Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bass Snatcher Win!!! The 2011 Challenge Cup@ Fishtrap Lake

(Bill Ludenia, Mark Munson, Dennis Lothspeich, Charles Steinbauer, and me. (Missing is Tony Bauer)

Well Team Baxter Bass Snatchers has done it again and won the Challenge Cup Tournament that pits the Brainerd area bass fishing clubs against one another. I fished the Challenge Cup Tournament in 2009 on Mission Lakes and 2010 on Sylvan Lake, and we won the Cup those years as well. Previously when I fished it was only the Snatchers and Range Bassmasters fishing against one another, but this year the Brainerd Lakes Bassmasters showed up to fish. The Brainerd Lakes Bassmasters had the Challenge Cup Trophy so I had never seen it before; As you can see in the picture, it's quite large.

Here is how it went down:
Baxter Bass Snatchers 66-5
Range Bassmasters 60-8
Brainerd Lakes Bassmasters 53-12

Normally each club provides 6 anglers to fish and the Challenge Cup winner is decided by the the best total team weight, but one of the other clubs was a person short; Because of that only the 5 best weights for a team counted towards each teams weight total this year. We went by the Range Bassmaster Club's rules this year and that meant a 5 fish limit. I had the Bass Snatchers worst bag, so my limit didn't count towards our winning total.

1st Place was taken by Snatcher Chuck Steinbauer with 14-14
2nd Place was Ranger Kevin Tengwall with 14-12
3rd Place was Snatcher Dennis Lothspeich with 14-8

Big Bass was 4-9.5 and caught by Ranger Mandy Uhrich who was in Brainerd Lakes Jim Eide's boat. She caught the fish around 9:30am on these Chompers Tubes:Mandy bought the tubes the day before at Gander Mountain just for this tournament. She had never used these tubes before but thought they looked good. I don't know if it was her instincts or training as a biologist but she obviously made the right call.

My Day:
The forecast was for clouds, showers and possible thunderstorms with 10-15mph winds out of the SE and temps starting in the mid-50's and getting above 70. Temps were on the money, and we had showers and clouds in the morning but around 11:30am the sun came out and never left. Wind speeds were about right, but out of the NE for most of the day.

I was suppose to be paired with Ranger Boater Brian Smude, but he dropped out so I fished with Ranger Jeremy Bjorgaard in his boat. While his boat wasn't much to look at it was actually really nice to fish out of as a non-boater. Jeremy was a really good guy and he went out of his way to try and make sure I caught fish. Still he kicked my butt pretty good with a black/blue Lake Fork Crawtube.

Jeremy had pre-fished and was pretty confident we would be on quality and numbers. Our first spot, actually the very same first spot I fished the only other time I had been on Fishtrap Lake in the Fall of 2007, was a bullrush Island on the South end of the lake. We went around the whole thing keeping our distance and Jeremy got the first keeper in the boat on a spinnerbait. After we got around the whole thing once we moved in closer so we could pitch with a vertical presentation. Jeremy confessed that he thought we would both have a limit after one pass. I started throwing a green pumpkin jig with a orange crawdad Yum Wooly Bug trailer and was rewarded with a nice 15.25 fish. That was the last fish we got on the bullrush Island. Next we went to a reed bed off the end of a point. Jeremy caught a small keeper on a blue/black crawtube which he immediately threw back. I had my green pumpkin crawtube get bit off by a pike.

Next we went to some reeds that were around an Island. I got a 14.5" bass on the jig with Wooly Bug. I missed a hit on a Herb's Dilly Buzzbait and Jeremy got a nice bass on the back side of the Island on a spinnerbait.

Next we went to another Island to an inside turn that went to a reed point. Jeremy proceeded to whack the fish, while all I could muster was a dink and 12.25" swimmer. It was kind of ugly as Jeremy must have gotten 10 good fish to my 2 and we were both throwing black/blue crawtubes.

Next we went to a weedline where Jeremy had gotten a couple of good fish in pre-fish. We were working our way up the side of a point where I told Jeremy we had caught fish the last time I was on the lake. Just about a minute later I had a hit on my spinnerbait and brought in a 12.5" swimmer. Jeremy said I pretty much called my shot.

Next we went back to our starting spot. I finished off my limit with a 14.5" on a spinnerbait and I had my green pumpkin jig bit off by a pike. I suggested we work the near by weed flat with the wind blowing on it. We were throwing spinnerbaits and I starting catching pike including a nice one we both thought was a bass at first. Jeremy got the first bass and then a couple of minutes later I got a 15.75", which was my big fish of the day. We worked up to another tournament boat and they said they hadn't gotten any bass on blades. At that point the sun came out and we headed to a weedline where Jeremy got quality fish in his pre-fish. It was dead.

We went to another weedline on the North end and that was pretty dead until we got to an inside turn and Jeremy pulled two fish in quick succession, but then that was it.

Next we headed to a saddle with a reed island. The wind was blowing in on it and it just looked prime. I got a 14.75 on a spinnerbait and I was very glad to have the 12 inchers out of the boat. On the back side of the reed island Jeremy pulled his big fish of the day on the crawtube. We worked along the back side of the saddle but nothing was home.

We went to another weedline where I missed a couple of bites on the crawtube.

Our last stop was the inside turn where Jeremy whacked them earlier in the day. I missed a bite that hit almost the second the crawtube hit the water. I decided to throw the Repo Man and I had a fish smack it, but not hook up. I threw back with a crawtube and got bit but I pooched it and that was it for the day. I think I had 9-12 or 9-14, which was on the small side for this day. Jeremy beat me by a little over 3 pounds.

As I said my weight got tossed and we won, so it's all good.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Great Night at the GOMH

It has been very warm the last few days and so I wanted to get out. Couldn't last night with Dad getting home from the hospital. Today I had to go to the chiropractor again (I went yesterday) and then had to organize tackle for the Fishers of Men Fall Outing. I wasn't able to head out until well after 5PM, so I didn't take to boat but went to the GOMH with the intention of fishing there and at Jenny's.

I decided to start on the SW side and I noticed the water level was now down to about normal high. We haven't had any rain in more than a month. On my very first cast with a watermelon/red Tonka Tackle Halo Crawtube I knocked out this 15.5 jumpin bullhead.

I kept casting and on a cast across out from the bridge I had a pick up and brought in a 15" jumpin bullhead. Quite aways out on the edge of the slop something got blown up on. I thought maybe I could cast there with the Mad Maxx Frog on the Lamiglas Excel set up, but there was a bit of an incoming wind and I would have needed a tail wind to get it that far. I started casting "Big Sexy" about. On a cast across to some matted weeds I had a wake and then eruption. Nice!

It was regular big headed, but skinny 19" bullhead. It jumped several times, so I knew it was big. To bad it was so skinny. Probably went about 3.50lbs.
I went over to the SE side and tried a Zoom Horny Toad and had a big pike jump out of the water at it. I didn't want to lose the toad, so I didn't cast back.

Next I went to the NE side and started slinging the Crawtube. It took a few casts but I was rewarded with a 14.75" jumpin bullhead, then a 16" jumpin bullhead. I made a cast across to the rip rap and something took it right away. I set into a good fish.
I didn't realise how good it was until I had it out of the water. It was a filled out 19.75" and easily over 4.50lbs. Yes Derby Fish!!!

I proceeded to catch another 16" and a 14.25". I tried working a frog down the road but didn't get any hits. It might have gotten too dark.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Trophy Night

It was a warm day and I needed to make sure the Trophy was running for the Fishers of Men Fall Outing this weekend, so I headed out a bit after 3PM. I stopped at the GOMH and I think I missed a couple of hits. I wasn't on the water until a little after 4PM. My original plan was to run docks in the big West bay but there were not many docks left in the lake.

At the first dock, I thought the Fluke got picked up but I set into nothing. No follow up bite. I worked in-between docks with a spinnerbait and Stanley Phantom (spook). At the second dock I had something boil on the Fluke but it didn't get it. I think it might have been a pike as I couldn't get a follow up. The 3rd Dock didn't give up anything. I was working to the next dock with the Phantom when this 18" blew it up.

It was a solid fish and I was off to a great start. The next dock had a pontoon boat on a lift and I casted underneath the side of the pontoon. I felt pressure and set the hook into something that felt good but then I got hung up. I had to break off.

Next I went into a field of pads and pulled out a nice 17.25" on a White Zoom Horny Toad. After that I think I got bit off by a pike and I switched to black and white swirl Horny Toad. I worked out on to the weed flat to some reeds and then back to a single dock. I pulled a 17.5" off the dock with the Horny Toad. The action hadn't been fast and furious, but these were nice fish and I wasn't even to prime time yet. I worked my way West and had a couple of nice follows from who knows what. I caught a small pike and on the last dock I pulled 3 bass from 11" to 14". I worked some of the most awesome looking rice, reeds, and pads but nothing was going. I worked my way out to where I saw a good swirl earlier, but nothing was home. It was getting dark and the skeeters sucked. I made a beeline for the standing weeds in the middle of the bay. I did well around that stuff late in the day last fall. As I was working my way around I had a swirl that didn't connect with the Phantom. I cast back and slowly worked the bait and it punched it. I think it was a nice bass, but it came off. That was the last bite.

As I was heading out in the dark I shut the cooler lid on one of my Shimano Crucial rod tips and broke it off. No warranty coverage from Shimano for that suck! Should have bought a St. Croix instead. And later the same night I just missed getting an awesome deal on St. Croix Avid Pearl 6'8". $80 shipped, are you kidding!!!!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

B.B.S. Birch(Hackensack) Oct. 1st.

Conditions: Cool and clear Morning with moderate wind out of the SE growing to 15-20mph throughout the day.

We blasted everybody off as we were last boat out and we went right to our planned starting spot, which was the weed flat to the SW of the public access. Nobody else went that way. I put on a Paycheck Baits Repo Man "drag stripper" and within the first 10 minutes I had 15" bass in the boat. Within the next 10 minutes I had number two in the boat. My boater Owen then quickly caught 2 on a spinnerbait and we thought we were on to something, but it just died. Maybe we moved off the best area a little to quick. Unfortunately the two fish I pulled from this spot in pre-fish were both 16.5".

Next we headed into the West basin to the spot where Owen got his hawg in pre-fish. I saw a lot of baitfish, but we came up empty. We worked up to the other point and I had a hit on a crawtube, but didn't hook up. I cast back and got another quick pick up and drop. The crawtube had a pretty good rip in it, so it was probably a pike. As we were working down the point along the reed line. Owen brought in a small keeper bass and then so did I (12.5")on a black spinnerbait.

Next we headed to a point farther South where I wanted to go in and work the slop. We started along the point and I pulled a pike on the spinnerbait. Owen caught a bass a few minutes later out of about the same spot. We got down into the start of the slop and there were some reeds on both sides of the boat. I made a cast with a Zoom Horny Toad out into the lake and had a fish nail it right before I was out of the reeds. Wouldn't you know it but it got hung up. I watched the fish struggling back and forth and then it pulled free. I really should have muscled that one more. It wasn't a huge bass but it was a quality one probably around 2lbs or more. I was really hoping the slop would go, but it was dead. We worked some awesome looking stuff with wind blowing on it, but there was nothing there. On a long cast out across the weed flat with the spinnerbait I had a hit and brought in one just over 14". We then worked down in the wind along the weeds. I did have a nice bass that I could have used nip at a Cordell Spot and I got a couple of pike on the spinnerbait.

We got down around the big Island and I made a cast up by a buoy and got nailed by a 14.5". It seemed like a spot were a school might stack up, but that was the only one there. As we worked back around the island I had another bass that I could have used nip at the spinnerbait and not hook up. We got around the Island to where it was calm and I started throwing the Repo Man, but there was so much debris in the water that I kept getting hung up. We got a little past the debris field and I caught a small pike, then a 12.5" squeeker bass. I was glad to have a limit.

We only had a couple of hours left and with those topwater bites I thought maybe our starting spot would go, so we went there. I worked through several topwaters and couldn't get a hit. Finally Owen pulled a quality bass on a spinnerbait and I switched. I caught a 10 inch pike. We drifted along and I had one last good hit, but it got off about half way in.

Results: I thought I had 9 something, but my fish only went 8-12, which put me in 15th which was my worst finish of the year. Owen only had 5 for 7-00 which put him in 17th place. The winner had 15-8 and a little over half the field had 10lbs or better. Obviously we missed the quality fish.

Top 6 Race- Bill Ludenia placed 6th which tied us for 6th place in end of the year points (best 5 of 6 tournaments). Bill owned the tie breaker, so I dropped to 7th and out of "the wood". It's my bad as had I not counted that live fish as dead at Cullen I would have been in 6th free and clear. Also if all 6 tournaments counted than I had one more point, one more fish, and .88lbs more than Bill, so I actually had the better year statistically. I know I deserved 6th Place and I get to fish on the Bass Snatcher Challenge Cup Team, so it's all good.

Analysis- I don't think I was necessarily doing the wrong things in this tournament. We just spent far to much time on bad water. Some of that water I don't regret trying because it really seemed fishy. Our bites were just so random that there was nothing to key on. I am still flabbergasted that I was unable to pull a few fish on topwater at the end of the day. Between tournament day and pre-fish we may have just sucked that flat dry.