Red River Bassmaster Open: Q&A with Andy Young

We sat down with Andy Young to discuss his experience fishing the Bassmaster Open on the Red River last weekend. It was a good conversation filled with smiles and lessons learned.

Andy Young during the tournament.

Andy Young during the tournament.

What were your thoughts before going into the tournament?

It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to be able to compete at this level and I’m just grateful to have a chance. I was hoping to get out of there with a check, but it didn’t happen…this time.

How much experience have you had in tournament fishing and, specifically, fishing this location?

I’ve been fishing tournaments since 1997 but have never fished this body of water (the Red River).

I prefished for five days, and found what I thought was the right fish, but unfortunately didn’t catch them. I think this was mainly due to the fishing pressure, there were a lot of elite guys out there before me that may have cleaned up the area before I got there.

I stuck to my game plan, and that might have hurt me because I stayed in my starting spot too long on day one. However, day two went pretty well. If I could have performed on both days like I did on day two, I would have had a stronger finish and would have been in the money.

What gear did you use during the tournament?

On day one, I used a Biovex crank bait and a Zoom fluke. On day two, I used a Biovex wake bait and a Biovex spinner bait and also an Outcast swim jig. I caught my biggest fish on the Biovex wake bait in one to four feet water with lilypads stumps and mixed in vegetation.

How did you finish?

I finished 89th place out of 189 boats. It’s obviously not what I wanted but I took home some lessons for next time and I’m looking to redeem myself in September for the second Bassmaster Open on the Arkansas River.

What were the lessons you’ll apply to next time?

The biggest lesson I learned was to not try to make it happen if it’s not going to happen (chuckles). The pros at this level are like vacuum cleaners and can easily clean the fish out of an area. Next time, if I find that my game-plan location is not leading to any big bites, I will be on the move.

Andy Young is a krugerfarms.com pro angler, fishing the Bassmaster Open tournaments. You can like him on Facebook here for updates on his fishing experience. He is also a host of the Miller High Life/krugerfarms.com Big Bass Derby. Enter for a chance to fish in the Big Bass Derby with him here (21+ yo, US citizens)!

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Jerkbait Spring Fishing: Jerk, Jerk, Pause…

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

The ice is starting to melt in Minnesota and one of the first baits I am itching to reach for is a suspending jerkbait. Early spring jerkbait fishing used to mean wrapping the hook shanks of my Rapala Original Floaters with lead wire or solder to get them to suspend “just right” in the water. But these days, there are tons of great options right out of the box from Rapala and many other manufacturers.

In my opinion, the Rapala Husky Jerk was one of the first suspending jerkbaits to really get it right. It has proven successful over time, and is a bait that I still use today. The Husky Jerk is great because it has subdued action when twitched and suspending; plus, there are tons of great colors and sizes for just about any situation.

On the other hand of the spectrum, this is the time to take a look at the newer, high-end rip baits from companies like Jackall. Baits like the Squad Minnow and Squirrel jerkbaits have flashy paint jobs and a great rolling action when worked correctly.

No matter which jerkbait I pull from the box, I throw it on a 10-12lb fluorocarbon line. I like light fluorocarbon for two reasons: its sinking properties helps the bait reach a few extra inches in depth, and the lower stretch of fluorocarbon really makes the bait pop when I work it. I always complete my setup with my rod of choice—a Dobyns Champion 704 CB. This has a great tip for making these types of baits dance underwater and has a soft action for fighting bigger fish on light line.

Suspending jerkbaits are a great tool for pulling bass from coldwater, so give them a try from the moment the ice is out until the waters get into the mid- to upper- 50 degree range. While these baits will work year-round, the prime range for jerkbait fishing is during this cold water spring fishing.

With this successful setup, all you need to do is work on your cadence: jerk, jerk, pause…

Rich Lindgren is a tournament bass angler living in Lakeville, MN chasing bass all over Minnesota and its adjoining states. Bass blogger, podcaster and fishing promoter. You’ll see him fishing the Minnesota bass tournament scene representing krugerfarms.com and Dobyns Rods among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@HellaBass) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/bassinblog).

Jerkbait Spring Fishing

Pro Shop Grand Reopening in Starbuck, MN

Sign BorderAs many of you know, the farm in Starbuck, MN is the heart and soul of krugerfarms.com. At the farm, we have put a lot of time and effort into making sure the birds and animals have everything they need to flourish.  We have restored 600 acres of prairie for nesting and fawning cover, nine wetlands so there is plenty of water, and we plant nearly 40 acres of food plots so the pheasants and deer will have something to eat all the way through the winter.

Now, we’ve expanded our passion for improving the farm to our pro shop. Our goal is to provide Starbuck, MN and the surrounding area a retail location with our specialized focus on guide-recommended gear. This is a place where you can get your hands on the products and see where they are tested each year.  The newly remodeled pro shop offers the top name-brand gear that we sell on krugerfarms.com:  ammo, decoys, the world’s largest Rapala selection, Sitka, Drake, well you get the idea.  In addition, our pro shop offers some of the most in-demand products we don’t currently sell online, such as bows and new and used guns!

Come join us this Saturday, on April 27th for the Grand Reopening. We’re going to have extended hours, 9:00am-6:00pm, to celebrate all that we’ve been able to accomplish with this remodel. It’ll be a great chance to check out our latest products, to hang out with fellow hunters and anglers, and to take advantage of our event specials!

Click here to view a few photos on the renovation results! We have a Facebook event created for this event, check it out and RSVP here!

Gearing Up for Shed Hunting in Canada

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Gussy's Friend with ShedWe are still buried under a blanket of snow across most of Ontario’s Sunset Country, delaying the start of our spring shed hunting season, but much of the Midwest is now clear of snow.  As soon as the snow melts it will be prime time to hit the woods in search of shed antlers across the ice belt.  This is because there is no grass hindering our ability to see freshly dropped antlers.  The snow also preserves all of the deer rut signs from the previous fall so we’re killing two birds with one stone when we hit the woods.  Not only might we find a giant shed antler, but we’re also able to see all the significant deer signs from the previous fall—things like fresh rubs, scrapes and tracks.

Hard Work Pays Off

I have put in many days where I’ve walked for 12 hours straight, through swamps, some of the thickest brush you can imagine and up big hills.  I strike out during some days and don’t find much, but many times my friends and I have found over 100 sheds in one day.

In Ontario’s Sunset Country region, we find most of our sheds on the south facing sides of the biggest hills and ridges.  We scout areas on topographical maps then make a plan for how to access them.  The best spots are more than a mile from the nearest road or the lake shoreline.  These are places that hunters generally can’t get to; so we’re walking on land that sees very little human activity.  When we find 100+ sheds in a day, these include a lot of old sheds—some of which are faded and chewed on—but when we find multiple sheds in the middle of an open ridge, we know that nobody has walked through that opening in a long time!

In the big woods that I shed hunt, a handheld GPS is critical to avoid getting lost.  It can be easy to navigate on our own during sunny days, but on cloudy days it can be almost impossible without GPS.  GPS units like the Garmin Rino 120 also feature a radio—which is an added bonus.  The cool thing about shed hunting is that there is no limit to how many people can be involved.  It’s a social activity, which is why I have so much fun doing it.  My friends and I have contests when we go for the most sheds, biggest or first find of the day.  Having a radio helps us interact and keep track of everyone’s location.

Good day for shed hunting

Finding Comfortable and Durable Gear

The most important part of enjoying a shed hunting experience is being comfortable.  That means dressing properly—from my base layers to my boots.  Walking through rough terrain all day is a great body workout so I want to wear quality boots.  Over the years I have worn several different boots and have come to rely on the Danner Pronghorn GTX for its durability and its water resistance.  The Under Armour-Armour Guard shirt is my favorite base layer because it’s not super tight fitting and it will dry quickly if I break a sweat climbing a big hill.  For my pants, I definitely want something rugged and durable because I’ll be rubbing them on all kinds of sticks and branches.  The Mountain Khaki Alpine Utility Pant is super tough and extremely comfortable—it’s the only pant I wear in the woods anymore.  It’s a top quality product!

Spring is a great time of year to get outside and enjoy time with your friends.  If you find any big shed antlers this spring, be sure to share photos with us on the krugerfarms.com Facebook page!

Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the Walmart FLW Tour representing krugerfarms.com and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/gussyoutdoors).

Gussy and Friend Shed Hunting

Beaver Lake FLW Tour Recap

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

The third FLW Tour event of the season took place this past weekend at Beaver Lake in Arkansas. I arrived at Beaver a little bit intimidated. The tour has come to this body of water 15 times since its inception 18 years ago, so most of the anglers have significant experience fishing tournaments on this water. But even though I had less experience on this lake, I was fortunate to walk away with a solid 45th place finish.

When doing my research, I learned that there were varying water clarities in Beaver Lake. The lower end near the dam had really clear water; while the upper end of the lake featured dirty water. I decided I would likely be more comfortable fishing in the clear water, so I chose to focus on that during my first day of practice.

The Alabama Rig

I also knew that since this was going to be a pre-spawn tournament the Alabama Rig would likely come into play. This rig has been dominant on

All I could catch on the Alabama Rig were these white bass...they like it!
All I could catch on the Alabama Rig were these white bass…they like it!

lakes across the United States over the past few months but my confidence in it is low because I haven’t gotten a good bite with it yet.  I just can’t catch fish with it, it’s driving me crazy!

I had very limited success with it during practice so I did not throw it much during the actual event. As it turned out most of the top finishing anglers in the tournament threw the “rig” throughout the event. I will have to spend more time working with this rig in the future so that it can be a significant part of my arsenal next year during these winter/prespawn tournaments.

Can’t Go Wrong with a Jerkbait

I was able to get on fish fairly quickly during practice by throwing a suspending jerkbait. The Jackall SquadMinnow 115 was my bait of choice all week. It’s also the same bait that Cliff Pace used to win the Bassmaster Classic back in February. I fished this lure in a jerk-jerk-jerk-long pause cadence and was able to cover water, while still using a lure that the fish wanted to bite. It’s important when you fish a new lake and have limited time to find fish (in our case, three days of practice) that you use a lure that has the ability to cover water. Once you find fish you can then slow down and use other types of baits.

Gussy on Beaver Lake

Gussy on Beaver Lake

During both days of the tournament, I put together mixed bags of smallmouths, spotted bass and largemouths that weighed 11-7 and 10-9 respectively. I was happy with a top 50 finish because these FLW Tour events pay $10,000 to 50th place—I consider that a success!

What’s Next?

Next up on the tour schedule is a mid-May tournament at Lake Eufala, Alabama. Eufala is full of big bass so I’m looking forward to hauling the krugerfarms.com/Lund Predator down there in a few weeks! I’ll be sure to share another update on this blog after the event.

In the meantime it looks like I’ll be back on the ice when I get back to Ontario’s Sunset Country this week. We are having an extremely late spring and will have late ice out. Walleye season is closed but I can still chase lake trout, pike and crappies.

Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the Walmart FLW Tour representing krugerfarms.com and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/gussyoutdoors).

Checklist for a Successful Kids Fishing Trip

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

There are few things I find more rewarding than taking my girls out on a fishing trip and exposing them to the enjoyment of the outdoors. I think it’s important to get the kids out on the water so that we can spend some time together and they can begin a lifetime of embracing outdoor activities.

When taking kids out fishing, there are a few items I am sure to bring that make the trip more enjoyable for everyone!  A life jacket is crucial–it’s the law and kid’s safety is nothing to fool with.  I also make sure to bring lots of snacks & drinks–no matter how good the fishing is, kids have more fun with snacks.  It’s obvious that you need to bring bait, but regardless of whether the bait is live or artificial, I recommend bringing some small bait in order to target panfish.  I also make sure to pack a camera so that I never miss out on capturing all of the fun. You never know when that picture-perfect moment will arise!  Finally, it’s important to keep an open mind because it’s not always about the fishing–boat rides, swimming or just playing in the boat are all fair game.

Make it more about the experience of being in the outdoors and not always about the catch. When it comes to fishing, remember that most kids would rather catch one hundred little ones than one big one.

Checklist for Kids Fishing Trip

Rich Lindgren is a tournament bass angler living in Lakeville, MN chasing bass all over Minnesota and its adjoining states. Bass blogger, podcaster and fishing promoter. You’ll see him fishing the Minnesota bass tournament scene representing krugerfarms.com and Dobyns Rods among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@HellaBass) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/bassinblog).

Fishing Bedding Bass – Ethical or Not?

Map from North American Fishing Club (NAFC) article

Map from North American Fishing Club (NAFC) article

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

Here we sit, the first full week in April and the spawning band rapidly shifts north day by day. Which brings up the question: is it ethical to target bedding bass?

Many Northern states have regulations and closed seasons to prevent anglers from fishing for bass during the spawn. Yet, most anglers at one time or another are presented with the opportunity to be on the water when some population of bass is spawning. Many anglers feel it’s unethical or “less sporting” to visually fish for bedding bass, and others find it to be their favorite type of fishing. Is either group right or wrong?

In truth, many anglers who disapprove of bed fishing, probably catch bedding bass while blindly fishing in the spring more often than they know. Also, sometimes sight fishing bass can be tougher than you think. From most of the reading I have done, temporarily removing the occasional bass from a bed and then releasing it will not have any long-term effects on the fishery.  Even if, as a result of your catching a bedding bass, a predator raids the nest or a fish’s normal spawn is interrupted, all bodies of water have a certain carrying capacity for bass, so if one nest is lost, it just increases the odds of others surviving.

That being said, I rarely fish for bedding bass outside of tournaments, except for when I’m offered the rare shot at a trophy class fish. In those rare instances, I take a quick picture and put the bass immediately back into the water. It is important not to harvest large bass during the spawn because their genetics must be passed on in order to create more trophy class fish for years to come.

When I practice visual fishing for bedding bass, I usually fish without hooks just to see what types of lures trigger them best. Also, I try to avoid disturbing bedding areas with a trolling motor or outboard, because stirring up an area with a high density of beds can have a serious impact on a fishery.

So, is fishing bedding bass ethical? I think it can be. You can enjoy the resource and take advantage of this window to potentially catch your biggest fish of the year, but be respectful! Practice, catch, photo and release!

Share what you think in the comments. Is it ethical to fish bedding bass? Have you read information that has helped you decide where you stand on this issue?

Rich Lindgren is a tournament bass angler living in Lakeville, MN chasing bass all over Minnesota and its adjoining states. Bass blogger, podcaster and fishing promoter. You’ll see him fishing the Minnesota bass tournament scene representing krugerfarms.com and Dobyns Rods among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@HellaBass) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/bassinblog).

4 Quick Tips to Make Your Fish Look Bigger

You’ve caught an impressive fish while on the lake, now what? Obviously catching a large fish is the first step to gaining bragging rights, but there are ways to photograph your catch for more wow-factor.  Our professional photographer has years of experience that prove that if you follow the below steps you will have a photo fit for the pros–without photoshop.

4 Tips To Make Your Fish Look Bigger

Show us how these steps worked for you. Send pictures of your amazing fish to erin@krugerfarms.com and we’ll share them on our Facebook fan page!

Hunting Snow Geese in Western New York

Pro-staff Contributor: Chris Davanzo

In western NY, when the snow and frost laden winds start to shift from the south, they bring a mass of voracious snow geese racing north to their breeding grounds of the northern tundra. Their migration moves pretty quicklGoose Binocularsy—the geese leave the eastern shore of Maryland as well as Middle Creek Pennsylvania to stage on the western Finger Lakes before moving onto the Saint Lawrence River and up through Quebec. My group has learned to target Greater Snow Geese, which are significantly larger than their cousins found in the Midwest and on the West Coast, in and around the Finger Lakes and Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge area.

You Reap What You Sow

Snow goose hunting takes shear willpower and stamina. It requires early mornings with late nights, hours of scouting, ungodly amounts of fuel and mileage, and moving thousands of decoys a day with a small army of dedicated hunters all with one common goal.

This year, friends of Heartland Waterfowl—Matt Krekleberg, Brian Crumm, and Logan Burditt—made the 22 hour trek halfway across the country with 1200 decoys in tow. Due to changes in weather and bird movement we chose to be more mobile than just setting up and running traffic on birds. We ran a mix of Deadly Decoys, White Rock decoys and Avery full body snow goose decoys. Setting the rig of over 2500 goose decoys takes a solid 4-6 hours on average, but over the past two seasons we have realized that the more work you put into snow goose hunting the more geese you will harvest.

There’s No Business Like Snow Business

Our first few days of the season were plagued with poor weather and overall conditions.  There were overcast skies and no wind; which made it difficult to get birds to commit to our set because they were decoy-shy. On the second day, there were a ton of birds in the area but we had over an inch of rain so there was no way of getting the decoys into the field. But our patience paid off because the last three days were a different story.  We had high winds, sunny skies, and a little snow—the birds started working and coming into gun range!

The day that the weather changed started just like every other day of the season.  My alarm clock went off at 12:30 am and I eased myself awake with a hot cup of coffee and the realization of how much work was ahead of us. But when you work with a good group of guys everyone starts to fit into their niche, so the setup went very smoothly and we got the entire rig set in about three hours. The eight of us had a cool, calm demeanor as we sat in our blinds—knowing that we were in the right spot and Goose Decoyshad these geese in checkmate as we waited for dawn and the first barks from incoming snow geese. Minutes later “Snows coming!” was shouted and we covered up as the first flock came right in. With the first flocks centered up nicely, we took our shots and sighed in relief as all of the hard work of the past five days was rewarded with white feathers flurrying down upon us and the smell of burning gunpowder in the air.

The birds flew pretty consistently throughout the next two days and we were able to shoot a pile  out of that field—successfully ending a trip made of great memories, hard fought battles, and time with friends.  In the end, all of the work and waiting was worth it and we can’t wait until next season when the chase for the white devil starts again!

Chris Davanzo is from the finger lakes region of western NY. Chris is the owner and operator of Fish and Feathers Outfitters which is the Northeast’s premier outfitter for waterfowl. When Chris isn’t in the swamps chasing ducks you can find him on a trout stream or in a treestand with bow in hand. You can contact Chris via his site fandfoutfitters.com and find him on Facebook (facebook.com/chris.davanzo).

Goose Group

Fishing California Bass with Rich Dobyns

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

Last week was spring break and while my friends were at the beach, I spent a day doing something much more interesting—fishing with Gary Dobyns’s son, Rich. We fished Clear Lake in California and had so much fun! It is relatively flat and is the largest natural freshwater lake in Cali.

Michaela and some of the bass she caught on Clear Lake.

Michaela and some of the bass she caught on Clear Lake.

The fish were transitioning—most had spawned out already and were in their rest period. But even though Rich told me that the fishing was slow, we still had a great time and caught some big bass! We focused our fishing on flats and around tall, thick grass. We used giant swimbaits, which I initially had reservations about because they were bigger than many fish I have caught in Minnesota lakes. We were throwing baits that were 8-inches long and Rich mentioned that he will throw 10- and 12- inch baits as well. One of the bait fish was at least two pounds! I had never seen bait that big, but Rich informed me that the bait fish, called Tulibi, were the main food source of Clear Lake bass and can get to be over five pounds. I thought this was just crazy until I saw a huge bass case a giant baitfish to the surface and proceeded to eat it. It was like watching the fish version of Jaws—definitely a sight to see!

We caught seven fish total—the smallest was five pounds and the biggest was almost seven! We also had a few huge fish follow the swimbaits to the boat but they just wouldn’t commit. We had two fish follow that Rich said were probably close to 10-pounders by how big they looked, but I would imagine they could have been even bigger.

Our time on Clear Lake gave me a much better idea about how and why huge baits work. It was such a cool experience and such a fun day on the lake with part of the Dobyns family. I am definitely planning to go back to Cali in search of a double-digit bass!!!!

Michaela Anderson is a college angler fishing the FLW, B.A.S.S. College Circuits and select FLW Walmart Tour events representing krugerfarms.com, Trigger X and the University of St. Thomas. You can follow her on Twitter (@MichaelaFishing) and like her on Facebook (facebook.com/MichaelaAndersonFishing).