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.