Friday, August 21, 2015

Maple Lake 7/26/15 Renegade Bassers

Maple Lake is one of my favorites for many reasons.  First off I won the last RB event here two years ago and secured angler of the year in the process.  I remember it like it was yesterday it was an awesome feeling.  I also fished my first tourney as a boater on this lake and I remember how nervous I was just to get a limit, and how I wasn't really sure how to work my live wells.  I did manage a small limit that day by the way.  It's also the lake we 'adopted' as part of the MN DNR Adopt-a-river program in which we clean up the shorelines around both accesses in the Spring.  We even put up our sign this Spring to make it official.  We also just mounted our 're-baits' box at the landing where anglers can recycle their used soft plastics which get melted down and reused.  So this lake is somewhat special to me.  

We headed out the previous week to see what we could figure out.  We started I the shallow bay near the launch and immediately starting hooking up with decent fish on frogs.  The action was intense for about 45 minutes then it was like someone flipped a switch and the frog bite was dead.  I knew being the last boat out, I probably wouldn't be able to get in there anyways but it was still fun.  We found a few other decent fogging areas to check during the tourney but the frog bite was officially done. 
We headed to some weedline areas and immediately started to hook up here as well.  We tried some other new spots too without much luck.  I felt pretty good about our day and it was getting hot and busy on the lake so we headed in. 

On tournament morning my non boater had overslept and I offered to come back and pick him up at the dock when he arrived.  Not the most ideal way to start the tourney but I figured it could happen to anyone.

I ran down to the channel looking for a frog bite early.  On like my 3rd cast a good one exploded on my zoom horny toad and I got him in the net.  No sooner than I got him in the box when Travis called and said he was at the dock.  While I didn't mind going to get him I wasn't expecting him for at least another 30 minutes and the frog fish were biting.  I worked my way back through the no wake area and went to get him from the dock. 

We headed back to the same area and the action was slow.  I think Travis finally picked up a keeper on the frog before we headed deep. 

On our way to my main weedline area I noticed at least 4 boats up and down my most productive areas.  I have a tendency to get irritated when this happens as it seems like every tourney this year has been like this.  I know it's part of the game and something I need to work on.  You come out and put in practice time and everyone else finds the same areas.  My instinct is not to fight for fish I'd rather just find a different area or wait for them to leave.  Again, something to work on. 

We squeezed in between boats and caught a few small keepers.  Not much size but we needed limits before we could cull.  I decided to head shallow to the bay near the landing.  If we had caught fish there on frogs, they didn't all leave, we'd just have to drop a jig on their head and make them bite.  After a few minutes of dealing with the scum and muck, it was time to bail.  On our way out I noticed a shady spot on one of the mats with deep, clean, water on one side.  This was worth a look.  We came around the corner and there was a prefect looking spot.  Nice little opening at the point of some thick weeds, the kind of spot where you say 'yep, there's gotta be one there.'  I focused all my attention on my cast and carefully flipped in there.  Boom!  There was one there!  It headed toward deeper water and as soon as I tried to turn it's momentum toward the boat it came off.  It wasn't a giant but would have helped.  I immediately thought it would reload and I would check again later.  I think I got another small keeper off of that spot before we headed back to the weedline. 

Out on the weedline my heart just wasn't in it.  I didn't think the winning fish were out here and I didn't like the amount of pressure we were dealing with.  We headed back shallow to flip for awhile.  After a long stretch with no bites we headed back to check on the spot I mentioned earlier. 
I decided to quietly work my way around up to the spot.  On my first flip I immediately got hammered.  It was way up in the weeds splashing around, I was pumped.  It had to be at least a five pounder.  But then I got it closer and was a freaking dogfish.  Ughh!  Again.  Once I finally got the nasty thing unhooked, we continued towards my spot.  Travis picked up a decent one to fill out his limit.  Approaching the spot I again got ultra focused and made the perfect flip right where the previous one bit.  Boom!  Right where it was supposed to be.  3 pounder, and much bigger than the one I lost earlier.  And this time I got it into the net and made a huge cull with a 12 incher. 

I was feeling decent at this point, I figured I had at least 10 pounds.  I knew it wasn't enough to win but the afternoon bite was a grind, and figured I had enough for a decent finish.  It was getting close to the end of the day so we poked around near the launch and closed out the rest of the day.  Travis had his limit and I had at least 10 pounds so it was a decent day.  Nothing special but did what we needed to do to stay in the hunt.

I ended up in 6th place with 12.37lbs, I'll take it!  Not the win I was after but still a solid finish.  I feel like for the 2nd event this year I didn't weigh my biggest bass for big bass.  I had one that weighed 3.7 on my hand scale, and I know that my hand scale is off from the official scale, but when I caught the second one of similar size I never kept them separate or even weighed the 2nd one.  Then when I was at the scale I just assumed that someone would catch one over 4 and just sort of picked one of the two.  Well, big bass ended up being only 3.46lbs.  So I'll never know but lesson learned, always weigh and keep track of my biggest fish because you never know.  Same sort of deal happened on Green Lake where I had some fish of similar size and just sort of guessed which one was biggest and ended up being like .10oz short.  Lesson learned again!  Lots of lessons from this event.  



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Waconia 7/11/15 Renegade Bassers

After a tough tournament on Medicine I set my sights on Waconia.  Along with my poor showing in the previous event, my recent history on Waconia has not been good.  In the alternates tournament a few years ago I missed 1st place by the smallest margin because I couldn't fill my limit after catching 4 fish very quickly, then not getting my limit fish for the next 6 hours.  My last tourney on Waconia as a non boater I brought in one fish.  And my first event here as a boater I brought in 2 fish one which I snagged with my rat-l-trap.  It was under 30 degrees at take off that day but still.  So needless to say I have a score to settle with this lake.  And I need some points in the worst way. 

I was hoping to get a couple visits in to try some different things on different days.  My first visit was on July 4th with Kyle Rodriguez, my soon to be brother-in-law.  It's been awhile since we've fished together and it was good to catch up.  We started shallow and immediately found some fish with swim jigs and frogs.  Not much size so we kept moving.  We hit some reeds and Kyle lost a good one.  I made a metal note and moved on.  We hit a couple more shallow areas with some success before we moved out deep.  I caught a couple really nice fish out on the humps before the place turned into a zoo and it was time to go.  The ramp was a circus and everyone was trying to get on the lake to enjoy the holiday. 
I made it out again alone for a few hours later that week.  I wanted to expand on what I found on the 4th as well as check my other good areas to see how consistent they were.  I started in the reeds near the access with no luck.  I slid out to the first break to see if they were there instead and caught a couple decent ones.  I moved around and didn't really find much besides one other good area where I caught 3 fish on 3 casts.  While I was fishing this spot another boat slid up within casting distance and there was hardly anybody else out there.  I couldn't believe it.  He just rolled up and started casting and acted like I wasn't even there.  Some people... I already had what I needed so I bailed. 

I was paired with another new club member BJ so it would be another chance to get to know another new guy one on one.  We met at my house and headed out.  
I was torn on whether to start shallow or deep.  I had two good spots one shallow one deep.  I figured the deep spots would get crowded quickly once the walleye guys came out, but normally I like to start shallow then go deeper.  At the last minute I decided to go shallow.  We started catching fish immediately but they were all small.  Except one 17 incher that ate my frog as soon as it landed.  In 45 minutes I had my limit and BJ had 4.  Off to find some bigger fish. 

We headed to some reeds and wanted to fish the point but there was another boat (Not one of our guys) sitting right on it with power poles down picking it apart.  Great.  We worked in behind and around and eventually he left.  We came around the point and I flipped in and got hammered.  It was a good fish almost 4 pounds.  Just what I needed!  Now off to find another one.  We tried one more shallow area with no luck then headed deeper. 

Every deep spot that I wanted to go to there was at least two boats on.  That's what I was afraid of by starting shallow.  We settled in close to one of my waypoints on a weedline and hoped to wait out another boat nearby.  He could tell we were trying to edge in and eventually (after catching several fish) came over and told us we could have at it.  We talked for a minute and he was pre fishing for an upcoming tournament and told us there were 2-3lb fish in the area.  By the time we got in there apparently they had shrunk.  I think BJ got his limit fish and made some slight upgrades.  I couldn't buy an upgrade!  I tried throwing different types of baits to entice the bigger fish to no avail. 
Eventually we left to try to find some bigger fish.  We ran back through the reeds but it was difficult to fish because of the wind.  I was gravitating towards the flipping bite because that's how I caught my biggest fish.  But the bites were few and far between.  We tried a deep hump, another reed patch and weedline before we settled back in to our previous productive weedline spot. 

This time I finally got a small upgrade to get rid of one of my 13 inchers.  I still had 2 left and time was winding down.  We were consistently catching fish but all small.  At this point I thought maybe I had 10 pounds and that wasn't going to get me a top 5 out here. 

We headed to another weedline near the ramp for the last 10 minutes.  When I pulled in a crappie on my drop shot I knew it was over.  We headed back for weigh in. 

I ended up with 10.67 pounds for 9th place.  At least I am heading in the right direction for this lake.  I finally managed to catch a limit!  Watch out next time we fish Waconia.  :-)  The winner John P, came in with a giant sack and blew away the field with just over 20 pounds and a 5+ big bass.  He had more than 7lbs more than the 2nd place stick.  Wow!

I had a fun day despite not finding many big ones.  We caught tons of fish size just wasn't there.  I'm sure I caught at least 25 fish or more, it sure seemed like more. 

I don't really know what I could have done differently.  I want to say we shouldn't have fished shallow so much but that's where my big one came from.  Not sure, I'll scratch my head about this for awhile.  Next up is Maple Lake, one of my favorites.  I'm off to pre fish...

Water temp 75 degrees

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Medicine Lake Renegade Bassers 6/21/15

I was pretty excited to fish Medicine lake again this year with RB looking for some redemption from last year's disastrous Greenhorn tournament.  It was on father's day and I can't think of a better way to spend it than fishing a tournament.  Plus it's close to my house and my family was coming to the weigh in so I needed to bring in some big ones to show off. 
We also got our new jerseys today as well and they look pretty sweet. 

I was on the lake a couple times this year prior to the tourney.  Early in the Spring we struggled during the spawn as we saw quality fish but could only get the smaller males to bite. 
The week before the tourney I was out and did ok.  I didn't get a lot of bites but did catch a couple good ones.  I tried some new area's but nothing real exciting there.  They sprayed the milfoil in some of my usually good areas so that wasn't good.  Right before I left I checked on a decent area and caught two nice ones back to back including one away from my normal area so that was encouraging. I would have to milk that area come tournament day.  I wanted to get out there again closer to the tourney but it just didn't happen. 

My partner was another new member of the club Derick, so I was excited to fish with him and have a great day.

Things started off decent enough with Derick catching a decent one off my main area pretty quickly.  That was the only bite we got so we headed off to flip some pads and try a frog.  They weren't interested in the frog and only a pike flipping. 

We headed to a weedline near some reeds where I've done well in the past.  I finally got my first keeper on a swim jig.  Nothing big but it was a start.  This area provided a few keepers but nothing of size.  Then we headed to one of the bays and it was too crowded to fish, so we headed to the other bay and I picked up another small keeper on a senko.  Meanwhile, my partner was catching pike left and right and even a couple walleye.  Too bad it was a bass tournament or he would have been doing awesome.  :-)

For the rest of the day we tried to grind it out.  We checked my best area a few times and there was either boats right on it or we couldn't get anything to bite.  We tried a few areas with nothing happening either.  I managed to fill out my limit but nothing of any size at all.  I knew I wouldn't get many bites based on previous tournaments and practice but was hoping for at least one or two decent sized ones which I did find in practice. 

We continued to grind with not much to show for it.  Another disappointing showing at Medicine. 
But, my family was as the landing waiting for me and it was fathers day so no time to sulk even though I was pretty disappointed.  Makes you realize what's really important in life and that a bad club tourney isn't the end of the world.  But I can't hide from my competitive side so I'll be back with all I've got for Waconia. 

The weigh in was great.  There was a few of the guy's families there which was great to see.  After that I headed back out on the water with my family and had some fun. 

Water temp 73 degrees. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Green & Koronis Renegade Bassers 6/6/15 & 6/7/15

Renegade Bassers Out of Towner 6/5/15 - 6/7/15

I arrived at the motel in Spicer late Thursday night after softball and could hardly sleep.  Our first tournament of the year was the out of town back-to-back event in Spicer with Green on Saturday and Koronis on Sunday.  I was super excited to fish my first tourney with my new boat but at the same time felt that I wasn't quite as organized yet as it's still early in the season. 

On Friday morning I met new club member Jacob Corell at Green Lake and we headed out to try to come up with a game plan.  Green is brutal when it's windy and it was already blowing pretty hard when we launched.  We drove to the NW corner to launch instead and went in search of some quality fish.  Our first spot produced a couple fish on a jerk bait on a sharp break.  We ran to my largemouth spot and it was tough to control the boat and nothing was home.  It took awhile but we finally got on some decent Smallies.  I caught two nice 3lb class fish back to back in one deeper area around 10 fow.  A reef produced some decent fish also. 

Once I had a few good areas, it was time to look for some Smallies on beds.  It was tough sight fishing conditions since it was cloudy and windy.  Right when we were ready to head to Koronis the Sun started peeking out and we started seeing some beds.  Since I was hoping sight fishing would be the main deal, we had to stay a little longer and explore a really good looking area.  Jacob spied some reeds that I didn't notice so I bee lined over to them to check the depth.  We immediately saw some beds with quality fish on them.  Plus a couple bonus largies while blind casting the reeds.  My plan was complete so we headed to the ramp. 

When the dnr kid came over to inspect the boat I told him we were going directly to Koronis.  He said we'd have to go back to the other ramp for a decontamination (rise below water line with hot water).  He said he would call them so they would be ready, and gave me a sheet of paper to give them with my info. Ok, fine, no big deal.  We went to the hotel to drop off Jacob's car and on the way I called another club member who also was on Green and headed directly over to Koronis just to see if they had to get decontaminated as well.  He said he didn't, and that he told the guy he was going directly to the other lake as well.  That was strange, but ok, whatever. Then when we got there, he wasn't ready with the hoses so we had to wait for that.  Now I'm getting slightly annoyed.  I'm all for doing whatever we can to prevent the spread of invasive species but it didn't make any sense that I had to go out of my way to get my boat cleaned when all the boats that left that access didn't have to!  That's the problem with their plan is that it only takes one contaminated boat to introduce invasives.  And if they aren't always there (like early in the morning), there's no way they can check everyone so what's the point? 

Anyway, finally headed to Koronis.  The water here was much dirtier and slime everywhere on your lures.  We started in one of the far bays with a couple decent ones as we were working our way out.  We got a few near a shallow water marker buoy with a drop off on one side.  Then we finally got a couple good ones near one of the islands.  My trolling motor batteries were on their last leg, and it was almost 7pm by this point, time to head back to the hotel for some food and shut eye.  After almost 11 hours on the water it was a long day. 

Green Lake Tournament 6/6/15

I was very excited for my first tournament in my new boat!  In January I picked up a Triton 17 Explorer w/90 hp Merc after selling my Tracker in November.  I spent January - May upgrading and rigging it to be ready for the season.  I may do a blog post in the future describing in more detail all the work that was done. 

My co angler couldn't make it so I was flying solo on this one.  Take off was normal and the 2015 season was under way!  I ran to my closest spot which was a reef on the west side of the lake.  The wind was howling and I jumped up on the front deck and dropped the trolling motor in the water.  I knew something was wrong immediately when I blew right off my spot and the trolling motor was on 100.  Wtf?  I checked my connections and everything I could but had no power to the trolling motor.  It was acting just like it was the night before when I assumed they were drained pretty good.  I made a couple drifts across the reef since I was there but quickly realized that wasn't going to work since I could barely make one cast before I was blown off into deeper water. 

I headed back to my truck to grab my jump box and battery tester (normally I keep them in the boat but figured I wouldn't need them). 

One of my tm batteries read 7 volts.  This was not good.  It was windy as heck and I was screwed without my trolling motor.  I wondered if I should just leave and get things squared away for tomorrow and live to fight another day.  I decided to rig up the jump box and try to find a less windy area to fish and see how it went.  The jump box would give me a little juice and I'd see how long it would last. 

I ran to a small bay that was somewhat protected where I spotted some beds the day before.  It didn't take long to hook up with my first fish of the day a decent smallie on a bed with a drop shot.  By the time I got it in the live well I was way off my area so I had to idle back with the big motor to conserve juice.  I quickly spotted another bed and nabbed my 2nd keeper of the day.  Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. 

I ran into another club member who lent me his jump box as well which might give me a few more minutes.  They said they were seeing lots of beds but with no fish on them.  I had heard that from a few other guys as well, but I was finding plenty of fish on beds.  Either I had found an area with another wave of spawners, or nobody had checked the area I was fishing very carefully. 

After the initial flurry, things quickly got frustrating.  I went through the juice in my jump box and barely had enough power to turn the boat.  I was drifting off the beds I had marked before I could get a cast in.  If I was going to stick this out, I needed to figure out a way to catch fish without my trolling motor.  A power pole would have been handy but may not have had enough juice to deploy it.  I didn't have an anchor.  I debated trying to wedge my push pole to keep me in place but never tried. 

I ran to two other areas and realized that wasn't going to work they were just too windy and I was blown away with one or two casts.  I decided I would head back to the bay and motor to the windy shore and drift back across with the wind to the other side and see how that worked.  On my first pass I was throwing a square bill and drifted right over a nest with a nice smallie on it.  I quickly marked it and kept my head down scanning the water for more beds while I was casting.  I probably marked 5 beds with fish on them on my first pass and even caught a couple small fish on the square bill. 

When I reached the other shoreline I turned back around and motored up to the first bed and quickly jumped up to the deck and had just enough juice to make a couple adjustments, and had one or two casts at most to get the fish to bite.  Some would bite right away, and others took a few tries.  I got two good ones on my next pass and started to feel a lot better about what I was doing.   

So basically I did that all day.  Probably 15-20 times.  Motor close to the shore, drift across with the wind, mark beds, chunk the square bill or spinnerbait, turn around and try to pick off the fish I had marked.  It was very tedious but seemed productive.  Especially without a trolling motor.  I caught all my bed fish on a drop shot with a kvd dream shot worm.  Chartreuse or watermelon red, didn't seem to matter as long it was right in their nest.

I eventually put together a decent limit and felt pretty good considering the circumstances.  I figured someone would catch at least 15-16 pounds or more since that is pretty typical for this lake in the Spring.  I knew I didn't have that but I'd be stoked just to finish in the top 10. 

It started raining with about an hour to go and I decided to run and check another spot close to the weigh in.  It was the same deal I'd make one cast and wind up in 40 feet of water.  I was done.  I floated around and rigged up for the next day and organized the boat.  I headed in with about 30 minutes left to beat the crowd and end the frustration.  To top it all off when I was pulling my boat out I had the tailgate down and my 12 pack of water cans fell all over the access and into the water.  Ughh! 

Once everyone started coming in reports were encouraging.  Guys had limits but they were mostly small.  A lot of the guys who I expected to have big bags did not.  I waited until the end to weigh in since I was writing down the weights.  By the time I weighed in the biggest bag was 10 pounds.  I had 12.  Boom!  Somehow I won this sucker.  And by 2 pounds.  Still not quite sure how one of the most frustrating days I've ever had on the water turned into a win but I'll take it.  It was the most anti-climactic win I've had, since half the club was gone already when I weighed in.  I think me and the tournament director were the only ones who knew who won.  Very strange.  But I had no time to enjoy it anyway, I had to figure out what was wrong with my batteries. 

I got back to the hotel and went to work.  There's some great dudes in the club that always help me out and we got it dialed in pretty quickly.  It was a bad charger.  I should've known, I had issues with it before.  I wanted to get a new one earlier, but with all the other expenses I was hoping to get at least a season out of it.  Big shout out to Darren Sorenson for lending me his battery and charger to get things squared away for the next day. 

Finally time to kick back eat some food and bs with the guys.



Water temp = 61-63

Koronis 6/7/15

Sunday on Koronis was pretty uneventful for me.  I'm not sure if I took it too lightly after me win the previous day but I zigged when I should have zagged and didn't fish in the moment.  Basically I sucked and it was a crappy way to follow up a win.  Just to get all my excuses out of the way I didn't get much practice time in and didn't feel good about what I was doing.  Plus I was exhausted two hard days of fishing and the frustrating previous day and all the mechanical issues I was dealing with.  

The day started off bad as well, I missed a decent fish on a spook, had it hooked up pretty well I felt it pull, then gone.  It was a sign.  I got bites but they were mostly small and there were long droughts in between.  I had to go fish some docks just to pick up my limit.  My only saving grace was that at least I got my limit, although small.  

Jacob my co-angler was dialed in catching them on a spinnerbait and I refused to pick one up and get some decent fish in the boat.  It was good to see him catching some decent fish at least.

Not much else to say about this one.  Put my head down and go get em next time.  It was a tight tournament as most guys had between 10-12 pounds so even another pound or two would have bumped me up quite a bit in the standings.  Now that I look more at the results it wasn't as bad as I thought, I was one good 4 pounder out of a top 3 finish.  Sometimes that's how it goes.  

I ended up in 20th place with 9.35lbs.
Water temp =  66-68 degrees

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2014 Season Recap

This year was a strange one.  It started very late because of the long, late Winter.  Then when the ice finally melted, the large amount of snow we had caused flooding and high water all over the state.  Some lakes declared no wake zones to protect property and shore lines and the no wake on Lake Minnetonka lasted well into the summer. 
Some lakes had fish kills because of the lack of oxygen and thick ice.  Including a major one on North Center Lake in Lindstrom which was on the schedule for both of my tournament circuits. 

The season started off pretty good, on our first trip out Kyle bagged a 6.3 and we caught multiple 3 pounders.  It was great to lip that fish for Kyle and be part of the excitement even though it wasn't on my line.  I almost fainted when I saw it and am glad we were able to get it in the boat. 

It was a good start to the season especially after such a long winter. 

I had decided to fish the Greenhorn Sunday series this year as well as the club tournaments.  I fished the Greenhorn Wednesday series a couple years ago and it's a well run circuit.  The lake lineup was appealing with North / South Center and Medicine added to the mix.  After the fish kill on North Center they decided to replace it with Forest Lake and swap the dates with Medicine.  Which was a huge buzz kill for me as I didn't want to miss the Medicine tourney but the club was having a tournament on Clearwater the same day.  And also we were really looking forward to fishing N/S Center and was part of the reason we decided to sign up for the Greenhorn series.  My original plan was to miss only one club tourney so I could just take a zero for my throw out tourney and still hopefully have a chance at making the state tournament. 
So ultimately my juggling act with both series was starting to be a problem early and I would miss two club tournaments this year (never missed one before) and basically be out of it before it began.  But on the other hand I made the money tournaments a priority since the club was pretty much fishing for fun and pride anyway.

At the beginning of the season we were optimistic but our mediocre finish on White Bear Lake pretty much set the tone.  We just never got anything going in a positive direction and when we finally did manage a 17 pound bag we didn't even get to cash a check.  Even on Medicine which is my home lake which I am pretty confident in we didn't even manage a limit. 

  • 6th place finish on Forest Lake, winning 2nd place bonus money, and overcoming my jinx of the lake.  
  • Made the Greenhorn TOC
  • 17 pound bag on Goose Lake
  • Guy dropping his boat on the ramp at White Bear Lake (could be a lowlight too).
  • Failed to catch a limit on Medicine ending streak of consecutive limits.  
  • Failed to catch limit in the TOC on Pokegama/Cross. 
  • 17 pound bag on Goose Lake only good for 6th place. 
  • Getting struck by lightning on Cross/Pokegama
  • Breaking my flippin stick in half setting the hook on fish at Goose Lake. 

Renegade Bassers-
The season started out on Washington/Stella with a 13 pound bag during a thunderstorm which was only good enough for 10th place.  There were some bright spots including the win on N/S Center and the TOC on Vermillion.  I'm disappointed I missed two tournaments on Clearwater which is one of my favorite lakes and Rush which I can honestly say I'm not sad that I missed. Congratulations to Nick Madison on 2014 Angler of the Year!

  • First place finish and big bass at N/S Center Lake which I had never fished before. 
  • Top 30 finish at the MNBFN TOC on Lake Vermillion. 
  • Back to back 4th place finishes on Vermillion out of town tourneys. 
  • Lake Clean Up on Maple Lake and getting sign made to post at access (will be installed in 2015).
  • Ice Fest was a success even though very few fish were caught.
  • Elected Club President for 2015

  • Missing two tournaments.
  • 10th place finish on Washington/Stella with 13 pounds.
  • Coming so close to making the state team but not closing the deal. 

Fun Fishing and Other-

The thing about being in 2 tournament circuits is I didn't have much time for fun fishing.  All my time fishing was spent practicing or fishing the actual tournaments.  I didn't get to hit the Mississippi River at all and only hit Calhoun once very late in the season which are two of my local favorites.  

I did get to spend a week on the Whitefish Chain which was great.  We caught lots of frog fish and had a great time.  I also caught a dogfish on a frog and my wife caught one on a tube. We were thinking about entering the Fishers of Men Tournament if we got dialed in but never really found many bigger fish.

I also sold my boat this Fall.  Time to step up to a real fiberglass bass boat with nice live wells, a little more speed, and more comfortable ride.  Hopefully the deal for the Triton I've been looking at goes through.  I loved my Tracker, it was my first decent boat besides the jon boats I used as a kid.  I babied it and made all kinds of upgrades to make it a decent bass fishing boat.  We had some great times together...  I proved you don't need a fancy bass boat to compete, but it's time for an upgrade.

  • Kyle's 6.3 pounder
  • Fishing with my daughter
  • Whitefish Chain Trip
  • Vermillion Twice - My new favorite lake.  Awesome scenery and smallies!
  • Lack of actual 'Fun' fishing
  • Not catching a 5 pounder all year
  • Bite just seemed 'off' for most of the year
  • Catching three dogfish (two in tournaments when I needed a big bite), haven't caught one for years prior.  


During the season it seemed worse than it actually was now that I am writing it all down and thinking back on it.  It was disappointing we couldn't get anything going on the Greenhorn Tour, we thought and expected to do well.  I'd say our problem was a combination of just expecting to do well and lack of practice time.  I mentioned before that most of these lakes are familiar to the guys on the tour, and that we should have put in even more time as a result.  Also it makes me think that we needed to do more 'fishing the conditions,' rather than fishing on history.  

The club tourneys were disappointing just because I had to miss 2 events and was out of it before it began.  It really affected my motivation and besides the win on N/S Center, my heart just wasn't in it.  

The main factor I can point to as the reason for a mediocre season is being over committed.  It always seems like a good idea during the Winter to schedule things for the summer, but when it actually comes and you realize that you are going non-stop, it can make for a grind.  Especially when you mix in family and other commitments, it can be down right overwhelming.  Also, the guys I compete against are getting better and better.  It forces everyone to step up their game when the competition is so tough.  I am also tired of saying 'I was so close.'  Next year I want to take the next step and put in the work to make those key decisions that get results, rather than saying I was a pound short.  Last year everything fell into place and it seemed like I couldn't make a bad decision.  I want to get back to that and become more consistent.  I never want to get to the point where I think I have it all figured out and stop trying to get better.  I have all Winter to come up with some goals for myself, and our lake lineup for next season is awesome.  I'm already looking forward to it.  Now we just have to get through the Winter.  Hope it's not as long and cold as last years!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Viking Invitational 10/5/14

Lake Minnetonka is located only 15 minutes from my house but I haven't spent as much time there as I should.  The amount of water to cover can be overwhelming but after fishing Vermillion this year it doesn't seem nearly as big.  I have a love hate relationship with the lake.  I've had some really good days there but some real downers as well.  It's frustrating watching guys come in with 20 pound bags tourney after tourney and you can't buy a big fish.  It can also be a real pain in the butt with all the recreational traffic and busy launches.  I know I just have to put in more time out there and I say that every year, but next year for sure it'll be all about spending more T.O.T. (time on Tonka).

I headed out the Friday a week prior to the tournament.  I was joined by my trusty co angler Kyle Rodriguez.  We launched from the Spring Park bay area and went off to explore the west end of the lake.  I haven't spent hardly anytime at all in this area since it takes so long to get there by boat and most of the launches near my house are on the other side.  We went into black lake and caught some pike flipping the pads.  Kyle managed a small bass as well.  We tried some docks and some shallow cover.  We worked our way through the no wake area checking some interesting spots on the way.  We eventually ended up in Cooks bay to look for some deep rocks to fish.  I found scattered rocks but nothing too exciting.  Eventually I caught a 3 pounder and we moved shallow to try some docks.  After working a good looking dock for awhile with no luck we headed over to Phelps.

The water in Phelps was very clear and the weeds looked good.  We caught a couple small ones on a swim jig up in the pads.  As we worked down farther I started flipping some thinker weed patches.  I flipped into a patch at the end of a dock with a jig and set the hook on a good one.  It was probably close to 4 pounds.  I wish we had more time to explore the deep weedline near that area because the shallow weeds looked so good.

We hit some more shallow milfoil on a point with no luck on the way to the access.  It was a short day as we both had to get to work still.

I was pretty satisfied with our day, we explored some new areas, caught some fish and a couple good ones.  I purposely stayed near the water we would be fishing in the tournament and hopefully I could add a spot or two to our day if needed.

Tournament Day
I would be fishing this year's Viking Invitational with fellow Renegade Bassers club member John Pozarski.  I was excited since I haven't fished with him for awhile and he finished 2nd in the club tournament we just had on Tonka.  John took me out quite a bit when I first joined the club and I learned a lot from him.  We've had lots of fun fishing together from when I caught a fish in one of my first tournaments before he even got the trolling motor in the water, to the time on Koronis where we ran a stretch of docks and we were both catching fish every other cast, culling, taking turns running the boat, weeds and fish all over the boat, it was crazy awesome.

The weather had been really nice up until about 4 days from the tourney.  Then a front rolled in and it was cold and rainy all week.  The weather at takeoff was about 35 degrees but it was supposed to warm up to 50 with light wind.  But it failed to warm up in fact in felt like it got colder.  And the wind was blowing hard all day non stop.  It was challenging conditions to say the least.

We took off and headed to the west side of the lake.  We started on a deep weedline and it didn't take long to hook up.  I was throwing a jig and on one of my first few casts I got thumped and hooked up with a solid 2.5 pounder.  Before I could even get it out of the net, John had one on and I had to scramble to get mine out of the net to get his fish.  We had two decent fish in less than 15 minutes of fishing at our first spot!  We thought it was on.  Little did I know I wouldn't catch another fish for the rest of the day.

From that point not much else happened.  John filled out our limit slowly with one fish here and one there.  We tried everything, slow, fast, and everything in between.  The fish were totally shut down.

With our small limit we didn't think we'd have much of a shot but we weighed in anyway.  We ended up being just a pound and a half shy of a plaque which totally surprised us!  I think I've mentioned it in a previous blog but it's time to stop coming up a pound short and get on the other side of things.

We ended up in like 18th place out of 80 boats or so.  The winner apparently qualified to fish the bassmaster elite series next year and had almost 20 pounds!  No wonder he is going pro.



Monday, November 17, 2014

Lake Minnetonka Renegade Bassers 9/20/14


I didn't have much time to practice after the state tournament but I did manage to get a few hours in the week prior to the tournament.  I planned on sticking close to Maxwell and just check some spots where I've done well in the past.  I started in north arm and flipped some heavy cover and caught a decent one pretty quick so I left.  I hit another patch of pads where I usually do well so that was a good sign.


I was fishing solo  and I started off flipping some pads near Maxwell for a few minutes before I headed back to North Arm to flip some heavy milfoil.  I had a bite pretty quickly on a jig but didn't hook up.  I was working the heavy milfoil out in front of the docks with an occasional cast under the docks as well.  It didn't take long to hook up with a nice 2.5 from right out in front of a dock.  I continued down the shoreline alternating between heavy punch rig, jig, buzzbait, frog, and swim jig.  I got another bite or two but again failed to hook up.  I was pretty set on flipping heavy cover all day but wanted to keep an open mind.  After working the entire stretch with no more action I decided to head elsewhere.

I headed to a hump with some nice weeds where I've done well in the past.  There was a boat on it so I made a few casts on a nearby weedline to see if they'd leave soon.  No dice, so I headed near the bridge to try some docks.  It was too windy for these docks as the wind was picking up and blowing in on them.  I caught two pike with a rat-l-trap and headed back to North Arm.

I decided to head super shallow into a little backwater area and see if anyone was home.  Lots of baitfish activity but nothing but a short on the swim jig.  I went back to plan a and started flipping the heavy cover again.  I was getting bites but nothing over 2 pounds.  Usually flipping has big fish potential but not today.  I had a small limit by this point but needed some upgrades quickly.

I headed back into Maxwell to hit some pads.  The boat traffic was insane.  It was a beautiful fall day and everyone was trying to enjoy it out on the water.  Especially since the entire lake was a no wake for most of the summer because of the high water. I managed to catch a couple more small fish but no significant upgrades.  Time to play dodge boats and head back to weigh in.

I only weighed in 7.39lbs for 10th place.  It was disappointing but I was actually kind of relieved this that the tournament season was over.  Don't get me wrong I love to fish but this year seemed to be a grind.  There were definitely a couple bright spots but fairly mediocre as far as I'm concerned.  I am looking forward to the Viking Invitational which is pretty much just for fun and a chance to help out another bass club and a food shelf.

Overall today I just didn't have my head in the game.  Even though there was no pressure since I was out of the running for angler of the year, for some reason I was off.  When my primary area didn't produce, I didn't have a game plan in place to make the needed adjustments.  Then as the day wore on I actually got kind of frustrated.  I should know this lake better by now.  One more chance to figure it out over the next couple weeks before the Viking Invitational.