couple of guys caught them in practice.

Analysis: I fished clean other than missing that one at the dock. If we had not lost trolling motor power I think I would have probably done even better. Unfortunately the bass just didn't seem to be chasing on the weedline and flats and that drifting in the wind was totally unproductive. How I wish we had made a move to a pad area my Ace in Hole informed me about. This spot was out of the wind and on our way in we watched one of our boats pull a good fish from the spot and they got another good one right after that.

I want to say a BIG THANKS to my "Ace in the Hole" Bob Downey of B3 blog for giving me excellent info about the lake.

Next Tournament: Serpent Lake (With a very good showing at Serpent I could move into the coveted Club Top 6 for the year. Currently I am in 8th, which is the highest I've ever been ranked)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bass Snatcher Washburn Lake Preview

I've never been on Washburn Lake before, but I am going in to this one armed with way more information than I usually have. For this one I had an "ace in the hole" give me some solid info and advice. In addition to that my boater Darren did get out to pre-fish for one day and it sounded like he had a pretty good day. Darren was confident we will be on fish. Conditions will be similar to the day he was out pre-fishing. It's suppose to be warm and windy out of the South. It's really been pretty windy all week and the weather has been fairly stable, so the fish should be fairly aggressive. Tonight I made the call to take off a jigNtube and instead put a spinnerbait on that rod. I plan to power fish out of the gate and keep going back to aggressive presentations throughout the day.

I am hopeful this will be a good tournament.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

B.B.S. Rabbit Lake Tournament July 24th

Note: Rabbit Lake has a West Basin (lake side) and East Basin (pit side). There was an Iron mine on the pit side.

The first thing I will say is that I really could not have gotten a better boater draw for this lake. My boater Guy Henkensiefken has fished it for years and it's pretty clear from our pre-fish and tournament day, that he's got it dialed in.

We blasted off 10th out of 13 boats at around 6:45AM. Our first stop was going to be either where I caught my big fish in pre-fish or a weed hump we pulled a couple of nice fish off during pre-fish. Guy's son Adam went right to the big fish spot, so we headed to the hump.

I started off throwing a purple Berkley Frenzy Popper and I caught a 5" perch and a little sunfish and had a couple of other little ones be hooked up for a few seconds. Guy started off the day with a good fish from sub-surface. I switched up to a wacky rigged watermelon red fleck Zoom Z-Nail on an Outkast Money Jig and got a 15.75" largie on it. We worked the spot for about 45 minutes and those were the only two bites.

Next we headed to a weedline on a close by shoreline. Guy caught a fish right away. I got a 13.25" on the Z-Nail. Guy then had a keeper bass jump him off half way to the boat. I connected with a 12.10" squeaker.

Next we headed back across the lake to a spot that gave up a few fish, including a good one, in pre-fish. The spot is basically a weedline off of a small weed flat. Guy landed 2 or 3 fish in short order. I switched the Frenzy Popper out for a spook type topwater and had a fish slap at it. I think it may have been a pike, but am not sure. After working that spook for a while I switched to a frog pattern Rapala Skitter Prop because there was a bit of wind. While I was working the Skitter Prop a fish swirled but missed so I killed the lure and let it sit for about 5 seconds before twitching again. Sure enough the fish nailed it and it was a good one but it was on for only a few seconds and then the lure came flying out of it's mouth. Guy got a good look at the fish and said it was probably 17" maybe bigger. Missing this fish would really cost me.

We didn't get any more bites in this spot and Adam was still on his starting spot so we headed to the pit side. Guy picked a spot that didn't have any boats on it where he got a couple of good bites in pre-fish. Guy got a good fish in this spot, I didn't get any bites on the wacky rigged Z-Nail. We moved closer to shore and Guy got a small fish. We fished shallow for about 5 minutes and then went to a new spot.

I believe Guy caught a fish right away in this spot. I made a cast by a deadhead and my line started moving off quickly. I set the hook and my Z-Nail was gone. I cast back to the area quickly but couldn't get hit again. A couple of minutes later I got hung up on something and when I tried to free it, my line broke. Finally I caught a bass that I got to measure right at 12inches (we have a 12inch minimum size). I flipped the fish over to see if it would measure any longer and it flipped out of my hands up to the front of the boat and into the water. At this point I was not happy with how my luck had turned.

We moved to a "big fish spot" and sure enough Guy caught a good bass. We both got bit off by pike and I think Guy caught one.

Next we moved to a weedline near another Bass Snatcher boat and Guy got a couple of fish including 1 good one. I got a bit on the Z-Nail and brought in a 14.5". The other boat left and so we headed in that direction. I got a 12.75 off of a piece of wood and when we got to where the other boat was sitting I got a 15" largie to fill my limit. We then started working our way back to where we started. Club curmudgeon and very good angler Dennis Lothspeich was headed in that direction so we moved quickly to cut him off. We saw Dennis catch a fish about 10 minutes earlier and in a profanity filled tirade he let us know that was his first fish of the day. Apparently Dennis doesn't like Rabbit Lake.

Next we headed back to the lake side and tried fishing by Guy's son on the spot I got my big fish in pre-fish. We didn't get a hit so we went to our start spot. Nothing there. We then went to our 2nd stop and I got to cull the 12.10" with a 14.25" caught on a wacky rigged 7" Strike King Ocho. That was all we got on the spot so we went to the place I missed the good fish in the morning. We didn't get anything, so we headed back to the pit side.

We hit several spots on the pit side without any luck until I caught 12" bass that didn't help me on the 7" Ocho. When I got the fish the Ocho came off and Guy suggested I put an O-ring on (he has an O-ring tool). I decided to try it, but that would be my last bite of the day on the Ocho.

With about an hour left we tried a spot on the pit side where we had not been yet where Guy got a good fish in pre-fish. Guy got into a little flurry and culled up 2 or 3 times. He talked me into using the lure he was using on the same type of rigging he was using. I got a bite most likely from a pike, then I had a pike bite me off. With about half an hour left it started to rain hard. When the rain was coming Guy said, it looks like some heavy rain is coming. He put on a full rain suit, while I figured I would just put on my rain jacket and not my bibs. Wrong call it poured. The rain ended after about 10 minutes and we decided to head in about 5 minutes early because Guy had such a good bag of fish and he wanted to get a good spot to park where he could keep his livewells working until it was our time to weigh in.

It's now Thursday the 29th and the official results have not yet been posted, which means I will probably not see them until next week. I am pretty sure I weighed 10lbs 4ozs which I think probably put me in 12th or 13th. I believe Guy won the tournament with 15 something. I will update when I get the official results.

Analysis- This one is a slight downer because I could have done much better had I landed that one good fish. As it was I was stuck with a 12.75" swimmer. I really failed to capitalize on a very good boater draw.

Update: Results are in and I came in 11th which is obviously slightley better than expected. I actually was 11th because of a dead fish penalty and winning the tie breaker. Had I caught the big one I missed, I could have been as high as 5th. Guy was in first with 15lbs 10ozs. He actually won because a guy brought 1 to many fish to the scales.

Next Tournament: Washburn Lake August 28th.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rabbit Lake Pre-fish

Today was my best day on the water as a Baxter Bass Snatcher. Too bad for me it wasn't tournament day because I would most likely have been a contender for the win. I am pretty sure I had 16lbs+ anchored by the fat 19.25" in the picture (thank goodness my boater had a camera phone as I left my camera in the car).

My boater Guy was fun to fish with and he knows the lake well. I think it was a productive pre-fish, but you never really know until tournament day. We found multiple patterns and locations. Guy was telling me there is an old club saying that "it's fun to catch fish, but it's even funner catching fish in the tournament." Meaning, what you do in pre-fish doesn't mean squat if you burn your fish. Hopefully we didn't do that too bad as we tried to lay off them once located. As for my part I took advantage of conditions, and found something nice size fish were on today; Whether that pattern holds for tournament day will most likely be dictated by weather conditions.

Monday, July 12, 2010

B.B.S. Cass Lake Chain Tournament.

This one is more of a rant than a report (at least it starts that way).

Well the results are in and I came in 2 to 3 places worse than I thought I was going finish. I placed 21st out of 25 anglers. I think this one officially qualifies as a bomb. The last two tournaments are now my worse back to back tournaments as a Bass Snatcher and they also make for my worst two finishes in a single season. Right now it feels like I am off to a terrible start, but really I am in the exact same position after 3 tournaments as I was in 2008 and last year I had just a single point more whether counting two tournaments or three. The previous two seasons I really picked it up in the last 3 tournaments of the year. I wish I could say that gives me some confidence at this point, but I'm really humbled by how poorly the last two tournaments seem to have gone.

I was actually feeling somewhat OK about Cass until I saw the final results. 5 guys caught as many fish as me (3 bass) or one less and beat my weight. Honestly I'm not sure in this one what I should have been doing differently. It looks like a good number of the boats that were fishing in this area of the Chain struggled with catching fish. Maybe a heavier Title Shot Jig Head paired on a heavier rod would have helped, but my boater was in the front of the boat with something akin to that and he only got 5 bass all day. Counting rock bass, pike, and bass I didn't catch that many less fish than my boater although he did miss a few more fish than me that hung him up in the heavy cover.

Anyway here is how the day went. The weather was bright and sunny all day (Blast off around 7:45AM) with about 5 to 8MPH wind that was less than forecast. We went North and that's all I'm going to say. Right away in the morning I made several long casts with a Zoom Horny to some wood that was up by shore. On one of the casts I let the Toad sink and I thought maybe something picked it up (kind of hard to tell cause the boat was moving). I set the hook and nothing was there. So I thought it was nothing, but a couple minutes later I noticed the Toad was missing one vibe tail and there were a couple of rips in the Toad. In other words there is a pretty good chance that nothing was actually a pike. We were working down the shoreline in a combination of mostly pads with reeds or rushes right up by shore. I think my boater missed a bite then I had a small fish hit at the Horny Toad and did not get it.

We came to a spot where there was excellent looking weed transition and my boater Jake got nailed by a nice fish and got it in. We worked down the shoreline a little bit and then doubled back. On the 3rd time back through the weed transition I got hit aways back in the reeds on a 3/8 or 1/4oz Fin-Tech Title Shot Jig Head with a blue/black Strike King Rodent (beaver type bait). The fish hung me up on the reeds and got off. My Rodent had a chunk taken out of it and was ripped up in a couple of spots which leads me to believe it was probably a pike. I didn't inspect my line and I got hung up in the reeds a little ways down and my line broke, another clue that it was probably a pike. We worked this shoreline for quite a long ways and I pulled in 2 small pike and had another 8lb class pike or muskie rise at the Rodent.

I think we fished that shoreline for a little over 2 hours before we finally made a move. There were 2 boats in where my boater Jake wanted to go into next, so we went to a large field of maidencaine that was farther East. I think I might have gotten a rock bass and a pike in the maidencaine.

It was now about 11AM and a bit of a breeze was blowing so we went to fish some wind blown reeds. I started with a spinnerbait, but that wasn't getting hit so I switched to a brownish teal Lethal Weapon 2 Swim Jig with a watermelon Zoom Speed Craw. After about 5 minutes of throwing that I got yet another small pike. On the very next cast I got the skunk out of the boat with a 13" largie. A few casts later I got hung up in some reeds. I tried to snap it free and my 30lb PowerPro broke. I had recently run into mysterious line issues with this rod. I retied another Lethal Weapon Jig and started casting again. About 5 minutes later I noticed a major fray up on the line, so I retired that combo for the day. I retied on an identical combo, which I was pitching and casting the title shot jig with. By this point in time we had gotten into some thicker reeds. I got impatient and made an ill advised cast. I got hung in the reeds bad and when I tried to pull it free my line broke. That was my last Lethal Weapon Jig, so I tied on an Outkast Swim Jig in sort of similar colors, but I didn't get any hits on it as we worked back over the reed bed. Jake wasn't getting anything so we moved to the wind blown side of another large field of maidencaine.

I went to pitching the Title Shot Jig with a Rodent and I started getting bit by rock bass. I caught several rockies and basically went through the rest of my bag of Rodents missing one fish that Jake and I think looked like a pike. At one point I got hung up in the maidencaine and broke off my last dark colored head Title Shot Jig. Jake kindly gave me some black/blue Lake Fork Craw/Tubes and I put one of those a white headed 1/4 or 3/8oz Title Shot Jig. On a cast into the maidencaine where there were some pads I had a fish that I think was a bass, but could have been a pike, strike at the lure on top when it came off a pad. The fish didn't get the bait. I cast right back to the area and let it sink but I didn't get a follow up hit. After working the area for about 5 minutes I gave up.

We ended up working around on the backside of the maidencaine field. I was casting a white Zoom Horny Toad out into some reeds with pads when I had a fish blow up on the Toad. I let the Toad sink, my line jumped and Jake said the fish took it, which I couldn't see but he could, so I set the hook and brought in a 12.25".

Eventually Jake and I worked our way back to the first maidencaine field we hit and I got a 14" bass on the Horny Toad there. Jake caught a fish right after that and we thought maybe we were finally on to something or maybe the fish were getting active, but then it went dead again.

With about an hour left of fishing we went back to the shore we started on. I got one good hit on the Horny Toad but got hung up and the fish got off. The Toad was ripped pretty good so it was probably a pike. And that was our day.

My boater Jake was 1 short of a limit with 5 fish, but he weighed 13lbs 4ozs anchored by a 4/13 that tied for tournament "Lunker," which put him in a respectable 7th. With one more fish he could have easily been in the Top 5. My 3 fish went 4lbs 2ozs.

Final Analysis: I don't know if my fishing in the back of the boat is mostly to blame, but it's becoming pretty clear I have a small fish problem. Over the last two tournaments my average fish size is an abysmal 1.35lbs per fish. That just isn't cutting it, especially combined with the fact that I couldn't catch more than 3 bass on Cass. At Farm Island I missed chances to upgrade, at Cass I don't even know if I had any chances to upgrade. At least I didn't skunk.

Next Tournament: Rabbit Lake July 24th.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Bass Snatcher Cass Lake Chain Preview

From my research of the lake I've learned that the Cass Lake Chain can be very good if you find the right spot and very tough if you don't. I didn't pre-fish due to not feeling well and my boater flogged a lot of worthless water the day he fished. Word is that fishing has been tough for most of the guys. From what I gather there is lots of water that looks good but most of it doesn't hold fish. Hopefully my boaters ace in the hole, puts us on fish.

Our main game plan is to fish shallow heavy cover. My boater is more of a structure and weedline guy, but windy conditions the day of pre-fish kept him from exploring that option. The conventional wisdom on Cass is that most of the fish are shallow like Leech Lake.

In this one I will be relieved if I can scratch out a limit. If we can find a good area a limit should not be a problem, but that is a big "if."

Another question in this one is how well will I hold up physically. It will be a long day with an almost 3 hour drive in the morning and daytime temps in the low 80's. Last year on Leech under similar circumstances I didn't hold up to well once we got into the afternoon. I sure hope I can get to sleep at a reasonable time today.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Central Minnesota Bass Club@ Platte/Sullivan

Today the Central Minnesota Bass Club fished Platte/Sullivan. We hosted the weigh-in at our family lake place on Platte Lake. The day started out with a fog delay was overcast with some rain giving way to partly cloudy skies by the Noon weigh-in. Central MN Bass Club is a team circuit with a 5 bass limit.

I will have the official results when posted.

Big Bass was over 4lbs and the winning bag was 14 something. I believe there were a couple of 13lb bags.

Working out front.

The club has 15 boats.

This was big bass

Nick keeping water from running out both corners of his bag.

Monday, June 21, 2010

B.B.S. Farm Island Tournament

Sunday June 20th was the 2nd Baxter Bass Snatcher tournament of the year and it was held on Farm Island Lake, north of Garrison Minnesota. The weather was mostly cloudy in the morning turning to mostly sunny in the afternoon. It was calm for a good part of the day and when there was wind it was under 5MPH.

Some days you got it and some days you don't. This tournament day I didn't.

Nate and I started the tournament day running to the South end of the lake to fish docks. Nate started catching fish immediately. I didn't get a bit until our 2nd stop of docks and when I set the hook my line broke at the knot and I'm pretty sure it wasn't a pike. The 2nd row of docks didn't produce any fish, so we went back to the 1st run only expanded a little.

My first bass of the day was a short from under a dock. Quickly after that one I got a 12.75" largie on the bubblegum Super Fluke from a dock. My next fish was 12.5 and came from the reeds right where my boater had pulled out a fish. I also missed another bite in that same spot after I had caught the 1st one.

Next we went to more reeds and I had a fish slap at my white Zoom Horny Toad. I cast back and it took it. Fish #3 was 13.75" and would be my biggest of the day.

Next we ran some docks and reeds on the East side of the lake, but that was unproductive, so we headed out to try what was a popular weedline area. Here I got a 13.5" and barely 12 inch squeaker on a watermelon blue fleck Strike King KVD Pro-Model Tube. My partner got his two best fish of the day here on a jig worm.

Next we ran some docks on the West side of the lake. We had a guy come out and harass us about fishing his dock. While we were fishing his dock I noticed what turned out to be a nice bass sitting out from his fishing boat lift in shallow water. At first I thought it was something on the bottom. I made a cast and the fish swam around and then to my Fluke and sucked it in. I set the hook and the lure came flying back at me. I quickly re-threaded the Fluke and cast back but the fish just swam away and disappeared. I think it was at least a 2 and a half pound fish, which would have been about a pound bigger than anything I caught.

Next we went back to the popular weedline area and I got my limit fish which was 12.75" and caught on the KVD tube. We worked the weedline for quite a while but it had gotten sunny and calm and things got real slow.

Eventually we went to the West side of the lake and worked some docks and reeds. I got a 13" and 13.75" cull in the reeds on the Super Fluke and I missed one good bite.

Next we went to some of the best looking, best fishing slop you could ever want to fish. I got a 12" that didn't help right away, but then it was nothing except one strike from a small pike. The slop bay had some size to it and with the hot sun it had warmed the water quite a bit and I ended up with 3 fish dying and my partner lost several as well.

We hit the weedline one more time without any luck and closed out in some deep reed with a bit of wind blowing on them. I got a bass that didn't help on a swim jig.

My weight came to 8lbs even and I had 6os in dead fish penalties, but that didn't cost me anything. I ended up in 23rd out of 26 anglers which pretty much equals my worst finishes of the previous 2 seasons. My boater Nate had 13lbs 7ozs with a 6oz dead fish penalty that didn't cost him either. He finished 5th. 1st Place was 15lbs 1oz and caught by the previous two years BBS "Mr. Bass," the mercurial Mr. Dennis Lothspeich.

Analysis: I wish I had this day to do over. Missed fish certainly hurt me as did a lack of preparation and imagination. In terms of preparation I really wish I would have brought a jig worm rod instead of the pitching rod that I didn't end up using. My lack of imagination has to do with my not trying to use rattlebaits, chatterjigs, and maybe trying a couple of other things on those weedline spots, also had I tried pitching a jig in the reeds, maybe I would have come out better.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bass Snatchers Farm Island Tournament Preview

Tomorrow is the 2nd Baxter Bass Snatcher Tournament of the year on Farm Island Lake just North of Garrison, MN. This will be my 2nd Bass Snatcher tournament on Farm Island. Our 1st tournament of the year was on Farm Island 2 years ago. 2008 gave us a late Spring and we fished it June 7th, so lake conditions will be very different this year. My boater Nate Steinbauer has fished several tournaments on Farm Island and he tends to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack. Neither Nate or I got out to pre-fish, but I'm sure Nate got some good info about how things are setting up from his dad who was my partner at the first tournament this year.

In talking to Nate last week, he said we would be fishing docks, slop, inside weedlines, and some reeds. The weather is suppose to be partly cloudy with light wind, which I think will play to the docks and slop.

My first goal is to catch a limit and my second goal is to catch over 10lbs. At the previous Farm Island tournament I got a 6 fish limit for 9lbs 8ozs for 16th place. We have only 26 guys fishing, so I would also like to crack the top 13.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

B.B.S. Whitefish Chain Tournament

Saturday June 5th 2010 was my first Baxter Bass Snatchers Club bass tournament of the year. This tournament was held on the Whitefish Chain, which is about a half hour North of Brainerd Minnesota. The weather was overcast most of the time and we did have a couple of light sprinkles. There was little wind in the morning, but by afternoon it was blowing pretty good out of the West.

My original drawn boater had boat trouble, so I was given a new partner, Chuck Steinbauer. Chuck is "Mr. Baxter Bass Snatchers". I believe he has been in the club since it started in 1977 and has been Club "Mr. Bass" 10 Times. He has finished in the State Tournament qualifying Top 6, 29 times and he has won 35 club tournaments, including 3 of them on the Whitefish Chain. I had no doubt I would be around fish all day, but on the other hand Chuck has a reputation for being hard to catch fish behind.

Like most tournaments we blasted off about 15-20 minutes before the scheduled 7AM start time. We headed North out of Lower Hay for a short run to Delta Bay where Chuck had some rice and docks he wanted to hit real quick. I didn't even have a cast made and Chuck had a bass in the boat. I think it was under 12" thus to small to keep. The rice didn't give up anything else, so we headed to the docks, which gave Chuck a keeper or two.

We were quickly off to go look at some smallmouth beds. Another Bass Snatcher boat was at our next stop and he claimed that he caught the fish that were there. So off we went to another smallmouth spot. The smallies were not here either, but we both caught a couple of rock bass. Our next stop was again for smallmouth's in Big Trout Lake. Another boat was on Chuck's best spot and they told us someone else had already fished and caught a few off of where we settled to fish. We both started catching a bunch of rock bass and I got a little pike as well. Chuck did get one small smallmouth blind casting a senko and I think maybe he picked up one smallmouth off a bed with a tube.

Next we went to fish some docks and I picked up a 14.5" smallie on a electric chicken Zoom Super Fluke and a 14.75 smallie on a watermelon red&black fleck Strike King Ocho (senko). Unfortunately another club boat was coming towards us and so we took off and out of Big Trout. We stopped in a nice little weedy area in Lower Whitefish and Chuck pulled a couple of keepers, which were to small for his liking so we took off. We headed to another weed area in Bertha Lake which looked awesome, but I think only gave Chuck 1 little keeper and me a couple of rock bass.

Next we went to one of Chuck's bedded smallmouth and it was still there and Chuck caught his biggest fish of the day. Next we made a run up to Arrowhead Lake to go fish some docks. I thought the stuff in between the docks looked pretty good, but Chuck was quickly hopping from one dock to another. I threw a bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke into one of the holes in the grass between docks and promptly got bit off, so I switched rods to the Ocho. Chuck caught a keeper off a dock and had me go to the front while he culled. This was my chance to work the stuff between the docks and it didn't take long until my best fish of the day a 16.5inch 2lb 14oz largie ate my Ocho. Chuck got back on the front of the boat and that would be my only fish out of Arrowhead.

Next we ran to one specific dock on Upper Whitefish but nothing was there, so we went to check a smallie bed. As Chuck was looking for a fish on a bed I made a cast and had the pearl 5" grub tail bit off my swim jig. There was another smallmouth bed and I had found it. I didn't really have anything handy to throw back at the fish, so Chuck worked it with his tube and eventually got the 2 and a half pound smallie to bite. That was a critical gain for him and a critical bit of bad luck for me.

Next we went back to the first smallmouth spot we had stopped in the morning and there was a good fish there, but it quickly spooked and didn't come back. We worked the area and Chuck did catch a little smallmouth which did cull a smaller largemouth.

Chuck made the decision to make the long run to Cross Lake and on our way there we made a couple of stops on what I think was Lower Whitefish at some docks with rocks. In one of the spots I pulled a smallie that was just over the 12 inch minimum length on a swim jig and off the next dock I picked off a chunky largie that I thought for sure would keep, but it was just under 12".

So we were off to fish docks in Cross and although the fishing was off and Chuck chaulked it up as a mistake; I managed to fill my limit with a 13" largie and 12.75" largie from the docks.

We made the run back up to Whitefish and by this time the wind was blowing pretty good, so we headed to a saddle with rocks with the wind blowing on it. I picked up my wht/chart Mille Lacs smallie killer 3/16oz Strike King Spinnerbait and was quickly rewarded with a solid hit, which turned out to be a 16.25" smallie. Unfortunately I was unable to pick up anymore fish on the spinnerbait.

We went back into Bertha, and I managed a small cull with a 13.25 largemouth caught on a smoke tube. Once again we went back to that first smallie spot, but no one was home. So we went to work at our starting spot in Delta Bay, where I got a few pike to show themselves but that was it and the day was up.

My 6 fish went for 11lbs 1oz, which put me in 10th Place. This is my 3rd best showing out of the 13 Bass Snatchers tournaments I've fished and definitely my best start to a year.

Chuck had 12lbs 1oz which put him in 5th. We were the 2nd best boat in terms of total weight.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Getting Ready For Game Day

Tomorrow is my first Baxter Bass Snatchers Bass Club tournament of the year and it's going to be on the Whitefish Chain North of Brainerd. I've been on the lake 2 times and the 2nd time was a tournament where I got skunked; Yes skunked on a bass factory. I doubt that will happen again as my partner is Chuck Steinbauer who is one of the best bass fishermen in the whole state of Minnesota and has probably fished the Whitefish Chain a hundred days or more and has won several tournaments there.

This tournament is going to be my best opportunity yet in club competition to bring in some brown bass. Since joining the club 2 years ago we have fished 5 lakes with smallmouth, but on Serpent they were out of season (MN Fall C&R season), and on Gull, Pokegama, and Ida my boaters didn't make any attempt to fish for them. I will have tubes, senko's, and Flukes in case the smallies need to be finessed a little bit, but I'm really hoping they will go on more aggressive presentations like topwater, spinnerbaits, swim jigs, and jerkbaits. If it turns out to be a smallmouth bed fishing deal, I'm not sure how that will work. I have pretty much zero experience sight fishing for smallmouth.

If the smallmouth give us problems my partner says we should have no trouble catching largies.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

2010 Bass Snatchers Season Schedule & Preview

My bass club schedule for this year has taken shape. Here are the dates and lakes with my thoughts.

June 5th Whitefish Chain- I have only been on the Whitefish Chain twice in my life and have only fished in a very small area of it. (You can read about that experience here...) Chances are my boater is going to know the Chain fairly well and early June is usually a great time to fish bass in MN. Word at our club meeting was that the tournament would most likely be won with smallmouth. I hope I draw someone that at least makes an attempt for smallies, not because they are winning fish, but because smallies rule. I think the Chain is a much better choice than Cedar Lake (Aitken) which was our first tournament last year.

June 20th Farm Island Lake- I've been on Farm Island once and that was (the Bass Snatchers season opener tournament on June 11th of 2008. I really did like what I saw of the lake in 2008 which was a late and cool Spring that had the fish pre-spawn to spawn. Chances are good that this June 20th tournament will be post-spawn with much more mature weed growth. I look forward to fishing this lake again.

July 10th Cass Lake- The club has never fished this lake before but the Excel Singles and Excel Team circuit fished it last year to positive reviews and that is pretty much why we will be going there this year. Word I have gotten is that Cass is very much like Leech Lake where shallow slop and reeds are king. I like this kind of fishing, but can I survive the long day? Cass is another hours ride beyond Leech. I am going to seriously think about getting a hotel room for this one.

July 24th Rabbit- Originally this one was going to be on Le Homme Dieu but the club thought the better of that and that's ok with me. I think I have been on Rabbit 3 times revolving around a tournament I fished there with Excel Singles June 27th 2004 where I got 3rd Place. For that tournament I found fish shallow, but it could very well be that I draw a partner who chooses to fish this lake deep all day. Rabbit does have some smallmouth, but I don't think the population is very large. Overall I don't view Rabbit as an outstanding bass fishery, so I will just be happy with a limit in this one.

August 28th Washburn- Never fished it, don't know much about it and I'm guessing doing Internet research isn't going to turn up much. I really hope I draw a boater who is on to something or this one might be tough.

October 2 Serpent- Serpent was the sight of my best showing in the club (3rd Place and Lunker) and took place slightly earlier on Sept 20th.. That tournament was the only time I have ever fished this lake so I don't necessarily have a strong feel for it. In 2007 it was a half way decent day to fish yet only 10 of our 24 guys got a limit, however there were 6 guys 1 fish short of a limit. Wish this one was taking place when smallmouth were still in season.

Some guys in the club were complaining the lake choices were kind of predictable and boring. I guess we will see.