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.