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TOPIC: Tournament time

Tournament time 2 months 1 week ago #70484

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Redemption is near. Tournament 2 is on Saturday. Woman lake near Hackensack, MN. PDF lake map here if you want to see what we will be fishing on -- (files.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/data/lakemaps/b0063010.pdf)


This is a huge smallmouth lake. My buddy sent me a text earlier in the week to show me what the winning weights were from this past weekend. The top 4 spots had over 22 pounds with 5 fish.... That's over a 4 pound average... Two of the four boats in the top 5 had kicker fish of over 6 pounds. Both of those fish were smallies... I'm foaming at the bit man. I cannot wait to get back at it.

I've researched the lake, watched videos on it, read fishing reports, checked the weather, checked recent water temps.... I'm ready. I'm leaving town tonight and headed down to Hackensack. My wifes parents have friends right in town with a lake house that we will be crashing at. If I get down there early enough heck I may even get out tonight - otherwise it's tomorrow morning early to prefish. A lot of people are saying that the smallmouth are still on beds spawning. If that's the case we will be jigging a lot.

This lake has really nice clear water. Rock bottom substrate. Weed beds here and there but not like what I'm used to fishing. I have fluorocarbon leaders tied up to my braid set ups for that reason. Right now my plan is to throw a small tube jig 2 3/4 inch on the braid/floro for bed fish, and also throw a larger clackn rap for bed fish. That thing really rattles and should do a good job of pissing off those large female bed fish. My other two rods are tied up to a frog, and a weightless senko. Ready to go. Ready for some redemption.
"My Country is the World, and my Religion is to do good." -Thomas Paine
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Tournament time 2 months 5 days ago #70494

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A trend is forming here, and the trend is me eating humble pie. I don't really like it, but it is a necessary evil in the process of improving.

Lets start out with the weather. Saturday morning at 6 we launched. I'd say that at that time, wind was 10mph out of the east. By about 730-8, it was 15-20mph. And by noon it was 25-30 out of the west. Big rollers on the water. 4-5 footers. Temp was probably in the high 60's in the morning and nearly 90 by 100p.

We knew that we were going to have to fish beds to have a shot at winning this thing. But the problem is that on Friday when we were prefishing the water and waves were much less intense and that made it easier to sight fish the beds. Saturday with the wind, no chance. You just couldn't see because of the distortion and caps from the waves. So our bed fishing technique (which wasn't much to begin with) got shot in the foot from the get go. We jetted directly to a rock point where we were able to eyeball a few beds the day before and saw a few good sized females hanging around. But we just couldn't get on them and like idiots we didn't think to mark them on the GPS. So we were basically fan casting the area which was a pipe dream. I picked up our first keeper here, but it was a small male. Just over 14 inches and 1lb 4 ounces. After a few hours of poking around there we jetted off to a few bays where we knew we could at least fill our bag with largemouths. My buddy hit a nice 4lb 12oz largemouth in the bay. 19.5 inches. A beast.


The beast ---




But after that all we caught were dinks. We filled our bag, but had 4 fish under 2lbs. Before the day was out my buddy caught another decent fish at 2lbs 12oz but it was too little too late. We finished with 5 fish, 5 alive, one smallmouth and 12lbs 8 ounces. I believe we were 16 out of 21. The winning bag was over 20, all smallmouth. Almost certainly, all females with eggs.

We just came to this one a day late and a dollar short. Neither of us had bed fished before (other than here and there for largemouth that you just happen upon). And we haven't because it's mostly frowned upon as it disturbs the spawn. I mean I know I've come upon beds of largemouth before and I just scoot away hoping not to disturb them. But this is definitely a technique that we need to learn and improve upon. Smallies in particular have their beds around large rock boulders. They were on some flats, but mostly concentrated around rock points it sounded like. And in order to really win or even be in the mix at a tournament like this you need to have scoped these beds out, down to a 2x2 foot area. Those females are tight to their beds are were not moving. You literally have to drop it on their heads, or in the bed for them to hit you. And if you can't visually see them, then you need to have that spot marked accurately on the gps to pick them up. And even if you had the spot marked, you had to hold on top of that area and fish it and jig it consistently in 25-30mph winds and 4 foot rollers... Just not something we were able to do that day.

I am learning more about bass fishing in these last few tournaments than I have in maybe the past decade of fishing casually on my own. Unfortunately, its an extremely humbling process.
"My Country is the World, and my Religion is to do good." -Thomas Paine
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Tournament time 1 month 2 weeks ago #70546

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Was the third time the charm? No. Not it was not. Lol. We did much better this tournament than we did in the past though. I will say that. This tournament was on lake Minnetonka just west of the twin cities in central Minnesota. Incredible lake. It's basically just a huge series of small lakes tied together by canals and channels. And the money... the money on this lake was astounding. The yachts, the houses, the money.... Ridiculous. Ran into a guy that was on the dock washing up this 60ft monster yacht. He said that he worked here and just was the grounds keeper more or less. We asked him how much a boat like that would cost a guy? He said that it was used when the owner bought it so 1.5 million..... what the f@#$... New would be over 2 million he said. Imagine what this guys lake house cost him.... Just crazy.

Anyway, we found lots of fish. Lots and lots of fish. But no big boys. Just couldn't get on the bigger fish. After all the area we covered over the two days of fishing, you'd think we'd of accidentally caught a 18-19 incher... nope. We mainly fished docks on tournament day. Found good fish on the top water frog, and snagged a few on weightless senkos and neko rigs. Also got into a pattern later after the wind picked up throwing crankbaits (Rapala DT6's) at the weed edge and pulling away to the deeper water. We filled our bag quick. I think by 9 we had 5 fish and then started culling the small ones. But we just never got into the fatties. I think our biggest fish was around 2.8 lbs and smallest was just over 2 pounds. Total weight was 11.9 pounds. We finished 24 out of 34. I know that sounds shitty, but about half of these guys were local boys that only fish Minnetonka. We actually beat most of the other boats that are fishing the tournament trail, including the points leaders. So I really don't feel too bad. We weren't the only ones having trouble locating the big guys.

I finally contributed a good amount to our bag as well. Felt good to be in it. Not just the net man. Lol. We'll keep plugging away. That's all we can do. It's a good day on the water at the very least.
"My Country is the World, and my Religion is to do good." -Thomas Paine
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Tournament time 1 month 4 days ago #70613

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Another tournament this weekend. This time we are headed to Gull lake chain in the Brainerd-Baxter area. Another big lake. Here's a link if you want to take a look. www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/lake.html?id=11030500

I'm heading down to Brainerd tonight and hopefully we can sneak out for a few hours to pre fish. Tomorrow we prefish all day, and then Saturday its go time.
"My Country is the World, and my Religion is to do good." -Thomas Paine
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Tournament time 4 weeks 16 hours ago #70628

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We had this one.

We started out prefishing on Friday. Gorgeous morning. About 65 or so degrees and a light wind, 5-10 mph. This is a clear water lake with mostly sand and rock bottom. Lots of strong heavy weed beds and weed flats. This time of year with a large lake like this and so much structure fish are all over the place. You can find them shallow and deep and they are usually actively feeding. You just have to get in front of them and throw something they want. We decided to stick to our strength and go shallow. Work docks and shoreline structure, pads and timber and shallow grass mats. We hit some small bays and docks that we thought looked good. Marked one small bay in particular that gave us 4-5 fish in about 20 minutes, including a 19 incher - 4.3 lbs.

19 incher ---




Worked some docks on the south side of the main lake too. Part of the problem with prefishing docks is that you are almost always going to find fish on them, especially in a lake with a strong population. In tournament fishing what you have to do is find out which ones are holding those larger fish, and figure out if they are holding there or if they were just passing through. What makes it tough for us is that we are prefishing the day before the tournament, and we don't really want to put hooks into a 4 pounder because then she's unlikely to bite the next day... but you can't just go in blind either not knowing what docks are productive and what ones are empty.... little catch 22 issue there. We marked a handful that produced good fish and luckily we didn't hook any giants. Friday was a good day. Productive. Probably would have had about a 15lb bag if that was tournament day. But it wasn't.

Saturday was similar weather. Cool and calm in the morning. We headed straight to our little bay and for the most part we were undisturbed there. I started out throwing a SPRO bronzeye hollow body frog. That's what I had produced the big boy on the day before. Our first pass through gave us nothing. I immediately started to feel the pressure... We doubled back around to the beginning of the bay and went through again. I started to think about switching things up and then BLAM! A solid hit on the frog. Pulled in our biggest of the day at 3.8lbs. Good good fish. It was a huge relief to get that guy in the boat. I think we put a few more fish in the livewell in this bay but nothing too impressive so we started to move around to some of the docks we had marked, all the while planning to come back to this bay. The wind had switched up a bit, was intensifying and we thought it would push some baitfish up on the shallows. We left, hit the docks, caught some northerns, some small fish and then came back to our bay. Again it was pretty slow until my buddy threw his top water frog and smash! Another good fish. Another that was right around 3lbs. By now I believe we had a full bag, just looking to get rid of the small guys. After a few more passes in this small bay we decided to make a few moves to some of the docks that we had marked. This is where things started to go down hill. By now it was getting close to the noon hour and the fish were not quite as active. Hunkering down into shade spots and staying cool. I switched from the frog to a 3/8 oz flipping jig with a craw type trailer. As big as this bait was I could skip it pretty well. Almost too well. I hooked up with a fat 2 pounder and we culled a small one. I kept throwing the jig at docks and eventually got thumped hard. I set the hook and it was solid, couldn't pull this guy much and then a split second later... tink... line broke. Rubbed up against a dock rung and I lost him. He jumped and shook one more time for good measure after I lost him to throw the jig. Big fish. Bigger than our big in the live well. Probably a solid 4lbs. I was done. That just took the wind out of me. I threw another jig on and kept pushing but my attitude was just garbage after that. My buddy picked up the slack here and kept catching fish on the weightless wacky rig, but I don't think we culled another fish after that. And to rub salt into the wound I lost another fish about an hour later on the docks again. Not as big, but we would have easily culled our small guy.

We finished with 13.10 oz and came in 13th place of 25 boats. To put things into perspective a little... first place was 17.9, second was 15.9, and third place was 14.7. Between 3rd place and 13th place was a difference of 1.5 pounds. I catch that big guy I lost on the docks and we immediately jump 10 spots. I catch both of the fish I lost and were in second...... damn. Still stings.





So needless to say I completely restrung that combo with a heavier line - I went from 15lb power pro to 30lb suffix 832, and tied on about a 20ft 15lb seagar fluorocarbon leader. Because if I lose another fish on the docks like that I think I'll probably lose my shit. Lol.
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Tournament time 3 weeks 6 days ago #70629

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You will get more luck next time. But tell me how it works with the fishes?
Can you just fish a fixed number of fish that get counted?
We need to stop talking about the people as if they were the crown of creation.
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Tournament time 3 weeks 16 hours ago #70640

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toom wrote:
You will get more luck next time. But tell me how it works with the fishes?
Can you just fish a fixed number of fish that get counted?


Sorry toom, must have missed this -- Every tournament we have a 5 fish limit. So you can only keep and weigh 5. Our goal most of the time is to catch 5 as quickly as possible to fill our bag. After we have 5 weighable fish (must be at least 12 inches) then we start to target larger fish. We switch to lures and techniques that are not going to grab as many fish, but will maybe attract larger ones. If you catch a fish larger than what you have in the bag, you release your smallest, and keep the new one. And you just keep doing that over and over until weigh ins.
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Tournament time 2 weeks 3 days ago #70655

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~rush~ wrote:
We finished with 13.10 oz and came in 13th place of 25 boats. To put things into perspective a little... first place was 17.9, second was 15.9, and third place was 14.7. Between 3rd place and 13th place was a difference of 1.5 pounds. I catch that big guy I lost on the docks and we immediately jump 10 spots. I catch both of the fish I lost and were in second...... damn. Still stings..

Dude, think about using some Excalibur Silver Thread for your leader. That stuff is absolutely NOT going to break on you.

Sounds like you are really making progress. I am happy for you. I've only had my Kayaks out once this year. It's killing me. :S
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Tournament time 2 weeks 1 day ago #70672

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kmuda wrote:
~rush~ wrote:
We finished with 13.10 oz and came in 13th place of 25 boats. To put things into perspective a little... first place was 17.9, second was 15.9, and third place was 14.7. Between 3rd place and 13th place was a difference of 1.5 pounds. I catch that big guy I lost on the docks and we immediately jump 10 spots. I catch both of the fish I lost and were in second...... damn. Still stings..

Dude, think about using some Excalibur Silver Thread for your leader. That stuff is absolutely NOT going to break on you.

Sounds like you are really making progress. I am happy for you. I've only had my Kayaks out once this year. It's killing me. :S


Thanks. I spooled up some Suffix 832 and actually have been really impressed. I didn't throw a jig a lot this past weekend, but I kept a close eye on the line near the jig after throwing at docks and it seems to be much much more resistant to abrasion than the power pro.
"My Country is the World, and my Religion is to do good." -Thomas Paine
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Tournament time 2 weeks 1 day ago #70673

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Finally we put things together.

Le Homme Dieu chain just north of Alexandria Minnesota. We got into alex around 7 on Thursday night and decided to puts around a bit on the lake. Cruised around a little and checked out some spots that looked good on the map. Decided to mess around in Geneva, part of the chain on the south end. We started throwing top water and immediately found action. I mean it was hot. A dozen or so strikes on the top, and we were just letting them hit the frog and then let the swim with it until they spit it. This helps reduce the chances of you putting hooks into a 5 pounder that you could potentially catch tournament day, all the while figuring out what they want, where they are and how aggressive they are. Unfortunately my buddy decided to slap one "just to see how big it was" and it was a pig. The biggest fish we caught on the chain all weekend. Could have easily been a 5 pounder. We decided to leave Geneva alone for the rest of the night.

My buddies pig --




The next day we fished Le Homme Dieu, and Lake Carlos and Victoria (all parts of the chain) bouncing around quite a bit checking out some hard drop offs, and deep weed edges. We found some fish here and there, but none of it was like Geneva the night before so we ended up going back and working the same type of stuff. My buddy started to notice small schools of fish jumping around some deep weed edges. So he threw a crankbait out there and whacked a small bass. He did this over and over until I bet he caught a dozen fish. Eyeballing the waters surface looking for what we eventually found out was some type of juvenile baitfish being corralled by sunfish at the surface of the water. The sunfish would swipe at the bait fish and they would jump trying to escape. Underneath the sunfish were larger bass. Waiting for leftovers, or waiting for small sunfish to do something stupid. He would throw a crankbait in the middle of all that and pull up a bass fairly consistently.

So we had a pretty good plan laid out for tournament day. Start out shallow on the top water bite. We knew big fish did run shallow - we just didn't know if they stayed shallow when the sun came up. We figured after we exhausted the shallow stuff we could come out and find these schools of sunnies and crank around them and pull in a few more. And if that didn't produce we had marked a pretty good sized flat that came up to about 7-8 feet from 20 with a solid weed bed all through the flat.

Tournament day didn't go quite like I had imagined, but pretty dang close. Top water bite in the morning was slow. We wacked some small fish, I mean really small fish, like barely 12 inches, but didn't find our big boy from the previous Thursday night. We ended up moving away from the shallow stuff pretty quickly and moved to our flat. My buddy got on the crank bait fish but not as consistent as the day before. I caught our first decent fish. Texas rigging with a 1/2 oz bullet pegged, 6 inch power worm. Right on the edge of the flat. Just over three pounds. At this point we had our 5, but other than the 3 pounder everything else was tiny. We left the flat and headed in shallow. My buddy caught the biggest of the day on a koppers live target frog on our way into the shallows. Kind of in between the deep weed edge and the shallow structure. It was a weird place to catch one, but we were glad to have it. Just over 4 lbs. My buddy got another good fish on the jig on a dock at 3 1/2, and I got another 3 1/2 as well off a frog. All shallow structure. At this point we had a pretty good looking bag but our smallest was still around 2 1/2. We spent most of the day in Geneva but eventually decided to leave. On the south end of le home dieu we stopped just for a brief moment near the caulvert that connects Geneva and le homme dieu because there was a hard drop off there and it was wind blown. I picked up another 3 pounder here. The day was long and hot and dreary and we still don't know exactly who caught it but there was a 2 15oz in the live well as well.... I don't even recall saying that weight out loud but there it was... our smallest fish lol.


We ended up taking second place. 5 fish, 5 alive, 16.48 pounds. In the money, and qualified for the regional tournament in September. You couldn't pry the smile off my face for the rest of that day. So gratifying.



"My Country is the World, and my Religion is to do good." -Thomas Paine
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