Friday, April 30, 2010

Illini Division of the BFL starts tomorrow at Rend Lake

Tomorrow morning will start the first tournament of the FLW Outdoors Bass Fishing League Illini Division. Whew, that's a mouthful.  THe same tournament organization that runs the American Fishing Series (AFS) that I compete in, also runs the Bass Fishing League (BFL).  The major difference between the two is the BFL are all Saturday only tournaments, they are geared toward the working angler who doesn't have the time or desire to spend a whole week at an event.  It has been a couple of years since I competed in a BFL, so I'm a little excited, it will be nice to see some old friends.  I'll let ya know how I do.  Lord willing it will result in a trip through the "check" line. 
God Bless,

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Illinois High School Bass Fishing

As many of you know, I help coach the Pinckneyville High School bass fishing team.  In the spring of 2009 the Illinois High School Sports Association (IHSA) sanctioned bass fishing as a high school sport/activity.  Despite some of the naysayers, this has turned out to be an incredibly positive decision by the IHSA.  I can only speak for our team when I say we have had a blast.  We hold 4 qualifying events in the summer for our students.  From those events we select our 6 competitors for the state senctioned competition (each school is allowed two 2-man teams with an alternate).  We meet every other week for two hours in a classroom setting to educate our anglers about fishing patterns, fish behavior, fishing mechanics and seasonal patterns.  It has been pretty rewarding to watch students who didn't know the difference between pitching and flipping not only learn the difference, but know when to use which technique.  With all of that said, the 2010 IHSA bass fishing sectinal tournaments took place last Friday, and for the second straight year Pinckneyville High School was fortunate enough to advance a team to the state tournament.  The state tournament will take place on May 7th and 8th at Carlyle Lake in Carlyle, IL.  Good Luck to all of those who qualified.
God Bless,

Monday, April 26, 2010

Baits and Pattern used at Lake Ouachita

As you know from my last post, I sight fished my way to a 36th place finish at Lake Ouachita two weeks ago.  As promised here are the baits I used and how I used them for that tournament.
I pimarily used three baits when I was looking at a bedding fish.  I used a Lunker Lure ball-head jig, 8th ounce in Cumberland Craw color (top left of photo), a white Mizmo tube (center) and a green pumpkin candy w/ blue tail Mizmo tube (far right).  I rigged both tubes on 25lb fluorocarbon line with a 3/8th ounce Penetrater tungsten weight on a 7' 5" GLoomis rod model BFR 894.  The Lunker Lure jig was rigged on 12lb fluorocarbon line on a 7' 1" GLoomis rod model number BCR854.  As far as the "pattern"  I used at this tournament, basically, I ran new wateer each day.  I looked for spawning areas in the major tributaries, as well as spawing areas in main lake pockets.  Most of the fish were spawning in the backs of small pockets on the sides of the tributaries.  If you looked for the little quiet, slick water areas in the back of a pocket, most likely there would be a spawner, or several spawners located in these areas.  I basically ran as many of these as I could each tournament day.

I caught an equal amount of fish on ball three baits.  The white tube was used on beds that were a little deeper or difficult to see, the white tube allowed me to stay back off of the bed as far as I could and still see the fish bite.  The green pumpkin tube was used when the fish would shy away from the white tube. It seemed that some of the fish were a little bait shy and would more readily bite the natural colored tube over the white one. 

A few of the fish would circle around or spook out of the bed when the 25lb fluorocarbon line would lay on the water's surface above their bed  when I pitched into or past the bed.  These fish I could catch on the Lunker Lure jig on 12lb line.  These were the most spookiest of all the bed fish I caught.  Often the fish would not spokk from the 12lb line, when they would bolt out of the bed when the 25lb line rippled the surface above them.  This may sound odd, but it is what happened.  The lighter line coupled with the natural colored jig would often get the fish worked up pretty quick.  Although, I can say I never had to fish longer than 10 minutes on any fish during this tournament, before I was able to catch them. 
On the subject of the spooky fish, most anglers would say leave them and find another one, I would have liked to do that, but I had to scramble to find these spawners during the tournament, and felt that if they would hold still remotely, one of these three baits would catch them.  If I would of had a bunch of fish on beds that I could have just rotated through, I probably would have skipped over a few of these. 

All in all, it was a good tournament, I feel very blessed to have finished well.

God Bless,

Sunday, April 18, 2010

American FIshing Series...Lake Ouachita

The second stop on the AFS central division schedule took us to Lake Ouachita in central Arkansas.  Normally, the scenery is much better than the fishing (if you've never been, it's beautiful place),  but not this time, the majority of the fish were up shallow either cruising the bank looking to spawn, or actually spawning.  Coming from Southern Illinois, we don't have a lot of opportunities to sight fish, with only a few lakes clear enough to see them, it's something we don't so very much.  Unfortunaltely, those lakes don't show up on very many tournament schedules I fish during the spawn, so I was a little under equipped for this one.  The only saving grace for me came from two days of practice for a Lake Norman FLW Tour event when I practiced with my good friend Wesley Strader, and the fish were spawning there also.  In two days he taught me more about catching spawners than I had ever seen or read.  I gotta give a thanks to "W" for teaching me how to catch 'em.
I spent the first day and a half trying to catch fish that had not come to the bank, the ones still in the pre-spawn phase, but that proved more difficult than I expected, so the last 3 days of practice, I put the trolling motor on high and ran every little pocket I could looking for spawners, marking them with my GPS.  On the next to last day of practice I found the "Mother Lode" of spawners, I mean not just a few, and not just nice ones: Giants, Gorillas, Toads, Donkeys, Mules (insert any other name you have for big bass here).  The big ones were laying around everywhere, I knew I had found where I was going to fish. 
You ever get punched in the stomach?  You knw how that feels?  At the pre-tournament meeting, it was announced that you couldn't fish within 50 feet of a "commercial" dock.  I read that rule before practice and thought it meant the marina docks, the ones where they pumped fuel, sold sodas, etc., the docks that had businesses on them.  At the meeting I found out that meant every dock that someone had paid to rent a slip, or store their boat.  I had found all of these fish in the backs of pockets in behind the big long marina docks, under the walkways, beside the cables that stabilized the docks., all within 50 feet of a dock, that apparently was considered "commercial".  In thirty seconds at the pre-tournament meeting I lost over 40 spawners that I felt I could catch.  I was anticipating 15-18lbs per day, if they just cooperated a little bit. 
I managed to scramble around on day one and catch 11lbs 11oz, I had one other area that had a few fish in it, I had marked them the day before, just no big ones.  On the afternoon of day one while looking for more fish I found a cove that had a bunch of fish in it, they wouldn't sit still, but they were decent ones.  I started in there on the moring of day two and managed a limit that weighed 11l bs 15oz (I lost 8oz due to a fish care penalty) and ended the tournament with 23lbs 2oz, 36th place.  It took 23lbs 0oz to get a check, yes you read that correctly, I snuck in and got a check by the skin of my teeth!  That was after losing all of my fish to "off-limits" areas. 
All in all, I feel very fortunate to have cut a check for several reasons, one being I had to scramble to find the fish I caught during the tournament due to my incorrect interpretation of the rules two, I caught all of my fish sight fishing, which was a first for me, I had never spent an entire tournament sight fishing, this was only the second time I had ever tried. 
So I'll leave Lake Ouachita with a good feeling, a little more confindence in my abilities to catch them, and a little more confidence in myself, by that I mean the ability to overcome some minor (or major) set-backs, and still be able to re-group, collect myself and still finish in the money.  My beliefs say that a "Thank you Lord" is pretty much the best phrase that descruibes this one.  I'll post pattern and baits information later.
'Til then, God Bless,

Saturday, April 17, 2010

No Wi-Fi?

I just got home from Lake Ouachita near Hot Springs, Arkansas, actually it is in between Mt. Ida, AR and Hot Springs.  Since I do not have an air card for my pc I rely on internet service at the hotels or campgrounds I stay at.  I stayed at the Colonial Inn and grocery in Mt. Ida this week, it was a simple place, neat, clean and super nice people.  Only one Wi-Fi, For several days I was lost, and by the end of the week I was wishing they had no cell phone service also.  I had forgotten how nice it was to just go fishing, come home, eat supper, go to bed.  I definitely got to go back to a simpler time.  The only restaurant within 40 minutes closed at 8 pm, it was at the Shangra-La resort.  They had the best home-made pie and sweet tea you've ever had.  Most evenings after we came off the lake, we ate supper sat around for a short while and then went to bed, by 9 pm at the latest, definitely it was a simpler place.  I'll post some info about the tournament later.
God Bless,

Monday, April 5, 2010

Leaving for Oauchita on Friday...sick as a dog today!

I'm not sure what happened between Friday night and Saturday morning, but I have been demolished by some form of bug!  I had a scratchy throat Sat am, left for Coffeen Lake fished all day drove home and was in bed by 8:30 p.m. (What a night life right?)  Woke up Sunday to go to church (it was Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate Jesus Christs' rising from the tomb he was placed in) and by 1 pm I was down for the count.  Couldn't swallow, hurt to walk, headache extraordinare, I was in bad shape.  In a day and a half, I went fom scratchy throat to bedridden.  Went to the doctor today and found out what was after me...Strep throat!  Yuck!  Picked up some meds at the pharmacy and Lord willing, I'll be in good enough shape to pack the truck this Thursday as I head for Lake Oauchita in Hot Springs, AR.  There's nothing like getting ready for a tournament when you're sick.  Apparently the ibuprofen has kicked in, 'cause as of right now, I feel pretty good, good enough to do a little bloggin'.  I know that's going to change when they wear off!  Hopefully it's all good news by Thursday! 
God Bless,

Oh, it wouldn't hurt to pray for a speedy recovery for me if you have the time, I know I could use it!

Coffeen Lake, practice for the IHSA Bass Fishing sectional tournament

Have you ever been to a lake that you just immediately like? Despite only a few trips there in your life?  Coffeen Lake is one of those lakes for me.  I spent the day on the lake Saturday with one of our High School anglers Jake Bathon.  He is one-half of the sectional championship team from last year.  Based on what we saw Saturday, it looks like its going to be a catch-fest for this year's tournament.  With a 12" limit for this years tourney, Jake and I would have caught approximately 35 keepers.  It seems the only issue with this tournament will be catching better quality fish.  The lake is absolutely full of 12-13.5" fish, we did manage to catch a couple of fish better than 15", one really nice one.  The top three teams from each sectional advance to the state finals, hopefully this year we can get both of our teams to the state tournament.
I'll keep you posted!
God Bless,

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Illinois High School Bass Fishing starts on April 23rd

The Illinois High School bass fishing tournaments will begin on April 23rd.  I help coach the Pinckneyville High School team, and just as last year, we will compete in our sectional tournament at Coffeen Lake near Greenville, IL.  The top three teams from each sectional advance to the state tournament in May.  Schools are allowed to enter two 2-man teams.  Each team works on acquiring a collective 5-fish limit.  We were very fortunate in 2009 to win the Cofeen Sectional and advance to the state tournament.  Our teams placed 1st and 6th respectively.  We are returning three of our four starting anglers from last year's squad, which should not only provide us with two good teams, but also allows us to have two teams with prior tournament experience, that's a huge bonus.  Both of our teams practiced this weekend, I'll post a little info on how that went later.
God Bless,