Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bass Snatcher Win!!! The 2011 Challenge Cup@ Fishtrap Lake

(Bill Ludenia, Mark Munson, Dennis Lothspeich, Charles Steinbauer, and me. (Missing is Tony Bauer)

Well Team Baxter Bass Snatchers has done it again and won the Challenge Cup Tournament that pits the Brainerd area bass fishing clubs against one another. I fished the Challenge Cup Tournament in 2009 on Mission Lakes and 2010 on Sylvan Lake, and we won the Cup those years as well. Previously when I fished it was only the Snatchers and Range Bassmasters fishing against one another, but this year the Brainerd Lakes Bassmasters showed up to fish. The Brainerd Lakes Bassmasters had the Challenge Cup Trophy so I had never seen it before; As you can see in the picture, it's quite large.

Here is how it went down:
Baxter Bass Snatchers 66-5
Range Bassmasters 60-8
Brainerd Lakes Bassmasters 53-12

Normally each club provides 6 anglers to fish and the Challenge Cup winner is decided by the the best total team weight, but one of the other clubs was a person short; Because of that only the 5 best weights for a team counted towards each teams weight total this year. We went by the Range Bassmaster Club's rules this year and that meant a 5 fish limit. I had the Bass Snatchers worst bag, so my limit didn't count towards our winning total.

1st Place was taken by Snatcher Chuck Steinbauer with 14-14
2nd Place was Ranger Kevin Tengwall with 14-12
3rd Place was Snatcher Dennis Lothspeich with 14-8

Big Bass was 4-9.5 and caught by Ranger Mandy Uhrich who was in Brainerd Lakes Jim Eide's boat. She caught the fish around 9:30am on these Chompers Tubes:Mandy bought the tubes the day before at Gander Mountain just for this tournament. She had never used these tubes before but thought they looked good. I don't know if it was her instincts or training as a biologist but she obviously made the right call.

My Day:
The forecast was for clouds, showers and possible thunderstorms with 10-15mph winds out of the SE and temps starting in the mid-50's and getting above 70. Temps were on the money, and we had showers and clouds in the morning but around 11:30am the sun came out and never left. Wind speeds were about right, but out of the NE for most of the day.

I was suppose to be paired with Ranger Boater Brian Smude, but he dropped out so I fished with Ranger Jeremy Bjorgaard in his boat. While his boat wasn't much to look at it was actually really nice to fish out of as a non-boater. Jeremy was a really good guy and he went out of his way to try and make sure I caught fish. Still he kicked my butt pretty good with a black/blue Lake Fork Crawtube.

Jeremy had pre-fished and was pretty confident we would be on quality and numbers. Our first spot, actually the very same first spot I fished the only other time I had been on Fishtrap Lake in the Fall of 2007, was a bullrush Island on the South end of the lake. We went around the whole thing keeping our distance and Jeremy got the first keeper in the boat on a spinnerbait. After we got around the whole thing once we moved in closer so we could pitch with a vertical presentation. Jeremy confessed that he thought we would both have a limit after one pass. I started throwing a green pumpkin jig with a orange crawdad Yum Wooly Bug trailer and was rewarded with a nice 15.25 fish. That was the last fish we got on the bullrush Island. Next we went to a reed bed off the end of a point. Jeremy caught a small keeper on a blue/black crawtube which he immediately threw back. I had my green pumpkin crawtube get bit off by a pike.

Next we went to some reeds that were around an Island. I got a 14.5" bass on the jig with Wooly Bug. I missed a hit on a Herb's Dilly Buzzbait and Jeremy got a nice bass on the back side of the Island on a spinnerbait.

Next we went to another Island to an inside turn that went to a reed point. Jeremy proceeded to whack the fish, while all I could muster was a dink and 12.25" swimmer. It was kind of ugly as Jeremy must have gotten 10 good fish to my 2 and we were both throwing black/blue crawtubes.

Next we went to a weedline where Jeremy had gotten a couple of good fish in pre-fish. We were working our way up the side of a point where I told Jeremy we had caught fish the last time I was on the lake. Just about a minute later I had a hit on my spinnerbait and brought in a 12.5" swimmer. Jeremy said I pretty much called my shot.

Next we went back to our starting spot. I finished off my limit with a 14.5" on a spinnerbait and I had my green pumpkin jig bit off by a pike. I suggested we work the near by weed flat with the wind blowing on it. We were throwing spinnerbaits and I starting catching pike including a nice one we both thought was a bass at first. Jeremy got the first bass and then a couple of minutes later I got a 15.75", which was my big fish of the day. We worked up to another tournament boat and they said they hadn't gotten any bass on blades. At that point the sun came out and we headed to a weedline where Jeremy got quality fish in his pre-fish. It was dead.

We went to another weedline on the North end and that was pretty dead until we got to an inside turn and Jeremy pulled two fish in quick succession, but then that was it.

Next we headed to a saddle with a reed island. The wind was blowing in on it and it just looked prime. I got a 14.75 on a spinnerbait and I was very glad to have the 12 inchers out of the boat. On the back side of the reed island Jeremy pulled his big fish of the day on the crawtube. We worked along the back side of the saddle but nothing was home.

We went to another weedline where I missed a couple of bites on the crawtube.

Our last stop was the inside turn where Jeremy whacked them earlier in the day. I missed a bite that hit almost the second the crawtube hit the water. I decided to throw the Repo Man and I had a fish smack it, but not hook up. I threw back with a crawtube and got bit but I pooched it and that was it for the day. I think I had 9-12 or 9-14, which was on the small side for this day. Jeremy beat me by a little over 3 pounds.

As I said my weight got tossed and we won, so it's all good.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

B.B.S. Birch(Hackensack) Oct.1st.

Conditions: Cool and clear Morning with moderate wind out of the SE growing to 15-20mph throughout the day.

We blasted everybody off as we were last boat out and we went right to our planned starting spot, which was the weed flat to the SW of the public access. Nobody else went that way. I put on a Paycheck Baits Repo Man "drag stripper" and within the first 10 minutes I had 15" bass in the boat. Within the next 10 minutes I had number two in the boat. My boater Owen then quickly caught 2 on a spinnerbait and we thought we were on to something, but it just died. Maybe we moved off the best area a little to quick. Unfortunately the two fish I pulled from this spot in pre-fish were both 16.5".

Next we headed into the West basin to the spot where Owen got his hawg in pre-fish. I saw a lot of baitfish, but we came up empty. We worked up to the other point and I had a hit on a crawtube, but didn't hook up. I cast back and got another quick pick up and drop. The crawtube had a pretty good rip in it, so it was probably a pike. As we were working down the point along the reed line. Owen brought in a small keeper bass and then so did I (12.5")on a black spinnerbait.

Next we headed to a point farther South where I wanted to go in and work the slop. We started along the point and I pulled a pike on the spinnerbait. Owen caught a bass a few minutes later out of about the same spot. We got down into the start of the slop and there were some reeds on both sides of the boat. I made a cast with a Zoom Horny Toad out into the lake and had a fish nail it right before I was out of the reeds. Wouldn't you know it but it got hung up. I watched the fish struggling back and forth and then it pulled free. I really should have muscled that one more. It wasn't a huge bass but it was a quality one probably around 2lbs or more. I was really hoping the slop would go, but it was dead. We worked some awesome looking stuff with wind blowing on it, but there was nothing there. On a long cast out across the weed flat with the spinnerbait I had a hit and brought in one just over 14". We then worked down in the wind along the weeds. I did have a nice bass that I could have used nip at a Cordell Spot and I got a couple of pike on the spinnerbait.

We got down around the big Island and I made a cast up by a buoy and got nailed by a 14.5". It seemed like a spot were a school might stack up, but that was the only one there. As we worked back around the island I had another bass that I could have used nip at the spinnerbait and not hook up. We got around the Island to where it was calm and I started throwing the Repo Man, but there was so much debris in the water that I kept getting hung up. We got a little past the debris field and I caught a small pike, then a 12.5" squeeker bass. I was glad to have a limit.

We only had a couple of hours left and with those topwater bites I thought maybe our starting spot would go, so we went there. I worked through several topwaters and couldn't get a hit. Finally Owen pulled a quality bass on a spinnerbait and I switched. I caught a 10 inch pike. We drifted along and I had one last good hit, but it got off about half way in.

Results: I thought I had 9 something, but my fish only went 8-12, which put me in 15th which was my worst finish of the year. Owen only had 5 for 7-00 which put him in 17th place. The winner had 15-8 and a little over half the field had 10lbs or better. Obviously we missed the quality fish.

Top 6 Race- Bill Ludenia placed 6th which tied us for 6th place in end of the year points (best 5 of 6 tournaments). Bill owned the tie breaker, so I dropped to 7th and out of "the wood". It's my bad as had I not counted that live fish as dead at Cullen I would have been in 6th free and clear. Also if all 6 tournaments counted than I had one more point, one more fish, and .88lbs more than Bill, so I actually had the better year statistically. I know I deserved 6th Place and I get to fish on the Bass Snatcher Challenge Cup Team, so it's all good.

Analysis- I don't think I was necessarily doing the wrong things in this tournament. We just spent far to much time on bad water. Some of that water I don't regret trying because it really seemed fishy. Our bites were just so random that there was nothing to key on. I am still flabbergasted that I was unable to pull a few fish on topwater at the end of the day. Between tournament day and pre-fish we may have just sucked that flat dry.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bass Snatcher Birch Lake Preview

Barring trouble overnight with my Dad at the hospital I plan on fishing the tournament tomorrow. With Dad in the hospital I probably won't be 100% mentally, but I think lack of focus won't be a big problem.

Who knows how this one will fish. It's suppose to be kind of windy out of the South being cold in the morning and getting up to around 60°F with sun and very few clouds. It could be tough or the fish could really be on the chew and we just might not be able to find the right area's with so little experience on the lake or maybe we will really whack em'. It was pretty cool in the morning the day we pre-fished but it was foggy when we got into our morning bite and it was overcast most of the time we fished. Pre-fish went OK and I think I have a general idea about what I hope will be working. I would be really happy if I can get to 12lbs as I think that would seal my spot in the Top 6 for the year. At a minimum a limit and 10lbs probably wouldn't be to bad.

My boater has a good craft in terms of space for my rods, so I am bringing 10, which for this tournament is really nice to be able to do.

Rod Line Up:
Dock Rod bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke (spinning)
Crawtube Rod
JigNpig/Crawtube Rod
Spinnerbait Rod White
Spinnerbait Rod Black
Buzzbait Rod
Topwater/Rattlebait/Crankbait Rod
Dipper Rod
Toad Rod
Frog Rod

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Birch (Hackensack) Pre-fish

I got up to Birch Lake in Hackensack with my boater Owen on Saturday Sept 24th. We arrived at the Lake a bit before 8AM. It was a cool morning with heavy fog. Because of the fog we weren't gonna run anywhere, so we just picked a direction and went. We started off on docks, but that was a bust. I started throwing a topwater out into the lake and I was rewarded when this 16.5" busted on my lure.
That fish kind of clued us in to work on the weedflat and about 10 minutes later I got a very similar fish. At that point I switched to a buzzbait. Owen got a couple of bites on a subsurface bait. I pulled a nice bass on the buzzbait, then a small pike. I had a couple of other fish slap at the buzzbait and not get it. The fog lifted as we had pretty much worked our way across that flat. We tried some reeds for a while and I got a hit on a dipper and it bit my tail off, so it was probably a pike. One of the guys from the Bass Snatchers came by to say hello and then took off. We worked some shallow pads, reeds, and docks but nothing was going so we headed out to see if we could re-find some good weeds with a little more depth and we did. We basically drifted in the wind a long way across a weedflat. Not much happened until we started getting pushed towards a certain shore line. I pulled a small pike on a black spinnerbait. A little bit after that I threw up by some reeds and I got another hit. I could tell right away it was a good fish. It turned out to be this pike.

I went to net it and when I got it's head in the net my spinnerbait broke in two. You can see the hook end in the pike's mouth. The blade got caught in the net, so I didn't lose that which was nice.

It was cloudy at this point and wind was blowing in on this shoreline. Owen tried docks, while I casted out. That wasn't doing anything, so we shot out onto the weed flat. After about 10 minutes of that with nothing. We decided to head to the Western basin. When we got into the other lake, there was another Snatcher boat up the way, so we stopped to talk to them. They said they had gotten one good fish. We took off and went to a spot Owen thought looked good. It produced a giant.
It measured 21". I felt really bad Owen got this fish in pre-fish and not the tournament. We worked the area and didn't get any more bites.

Next we moved up shallow into some pads and reeds. We got a couple of biters but the fish were smaller than what we had been getting. After we were done in that area we did a little cruising to look around. We stopped at a spot I thought might be good. I had something hit my spinnerbait but it didn't hook up. There were weeds and a weedline so I started throwing a crawtube and something thumped it. I thought for sure it would be a pike, but it was a 17.75" largie. We worked the area but couldn't get any bites. Owen got a call about a family emergency and so we had to leave around 2PM.

My impressions: It would be nice if topwater played on tournament day, but conditions will determine if that will go. What we found was pretty sporadic, so I don't really know what to think about it. Owen may get out to pre-fish one more day and I think that will be very helpful if he does. I half wish the pre-fish was tournament day as I was putting together what I believe would be a competitive bag. Hopefully weather will be favorable tournament day as I think the lake could fish really well under the right conditions.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

B.B.S. Fish Hook Lake August 27th

If this sounds like whining it is: It really bites when your best bag of the year is only good enough to be equal with your worst finish place wise of the season. The boys caught em' good in this one. New Baxter Bass Snatcher Club tournament record for average size of bags weighed (13.20lbs).

Here's how the day went.

Conditions: Mix of sun and clouds with overcast for the last couple of hours. Light winds. Cool in the morning warming up to the mid to high 70's.

Play by Play: The plan to start the day was to hit some docks that I pulled a 3+lber off of one of them in pre-fish. These docks had reeds around them that were sometimes thick and sometimes sparse. In one of the sparse area's I made a cast up by some weeds that were in the reeds and I had a pick up on my bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke, which turned out to be a 15.5" largie. In another thick area of reeds I had a fish which I'm 90% sure was a pike smack a white Berkley Havoc Grass Pig. The docks were a bust and we soon headed off to a weedline spot.

Right away at the weedline I brought in a nice 15.25" bass on a rusty Craw Tonka Tackle Halo Craw Tube. I was off to a pretty good start. As we were working our way down my boater Chuck got his first fish, which was in the same general size range of my two. I got bit off by a pike and decided to try a little lighter weight on my Texas rig Craw Tube. I got a 13.25" on that. Chuck also got another fish. With the calm to light ripple I decided to try a Berkley Frenzy Popper. That wasn't happening and while I was fooling around with that, Chuck caught his best fish of the day. Pretty soon Chuck was encouraging me, mocking me really, to keep throwing the topwater. Eventually I put down the topwater and tried a crankbait, as Chuck brought in a couple more fish. Eventually I did get back to the Crawtube but didn't get any more bites in this area.

After we fished through the area 3 times, we headed off to try some more docks, which was a bust. Eventually we got into some reeds where I think Chuck picked up his limit fish and one that went back and I got a 14.5" bass on a "big sexy" Mad Maxx Frog.

I think our next stop was Chuck's honey hole from the last club tournament on Fish Hook. I think Chuck got a rock bass. Next we headed to another weedline where I think got bit off so I changed to a black/red fleck Lake Fork Crawtube with which I had gotten some good fish in pre-fish. I stayed with the lighter bullet sinker. I got a 13.5" bass and a pike. We headed back to the first weedline we hit and I got a pike and maybe Chuck picked up a bass or two. We talked to one of the club boats, which was up working the reeds and Mark said it was slow, but he had a limit.

Next thing we did was go to the reeds. I threw a frog while Chuck threw a jig and maybe a Crawtube as well. We worked the reeds for quite a while and I don't remember if Chuck got a fish or not. I think he might have missed a bite or two. We got to an area where there was an open pocket back in the reeds and Chuck asked me if I wanted to go back in there. I said why not and so we did. I made a cast toward the far end of the pocket and a fish just lit up Mad Maxx. It jumped and we saw it was a big fish. I got it in and it had choked the frog. Here she is:
Chuck thought it might go 5. I measured it and it was something over 19 inches, but I'm not sure how long as the measuring board ended at 18inches. Turns out the fish only went 4-5, but this fish was huge for me and probably bumped me 5-7 places in the standings. That was it in those reeds.

It was sunny out so we went and re-tried the 2nd set of docks, but that was a bust again. We went back and re-hit a weedline spot that we had trouble getting on the first time because of another tournament boat. I pulled up a pike on the Crawtube and then Chuck landed several bass most of which didn't help him, but would have helped me. I think I got a 13" that didn't help me. Eventually we got up on this point and pitched into the holes in the grass that we could see, Chuck got a couple more that didn't help him.

It started to cloud up and we headed to either a marina or resort of something where there were 2 docks with lots of boats. On the very last boat on the 1st dock Chuck pulled a fish and I got a 14" on the bubblegum Super Fluke which culled the 13.25". I don't think we got anything on the 2nd dock.

Chuck remembered a reed and slop spot so we headed there next. We worked ourselves into the inside edge of the reeds and then there was a little open area before a big field of pads started. As we worked along Chuck fished the reeds with a jig or a frog and I threw my frog to the pads. Chuck pulled a fish out of the reeds, so I started working them too. I made a cast and something moved, so I just worked the frog in place for about a minute. Just as I was about to reel it in, a fish sucked in the frog and it was a 14.5". I couldn't remember if I wrote down my last cull or not, so I wasn't sure which was my smallest fish. I pulled out the two proper colored ropes and looked at the fish. They looked to be about the same size, so I threw back the one on the yellow cull tag thinking I had indeed forgotten to write down my last cull. I put the new fish in the box, then measured the fish on the orange cull tag, so I could write down the length. I was shocked to discover this fish was only 13.5" and was the one I should have culled out. It's hard to say if this error cost me because I needed 3 more ozs to move up and when I compared the 2 fish, they looked pretty even to me. Should have used Chuck's cull beam to be sure. Anyway Chuck got a good cull out of the reeds on a frog.

I think there was about an hour left and so we headed for the reeds where I had gotten my big one. I had several fish boil on the Mad Maxx, but only 1 took it and that was a small fish that I waterskied on the hookeset and it came off. Unfortunately most of the missed bites couldn't be followed up with another lure as they were at the end of long casts or in reeds to thick for anything but the frog. With about 20 minutes to go we took a 3rd pass on a certain set of docks, but they were worthless again and that was the end of our day.

Results: My 6 fish went 13-7, which put me in 12th place out of 22 anglers, which was actually a bit of a relief when I saw the official standings as I thought I was going to be 13th or 14th. The winning bag was 19-1 and big bass was 5-5. Chuck had 15-7, which only got him 6th Place.

Top 6 Race: In the race for the Top 6 at the end of the year, which was a 3 way race for the final 2 spots going into this tournament (Mark M., Bill L, and I), basically Mark guaranteed he will be there with a 3rd Place finish. I finished 4 spots in front of Bill and both of us tied our worst finishes of the year (we throw the worst tournament out so 5 of 6 count). A surprise was that another guy (Barry M.) moved into the race with his 8th Place Finish. Going into the last tournament I have 5 places on Barry and 6 places on Bill, so my lead more than doubled, but I really blew a chance to effectively close the door.

Analysis- Coming into the tournament I really wanted a Top 8 finish as I had a very good partner draw. I thought a 13lb bag would put me right there. As it turned out Fish Hook produced some of the best fishing the club has ever seen. There were four 13lb bags and mine was the lightest of them. I didn't even finish in the top half of the field. I can't be too disappointed as things could have gone far worse had I not caught the big one I did, but then again with the big fish a more competitive bag was well within reach. Chuck out fished me pretty bad in terms of number of bass caught; It was pretty close to 2-1 if not more.

One thing I'm left to wonder about is going lighter on my Texas Rig sinker with the Crawtube. The change produced a smaller grade of fish then what I got in pre-fish and my biggest Crawtube bass of the day came with the heavier weight. There were also several instances where fish picked up the Crawtube and dropped it quickly and wouldn't pick it back up again. The only fish that did that and picked it up again was a pike. The black red fleck Lake Fork Crawtube that gave me 3 nice bass in pre-fish was a bust, even though light conditions were close to the same. I never did throw a Yum Wooly Bug, which is something that produced 14.5-15.5 bass in pre-fish. I also never threw a jig.

Next Bass Snatcher Tournament: October 1st @Birch (Hackensack)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bass Snatcher Fish Hook Lake Preview

Tomorrow the Bass Snatcher sink our hooks into Fish Hook Lake at Park Rapids MN. It's a good lake and the weather looks favorable with light to moderate wind. Weights should be pretty good. Basically I think we will be doing 3 things. Docks, Reeds, and Weedlines. It isn't the biggest lake in the world and my boater Chuck Steinbauer thinks the fish may be a beat up from the pre-fishing guys were doing. Apparently reports must have been pretty good. It's going to be a long day getting up early with a couple hours in the car to get there and weigh-in isn't until 4PM. Hopefully the bite will be best early while I am physical at my most fresh and alert. Basically I am hoping to have over 13lbs, which will probably be enough for a Top 8 finish. However if I can't get in the Top 8, if I can just beat out 2 particular guys on the day, then I should still be good. Basically there is now a 3 way race for the final 2 spots in the club Top 6 in AOY. If I can get a Top 8 that should really put some pressure on the other two if they don't have good days tomorrow.

As for my starting line up:
Dock Rod bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke (spinning)
Dipper Rod
Crawtube Rod
Beaver Rod
Topwater & Crank Rod
JigNpig Rod
Slop Frog Rod

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bass Snatchers Fish Hook Pre-fish(short)

I got out on Thursday August 18th with my boater Chuck Steinbauer to pre-fish Fish Hook Lake in Park Rapids in anticipation of our August 27th Tournament. We hit the water about 7AM, which is an hour before tournament start time. The weather was cloudy and calm in the morning. About 9AM the wind really came up and we had periods of sun and clouds. We went right to Chuck's best spot and he had a bass on in no time but it wasn't that big and on this lake you need size. Chuck was disappointed that the cabbage weed on this spot seemed. We bounced a few spots before getting on something at gave up a few fish. On this spot one of the bass had a crawfish in it's gullet, so I got to see at least one of the crawfish colors. The rest of the day we bounced around and tried a few different things catching a few fish here and there. We didn't really find any good concentrations. Size wasn't bad and these fish are well fed chunks. I caught a total of 11 bass and 1 pike. Only 1 of the bass was under 14 inches. Chuck caught a few more than me, but our best 6 were pretty similar. We got off the water after 4PM, so it was a long day on the water. There is a small chance I will get out and pre-fish one more time, but Chuck almost certainly will.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

B.B.S. Mississippi River(Lum Park) July 31st

(Tournament Winner Dennis Lothspeich 18lbs)

Conditions- Temps started in the high 60's and went up to the low 80's. Sun and light winds.

I believe we blasted off around 10 to 7AM and my boater Paul and I headed upriver. On the way we got passed by 2 or 3 boats. Thankfully none of them were headed to our starting spot. Our starting spot was a fair sized backwater lake with clear water and excellent looking weeds where we had a few bites in pre-fish. We started at the mouth of the lake in the river and worked our way in. It didn't take long and I was casting to the area I had a blow up on my hookless spook during pre-fish. Unfortunately nobody was home. We worked our way North against the East bank in excellent looking rice with pads. After about 20 minutes of working the East bank. I started throwing the big sexy Mad Maxx frog to the West out where there were some small pad clumps with submergent weeds that reached the surface. As I was pulling onto a pad clump I had a fish boil on the frog. When I came off the pads, there was no follow up so I reeled in and cast back to the spot. This time after I came off the pads something hit the frog but didn't take it. I let the frog sit than slowly started working it and this time the fish came up and took down the frog. I got a fairly good hooksett and felt the weight of the fish, but then my frog came flying back at me. I don't know if it was a bass or not, but missing my first bite was not a good way to start the day.

Eventually we started running away from the East bank and started fishing to the West while moving South. Man was this some prime looking water. On one of my casts to this fabulous looking stuff a 18" Largie that went 3lbs 10ozs smashed my rainforest yellow Spro Bronzeye Frog. Man was I glad to have her in the boat. Not only would I not skunk, but I had a quality fish. As we worked our way South and started moving to along out from the South Bank I started throwing a yellow Zoom Horny Toad. On a cast back out to the North to some isolated pads with submergent weeds that were to the surface I had a bass blow up the toad. I set the hook and my telescopic 7'3" St. Croix Avid broke in two at the telescoping point about 9 inches above the reel. Holding just the rod handle with the rest of the rod in the lake, I just continued to crank and was pleasantly surprised when a 14.25" largemouth was still attached to my hook in a mess of weeds. Breaking the rod really sux as it's one of my favorites and they no longer make that model. I had 2 of them, so now only 1 is left.

We worked our way back towards the mouth of the lake and my boater Paul had a blow up on his frog out by the river. The fish didn't get the frog, so I told him to cast back and see if it would hit it again. He cast back and sure enough he had another hit and this time he hooked up. In the process of catching the fish and getting it in the well we drifted out to where the lake mouth met the river. I cast a green pumpkin Lake Fork Craw tube upriver to a small point in the rice and sure enough I had a hit. I laid the wood and brought another 14.25" into the boat. We kind of sat there and worked the area and then started moving up river to the North. I had what I think was a pike flash at my Crawtube, but it didn't get it. Subsequent casts didn't produce any bites. We kept moving North in the river pitching to the rice wall. After doing that and not getting anything in about 20 minutes we switched to the opposite shore which is a big rice island. As we were making our way to the head of the island, I had a bite, but it was a rock bass.

At the head of the island we met another club boat and they only had 1 bass at that point. We moved up river aways and fished the West rice line down to up river of another backwater. Once we got about 25 yards past the mouth of the backwater, we fired up the big motor to run back to the mouth. We had a couple of bites in this backwater in prefish. Even though there was baitfish activity, we didn't have any luck and we headed out after covering about 50 yards.

We went back to our starting spot and basically ran the exact same loop. We got into the same general area where I had lost that first fish, but the boat was now West of the isolated pad clumps. I was throwing a white Zoom Horny Toad and had a bite in close to the boat. The fish pulled on the Toad but didn't hook up. I pitched the toad back into a weed opening and let it sink. As I was kind of working the Toad in place, something came and took the Toad. I set the hook, but didn't hook up and the Toad was pretty ripped up. Probably a pike, but who knows. I quickly got the Toad re-rigged and threw back into the weed opening. Nothing. We worked through the great looking stuff and as we were working off the South bank. I caught a pike casting out to isolated pads just like with my 2nd bass. Just a bit after I got the pike, Paul caught a small bass.

Eventually we worked our way back out to the mouth. We were sitting in the mouth when I had a bite. I had the fish on long enough to see it was a pike before it got off. I was pitching into the rice right behind the boat, when I saw my line jump. I thought for sure it would be a bass, but I pulled out about an 16 inch pike.

Next we headed to the spot where another boat started on the East side of the rice island we fished before. Another club boat was working the East bank on the channel of the river. They had 2 fish and 1 fish. One of the guys said he had caught 5 or maybe it was 6 species of fish. We worked our way up the East bank of the island, so we were casting West. I had a bite, but came up empty on the hooksett. I pitched the Crawtube back to the spot and it hit it again. This time I hooked up. Dogfish!!! As I was playing it next to the boat and it got off. Up river a little ways I got snagged and had to break off. I started pitching a small Gander Mountain green with multicolored fleck beaver. As we got up toward the head of the island I had a hit and set the hook. The tails of my beaver were gone. I tried pitching back to the spot tailless but didn't get anything. At the top of the Island we were able to talk with the boat we met at the top of the island before as these guys were working up the West side of the river. I think they had 2 fish a piece and had lost some fish.

There was about an hour and a half left at this point and as it seemed the main river rice just wasn't being productive so we headed up to Little Rabbit Lake. As we were taking the channel in, another club boat followed right in behind us. They were sitting at 4 and 0 with the 4 being smallies that they went way up river for in the morning. They started fishing a point and so we went to the next point down the lake. I had re-rigged a green pumpkin Crawtube and started throwing that. As we worked the point I got a few bites, including one that was very promising, but every hooksett came up empty. After we got around the point we moved to another weedline. It was pretty dead until we got to another little point. I had a bite and set the hook catching yet another little pike. With about 10 minutes left to fish we went and hit some slop, which was fruitless.

We got back with about 5 minutes to spare.

Results- My 3 bass went 6lbs 9ozs, but I had a 2oz dead fish penalty. Without the penalty I would have been 10th, but I dropped to 11th out of 24. 11th Place wasn't a bad finish as I placed ahead of all 3 guys that I am in competition with for the final two spots in Top 6 for the end of the year standings race.

The winning bag of 18lbs came from way up river and consisted of 5 smalls and 1 Larry. The 2nd (16-8) and 3rd Place (16-7) anglers reportedly stayed in Rice Lake and just whacked the snot out em' on weedlines with Crawtubes. 5 limits were caught, which is actually pretty good and there were 3 bags with 5 fish and 2 bags with 4. I was the only 3 fish bag, 8 guys had 2 fish, 3 guys had 1, and there were 2skunks. 6 of the Top 10 anglers came from the same 3 boats.

Analysis- I knew going in this one was probably going to be tough and every fish was critical. Losing that first bite in the morning was unfortunate, but it might not have even been a bass. I may have had the bites to get a limit, but probably not. The fish dying on me was just bad luck as it was a bleeder. Actually my big fish was also a bleeder that I didn't think was going to make it, but at the end of the day that fish was in great shape. I wish we would have had more time in Little Rabbit as a limit came out of there. I also found myself wishing I had a Zoom Super Fluke to try in the weed pockets of the lake where we caught our fish. After I broke the rod, I put a Horny Toad on my dipper rod. I could have put the dipper on my Herb's Dilly rod, but as it was I didn't throw a dipper at all.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bass Snatcher Mississippi River(Lum Park) Pre-fish(Long)

I met my boater Paul at the Lum Park a little after 7AM. He showed a bit late and I took a few casts from the park beach. I did get a bite on the Crawtube, but I didn't hook into anything.

Paul has the only Triton in the Baxter Bass Snatchers, almost all the other boats are Rangers.

Anyway Paul said we would start off by taking a tour and we ran up river a long way to Little Rabbit Lake. I was surprised by the clear water in Little Rabbit. We just looked and didn't do any fishing. We saw baitfish activity as the channel from the river entered Little Rabbit. As we were on our way out Paul wanted to take a side channel, but it was filled in with weeds, so we went back out to the river and entered the side channel from a different spot. It was a backwater with rice and pads that went back to a few docks and this is where we started fishing. Nothing.

Next we went back to the river and went to another back channel on the North side of the river. This channel had rice, pads, and a lot of duckweed. Paul pulled a nice bass out of the duckweed on a frog, but that was it. I was throwing a Strike King Rage Toad.

We went back out to the river and drove down aways to another backwater on the North side that's entrance was choked by rice. This was a long backwater with rice, pads, and duckweed. Paul missed a blow up on the frog. I was throwing the Rage Toad and a bubblegum Berkley Havoc Grass Pig. I had what I'm pretty sure was a pike swirl on the pig a couple of times. Paul tried to get it to hit his frog, but it wouldn't. After fishing quite aways in we went out under power of the big motor.

Next we started fishing by drifting along the rice on the main channel on the North shore. After drifting for a while Paul pulled a good bass that just smacked his Crawtube. Ron Lindner advised that I fish with cut off hooks, so I had put tubing over the hooks on some of my lures. I was fishing with a black/chart Terminator Jig with a green pumkin/chart Berkley Havoc Craw Fatty with the tubing on the hook. I thought it wouldn't hurt to stick a fish doing what we were doing because it would be unlikely to come across the same fish doing this in the tournament, so I took the tubing off. Well I got a bite and set into this 19.25" slobberknocker.

With this fish, Paul thought we should try the same thing on the South side of the river, but this time using the trolling motor to move up current. Almost right away Paul pulled a small keeper bass. I started pitching a junebug Crawtube. I did get a couple of bites, but they would only nibble a couple of times and let go. Paul had the same thing happen.

Eventually we moved into a backwater on the South side of the river. Once again it had rice, pads, and lots of duckweed. It looked phenomenal for bass and dogfish. I cycled through a few different things and I put on a gold Strike King Rage Shad. I was really digging working that bait. On one of my casts I got nailed by what I thought was a nice bass, I saw the fish hit. It was holding onto the bait, so I asked Paul if I should hit it and he said yes. Much to my surprise when I brought it in, I found a chunky 24" pike on the end of my line. We fished into this great looking backwater quite aways, but that was the only hit.

Next we moved out and went to a backwater on the North of the river. This one looked a bit different than the other backwaters we had been in. The water was clearer, there was good submergent vegetation, the rice had a good mix from thick to sparse with pads, no duckweed. We also saw quite a bit of baitfish activity. It looked like awesome dipper water, so I threw the Havoc Grass Pig in a couple of different colors. Paul missed a blow up on the frog. I was hauling water with the Grass Pig. A little later Paul pulled in a nice keeper bass on the frog. I decided to throw a spook that didn't have any hooks. The spook got hammered by a fish and we decided we had seen enough for the day and headed in around 1PM. It had been overcast the whole morning and only started to get hot and muggy around noon.

All in all it was a pretty productive pre-fish.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bass Snatcher Mississippi(Lum Park) Preview

On Sunday from 7AM to 3PM my bass club the Baxter Bass Snatchers will be fishing our fourth tournament of the season on the Mississippi River out of Brainerd (Lum Park) from Rice Lake North. This tournament promises to be challenge for everyone. There will be 25 of us fishing this one, which means the lower placing finishers won't get very many points and the prospect of a skunk and 0 points is very real. In the past the Snatchers have fished 7 tournaments on the Mississippi. They fished 4 tournaments in the 90's, 2 in the 80's, and 1 in the 70's; The last tournament was in 1999. In those 7 tournaments there was a total of 3 limits caught, never more than 1 in a year, and a total of 60 skunks. This year the mighty Miss has been running high, fast, and dirty which will probably mean a complete buzzkill when it comes to smallmouth. The largemouth population on this stretch of river isn't particularly abundant, which is unfortunate because pre-fishing showed me there is plenty of water that looks like perfect largemouth habitat. It will probably take just a few quality fish to do very well, but the prospect of disaster is there for everybody.

My day of pre-fishing and the advice I have received leaves me guardedly optimistic that the tournament will not be a disaster for me; In fact there seems to be a serious upside if I can just get enough bites and put them in the boat. We seem to have found a few fish, quality fish, and I am comfortable with the patterns we uncovered. I am hoping that a pattern that didn't go in pre-fish might go tournament day if the fish are a bit more active. It was overcast during pre-fish and looks like there will be lots of sun tournament day. I am hoping that sun will help the bite.

I will be ecstatic if I can catch a limit. Heck I will be pretty happy as long as I have at least 1 fish to weigh. Realistically I hope to catch 3 or 4 and have 8 to 10lbs as I think this will be pretty solid. Who knows, maybe the river is actually better than I realise. A finish somewhere in the top half of the field would be nice.

Bass Snatcher Mississippi River(Lum Park) Pre-fish

This is all I'm going to say for now.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Bass Snatcher Season Half-Time Report

The Baxter Bass Snatcher Bass Fishing Club fishes 6 tournaments a year and we just concluded tournament #3 at the Alexandria Chain. So far I am off to my best start ever with finishes of 12th at Platte/Sullivan, 5th at Cullen Chain, and 6th at Le Homme Dieu. Those finishes are worth 29pts, 36pts, and 35pts (40pts Max) for a total of 100. My previous best point total at the half way point was 70pts in 2009. That is an average of 10 places better per tournament. Wow!!!

Basically, I have had outstanding luck in the partner draws, so far this year. In terms of the actual fishing and on the water luck it hasn't gone nearly as well or else my point totals could be at least 6 points or more higher.

Currently my 100pts is 3rd best in the club. However, our club final point system allows for 1 throw out tournament per year and because of this it's also worth considering where people are counting only our 2 best scores. Counting my two best the total is 71pts which puts me in a tie for 5th place. Counting 3 tournaments there are 6 anglers within 10 points behind me. Counting 2 tournaments there are 8 anglers within 10 points behind me. Traditionally I have done way better in the 2nd half of the year than the first half and to make the Top 6 again this year I almost certainly will have to have a very strong 2nd half. At a minimum I think I will need two more Top 8 finishes.

A huge wild card is our next tournament on July 31st on the Mississippi River out of Brainerd to the North. There will be 25 of us fishing this one, which means the lower placing finishers won't get very many points and the prospect of a skunk and 0 points is very real. In the past the Snatchers have fished 7 tournaments on the Mississippi. They fished 4 tournaments in the 90's, 2 in the 80's, and 1 in the 70's; The last tournament was in 1999. In those 7 tournaments there was a total of 3 limits caught, never more than 1 in a year, and a total of 60 skunks. This year the mighty Miss is running high, fast, and dirty which will most likely make a tough tournament tougher. It will probably take just a few quality fish to do very well, but the prospect of disaster is there for everybody.

The last two tournaments promise better fisheries and smaller fields.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

B.B.S. Le Homme Dieu Chain July 16th

Weather: Fortunately the forecast for brutal heat was wrong. In the morning it was quite foggy with a very light drizzle, but it was over 70 degrees. It took a couple hours for the fog to go away, but it stayed overcast until around 2 when it would switch between mostly cloudy and mostly sunny. I don't think it got out of the lower 80's during the tournament day.

There was a bit of a breeze all day that would vacillate between about 3 and 10mph.

I arrived in Brainerd a bit before 5:30AM to meet my boater Dennis. My first question was if he had a life jacket for me, because I had forgotten mine. Luckily he did have one. Next thing Dennis informs me that he was given a spot to fish by one of the club members who had injured himself waterskiing and couldn't fish. The spot was supposed to hold a "super school." That sounded good.

The ride to the lake in the fog was uneventful thankfully. We didn't blast off until right around 8am, because one of the guys couldn't find the launch. We were suppose to have an idle only launch because of the fog, but some of the guys didn't get the memo and raced off. Because of this my boater Dennis decided to run to Alvin Lake. We got to Alvin in about 15 minutes and it looked fantastic. We started fishing pads, but it was dead. We pulled out on the weed flat and I got a little bass on the Repo Man. We spent about an hour and then left to go to the "super school".

We got to the spot, which was way off shore in Le Homme Dieu Lake. It was kind of a U shaped breakline with weeds. It didn't take long and Dennis had a couple of good keepers in the boat. My first bite was a rock bass on a black/blue Lake Fork Crawtube on a tube jig head. I think Dennis got had got a 3rd keeper when I put a 14" largie in the boat. Dennis told me, it was a quality keeper for the lake. Next I got a 13.75", then a 13.5" then a 12.10" before a pike broke me off. I stayed with the tube jig head but went with the color junebug instead. My first fish was a nice 15" and I got my limit with a 13.25". Around that time Dennis switched colors to one a guy in the club told him was working and on the first cast Dennis got a 3-13, which was his best fish of the day. I think I got a 14.10" on the junebug and then I tried a green pumpkin Lake Fork Crawtube that was Texas Rigged with a fairly heavy bullet sinker. I think I caught a couple of fish that didn't help, then we switched locations to one of Dennis' spots.

I culled up with a 14.50" and caught a pike, along with a few that didn't help on this spot. I believe Dennis upgraded a little bit. We worked this spot just one pass then headed to a hump in Carlos. I pulled a 16.5" that went 2-11 off the hump and Dennis missed a couple of fish. I tried a little topwater on the hump but that wasn't happening. We tried one other spot in Carlos before heading back to the super school.

At the super school I got a 15.25" to cull up some and I caught several fish that didn't help. Dennis knew he had a good bag, but probably not enough to win and the sun was starting to peak out a little bit, so he made the call to run back to Alvin. We couldn't get the big pad fish to go at all. On our way out of the lake Dennis got a small cull off of a dock as we were headed out of the lake.

It was straight back to the super school. When we arrived there was a speed boat parked right on top of one of the points/spots. We just moved over a little and started fishing. Having this boat out there served as a marker buoy for me and I was able to catch fish on 3 consecutive casts, but unfortunately none of the fish helped. We kept catching fish and I made a small cull with a 14.10 with a 14". We continued to catch fish, but they didn't help. I did miss one that might have helped me some, but it would have had to have helped me by over by 10ozs to catch the person who was in front of me. We headed to the weigh in in Bugaboo Bay at about 10 to 4PM.

Results: My weight was 10-8 and put me in 6th Place out of 22 fishermen. My boater Dennis came in 2nd with 13-4. 1st Place was Mark Munson with 14-10 and the 4-8 Big Bass.

Analysis- If I had it to do over again I think I may have only thrown the Texas rigged green pumpkin Lake Fork Craw tube as that got my 2 biggest fish. On the drive home Dennis said I was using a weight that was too heavy. He may be right as he did throw back a few fish that I could have used, although had I had those I still don't know if I would have moved up to catch 5th.

Next Bass Snatcher Tournament: July 31st Mississippi River Brainerd (Lum Park)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bass Snatcher Le Homme Dieu Chain Preview.

I've never fished the Le Homme Dieu chain, but it's reputation is that of a bass factory with mostly small fish. Also it is suppose to have fairly clear water. Kind of sounds like Sylvia/Twin, which I am obviously comfortable with. Apparently the chain got dumped on big time with rain yesterday morning, but I have no clue what that might mean. It is also suppose to be sunny hot and humid, which isn't my ideal fishing scenario. Hopefully it won't be too miserable and there is suppose to be a breeze, so my Columbia Airgill shirt should be able to work it's magic.

My boater pre-fished two days and says most of his 2nd practice day was a waste. He was confident we would catch fish, but not very confident they would be the right fish to contend for anything. My boater said a 2lb average will probably be what is needed to contend, so any fish 3lbs or more will be huge. I just plan to try and catch as many fish as possible and let the chips fall where they may. Hopefully I can at least breach 10lbs.

Here are my set ups:
Dock/Jig Worm Rod (only spinning combo)
Dipper Rod
JigNplastic Rod
Texas Rig Crawtube Rod
Crawtube Jig exposed hook rod
Topwater/Spinnerbait/Chatterbait/Rattlebait/Crank Rod
Slop Frog Rod
Horny Toad Rod

Sunday, July 10, 2011

FOM Club E&W Sylvia Bass Tounament July 9th

I couldn't resist the call of the lake that taught me to fish, so I signed up to fish the Fishers of Men Fishing Club (Twin Cities) Bass Tournament on East & West Sylvia in Wright County. My partner for the day would be Michael "Cyberfish" Thompson. I found out at the landing on tournament morning that Cyb hadn't paid his Club dues, so would be ineligible in the Club Tournament. Cyberfish didn't really care and was there to fish for fun anyway.

Tournament Rules: 3 biggest bass measured by half inches, with most total length winning. The Fishers of Men Club does "paper tournaments" so all fish are immediately released. I think there were 6 boats, but there may have been 5.

Conditions: Light Rain for the first 20 minutes or so with a pretty good breeze all day starting from the S SE switching to the S SW. It obviously was overcast early turning mostly cloudy around 10:30PM. It was a warm morning in the 70's and it got up to about 80 and it was pretty humid. The water on these lakes is very clear and the water was about as high as I've ever seen.

With the forecast calling for that South wind to be blowing by the time the tournament was underway I decided to start on a shallow rock reef on the back side of the island in West Sylvia. We ended up fishing West Sylvia all day. Mike caught a small bass right away, maybe on his first cast, on a slug. I think he got another small one and then I got a small one on a Herb's Dilly buzzbait. Mike caught 1 or 2 more smaller fish before we made a 2nd pass. The second pass was pretty much fruitless so we started drifting across the weed flat. Mike picked up a 15 on the slug. I was throwing a white Death Shimmer 2 spinnerbait and getting a few hits but nothing was hooking up. I know at least one of those bites was from a small pike as it came all the way to the boat. We drifted to a bullrush point and fished down the West side of that. I got a small pike on the Death Shimmer. Eventually we got into some pads and I got a 12.75" Larry on a bubblegum Berkley Havoc Lane's Grass Pig. We ended up fishing West along the shoreline where there were docks and some wood in the water. It looked awesome but all I got was a Sylvia Special (12") next to a dock. We rounded "Dink Point" and I got a 15.5" on the Grass Pig where there was trees overhanging and into the water. As you work the shoreline to the North a small point comes out before the lake opens to the main/biggest bay on West Sylvia. With the South wind this point was getting hit pretty good with the wind. I cast a black/blue Crawtube along the dropoff on the South side of the point (it drops pretty quick and I think there is a little zone of weeds there). I got hit and brought up a 15". I immediately checked the boat back into the wind to keep from blowing over the point as I thought there was a real possibility the fish might be stacked up here. Mike asked me what I was using and I showed him I was fishing a weighted Texas Rig, so he switched up to a green pumpkin jig. I think I just got done telling Mike all I needed was 1 really good fish and I would win the tournament, when Mike swung on that fish. Here it is:

It wasn't the fattest fish in the world, but it was 19" long which is an extremely good fish for Sylvia. I think I pulled a 12.75" on the Crawtube and Mike had a fish rip off the jig skirt and trailer on the hookset. That was all we would get so we headed North to the shoreline where my family's lake place used to be. Basically we worked an inside turn and then off the end of the point which was windblown. I caught a sunfish on the Death Shimmer 2 spinnerbait and had another bump or two. Eventually we worked ourselves in around the point where it was calm and there is a bunch of pads. This is an area I call the "Back Bay" as there is a man made boat channel that was on the back side of our old lake place. It was interesting to see that there is no longer an open boat lane and the Back Bay is overgrown with pads as nobody keeps a boat back there anymore. While fishing the mouth of the Back Bay I got a small bass on the Horny Toad and had another really good swirl close to the boat, but it didn't get the Toad. We worked a little ways into the Back Bay before it got too weed choked, but nothing was in there.

Next we headed to the NE corner of West Sylvia. It was interesting to see that a reedbed there had shrunk in size but cattails had grown close to shore. We fished the wind blown reeds/cattails and I missed a good hit on the Grass Pig, but it got into the reeds immediately. We got to "My Island" which used to feature an open spot behind reeds and rice. The rice is almost all gone and it's just reeds and cattails. I got a bite there from what was most likely a sunfish on a bed (I saw the sunny on the bed as we passed by). I pulled a Sylvia Special on a craw tube off the end of My Island point. We then fished into Turtle Bay. I told Mike that sometimes as you get here is "peanuts"/Sylvia Specials but sometimes there can be good fish too. We did get several peanuts, me on the Horny Toad, but I also did get a 15.5" on the Toad. It used to be that by late June Turtle Bay would be to weed choked so you couldn't fish into it very far, but now there are two docks with boats at the far back of the bay and there is a pretty good boat channel there. Combine that with the high water and I figured fish could be anywhere in the bay. The slop looked beautiful, but all we got were peanuts close to the boat channels, couldn't get anything deeper into the pads. As we worked our way back out it was dead and I got a bit frustrated as this water tends to be pretty good as you come back out of the Bay on the North side. We were almost out of the slop when I got a Sylvia Special out of the Cattails up by shore on the Grass Pig. We went out and worked a cabbage bed that was as in the wind as you can get and we didn't get a bite. We worked down "McGregor's" shore to the 2 docks. I missed a small bass in between 2 docks.

Next we moved to the "Sunkin Island" but we didn't get anything there, so we headed to "Lighthouse Point" with would be another wind blown point with a good drop off and weeds. I'm not sure I even had the trolling motor in the water yet and Mike was hooked up with a big fish and we knew it was a big bass because it jumped. He got it in and it was this nice 19.5" fish.

Needless to say we worked the point pretty good after that and we caught some fish but they were all Sylvia specials.

Next we moved into Flannery's Bay to the hump that I never knew existed until I got my Lakemaster Map. I pulled this 14.25" from there on a Crawtube, but that is all we would get.

Next we worked an inside turn and weedline in Flannery's and I picked up a few more fish on the Crawtube. I also missed several bites. There was about an hour left so we headed back to fish slop/pads in the Public Access Bay. By this time it was partly cloudy so there was quite a bit of sun. Right away I scored a 15.25" on the black Horny Toad. I caught several more Sylvia Specials including this one.

The tournament ended at 2PM. Mike's 53.5" destroyed everybody, but as that he was ineligible my 46" won the tournament. It was typical Sylvia in that everybody reported catching quite a few fish, but everything was small.

Analysis: What can I say but I love Sylvia/Twin and I know spots that have the potential to kick out better than your cookie cutter Sylvia Specials. I am a little surprised that I never made it to the channel between the lakes, but with the way the slop was going in Turtle Bay, I made the call to hit Lighthouse Point first and after that I didn't want to make the run across the big water in that wind. If you want to catch bigger than average fish in Sylvia, you might want to consider using a green/pumpkin bass jig.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Fishers of Men Fishing Club Twin Cities Bass Tournament at E&W Sylvia Preview

Tomorrow I am going to fish a bass tournament with the Fishers of Men Club out of the Twin Cities. It has been several years since I fished a tournament with them other than at the annual club Fall Outing. The pull of Sylvia was just to much to resist. My family had a cabin on Sylvia/Twin when I was growing up and they are the lakes upon which I learned to fish. I haven't been on the lakes since 2005 when I fished a Team Bass Guy/Gal Tournament; That tournament is kind of infamous because I went fishing before the tournament day started, which was against the club rules. Being the Guy/Gal tournament which I thought was for fun, I didn't think it mattered. Several of the Team Bass teams saw me fishing and didn't say a thing. Later, however, another guy in Team Bass read my blog about the tournament where I admitted I fished before the tournament day and got his panties in a bunch, even though the tournament and that season had long since passed as I didn't blog about that tournament until the following Spring. This dude just couldn't let it go and has told several lies about me and tried unsuccessfully to get the Baxter Bass Snatchers, not to accept me as a member when I first joined that club.

Anyway back to the tournament.

It will be interesting to see if much has changed on the lakes. One thing that is different now is that Lakemaster has a totally accurate lake map, so all the previously unmapped deep structure isn't a secret anymore. The forecast is calling for a pretty stiff South wind from start to finish and for the possibility of rain and thunderstorms, maybe strong storms. A straight South wind isn't what you really want and I am pretty much ruling out some places I would normally consider in East Sylvia. I will definitely start out looking for an active bite. I'm assuming the slop is still where it always has been and I plan to hit my fair share of shallow thick stuff, but if it's clouds and wind and rain reaction baits on the weed flats and in other select areas might be the deal.

I'm fishing with Michael "Cyberfish" Thompson who's new hobby is storm chasing. He is going to bring his storm chasing computer with him, so we might be able to get a heads up if a storm comes barreling towards us. If storms move in, he may very well ditch me and go storm chasing.

Hopefully it will be fun. The two tournaments I've fished on Sylvia both featured storms with lightening and heavy rain. The problem with that is you want to fish as long as you can before the storm hits, because the bite can really be phenomenal pre-storm.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

B.B.S. Tournament Cullen Chain June 19th

Oh Man, where do I start.

I really thought this tournament was lining up just right for me to do really well and it almost did. We blasted off around a quarter to 7AM in calm overcast conditions with a slight fog and drizzle. We were 2nd boat out and 2nd boat to reach the channel from Lower Cullen to Middle Cullen. The boat that was in front of us didn't quite take the right path into the channel and ran aground. We passed them and were first into Middle. On the way up to Upper Cullen the boat that got stuck bypassed us about half way down the lake and they were first into the Upper Lake. We were 2nd into the Upper Lake channel. While we just got under way in the Upper lake, we watched the non-boater in the other boat catch a fish.

We headed straight to our starting area and there were two boats not in the tournament in the general area, but they were not up in the thick junk that we wanted to fish. Our starting area was moderately thick to thick pencil reeds with some pads and a little bit of rice and some other submergent weeds. I started off throwing a black Horny Toad in the seriously overcast conditions. I was the first to get a strike but it didn't get the Toad. I threw back and it took it again and it was a bass. I got it about half way back to the boat when it buried in the reeds and got off. This experience would happen far to often. After throwing the Horny Toad for a while and not getting anymore bites I switched up to a blue/black Berkley Havoc Lane's Grass Pig. I think I missed one bite on that before I put the first fish of the morning in the boat. It was a nice 15" bass. As I was putting on the culling tag my boater went to turn on the livewell pump and got nothing. Not Good! My boaters Ranger is a tiller boat with one big livewell and a baitwell. The baitwell pump was working so I put the fish in there.

We kept working the area and I had a 16.5" take the Grass Pig right by the boat. It helps if you don't have to fight a fish through the reeds. We moved out of our initial area and I think I caught a pike and missed a few bites. On one of the misses I threw back with a black/blue Lake Fork Craw Tube. The fish picked it up, but I pooched the hookset and it was gone. We got to an area where there was more rice laying down in the reeds and the wind was at our back, so I started throwing the Horny Toad again. I had a pike bite off most of the legs on my Horny Toad, but I continued to fish the bait without the legs. I had a bite from a good fish, 16 inch class at least (it jumped so I saw it). I got it about half way back to the boat and it buried me in the reeds and got off. I was miffed; It's one thing to have the fish bury you right away and get off, but quite another to have them moving towards you well and then get off. As we moved along the Horny Toad provided a 14.75", 14.5", before I lost the one with no legs. I put another Toad on and got a 14.25", and 12.5" and I got the limit monkey off my back. I also put these last couple of fish in the big livewell and had to use an ice cream bucket to scoop in water. The first cull came quick with a 14". At this point I think my boater only had one bass in the boat and had missed a few bites as well. I think he got his first fish on a blue/black Grass Pig that I gave him.

I think it was shortly after that 14" that we made a move to a deep reed bed in the lake where we had a double in pre-fish. In the deep reed bed my boater landed a small keeper and I caught a nice pike. After about an hour of that we headed back to our starting area. I upgraded with 15, but I can't remember what I caught it on. I think I caught a fish or two that didn't help as well as a pike or two. We got into an area that we didn't hit on our first pass that looked really good. I was bringing the Horny Toad in when either a big bass or dogfish purposed hard on the Toad. I laid the wood, but it buried me instantly and was gone. If that wasn't a dogfish, it was a game changer and I was quite bummed by missing it. A little ways down I got a bass that didn't help and another nice pike.

We made a run back to the deep reed bed and I pulled a 15.5" on a blue/black Craw Tube and also caught a couple that didn't help me. We worked this reed area, longer this time. After pulling out a backlash for about 15 minutes, my boater landed one that just barely made the 12 inch minimum size.

For a 3rd time we went back to our starting area, but we started a little farther South than we ever had. I put on a bubblegum Grass Pig and started throwing that. There were some really thick reeds, so I started throwing a brown Ish's Phat Frog and had a fish swirl on it fairly close to the boat. I threw back with the Craw Tube. On about the 4th pitch the fish picked it up and I laid the wood. It was a nice 16" class bass. I almost had it in when it jumped and spit the hook. I was like, What?!!!! GRRRRRRRRRRR! A little later on I made a long cast throwing the Phat frog up past the reeds into some shallow pads when I had a blow up and brought in a 16" into the boat. Those double hooked hollow body frogs are great for keeping a bass pegged if they choke it. In addition it helps when you can hook up where the cover isn't as dense and get them moving at you, at least usually. Today I was losing fish I had moving to me all to frequently. I had a few more swirls on the Ish's Phat Frog and a couple of bites on the bubblegum Pig that I couldn't convert. It was around this time that I noticed one of my fish was in trouble and I spent a while trying to revive it, but that was a waste of time. A couple of other fish started showing signs of distress, so I had to work for a while putting fresher water in the well.

My boater switched to a yellowish white Sizmic Toad and nailed a couple of fish, including a nice fish that was quite a bit bigger than anything I had. I switched the bubblegum pig to a albino Big Bite Baits Cane Thumper because the color and size were close to that Sizmic Toad and got a pike and couple of bass that didn't help. At this point in the day it was still cloudy, but it had warmed up into the mid 70's and my boater thought it would be good for our fish if we got out of the shallow warming water and got some water from out deeper in the lake. I think we hit the deeper reeds one more time then left the Upper Lake.

When we stopped in the Middle Lake I went back on water duty, but didn't check the bait well which was on automatic. That mistake allowed another one of my fish to get distressed and eventually expire. Anyway we were fishing down a reed lined point with a steep drop off. I tossed out a bluegill Megabass Pop Max and got a 14" that didn't help. I think my boater might have pulled a fish that helped him off this spot. We hit another point and that was when I noticed I had a second fish in trouble. Nothing at that point and with a little less than an hour left to go, we headed to the lower lake.

We got into the lower lake and there was a boat on the spot my boater wanted to go, so we hit another deep cabbage weed point and weedline. I started throwing the "Drag Stripper" Paycheck Baits Repo Man I got my big fish in pre-fish on. I was hoping this might be the bait to pull up a big smallmouth. I had a couple of swirls from seemed like a smaller fish, but didn't hook up. As we were working down the weedline I had a good bass that would have culled take a shot at the Repo Man, but it didn't hook up and it didn't come back for seconds. GRRRRRRRR! My boater landed a fish that was another good cull.

With about 10 minutes to go before check in, we closed her down and went to head in but the motor wouldn't start. Fortunately another tournament boat was close and came over. We were about a 1/4 mile from check in. My boater had some special hook ups for jumping the between batteries in the boat, but he couldn't find it. The other boat gave us their jumper cables and my boater worked furiously to get his batteries connected. He did and the motor started and we got back with pretty much, no time to spare.

The story doesn't end here, however. We got the boat pulled out of the water and started bagging our fish. There were 4 fish in the bait well, 3 of which had expired, two of which were mine. I handed my boaters dead fish to him, but somehow it registered with me that it was a 3rd expired fish for me. When I weighed my fish I said there were 3 alive instead of 4. When I dumped the fish in the lake and only had two dead one's to take back with me, I realized my mistake. At that point my weight was in the book and I was out of luck. Ouch!

My weight before dead fish penalties was 11lbs 6ozs. Each dead fish is a 2oz penalty, so my official weight was 11lbs even. Third Place (last to "get wood") was 11lbs 2ozs. Even if I would not have screwed up by an extra 2ozs, I would have lost on the big fish tie breaker as my biggest fish was a modest 2-4. However another angler had 11-1, so I dropped an extra place in the standings to 5th out of 26 guys fishing. If it were not for another guys dead fish penalty I would have dropped to 6th. Everyone caught their limit and 11 of us were stacked between 11-2 and 10-1. 2 Bags were less than 8lbs. My boater came in 13th with 10-1 (1 dead fish) and his big fish was only 2-15; I thought it was a 3lber for sure.

Analysis- What can I say? Had I had a bit better luck I probably would have won the tournament as the winning weight was only 12-13, although the winner was fishing thick junk too (we fished some of the same water) and I would assume he dumped a fish or two that would have helped his bag as well.

For the second tournament in a row my fish had to be post-spawners that were on the skinny side. Going in to weigh in I figured I had right about 12lbs. Frankly I'm surprised my fish weighed even less than at Platte/Sullivan because my average length here was a bit better (in fact it was one full inch more in total) and the fish didn't seem thin to me. Still I can't complain to much. I screwed up on that extra dead fish and losing fish in pencil reeds is just an unfortunate fact of life, but some of the fish I missed were really bad breaks.

Next Bass Snatcher Tournament: Le Homme Dieu on July 16th
I think I am going to try and get in on the Fishers of Men Club Twin
Cities Tournament for bass on Sylvia/Twin on July 9th. Sylvia/Twin is the lake I learned to fish on.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bass Snatcher Cullen Chain Tournament Preview

I have a good feeling about this tournament. I've got a boater who seems to have a good feel for the lakes and I think it will fish in ways I like to fish and am comfortable fishing. I haven't talked with my boater since our pre-fish and he did get out one more time, so I don't know his exact game plan at this point. But there will be plenty of time to discuss that on the way to the lake in the morning.

Weather looks like it will be on the favorable side for most of the morning. We may get wet, we may not, but it should be overcast and overcast is good for clear water.

Here are my 7 set ups
Dock Rod- Bubblegum Super Fluke 6'3" St. Croix Avid(spinning) 10lb smoke Fireline
Craw Tube Rod- 7' Heavy St. Croix Avid 20lb Vicious Flouro
Dippers (looking to throw mostly Havoc Grass Pigs)- 7'3" MH Excel Bass 40lb Power Pro
Ish's Phat Frog (or other hollow body frogs)- 7'3" MH St. Croix Avid 40lb Power Pro
Horny Toad Rod- 7'3" MH St. Croix Avid 40lb Power Pro
Light Craw Tube Exposed Hook- GLoomis 783C GLX 17lb Gama Co-Poly
Topwater and Chatter Jig Rod- GLoomis 783C IMX 14lb Fireline Smoke

I have opted not to carry a swim jig/spinnerbait rod. However, I do have spinnerbaits in the tackle bag.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cullen Chain Pre-Fish

Next Sunday is my 2nd Baxter Bass Snatcher tournament of the year being held on the Cullen Chain near Nisswa MN. I had the good fortune to draw Bill Bailey for my boater as he has a good history with these lakes. Bill was kind enough to agree to take me out for a day of fishing, so I could get a feel for these lakes that I had never seen before. I am extremely glad Bill took me out, because in a lot of ways it wasn't what I expected.

The Cullen Chain has pretty good to excellent water clarity and has diverse aquatic vegetation, but seemingly none of the troublesome invasive weeds. I really like the Chain as it has elements of Sylvia/Twin and Platte/Sullivan. Bill has a smaller boat so we are able to fish in all 3 lakes. I don't think guys with bigger boats can get into the upper most lake because of a narrow culvert with little headroom. Getting out of the lower most lake where we will launch is also a challenge. Bill had to get out of the boat this morning because we didn't take the right approach into the boat channel and ran aground.

I was pleasantly surprised by the fish size we discovered, although my first fish of the day didn't show it.

Shortly after this fish, I watched a 3lb+ largie engulf my lure. I couldn't make up my mind if I wanted to set the hook or not because I got such a good look at the fish as did Bill. I think the fish kind of stuck itself and I had it on for a few seconds before it got off. I got another good take shortly after that.

Next we went to a weedline and I experimented with a bait, but that was a bust. After that we ran to the Upper Lake, which turned into a pike fest for me. Bill had a follow from a big dogfish. I tried to catch it, but just spooked it. A little later on we were getting close to one of the clubs more mercurial club members and we saw him catch a fish. I thought it was a nice bass, but he told us it was a dogfish. I'm not sure I believe that.

Anyway we found some productive water and ended our time in the upper lake with a quality double. This was my fish (I think it was probably 16).

Next we went back to the middle lake. It was cloudy with a light breeze and I thought in that clear water topwater might go, so I started throwing a Paycheck Baits Repo Man. We fished some good looking stuff without so much as a sniff for either us, but I just kept chucking the topwater. Eventually I was rewarded with this 18"+ pig that just annihilated the Repo Man.

It was awesome. I knew it was a big fish immediately because it tail walked then jumped a couple of times. I was worried it was going to bury me in the weeds and get off, but it was hooked well and I was able to pull it out of the salad. Man I was jacked after this fish.

We fished a little while longer and I added one more quality bass to my day on something that not get any play on tournament day, but the color will.

Overall it was a very successful pre-fish. I was impressed with the size we discovered and it's a fun lake to fish with lots of options. My boater Bill is probably going to get out for one more trip.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

B.B.S Platte/Sullivan Tournament June 4th

The first Baxter Bass Snatcher Club tournament of the year was held on Platte and Sullivan lakes in Central Minnesota. In case you are not aware Platte/Sullivan have been my home lakes since 2003. I lived on Platte Lake from 2003 to 2005. Previous to this event I had fished 4 bass tournaments on the lake, doing terrible in 2 of them. I can't say that I was feeling any pressure, but I definitely wanted to put in a good finish.

We blasted off in Platte at around a quarter to 8AM and my boater Peter and I headed straight to the "Grumpy Old Man Hole"/ the bridge that separates Platte and Sullivan. We were going to start there and actually waved a couple of boats past us so they could head into Sullivan. I was worried someone would be fishing from shore because there was earlier in the morning, but they were gone. However, there was a boat with a couple of young teenage kids fishing in the general vicinity.

Once we got into the area that I consider money, I had a good hit on a black/blue Strike King Pure Poison with black/blue Berkley Havoc Lane's Craw Fatty trailer. I thought the day was starting out fantastic until I saw it was a nice pike. I think it was shortly after this that Pete landed the first bass of the day. Unfortunately the bass were not stacked up. We ran North quite a ways then came back for a 2nd pass on which Pete landed, what I think was his big bass of the day, a 17+ incher. I think I caught another small pike and I was satisfied it wasn't going to happen, so we headed under the bridge and took off for the Platte River Mouth.

As we were heading toward the river mouth another tournament boat was coming up the SW shore and headed straight for the river. This forced us to take the North shore. Both boats arrived at the river mouth around the same time. I think Pete, I, and Darren, the guy in the front of the other boat, all hooked up around the same time. My fish was a keeper at 13" that I think bit a Big Bite Baits Cane Thumper (dipper) and went in the well (12" minimum). At that point Darren made a bit of a mistake by not holding up and milking the spot. Pete and I slowed down and Darren kept moving on right into the river. We went back over where Darren had just come from and I landed a 13" and 14.25 on a black/blue Lake Fork Craw Tube and Pete brought in a fish too and I think he missed one as well. When we were satisfied the river mouth had nothing else to give we headed into the river as Darren was coming back out. I don't think they got a bite in the river.

We worked quite a ways into the river and I think all we had to show for it was one missed swirl on my purple Berkley Frenzy Popper. Once we got through with what I consider the most productive water. We fired her up and headed in closer to the "dam", which really isn't a dam. We worked the stretch leading to the dam and didn't get a thing. However, once we got close to the dam I fired a cast up by the West wall and had a spawned out 16" blow up on the Frenzy Popper. I then got a 13" and 12.75" behind the dam to fill my limit on the popper. I quickly got my first cull with a 13.25" on the Cane Thumper. I think I also caught a couple that didn't help and maybe Pete got a fish as well. Pete had the idea to go downstream beyond the dam. As we were drifting I put a cast up by shore and a good fish blew up on the Frenzy Popper; It was barely hooked, but I landed the spawned out 17.25" largie.

I think further down the river Pete caught his limit fish and a couple of pike. I got a bass or two that didn't help. We went as far as we could then fired up the big motor to get us back to the dam. There weren't any fish there and we fished our way back up river. As we were fishing water we bypassed the first time down I pulled in a 15.25" and Pete got another good fish that I think was in the 16" class. I think that one might have been the last of our river fish. We fished back out to the mouth were I got a bass that didn't help and I think Pete got bit off. Pete also broke a rod while we were still in the river.

We then started working the flat that I call the PRO. I got a 14.25" on the Cane Thumper and a 14.50" and a few fish that didn't help and maybe a pike or two. Pete was getting an occasional fish as well. We worked our way along the North shore to where the docks start. We had just gone past a dock that was underwater when I saw a fish following the Cane Thumper. I let it drop and a big bass took it, turned and started swimming away. I set the hook and got nothing, my line broke inexplicably. I was more than a little bummed. This was at least a 4lb class fish, if not bigger and I'm 99% sure it was a bass because I got a pretty good look at it.

We worked our way to the East shore, then headed back for a second pass. I think we got a couple fish that didn't help and I broke a rod. Eventually we got to the area where I missed the big one and I threw a bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke. The Fluke disappeared I set the hook, a fish was on for a couple of seconds then gone. I blew it again, although it may or may not have been the big fish it was in the same spot. On the next dock down I pulled a 14.5" from under a pontoon. This would be my last cull of the day.

We tried doubling back one more time, but the big fish spot didn't produce any bites with a craw tube.

We headed back into Platte and fished the GOMH without success. There were some shore anglers who said they caught a few small bass and had lost a nice one. Next we hit up a reed point that is a really good spot. I had a very good bite on the Cane Thumper and it was a good fish, but it buried me in the reed stalks and got off. I was quite disappointed I let that happen because I was using a heavy rod. I did get one bass that didn't help on the craw tube.

Next we headed to Loon Sex Point, which had the wind blowing on it. Pete got a small pike and that was it. Very disappointing. Next we tried working along the North shore of Loon Sex Bay and that was a bust except one fish for Pete. We gave Loon Sex Point another pass with nothing to show for it, then we headed North with about an hour to go. To be honest I was physically beat at this point. We worked ourselves into Platte River Inlet Bay. I got a pike on a spinnerbait and the bass were nowhere to be found. We were in the wind and having trouble with junk fouling our lures. I suggested we make a move West and North and that paid off with a couple of last hour culls for Pete. That turned out to be a very good thing for Pete who had been culling the wrong fish. He did get a good cull up when he figured it out.

As that I was beat I suggested we head in about 10 minutes early to get a good shore spot, which we did.

First thing we weigh is our big fish and when I heard the 17.25" only went 2-10; I was not a happy camper. Then my total weight came to 11lbs 8ozs and I was very disappointed. I figured I had made my goal of getting over 12lbs and coming in short of that on fish that should have gone at least 12 sucked. In the final standings I came in 12th. Pete weighed 13-12 which put him in 7th. As a pair we had the 2nd best combined weight.

Analysis- I'm not gonna say I choked, but I sure had some bad luck that kept me from doing much better. Final bag was 17.25", 16", 15.25", 14.5", 14.5" and 14.25" and somehow that wasn't even close to being over 12lbs, that's sad!!! I've kind of noticed this spring that the bass have not been their usual Platte/Sullivan chunky selves. Breaking my line on that big dog was what really killed me, honestly I just don't understand how it happened. A pike must have frayed up the line really good and I didn't notice.

Platte/Sullivan showed out well taking almost 16 to win (15-15), 8 bags over 13lbs, and 21 limits. Big Bass was 4-06 with I think a total of 4 that were over 4 and another 3 that were up close to 4lbs.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Baxter Bass Snatchers Platte/Sullivan Pre-view

Tomorrow is the day, I hope it is a good one. My pre-fishing results were OK, but I didn't find any secret to big fish. I think my boater and I will catch fish, but I don't think I have anything rock solid in terms of producing fish. I am guessing it's going to take about 14-15lbs to win under the sunny conditions tomorrow, but the fishing could also possibly bust wide open and take closer to 20. I think it will be mostly a late pre-spawn to spawn deal, but sight fishing should be pretty limited do to the stained water clarity. Unless the weeds have really come up in the last two days, I don't think slop will be a factor. Platte/Sullivan are normally a dock and slop deal. Still over the submergent weeds that will be slop soon is sure to give up some fish.

One thing that kind of stinks is the 8AM official start time. For this time of year you would think we would have had a 7AM start time, but the club at the urging of one of our better dock fishermen kept the later time. Usually the club blasts off earlier than the official start time, but usually only by about 15 minutes. My boat blasts off 13th out of 15, which also doesn't help matters in terms of starting where I want too. Who knows, maybe we'll get a little lucky and be able to quickly pick up some easy fish.

Here's How I am rigged to start:
Dock Rod- Bubblegum Zoom Super Fluke 6'3" St. Croix Avid Spinning
Dipper Rod- Big Bite Baits Cane Thumper 7'3" MH St. Croix LTB
Horny Toad Rod- St. Croix 7'3" MH Avid
Creature Bait Rod- Lake Fork Craw Tube 7' H St. Croix Avid
Spinnerbait Rod- 6'10" MH Shimano Crucial
Swim Jig Rod- 6'10" MH Shimano Crucial
Topwater Rod- Paycheck Baits Repo Man 7' MH Shimano Crucial TC4
Chatter Jig/small Topwater- Strike King Pure Poison 6'6" G. Loomis IMX 783C

Final Thoughts- I would really like to catch at least 12lbs and get a Top 10.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

2011 Baxter Bass Snatchers Club Tournament Schedule & Preview

Saturday June 4th Platte/Sullivan- If you don't know Platte/Sullivan are my home lakes in this area and I have been fishing Sullivan since about 1999 and in Platte since 2001. Since 2001 I have fished 4 bass tournaments on the lakes with 2 total bombs and 2 respectable performances. I came close to winning or placing very high in August of 2004, but I was 1 fish short of the 6 fish limit which put me 1lb 3oz out of 2nd and 2lb 7ozs out of 1st. In that tournament I had a freak malfunction of my Shimano Calcutta reel with a good fish on and lost the bass because of it. Because of my checkered tournament history here and my inability to pattern quality fish early in the season over the past couple of years, I am a bit leery of this one. The Tournament is just a week after bass season opens and the lake goes off limits on Thursday. Fish numbers seem to be pretty good in the lakes right now, so I will expect to be able to catch a limit. This is one tournament where I might actually take my allotted time of half the day in the front of the boat.

Sunday June 19th Cullen Lakes- Never fished this Chain of 3 lakes North of Brainerd and at this point don't know much about them. The club last fished here June 5th of 2005 and it took a modest 13-8 to win and there were 18 limits caught out of 29 anglers, no skunks. When the club fished the lake in August 2001 the weights were better but less fish were caught. Need to do more research on this one.

Saturday July 16th Le Homme Dieu Chain- Never fished these lakes before but I know they host lots of tournaments and are fish factories but the size doesn't tend to be all that great. I thought the club had fished here once a few years ago, but now that I took a closer look they didn't. With high gas prices it could very be that my boater and I will go into this one blind. Need to do more research on this one.

Sunday July 31st Mississippi River- Now I haven't heard this explicitly stated but I'm almost 100% sure this is for the Mississippi out Brainerd which opens up some traditional river fishing in some pretty good smallmouth water along with fishing Rice Lake, which I don't know anything about. The club last fished here in 1999 in a no-prefish blind tournament and the results were not that great numbers wise, but the size of fish was pretty good. Need to do more research on this one.

Saturday August 27th Fish Hook Lake Park Rapids- Never fished here, but have had a birdie in my ear tell me about it and they say it's a good lake with lots of options. The club fished here in August of 2007 and it looks like it was a pretty good tournament with lots of quality fish; Probably why we are going back. The DNR says there are Smallmouth in the lake, but they didn't show up in the 2007 survey.

Saturday October 1st Birch Lake (Hackensack)- We almost fished this lake in 2009 and I did a little research on it then and was excited to fish it, however it got voted down at the final lake schedule meeting. The club last fished here in August 1999 and while the numbers or fish caught were not all that great fish size was pretty good. You never know what your gonna get with an October tournament in Minnesota weather wise, but hopefully we won't hit it at turnover but when the hot fall bite is on.

If anyone out there has insight into any of these lakes I'd like to hear about it. Either leave a comment or email me at basspundit@hotmail.com