Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ABA Two Day Event - Day 2 Big Marine + season ending updates

Going into the second day on Big Marine I really wasn’t to sure what to expect. As stated my practice was not too great and really I was just hoping to get a limit. After getting a limit, my plan was to find a way to get a couple better fish in the boat. I started out in a shallow bay full of pads and was able to put together a limit in the area within the first hour or so on my All Terrain AT jig in the new faircloth’s craw color. I had a few other matted milfoil areas located on the lake and worked my way through these areas with no kicker fish to be found. I caught plenty of smaller fish that would not help my overall weight. I basically stuck to my guns and fished shallow to whole day and in the end came up 3 pounds short of the winner. In looking back at the event the few things that could have potentially helped me was a good fish that I lost on Bald Eagle the day before and exploring some deeper water on Big Marine. However, with only 1 day set aside to practice on both lakes, I can’t complain about the outcome.

I ended the Angler of Year in 2nd place by 2 points! Had I finished one place higher in the 2 day event or had the winner of AOY finished one place lower, I could have taken the top spot. It just goes to show how all the little things make a difference when the points shake out at the end of the year. If I don’t miss the Clearwater tournament due to an overheated motor, my chances at AOY go up even more. However, that’s fishing and sometimes you need more than a few good breaks to be on the top in the end.

Since the two day event I fished the Viking invitation on Minnetonka and took a top 20 finished out of 80 boats in early October. That was a really fun and well run event where I go to spend a good amount of time in the boat with a good buddy of mine. My final club event was on Big Marine lake in mid October. I ended up taking 2nd place fishing shallow all day with yes you guesses it, an All Terrain jig.

Today is a sad day due to the fact that my boat will be going into storage for the winter. I’m looking forward to doing some ice fishing and have already had a chance to take a doe with my bow this fall. I’m still looking for that elusive buck to fill my other bow tag and will be hard at it for the next month or so.

I’ve begun thinking about next years tournament schedule already, but have not nailed down anything yet besides fishing a few club tournaments in an attempt to qualify for the state tournament next year. I may update my blog here and there throughout the winter, but the action will most likely slow down here until the spring season comes again.

Thanks for all those that have followed along this year, I hope you have enjoyed it. It was a successful season and a step in the right direction. Have a great holiday season and be well!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ABA Two Day Event - Day 1 - Bald Eagle Lake

Day one of the ABA two day event was held on Bald Eagle Lake. I have fished this lake in past for a club tournament so I had a few areas in mind going into the event. In practice I was fortunately able to figure out what I was going to do fairly quickly. All I would need was my 3/8oz All Terrain jig and a 3/4oz texas rig for punching some heavier cover. I had found fish up shallow the day before and knew that I would spend my entire day up near the bank fishing my strengths.

I started the day near some cattails, but a strong wind had muddied this area up pretty good and the fish that were there the day before wanted nothing to do with it. I then went up to another area with pads and quickly began to put together a limit. I put a couple solid 2.5lb-3lb fish in the boat along with a few swimmers. I found the conditions to be a little more difficult that the previous day, but if I stuck with it and put my head down, I found that the bites were coming every so often. With the need of some better fish, I ran back to a patch of pads a mere stones throw away from the launch. In practice I stuck a 4 pound fish there right before I put my boat back on the trailer to go home. I thought it would be a spot that many people overlooked and thankfully I was right. I was protected nicely from the wind and I had it all to myself. I started pitching down the edge of it with my jig and ended up putting a few more solid 2.5-3lb fish in the boat after fishing that stretch a few times.

After getting off the water I discovered that many anglers had a tough day on Bald Eagle. It was a tough bite with fish far and few between. My fish weighed just over 12.5lbs and to my surprise was good enough for the day one lead! I was excited to hear this knowing that we would be on Big Marine the next day. I needed a lead going into that lake. Big Marine has had my number the past few years. So it would come to down to one last day. If I win the 2 day event, I would have a great shot at AOY yet I was faced with a lake that I have struggled on in the past. Check back soon to see if I could overcome my weakness and claim the top AOY spot!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

ABA Clearwater Lake & ABA TOC Preview

It has been more than a month since my last post so this is a little overdue. It has taken me a little while to digest and think about how my season ended up this summer before I wanted to sit down and write about it. I'll start with the last regular season ABA event on Clearwater.

Well... unfortunately, there never was a final ABA event on Clearwater for me. I practiced all day on Saturday before the event only to have my motor get clogged with weeds, overheat, and fry many parts inside of it. After a few choice words, a payment of $60 for hotel room that I didn't stay in, a long drive back home and thinking about how missing this tournament may have cost me a shot at AOY, I was back in my own bed that night not feeling so great. On the bright side, I only slid to 4th in the AOY standings even though I missed the tournament.

In other good news, insurance covered the $3,000.00+ expense that it took to fix my motor; man was I grateful for that! After spending a nice weekend up north at the Cabin over labor day I was recharged and ready to go for the tournament of champions for the ABA that would be held September 11-12.

The week after I got back from my cabin I scrambled like a mad man to get my boat back in time for the tournament of champions. I got my boat back from the shop on Thursday, and took off work on Friday to practice. The TOC is a two day event on a different lake each day. So on Friday I fished both lakes in the same day; about 6 hours each. It's all the time I would have for practice so I was going to have to continue practicing during the tournament if needed.

Check back soon to see how the TOC played out...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Forest, Marion and Tetonka Tournaments

The end of August is near and come September the Minnesota bass tournament scene will be littered with series championships and AOY titles. This means fall is soon to come and along with it the fish will be putting on the feed bags for winter. It feels like just yesterday I was taking off for Branson, Missouri for my first college event of the year.

In the last few weeks I’ve had three different events; an ABA on Forest Lake, South Metro Slop Hawg tournament on Lake Marion and a Lakes Area Bassmasters club event on Tetonka Lake. I’ll touch on each one a little bit and then fill you in on my upcoming schedule.

Forest Lake - ABA
On August 15th I had an ABA event on Forest Lake. I have a love/hate relationship with this lake. I have won an event on this lake in the past but I still do not like to venture out there unless I am forced to. My first practice day on the lake was very inefficient sue to the fact that my Trolling motor was not working at all. I would use the big motor to position myself on a spot and then would try and drift as best as possible… “As best as possible” was not working so well so I cut my day short after only finding one small area that would prove to be fruitless during the actual tournament. The Saturday before the event I had renewed confidence with a new trolling motor switch and fully charged batteries. However, after a long day on the water from 6am – 6pm and only 7 bites total, I was anything but enthused for fishing the tournament the next day.

Sunday morning on the drive up to the lake I was seriously worried about catching a limit, which doesn’t seem to happen too much in MN with our lakes that are for the most part full of fish over 12”. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth it to beat myself up thinking about how tough the tournament could possibly be. My plan was to go into the event not putting any pressure on myself to perform well. I didn’t have any expectations and thought that if I just fish the conditions and work hard at it, then I’ll let the chips fall where they may.

I started my day on a steep weedline bank with a dropshot and quickly boated my first two keepers; they were just little ones though. The wind was pounding the bank and getting stronger and stronger by the minute. I had to act quickly in this spot before it got to the point where I would no longer be able to fish it. I pulled out a crankbait and began working it down the edge of the weedline. Within a half hour I had a limit in the boat. Two good ones ate the crankbait and I was stoked to have a limit in the boat this early!

I continued to work my way around to different areas fishing them as fast as I could while still trying to be productive. On a lake that was fishing tough I was looking for those bites that were going to happen as soon as my bait got into the strike zone. I felt like if I hit enough areas and spots that I would eventually run into some better fish. I made a few “hail mary” runs across the lake to hit specific docks and small areas that ended up resulting in a few good fish including two over 3lbs. Your confidence shoots through the roof when you make a 10 minute run from one end of the lake to the other just to fish one specific dock and on your first pitch you stick a 3lb fish that was sitting under the walkway in not much more than a 1/2ft of water.

I made one last move to a dock that was tucked way back in a canal, pitched my All Terrain jig up under the dock and landed one more solid 2lb fish that culled out my last smaller fish. I weighed just under 12.5lbs for the day and took 2nd place. I was more than happy with how my day went and would have never expected to finish that high with the way my practice went. This helped me tremendously in the AOY race and I now sit in 3rd place for the year with one regular season event left and then the two day championship in the held near the middle of September. I will have to have a couple more good finishes to stay near the top to compete for the AOY. The guys fishing these ABA events are top notch anglers with a lot of experience on the lakes we fish so it will be no easy task. I’ll work as hard as I can and see how things end up.

Lake Marion - South Metro Slop Hawgs
This past Wednesday August 18th we had our 4th South Metro Slop Hawg event on Lake Marion in Lakeville, MN. I do like this lake at times, but it has been stingy this year due to the amount of weeds that have been depleted from the main lake area. I teamed up with my good buddy Sam with the intention of having some fun running and gunning in the few hours that we had on the lake that night. We started on a point and Sam put one in the boat quickly on a drop-shot. We then ran to another spot with some coontail with nothing to show for it. After flying down a row of docks with no results we found a little back bay that was full of matted milfoil and coontail. Within the next hour and a half we put fish after fish in the boat from 2.5-3.75lbs on All Terrain black/blue jigs. It was a really fun evening with a really good buddy; it just doesn’t get any better than that. We ended up weighing in almost 17lbs and took first place along with a little cash. It was by far a top 5 fishing trip so far this year and was a nice change from the stress of fishing larger events.

Tetonka Lake - Lakes Area Bassmasters
On August 21st I fished with my club the Lakes Area Bassmasters on Tetonka Lake in Waterville, MN. To say the least, this event was brutally tough on a brutally scummy lake. I had never seen a lake that looked and smelled like such a slime hole. I’m not sure what kind of stuff was getting into that lake, but it was not pleasant especially when your white shirt is covered in green splotches at the end of the day. Without any practice, I was just fishing by the seat of my pants. I started out on docks and basically fished docks the entire day. There was not much of a weedline and I didn’t want to waste time finding deeper rock with the little amount of time that I had. I caught three decent fish off docks before I went to check out the channel between Tetonka another lake. This lake is part of the Cannon River so there was significant current flowing through the channel. After fishing through the channel I was working my way back underneath the bridge to Tetonka. I tossed my All Terrain jig up under the bridge behind one of the pilings, my line started to move off, I set the hook and much to my surprise a big smallie came up a jumped! Trying the control the boat in the current and having to duck underneath the bridge with a fish on was quite the fiasco I had going on. I boat flipped the 3lb+ smallie into the boat as my boat drifted out from under the bridge. After recollecting myself and getting lined up again I put my boat in a back eddy and made long casts up under the bridge with an All Terrain Finesse Jig. I would let the current do the work, my jig would swing by the pilings and on back to back casts I caught two more decent largemouth! It was a cool way to fish and thankfully I found that spot otherwise I would have been in trouble with how tough the rest of the lake was fishing. I ended up being the only one to weigh in a limit that day and took first place with just over 10lbs. I never got a bite after 11:00am and even though I won the event I’m not sure I will be heading back to Tetonka anytime soon. It looks like it could be a fun lake in the spring with all the overhanging willow trees, might be a better time to fish it then.

I’ve got my final regular ABA event this weekend on Clearwater Lake near Annandale, MN and then I’ll be off for a little bit until the two day championship in September. I’ve never fished Clearwater before so it should be fun to try and put the puzzle together on a new lake. Have a good weekend and a good Labor Day weekend. I’ll be sure to update sometime in the next few weeks!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sugar, Coon, and Crystal Lakes

It’s been a busy couples weeks since my last post. I’ve had three different events since then and will cover each one briefly. We have hit and passed the climax of summer, the days are getting shorter and fall will be on its way in just a few months. However, the fishing should stay just as good, so continue to check back for updates!

Lakes Area Bassmasters - Sugar Lake
My first tournament was July 24th on Sugar Lake up by Annandale, MN. I had not been to this lake since I had a junior tournament out there close to 6 years ago. Without any practice I would be fishing by the “seat of my pants”. I started off the day fishing the first few patches of pads that I came by, dropped the TM and started chucking a frog. I missed a few quality blowups before hooking up with my first solid fish. After scratching out one more small squeaker I moved up the lake to a good looking point with some deep water close by. The wind was blowing into the point and the 12-13 inch fish were STACKED right off the steep drop. I rounded out my limit on a drop shot, but like I said these fish were not too big. I proceeded to shift around to the other side of the point tossing a beaver to the weedline. I made a pitch to a bare spot on the steep drop, my line started moving off and my rod doubled over as I set the hook on what would be a solid 4lb fish. On a lake like Sugar where smaller fish are the norm, this fish was like gold. I now had 2 good ones in the boat and 3 swimmers. I hopped around to some other good looking areas and culled with another solid fish coming from some cattails on a beaver. With about an hour to go I made one last adjustment to a new area with cattails. I needed two more solid fish to have a good finish and I didn’t want to waste away my bag that had potential with that 4 pounder sitting in the livewell. I got right up close to the cattails and began pitching my All Terrain jig way back in the cattails. I was not getting many bites, but if I got one, it was a good fish. I ended up culling twice in the last hour and also lost another good fish.

At the weigh in I put 12.5lbs on the scales and ended up with my 3rd consecutive club tournament victory and enough points to win the AOY for our 2010 season. This win was probably the most gratifying of my three club wins this year due to the fact that I was able to fish the moment and make the right adjustments that day. Most guys in the club had limits and seemed to have a day full of catching a lot of fish. Sugar was a fun lake, however, it was also a little bittersweet in the fact that I still was not able to garner up enough points to qualify for the state tournament this September on Lake Minnetonka. I was really hoping to make it this year, but only fishing 5 events and missing meetings in the winter due to being in Iowa at school killed my chances on doing so. It really stinks, but that’s just how it goes I guess…

ABA - Coon Lake
My next event was an ABA on Coon Lake. If you have read some of my posts from the past, you will find that Coon Lake is one of my favorite lakes in Minnesota. However, it has changed drastically in the last 4 or 5 years. In the past the pad and cattail bite used to be awesome. With the lake being sprayed for grass and the lake level dropping about 2 feet, the areas where I used to catch them are now void of any fish. Even the area that I found them in last year was unproductive this year due to the lack of milfoil in the area. It was time to re-learn the lake again, the fish were still there it was just a matter of relocating them.

To put it simply, my practice day was tough, brutally tough, the toughest it’s ever been for me on Coon. I got a few good bites here and there but it was spotty and inconsistent. I went into the tournament day planning to hit a few areas to see if I could generate a few good bites right off the bat and then I would continue to practice in hopes of getting on some better fish.

After spending about 3.5 hours fishing a few of my starting areas with only 4 smaller fish and a newly found trolling motor problem, I knew I needed to make a move, settle down and try to find some better fish. I ran down to an area where I had a few bites in practice. This area had lots of matted milfoil and matted coontail in about 5ft of water. I only spent about 15 minutes in the spot in practice and didn’t think too much of it. However, on tournament day, the better fish were biting in this area. I caught a 4lb 2oz fish within the first 10 minutes I was there. Then another 3lb fish right after that, both on an All Terrain jig. After those two fish, I settled down and knew I would most likely spend the rest of the day in this area picking it apart. So I continued to move from mat to mat, pitching either my All Terrain jig in the ‘less thick’ mats or a t-rigged beaver with a 3/4oz weight into the thickest and nastiest mats. Over the course of the rest of the day I was able to continue to cull and up my limit pound by pound. By the end of the day I felt like I had a decent bag that would give me some much needed points, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be in the money.

Come weigh-in time it sounded like it was a tough day for most for Coon Lake standards. I weighed in 16.58lbs and was leading the event through the first few flights of guys that had weighed in. I continued to dodge bullet after bullet from other top guys that were weighing in after me until the last angler plopped 18.5 pounds on the scales…. It was bittersweet. It would have been great to get a win, but I will take a good check and 2nd place any day, especially after the way my morning started. It was a fun event that was mentally challenging at times. My next ABA event is on August 15th on Forest Lake. I need another good finish to make a run at a good showing in the AOY. I’ll be sure to have an update on how that event went.

South Metro Slop Hawgs - Crystal Lake
My third event in the last few weeks was just this past Wednesday August 4th on Crystal Lake in the south metro. We had our 3rd South Metro Slop Hawgs tournament that night. It was a fun event with a decent turnout. Out of 6 boats I ended up in second with around 11 pounds for 5 fish. Carl and Tim Spande took home top honors and a little cash with a solid bag of 13 pounds for 5, nice job guys!

Have a good weekend and go catch ‘em!

Friday, July 23, 2010

ABA - Lake Waconia, MN

This past weekend I fished in my second ABA event of the summer on Lake Waconia, MN. I have done decent on this lake in my club tournaments, so I was looking forward to this one. I knew it was probably going to take around 18-20lbs to win, so I needed to catch them pretty good.

I practiced the day before the event with a little success. I fished out deep from 7am to 12:30 with only one fish to show for my efforts. Either I don’t know how to fish deep on that lake, or the deep bite was off. So fishing towards my strengths, I went shallow pitching matted milfoil, pads, and cattails. Within an hour I had about 15lbs, made up my mind what my plan would be and left soon after that.

On tournament morning we were greeted with a stiff northwest wind that didn’t make for a pleasant take-off. After taking a few waves over the bow of the boat we were off and running. I got to my spot, put the trolling motor down, hit the power button… nothing… great start! Trying not to panic, I just buried myself in the matted milfoil and went to work with a ¾oz tungsten weight and a beaver. In about the first 45 minutes I had 4 in the box, but they were just swimmers. After an hour I decided to take another look at my trolling motor situation and finally got it working!

This gave me a boost of confidence and allowed me to settle down a little more. I moved around to the back side of the matted milfoil and continued to catch them; however, this time they were a better fish. I landed a 4lb+ and 3lb+ fish on back to back casts; those really helped my bag.

Throughout the rest of the day I continued to pick apart every square foot of the matted milfoil (which was only about 30yds X 30yds big). I culled about 10 times throughout the day with my new culling beam; that thing worked wonders. Its amazing how easy it is to pass up fish in thick cover like that, it really paid off to be extremely thorough.

At the end of the day I didn’t think I would have enough to compete for a check. However, it seemed to be a tough day for others out there too. I ended up with 14.98lbs which was good enough for 5th out of 30 boats and a small check. The deep bite seemed to be off for most and the top 5 finishers caught all their fish up shallow.

I was happy with how the day went and was excited about the 5th place finish. However, there was one thing that was very frustrating; I lost sooooo many fish in the milfoil. I’m not sure what exactly contributed to that. It could have been the massive weight that I was using, the wrong kind of hooks, or just the fact that it was extremely thick cover. I bet for every bite I got, I landed 50% of them, it was that bad. I definitely need to figure out a different rigging method for this technique, who knows what kind of bag I would have had if I landed everyone that bit…

I have another club tournament coming up this weekend on Sugar Lake near Annandale, MN. It is our last club tournament that will count towards qualifying for the 2010 state tournament. I’m not sure if there is even a chance I can qualify with the amount of tournaments I missed due to school, but I’ll be sure to let you know how it went in my next post. Have a good weekend!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lakes Area Bassmasters - Lake Minnetonka, MN

Due to some scheduling conflicts and changes for the Lakes Area Bassmasters, “Tonka Cup” phase two happened much earlier than anticipated. With notification of the switch I made my way back out to Lake Minnetonka for a day of practice on the Monday after the 4th of July. It was a zoo on the lake by about 10am which came as no surprise. Thankfully a storm system blew into the area by mid-afternoon to reduce the number of pleasure boaters on the lake. It was a long practice day that yielded some good things offshore, but my day was full of smaller caliber fish.

On tournament day I paired up with another club member, Dan. Dan is a solid angler and usually does well in our events. I felt that if we worked together we could both come in with solid limits. Dan and I hopped around to various offshore areas near our launch site for most of the day in pursuit of putting some better quality fish in the boat. I started off with two small fish caught on a drop-shot and then put my third fish in the boat about mid-morning on a t-rigged beaver; this was a much better fish. We continued to hop around to a few different bays. I was able to get my limit that consisted of a few decent fish and one 4 plus pounder. Meanwhile, Dan was unfortunately struggling to put the hook into the fish. He had a few unfortunate events throughout the day that ended up hurting him in the end. A few straightened hooks and a breakoff in some rocks really put a damper on his day. It’s never fun to witness these kinds of things, but I know he will come back strong in the next event. To help matters somewhat, Dan just found out that he will be fishing the Federation North Regional’s this year! Good luck buddy!

In the end I came in with a limit around 12.5 pounds which was surprisingly good enough to win and to retain the cup. I anticipated the bite to be tough based on my practice, but I felt for sure someone would have caught them good, its Tonka, and the big ones definitely live there!

Overall I think most guys brought in limits which was good to see. Our next club event is on Sugar Lake up by Annandale, MN. I have not been to this lake since I fished a junior bassmaster event on it about 6 years ago so we’ll see how it goes.

I’ll be fishing an ABA tournament this weekend on Waconia. It should take some solid weights to be in the money in that event. I’m going to have to really catch them to have a good finish. I should have a write-up about that event sometime next week. Until then, have a good weekend and keep your line wet!