Tuesday, December 25, 2012

We're Halfway through...

We just crossed the halfway mark of waterfowl season. Like all good things there should be a halftime break, but duck hunting doesn't come with one...so, I took it upon myself to do just that, take a break.  Actually, it's only going to be a one day break but I've enjoyed it.  All kidding aside, celebrating Christmas is an important part of life, it shouldn't be missed, it's the birthday of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (not just a reason to buy give and get presents).  With that said, I'll give the first half of the waterfowl season a B, there have been some tough days, but there have been some darn good ones also.  The first part of season was a little rough, especially during the full moon cycle, but as of late it has been fantastic!  I look for the second half to be better yet.  We're under a blizzard watch for my part of the country, and that should have the ducks running wild, with more cold weather forecast this weekend, it should make for some fun times in the duck blind!  I know my blogging has suffered during duck season, you can also follow me on twitter...  @Duke_Jenkel is my account name, so until next have a Merry Christmas, and take some time to remember the reason for the season!
God Bless,

Monday, November 5, 2012

Out of the frying pan and into the fire...

I'm sure when you read the title of this post you immediately recognized it as a well-known, often repeated one liner.  I couldn't think of a better way to describe the last three weeks.  I fished a BFL regional event on Lake Cherokee in early October, rather than bore you with mundane details, I'll give you the cliff notes version...I finished tied for 125th...with a total weight of 0lbs and 0ozs.  Yup, 0-0, your eyes have not deceived you.  It will go down as the second worst event of my career to date.  What did I do wrong?  I found a good dock pattern up river, never attempted to apply it to the docks on the lower end of the lake.  the fish up the river didn't cooperate very well and presto magic...0lbs-0ozs.  There ya go, its a not so subtle reminder that you can never work too hard, and you have to keep an open mind.  And with that the fishing season ended. 
Round two: Off to the races...well not literally, but I parked my boat and started my tractor.  I help my uncle farm, I missed a little bit of the harvest season due to my last two events, so I had some catching up to do.  During the harvest, we managed to plant close to 300 acres of wheat.
The final turn: As our harvest season ended it has allowed me enough time to start getting ready for duck season.  The season starts for the club that I guide at on Thanksgiving day, season in the area where I live starts this Saturday....I'm still behind, but I'm gaining on it.  We've got a pretty decent corn crop at our club, a little bit of water in the field (a few ducks are already using it) and more to be added any day now (the pump is in and ready). The pits are ready, all but a little camouflaging and we've got to check a few decoys and that'll be it!
Shew!!...this fire is hot.  Although it's a long season (nearly 80 days counting goose season) I'm ready for a single focus, no running around, just get up, go to the club, go home, sleep, repeat.  I'm getting excited just thinking about it!  Check back, as season nears and during season I'll be providing some updates on how it's going! We're all hoping it'll be a great season!
God Bless,

Sunday, October 14, 2012

PAA Finale...Arkansas River-Muskogee, OK

The Arkansas River PAA event looked to be pretty interesting to me.  I enjoy fishing river systems, I've had some of my better successes on rivers.  This one had the make up of the type of tournament I like. for starters, in the summer/early fall weights are not usually real high, secondly, the AR river is not known for producing giant weights when its good.  Couple these two things together, and if you happen to figure anything out you can put yourself in a good position to do well.
As you read in my last post I finished 3rd at Illini Division BFL on Lake Shelbyville, I left there immediately after weigh-in and headed for Oklahoma.  I was on the water and practicing by 11:00 am Monday morning!  Not too bad for a cross-country commute.

Having never been to this river, and not knowing much about it. I chose to focus my first day of practice on the pool we were launching from.  I spent one more full day in this pool before driving up and looking around in the next pool up. Based on the practice I had, I felt like it was definitely going to be a low weight event, or at least I hoped so, because I wasn't catching them very well.  I had put together a little pattern running the mouths of creeks and sloughs, fishing any available wood cover located in these areas.  I had my best success throwing a SPRO Fat John Square-bill crankbait (Citrus Shad color) on the wood cover.  I had also caught several on a Lunker Lure buzzbait. It was apparent that the shad had begun to congregate at the creek mouths to begin their fall migration, which in turn had the largemouth grouped up pretty well in these areas.
The first day of the tournament was pretty below average.  I caught a small limit, managed to lose the best fish of the day, right at the net.  My limit weighed 8.61 lbs which had me in 29th place.  Not really how you want to start off the derby.  Day 2 was much better, between my co-angler and I, we boated 23 keepers for the day, my limit weighed 10.59.  I moved up to 20th place for the event, missed the top ten by a pound and a half.  That lost fish still haunts me a little bit but I can't change anything about it now.  I will say this, if ever you doubt the readiness of a lure, by that I mean sharp hooks, good not, split rings in good shape, stop right then and address the situation, bar none! That's advice I need to remember.
All in all minus the one lost fish, I had a decent tournament as far as execution goes. Without a doubt I had a good pattern identified, I believe had I adjusted to flipping a bait with a swimming tail on day one instead of a jig, I would have cracked the top ten.  The reason is this, my co-angler was getting 4 bites to my one flipping a Zoom Baby Brush Hog, when I switched, it was just about a complete reversal of those stats.  Which brings up another key bit of information, when the fish are feeding heavily on shad, it has been my experience that a "swimming tail" bait will generate more bites than a jig or other soft plastic baits.  Again, more information I need to remember.
The PAA season is over for me, I missed qualifying for the 2012 Toyota Texas Bass Classic.  Lord willing I'll have the opportunity to compete at the national level again next year.  Only time will tell.  Until then, keep your hooks sharp and your line tight!
God Bless,

Friday, September 21, 2012

Shelbyville, Oh Shelbyville...

The regular season for the Illini division of the BFL is over, it almost ended with a bang!  I pulled off a very respectable 3rd place finish.  Which moved me up another 15 places in the points race and qualified me for the BFL regional on Lake Cherokee the first week of October.  Despite having what I considered a very poor practice, I was fortunate enough to put together a pattern that at best I thought had "some potential".  As it turns out, the more I fished on day one of the tournament  and expanded on what I had found, I realized that I was definitely on to a little bit of something.  I managed to catch four keepers on day one that weighed 6lbs 7ozs, good enough for 8th place.  The top ten finishers from day 1 qualified to fish again on day two.  I expanded further on my little pattern on day 2 and managed four more keepers that weighed 7lbs 3ozs.  I jumped an amazing five places on day 2 to finish the event in 3rd place.  That's a great finish for me on Lake Shelbyville, I've always said it's my arch nemesis of lakes.  Looks like I won this round! Hallelujah!  lol. 
Here are few pics form the event. I'd like to show you more pictures of the baits I used to catch them, but I had one rod in my hand for this whole event, minus a few failed attempts to get a bite on other baits. So, here is a pic of the one and only I bait I caught them on:

Yep, you guessed it, the ol' Shakee head, a 1/8ths oz fished on 8lb Seaguar
fluorocarbon using a Powell spinning rod model 703 MEF

 Always remember, in a tough tournament (low weight or tough bite) a finesse approach is hard to beat, it may not be the way to win a tournament, but it will definitely generate bites!

God Bless,

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Final Round...

I spent the first part of Labor Day weekend on Lake Shelbyville, preparing for my final BFL regular season event.  I'm spending the last part of the weekend preparing tackle, getting items ready and loading my truck for not only this event but also for the final PAA event of the season on the Arkansas River in Oklahoma.  When I leave Shelbyville, on Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon (depending on whether I make the final day cut in the BFL tourney) I will make a mad dash to Muskogee, OK.  Practice for the PAA event in Muskogee starts on Monday morning, so it's looking like I might be getting a pretty heavy dose of windshield time.  I'm not sure how long the trip is from Shelbyville, IL to Muskogee, OK but I'm sure it's in the 8-10 hour range...that does not excite me at all, especially knowing I'll make that drive right after I load my boat from the BFL tourney.  Regardless, I'm excited.  It's been a tough year, from several standpoints, but I've been blessed to say the least.  So, I'll head into these last two events, fired up, ready to make the end of the year a good one!  Keepin' the attitudes positive, 'cause ya never know the outcome 'til it's over.  To quote the great Yogi Berra "It ain't over 'til it's over!", Lord willing we'll end it on a high note.
God Bless,

Monday, August 27, 2012

Coming Home...

Sometimes it's nice to get back to where everything started.  I can vividly remember launching my 16' aluminum boat on the waters of Rend Lake 20 years ago.  Green as a gourd, hardly a drop of experience on public water, yet absolutely stoked about what layed in front of me. 
I spent countless days in that aluminum boat, can't tell ya how many fish I flipped over the gunwales of that rig, but it was a bunch.  Sometimes I think I'd like to go back, me and the ole 16 footer, the 40 horse Merc wound out, running as hard as it can go. There was no pressure to perform, it was just me, the pond and some ole green fish that had every ounce of my attention.  Trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together, good times indeed. 
The past five weeks I've had the opportunity to come home, I've fished five straight events at Rend Lake, something I haven't got to do in years.  The result, it's been a good five weeks.  Of the events I've fished one was a pro-am event, the other four were team tournaments.  The result: five top-ten finishes, including a "W", a win that is.  Undoubtedly it's been a blessed five weeks.  But more so than the tournament finishes, I believe the blessings lie in the memories.  Every day I spent on the lake in preparation for these events brought back some of the best memories I have, memories of the big one that I caught over there, or how the first time I learned a small piece about fish behavior and what I could do to trigger a reaction from them.  Days spent in the ole aluminum rig, thinking I knew it all, learning now that I didn't.  I see places where there "used to be" a stump or a lay down that "always" had a good fish on it.  Now, all I have is the memory, just like the cool days of fall fishing til dark, running back to the ramp freezing to death 'cause you didn't bring enough warm clothes. It's memories of sunsets and sunrises, pitching a jig in a flooded buck bush and watching the whole bush shake, just waiting for your line to jump, standing practically on your tip toes in anticipation of the bite.  Chills run down your spine, a smile comes to your face, just thinking about those things.  The lake has changed a lot in the last twenty years, I guess we all have and don't realize it.  I said it earlier, the last five weeks have been great, fishing at home, reliving memories of days gone by...thank God for the memories.  Don't let em go!
God Bless,

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Illini Division BFL at Rend Lake

August 4th marked the fourth event of the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League (BFL) Illini Division.  A considerable amount of my fishing history, both early and recent has been centered around this lake.  I can't begin to tell you the countless hours I've spent on this body of water, and I wouldn't trade them for anything.  It's a neat deal to compete on your home water, to re-think all of the successes, areas where you've caught em, areas where you haven't.  It can be a double edged sword, those memories can be the first step in derailing a good tournament plan.  They will distract you from paying attention to what is happening in the here and now, and have you thinking about the great catches of yesteryear. I was fortunate during this tournament to avoid those pitfalls, concentrate on the present and turn in another top ten finish.  Here's how it all took place:

I practiced about 6 hours for this event, which is way less than I normally would have, but as I mentioned earlier I have a lot of history and knowledge of this lake.  In the early hours of my only practice day, I was able to identify not only what type of cover and locations the fish were positioned in, but also a couple of baits that were very productive.  I spent the remainder of my short practice riding around looking for similar areas.  One huge key was the presence of bait fish.

Tournament Day
Weather conditions had changed significantly for me during the tournament in comparison the the weather I experienced during practice. We went from slick sunny and calm in practice to windy cloudy and occasional rain showers. I had developed an early morning topwater pattern during practice.  It would last until the sun got up good, then it would fade away.  My initial thoughts on the clouds and rain had me pretty excited as I thought I would be able to run my topwater pattern all day, this turned out not to be the case.  Although I probably spent too much time chasing this pattern, when I reverted back to the methods I used to catch them in practice, I began to catch the quality sized fish I was looking for.  Overall I caught 9 keepers, carried a five-fish limit to the scales that weighed 10lbs 6oz and finished 9th.  I only had one fish get away from me all day, and of course it was a decent one, not a giant, but one I could've culled out a smaller fish with.  Regardless, I was blessed with another great finish, which in turn moved me up another 11 places in the standings to 36th, safely inside the top 40 cut for this fall's regional event on Lake Cherokee. 

Baits & Equipment
Here are a few of the baits I used and the equipment I used them with for this event:

3/8ths oz Lunker Lure Buzzbait - White on White.
Thrown on 20lb Maxima Ultragreen monofilament line with a Powell 705 CEF Max series rod

Hawg Caller 1/2 oz  Spinner bait in Sexy Shad
Thrown on 15lb Maxima Ultragreen monofilament with a Powell 714 C H Ex-fast Endurance Series rod

Gambler Tube in Black neon, 3/8ths Strike king Tungsten Weight and a Gamakatsu 4/0 hook
Thrown on 20lb Seaguar fluorocarbon with a Powell 775 CEF Endurance Series rod.

With only one event left in the regular season (September 8-9 at Lake Shelbyville) I feel like I'm in a decent position to qualify for yet another BFL regional and give myself a shot at returning to the 2013 BFL All-American.  But first, we gotta geet by Lake Shelbyville, Lord willing we will!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Home from Neely Henry

The Neely Henry event is over.  I finished the event in 29th place, although 29th place does not accurately describe my tournament, it does explain exactly where I finished. 
With out going into great detail, I had several key opportunities this week to do well, to use a basketball analogy, the ball rolled out of the hoop instead of in it.  Had those opportunities rolled my way, I'd have made the cut and be fishing today, since they didn't...well, you get the idea. 
Practice for this event went well.  I had identified a couple of productive patterns, mostly situational patterns, and had the bites to do well.  I felt like I made good decisions the entire event, kept myself in areas that were productive and even though the event was a grind, I fell like I kept my head in the game.  I had a limit for 11.18 lbs on day 1 and followed that up with a somewhat anemic 8.46 lb limit on day two.
The morning bite on Neely Henry was great this week.  I managed to generate several quality bites each morning swimming a jig around the bank grass in the back ends of the creeks.  Later in the day when the morning bite shut down I would switch over to a pattern of running rip rap banks adjacent to the creek channels, which produced a lot of bites for me.  I fished the rocks using a Lunker Lure Shakee head in 1/8ths oz paired with a Zoom Red Bug trick worm or finesse worm.  It seemed that several afternoons they would start the turbines at the dam (used to generate electricity) and the current that was created positioned the fish at the mouths of the bays and sloughs.  You catch these fish throwing a shallow crankbait, I used a Lucky Craft 1.5 and a SPRO Little John crankbait when running this pattern.  Often, once you got a fish to bite, you could catch one every cast.  Ultimately, lack of execution on day two caused me to finish lower than I had hoped for.  Monday the points list will be updated, and we'll see where I stand.  The last event is scheduled for the Arkansas river in Oklahoma in September.  All in all I'd be wrong in not mentioning that I was blessed this week to find several productive patterns, that generated the bites I needed to do well, I just didn't get them all in the boat.  Even though it stings a little, I know I was fortunate to have figured out what I did, and for that I'm thankful.
God Bless,

I threw the SPRO Little John with a Powell 703 CB Glass rod
on 10lb Maxima Ultragreen monofilament line

When shakee heading the riprap, I used a Powell 703 MEF spinning rod
and 8lb Seaguar fluorocarbon line.

The 1.5 was tied to 12lb Maxima Ultragreen monofilament line and thrwon with
a Powell 703 CB Glass crankbait rod

When I flipped the grass, I used a Big Bites Bait "Yo-Mamma" on a Gamakatsu 4/0 heavy cover flippin hook
on 25lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon line and a Powell 775 CEF rod

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Kindling Fires and Building Memories

On very rare occasion do you get the opportunity to witness a first.  I'm not talking about winning a tournament, I'm talking about witnessing something happen for the first time, specifically watching something happen for the first time through someone else's eyes.  I got that opportunity this week and I gotta say I had a blast doing it!  A group of my friends from high school got together to eat dinner the other evening, and through conversation, one mentioned that their youngest daughter loved to fish, but had never fished from a boat and I believe she had never caught a bass.  So we planned a trip.  Results: Boat Ride-check, Bass caught-check, Ear to Ear smile-check!  We had an absolute blast! Watching her eyes when we took off and ran down the lake was absolutely priceless.  She caught quite a few fish, she's a drop shotting machine!
Needless to say, it's always a great time watching some one experience their firsts! I have to believe there were some memories made yesterday!

Here's a few pictures from our trip:

This was her biggest of the day!

My job was taking them off of the hook...she can catch 'em!

PAA Event at Neely Henry

Monday will start the official practice period for the 2012 PAA event on Neely Henry Lake in Gadsden, AL.  I'm looking forward to this event, this will be the third time we've visited Neely Henry on the PAA Tour.  I've been blessed to have finished well the first two times we were here, so I'm definitely a little bit excited to be going back.  How will it turn out? I cant answer that one for sure, but I do know this, typically summer weights are not as high as the weights in the spring, so it makes for a tougher tournament.  Which in turn means that if an angler is able to find one little subtle difference that can generate a couple extra bites, or maybe help you catch fish of a little better quality you can beat the majority of the competitors.  Lord willing, I'll recognize some of those subtleties and play that into another great finish!  I'll be sure to make a post or two during practice, if you have a Twitter account you can follow me under the Twitter name of @Duke_Jenkel .  I update my progress on there as well.  Hopefully it will be a good report, See ya on the water!
God Bless,

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ohio River Recap

Mediocrity, the Webster-Merriam dictionary defines it as the quality or state of being mediocre.  In other words: ordinary, so-so, or just plain average.  I believe that is the exact description of my Ohio river tournament last Saturday.  Did I catch a limit?  Did I cull out some of my smaller fish for bigger ones?  Yes on both accounts, but overall weight was the issue.  But I was not alone, in fact I feel like I did as absolutely good as I could've done, considering the number of bites I generated.  Here's what I mean: I locked out of Smithland Pool (the part of the Ohio where Golconda, IL is located) and ran up the Cumberland river almost to Barkley Dam, probably a 51-52 mile trip one way.  Much to my dismay, when I arrived, the fish in the Cumberland were not biting very well.  I thought it was just me, but after running into several other anglers who were shaking their heads at the reduced number of bites they were getting, it became evident that  the bite was definitely off.  There were approximately 26 boats that locked through to fish either the Cumberland or the Tennessee rivers.  7 boats went to the Tennessee, leaving 18 boats  to go into the Cumberland, and only two boats caught enough fish to cash a check out of those 18.  That is not a good average.  I managed a limit that weighed 8lbs 10oz good enough for 20th place.  Just short of a paycheck, but it did move me up 35 places in the points standings, and that is spectacular.  If I had it to do all over again, I'd still make the run to the Cumberland.  The number of quality fish (3lbs+) that were biting in the Cumberland far surpassed anything I could find in Smithland Pool.  To win an event, you have to put yourself in a position to do so, based on my practice I couldn't catch anything heavier than an 7or 8lb limit in Smithland so there was really only one decision to make, fuel up and run fifty plus miles to the Cumberland.  Although it didn't work out as well as I had hoped, I did have a decent finish (for which I feel very blessed to have got) and moved up a ton in the points standings.  That's the important thing to remember, winning tournaments at any level is tough, being consistent and qualifying for end of the year regional/championship is always the goal at the beginning of the year.  Considering I missed the first event of the year, I gave everyone a pretty decent head start, and right now I'm seven places out of the cut for regional qualification (even though I'm fishing pretty poorly) and that keeps me fired up for the next one.
I've posted some pics of the tackle I used in the Cumberland, and will probably use again the next time we go there.
Til next time!
God Bless,

That's a SPRO Little John in Citrus Shad(it's a warrior bait, look at the scars) on a Powell 703CB Glass rod (probably the best all-around cranking rod I've ever used) thrown on 10lb Maxima Ultragreen monofilament

Black Neon tube (a river staple) on a 4/0 Gamakatsu Heavy Cover Flippin Hook paired with a 3/8ths oz  weight on 20lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon line. That's a Powell Endurance Series 775CEF  rod, lightweight, sensitive with a lot of power.

This is a Reaction Innovations 6.95 Flirt worm in Sprayed Grass color, on a 1/8ths oz  Lunker Lure Shakee Head, 8lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon line. Thrown on a Powell 703 MEF spinning rod

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Giving Back

Have you ever? Gave back? No, I'm not talking about the ugly Christmas sweater you got from your great aunt, I'm talking about reinvesting, in the future.
I'd like to tell ya I give back all of the time, truth is, I don't give back nearly as much as I should. But, I've found an avenue to do so, high school bass fishing. There is something very rewarding to watch a young angler's eyes light up when you take them to the lake and put into practice something that you've discussed with them, it's an investment, in their future.  Is it life altering?  Probably not much, but to some degree it is.   Will they get a better job, have better health, no not necessarily, but they will possess something that they too can reinvest...knowledge.  Fishing is a great sport, it knows no boundaries.  No age limitations, no size requirements, no minimum investment, it truly is an opportunity for most.  Whether you're on the bank of a farm pond, or navigating 5 foot swells on Lake Erie, you're still searching for the same thing, the pull of a fish that you convinced to bite. It doesn't matter where you are, who you are, or where you came from, fishing transcends all age groups, it touches all walks of life.
Take some time, reinvest. I chose to do so through our high school fishing team, that's just one of many ways that you too can share some fishing knowledge with the next generation.  Go ahead, speed up their learning curve, give 'em a little help and sit back and watch the smiles show up when something they've only heard or read about happens before their very eyes.  In a world where we way too often get caught up in worrying or fretting about the fine details, take step back and look at the big picture, devote a little time to giving back, you won't regret it. Until next time...
God Bless,

There is a pretty neat deal located on www.takemefishing.org it is called the anglers legacy...check it out it might just be for you.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Take me to the river!

The Ohio river that is.  Saturday July 14th will be the third event of the FLW Outdoors Bass Fishing League (BFL) Illini Division.  We will launch from Golconda, IL on the Ohio river and are allowed to travel as far as we wish in search of the ever elusive largemouth bass.  Actually, an angler can lock down one pool and travel up the Cumberland river or the Tennessee river and catch smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and spotted bass.  This event has quickly become one of my favorites, with so many options available an angler can often times find an out of the way area and have it to themselves. If you do decide to lock down to the Tennessee or the Cumberland, it can get a little crowded down there, but otherwise this is a wide open event.  I spent yesterday and today on the river and found a few things that I would say I liked, Lord willing it'll hold together for next week's derby.  I'll post the results.
God Bless,

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Lake Shelbyville BFL is in the Books

It's all over but the cryin'! Well...more like whining, and yes I'd love some cheese with my whine!  Good ole Lake Shelbyville has once again proven to me that it's her world and I'm just living in it.  After what I would call a very successful practice, I managed to produce yet another mid-pack finish.  I may be king of those, if not king, definitely royalty.  I finished 48th out of 92 anglers, by weighing in three keepers for a meager 4lbs 6oz.  This is the third straight event where I have had the fish dialed in, and come derby day, it evaporates, missing without a trace.  I would love to put my finger on the reason, and I'm as lost as last year's Easter egg as to the why my patterns are disintegrating like that.  I do know that the law of averages will kick in sooner or later and things will hold together for me.  I'd like to really fuss and complain, but in all honesty I was blessed to have what I caught.  The fish I had located were off-shore, holding on channel swing points positioned in 14-17 feet of water. I was catching them throwing a 10.5" Zoom Ole Monster worm and a Carolina rigged lizard, and apparently the deep fish did not cooperate very well today, as several anglers who are known for the deep water prowess also failed to catch them. So in that respect, I'm not alone, which does provide some consolation.  While many others who prodominently fish shallow did well.  That tells me my deep fish moved up on me, I'll remember that.  So, I'll leave you with a quote from a good friend of mine..."Work hard Honor God and let him take care of the details".    'Til next time!
God Bless,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Illini Division BFL set for this Saturday

Second Illini Division BFL to be held at Lake Shelbyville will take place this Saturday.  If there ever was a lake that seems to be my arch nemesis, it is this one.  Since the begginning of my competitive fishing career, I have been beaten like a drum by this lake.  I'm sure there's an exact number of times that I've been clobbered at the hands of Lake Shelbyville, but in my opinion, it is way too many to count. 
With that being said, I made a trip to the lake for a little prefishing, and to my surprise the fishing was good.  Based on my trip, I believe I have accurately identified how the fish are operating, where they're holding, at what depth, and several general areas that seem to have a decent fish population around them. So as of right now, I'm feeling pretty good aboput Saturday's derby.  However; these little green things (the fish) have fins and they like to swim around. But I believe I'm onto the right deal.  I'm going to spend tomorrow on the lake, and half of a day on Friday to solidify my gameplan and to look for some back-up stuff.  Lord willing I'll have good news to report on Monday.  I'll leave ya with a picture of one of the nicer ones I caught during my pre-fishing trip.
God Bless,
A nice hefty 4 pounder...five of these on Saturday would be sweet!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

2012 BFL All-American

A couple of weeks ago I competed in the 2012 BFL All-American.  For those who may not know, this is the pinnacle of tournaments for the weekend angler.  Even though I normally compete in professional level tournaments, I still like to compete in FLW Outdoors BFL series, which is a Saturday only tournament circuit. Which if an angler is fortunate enough, can ultimately qualify for the All-American.  To put the All-American into perspective, after qualifying for the event, I had several friends who also fish professionally call me and congratulate me on qualifying.  The All-American is commonly referred to as one of the most difficult tournaments to qualify for.
This year the tournament was held on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.  Initially I was pretty excited about going to the Potomac, it's full of grass and also has an incredible fish population.I later learned that we would be limited to fishing only the upper portion of the river, starting from the Woodrow Wilson bridge and heading upstream (basically the entire downtown portion of Washington, D.C.).  This area is absolutely devoid of vegetation, but ultimately someone is going to win, so it was an even playing field for everyone.  An angler is allowed one official practice day, so having not went and pre-practiced prior to the off-limits period, I knew I had a lot of ground to cover in a very short amount of time.

Practice went surprisingly well, although we didn't try to catch many fish (when practicing for a tournament the day before competition, hooking fish can be detrimental), we shook quite a few off and caught several nice ones when we did decide to set the hook. Overall, I was pleased with what we had found. On a side note, the D.C. area has a bit of history on every corner.  With this being my first trip to the area, I snapped a few pics during practice...here they are:

The Washington Monument
The Pentagon
Reagan International

As you leave the Pentagon Lagoon, you go under a bridge out into the Potomac, and directly across the river is the Washington Monument.  Just down river a few miles is Reagan International, the pictures do not due the experience any justice.  The jets at Reagan International passed overhead by maybe 200 feet.  It was loud! They arrived at the rate of one about every 5-7 minutes, at times you could see as many as three jets in a row staging to come land.  Pretty wild stuff.

Day 1
Prior to take-off, David Brown, the man responsible for FLW's media coverage stopped by and chatted, here's what we talked about Day One Morning story .  On day one of the event we were boat 45 out of 49, so most of the promising areas we had found the day before were covered up with boats.  We ended up starting in an are where we had caught a couple of nice keepers and shook several others off.  I caught several fish right after arriving, but only two were keepers.  The fish were positioned down in the middle of a series of laydowns, through the course of the day, I lost a few fish, before I could get them out of the center of the laydowns.  But that's fishing, when dealing with heavy cover, you're going to lose a few.  Total weight for Day 1 was four fish weighing 8lbs 6oz.
Prior to take-off Day 1 -photo courtesy of David Brown FLW Outdoors

Day 2
Knowing I needed to make up some ground, rather than moving around as much as I had on day one, I decided to stay put in one area and try to grind out a solid limit. Due to the angling pressure the area I had chosen was receiving, I dropped down to a Lunker Lure Shakee head with a green pumpkin Zoom trick worm.  I generated enough bites to have done well again on day two, but execution was my downfall.  I failed to boat two nice keepers that I had hooked and up to the boat.  Ultimately they would not have propelled me into the top ten cut, but would've put me into the next higher check range. I ended the day with three keepers that weighed 7lbs 15oz. 

Conversing with fellow angler Duane Snyder prior to take off on day 2 - photo courtesy of David Brown FLW Outdoors

I finished the event in 24th place overall.  I learned a lot about tidal water, which was a new experience for me, so should I run into that situation again, at least I have an idea about how to deal with it. I was blessed to have qualified for the event. many anglers go their whole fishing careers and never have the opportunity to fish the All-American.  So in that respect I'm thankful for the chance to have competed, Lord willing it won't be my last.  Before I go, I failed to mention that at no other event have I seen the anglers catered to as this event. From golf cart rides to and from the dock, to the meals that were provided, it was an awesome experience to say the least.
God Bless,

Friday, May 25, 2012

PAA Event on Old Hickory

The PAA Tour (Professional Anglers Association) held their first Pro-Am event of 2012 earlier this month on Old Hickory Lake in Hendersonville, TN.  I was looking forward to this event, having spent a couple of days on the lake in early April, it looked to be a promising event. 
Day one of practice turned out to be quite the opposite of what I expected.  I struggled to generate very many bites at all, much less bites from fish long enough to meet the 14" minimum length requirement.  There were several interesting things taking place on the lake at the time we visited. One, there was a massive shad spawn going on, one of the best I've ever seen.  But I found very few fish relating to them.  This was very puzzling to me, I couldn't understand why the fish weren't wholly committed to the shad spawn.  Secondly, due to the warmer than average spring weather that most of the country has had, the fish had moved off-shore quicker than expected (this would be the beginning of my demise).
On practice day two, I stopped and took a phone call from the outdoors writer from my local newspaper. It was during this phone call that I made a discovery that I ultimately felt would make this event change from a tough one, to a great one.  I'll explain, as I spoke on the phone, I drifted into a cove and up to bank.  When I had finished talking, I got up to start fishing again, and as I did, I saw numerous bluegill beds.  A great summertime pattern can be targeting bass around these beds.  So, I stopped tied on a bait notorious for being successful in this situation, and in minutes began catching quality keeper fish.  Over the next few hours, with my hooks removed from the bait, I generated quality bite after quality bite.  It was mind boggling the number of quality fish that would attack my bait.  Problem solved...this tournament is going to be awesome!  Day three of practice saw much of the same success that day two held, so I left the water at 11 am and headed back to the house to prepare my tackle. 
The Tournament
Other than a change in the weather, conditions for this event stayed about the same as practice.  A cold front came through and dropped morning temps pretty significantly during the competition days, but that seemed to be the only big change.
Day One: Started very slow, so much so that I had to abandon my bedding bluegill pattern, dig out my flipping stick and scrounge up a limit. I tried later in the day to revive the bluegill pattern from practice, but to no avail.  I ended the day in 35th place with 9.14lbs
Day Two: Began much slower than day one, I didn't think that was possible.  I had started in a different area, came up empty, moved further upriver and continued to struggle.  I switched over to fishing a Lunker Lure Shakee Head on 8lb line and managed to generate a couple of keeper bites by the end of the day.  total weight for day two was 4lbs and change.
I finished the event in 50th or 52nd place, obviously not what I expected, nor what I had hoped for, especially after getting dialed in on them so well during the last half pf practice.  But as one my good friends continues to tell me: Work hard, honor God and let him take care of the details.  So, I'll leave this finish and all of my others in God's hands and keep digging!
God Bless,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

PAA Tour kicks off next week in Nashville, TN

Next Thursday will mark the start of the 2012 PAA Tour on Old Hickory Lake in Nashville, TN.  It looks to be another great year on the PAA Tour.  After the first stop at Old Hickory, the tour will once again swing through Gadsden, AL to stop at Neely Henry Lake, stopping for the last event on the Arkansas River in Muskogee, OK.  I believe it is going to be an exceptional year.  Lord willing, it will be a successful year.  Check back, as next week approaches, I'll keep updating with how practice is going.  you can also follow the action on Twitter, just look for me under the name @Duke_Jenkel .  Stay tuned!
God Bless,

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Something other than fishing

Well, It's not fishing, but I have to admit, it's every bit as exciting as fishing...What is it you ask?  Turkey hunting, yup, I went turkey hunting and I had a blast!  It's only the second time I've ever been turkey hunting in my life. I successfully harvested a mature gobbler on the second morning of my hunt.  I'm afraid I might have found a new addiction, without a doubt it was exciting.  I'd like to say thanks to Derby City Calls out of Louisville, KY for making a great slate call that absolutely had this gobbler running to meet his new "girlfriend".  Thanks fellas!
God Bless,

22lbs 6oz  10" beard and 1' spurs

That's the Derby City Calls "Spur" model call lying on the bird

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Way behind...sorta embarrassed...

My apologies...I failed to realize how neglected my blog was...Oops, sorry.  I'll try to make up for it in a hurry, so here goes:
I coach the local high school bass fishing team, and have been fairly busy with that, we managed to squeeze in a couple of practice days for our sectional tournament.  We had built a fairly solid pattern and were anticipating a good finish.  However, that was not the case.  Although both of our teams that competed weighed in a limit, we both failed to connect with any good solid fish (3lbs and up), which left us mired in the middle of the pack.  We will be graduating 5 seniors this year, with only one underclassman returning, and a whole new crop of freshman and sophomores, it looks like its going to a "building" year for the PCHS Fishing Team.  But that's ok, if the new crop of anglers stay with us for their whole high school career, we'll be back in the hunt for a state title in no time. 
That's it for now, I promise I'll not neglect y'all like this again..
God Bless,

Sunday, March 18, 2012

First Derby of the Year...

I finally got to compete in my first tournament of the year.  Thanks to an ill-fated retreive on a duck hunt New Year's eve weekend, I've been sidelined with a pretty severe knee injury. But that is all in the past, I've knocked the dust off of the equipment and fished my first derby.  I spent the last three days on Kentucky Lake, practicing fo and competing in the FLW Outdoors' first BFL tournament of the year for the LBL division.  I'm glad to report all was a success.  I managed a limit that weighed 18lbs-15oz and finished fifth.  It's not a win, but it's a solid finish considering there nearly 170 anglers competing in the event.  Regardless of the finish, I fished all day without the use of any seats in the boat, and my leg held up just fine!  That's what I call a win-win situation.  I'll post pattern and baits information later this week. Thanks for stopping by.
God Bless,

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Things are heating up!

The title of the post sums up just about everything I'm going to talk about, it accurately describes the water temps, the air temps and of course the fishing here in Southern IL.  I spent the day on the lake yesterday, trying to get myself conditioned for the upcoming tournament season.  Thanks to some great work with the physical therapist I believe I can go all day and not feel too wiped out.  With that being said, there are some times that your main purpose for the trip actually becomes secondary, like yesterday, when warming water temps and hungry bass lined up perfectly.  After a somewhat rough start to the day, we managed to locate and catch several really nice fish.  Water temps were running in the low to mid-fifties, which has some of the bass in my local lake pulling up and staging on what I like to call early pre-spawn locations.  We hit a stretch in the afternoon, where you could call your shot.  I've posted a few pics of yesterday's trip.  I caught all of my fish on an Excalibur Xr50 in Rayburn Red, using 12lb Maxima ultragreen monofilament on a Powell Rods 703CB Glass.  All I can say is we had a blast!  Hope you enjoy the pictures.
God Bless,

First one of the day

Best of the day...pushed 6.5 lbs

Last good one of the trip...great way to end it!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tinkering with tackle...

Tournament season is underway in a lot of areas, and my season is about to start, so I've been getting my ducks in a row.  Tinkering with some tackle that is.  I'm blessed to work with some great companies, and I'm as excited as ever about using some of their products this year.  Powell Rods has developed some new models, as well as a brand new entire line of fishing rods that have an excellent price point.  I'm definitely excited about their new Endurance model crankbait rods the 724 CB glass is sure to be a great one.  Lunker Lure has introduced a new series of jigs called the Limit Series.  It comes in two different head styles both equipped with a Gamakatsu hook round bend hook.  I had a chance to use some of these jigs last fall, and I was nothing but impressed!  Stay tuned, as it looks like, Lord willing I'll head down to Kentucky Lake next week for a BFL event. 
God Bless,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Heading to the Big Show...

I'm getting a few ducks in a row for an upcoming trip to the Bassmaster Classic.  No, I'm not fishing it, I'm headed down to work for fellow PAA fisherman and boat builder extraordinaire Gary Clouse and the Phoenix Boat company.  The classic is a great show, all the new gadgets are there.  All the latest stuff with all the bells and whistles right where you can put your hands on 'em.  Pretty cool actually.  If you ever get the chance to go, do it, it's worth the trip.  I'll let you know how it goes.
God Bless,

Monday, February 6, 2012

High School Bass Fishing

Yes, you read the title correctly, I said High School bass fishing.  Some of you may have heard about it, some of you maybe haven't.  The state of Illinois has sanctioned bass fishing as a sport, yes, I said sport.  This will actually be the 4th year for the IHSA state bass fishing tournaments.  For the record, I believe there were over 240 participating schools in last years events.  How's that for a program that doesn't "cater" to the masses?  Regardless, the number of participating schools has continued to grow each and every year which is encouraging.  It only leads to getting more folks involved in the outdoors.
We held our first team meeting last week, a meet and greet with new students and their parents, as well as a chance to talk to our returning students.  It looks like we are going to have a pretty good number of kids involved in the program this year.  We've got a lot of underclassmen involved this year, which is great, it leads to longevity of the program, as well as a chance to teach and hone an angler's skill for several years. 
If you happen to live in a state outside of Illinois, you too can still start a fishing club at your local high school, get involved and take a kid fishing!
God Bless,

Monday, January 30, 2012

Talking Fishing...

I spent some time the other evening with the local 4H club, talking a little fishing.  We discussed not only fishing in general, but professional fishing as well.  How the whole tournament process works, how you prepare, that sort of stuff.  We also talked about fun fishing, the lures and techniques that work very well when you just want to go out and catch a few fish.  All in all it was a great time, with a lot of great questions.  So I'd like to give a special thanks to the PC Panthers 4H club for allowing me to come and spend some time with them.  
One last note, if your not familiar with the Anglers Legacy, take a minute an go to www.takemefishing.org look it over, see what you can do.
God Bless,

 Here's a few pics from the other night....

Deep in thought...

Lots of youngsters, its never to early to introduce them to fishing

Monday, January 23, 2012

Where did the time go?

I'll start with acknowledging that I'm a little behind in blogging, I recognize that and apologize to those who regularly visit.  So how far behind you ask...about 60 days...for all practical purposes two months.  A fairly significant amount of time in most people's lives, 16.6% of a year or 1/6th if fractions are your deal.  Why all of the discussions about 60 days? It is the exact number of days a person in southern Illinois is allowed to duck hunt, for that matter it is the maximum number of days most states allow for their duck seasons.  And you ask again why does this matter?  In the last 60 days, I have spent 45 of them afield, doing what I love to do, guiding waterfowl hunters.  Instead of the normal 60 days afield like most years, I experienced a duck season ending spill in the field on December 30th, tore my MCL (ligament in the knee) and strained my ACL (yep, also a knee ligament) and consequently took myself outta the duck hunting game.  But, as I sit here and think about the last 60 days, what a pleasure it was to watch ducks, sometimes by the thousands swarm into our field of flooded corn, with no inhibition whatsoever.  Sharing that sight with fellow duck hunters who may have never seen such a thing is what makes a day guiding feel more like recreation that a job.  I'll add a side-note...at about the 40th straight 12-14 hour day, you sometimes forget that you're blessed to be afield for so many days, but by the end of season, but you start to remember how blessed you are when it's all coming to an end. 
It's a little tough to think that so much can happen in 60 days, but I watched my oldest lab Callie, show me that age does matter, as she can longer get in and out of the pit on a daily basis, its looking like a hip or leg issue.  She just turned eight years old on opening weekend, but at the end of last season she had eclipsed 2500 lifetime retrieves in the field, so I'm figuring the issue is related to high mileage.  Since I wasn't able to hunt Callie, I took my young dog Harley to the field and was able to put quite a few birds on him, which really turned him on, and with another 10 months of training between now and next season, he should be ready to go . 
All in all, despite a few set-backs there were some silver linings to the clouds, which makes me ready for next year.   So, to all the duck hunters I got to share a day in the field with, "Here's to ya!"   I hope to see ya next year, and if you didn't make it to the pit with me in 2011-2012, come back next season I believe it will be a great one!
God Bless,