Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas...

Merry Christmas to everyone...Hope everyone has a great holiday.

Take a minute and remember the reason for the season, we all have been given a tremendous gift!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Nothing like Sleeping in...

I didn't have any hunters today, so I got to sleep in, and at approximately 5 am, I got a phone call. One of my friends wanted to know how the hunting had been, that's what I call bad timing, real bad timing. The last 12 days of duck hunting have been great. I haven't got any video from the duck blind yet, hopefully I'll have some before Christmas.

Regardlees of the 5am wake-up call, I still got to sleep in an extra hour and a half past normal. So that was nice. I did manage to get a few things done today, I dropped my boat off at Nameoki Village Marine in Granite City, IL I'm going to have a new 200 horsepower Yamaha HPDI put on my boat. I'll be set to jet for next year's tournament season.

That's all I have for now, if you're in the Southern Illinois area and you'd like to do some duck hunting, give Terry a call at Pike's Hunnting Club 618.997.1124 He'll hook ya up

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas,
Duke

Monday, December 14, 2009

The ducks have arrived...

It's been a few days sine I last posted, mostly due to 3:30 a.m. wake up calls and 7:30 p.m. bedtimes...I know, what a life...oh well, the ducks don't mind! It has been absolutely incredible the last 7 days in the field. The ducks are migrating like crazy, I have had some phenominally large groups of ducks working the field. It has been an incredible sight!
Well, it's officially past my bedtime...by a bunch, it's 8:15 right now and I'm fighting to stay awake while I type this. Hope all is well. I'm going to try and post some videos from the Duck pit in the next few days...til then
God Bless,
Duke

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Got some video footage from the end of the fishing season....

I was surfing the net for my final quarterly report and found some video footage from the last couple of fishing tournaments of the year...check 'em out see what you think...

www.youtube.com/user/SportsTalkAndReports#p/u/1/5bd6vMAjH2E

Angler's Channel.com covered the PAA tournaments, here's an interview from the Toledo Bend event in October:

http://www.anglerschannel.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=radio.home&filename=2009-10-09-08-paa.wmv




They sure must have been hurting for some footage!! Haha, oh well the interviews are kind of neat!
God Bless,
D

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Duck Season is ten days old...

Actually, counting today, we have completed eleven of the sixty days of duck season. How did the first eleven days go you ask? I'll give it a D+. I've hunted just about every day, only missed a couple, three to be exact, and only a couple of days were very good. We got a small migration on last Tuesday, a few more on Wednesday, and then here came the 70 degree, calm, sunny weather. Not real "ducky" weather, more like crappie fishing weather, and the birds did not fly, at all. I had some friends come in from North Carolina on Friday and Saturday, which after last Tuesday's migration, I thought we'd be in good shape. Definitely not the case, when you have a greater risk of sunburn than you do of getting a duck, you know it's going to be a long day in the duck blind when that happens.
Well, that's all for now, it seems we must have picked up some new birds last night/yesterday, cause we whacked them pretty good today, they must have been new to the area. The ducks that are already here are pretty smart!
I'll keeo you posted on how things are going in the field.
God Bless,
Duke

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fishing is done for a while...here come the ducks

Fishing season ended for me at the Stren Series Championship. Duck season started 7 days later. I was hoping for a little more of a break than that, but, not this year. Normally our duck season opens on Thanksgiving day, but this year, for some unknown reason (at least to me anyway) our season started two weeks earlier than normal. It also happens to be one of the warmest falls we've had in a while. Most of our weather was 10-15 degrees above normal highs and lows, not really "good" duck hunting weather. But, as I write this, the weather has changed the last couple of days and the ducks are starting to show up, not in mass quantities, but a few anyway. Enough to make it worth your while at least. So I'm off to the blind in the morning, I've got some friends coming in from North Carolina to hunt for a few days, hopefully we'll whack 'em!

See ya in the field,
God Bless,
D

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Patterns and Baits used in the Stren Series Championship

Well, I finally got the pictures taken of the baits I used during the Stren Series Championship. I don't know if you ever get the "what if's" out of your head, but leaving that tournament one fish short of a limit on day 2 and only one good bite out of the cut, left me with a serious case of the what if's, and they have haunted me a little this week.

I had a great practice, as far as numbers go, big fish were few and far between, so few, that I was concerned about even doing well, most predictions were saying that 13lbs a day would make the top ten cut, After practice was over, I felt that everything would have to go right for me to get 11 lbs a day, well short of the thirteen pounds predicted to be needed to make the cut.
One of my primary bait in practice was a Heddon Super Spook jr, if you've read my past posts, it's the same bait that I have thrown for four straight tournaments, you just can't put a spook up when you're fishing in the fall. I fished this bait on a G Loomis rod model number CBR 847, this rod was designed for crankbaiting, but has the perfect action for fishing a spook. I paired this bait and rod with a Shimano Chronarch spooled with 10lb Maxima Ultragreen monofilament line.


The second bait that played a major role in locating fish was a Hawg Caller 3/8ths oz spinnerbait in Sexy Shad color. The fish were relating to submerged Hydrilla, they would push huge schools of shad up on top of the submerged hydrilla and then corner them against the edge of the hydrilla that had grown all the way to the surface. I could run the spinner bait above the submergent grass, and they would blast it. I was able to duplicate this scenario in many areas of the lake. I fished this bait on a G Loomis Rod model# MBR853, on 12lb Maxima Ultragreen monofilament spooled on a Shimano Citica Reel.

The next two baits really came into play after two things happened. On the third day of practice, a major cold front pushed through the are, resulting in a high blue sky and some seriously high barometric pressure. That is a recipe for shutting down almost any bite, but usually in the fall when the fish are really feeding hard, they will continue to feed aggresively or at least stay in the areas where you found them. Most often they will stay in the general area where you found them, but they will seek out the heaviest cover available and bury themselves in it.

In this case, the most abundant cover was hydrilla, and thats exactly where they went. I used a 7'5" Gloomis rod model # BCFR894, 65lb Power Pro braided line and a 1 ounce Penetrater tungsten weight paired with a 3" Dunn's Premium Lures Big Bite Honey Bug in Hematoma color to punch the areas of matted vegetation.

The last bait that I used was a little sneaky, in areas where the bass had not buried up, or had relocated to the outside or the deep edge of the grassline, I used a texas rigged Zoom Trick worm in Watermelon Candy, I spiked the tail chartreuse on this bait. I threw the Trick worm on a G Loomis Rod model #MBR 843 with 12lb Maxima fluorocarbon line, a 2/0 off set round bend Gamakatsu worm hook and 1/8th ounce tungsten weight.
The tournament started last Thursday morning, with high blue skies and only a slilght breeze. I was able to start in the areas I had wanted to, but could not keep the fish hooked up. I managed to lose 4 of the five keepers I had hooked in the first hour. That was frustrating. Around 10:30 a.m., I was able to get into an area where I had caught some better quality fish, only to see a boat going down the very grassline I wanted to fish, as I fished my way down the other side of the cove, the boat left the area allowing me to fish exactly where I had wanted to. Here is where having found a way to catch fish under high pressure situations cam in handy. You see, quite often fish respond to heavy fishing pressure just as they do to high barometric pressure. They just bury up in or around the heaviest cover available and "ride out" the storm. After watching one boat pass down the very grass line I wanted to fish, I was able to get out my flippping stick with the 1 ounce weight and proceed to catch 5 keepers in about 50 yards. The fish had repositioned themselves under the matted vegetation to avoid heavy fishing pressure. I was able to access those fish with my heavy weight and braided line. I was able to cull out one fish with the trick worm around noon, and then culled out two more times flipping mats around 1:30 p.m.
On Day two, I went immediately to where I had culled out my last two fish and couldn't get bit, I tried several other areas, including the grassline where I had caught a limit worth of keepers on day 1, and I had not got a bite. At 12:30 p.m. I retunred to where I had started on day two and was fortunate enough to put together a four fish bag that weighed just shy of 11 and a half pounds. All on the flipping stick and big weight.
In hindsight, I should have stayed and just ground it out in that one area on day two, but hindsight is always 20/20. I'm very blessed to have caught what I did. I finished in 28th place and cashed a decent check, a great way to end the year.
Until next year, May the Lord bless you in all that you do,
Duke

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stren Series Championship

I'm back from Pickwick Lake, the site of the 2009 Stren Series Championship. I had a good tournament, finished 28th and cashed a good check. This was my first trip to Pickwick, it's a great lake. This place is full of fish, not necessarily big ones, but definitely a bunch of them. I believe that you can attribute this to the hydrilla that is growing quite abundantly on the lower half of the lake. Regardless, I had a blast in practice, the tournament was a considerable bit touger than practice was, but it still went well. I was blessed for sure.
On day 2, I had big bass until the last ten guys went through the weigh-in line. Man, I was close to an extra $500 dollars on that one.
I'll post the baits and pattern info in a day or two, I gotta catch up on a few things, like ugh, laundry.
God Bless,
D

I think I'm an addict...

Well, I'm home from Alabama, and I have to admit I may be hooked on technology. I just spent a week in Waterloo, AL (Pickwick Lake) in a house we had rented for the Stren Series Championship. I had no internet acess for 9 days. I think I had jitters. Seriously, I couldn't get my daily fix of Wired2fish, Bassfan, flwoutdoors.com and the largest disconnect, was no e-mail. I know, I could've drove 45 minutes back to Florence, grabbed a giant sweet tea at the McDonalds and used the free Wi-Fi, but I was there to find fish for a tournament, not drive to town. It might have cured the Dt's though. Regardless, I might have to rethink getting an air card for my laptop, ahh, surely a week without the internet won't kill a guy will it?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tackle used for the Lake of the Ozarks Tournament

Well, I'm only about a month behind on putting out the tackle and pattern information from the Lake of the Ozarks Stren Sereis Tournament, but better late than never, right?
I was fairly excited about this tournament, I had been to the lake several times over the last few years, and was looking forward to catching a lot of fish. My practice went well, but it was the last day of practice that I felt like I figured out exactly what the fish were doing. I started fishing the first few days of practice by flipping docks and fishing a top water bait, but on the last day of practice, I started fishing some deeper brushpiles in the creek arms on the lower third of the lake. And man, it was automatic! As I began to get more bites, I was able to dial in exactly what sections of teh creek arms the fish were in, and the exact depth range they were utilizing. The old saying that 90% the fish live in 10% of the water is very accurate, you just have to locate that 10% and you can call your shot on catching a fish.

It seemed that the fish were approximately half-way back in the creeks and using brush piles in the 15-18 foot range. Some of the fish in these areas would also pull up and suspend on the docks located near the brushpiles, but most stayed right in or near the brushpile.
I used the following baits to employ the pattern I had found:

When the I fished the docks, I flipped a Lunker Lure 3/8ths oz Ball Head Jig in Cumberland Craw, I tipped the jig with a Net Bait Paca Chunk. I fished the jig on a G Loomis 7'1" Model # BCR 854 rod and 12lb Maxima Fluorocarbon Line. I also used a Heddon Super Spook jr. around the docks as I was approaching them. Here's a picture of the jig:




If the fish weren't up on the docks, I fished the brushpiles surrounding the docks with a Zoom Ole' Monster 10.5" worm. I fished the worm with a G Loomis 7'1" Rod Model # BCR854, 15lb Maxima Fluorocarbon line and a Pentetrater 3/8ths ounce weight. Here's a photo of the worm:
When the tournament was over, I had finished in 43rd place, not too good really, but trust me when I tell you, I endured a bout of very strange events in this tournament, I feel very fortunate to have finished that well, regardless, I finished the season well enough to gain a berth into the Stren Series Championship on Pickwick Lake November 5th -7th
Here's a group photo of the baits, the Lunker Lure Jig can be purchased by contacting Lunker Lure on their website, or looking at a retailer near you that carries Lunker Lure Products.



Sorry for the delay in posting this info, 'til the next one...
God Bless,

D


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nothing like catching them a day early...

There was a pro-am event held on last Thursday, the day prior to the start of the TTBC. The general gist of the event was this: a pro angler was paired with two ameteur anglers, the pro could catch only two of the five fish limit each team was allowed. Well, we caught a few fish during this event, as a matter of fact, I managed to catch a 4lb 7oz bass and a 6lb 3oz bass my team mates also caught a few, no 6lbers, but some fish that helped us finish 3rd in the pro-am.

Hindsight says I could have used those two big ones during the second day of the tournament, ahh, who needs a quarter million anyway? All kidding aside I was paired with two guys from the Lamar Company, great guys, and we had a blast. Here's a picture of our team. I think these guys were Aggies fans, I think anyway, check out the picture and you decide...

Monday, October 19, 2009

The derby is complete...

Well, the Toyota Texas Bass Classic is over. What an incredible deal the Toyota group puts on. From a constant barrage of catered meals to full blown concerts from the likes of Pat Green, Julianne Hough and Josh Turner, and oh, I almost forgot, a first place prize of $250,000. Almost overwhelming.

As far as the tournament goes, I have got to learn how to put 2 good days together in a row. In the last three events that I have fished, I have been well inside the money line after day one, and well, not so far into the money line after day 2. Case in point, at the TTBC, I was in 12th place after day 1. 1lb 4oz off the cut, on day 2 I managed only 4 keepers for a total of 6lbs 8oz. My two day total was 21lbs even. It took 26lbs 12oz to make the top ten. I just needed a limit of 2.5 lb fish and I'm in. Long story short, I have to make better decisions about fishing areas, and pay a little more attnetion to how the fish are positioning each day. Lord willing I'll get better at that before it's too late.

All in all, the TTBC was a great event. I finished the points race in tenth place, and I finished in 27th place in the championship. So I can't say it was a bad year, I'm just a little bummed out to have been that close to the cut, and not get the job done on day 2. Regardless, the Lord has blessed me immensly this year, I'm grateful for the successes I've had this year, no complaints about that.

God Bless,
D

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Practice is over...

Tomorrow is a pro-am event for the TTBC. Several of the am's have chosen not to compete so a few of us will not fish the event. We do have the option of practicing during the same hours of the event, if we so chose. I'm going to use the day to get my tackle ready and make a few last minute adjustments. The lake is pretty small, 18,000 acres I think, and three days of practice has given me several ideas about how to catch some fish. I don't think one more day will change that, so I'm going to sit tomorrow out.
It looks like if a person can catch one five pounder a day, they should make the top ten. There are a lot limits that will be caught, big fish seem a little elusive. Lord willing, I can manage to catch a few. Friday starts the show, we'll see how it pans out. To say the least it's been a blast.

For those of you cheering for me, thanks for the support. For those of you praying for me, I can't thank you enough.

God Bless,
D

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Toyota Texas Bass Classic Practice...

Well, two days of practice are under my belt for the TTBC, and I believe I can catch a limit. The biggest issue is size. I managed to catch one giant in the las two days, I'd say 7 or 8 lbs, other than that it has been a long line of cookie cutter 15 inchers. Well, maybe not a long line, but several anyway. The off-shore bite has been predicted as the way to win it, but man, I fished from 9 am until dark off-shore yesterday and had four keeper bites, although one was a big fish, the others were not. Today I spent the day shallow and had 7 keepers, with one decent one, maybe 3 lbs.

I believe this tournament is going to come down to who gets that one big bite. I know these guys are the best in the business, but based on my practice so far, one 7lb + fish is going to move you a long way up the leader board. If you happen to get two 5 lb + bites, you will be doing great. Let's hope I can do that.

'Til then, God Bless,
D

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Halfway home...headed to Conroe

Well, I've finished two of the four tournaments I have this fall. I finished 43rd at Lake of the Ozarks Stren Series Tournament. Not a great finish, but I ended the year in 20th place in the points standings, so it gives me a birth into the Stren Series Championship on Pickwick Lake in November.

I just left Hemphill, TX this morning. I fished the final event of the PAA Tour Tournament Series. This event was held at Toledo Bend. I have to say this lake is definitely an interesting body of water. It has some serious navigation hazards, the lake is full of Standing timber, and gets some big waves on it when the wind blows. I managed to finish 46th in this tournament, despite a lackluster performance on day 2. I finished the year in 10th place in the point standings and wrapped up a trip to the PAA Championship, the Toyota Texas Bass Classic. There will be 60 of the Nations best anglers in this event on Lake Conroe, in Conroe, TX. The total payout for this event is $500,000. With a cool quarter of a million going to the winner. Wow! How cool would that be?

Let's hope that I can shake the 40 something finishes for this one and get back to making top tens. Maybe even a "W". I can't imagine how humbling that would be to win this event.

I'll keep you posted on my practice, til then,
God Bless,
D

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Here we go...

Today was the last day of practice, I took today off to get my equipment ready, organize my tackle and a few other last minute items. If I had to grade my practice, I'd say it was a B+. I had two good days, one mediocre day and one tough one. I do think I figured a little something out yesterday, but I'm a little hesitiant to start shouting back-to-back top tens!! Actually, I had a good day yesterday, but tomorrow is going to bring a big change in the weather. It is going to be interesting to see how it affects the fish I've found. I do know that if the Lord is willing, I'll be able to adjust with them and have a good day. I need to catch a few to go ahead and qualify for the Stren Championship, that is the primary goal, all others come second to that. So hopefully, it will all fall together.

The weigh-in starts at 3pm (cst) and can be viewed at http://www.flwoutdoors.com/ just click on the red "live weigh-in" banner at the top of the web page.

'Til then, God Bless,
D

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lake of the Ozarks Stren Series Tournament

Practice has begun for final Central Division Stren Series tournament on Lake of the Ozarks. The first day of practice went fairly well, today was a little bit tougher than I expected, but not too bad overall. I've managed to catch a limit both days, but the fish seem very scattered. Meaning that they are few and far between. You really have to cover a lot of water to get enough bites to make up a limit. I've got 2 more full days of practice, and Lord willing, I can expand on what I've found and end the regular season with a good finish.

We'll see what the next two days hold, I'll have a better idea of how this tournament is going to play out.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The final push...

I've spent the last couple of weeks getting ready for the final push of the season, the 4th qaurter of the competitive year you might say.

Lord willing I leave for Lake of the Ozarks this coming Friday to compete in the 4th and final tournament of the Stren Series Central division. I'm currently in 22nd place in the points standings, the top 40 in the points stadings at the end of the year advance to the Stren Series Championship on Pickwick Lake. I believe if I just catch a few next week, I will qualify for the championship. All of the weigh-ins for the Stren Series tournaments (this includes the championship) can be viewed at http://www.flwoutdoors.com/flwlive.cfm?type=bass

After, the Ozarks tournament, I will drive to Hemphill, Texas to Toledo Bend and compete in the final tournament of the PAA Tour. I'm in 9th place in the points in this circuit, and with any performance at all I will qualify for the PAA championship, which also advances the top 40 anglers in the points standings. The championship is titled the Toyota Texas Bass Classic. It will be held on Lake Conroe in Conroe, Texas, about 30-45 minutes north of Houston. The cool part about the PAA Championship is the fact that if you qualify, you are guaranteed a check. That's right, there are only sixty anglers who qualify for this event, and 60th place pays $2000. That is sweet! Nothing like knowing your getting paid automatically! PAA event weigh-ins can be viewed live by going to www.fishpaa.com

After the TTBC at lake Conroe, I will begin the trek home. Most likely with a ton of laundry to do and hopefully, with several checks to cash (big ones hopefully). If I have qualified for the Stren Championship, I'm thinking about taking a detour through Florence, Alabama and checking out Pickwick Lake, since I'll be returning home on the 19th of October from this trip, and leaving again on the 29th of October for Pickwick Lake. I could get a little pre-practice in and have an idea of what to expect a week and a half later when I return for the tournament.

Regardless of the ending, it has been an incredible year. I've been blessed beyond belief, and have to give credit where it's due. The Lord has agian provided for me in the wake of difficult financial times and lots of uncertainty. I'm pretty humbled by that alone, so here's to the last tournaments of the year, Lord willing I'll achieve some success, if not, apparently there's a better plan in store. So click on the links above, and watch the events unfold live.

See ya on the water,
D

Monday, August 31, 2009

I think Grandma might have been with me...

In June of 2008 I lost my grandmother while fishing an FLW Tour event at Ft. Loudoun / Tellico lakes in east Tennessee. Every year that I have competed, my Grandmother knew what lake I was at, and always cheered me on. She was a great christian woman, she was my best ever fan.



For years my Grandma would give each of her grandchildren a $20 bill every year for Christmas, despite our urging not to, she insisted, twenty dollars it was. So a few years ago, not fully knowing what to do with twenty dollars, or at least not knowing how to use it in a manner that was repsectful to whom gave it to me, I started buying fishing baits, hard baits, you know, like crankbaits, topwaters, and jerkbaits. Two weeks ago on the Mississippi river during practice for a tournament, I needed a crankbait, one I felt the fish could see in the dingy water, one with a square bill that would deflect off of objects in the water, without getting hung up. So I dug in one of my crankbait boxes and found the perfect one. I didn't pay a lot of attention to the bait except it had a lot of white on it, perfect, just like a shad in dirty water, they too are very white.


After catching several fish on it in practice, and nearly a limit on the first morning of the tournament, I made a discovery about that bait that made it even more special, check out the
picture below...




You see, when I used Grandma's Christmas money to buy a bait, I put a "G" on the bottom of it, somewhere I thought it wouldn't get rubbed off.

Much to my surprise, when I went to re-tie my bait on the first day of the tourney, and found the "G", I had the overwhelming sense that I had a little help in the boat that day, someone rooting me on, from a far better place.

Grandma, Thanks, I owe you yet another one!

Fort Madison Stren Series: Baits, Patterns and Equipment

As promised, here's a run down of the baits, patterns and equipment that got me a 5th place finish in the Stren Series Central Division Tournament on the Mississippi River at Fort Madison, Iowa.

The baits, in order of importance, and how they were used:
1. Again the Dunn's Big Bite Baits "Honey Bug" comes through catching five of the eleven keepers I weighed in a week ago. I alternated fishing this bait on a 3/16th ounce Penetrater Tungsten weight and a 5/16th ounce weight. Ultimately for the tournament I used the 5/16th weight. I paired this bait with a G Loomis BCFR 894 flipping stick, 20lb Maxima Fluorocarbon line and a 4/0 Straight shank hook. I used this set up when fishing main river laydowns and scattered main river wood. I just can't say enough about the Honey Bug, it flat out catches them!



2. The second best bait in my arsenal was a Lucky Craft 1.5, I caught 3 keepers the first morning on this bait in 30 minutes! I had to change locations for day two due to muddy water in my primary area from day one, my day two efforts did not include any crankbaiting. But I was able to land a nice keeper smallmouth during the finals with this bait. I threw this bait on 15lb Maxima monofilament line on a G Loomis crankbait rod model # cbr847. The RC 1.5 was my go to bait when I fished sections of rock banks on the main river.




3. Bait number three is a bait that I had never thrown during a tournament, I had only used one during practice for a previous event three years ago on the Mississippi River in Wisconsin, and even then I only used this bait a little bit. The bait is a Brovarney swim jig. Specifically designed for a moving presentation. I used this bait in areas of the river that had lily pads. I would slow roll this bait through the shallowest sections of the pads that I could get my boat into, and repeatedly I found fish willing to eat this jig. I threw this bait on 15lb Maxima fluorocarbon line on a G Loomis rod model # bcr854


I have two things to mention before you see the picture of this bait, number one: a huge thank you goes out to Ben Kurtz who loaned me several jigs during the week, and another thank you goes to Tim Domaille who offered more and Casey Hewes (president of Brovarney Baits) for doing his level best to get me some baits before the tournament started. number two: For all you swim jig faithfuls, I know the trailer of choice is a grub. When I first tried the jig in practice, I wanted an electric blue trailer, all I had in that color was one bag of Zoom 6" lizards. After a little "doctoring" I came up with what you are about to see. After getting bit regularly on this bait during practice, I was scared to change anything, even after I got some electric blue grubs. So, go easy one me, it was a confidence thing!


The last two baits did more in practice, than during the tournament. However, with that said, they helped me find two of my most productive areas. I did manage to catch my first keeper on the final day with the Spro frog, and on the second day of practice I found several areas holding fish with the 3/8th ounce black Lunker Lure buzzbait pictured below. Both baits were thrown on a G Loomis Rod model #bcr854



This tournament was a tough one, I was very fortunate to catch a limit on Day one, and to advance to the finals with just three keepers on day two. Regardless of how tough it was, the Lord blessed me immensely, I needed a good tournament to move up in the points standings, and that is exactly what I received, a great tournament finish.


Hopefully, I've shed a little light on how I caught them on the Mississippi River two weeks ago.


Until then, here's a group photo of the baits I used either in practice or the tournament

God Bless,

D



Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stren Series Central Division - Fort Madison, Iowa

This week has been an incredible blessing, it is extremely humbling to know the Lord blesses you with success, when you're doing something that you love to do. That is exactly what happened at the Stren Series event on Pool 19 this week at Fort Madison, IA. I finished in 5th place, cashed a nice check and gained a bunch of ground in the points race, what a neat deal.



I've been fortunate enough to fish Pool 19 of the Mississippi river a few times over the last three years. Unfortunately, this week I wasn't able to use a whole lot of that experience to help me. Since most of my experience revovled around the abundance of aquatic vegetation in this pool, the grass is now gone, and the mighty Mississp' doesn't fish like she used to! I was able to find several areas on or near the main river where there was a combination of rock and wood, both of which the bass were relating to. The weather did it's best to keep me from making it to my fishing areas, but thankfully we arrived safe and sound. I'll post more about patterns and techniques later.



The Stren Series Central Division is headed to Lake of the Ozarks for the final event of the 2009 Season. Lord willing it will be a good one.



To all of those who were praying for me and cheering me on, Thank you!


I'll leave you with a picture of the event, me and my good friend Ron Lappin (the tournament director for the Stren Series) and also some links to pictures taken by FLWoutdoors photographer Gary Mortenson

http://stren.flwoutdoors.com/photo.cfm?id=35630

http://stren.flwoutdoors.com/photo.cfm?id=35581





(Nothing beats standing in the check line on Saturday!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Scene of the crime...

Tomorrow is it, the start of the Stren Series event at Ft. Madison, IA. After 4 days of practice, it's highly apparent that this is going to be a tough tournament. I took today off to get tackle together, straighten up the boat and check a few things out.



I got the boat and tackle ready by about noon, and took a little ride in my truck to the scene of the crime...the area that took the most pressure during the 2006 Stren event. I finished 37th in that tournament, and I too was in the middle of the group of anglers who absolutely mauled the area in the picture below.





This one of the biggest lily pad fields I've ever fished, and definitely the biggest on this pool of the river. In 2006 the majority if the anglers who made the top 10 came from this area. It doesn't look like this area is nearly as good as it once was, but, that was then and this is now. So tomorrow will be telltale story.

5am tomorrow will be another day of the usual grind on the mighty Mississippi just as it has been for the last four days. So, to quote the Dunkin' Donuts man, tomorrow morning it will be "Time to make the Donuts".

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wow, what a difference a flood can make...

I'm in Fort Madison, Iowa for the third stop of the FLW Outdoors Stren Series Central Division. All I can say, is wow, what a difference a flood can make. In 2008 there was a flood on this part of the Mississippi River. You may actually remeber CBS and NBC national news covering a break in a levee on the Mississippi River near Burlington, IA last year. The break occurred on Pool 19, which is where we are this week. Besides wiping out a levee, the flood wiped out almost all of the vegetation in this pool. I have found very few patches of eel grass and even less milfoil. The one form of vegetation that did seem to survive are the lily pads. This has caused the fishing on this pool of the river to be very tough. I can only think back to June of 2007, the last time I fished a tournament here and all of the grass that used to be here. Oh well, so much for wishful thinking.

I can say that practice has been pretty tough. I fished 12.5 hours the first day, and only managed to catch a single keeper. Sunday and Monday were better, I got a lot more bites, but I am very hesitant to try and catch any of them. I'd hate to catch any or very many quality fish in practice and not have them bite during the tournament. I've got 2 more days to look around, Lord willing I can expand on the ways I have figured out how to catch them, and do well in the tournament. I'keep you posted on how it goes.
God Bless,
D

Monday, August 3, 2009

I think I have a new hobby...

Well, this is a little bit off of the fishing subject, but I have a new hobby, well, not really new, but definitely improved! I like to cook, make that grill, just about anything. So a month ago I purchased what quite possibly is the best thing I have ever bought (non-fishing related items of course). I purchased a Big Green Egg! Yep, you read it correctly, a Big Green Egg. Never seen one? Want to?


Here ya go:


(pretty cool huh?)



I have a friend who lives in Murray, KY, on the shores of Kentucky Lake, who has shamed me unmercifully for several years about not having a Big Green Egg. So, I finally bought one, and all I can say is WOW! This thing is one bad to the bone cooking machine. I think you could cook a worn out flip-flop on this thing and it would taste good (with proper marination of course).

I got to use my egg a few times over the 4th of July weekend and a few times before I left for the Detroit Stren tournament, nothing serious, just your usual suspects: pork steaks, boneless butterfly pork chops, burgers, that's about it. But since I returned from Detroit, I have gotten completely mad at the Egg. This week alone I've went through 4 racks of ribs, last week it was a 10lb pork butt (I made pulled pork with it when it was done). The ribs were fantastic and the pork butt made some of the best pulled pork I've ever had.

I have to believe it's all because of the egg, this thing is near fool-proof, and extremely easy to use. I'll leave you with a picture of one of the finished products, just prior to removing them from the grill:

(oh man were they good! )




That's it for now, I've got to get outside and check on Egg. It's pork steaks tonight, smothered in some Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce! Oh, if you're in the neighborhood, swing by, chances are the Egg is cooking something, and there will always be plenty!

God Bless,
D

Monday, July 27, 2009

The phone is waterproof, and I'm definitely not a camera man!

As promised, here's some ameteur video of me and lake Erie, I stress the word "ameteur". I managed to shoot a little video while driving out on Lake Erie, it was extremely calm when I shot this, the wind picked up later in the afternoonm and I decided that keeping two hands on the wheel and watching the waves so I didn't spear one was a better idea than shooting video. 20 miles off-shore is not a good place to be messing around videoing in 4-5 foot waves. Remember, it was extremely calm when I took this video.

Oh, and by the way, the phone is waterproof!! After driving for and hour and forty minutes to get back to the ramp (I was only 18 miles away) I managed to "take" a few waves over the bow while driving and I then realized my phone was in the floor, yep, nice move wasn't it? But never fear, the phone is a keeper, waterproof as they come. Come to think of it, maybe it's a Timex?

God Bless,
D
video

Detroit River Stren...I'm glad it's over!

Well, I can tell you that again the great lakes got the best of me. I had an ok practice, ok at best. I really only had 1 good day, it was Saturday, the first day I practiced. I had found three areas holding good smallmouth, and felt like an 18lb limit was possible. I didn't get very many bites, but when I did, they were all in the 3.25-3.75 lb range. That is definitely the right size, the quantity had me slightly concerned. I spent several days on Lake St. Clair, and had several areas where a limit of fish was possible, but they weren't weighing very much, 13 lbs was the best limit I could put together on St. Clair. So I spent one more practice day day on Lake Erie, and a half-day in the river. I did find a few largemouth in the river in case I couldn't get to Erie. If you've never been on Lake Erie, the waves can get a little on the BIG side.

Day 1 of the tournament, I only managed two keeper bites on Erie (both of them around 3.5 lbs) , my co-angler had three (his were over 3.5lbs apiece), so I ran into the river at 12:30 p.m and finished my limit with 20 minutes to spare. I was 53rd after day 1.

After some lengthy debate, I decided to go back to Erie for day 2. I knew if I could just put five bites together, I could catch 17lbs+ and maybe cut a check. Between me and my co-angler, we had five that weighed 18lbs, they were just divided up between us. So I took off for Erie on day 2, and although the waves were bigger on day two, they never got over 3 feet high, which is very good for lake Erie. I managed to catch one 3lber and lose another of the same size, my co-angler caught two 3lb fish and that was it! I picked up a largemeouth in the river just before checking in, which gave me a dismal 4lbs 10oz for day two. Needless to say I was pretty disappointed, I fell from 53rd to 95th.

But, I'll say this, I could have went to Lake St. Clair and caught five keepers that might have only wieghed 10 lbs, that would not have gotten me a check, it would have gotten me more points, but no money. I conciously made the decision to go to Lake Erie where the fish were bigger, in an effort to make a big move up the leader board and put myself in contention for a check. I knew before take-off I would be fishinf for fewer bites on Erie, about one-third as many as you get on St. Clair, but the size of the fish I was catching on Eire versus St. Clair, was no comparison. As many of you know this game is a game of decisions, make the right ones and you look like a superhero, make the wrong ones, and people wonder if you can even tie a knot, much less catch a fish. All is not lost, after two tournaments, I'm 45th in the points race, and the top 40 advance to the championship.
I'd like to think the next time this situation presents itself, Lord willing, I'll make the right decision. I'll listen to intuention, and hope for divine intervention. With all of that said, I did learn a great deal about chasing these smallmouths, and I now know, they can't be trusted, they're worse than largemouth on be able to trust them to be there when you come back!

The next event is on Pool 19 of the Mississippi River at Ft.Madison, IA. Thankfully, I know I can get out the flipping sticks, and put up the drop shot rods...no more Erie...please no more Erie!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Detroit River Stren Series Event

Just rolled into Detroit...and as expected the wind is blowing!! Nice, nothing like a 25mph wind to get you excited about going out on Lake Erie or St. Clair for that matter. Regardless, it'll be a buckle up, hang on and pray the good Lord holds your equipment together so you can get back home event. Better yet, pray for light winds. It's pretty cool here, compared to Southern IL. I think it was 71 degrees at 3 o'clock when I got here, looks like it's going to be cold in the mornings, mid to upper fifties, real nice temperatures to get wet in. Anyway, I've got a new waterproof phone, or at least water resistant. I'm going to try and shoot a little video if it isn't to rough and post it later. We'll see how water proof this thing actually is by the end of next week. Hope everyone has a good weekend.
God Bless,
D

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Illinois Bass Federation Open Trail Event - Rend Lake

I fished the 4th event of the 2009 Illinois bass Federation Open Trail this weekend at Rend Lake. I was fortunate enough to catch my limit, but struggled to catch any fish bigger than 2 lbs. I had one good fish that weighed a little over three pounds, that was it. My total weight for the event was 9.96lbs, good enough to finish in 4th place and cut a decent check. The top three places were 15lbs, 13lbs and 11lbs. One big fish would have moved me up considerably, but I would have needed two good ones to win. I can't complain, I didn't lose any fish the entire day, only missed one bite, which is really good, considering I flipped bushes for most of the day, which can often be a recipe for a lot of missed fish and some heartbreaking fish losses. I managed to catch my biggest fish with less than hour to go, which allowed me to cull out a very small keeper, in fact, that fish got me paid. Considering the cirumstances, I think a good dose of divine intervention took place at that moment. I attached a few pictures of the winners below.







That's the latest update, I'm still two and a half weeks away from the Detroit River Stren Series Tournament. I'm praying the wind doesn't blow very hard, if you've never been on Lake Erie (which is where the Detroit river runs into) fishing out there when the wind blows reminds me of the Discovery television series Deadliest Catch, the waves are huge, and many of them come into the boat with you, you just have to turn on the bilge pumps and keep driving.



See ya later,
D


(L to R: 1st, 3rd, 4th)






Always a good thing, the check line!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Kentucky Lake FLW Tour

Just got home from the FLW Tour event on Kentucky lake. I didn't make the cut on this one...as a matter of fact, I didn't get paid. Mostly due to a stellar one fish catch that weighed a whopping 2.00 lbs on day 1. Can't blame anyone for that, I had a great partner, we just weren't around a bunch of them, or very many, for that matter. Day 2 went a lot better, I had a limit that weighed 13lbs 7 oz. We were definitely around them on Day 2, lots of them. I fished with Michael Bennett on day 2, it's the second time I've been paired with him, and true to form he was good draw. I couldn't have asked for better draws as far as fishing partners go, on either day. But it seems that when I've been paired with Michael, both of us tend to do well. Both Michael and I had experienced a pretty poor start to the tournament, so we just went out and went fishing, and tried to have a little fun. In the mean time we produced 23 keeper bites between us, all with a flipping stick. Now that's having fun!

So much for fun, it's back to the drawing board to get ready for the Detroit River Stren Series event in mid-July.

Til then, keep the slack out your line!
D

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sturgeon Bay Pictures

Here ya go...these are a couple of nice ones I caught during practice for the Sturgeon Bay Open. I'm thinking I'd like to be back in some sweatshirt weather right now...oh well..here's the pics. The first one weighed almost 5, the second was a little over 5.




Saturday, May 30, 2009

Perry County Golden Gobblers "Jake's Day"

To day was a busy day, I worked with Chad Morgenthaler at a fund raiser for the Perry County Humane Society. There was a good crowd , so overall it was a success.

I left there and went to the "Jake's Day" event that the Perry County National Wild Turkey Federation Chapter puts on as a youth education event. They cover everything from turkey calling, to hunter ethics, clay bird shooting, hiking and of course fishing. There were approximately 25 kids at the event. Suprisingly to me, it was about 30% girls, which was pretty neat.


I have attached some pictures of the Jake's Day and would encourage anyone to get their children involved in the outdoors. It's something they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.



































Tuesday, May 26, 2009

PAA Tournament On Versus Network

The PAA Event on Neely Henry will be aired on the Versus Network next week. Currently the dates and times that I am aware of are:
June 1st 6:30 a.m. EST (Eastern Standard Time)
June 4th 5:30 a.m. EST
June 4th 9:30 a.m. EST

There will be more airings, I do not have those dates and times yet. I'll post them as soon as know.

Also, if you're in the Southern Illinois area, Saturday May 30th I will be working with Jasper Engines and Transmissions Pro Chad Morgenthaler at a fund raising event for the Perry County Humane Society. The event takes place at Holt's Prairie Baptist Church in Pinckneyville, IL from 9a.m. to 11 a.m.

See you there!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sturgeon Bay Open on Lake Michigan

I just got home this morning from the Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament on Lake Michigan. This is a team tournament, where two anglers team together to get their collective five or six fish limit (most tournaments are a five fish limit, this one was a six fish limit). I fished with my good friend Chris Cox from Belleville, WI. He has spent a lot of time on the great lakes, both lake Michigan and lake Erie, so needless to say, I had a good partner for this one. We managed to catch a limit that weighed 26.44 lbs to finish 21st, quite a blessing considering this whole smallmouth game is pretty foreign to me. We never could get a big bite. All of our fish were "cookie cutters", apparently from the same mold, as they all weighed between 4.25 and 4.50 lbs each. I have some pictures coming that Chris took during practice, as soon as I get them I'll post them.

This definitely was a great learning experience for me, I now feel a little more comfortable chasing these brown fish around. Apparently they like to move A LOT!! I know, major understatement right?

See ya after the Kentucky Lake Tour Event!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Kentucky Lake Stren Series Event

Whew!! I totally missed the boat on this one. I started the week's practice flipping flooded bushes and willow trees. You could catch a hundred fish per day doing this, but end up with your best five keepers weighing only 10 lbs. I knew I would need more weight than that to do well, so I ventured off-shore, in search of productive ledges.

In five hours of fishing ledges, I had a limit that weighed around 17 lbs. So I dedicated my whole last day of practice to finding more ledges.

On day one of the tournament, I went flipping to get a quick limit, which never materialized. At around 9:30 I started fishing ledges, and managed only two keepers by days end. I probably fished 30 -40 ledges in 6 hours, all of them places I had found in practice, places that were holding good quality sized fish. Needless to say I was not in the best of spirits knowing I had put myself in terrible position after day 1, I beleive I was in 147th place. Not where you want to be considering the Stren Series is a four tournament series where you accumulate points at each event (the higher you finish, the more points you get) to qualify for the Stren Series Championship.

Day 2 started much better, by 11:30 I had approximately 15 lbs of fish with four keepers, knowing one more good bite would put me in real good shape, it never happened. We experienced severe storms, high winds and a torrential downpour that when it ended, apparently shut down the fish in the area I was fishing. I never boated another keeper, however, I did end the day with 15.01 lbs of fish that moved me up to 89th place. Not great, by any measure, but definitely a huge improvement. Thank God for one good day to keep me from digging myself into too big of a hole in the points race.

With all of that being said, this experience is yet another chapter in my endless attempt to figure out the why's and how's of Kentucky Lake. And of course, a little more work in the character building area. Enough said, about Kentucky Lake...I need to start thinking about the Detroit River, that's stop number 2 for the series. Until then God Bless!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Stren Series Central Division set to begin

The first tournament of the 2009 Stren Series Central Division is scheduled for May 6-8 at Kentucky lake. I'll be leaving on Saturday morning May 2nd to begin practice that day.

Lord willing the success from the PAA event two weeks ago will carry over.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Neely Henry Baits and Patterns

As promised here are the baits I used to finish 2nd at the PAA event on Neely Henry last week.

The Pattern:
I fished backwater areas, main lake pockets, and creek arms. I specifically searched out small spawning pockets in these areas. The primary factor in whether a spawning pocket would be holding fished, was dependent on having deeper water adjacent to the pocket.


During practice, the fish were set-up on the deeper banks leading into these areas. Most often, the productive banks would be rip-rap, not all of them, but most. Colder weather and slightly falling water had positioned these fish in these areas. With the full moon set to take place on Day 2 of the tournament, the fish were staging up to move in. Other than the first day of practice, the weather was terrible, it snowed, sleeted, was cloudy, rainy
and COLD!! This kept the fish out of the pockets and on the deeper banks.

Fortunately, the last day of practice was sunny and warm, and the fish began to move, the full moon also helped bring them in to spawn. Once the tournament started, I was fortunate enough to get two bites in just a few minutes and that let me figure out how the fish had repositioned due to the warming weather. In the next hour I had my limit, and had culled twice by noon.

The baits:
In practice I used a white Zoom Super Fluke, a Dunn's premium Big Bite Baits Honey Bug, a 3/8ths ounce Lunker Lure Body Lock Jig (white) with a white Zoom swimming chunk, a Hawg Caller Proven Winner Spinnerbait in Sexy Shad, and a Lunker Lure Shakin' Shad (white).
During the tournament the fish had pulled up and I used the Honey Bug nearly exclusively for two the two days of the tournament. I fished this bait on 20lb Maxima Fluorocarbon, coupled with a 1/4 ounce weight and a 4/0 reaction innovations BMF Hook.
Here are some pictures of my baits. I fished these baits exclusively on GLoomis Rods. I pitched the Honey Bug on a 7'5" Model BCFR894, the white jig on a 7' Model 844c and the spinnerbait on a 7'1" Model 853.
























Saturday, April 11, 2009

Final day at PAA Event on Neely Henry

Just got back to the camper and I'm a little wound up,...I just finished 2nd at the PAA event on Neely Henry, so I thought I'd update my blog. I had a two day total of 29.89. Todd Auten beat me by 1.13 lbs. I had a little trouble with execution on th elast morning, I missed several fish and let a pretty nice one get me wrapped up in some old dock posts and get away, but overall, I feel very blessed to have such a great finish in a tough group of fisherman. Oh by the way, if you haven't used any of the product called Reel Grips, you should, these things are awesome!! Till next time, God Bless!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

PAA Tournament Neely Henry - Day 2 Canceled due to weather

Lightning and driving rain was the weather at take-off this morning. With severe thunderstorms, large hail and tornadoes predicted for noon at Gadsden, AL the PAA Tournament staff decided to cancel day two and allow the whole field to compete on the third and final day..

I was very blessed to catch 17.25 lbs on Day one and be in 4th place heading into the final day. I'm .44 lbs out of second, and 4+ pounds out of first. Lord willing I'll catch a good bag tomorrow and finish in the top 5!!

PAA Tournament - Neely Henry




Well, practice is going ok, I caught a lot of small fish, only a few good ones. I had the chance to go to Birmingham, AL and be on the Rick and Bubba morning show Tuesday morning with Snickers Pro Greg Pugh, and Jasper Engines and Transmissions Pro Chad Morgenthaler. We had a blast!! These guys are a hoot! Any way here's a few pics of the event.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

PAA Tour...round two

Well, it's been a month since I posted last, not much has been going on, until now. I've got a few days to get ready for the next PAA event in Gadsden, Alabama at Neely Henry Lake. The lake is high and muddy and with the full moon hitting on the second day of the event (April 10th) the fish are most likely going to be spawning, and impossible to see. It should make for a real fun time...or not so much. Hopefully the rain lets up for the next week and the water clears up some. We'll see. I'll try to post some progress of my practice and the event as the week goes on...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

PAA Payday Program


If you haven't heard, the PAA Payday program is a great way to earn some extra money. The PAA has a large list of tournament trails that are sanctioned under their new Payday Program. In a nutshell, earn up to $250 dollars for a win in a regular season event or $500 dollars at an end of the year championship. All the details are listed at http://fishpaa.com/?page_id=1862 join today and don't miss out on some extra money, not to mention some great savings on tackle, hotels and more through the affinity program.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Runnin' across Toho

Here's a little video taken by one of my observers, we were running across Lake Toho when he took the video.
video

Friday, February 20, 2009

PAA Tour...now we're fishing!
















The Professional Angler's Association (http://www.fishpaa.com/) is an organization ran by angler's for the betterment of competitive bass fishing. They currently have a nationwide tournament trail called the PAA Tour. I compete in this tournament series and recently finished the first event of the year in Kissimee, Florida on Lake Toho. All anglers fish two days and the top 50 return to compete a final third day. All anglers making the top fifty cut will get a check. I made the cut in 43rd place and finished the event in 39th place. I caught my fish the first day using an Excalibur Xr50 and a Dunn's big bite Trick Stick (junebug color), the second two days required slowing down, so I flipped heavy matted vegetation with a one and three quarter ounce (1.75) Penetrater Weight with65lb Spider Ultra Braid on a 7' 5" Gloomis Flipping Stick (Model # BCFR 894). My bait of choice was a 3" Dunn's Honey Bug in Black and Blue and Black Neon Colors.
On one final note, I travel with Jasper Engines and Transmissions Pro Chad Morenthaler, I like to thank his wife for some wonderful meals, and the free entertainment provided by their two cats, especially the black one. He is "special" to put it politely!!
It was a good start to the season, Lord willing I'll continue to be successful.

Here are a few pictures taken on the last day of prctice. The next event is at Neely Henry Lake in Alabama, in Mid-April.

Duck season is over...now what?











Well, Duck season is over and I'm left wondering...Now what do I do? No doubt the answer is go fishing..as soon as it warms up and the water thaws out! If you missed out on duck hunting this year, come see us at Pike's Hunting Club in Marion, IL. We had an incredible year!! Check out the latest pics.
Until next season, I'll see you on the water.