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, 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.