Art Simms Bass Fishing

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I started bass fishing after watching all of the fishing shows on tv. A few years later I thought I was pretty good, until I entered a few tournaments. I quickly realized that I wasn't as good as I thought and was only donating my money. In 1997 I joined the Viking Bassmasters of the Minnesota Bass Federation to hone my skills with some guys more experienced than me. Since that time I have learned a lot and had some major success. I have been Viking Bassmasters Club Champion three times and won sixteen club tournaments. I was the Fishers of Men Minnesota East division champion in 2006, along with a few money tournament wins and numerous top tens.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thank You

Now that I am done fishing for the year, I haven't had much to blog about, so I thought I would just thank those that helped me have another successful year tournament fishing.

FlaMinn Lures - Dave and Judy, owners of FlaMinn lures, are two of the nicest people you could ever meet, they work endlessly and put their heart & soul into the best jigs and spinnerbaits made - Thank you.

Kistler Custom Fishing Rods - I have been on the Kistler pro-staff for about 5 years now and I truly believe they make the finest rod available - Thank you.

Mepps/Mister Twister - The Mister Twister Comida has won lots of money for me - Thank you.

To my tournament partners, Shawn, Scott, and my best partner Triston - Thanks for great days on the water.

Last and most important, my wife, Monica. Her support of my tournament fishing is incredible, she always thinks I am going to win, and when I don't, she says I will next time. Without her support none of my success would be possible - Thank you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Monday, October 27, 2008

Big Marine - open tournament 10-19-08

When a friend informed me of a little open tournament on Big Marine it was a no brainer, I called my brother Scott and told him we were fishing.
We did not pre-fish but I knew I could count on the same area I exploited all year for one more tournament. I wasn't sure if the fish would still be on the spot, but if not, they would be close by.
Tournament morning was in the mid forties with a steady 15mph South wind. We arrived at the spot to find it very windy, cold and difficult to hold, but knowing the quality of fish residing there made me determined to tough it out.
After the first half hour without any bites we were wondering if the fish were there or were our lures just not getting to them because of the wind, so we decided to start moving around. Finally Scott connected with a couple of 14 inchers and a while later I caught a 13. We kept moving and the next fish was a 17 incher. A few minutes later Scott hooked up with a 16, which gave us our limit.
By now we had narrowed the area down to 3 separate spots which had good green weeds that were deeper than the weedline, we decided to just rotate through those spots.
About 11 am the wind started to lay down which allowed us to really slow down and pick apart the weed beds. Scott caught another 16 which culled the 13, then I stuck a 18.5 which culled one of the 14's. Next we caught a 15.5 and culled the other 14. We continued catching fish but nothing that would help.
With about 30 minutes to go I stuck what felt like a good fish - turned out to be a 16 incher which culled out a 15.5. We knew we had a good bag now so we fished a few more minutes and headed in.
We ended up with 14.29 for 1st place and big bass at 3.50 lbs. A fellow blogger Carl Spade ( took second with about 10 lbs. There were a couple of 8 lb bags but most of the guys did not even weigh in.
Another great day on Big Marine, not a huge payday but a win is a win.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunrise YSB & Viking Invitational

Over the last few weeks I fished a couple of open tournaments. There is not much to tell and the outcomes were similar so I thought I would blog about them together.

First was the Sunrise Bassmasters YSB tournament held on North & South Center, this is a annual fundraiser where a portion of the entry fee is donated to the Lakes Area Youth Services Bureau. I did not have a chance to pre-fish since I was on vacation the week prior but my Brother Scott was able to get out and locate some fish holding in pads. Along with a couple of rock spots I have, a plan was set. We started on some pads on South Center that I have done well in the past but had no takers. We then fished the pads by Hazleton and caught a 15 incher on a buzzbait. Next we ran some dock with no bites. We then decided the shallow bite was not happening so we checked both of my rock spots and again no bites. We then ran to North Center to some more pads and managed to catch two more keepers fairly quick on A 3/8 oz FlaMinn Lures jig. We stuck with pads & docks the rest of the day and ended up with no more keepers. With only three fish for our efforts we didn't bother to weigh in.

Next was the Viking Invitational on Lake Minnetonka, another fundraiser, run by the Viking Bassmasters. All contestants are required to bring non-perishable food items which are donated to a local food shelf.
Once again I did not have time to pre-fish, but being the time of year it is, my partner Shawn and I thought we could throw spinnerbaits and jigs around docks, weeds and pads all day, cover lots of water and come up with a limit of nice fish. We started in Black lake where we caught a 12 incher on a dock, next I caught a 14 incher on another dock in West arm. We then went a long time without a bite. Around three o'clock I ran to a weedline spot I know in Spring Park bay and fished for about fifteen minutes with no bites. With only about fifteen minutes until weigh in we ran some docks nearby and caught a 16 incher but by now we were out of time. Again with only three fish it was not worth running all the way back to Excelsior bay so we loaded the boat and headed home.

These two tournaments were very humbling for me. I had a very successful year fishing the ABA, my confidence was high and I thought I knew the tournament waters well enough to do well. I fished hard and stayed positive each day, but after bombing twice I am reminded the importance of pre-fishing.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

ABA - day 2

I was a lot more confidant going into Big Marine than I was in Coon, but I was still bummed after my poor day one performance. I figured I had blown any chance for a good finish, but a fellow angler told me that a lot of guys who do well on day one seem to bomb on day two. Based on my previous high finishes on Big Marine, this gave me some hope of making a good comeback. I was going to put yesterday behind me, fish hard and try to make it back into the top five.

Day two started cloudy, foggy & humid with rain and possible storms predicted for the day. Since it had always been sunny during the previous tournaments, I was a little concerned that the fish on my spot would scatter. Also, after drawing boat #21 I was worried someone would get to the spot before me, knowing a lot of guys has seen me sitting there all day.

While waiting for take off, I decided I was going to the spot regardless if anyone was there or not. It is a small area and odds are no one would find the exact spot anyway, if someone was there I would get as close as possible and do my best.

Finally my number was called and I was off. Arriving at the spot, I was relieved to find no one on it. I grabbed my Kistler Helium 7 foot medium with a FlaMinn Lures 1/8 oz mushroom head and a 4" worm, lined up the boat and made my first cast.

Normally I would start catching fish immediately, but I went the first 1/2 hour with no bites. I started thinking I may be right and the fish scattered, so I started moving around and finally caught a 15 incher. I thought I had located the school but I didn't catch another fish there, so I kept working around the area. After working my way back to the original spot I finally connected with the school. First a 14 incher, I threw back and stuck a 16, then another 16. Then, on my next cast, I felt the bite, set the hook and broke off. I quickly retied and started casting again but the broken off fish seemed to shut down the school.

An hour went by without another bite, it was now raining, I was cold and frustrated and only had four fish. I was starting to wonder if I was going to catch my fifth fish when finally I hooked into one, after a nerve wracking battle I put a nice 17 incher in the livewell. Now I was excited, I had a limit and a very good start to another big bag, with plenty of time left to cull.

A short time later I hooked into what felt like another good fish. After carefully playing the fish to the boat I scooped up a fat 18 incher, which culled the 14 from earlier. The next fish felt better than any of the others, after a long battle I netted a 19 incher. This fish culled the 15 incher and put me around 15 - 16 lbs. At this point I could hardly believe it! 16 pounds is a monster bag for Big Marine, and I was thinking about culling 16 inch fish to increase my weight, knowing it was very possible.

Over the next couple hours I caught a few fish that didn't help, but with about a half hour left, I set the hook into another good fish, a 16+ that culled my smallest 16 incher. I was sure I had over 16 pounds now and didn't want to take any chances, so with about twenty minutes to go I wrapped up and headed in.

After all the boats were in I went up to watch the weigh in since it would be a while before I weighed. I heard lots of grumbling about tough fishing and small fish, which made me feel pretty good. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, lots of 5-7 pound bags and lots of 2&3 fish bags. When boats 16 - 21 were called to weigh, I bagged my fish and proudly walked to the scale. My big fish was 4.35 and my total weight for the day was 16.26lbs. I released my fish and watched the remainder of the weigh in with the closest bag to mine being in the 11lb range. When the weigh in was over I knew I had big fish for the day and made up some ground, but I had no idea where I was going to end up in the tournament or year end standings.

I waited with anticipation as the totals were calculated, and when it was all over I walked away with big bass for day two, 5th place for the tournament with a total weight of 21.54lbs, and 3rd place in the year end standings for a total of 825.00.

Although I was happy with the way I finished, it was somewhat bittersweet knowing if I had done better on Coon I would have placed even higher.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ABA two day, Coon/BigMarine 9/6-9/7/08

I was a little nervous going into the two day tournament, I was sitting in 4th place overall with the top 5 at year end getting a check, in addition to any tournament money.
I wasn't worried about Big Marine because I knew my spot would still hold up, but after two days of prefishing Coon I had not put together a viable pattern. I knew I would need 10-12 pounds on Coon to be in contention for the second day, but at this point I was concerned about even getting a limit.
Tournament morning was a cool 50 degrees with a 10-15 mph West wind. I drew boat #4 and while waiting for take off I still wasn't sure where I wanted to start. My instinct was telling me to go to docks, but I had caught a couple of good fish and shook off a few others in the reeds by the beach, so I decided to start there. My number was called and I headed for the reeds. After take off was complete I realized I had the reeds to myself. My plan was to fish slow and spend a few hours there feeling confidant I could get a few fish. After two hours with no bites it was time to move.
I ran to a deep weed spot I found in practice and fished it for about 15 minutes - no bites. I then headed over to the west side to some pads I had previously done well on. The wind was blowing on them which usually makes them even better. After a while I finally hooked up with a 16 incher, which was a good start. I then worked the docks in the same area picking up a 14 incher. I went back to the same pads and worked them again but with no more bites. Next I went to a small bay with pads & docks and flipped a creature bait around, while working my way out I managed to pick up another 14 incher on a dock.
Having now convinced myself I should have listened to my instincts, I decided I would spend the rest of the day flipping docks. I stayed on the west side and fished all the docks I could without any bites. I then ran back to the east side to find bass boats lined up on the docks. Thinking it would be useless to fish behind all the other boats, I ran back to the reed bed hoping the bite had picked up. I worked the reedbed again with nothing to show for my efforts.
I had about an hour to go and I only needed two more fish for my limit, at this point I didn't even care if they were 12 inchers. I went back to some docks which now didn't have as many boats fishing them. I ran into one of the other guys who told me he only had three fish also and he had heard it was very tough for most of the guys. I spent the rest of the time committed to the docks, fishing them slowly and methodically but by now they were beat to death.
I weighed in with three fish for about 5 1/2 pounds. Turned out it was pretty tough for most, although a few guys seem to always find them. The leader after day one had over 21lbs, then a few 14lb bags then weights dropped from there. There was no way I was going to win now, so I just hoped I could get a good bag on Big Marine and stay in the top five for the year.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

FOM Legacy, Big Marine 8/30/08

I fished a Legacy tournament on the Horseshoe Chain last year with my then six year old grandson Triston. We both had a great time and took 7th place with about 11.5 lbs. But Triston was a little disappointed that he did not catch a bass. Although I let him reel in the bass I hooked, it just wasn't the same.
I was determined to make sure he caught bass this time and Big Marine was the perfect lake. I knew the fish would still be on the same spot - a deep coontail patch - as in the ABA tournament I won a couple weeks ago, so I rigged up a rod with a slip bobber and a FlaMinn Lures Ultimate mushroom jig and a 4" worm. Now Triston could fish the coontail but not get hung up too much. I would be fishing the same setup but without the slip bobber.
Tournament morning started out cool with a light Southwest breeze. Triston was as anxious as me to get to our spot and start fishing. Our number was finally called and we were off, arriving to our spot to find we had it to ourselves. I showed Triston how to fish the slip bobber rig and then we started fishing. I immediately hooked up with a keeper which Triston netted expertly. On the next cast I got bit again and told Triston to get the net, but he said he couldn't because he also had one on, so I grabbed the net and scooped up both fish - a couple of nice 16 inchers. The bite continued and we had a limit and made several culls in less than an hour. When Triston wasn't catching fish I would let him crank mine in. We were having a great time and very excited about the possibility of a high finish.
About 11am the bite had slowed and Triston started getting a little bored. I knew we could catch more fish if we stayed, but I decided to go to a different spot just to relieve the boredom.
At the next spot I caught a 15 incher on my first cast which culled a smaller fish, then Triston caught a 12 incher which didn't help, and some smaller fish - but at least he was catching them.
It was getting close to weigh in so I thought we would give my best spot one more try. We motored back and started fishing, within a few minutes I hooked up with a chunky 17 incher which made a good cull and really got us excited. It was now time to head in and hope we did well.
We were one of the first few boats to weigh and had 11.21lbs. We were in first place for a while until another team weighed 11.26, then another weighed 13lbs. Finally there were no more to weigh. Triston was very excited when I told him we took 3rd place and we would win plaques and money. I was also excited, and very proud of him since he contributed to the catch this time and earned his awards.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

ABA, Big Marine, 8/17/08

Big Marine is one of those lakes where I always catch fish but can never break the 10 pound mark, this time would be different.
I did not want to make the same mistake I made on Clearwater by sticking with flipping all day, but I did not want to miss anything either so I planned on prefishing shallow and deep.
My brother Scott went pre-fishing with me since he had won a club tournament with over 12 pounds two weeks earlier on a deep spot. We first went to his winning spot where all we caught were 13 - 14 inch fish, we tried shallower and deeper but didn't catch anything bigger.
Scott said nothing was going in the reeds during his tournament but I wanted to check them anyway so we gave them a try with only two small fish for our efforts. I was looking at a map for other areas to check when I happened to remember a deep spot I found a few years ago, it only had small fish at that time but it would be another spot to go to. I ran to the spot, lined up the boat and made a cast, I immediatly hooked up with a 12 inch fish, then Scott landed a nice 16 incher. I threw back and quickly caught another 16 incher. At this point I knew what I was going to do during the tournament. I was going to sit on that spot all day if I had to since I had no bigger fish to go to anyway. I figured if I could catch 12+ pounds I should make the money and move near the top of the standings.
Tournament morning was a cool 55 degrees with a light Southwest breeze with stronger winds predicted for the afternoon. I drew boat 16 out of 32 and waited anxiously for the 7AM take off, hoping no one else had found the same spot. I arrived at my spot to find another angler very close to it, but he was casting a crankbait and moving away. I grabbed my Kistler Helium 7' Medium spin rod, moved up to the right depth and made my first cast and got bit right away, I threw out a buoy and reeled in a 13 incher. I put the fish in the livewell and quickly made another cast - another bite, this time a 15 incher. My next cast produced a fat 16 incher, a few minutes later - another 16 incher. By now I was pretty excited and took a minute to re-tie and compose myself. After a couple more casts - a 17 incher. It had only been 30 minutes and I already had a good limit - and the fish were still biting!
By 8am I had culled the 13 and the 15 and everything in the livewell now was over 16 inches. The bite slowed a bit but I was still catching fish and making culls once in a while. By about 10AM the boats that were fishing in the same general area had left, this gave me an opportunity to roam a little without someone moving in on my spot.
I was still gitting bit occasionally, but nothing that would help. At this point I knew I had between 12 and 13 pounds but I needed that one big kicker. I was starting to think I should move and go hog hunting, but decided I would stay all day and hope for the best.
About 1PM, about 30 yards away from my buoy, I caught a very fat 18 incher - which culled my lightest 16 incher and added probably a pound to my weight. Now I knew I had a pretty good chance of winning and was very anxious for the weigh-in.
By 2:30 the wind had come up pretty good and the skiers were out in full force. It was getting hard to hold on the spot and I was getting worried about my starting battery being dead from running the livewells and aerators all day. I decided I would head in early in case I had to jump start my battery. Fortunatly my motor started ok and I took my time going in. I made it in with time to spare, tied up and waited for weigh-in to start.
Since we weigh in by boat number and I was boat 16, I was able to watch some of the bags coming in. There was one 13 pound bag but most were in the 7-8 pound range. Finally it was my turn. While bagging my fish I realized I probably had better than the 13 pounds I originally thought. I weighed in with 14.04 which held up for 1st place and a 635.00 check.
This finish moved me up to 4th place in the standings with only the 2 day District Championship to go. The good thing is one of the 2 days is on Big Marine again!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ABA, Clearwater Lake, 8/10/08

Anyone who knows me, knows I love to flip reeds - almost to a fault! Case in point - Clearwater lake. I have never been confidant with the deep bite on Clearwater, mainly because I don't spend much time fishing deep with so many reeds available.
This lake is full of reeds but I have found that some are more consistent than others.
Pre-fishing, I discovered the bass were holding on the points of reedbeds. I was not getting a lot of bites, but when I did they were 15 - 16 inches and one that was close to 18.
Tournament day I was faced with cold front conditions, cool and 10-15 mph East winds. I knew fishing would be tough so I planned on fishing for five good bites, based on pre-fishing I figured I could come out with about 12 pounds and I would have a shot at the money.
I started on the reed bed that I felt held the biggest fish, pitching a Texas rigged black neon B-A-Hawg with my Kistler HE76XHC flippin stick. I worked all the way around slowly with no bites. After moving to my next spot I quickly caught a 12 incher, I worked the same area a while longer with no more bites so I continued around the reedbed. When I reached the other side I hooked up with a 14 incher, but no more. On the next reed bed I caught two more 14 inchers. I still needed one more for a limit but I knew I had a lot of culling to do so I was hoping the bite would pick up. I ran to an area that had a lot of reed beds close together, planning to fish one in particular, but someone was already there so I moved to the next closest one even though I had never fished it before. At this point I was going to fish every reed bed I could whether I had fished it before or not. It didn't take long before I felt a bite, after a bit of a battle a 3lber was in the livewell. A good way to finish a limit but I still needed to do some culling to have a chance. After two hours working around all the reedbeds in the area and losing a couple of small fish I finally hooked up with another 14 incher that would cull the 12 incher. It was now about 1:30 and I had around 9lbs, I decided to go back through the areas I had already caught fish in hoping the bite had picked up - it didn't.
With about an hour to go I ran to a small bay that the entrance was lined with reeds and had some docks that held fish in a previous tournament. I didn't get any bites in the reeds and the docks were so shallow & weedy I couldn't skip a lure under them, I did manage to get two 12 inchers on a frog but that was it.
I ended up weighing in 9.95 lbs for 21st place. Sounds like the guys that fished deep caught fish all day and weighed any where from 10 to 13 pounds. The winner had about 16 lbs but I never heard what he was doing.
And so the story goes - I love flipping reeds - almost to a fault. This time it costed me a good finish. Half way through the day I should have realized the reed bite was just not happening and I should have taken a chance on something else, I had nothing to lose at that point.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

FOM, Forest Lake, 8/2/08

I decided not to pre-fish Forest Lake since I had a good finish the previous week in a ABA tournament there. I planned to fish shallow again since the deep guys didn't seem to do very well. I felt I could have done better last week if I could have been first to my starting spot so I wanted to start there again. Since FOM raffles off boat 1 & 2, my partner Shawn bought 20 raffle tickets and won boat #1 for us guaranteeing we would be the first boat there.
Tournament morning started out cool and very foggy but the fog started lifting about five minutes before takeoff. We quickly made it to our first spot and anxiously started pitching the reeds knowing the quality of fish holding there. We spent quite a bit of time fishing slow and hoping for the big bites, but after a couple of hours and only three small keepers in the well we decided it was time to move and come back later. On our next reed bed we were able to fill our limit including a 16 incher and cull a couple of 13 inchers. Next we went into the small lake to some docks, one of which usually holds a three pounder, but didn't catch anything bigger than 12 inches. We then ran to another reed bed and caught another 16 incher culling our last 13 incher. With a couple hours left we went back to one of the better reed beds and continued catching fish but nothing that would help. We then decided we would spend our last hour on our starting spot and again hope for a big bite. With about 10 minutes left before heading in, Shawn got bit about ten feet back into the reeds and got hung up. Not wanting to lose the fish and not knowing what size it was I ran the boat right into the reeds and was able to get the net under the 15 inch bass, this gave us about a 1/2 lb cull which put our final weight for the day at 11.83 and 12th place. Not as high of a finish as I hoped for but we just didn't get the big bites we needed.
This was the final Fishers of Men tournament of the year, Congratulations to Jeff Allen & Ryan Otto for winning the points Championship.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

ABA, Forest lake, 7/27/08

I always try to spend some time looking for new spots pre-fishing on lakes I am familiar with, if I don't find anything, I rely on my old spots. This was the case on Forest Lake. I didn't find anything worthwhile new and only found small fish on my deep spots. I did catch some 15 - 16 inchers shallow so I decided I was going to fish shallow all day.

The morning talk was all about how no one had anything going but small fish, which got me excited since I did pretty well pre-fishing.

My plan was to hope for a good boat draw and start on a reed bed that I knew was holding good fish, get a decent limit quick, then go hog hunting the rest of the day. I drew boat number 14 and watched as many boats went past my spot - until boat 12 ran right to it. I thought about going to it anyway but I figured most guys just pitch around fast and leave, so I went to an area close by to keep an eye on it while I fished. The area was a mix of reeds & pads which I did not get a bite in, but I did manage a 13 incher off a dock in the same area. I saw the reed bed was finally open so I ran to it and started pitching, alternating between a black/blue 3/8 oz FlaMinn Lures jig with a Mister Twister Craw Chunk trailer and a Mister Twister B-A-Hawg. I was quickly rewarded with a chunky 16 incher, a few pitches later another fish - which got hung up in the reeds, after getting a net under it and into the boat, I found it was an 18 incher. I retied and started pitching again and quickly caught my 4th fish - a fat 14.5 incher. I continued around the reed bed with no more bites so I turned and went back through it again, I worked the area for a while and decided to leave and come back later. My next stop was another reed bed. About my 2nd pitch I hooked up with another 16 incher. I now had a limit of about 11 pounds. With about 3 hours left to fish I knew I had a chance of winning if I could cull my smaller fish with more 16 inch plus fish. I again retied and started pitching and soon had another 14.5, which culled my 13 from earlier and gave me about 12 pounds. I continued fishing reeds all day, catching fish but culling only a little at a time. I had about an hour until weigh-in and opted to finish the day at my starting area. I fished hard knowing I was close to winning but never got the big bites I needed.

I weighed in with 12.27 pounds - good for 4th place and another check. The winner had 13.01. Overall I fished a good tournament, made good decisions, and cashed a check, but I was disappointed that I was so close to winning.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

ABA, Coon Lake

I felt confidant going into Coon lake based on pre-fishing and past experience. I pre-fished all the deep spots I know with no success so I planned on fishing shallow all day.
I was going to start on the West lake but after drawing boat #33 out of 36 and seeing most of the boats go that way, I decided to start in the reeds by the beach since only one other boat went there. I fished for about fifteen minutes with no bites, all the while thinking I should have stuck with my plan. I headed for the west lake to some docks with a small pad field at the end that were good pre-fishing. I was using my favorite Mister Twister Comida and skipping under and between the docks, there were lots of sunfish on beds so I new the bass would be nearby. Between the second and third dock I caught my first fish - a 3 1/2, good way to start the day. On the next dock I got bit, set the hook and pulled the fish from under the dock - another 3lber, unfortunately it just pulled off. I checked my hook and told myself OK, that happens once in a while and I resumed fishing. I had no more strikes until I got to the pads where I caught a 12 incher. I continued fishing the pads without another bite so I decided to go back through the same set of docks hoping the 3lber would bite again - not! Next I ran to a similar area and saw a 2lber behind a boat lift, I got it to bite once but missed it, I finally gave up and figured I would come back to it if I had to. I was going to run to another set of reeds when I had one of those gut feelings about a row of docks, so I decided to fish them instead. Always listen to your instincts! I had my limit including another 3lber and was culling in no time - even with a couple break-offs. At this point, the docks were on fire and I knew I was only going to fish docks for the rest of the day. On the next set I continued catching fish and upgrading. Then it happened again -another 3 lber popped after pulling it from under a dock, this time it rattled me, I knew it could hurt me. I took a minute to settle down then continued to fish docks the rest of the day. The action slowed a bit with only smaller fish that would not help me. I weighed in with 12.15 lbs good for 12th place. Not bad, but the two 3lbers I lost would have added a couple pounds and probably put me in the money.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Extreme Bass, Rush Lake

Rush Lake is normally money in the bank for me. I have won three tournaments on Rush and have finished in the money several more - not this time! It was the toughest fishing I have ever had on Rush. I have a couple of spots that normally produce big fish for me all summer, which I had checked on my two pre-fishing trips - nothing! My hope was they just were not there yet but would be at tournament time a week later.
Tournament day the wind was blowing 20-30 mph which created a couple of problems, my spots were basically unfishable and the lake fished very small since a good portion of the field tried to fish out of the wind.
Our first spot already had two boats on it when we arrived so we didn't spend much time there - no fish, we then ran to some docks on the East lake that we saw good fish cruising the shallows - nothing. We decided to make an attempt to fish my best spot even though the wind was pounding it, after about fifteen minutes we gave up - it was impossible - still no fish. We then spent some time running to docks & reeds that were somewhat out of the wind, the problem was every where we went someone was already there. We fished these areas the best we could without stepping on any ones toes and fortunately landed our first keeper - a 15 incher which clued us in a little. The fish blew up on a frog on the inside edge of a small patch of pads but missed it, I threw in a Comida and the fish hit immediately, I threw right back in and caught another 12 incher.
Now we had a pattern to work with! By now it was about 12:30 and only 2 fish. I had one more area on West Rush we hadn't been to yet that was similar to our pattern, and it was out of the wind! We were surprised when we got there to find no one there, what a relief. We immediately started casting frogs and I hooked up with a 3lber right away. This fish clued us in even more, it came from an isolated clump of weeds near shore. The fishing almost seemed easy after that, we continued to catch fish from every isolated clump of weeds or pads in that area and were culling by 1:30.
We ended up with about 12 1/2 pounds for the day and somewhere in the middle of the pack. This was a bad day for me on Rush Lake, but I did learn I need to be more versatile and take what the lake is giving me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Green Lake, Fishers of Men East

I had been looking forward to fishing the Fishers of Men Green lake (Chisago Co.) tournament since we had made the money the last two years with almost 18 pounds each time. Unfortunatly, the fishing was not quite the same this year due to the cold spring. We managed to catch fish but they were very scattered, unlike years past where we found good fish bunched up. Since the take off was very close to our best spot we decided to start on a spot on Lindbergs point where we found some good fish holding during pre-fishing, then head to our good spot after take off had settled down. Almost immediatly we connected with a small keeper and then another of about 14 inches. After about a half hour with no more bites it was time to move to our best spot. We arrived to find another team sitting near the spot, not on it but close enough to keep us off, so we just put the trolling motor down and started fishing the weed line in the same area. This area always holds good post spawners, you just have to move around until you find them. We were throwing worms and jigs into the weeds and within 10 minutes we connected. My partner Shawn caught a 3 lber and I almost at the same time caught one about 4 lbs, then on the next cast Shawn caught another 14 incher. We had a limit but knew we had a lot of culling to do, fortunatly it was only 7am and there was plenty of time left. We continued to work the weedline when Shawn connected with another good fish close to 4 lbs, we threw out a buoy and fished the spot and I caught another about 2.5lbs, along with a few that did not help. By now we realized we would catch a couple of good fish then they would get smaller, we would pick up the buoy and move on until we caught another fish. We repeated this pattern until about 11 oclock and ultimately culled up to about 14 lbs, but the bites had all but stopped. We ran back to Lindbergs point and fished about a half hour with no bites, then went to a row of docks where we went fishless again. At this time we had about 2 hours left and with not much confidence in any other spots, we decided to go back to our best area and kill the day there. The wind was pounding on the spot now and it was hard to hold, but we thought it would keep the bass active. We managed to catch more fish and upgrade to about 15 lbs but that was all. We weighed in with 15.15 lbs, a respectable bag but not enough for the money. There were two bags over 18lbs, a few in the 17 lb range, and several in the 16lb range. We ended up in 12th place out of 49 teams for the day and just missed the money which ended at 9th place.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

ABA NO/SO Center tournament

I fished my first ABA tournament this past Sunday and to be honest, it went better than expected. I had just got back from a week in Canada so I had no time to pre-fish but I have fished North/South Center many times over the years and have done very well this time of year, so I was somewhat comfortable going into it. The morning started sunny but cool with 10-15 mph wind out of the west. My plan was to start on a rock spot that the bass move to after the spawn, and then hit docks and other shallow areas after that, but unfortunately I drew boat #28 and the spot was taken by the time I got there. I decided to go to a shoreline on South Center that I knew had all the components I was looking for, docks, inside weedline, bluegill beds and out of the wind. I started out using a weightless Mister Twister Comida in Watermelon Candy with the tail end dipped in Chartreuse Spike it. I was skipping under docks and fishing the inside weedline in between. It didn't take long to catch my first fish, a fat 13 incher from the second dock, then a 12 incher from the inside weedline, another 13 from a dock and my 4th fish was a 18 incher from the next dock. At the end of the dock row was some lilypads which I caught my 5th fish - a 15 incher. It was now about 8:45 and I had a limit that I figured weighed about 8 pounds from my first spot, not bad but I figured I needed about 12 pounds to make the money. Having figured out what the fish were doing, I went to a couple of other similar spots on South Center but the bite was slowing down and I was only able to cull the 12 incher with a 13. Next I went to North Center to a similar area and culled out one of the 13's for another 15, I spent a lot of time in this area and continued to catch fish but all in the 13 inch range, I was able to cull but only ounces. With not much time left I ran to a spot on the North end of North Center, again catching fish but nothing that would help. At the weigh in it sounded like it was a tough day for a lot of the anglers. I ended up having around 9 pounds which surprisingly was good for 5th place and a check! The winner had around 11 pounds, which was a low winning weight by No/So Center standards. Overall it was a good day, the fishing was ok,I didn't miss or lose any fish, and I took home a check. Not bad for no pre-fishing!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Annual Canadian fishing trip

This years trip was very special for me as my seven year old grandson, Triston, went with my wife and I. Triston really enjoys fishing and is pretty good for a seven year old, he has even fished a Fishers of Men Legacy bass tournament with me. We left Saturday June 7th about 7 am, picked up Triston along the way, and hit the highway. After a long drive and spending almost 2 hours at the border we finally arrived at the resort about 5 pm. We stay At Lebrons Long Bay Resort in Sioux Narrows, Ontario, and have been going there for over 20 years. After checking in and unloading we still had a few hours of sunlight left. Since it was a beautiful evening we decided to launch the boat and go fishing. We didn't have a lot of time so we opted to stay close and went to one of our usual walleye spots. Fishing was a little slow so after catching 1 walleye and a few smallmouth we called it a day. Sunday was another beautiful day but the fishing was really slow, ice out was about 2 weeks late and it had been a cool spring so the water was still in the 50's. Over the next couple of days we got rain, wind and cooler temps, we checked more of our walleye spots but only managed 1 walleye, more smallmouth and a few small northerns which Triston caught on a spinner bait. The fishing was nowhere near as good as usual.
On Wednesday we went into a small bay to get out of the wind and let Triston cast a spinner bait for northerns. After reaching the back of the bay we noticed warmer water temps, a lot of minnows and more activity than we had seen all week. I started casting a jig & leech while Monica and Triston were using slip bobbers with leeches. Finally, walleyes! Although it was still a little slow we did manage to catch our limits, nothing big, but nice eaters. Thursday we had another nice sunny day, we headed to the same spot and started catching walleyes again. At one point, Tristons bobber went down and he started fighting the fish, it was pulling hard but he finally got it near the boat. Just as it came to the surface the hook popped out and the fish was gone, we all saw it was a huge walleye, at least 24 inches. We just stood there in shock! Trison had talked all week about catching a fish big enough to mount and we watched it swim away. Although not a true trophy, for his first big fish I would have had it mounted for him. We continued catching walleyes throughout the day and that evening had our last meal of fish as we were leaving Friday morning. Although the fishing and the weather could have been better, we all had a great time. Triston was a real trooper all week, never complaining about anything or getting bored, he baited his own hooks, netted our fish and took his own fish of the hook, also his casting got better every day. On the way home Triston reminded me that before our trip he told me "Grandpa, this is going to be the funnest time you ever had in Canada", how right he was!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Great day!

For the first time this year the weather was going to cooperate so I decided I had to go fishing last Sunday. Since I did not have a tournament and just wanted to hammer some fish, I decided on Chisago Lake. I had not been to Chisago for a few years but I knew it's potential from past experience. I was joined by my tournament partner Shawn and his brother Jason. We arrived at the lake about seven a.m. to sunshine, 60 degrees and no wind. Seeing the flat calm water I knew we were in for a good day! After launching, we headed straight to Schlimmers slough and started just inside the entrance where I have done well in the past this time of year. The water temp was about 60 degrees with not a lot of activity, so we all started throwing Comidas, Mister Twisters version of a stick bait, in various colors and fishing slow. I was using watermelon candy with the tail end dipped in chartreuse Spike it. I have had a lot of success with this combo from spring through early summer due to the fact the colors resemble a sunfish. We had a few pick ups right away but missed the fish, I think they were just picking up the tail end and we were pulling it away from them. We continued working slowly around the bay and as the water warmed the fishing got better. After a couple hours the water temp had already climbed to about 65 degrees and we were starting to see more fish. At this point it didn't seem to matter what color Comida we threw, the fish were aggressive and would hit. We also saw some lone fish sitting on beds which I'm sure were the males, I'm just not sure if they were waiting for females or guarding the nest, although I didn't see any fry. I did manage to catch a few from the beds, I would cast past it then reel in and drop the comida on the bed and the bass would nail it. By the time we had worked all the way around the the bay it was about one pm and we lost count around fifty fish, some dinks but most were in the 15 - 18 inch range. The best areas seemed to be where the flat ran out further from shore. We left Schlimmers slough and ran to a small bay on the south end which also usually produces. Same deal, we worked our way around slowly and caught many more in the 15 - 17 inch range, in this bay the green lily pads were the ticket, they seemed to hold the most fish. About four pm I had enough, I was aching from catching so many bass. I'm guessing between all three of us we probably caught more than 75 fish. The weather was great, the fishing was great, we could not have asked a better day!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Balsam Lake tournament

Saturday morning started out cool & breezy with northwest winds dropping water temps five degrees overnight. We decided to start in a popular small sheltered bay that we know holds fish and we shook off bites in there during prefishing. Since we drew boat number 14 we figured we had a good shot at being one of the first few boats in there. We arrived at the spot to find we were the second boat there, but the other guys were fishing fast probably just looking for spawners. I started fishing Mister Twister Comidas with my new Kistler Helium 2 LTX 6"9"mh and 4" lizards on my 7' medium Helium LTA. Starting just inside the mouth of the bay we continued all the way around without a bite, we then fished the starting area one more time and decided to leave and come back later in the day after the water warmed up. Next we ran to East Balsam to fish an inside weedline we knew of. By this time the wind was much stronger and after about a half hour of being pounded and only a few small dinks it was time to move. We then fished a couple of other shallow areas that we have done well in the past and continued the small dink trend with no keepers, we saw 14 and 15 inch fish but they were very skittish and would just disappear. At this point, thinking the water may have warmed up some, we went back to the bay we started in, again no bites but this time we at least saw some activity. By now it was getting down to crunch time, so after some thought we went to an area we already fished, but figured it had the best potential since we did see lots of keepers cruising. We were going to live or die on this spot in the final hour, the water was warming and our hope was we could wade through enough dinks to catch some keepers. Weigh in was at 2:30 and at 2:00 it started to rain, with no fish in the box and what we had going we gave in and headed to the boat ramp. I later found out a little over 11 pounds won the tournament, which is low compared to past tournaments - usually its 15 - 16 pounds. The team that won were fishing from a jon boat and at the end of the day when we were at the boat ramp we saw him coming out of the mill pond. This is the second time the winner has come from there. Looking back, I think we fished memories and hopes too much and didn't recognize what the fish were really doing!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Balsam lake prefishing

We arrived at Balsam lake Friday morning to do some prefishing for Saturdays tournament. The day started out a beautiful 50 degrees and sunny with a light breeze. We decided to start out in some shallow bays that have produced in the past. Our plan was to locate fish and determine what stage of the spawn they were in. Water temps in the bays were 58-59 but warmed to 61-62 later in the day. Although the bass were not on the beds yet we saw plenty of fish cruising around with lots of them being keepers. For the most part we were throwing Mister Twister Comidas and 4" Pumpkin Lizards, having fun catching the dinks and shaking off lots of better bites, but we did try some topwater & spinner baits. We also checked out some of our deeper spots that were near spawning areas with no success, but we know the potential so we didn't write them off. At the end of the day we knew it would be a tough tournament but we felt confident we could catch a limit by making long casts ahead of the boat to catch the cruisers and hopefully make the money.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

First tournament of the year

Finally it seems the weather is going to cooperate this weekend for my first Fishers of Men tournament on Balsam Lake. This lake can be hit or miss for me as I have made the money two out of four times. Seems like if the weather has been stable for a few days preceding the tournament my partner and I do well, but if the weather has been unusually cold we seem to struggle. The other problem is usually the bass are on the beds and I have never mastered the art of sight fishing, we can see fish but can't catch them so we just end up trying to grind out a limit any way we can. Patience is a big key but it's hard to be patient when you are limited by time and you can't get a fish to bite! This tournament is always won by guys sight fishing so I guess I better learn to do it. I'll report next week how it turned out.

Monday, April 21, 2008

River bass

I went down to Wabasha on Friday to do some bass fishing on the Mississippi. Accompanied by my tournament partner Shawn, we launched at the park in Wabasha and headed South on the river to check out some shallow backwater areas near the dam I found on the map. It was 45 degrees and raining, the current was very strong and the water temp was only 41 degrees - talk about miserable conditions! It was a cold wet ride, and not being familiar with that section of the river, we sat down in safe water and idled towards the shallow bay we wanted to fish. Suddenly the water got very shallow and we weren't even close to entering the bay, concerned about damaging my boat and having a hard time seeing due to my glasses being wet, we decided it would be best to leave & check out other areas we knew a little better. We went back up river and fished some cuts we knew, after about 4 hours of pitching jigs, casting spinnerbaits and crankbaits we did not have one bite and decided to call it a day. Maybe we'll try again next week.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

BassFan contests

I just found out I was one of the winners in Bassfans monthly contest. For those that don't know about it, first you have to join the Bassfan Army (free lifetime membership) then all you have to do is watch for the contest in the dock talk section of Bassfans web site. Usually they ask to name how many sizes or colors are available in a particular manufacturers lure lineup. Just go to the manufactures website, count the colors, sizes, etc. and email Bassfan the correct answer, then they draw the winners from the correct entries. I guess I'll be getting an assortment of plastics from Zipper Worm for the latest contest. This is actually the second time I have won a Bassfan contest, they also have a contingency program where if you win a qualifying tournament using any of their sponsors products and submit the proper form, you will be entered in a monthly drawing. Last year after winning a Fishers of Men tournament on Rush lake, I submitted the form and ended up winning! A couple weeks later I received a large box filled with a Plano Flipsider tackle box, numerous crankbaits & plastics, Vicious & Berkley fishing line, a Minnkota trolling motor prop, a bunch of misc items, a Abu Garcia 4600c and a Fenwick 6'6" med heavy rod - all totally free! I would recommend everyone get signed up and enter.