Monday, December 20, 2010

Deercember, I mean December Update

Deer season is coming down to the wire, and it makes me feel like I am in a tournament. I am persistent and optimistic, and have seen some big boys out. I have put more hours in a tree stand this year than I ever have before. I would guess about 150 hours total! Regardless, I love doing it, and it is one of the best ways to learn about and enjoy mother nature.

So far, I think the weather has been my worst enemy. It hasn't really got too cold yet, and there is no snow on the ground. If the temps would drop down into the 20s consistently, those deer would be hitting the food fields hard, and I might have a little bit better chance. I think right now they are still recuperating from the rut, and here before too long they will start moving again and working in more predictable patterns. I do enjoy hunting the late season, but this season has been so strange and strung out that the late season hunting strategies are not yet effective. What makes it worse is that it seems like everyone else has shot a good buck but me... I mean, I've got more picture messages of good bucks this season than ever before! Come one guys, stop rubbing it in!

Now I am really getting ready for the 2011 fishing season, and next week will be announcing a new sponsor! We are about 2 months away from the Classic, and I can't wait. My boat will be all ready in mid-january, and I plan on getting down to New Orleans a little early so I can go hit some other water ways, like the Atchafalaya Basin, to get myself geared up for the big tournament.

Now it's Christmas time, and I think I have just about all of my shopping done. I can't wait to spend Christmas day with the family, and I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for a white Christmas, so that maybe I can go kill a big buck in the snow the day after Christmas!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I am Thankful for...Patience!

What a cool last couple of weeks it has been. We had so much fun in Florida, and it was such a neat experience for me. Bobbi and a team of other women comprised mostly of bass pro wives ran a relay race across the state of Florida...that's 200 miles! I am so proud of my wife, and was so pumped to be a part of her race and to be there to cheer her on! The race started at 6 a.m. on Friday the 19th and ended at 6 p.m. on Saturday the 20th. will have a feature on the event, so if you want to know more about it check it out on there.

As far as deer hunting goes, I am still 0 for 0 on big bucks! I know they're around, and I believe that my patience and persistence will eventually pay off. I just got some pictures of a real nice buck on my trail cam I have set up in LQ, so I am looking forward to running into him sometime soon. The Florida trip gave me an opportunity to take some time off from hunting. I have been hitting the woods so hard lately that I think I really needed a little breather. I approach my deer hunting in the same way that I approach a tournament. Stick with a game plan, be patient, and if what you thought was going to work out doens't then don't be afraid to make adjustments. Unlike most bow hunters, I absolutely love hunting the late season. The last few weeks of December have provided some of my best hunting experiences. So, I am staying optimistic, and am just trying to enjoy the time I get to spend outdoors. It is getting to be the time of year where I need to start redirecting my focus to the upcoming season...and the classic! I'm nowhere close to hanging my bow up yet, but I am going to be spending more time preparing for what's to come. We'll call it my happy balance between bassin and bowhunting!

Thanksgiving was good for us this year. Pretty uneventful, but did get to spend some quality family time at home, and I am always thankful for that!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November News

I've been hunting a whole lot this month, but still haven't put one on the ground. Seen a few good ones, but haven't had the shots. To take a buck here at Lake Quivira you have to earn it, so to speak. We have implemented an "earn a buck" program, where in order to shoot a buck you must first harvest 5 does. I need to shoot 2 does this season before I can shoot a buck, and even the does are giving me nothing to work with! Oh well, I live for this time of year, and I just know that sooner or later I'm going to cross paths with the right critters.

BASS just recently announced that there will be a classic berth for the winner of the College Bass Championship starting in 2012. I hope my guys at KSU get to work so that they can have a shot at being a part of it! Alot of the elite series anglers have mixed emotions about this sort of stuff, but in all honesty this is the best way to grow and perpetuate the sport and its industry.

Next week I am going to be rooting for Bobbi and several other fisherman's wives as they relay race across Florida. These girls have been preparing for this for a long time, and I am really excited to show my support for them. I think it will be pretty cool to switch rolls, Bobbi the competitor and me her support. We will be back in time for Thanksgiving, and back in time to get in on the tail end of the rut!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Autumn Update

Wow! I've been so wrapped up in deer hunting that I have completely spaced out my blog! I just got home from being in the stand all day. No bucks on the ground yet, but I did see a couple of shooters, just no shots. That's the way it goes though. I didn't really want to be done with the season anyway, because I just got started!

I got my boat from last year's elite season sold! Which is a big relief for me. I took the wrap off the boat and truck by myself, which I haven't done before. I sold the boat down in Louisiana, with the help of some friends down there. Now I'm making room for my new boat, and working on new sponsorship opportunities. I got to get all of the companies that will be on the new wrap figured out, which is always some work but fun all at the same time.

Been crappie fishing quite a bit lately. Have caught 250 out on LQ since the last blog post. These fish are just stacked up and ready to eat!

Let's see, since the last post we had halloween with the kids, which is always fun watching them on a sugar rush...

BASS was officially sold to the Jerry McKinnis group, which ultimately I think is a good thing. The Elite tournaments and the Classic will still air on ESPN, but now it will all be done under new "management".

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I just got back from New Orleans last week and man did I have a blast down there! I got my game plan put together, and am excited for February to roll around. I elimiated alot of unproductive water, and also found a few good areas. We caught alot of fish, and not just bass. On any given cast down there you are likely to hook up with a redfish, sheepshead, trout, or flounder. It is just unreal. Those redfish are so aggressive and so much fun. There were instances when we were bass fishing that we would see a giant school of reds swim by, and make a cast towards them with whatever we had on and catch them. We had doubles and triples on reds on everything from jigs and texas rigs to topwater frogs! And these fish weren't small. We caught fish up to 15 lbs! I also got to put my new rods and reels to the test while in New Orleans. I got the new Wright & McGill Micro Honeycomb rods and Victory reels, and they are awesome! They handled everything I caught down there with ease, which definitely gives me confidence in them going into next season.

Besides having a great time fishing, I also got to hang out with some good friends. We stayed at Cajun Fishing Adventures, which was awesome, and no we didn't use their guide service! The accomodations were great, and the cajun food was out of this world. Honestly I can't say enough great things about this place, they have an awesome operation. After Katrina they had to completely rebuild there lodge, and it is just beautiful. I really want to say thanks to my good friends Richard and Ken Sherman and everyone at Cajun Fishing Adventures. I had a great time down there, and wish I had a good excuse to make a trip like that more often! Check Cajun Fishing Adventures out at

Now it is back to the real world. I am working hard to get my boat sold, I just took the wrap off myself over the weekend. Getting all of my loose ends and necessities done and out of the way now so that I can enjoy a November full of deer hunting and time in the woods.

This past weekend we had the Howell family - Randy, Robin, and their 2 kids-,as well as Jill Lane, and Angie Faircloth stay with us. All the wives participated in the Kansas City Marathon as a relay team. Randy and I got to play Mr. Mom over the weekend. We took the kids out fishing and caught about 75 crappie. On Tuesday I went out crappie fishing for a charity trip for Ducks Unlimited and caught 102 crappie. We'll just say that I'm done filetting fish for a while!

Now I wish I had a deer hunting update for all of you, but sadly I haven't had the chance to get out at all yet. I am hoping to get out before November rolls around, but we will have to see what happens. Hopefully by November we will actually see some real Fall weather instead of this warm late Summer weather we've had lately! I can only hope anyway!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Off-Season

It's definitely the off-season. Not alot of fishing going on to speak of, mostly working around the house and getting ready for deer season. I am definitely excited about my trip to New Orleans here in a few weeks for classic pre-practice. My Dad is going down there and fishing with me, so it should be a real good time.

Looking back, on the last month or so, Bobbi competed in her first mini-triathlon out here at Lake Quivira. It was awesome. She did a 500 meter swim, a 9 mile bike ride, and a 5 mile run. I was defintely impressed, and kind of got me to thinking that maybe I could do something like that with her in the future.

We are still getting into the groove of having the kids off at school all day long. Mason is also playing baseball right now, so it is fun to get out and watch him play. I spend alot more time doing house chores, and preparation for next year's season. Right now I am working on getting all of my stuff ordered for the Triton I will be running in 2011. Most people don't realize how much work it actually takes to get all your batteries, graphs and the like. I also plan on doing some real work here pretty soon. I am going to powerwash and seal the deck and the driveway, and for a fisherman that is definitely real work.

Now the work that I have put into deer season is starting to come into fruition. The food plots are coming up, and I have seen the first scrapes of the year. I got my trail cameras up, so now I am looking forward to getting some pictures of some monsters with velvet hanging off their antlers! Everyday I do some bow practice to keep me sharp and ready for the season.

When I get back from New Orleans there are two things that I have to do. 1 is get to work on getting my boat from 2010 ready to sell, and 2 is get in my tree stand and get to work on knocking down a good buck!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

End of Summer...Deer Season is Getting Closer!

A couple weeks ago I had a couple guys from the Kansas State Fishing Team come out for a morning of fishing on LQ. Ben Fuchs and Keith Cole were fun to fish with, even though the fishing wasn’t all that great. It was a treat to spend time with them, and really learn about all the time and effort that goes into the sport of college fishing. Collegiate angling is really making leaps and bounds towards the perpetuation of the sport of tournament angling. I really look forward to working with these guys more in the future!

The day after Ben and Keith came out to fish, we had a youth fishing derby at LQ. Mason won the panfish division, and got to bring home a really neat bluegill trophy. There were lots of kids out fishing, and it was great to be a part of it. One boy caught a 30 lb. grass carp! With the way the bass fishing has been out here lately, I might have to think about becoming a carp angler! The kids started school last week, which is pretty exciting for us. Mason is in first grade and Makayla is in kindergarten, and they were so happy and excited to go to school!

As summer comes to an end, I find myself really getting excited for deer season. I have been working hard in preparation of the season, putting in food plots, bow practice, and hanging stands at my Dad’s farm and mine. Every year my goal is to have stands hung before Labor Day weekend, this way the deer have plenty of time to get used to the new object in their environment.

Last weekend I went to the Triton owners tournament on Truman, out of Long Shoal. I was the weigh-in MC and had a lot of fun doing it. I didn’t get to fish this event, but I did see all of the fish that were weighed-in, and thought it was worth noting that there were no dead fish brought to the scales. I really think this is a testament not only to the effectiveness of Triton’s live wells, but of the health of the fishery at Truman. I got to say, as excited as I am about deer season, this weekend really made me want to get out and do some fishing! Next weekend I will be at the ABA fish-off on Big Hill for Labette county. Should be fun to watch the weigh-in, and hang out with some fellow Kansas fishermen.

While there isn’t really a whole lot going on this time of year, I still have to work on my schedule. At the beginning of October I will be going to the Gander Mountain in Hattiesburg Mississippi for a Costa Del Mar promotional event. After that I plan to head down to New Orleans to do some scouting around for the Classic. I am going to take as much time as I need to try and get an idea of where I want to spend my official practice. There are about 3 or 4 key areas down there that typically produce, but they are all cyclical, so it will take some work to find the most productive areas. I’m also kind of keeping my fingers crossed that I come across some redfish too! Those things are so much fun!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Kids, Grass Carp, and Graduation

Been having a good time at home the last few weeks. Bobbi’s family came to visit after we got back from ICAST, and we had some fun. Mostly trying to stay out of this awful heat lately, but managed some fishing with my son and nephew. We went out crappie fishing and caught 15 or 20 crappie, a couple of walleye, tons of bass, and some carp. The kids have been seeing some big carp up shallow lately, and really wanted to catch some. We chummed the water with corn, and the kids caught several nice carp. Mason caught a grass carp that went 45 lbs! I couldn’t believe it!

Went to Labette county and helped out with a youth fishing derby in Parsons over the weekend. It was a pretty cool deal to be a part of. Eagle Claw helped out a lot with prizes and give aways, and KDWP helped out too. That night I headed back to LQ, and got ready for my 20th high school reunion. With all this stuff going on, it made for a busy weekend, but we had fun. It was really cool to see old friends, and people that I haven’t seen since graduation.

Not a whole lot going on in our world lately, but that is just as well! It’s really nice to have some time off, and be able to be at home. Next weekend, a couple guys from the K-State Fishing Team are coming out to do a little fishing. It’s going to be hot, but I think we will be able to get on some fish.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Different Kind of Tournament - ICAST

What a blast we had at ICAST! We started off our time in Vegas with a Texas hold ‘em tournament with a bunch of the guys from Wright & McGill and Eagle Claw. It was a ton of fun, but I was definitely glad that I am a pro fisherman and not a pro poker player! I could have used a couple of practice days for this tournament. It was a great opportunity to spend time with friends in the fishing industry away from a fishing tournament scene.

I put in some long days at the show working hard for Tightlines and Wright & McGill. ICAST is so important for those of us involved with this industry, this is where we have the opportunity to learn about new companies, meet new potential sponsors, and promote ourselves within the industry on a face to face basis. It was really cool to watch Tightlines meet with some of the big tackle buyers that were present at the show, and help them grow their company. Also got to help unveil and witness new technological developments for Wright & McGill. I spent some time with the folks from Costa Del Mar, and am really excited for their new lenses, the 580 Ps. They are a plastic lens with the same awesome capabilities as their original 580 lens but now in a scratch and shatter resistant model. Power Pole came out with a new model that looks really great. They have 5 color options and have upgraded components that make them lighter and more durable. Really excited to see these on the water next season.

Bobbi and I had so much fun in Vegas, that we decided that this is going to be an annual deal for us. I was reminded while we were there that I am definitely not 21 years old anymore, but I think a lot of us got that reminder while we were there! Now we’re back home, and I have to say I am really enjoying my time off and taking it easy. Bobbi’s nieces and nephew are in town visiting us right now, so we will have some fun with them. Probably get some crappie rods out and try and get them on some fish while they are here. We just bought a new Mac, and we are pretty excited about that. I am horrible with computers, so hopefully this thing will be easy for me to use and I can actually do things on the computer without having to ask for help! This Saturday we will be going down to Labette County Kansas for a youth fishing derby, which should be a great time. And when we get back home from that, we will be going to my 20th high school reunion. That will be a busy but fun day.

For those of you paying attention to the business side of fishing right now, we don’t really know anything about the rumors of BASS and Triton being sold or bought out or whatever is going on. We are keeping our fingers crossed for the best, and expect that there will be an announcement after they get done with all of the post-season stuff.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

From Lake Cherokee to ICAST in Vegas

The PAA event on Lake Cherokee was a trying tournament, to put it lightly. Very tough conditions, and things just didn’t go my way. In order to experience success at a tournament, your heart really has to be in it, and I just didn’t have that going on. I felt out of synch, and was not ready to give up my time off. I found a pretty sweet spot in practice on the lake, and I committed to it on day one of the tournament. I couldn’t get anything to happen there that day, and wound up zeroing. In hindsight I should have scrapped that spot after 2 or 3 hours without any fish, but I had confidence in the spot and thought that it was just a matter of time before the fish would start going. On day 2 I scrapped every preconceived notion I had put together during practice, and just went back to “practice” fishing. I boated a limit all on a frog, but it wasn’t enough to put me into the third day of fishing. It was nice to know that I could get back out there and pick myself up after such a miserable first day of fishing, but it was also very frustrating at the same time. Because of my less than desirable finish at Cherokee, I probably won’t be fishing the rest of the PAA events this year. So, it’s nice to have the 2010 season behind me.

Now, as I write this, I am sitting in Las Vegas getting ready for a Texas hold ‘em tournament with the guys from Wright & McGill/Eagle Claw. Should be a good time with some good buddies. As for the rest of the week, I will be working hard to promote Tightlines Tackle and Lazer Trokar at this year’s ICAST event. This is a really fun time for those of us in the fishing world, as we get to see the newest trends and technologies of the industry. Also, this week it is just Bobbi and I, so it will be nice to spend some time with her without having to deal with the pressures of a tournament. After ICAST is done, it is time to start preparing for the next year. We really don’t have an off season, because when we’re not fishing we’re working hard to make sure we can fish hard the next year. So not only will I be researching tournament venues, but I will also be working hard to get sponsors on board for the 2011 season. Oh, and let’s not forget…deer season is just around the corner!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

PAA at Lake Cherokee

We’re at Lake Cherokee right now in Tennessee for the first PAA tournament of the year. We had a few days off since the last Elite Series event at Ft. Gibson, but man did they fly by! It was nice to be home, I got to see family and catch up on some house chores. I rested a little bit, but before I knew it we were back out the door. This trip to Cherokee is the first time in 5 years we haven’t taken our camper with us to a tournament. Practice for this event started fourth of July weekend, so there was literally no open camping areas. Not having the camper really made myself and the rest of the family consolidate our packing efforts. I just know that there is something that I left behind that I am going to need come tournament time! It’s nice having the whole family in one vehicle for a change, but don’t confuse nice with easy. There is no easy way to fit a family, everyone’s luggage, and all of my tournament gear in our rig and travel comfortably! But, it’s a sacrifice I think we’re all willing to make.

So, on to Lake Cherokee. So far, I’m not a fan of this lake! Not to say it’s a bad lake, it is just super tough right now. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this place, and a lot of good things about the night fishing bite that’s happening right now, but we have the cards stacked against us. This is a deep, clear impoundment that happens to be about 20 feet high during the time of our tournament. That’s just not a good combination during the middle of the summer. I’m going to be happy with 8-10 lbs a day, and I think the rest of the field will be too! Right now, it’s up to God with how I do the rest of this PAA season!

July 4th was the first day of practice, and I only had 2 keeper bites. I did, however, find a pretty decent area that lends itself to my style of fishing.
July 5th was the second day of practice, and I only had 1 bite. That 1 bite came on a frog, but the fish couldn’t even get the thing in its mouth.
On July 6th, our last day of practice, I tried to expand on what I had found in practice on the first day. What I had was a nice little creek with willow trees hanging over the banks and a lot of stumps and lay downs mixed in. I caught fish on a square bill, a beaver, and a frog. But, there was a bittersweet part to that day…I caught two 5 lbers in this area. Which tells me I might have something pretty special, but I would rather have caught those fish during competition and realized how special my spot was at that point in time!

When it all comes down to it, on an unfamiliar lake you got to do what you are comfortable with. Guys are going to catch fish every which way this week, but I’m not going to go out there and try to force myself to adapt to a technique that I’m not comfortable with. I’m going to put a big stick in my hand, and lay a few more across the deck, and I’m going to fish what I’m confident in. When fish are scattered like they have been this week, there is no right and wrong way to catch them, so I’m going to try and capitalize on that notion!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

End of the Season!

I can’t believe the season is over! I’m relieved to have some time off now, but I know that in a couple of weeks I am going to be ready to get back at it again. Good thing I’m fishing the PAA tournaments this year. I will be fishing Lake Cherokee in a few weeks, so that will give me just enough time to relax and enjoy being in a home that doesn’t have wheels on it! So, to recap on the season, it didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but it could have been a lot worse! We did good financially speaking, and I made my 10th Classic! But, no matter what, if you don’t end up in contention for AOY, you always finish the season feeling like you could have done better. Regardless, I am thrilled to know that I will be fishing the Classic in 2011. Ultimately, making the Classic is what all of us on the Elite Series strive to achieve.

Here is how things went down in Oklahoma:
On the first day of practice (which was on the river) I had a great day. At least 20 keeper bites that probably would have gone 15 lbs. I was excited, to say the least.

On day 2 of practice (still on the river) the water had risen about 5 feet from where it was the previous day. Despite the drastically different conditions, I managed to scratch out about 7 or 8 keeper bites that would have went 13 to 15 lbs. Then, at about 3:30 that afternoon the rug got pulled out from under me. A text message from Trip told us that we were no longer going to be fishing on the river due to unsafe conditions. I was a little upset, since I had really found some good fish in practice, but he made the call he had to make. So, I got myself ready to go fish Ft. Gibson, and start all over again.

On day 3 of practice I found that it really helped that I had fished there before! Things were tough, and tricky to figure out. I fished the lake like I would fish Grand Lake, which kind of helped me out. I got dialed in on some shallower fish, and caught them up in creeks on a shallow crank.

On the first day of the tournament I caught about 12 or 13 lbs in 30 minutes off of my first spot. I found this spot in practice, and didn’t really know what all was there, so I spent some time expanding on my area. All in all I caught about 25 keepers that day, and culled up to a little over 16 lbs by the end of the day. I was feeling pretty good, and sitting in 14th place.

On the second day of the tournament I tried to do the same thing as the first day, but something had changed and I didn’t put my first keeper in the boat until 8:30. Once I got the fish going, I was able to catch them. I didn’t get on them as good, and my weight was a few pounds lower than the day before, but I was still feeling alright. I dropped to something like 21st place, but I figured I had everything locked up and would be able to sneak my way up into the 12 cut the next day.

On the third day, I didn’t put my first keeper in the box until 10:00. The only thing I knew to do was to stick with it, and wait for the fish to turn on, but it never panned out. I ended up heading to a back-up spot a lost a 4 lber but caught another fish that measured. I was patient, and really just hunkered down and willed myself to believe that my fish would turn on for me, but they never did. My spots were inconsistent and unreliable, but I made the best that I could out of it. I got a $10,000 check, finished 33rd in AOY, and made the classic. I made myself a new rule that day too: If I don’t catch a fish in an hour on one spot, it’s time to move on. Some might consider me a veteran of the sport, but I still learn new things and figure new stuff out every tournament!

Now I am going to be focused on the Classic. Some of the reasons I work so hard to make sure I make it to the classic is that it is a fairly level playing field that provides a lot of momentum for the preceding season, we get good sponsor support for participating, and everyone is guaranteed a pay check. It’s 8 months away and I’m already looking forward to it! Right now there is some uncertainty about fishing in the New Orleans area, but we will make the most of it and I am definitely going to get down there sometime before deer season to do some scouting!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kentucky Lake

It seems like every tournament is a learning experience. And at Kentucky Lake I learned that when you got fishing biting, catch every single one you can, because it’s not going to last forever! Practice was pretty discouraging as one by one my favorite spots from year’s past failed to produce. It was tough to get on any offshore bite during practice because of the weather, so I loaded up the boat and towed it from Paris to the dam so I could fish up there without having to endure the rough ride. Once I started fishing up-lake, things started to go a little better. I found some good offshore humps that produced lots of fish. In practice I caught several doubles while cranking, and lots of 5 lb + fish. My strategy in practice was to put my Lowrance Side Scan to work while I idled over likely areas looking for hard bottom spots with fish on or around it. I found 5 such spots in practice, and come tournament time only 1 of those 5 spots produced for me! That’s how much those fish were moving around on us out there.

On day 1 of the tournament I caught almost 19 lbs on a Bomber Fat Free Shad and a football jig. On day 2 I caught a 4 lb smallie followed by a 3 lb smallie right off the bat, which was weird considering I hadn’t boated any smallmouths the entire week. I continued through the rotation of my spots and couldn’t buy another keeper bite. So, at 10 a.m. I ran up to my spot by the dam. I knew there were fish on the spot because I could see them on my Side Scan, but when I threw my Fat Free Shad through them I got nothing. Then I picked up my football jig and still nothing. But when I threw the War Eagle Twin Spin Jig at them, it was like they had never seen a lure before! After I wore them out with the Twin Spin I picked up a Spoon. First cast I lay into a huge fish. Huge fish turned out to be a giant freshwater drum! I was so disappointed and frustrated at the amount of time I put into that fish! I shrugged it off, and fired my spoon back out into the school. Same deal again, I lay into a huge fish that isn’t even acting like a bass. I kind of got lazy with this fish because I figured it was another drum, but when I got the fish boat side I saw that it was a huge largemouth! Got her in the boat and she went 6-11! Glad I didn’t let that fish come unbuttoned! After that, I was catching fish on the spoon almost every other cast. This is where my day 2 dilemma comes in to play. One of my smallmouths that I caught in the morning was belly up, and the other one was headed in the same direction. I had a decision to make: Either stay and try to cull out some of my other fish, or leave so I could weigh in early and save any other fish that might have been on the downward spiral and save the rest of the school on that spot. I opted to leave and weighed in at 2 p.m. I weighed in 22 lbs.

On day 3 the fish had vanished from my magic spot. I didn’t know what to do. I figured that the overcast conditions had shutoff the offshore bite, and turned on the shallow bite. So at about 10 a.m. I headed towards the bank and assaulted them with a frog. I caught 4 keepers in a fairly short amount of time on the frog. After I had 4 in the box, I ran back out to my offshore spot and never came up with another keeper bite. I ended my day there wishing I would have caught more of them on day 2. Just a few more pounds would have put me in the top 12, and fishing on the final day.

But, I achieved my goal of a top 30 finish, and now I just have to go to work in Oklahoma. I have it figured that I need at least a top 40 finish in Oklahoma to make it to the Classic. I just have to keep the intensity and fish hard. Hopefully this one will go better, as I’ll be fishing more my strengths.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Back on the Tennessee River

We arrived at Guntersville on Memorial Day and spent the evening with the Howell and Martens’ families. We had a great dinner and we all enjoyed ourselves. On Tuesday and Wednesday I fished Guntersville to try and refocus myself for the rest of the season. I was happy to shake off the Clark’s Hill event with some solid ledge fishing on Guntersville. The fishing was great and I discovered a new lure: the War Eagle Twin Spin Jig. It’s basically a football jig with blades on it, and I can’t wait to put it to work on Kentucky Lake! On Wednesday night we went to the “Bat Cave” with the Howell and Lane families. Words don’t do this justice! It’s a cave on the lake where thousands upon thousands of bats reside. And after sunset 60,000 bats come pouring out of the cave all at once! It was crazy, and it was a unique way to spend time with family and friends. There were some biologists there working on an annual study of the bat population who told us that the bats are being decimated by a rapidly spreading disease. I’m glad we got to enjoy it while we could, and if you’re ever in the area be sure you check it out as well.

We left Guntersville on Thursday and headed upriver to Paris Tennessee. But before we got to Paris we stopped at Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Plaza in Nashville and got to meet Dave Ramsey! I am a big fan of his, and it was very exciting to shake his hand and meet him. We watched him do his show, and got to indulge in free Starbuck’s cappuccinos and gourmet desserts. It was quite the place, and a very cool experience for sure.

I got to be a part of the Triton Owner’s Tournament over the weekend. That’s always a cool deal, and it’s great to meet all the people that fish the tournament. However, the best part was watching all of the big bags come across the weigh-in scales. There were some 25 lb. bags caught, and big bass was around 8 lbs. I am so excited to get to work on the lake so I can have my chance to wreck ‘em.

My main focus now is to make two top 50 cuts so I can get a check. I need to work hard so I can make it to the classic, but I really want to put a “W” on my resume this season. I hope that all my hard work will pay off. I have been looking forward to the last two events of the season, so I can’t wait to see how they pan out.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Chance to Slow Down

When we left Clark’s Hill we headed down to Biloxi to spend some time with family. We had a fun vacation without the hassles of tournament preparation. I hadn’t been down there since the Katrina catastrophe, and even though a lot has been rebuilt, our time down there made me realize just how severe the damage was. Everyone has done their best to move on, but the empty building foundations are a reminder of what happened. We didn’t see any oil spill damage down there, but did notice that a lot of people were taking precautions for the inevitable. We really hope that the Biloxi area will be spared, but if it does happen, the people down there are tough and resilient and will find a way to get through it.

While we were in Biloxi we got to do a little saltwater fishing. Mason, who is now absolutely obsessed with fishing, got to fish from the piers a little bit. But the most fun fishing Mason and I had was on a charter boat with my Dad, brother in law, and niece catching sharks! We probably caught 50 sharks, and they were all the perfect size. We caught them on flipping rods, and it was a blast. The rest of the week we spent relaxing and having quality family time.

We got to Lake Guntersville on Memorial day and plan on fishing the next couple of days down here. Going to get some rest in so I can get ready for 2 more stressful weeks. Practice for the KY Lake event starts on Sunday, this way we can have a day off to travel to Oklahoma for the final event of the year. I’m really hoping that this week on Guntersville will help get me in the right frame of mind to do some damage at KY Lake.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Clark's Hill

Clark’s Hill is definitely a unique fishery in my eyes. All blueback based lakes that I’ve fished have been difficult for me to adjust to, and this tournament was no exception. I had some decent days out there, but in the end the bad days were enough to keep me out of the top of the pack.

The last time we came to Clark’s Hill we hit the blueback spawn dead on. This year we were about 2 weeks late. And in this lake the bite only gets worse after those bluebacks spawn. Everybody out there was concentrating on an offshore, schooling fish bite. So on day one of practice I tried to find the same kind of thing. On day 2 of practice I ran around a lot, and eliminated a bunch of water. However, I also found a really unique area. I ran way up a creek, and up this creek I found a large area of matted grass. It looked a lot like the gator grass they have down in Florida. It was the perfect place to throw a frog, and almost immediately I boated one that went about 4 lbs. I then cut the hooks off my bait and had several more quality bites in just a short amount of time. I knew this spot was something different, so I left it until tournament time. I spent the last day of practice trying to find more areas to catch schooling fish. In hindsight, I should have spent the last day exploring my matted grass area and getting familiar with it.

The first day of the tournament was a good way to get things started. I caught a limit of schooling fish in the first half hour. After that I ran to my matted grass and culled out a few of my small schoolies. After the first day I was sitting in 26th place, which is a great place to be after day one of a tournament. On the second day I couldn’t get anything going in my primary spots. Finally I pulled up on a point that I had caught some schoolies on in practice. I caught a 2 ½ lber pretty quick, and then caught several hybrids. Then I caught two more largemouths, and after those two fish all I could get to bite were hybrids. That was a really strange scenario. On the third day I ran to my schooling areas first, only to find local tournament fisherman sitting on my points. I tried a few other points that I hadn’t fished before, but had no luck there. I ran up to my grass mat area at about 8a.m. I had one bite on the frog, and lost it. I bailed out of there at about noon. I decided the only thing I could do was get out there and “practice fish” for the rest of the tournament. I ran new areas and new patterns, and managed to catch a couple of squeakers on a small tube. That day really hurt. But what hurt even more was the fact that the only other person that found my grass mat spot was Cliff Crochet, who wound up in second place. All I can say is way to go Cliff, and that I wish that I would have played my cards a little bit differently. My key baits this week were a 5” basstrix swim bait that I used to target shcooling fish, and a hollow body top water frog used in matted grass.

Now we have two weeks off and we are headed to Biloxi Mississippi to spend some time with family, and it looks like instead of watching the waves roll in on the beach we’re going to watch the oil slicks roll in! Oh well, time with family is always fun. The week after this we are headed north to Kentucky Lake so that we can get set up and prepared for the next event. I plan on spending some time on Guntersville trying to get dialed in on a Tennessee River ledge bite, or at least that’s my excuse for fishing there for the third time this season!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Between Guntersville and Clark's Hill

This past week has been a very welcomed and necessary week off. Got a chance to rest up, and have some fun with the family. I got Mason his very first bait cast set up and gave it to him during the Guntersville tournament. He practiced and practiced with it, and after the tournament Mason and I went and fun fished on Guntersville together. We had a ball, and caught a lot of fish. Mason got to break in his new rod and reel, and he caught a 6 ½ lber with it, his best yet! It was a great moment, and I am so proud of him.

On Friday we were in Birmingham for the Mark’s Outdoors tournament on Lay Lake. That store is so cool, it has everything you could ever want for fishing. Friday night I got to meet fans and do some promotional stuff. On Saturday we fished the big event, which had 500 boats. This tournament is a random partner event, so I fished with a young guy and had a lot of fun. Before take off at this event, each boat is handed a bag of Florida strain fingerlings that are to be dumped out at the first fishing hole of the day. It’s a really cool deal, and I think this tournament has helped Lay Lake to become the fishery that it is today. The tournament, as fun as it was, didn’t come without its share of frustration. When it was time for us to head back to weigh in, I did a final check on our fish. We had 5 fish in the box, that weighed about 15 ½ lbs. However, when I checked them before we took off, our biggest fish was dead and floating. There was no reason for it to be dead, ran the recirc all day and took good care of them. This time of year is just more stressful for the fish than other times of the year. We ended up weighing in only 4 fish, and missing out on some money. If I would have known that fish was dead I could have culled it out with a 2 ½ lber, because we caught tons of fish that size, but by the time we found out that fish was dead it was too late. It was still a fun tournament, and I’m happy to be a part of it.

After the weigh in we headed out for Clark’s Hill. We rolled in at about 3 a.m. Sunday morning, and, needless to say, spent all Sunday resting. Historically, Clark’s Hill has been pretty tough, but I’m still going to aim high. I’m looking for a top 30 finish, and won’t be satisfied with anything less.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Gville Gratification

Guntersville proved to be a pretty crazy tournament. It was frustrating, and awesome all at the same time. Practice was difficult, but somehow things turned around for me. I have to thank Alton Jones for turning me onto the offshore bite that was going on out there.

There has been a lot of rain in the south recently, so while we were on Guntersville, there was pretty much no current. On a lake where current defines the behavior of the fish, having no current makes things a little difficult. Fish were everywhere, kind of like Pickwick. On day one, I started on a spot and caught fish on every cast for a while. I was able to put together a small limit before the school shut down. From there I ran to a community hole that had a few other pros fishing on it. Kevin Wirth clued me onto a good school of fish that I caught a 6 ½ and a 5 lber out of. Day one really kind of helped me realize what exactly the fish were doing out there. On day two, I started in that same community hole and caught fish on a football jig. After I put together a limit, I ran to another spot and flipped a couple 3 and 4 lbers out of the grass and caught a couple decent fish on my DT6 in the grass. On day three the deep bite had turned off. I went and fished in the grass again. This specific spot was a grassy hump in the middle of a creek. I ripped the DT6 through the grass all day, and my smallest fish was 3 lbs. But, I never was able to find any big fish.

I feel relieved now that the Gville tournament is over with. I have been keeping true to my goal, and I just got to keep it up. I’m 40th in AOY standings right now, so as long as I work hard I should be able to build myself a nice little cushion before the end of the season and make it to the Classic.

This weekend I will be fishing on Lay Lake with a lot of the other pros for the Mark’s Outdoors tournament. This has always been a fun promotional event, and I expect it to be just as much fun this year. After this weekend we are headed down to Mississippi to visit family, and then we’re off to Clark’s Hill.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pickwick Paid Off

When I got to Pickwick I was in need of a confidence booster, a points cushion, and a check. Well, Saturday I got everything I needed. It feels great to get a good tournament under my belt. Pickwick was a lot of fun, and it gave me an opportunity to get back to the basics and fish my strengths.

Catching fish on Pickwick was not a problem, but getting the big bite and capitalizing on it was a problem. On Thursday I lost 3 fish that were all 3 lbs or better. It really stings because those 3 fish would have gave me a weight of around 18 lbs on day one and would have got me through to the final day. But it is what it is, and I can’t dwell on what could have been.

I flipped a War Eagle jig with a Tightlines UV Hog during the entire tournament. In practice I was able to get bigger bites with this bigger profile bait. Thursday and Friday were spent down lake flipping visible cover. When Saturday came around, I knew that my down lake pattern wasn’t going to hold strong for another day. So, I took a gamble and fished around the take-off area, a place that I hadn’t fished at all. In this area I caught my limit in 15 minutes, and one of those first five fish was a 3 lber. After that I made a short run to fish some barge tie-ups where I caught a 3 lber and a 4 ½ lber right off the bat. It was really cool to take a gamble and change up my plan like that and have it pay off. I feel like I was able to get some redemption on Pickwick. I redeemed my confidence, and I redeemed my previous lack of success on that lake. I feel like I am back in the classic hunt, and am looking forward to what the rest of the season brings.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pickwick Preparation

We had a lot of fun on Kentucky Lake this past week. Had a blast fishing with my Dad and my son. It was so great to get out on the lake with them, without the usual pressures of a tournament situation. Hopefully our fun fishing will help me to better determine where I plan to fish come tournament time. While we were in Paris, we got to attend the World’s Largest Fish Fry, where we saw lots of interesting people (I think we met Joe Dirt’s brother out there!) It was still a cool experience, and the kids really enjoyed the carnival that they had.

We arrived in Florence Alabama a couple days early, and got to enjoy a little bit of time off. It was pretty relaxing, except for the tornado dodging we had to do. Being from Kansas (the heart of tornado alley) you would think that we would see more tornados at home, but I have come across more tornadoes in Alabama and Tennessee than good ol’ Kansas!

On to the fishing! My practice on Pickwick was not really frustrating, but stressful because I didn’t really know what to expect. There are so many fish of all sizes in this lake, and that made it tough to try and get dialed in on what a realistic tournament weight could be. Typically in practice we don’t like to hook our fish, but out here I was getting so many bites that I started sticking my fish just so I could determine the quality of fish in a given area. The cool thing about practice was that it was totally pattern. Every spot that looked like it should hold a fish actually did. And every piece of wood yielded at least one bite. In practice I determined that my best bet to catch quality fish was to just keep the jig rod in my hand and hammer out every piece of wood cover I saw. This way I could actually focus on the bigger bites.

One observation I made while we have been down here on the Tennessee River chain is that the lakes are all quite a bit lower and slower than they were last year when we were here. Last year the river had flooded, and there was a ton more current in the lakes. This year it is the complete opposite. I would love to be down here when the lake was up and there was some current, but the fact that the conditions are tough and Pickwick is still giving ’em up like this is just a testament to the great fishery it is.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happiness is Smith Mountain in my Rear View Mirror

Well, let’s just say that I am glad that Smith Mountain is in my rear view! It was a pretty rough tournament for me, and I’m really looking forward to getting some better finishes under my belt this season. Smith Mountain was a little off for my style of fishing. I really tried to find a way to catch fish besides bed fishing, and as my finish suggests, that wasn’t the best idea. In hindsight, I spent too much time fishing in practice and not enough time visually searching for beds. From here on out I have a new personal rule in place: If there is even the slightest possibility that an event will be won by sight fishing, I will dedicate practice time towards finding bass on beds.

The first day of the event went alright, but once again I underestimated the weights that were going to be brought in. I was happy to be in the top 50 after the first day, because I thought I could go out and duplicate what I had done on the second day and be alright. However, the second day was slow. Definitely not the finish I was looking for. But now I can’t look back, got to keep looking ahead to what’s next. My priorities have changed, and now I’m focused more on making the classic and less on AOY points.

Now we are at Kentucky Lake for pre-practice. We’re staying in Paris, and it is real nice down here. I have just a little bit of time to unwind before we get cranked back up for the Alabama tournaments. This time in Kentucky is real special for me because I am fishing with my Dad and my son. My parents drove down to spend the week with us in Kentucky, so I am enjoying the time off here. We’re slowly but surely getting the fish figured out here on the lake, and I’ve been catching a few on the old tried and true methiolate floating worm! What a fun way to catch ‘em!

Going along with the theme of staying focused, my goal for the rest of the season is to make five top 30 finishes so I can make it to the classic. The rest of the season should allow me to do that as the lakes should really set up for the way that I like to fish. I’m ready for Pickwick, it should be junk fishing at its finest!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On the Road Again!

We’ve hit the road for the long haul this time. The drive out to Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia was gorgeous. We took I-64 across eastern Kentucky and through West Virginia. The scenery in this area is breathtaking, and all throughout the drive I was spotting turkeys, which makes the drive even more fun. Now while the scenery is figuratively breathtaking, the pollen is literally breathtaking. I mean it is thick! And poor Mason has allergies pretty bad. This stuff is so thick that just a day after washing my truck I can already barely read the wrap on it! On a positive note, the weather has been awesome, and we’ve been spending evenings around a campfire cooking hotdogs and s’mores, which is always a treat.

So far, my practice has been a little tough. I didn’t expect the Smith Mountain bass to be as far along as they were, but as it is right now this tournament could set up to be even more of a sight fishing bonanza than it was last year. Getting bit these last couple days has been pretty easy, but finding the bigger bass has been a struggle for me. What makes it even more frustrating is I know that several of the other competitors have found some of the lake’s better bass. I have spent my last 2 practice days eliminating a lot of water, but on Wednesday I am going to try and find some more respectable sized fish. I’m staying positive, because I know that this year I am well due to catch ‘em at Smith Mountain!

Next week we are swinging down to Kentucky Lake for pre-practice. My Dad is going to meet us there, and go out fishing with me. Kentucky Lake in April should be a lot of fun, I’m really looking forward to it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Crunch Time

Wow, time at home has gone by too fast! There is a lot to pack for this trip, because once we leave on Thursday we won’t be back until June. Practice for the Smith Mountain event starts on Monday, so I’m hoping to have plenty of time to arrive safely and get settled in over there. I really think this year at Smith Mountain is going to be different than our trip there last year. Sight fishing probably won’t play as big of a role, so hopefully I can put together a pattern more suited towards my skills.

This time at home has given me a chance to catch up with family and friends. We had a really good Easter with my folks, and to tell you the truth it really just hit us the other day that we already have to get back out on the road! But while we were at home we had some fun. The kids and I caught a mess of trout out of Lake Quivira, and fried them up for supper that evening. Dinner that night made me realize just how much better a mess of fried crappie is!

While I was in California, I bought quite a few swimbaits to try out. So, while we were at home I made time to test them out on the lake. The fish aren’t quite as far along as they need to be to really get on a swimbait bite out on Lake Quivira, but I did manage to catch a few fish. After tinkering and playing with so many different swimbaits, I determined that the best producers for me are still the Osprey and Basstrix swimbaits. I really wish that I could have had the opportunity to hone my swimbait skills.

Now, being that I took 5th place at the Classic, I figured I could reward myself a little bit. I’m an avid hunter during the off-season, and an avid hunter needs to be prepared for any and all situations while out in the field. So, I bought myself a new bow from B&B Archery, not to replace anything but to be used as a back-up if something should happen. The folks at B&B are amazing, and I really enjoy doing business with them. I love fishing, but I’m really looking forward to archery deer season right now!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Home for a Little While

Wow, after 2 months on the road we are finally home! We just drove from Clear Lake California to Kansas City, only about 1,850 miles. We left Clear Lake last Sunday and drove 2 days to Park City, Utah. I finally got Bobbi talked into stopping and doing a little snow skiing. I haven’t been skiing in about 6 years, so it was a real fun stop. The kids took lessons for a day, and then they came along with Bobbi and I. The ski stop really helped break the trip up, and not make it feel quite as long. I’m definitely going to have to make sure that I don’t let another 6 years go by before we all go skiing again.

The drive from Clear Lake back home was really fun because it was a route we had never taken before. We saw lots of wildlife, from antelope and elk in the west to waterfowl and sand hill cranes in Nebraska. We got home on the evening of Friday, March 26th, and now I am looking forward to some unpacking and unwinding.

In February, prior to the Classic, I was very organized. Honestly, the most organized I have ever been in my career. But now, 2 months later, it seems that all of the organization has come undone. So, sometime during these 10 days at home I am going to have to try and find a way to get everything put back together, and hopefully get back to that “February” state of mind. In the short time that we have been home, I was able to get out on our dock and catch a few fish. I would have been happy with just 1 or 2 in the short amount of time I spent on the dock, but I probably caught about a dozen or more bass in about 15 minutes! The bait that yielded such impressive results is one that I am really looking forward to putting to good use in the rest of the season. It was a War Eagle Ultravibe Spinnerbait. The bait sports a Colorado blade and a tear drop shaped willow blade, and the combination of the two puts off incredible vibration. I am very impressed with this spinnerbait, and really looking forward to using it on the tournament trail.

Now I am looking forward to regrouping, reorganizing, and spending time at home with family and friends. Easter is coming up, and we are very excited to be at home with loved ones for this holiday. Over the next 10 days we are going to have to try and spend as much quality time with friends and family as possible, because after we leave for Smith Mountain we won’t be back home until the middle of June!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

We Survived California!

The family and I just stopped for the night at a campground off of Interstate 80 in Nevada. We drove past beautiful Lake Tahoe, and Bobbi had to talk me into not stopping to do a little skiing. When we left California, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. Both the Delta and Clear Lake are such amazing fisheries, and I feel like the timing wasn’t quite right to really hit them good. I would love to go back to Clear lake in the summer, and get on some of that awesome frog action I heard so much about. While we’re all sad to leave California, my wallet is pretty happy to be heading home for a bit. I probably spent $500 on those fancy California swim baits that we all hear so much about!

Well, here’s how my Clear Lake practice went:

Practice was tougher than expected. The weather forecast called for really nice weather, which meant sunny, warm, bluebird conditions. While the days were warm and pleasant, at night time the temperatures would drop back down to the low 30s. So, any water temperature gain during the day was lost at night. This made it difficult, because everyday we had to start all over again. The water would temperatures would start out in the low 50s each day, and by the afternoon hit the upper 50s. This had the fishing moving shallower and shallower in the afternoon, but when it cooled back off in the evenings the fish would vacate the shallows.

My first practice day was my best. I caught fish flipping, and caught one key 4 lb. fish cranking a Wiggle Wart. I was also able to put together a drop shot pattern, but mainly just caught keepers on it. The rest of my practice was spent searching water, and finding areas similar to the ones that produced for me on the first day.

Day one of the tournament:

My expectations weren’t very high going into the tournament, but I caught a break and was boat #3 to take off. This gave me the opportunity to fish a local hole before many others got to it. I fished a drop shot in this area, and after 2 hours and only 1 keeper I had to abandon that area. At about 9:30 I ran up to the bank where I caught my fish on a Wiggle Wart in practice. After my first pass down the bank I had caught 17 lbs. From there I ran on to another spot and caught a 5 lber flipping, and a couple more fish on the Wiggle Wart. With 20 minutes left in the day I caught one more 5 lber flipping a UV Beaver in some tules. I was quite pleased with my day, but I really estimated the weights that the other anglers would bring in.

Day two:

Right off the bat I ran down to my Wiggle Wart spot. I really anticipated the bite to be better there because that day there was some wind and clouds. Unfortunately the wind blew in a giant mat of floating dead tules right over the area I had been catching them on my Wiggle Wart. I couldn’t make a cast without catching a dang tule! So, I headed out of there and ran back to my flipping spot, and caught a 3 lber. Ran on down to my drop shot area. I got there at about noon, and only had one fish. There were 2 other pros in this area fishing, and they were both catching and culling fish. I started to feel a little frustrated. I ended up catching 3 keepers on the drop shot, and left at 1:30 for my Wiggle Wart spot. I caught a 3, a 4, and one that culled one of the small drop shot fish. I felt fortunate to make the day 3 cut, but I also felt optimistic as I was in 23rd place and only out of the top 12 by about 3 pounds.

Day 3:

I felt that I had nothing to lose and nothing to gain. Alton clued me into a spot that had really produced for him, so that is where I went to start my day. I threw a big swim bait, and after about 20 minutes, it was fish on! The strike was good, the fight was good, and as I got the fish boat side I discovered that it was only a 3 lber! Only fish I caught on that swim bait. After I caught that fish, I ran to my tules and was able to catch a 3 ½ lber, and then ran on to my Wiggle Wart spot. I caught a 2 ½ lber pretty quick, but really had to work hard for another bite. I finally caught another fish on the Wiggle Wart, and it went about 4 lbs. I bailed on that spot at about 1:30, and ran back to the spot I started my day on. When I pulled in on it, there were 8 locals fishing. I watched them catch a few fish, and then they gave way so that I could have a shot at it. I pulled out my flipping stick and went to work on some dead matted tules. I caught a 3 and a 4, which gave me the chance to cull. I kind of scrambled the rest of the day, and couldn’t come up with anything else. There was a lot of boat traffic on the lake on Saturday, and I think it really kept the fish from feeling comfortable in the shallows.

I finished 27th in the tournament, but given the practice that I had, I feel very fortunate. This tournament kind of helped ease the pain of my Delta tournament, and it moved me up into 44th in AOY standings. Now, we are headed back to Lake Quivira for some time off. This long drive will give me an opportunity to refocus for the Smith Mountain tournament in April. Until then, I will get to spend some time at home, and get some time in on Lake Quivira!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First Stop: Cal Delta

The Cal Delta event was a pretty frustrating start to my Elite Series season. Practice for me went pretty well, but I think the unpredictability of the tides got the better of me. In practice I was able to dial into a couple of patterns. The first one was cranking a Luhr Jensen Speed Trap along riprap banks. The second was flipping a Tightlines UV Beaver bait. I didn’t ever catch any hogs in practice, but I had enough bites to make me feel comfortable going into the first day of the tournament.

Day 1:
I picked an area to fish that I felt comfortable and confident in, and I stuck with that area. Everything started off great. I caught my first fish at about 6:40 A.M. on my fourth flip with my UV Beaver. The rest of the morning lasted forever, as I didn’t get another bite until about noon when I finally switched things up and started fishing a Tightlines UVenko. My third and final fish of the day came right before I headed back to the ramp. I was cranking the Luhr Jensen Speed Trap along a riprap bank. It was a pretty rough day, but I kept my sights set on day two.

Day 2:
I fished some different water, and again caught my first fish right at the start of the morning. This time I was throwing a War Eagle spinnerbait. As the day progressed, I managed three more keepers on that spinnerbait, but I was never able to tap into the big fish that I really needed.

I felt as if I was in the right areas to do well, but never could get the rhythm of the tide and the feeding periods figured out. What really hurt was when I found out that John Crews spent his tournament in an area that I fished last time we visited the Delta. I fished there in practice, but must not have timed it quite right because I never found anything that made me want to stay. All in all, I really wish I could have managed a better finish, but I have to remember that this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. I have seven more chances at redemption, and it’s going to be sweet!

We’re headed to Clear Lake next, and I am very excited about this one. There won’t be any tides to worry about, and we just might hit it at the perfect time!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Arriving in California

We finally made it to California! The trip was very long, it took us about 25 hours to get here from Dallas. The drive out here is so beautiful, we really had fun despite the amount of time spent driving.

We got to stop at the Grand Canyon, and take in the beautiful sights (check out the pictures below). The kids and I got to throw snowballs over the rim of the canyon! When we were there that morning the temperature was 26 degrees, and by the time we arrived in California it was 75 degrees! So far the weather has been real nice for us out here, which is quite the relief given all the weather we have experienced in the last few weeks.

Being that we arrived early (we got here on the 4th) I have had a lot of time to prepare for this tournament. I am very excited to fish the Delta, and also very excited to fish Clear Lake. These tournaments are back to back, so I really used my extra time to prepare for two tournaments not just one. It looks as though this area has got some rain in the past weeks, the water is pretty muddy. Probably going to be fishing a pre-spawn style event. I can’t wait to get out on the water and check it out! I will let you all know how practice goes before the start of the event.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

Great Week in Dallas

This past week we’ve been in Dallas spending time with family. Kind of a home away from home for us. I had a chance to catch my breath and relax a little bit so I could get myself refocused for the next tournament on the Delta. Also had some time to reorganize and prep my tackle for this trip out west. It’s always good to stay ahead of the game just in case something were to put us behind schedule. I had the chance to talk to a lot of people this weekend while working at the Bass Pro Shops Spring Classic, and I am blown away by all of the congratulations and well-wishes I received from fans. Thanks so much, your words are very appreciated!

While visiting the Bass Pro Shops in Garland, Grapevine, and Shreveport I had the pleasure of working with one of my all time Bass heroes…Tommy Martin. It was an extreme honor to compare stories and notes with a man that I remember watching give seminars at the Bass Pro in Springfield Missouri when I was young. What a cool experience! I also met the founder of the LSU Fishing Team while I was in Louisiana, and I have to say it is really refreshing to talk to these college-aged fisherman who are so passionate about the sport of bass fishing. While at the Spring Classic there was an impressive amount of people out buying fishing equipment, which is awesome. I also noticed that the Wright and McGill Skeet Reese Tessera Rods were being bought left and right. I am very proud and excited to be a part of the success and popularity of these new rods!

Now we’re back on the road again, heading out west. It’s going to be a long drive, but we are going to have some good family fun and plan on stopping at the Grand Canyon! I am very excited about fishing the Delta this year, as it suits my style of fishing very well. The tournament should set up to be a primetime pre-spawn/spawn flipping event, and I can’t wait to pull my new Tessera flipping sticks out of the rod locker and put them to good use. This will be my third trip to the Delta, and both times before I have earned a check, so I am looking forward to doing some good work there this year.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Classic

Ask anyone who fished Lay Lake this past week, and they will tell you the fishing was tough. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who unlocked the secret to making Lay’s bass bite. Here’s how I caught my fish during the Bassmaster Classic:
On day one I planned on fishing in Beeswax Creek just about a half mile from take-off. As the 2009 AOY, Kevin got to launch first. I watched him, expecting him to make that turn out to the main lake, but instead he turned the other direction towards the back of Beeswax, where I was planning on fishing…my heart sunk! Staying positive, however, is crucial. I headed on back there and stuck to my guns, even though I had to share my fish with what seemed like everyone else in the field. My day one limit-catching baits were a ½ oz. red-eye shad, a wiggle wart, and a finesse jig fished near the bridge pilings. My bigger fish that day came on a ¾ oz. Excalibur one-knocker bait retrieved just ticking the top of the grass.
On day two the conditions totally changed. There were high bluebird skies, and the fishing got even tougher. I caught my limit that day on the red-eye shad, even though throughout the day my intuition was telling me to throw a smaller, subtler crank. I just passed that idea off, and kept on chunking and winding the bait that caught fish the day before. To make the day hurt even more, I lost a decent fish on that red-eye shad.
On day three I started on the bridge before Kevin’s spectators had a chance to get over top of the fish. I caught my first keeper there on a wiggle wart. After that I went back to fishing the grass with the red-eye shad. After the first pass with the red-eye shad yielded no fish, I remembered my thought from the day before about that smaller crank bait. I tied on a rapala DT6, and almost immediately caught my biggest fish of the week! This bass went about 4lbs, and absolutely choked that crank! I kept on working my area with that DT6 and on the first pass with that bait I caught about 14lbs. When the wind and clouds moved in I switched back to the big one-knocker and caught a 3lber on my first cast to a point that Kevin Wirth had just got done fishing! I really wished I would have camped out on that point for the tournament, because every time I hit it, I caught a fish. Day three was my best day of the entire tournament.

So, that’s my classic in a nutshell, and it is one that I will definitely not forget anytime soon. Now we are in Dallas spending time with family. We thought we could get away from the snowy weather, but we thought wrong. I think this stuff follows us around! While we are here in Texas, I will be working at the Bass Pro Shops Spring classic in both the Dallas/Ft. Worth store and the Bossier City store. So, this week will be nice to catch some rest and relaxation with family, and spend some time with my wife and kids because I hardly got to see them last week. And come Monday, it is back on the road we go, as we are headed to California for the first event of the 2010 Elite season on the Delta. We are keeping our fingers crossed about having to deal with any bad weather!

I want to thank everyone for all of their support during the Classic. I really appreciate it, and it’s good to know that there are that many people watching and caring about me. In talking with some of you, I found out how disappointed you were in my lack of TV airtime. Believe me, I was disappointed too. I didn’t expect to get a ton of TV time with a fifth place finish, but I was hoping for some, especially for my sponsor’s sake! Please, if any of you feel strongly enough about this, send a comment to Bassmaster’s Customer Service, the e-mail is This was without a doubt the best Classic I have ever competed in, and I can only hope that the momentum and the confidence I gained during this past weekend will translate into success during the 2010 Elite season. Thanks again everyone!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cautiously Optimistic

Today is media day, which is always an exciting time for us. I get to have some face to face time with various outdoor media outlets. And when media day is all over, I get to head back to the campground and enjoy some rest and relaxation while I get my tackle prepared for the big contest tomorrow.

Yesterday was the last day of practice, and I had a chance to eliminate a lot of water. The majority of my time yesterday was spent looking for areas with qualities similar to those of my confirmed fishing spots. I double checked those areas, and was able to get a few bites, so I’m feeling good about my decisions.

I think all of us out here are keeping a close eye on the weather man. Right now there is sun in the forecast which will only help things, but with the way the temperatures dip down below freezing every night, any increase in water temperature that occurs during the day is lost at night. But, I will just stay positive and be thankful for the sunshine!

As far as the competition goes, I know better than to be overly confident. But I said it once and I’ll say it again, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about this tournament.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Classic Practice

We finally made it to Birmingham after our long drive from Lake Quivira. The family is getting settled into our home away from home, but it has taken a little longer than expected. I mean, it’s not really a trip without a few major malfunctions, and minor set backs, right? Check out Bobbi’s blog post, she tells the story better than I can!

Anyway, as you all may know, the weather here in the Birmingham area is less than desirable. On the first day of practice, it started snowing at 9a.m. and didn’t stop until 6p.m.! Being from Kansas, I can handle this weather, but these Alabama bass don’t know what to do with snow and water temperatures in the upper thirties. Despite the weather, I’ve managed to locate some good fish and have determined the spots I plan to fish during the big tournament. Both practice days so far have been an all day grind, but I wouldn’t expect anything less given these conditions.

The Classic is a completely different tournament, and not just because of the physical challenges, but because of the mental challenges. No one wins the classic by playing it safe. The classic is won by swinging for the fences and going for the win. And even with all that in mind, I still feel cautiously optimistic.

Monday, February 15, 2010

This year I am proud to introduce Tightlines Lure Company as my boat wrap sponsor. Tightlines Lure Company is one of the global leaders in UV technology, producing baits with UV enhancing qualities that attract and tempt bass to bite!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

On Our Way to Birmingham!

It’s the middle of February, and in the world of bass fishing, that means Classic time! I’ve had a long and recuperative break between the end of the 2009 regular season and now. I was disappointed at the end of the Oneida tournament, but now that I have had some time to reflect and focus, I couldn’t be happier with the way that I performed in 2009. Consistency pays off, and for the ninth time in my career, I’m a Bassmaster Classic contender.

During the off-season, I had the opportunity to give back to the outdoor community around me. I was involved in the 7th annual Fishing For Freedom Tournament on Truman Lake, where I had the opportunity to spend time with some of our country’s wounded warriors on and off the water. What a humbling and gratifying experience. I also had the opportunity to get to know the Kansas State University Fishing Team, and speak at one of their club meetings. I commend these guys for all that they are doing in the fishing world, and find myself wishing that collegiate angling would have been available to me when I was their age! Last year I also helped to coordinate a much needed deer management program for my community. We were able to harvest several does, and over time if our efforts continue we will be able to see a much healthier and balanced local deer population.

As a professional bass fisherman, about 7 months of each year revolve around a certain aquatic dwelling green fish. But during the off-season I am able to focus on my favorite terrestrial quarry: the white tailed deer. And this deer season, I was extremely fortunate to harvest my 3rd largest buck ever, which grossed 163 typical inches, from southeastern Kansas. As much as I love bass fishing, I also love the time I am able to spend in the woods deer hunting.

Now the off-season is behind us, and all of the activities, organization, and preparation are done. We’re headed to Birmingham, and I can honestly say that I feel good going into this one. My head is in the right place. I was actually packed and ready three days early, which is a feat when you’re moving your entire family out of your home and into a mobile apartment for 6 months! With all that said, I am really excited to represent my sponsors as I compete in my ninth Bassmaster Classic. This season I will be fishing with the all new Lazer Trokar hooks, the sharpest hooks in the industry. I will also have the opportunity to tap into Skeet Reese’s fishing rod know-how as I will be fishing his signature line of rods from Wright and McGill. I will also be outfitted for battle this season with Wright and McGill’s Sabalos Casting Reels. Ultimately, I am thrilled to continue my association with Eagle Claw. They have been with me since my start in the early 90’s when I was fishing Central Pro Am tournaments, and I am so happy to have them at my side for my ninth Classic appearance! Also this year, I will be fishing out of my 2010 Triton 21HP and 250 Mercury ProXS, which I just picked up from the wrap shop, and I have to say, the new sponsor wrap looks great! We plan to unveil the new wrap soon, so check back for pictures of the rig!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I am down to the wire. I have spend the last few days working on tackle. I have been watching archive DVDs of tournaments and getting mentally focused. I want this Classic. This is my 9th time to the BASS Master Classic and I want to take the victory lap.
I am bringing home the camper and Bobbi will be getting it ready. My wife is AWESOME (I know.) Mason and Makayla have their last week at school and then Bobbi will start homeschooling. This week will fly by and we will be ready for the season (somehow.)
As most of you know, when I am not fishing- I am working on our land. I love land management and working on wildlife habitats. We received an honor last week from Anderson County. It might not seem like much to some people...but to me it is a true honor.
"Certificate of appreciation for making a difference in wildlife habitat"
2009 Wildlife Award.
Thank You Anderson County.

Monday, January 25, 2010

January is a crazy time at the Chapman house!

January is crazy busy. This is the month that all the procrastinating catches up and all the last minute details have to be taken care of. This past week was a blur! I left Monday to drive to Nashville and pick up my 2010 Triton. (I will get pictures online soon.) Picked up the boat Tuesday and drove back to KC. Wednesday was spent at Show Me Campers and Boats installing all my upgraded equipment. We put on the new Fulton F2 Jack and Fulton F2 winch, installed the electronics and batteries, and made sure everything is ready for competition. I will break in the boat this week and be make sure it runs perfectly before we head to the Classic.
Thursday I delivered campers and boats down the the show at Bartle Hall. Friday and Saturday I did a promotion at Anglers Outpost in Kentucky. Sunday we went to church and spent time together as a family before I helped return a few boats from Barte Hall to Show Me Campers and Boats. Crazy busy week.
This week we will be wrapping up all last minute details. I still need to order my Costa's and a few other items, test some new product, break in the boat, order new jerseys, finish the truck wrap and start getting the camper ready.
January may be hectic, but it is exciting. I will breathe much easier once we get everything done and loaded. The Classic is on my mind and I am ready to get to Lay Lake!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The 2010 Triton is ready. I am picking up my boat in Nashville in the morning. I cannot wait to see what the new wrap looks like.
My new Fulton F2 Jack and Wench arrived, the electronics are here. I am ready to get my equipment rigged and ready for competition. One of the major keys to success on the BASS Elite Series is having great equipment. I spend a good portion of the off-season researching new products and getting my boat and truck ready. Getting all of my tackle, rods, reels, baits...everything ready for the next tournament season.
When I head to the BASS Master Classic, I like to feel confident in all my gear. I will be working hard the next few weeks and plan to go to the Classic knowing that I have the best boat, outboard, trolling motor, electronics, jack and trailer wench, baits, line, hooks...You name it.
It's crunch time. I will keep you posted!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Being outdoors in the woods or on the water is in my blood. I grew up loving to fish and always had a competitive spirit. When I got introduced to professional bass fishing...I was hooked. The thought of making my living doing something that I love is incredible. I have been fishing on the professional circuits for 15 years and done well enough to support my family.
I had no idea that an avid outdoors man and angler would have to learn to use the computer!!!!

I am not a computer genius...but I am going to try to keep all my fans, friends and family better informed of my journey through the world of professional bass tournaments.

This year I will make a commitment to 'blogging.' (I have no idea what the word blogging means, but I will type a few lines and post a few pictures on the computer for all of you.)
I am competing on the BASS Elite Series and the PAA tournament series in 2010. It will start with the BASS Master Classic. This is my 9th time qualifying for the Classic and I am ready for the WIN!!

We leave for the Classic in three weeks. I am wrapping up all my deer hunting and preparing for fishing season.
I will keep you informed and look forward to 2010.