Interview with Korey Sprengel: Two-time NWT Walleye Tournament Winner in 2013

We sat down with Korey Sprengel after his second NWT tournament win in 2013 in Green Bay, WI.

What were your thoughts before going into the tournament?

I thought it was going to be a pretty good tournament for myself and our team.  We had figured out a bite where we started concentrating on big fish. If we ended up getting about five or six big bites a day we could really do well in the tournament and land in the top of the pack. We had also figured out some areas near take-off that we could head to in the afternoon if we needed to quickly fill our limit with some small fish. It all came together during prefishing—we figured it out early and basically duplicated as many areas with big fish as we could.

How did day one go in the tournament?

Day one started off a little breezy in the morning.  Basically, we were taking a 25-mile run north, so it took us a little over an hour to get to our location.  I was boat number ten so I was quite a ways ahead of everyone else. So I had some time to do a little fishing by myself. I started out and with my first pass got nothing.  Basically every pass that I was throwing afterwards, with gold and perch colored crawler harnesses and ½ oz weights, produced a fish. By 9:30am, I already had my five fish and by 11:30am I was bringing in my last fish. We’re only allowed six fish in the live well and no culling, so once the six fish are in the box we’re done.

I headed back in at 11:30am and I weighed in and won. I was the first boat to weigh in and everything went great—I got the bites that I wanted to. I kept a couple of smaller fish where I could have waited it out—but the fish in these tournaments are a lot of points too, and I wanted the Angler of the Year title, so I knew that I had to come out of the day with a limit. You can’t win the tournament on the first day, you can only lose it, so I knew I was going to be in a good position for day two.

Did you try anything that didn’t work?

I couldn’t get anything going in the morning—I never caught a fish during my first pass and had to keep bouncing around until I found an active spot of bigger fish to work over. Once I found that, my first spot didn’t work at all but I ended up pulling my last fish from there. It was just one of those things—once you find the fish you have to take what given to you. I found a very small spot where no one was fishing, so I had it completely to myself, and I plucked them out one at a time.

Photo courtesy of bearsolis.com.

Photo courtesy of bearsolis.com.

How did day two go—was it the same or did you do anything differently?

Day two started off windier than day one for take-off—it was rough out there, it was definitely a Ranger boat kind of day.  It took quite a while to get to our spot—I’ve got to say about an hour and fifteen minutes. I took my time to get there, I didn’t want to beat myself up because it was my long day and I didn’t have to be in until 5 pm. By the time I got up there, the wind had actually laid down quite a bit so it was almost perfect fishing conditions.

I knew right away that the water temperature was a lot colder than it had been. I knew that it would affect the fish, but I didn’t know it would affect them to the extent that it did. You could see a lot of guys running around at first, which I knew wasn’t a good thing. I ended up catching one fish about an hour into day two and by about 11 am I still only had that one. I started checking water temperatures around there and knew it wasn’t right so I had to leave.

I had to search for warmer water and at about 12:30pm I found a couple of spots and one spot in particular had warmer water and the conditions were right. I knew fish lived there because I saw boulders and rocks where I knew they live. During my first pass I lost one and then again in my second pass. But then I started to get one fish per pass again. So by 2:30pm I had my six fish in the live well already.  That was a good feeling—I knew that if I could get a limit on that last day it was going to be huge—it couldn’t have worked out any better.

So, you took first…what were your weights both days and what did you win for taking first place?

My weight the first day was 39.80 and my second day weight was 35.24.  The check I won read $73,300—basically $18,000 in cash and a 620 Ranger.

Korey NWT Trophy

Photo courtesy of bearsolis.com.

Wow, that’s a lot of money! How does it feel to have your second NWT Tournament win this year?

It feels awesome—I mean, from what I’ve heard, there hasn’t really been anyone who’s won two tournaments in one season on the tour-level circuit. Green Bay is one of my home bodies of water and my favorite places to fish—to finally get a win there feels awesome. The biggest thing that I wanted to get out of this tournament was to stay on top for that Angler of the Year. That’s decided on Devil’s Lake in September but I’ve been working for points in that and that’s my goal this year—to win Angler of the Year. You know, I won another tournament along the way which is great, but my goal is that title.

So what happens if you win Angler of the Year? What’s the benefit of it, other than bragging rights?

Well, for one it means you’re the most consistent angler for the whole year. As far as the money aspect—you will get the entry fees for the entire next year paid and a trophy, ring, stuff like that. I guess the bragging rights is the biggest part of that…

How much does it cost to enter each tournament?

It’s $1,500 to enter each tournament and there’s a side pot deal where it’s an extra $300, so it comes to about $1800.

What upcoming tournaments do you have on the books?

I’ve got a tournament coming up in August—it’s the MWC National Team Championship in Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan. It’s on the Canadian border on St. Mary’s river. Then there’s the final NWT event on Devil’s Lake in September. Then in October I have the MWC Championship up in Michigan.

Is there anything else you want to share before we wrap up this interview?

I’d like to thank krugerfarms.com and the krugerfarms team. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do it without Bill (Shimota) and Dusty (Minke) the whole year. Our team has worked great and basically everywhere we’ve gone we’ve been super competitive. It shows in our points that we’re always in the top. We just work very well together—breaking down a body of water and executing around tournament time. With Bill and Dusty, even if we have a bad day or don’t catch what we want, at the end of the day we’re back at the cabin laughing and smiling. That’s the biggest thing, to keep the flow going and to keep your spirits up.  We kind of feed off each other and that keeps us all going.

Photo courtesy of bearsolis.com.

Photo courtesy of bearsolis.com.

Five Truths about Alligator Hunting in Florida

Pro-staff Contributor: Zach Raulie

2012 Gator Hunt – Snatch N Cross from Zach Raulie on Vimeo.

Interest in alligators and alligator hunting has increased during the last couple of years. I think this is most likely due to the success of hit TV shows about swamp adventures. But with all of the publicity comes a lot of misinformation. For instance, many people do not know that each state that offers hunting has its own set of rules and some states only have commercial trapping, not recreational hunting.

In Florida, there are 5,700 recreational alligator hunting permits available by lottery drawing each June. The hunting season opens August 15th for four short, one-week seasons. The season reopens from mid-September through November 1st to those who have unfilled tags. Legal hunting times are from 5 pm to 10 am and each permit holder has two gator tags. If you’d like to learn more about hunting regulations in Florida, this link is a great resource.

Here are five “must know” truths about alligator hunting in Florida:

1. It is illegal to use a firearm in Florida.

You must “attach” a line to the gator rather than shooting it without having a way to bring it in. There are a few options for doing this. Typically we use our Stryker crossbow. But in certain areas it is tough to get close enough for a crossbow shot, so we’ll use a weighted snatch hook to “snag” the alligator that has submersed itself. Then we’ll use a harpoon, bow or crossbow shot to attach a line to the gator–enabling us to work the gator to the boat. A bangstick—a four- or five-foot pole that has a power head at the end of it to safely shoot the gator under water–is the best legal way to quickly kill the gator.Jen Stryker

2. It is illegal to use any type of baited hook.

Using a baited hook can put the alligator at risk, because it could swallow the hook and injure itself even if it gets away.  However, baiting is still useful and can legally be accomplished with a wire leader and a 2″ wooden peg. The alligator will swallow the bait and peg which will become lodged inside the gator allowing the hunter to pull the gator boat-side.  Also, if the gator escapes, the wooden peg will not injure the gator like a hook would. Just remember, the end of this line must be attached to a fishing rod or hand held. It cannot be unattended.

3. Each permit is assigned to a designated management unit, body of water or county.

In June, each applicant will submit to enter the lottery for tags in five locations. If the applicant is selected, he or she will be awarded two permits for one location. There is no guarantee that you will get drawn. However, if you’re not successful in the first lottery drawing, any leftover tags will be made available after the first phase drawing on a first come, first served basis. Also, if your buddy gets drawn and you don’t, you can always hunt off of his permit by purchasing an agent tag.

Scenes while scouting for gators

4. Gator hunting requires specialized gear.

Not everyone has an arsenal of snatch hooks, bangsticks and harpoons at their disposal. Do your homework and go with a buddy that has some experience. Maybe consider hiring a guide as your best solution if this is you first gator hunt. I’m a geek for lights and my favorite is the Minimus Headlamp made by Surefire. Most times a high power spotlight will alert a big gator, but a high-quality headlamp with a dimmer can allow you to sneak in inconspicuously for a shot.

5. Safety is priority #1…and common sense never hurts.

A lot can go wrong in a cypress stump laden Florida swamp at night while you’re chasing a predator that could potentially be 13-feet-long with a mouth full of nasty teeth. Cell phone service is not guaranteed and you could be many miles from the nearest boat ramp. So remember to be cautious and pack these things: PFD’s, required by law, go without question. Also, reliable lights and lighting systems will guide you safely in the dark. Finally, a GPS is a great tool when the morning fog or sudden rain storm hinders your sight. Always be prepared for the worst. Hopefully it will be completely unnecessary, but it’s better to be over prepared than caught off-guard.

Be sure to stay tuned as the 2013 gator season is almost upon us! I’ll be writing updates about our gator hunts this year on this blog.

Zach Raulie is an avid hunter and amateur retriever trainer living outside of Jacksonville, Florida. He is a multi-year qualifier for the World’s Duck Calling Contest and is highly competitive in AKC and UKC sanctioned hunt tests. You’ll see Zach representing krugerfarms.com and Lodge Creek Calls in all of his endeavors each year. You can contact Zach at zraulie@gmail.com and find him on Facebook (facebook.com/zraulie).

Gator Hunting in Florida

Recap of MTT Walleye Tournament Event on Lake Winnibigoshish

 

Nate Olson, krugerfarms.com employee, frequents MN walleye tournaments throughout the summer.

Nate Olson, krugerfarms.com employee, frequents MN walleye tournaments throughout the summer.

 

Nate Olson, avid Walleye angler and krugerfarms.com’s Customer Service and Event Coordinator, was part of the MTT (Minnesota Tournament Trail) event last weeked on Lake Winnibigoshish. Here’s what he had to share about the experience:

What tournament did you fish in last weekend?

I participated in the MTT (Minnesota Tournament Trail ) on Lake Winnibigoshish.

Are there a lot of anglers that regularly fish this lake or were you all new to the water?

We had 85 boats in the tournament on Saturday and 75 on Sunday. Winni is one of the top ten lakes in the state for tourism because of the great walleye and perch fishing, so a lot of anglers are familiar with the waters.

How’d you do?

My teammate and I finished 23rd on Saturday and 19th on Sunday.

What tactics and lures did you use to fill your bag?

We were pulling Bacon and Butter Jolly Roger spinners and crawlers, with 1-oz inline weights, in 8-10 feet of water, in the cabbage weeds, 45-75 feet back at 1.7 – 2.2 MPH. We used 10 lb. Sufix Elite line on a Shimano Tekota line counter reel and 7’ 5” medium-heavy, extra-fast rods.

When is your next tournament?

We’re hitting the MTT again on Mille Lacs lake August 16th and 17th.

Did you pick up any tricks from this tourney to apply to the next one?

Yes, when there are a lot of perch stealing your crawlers, thread them on the spinner rig with a worm threading tool. Or, if you’re in a pinch and don’t have the tool in your boat, you can use the straw off of a can of WD-40 to make one.

Any parting thoughts or words of wisdom?

The most important thing is to pay attention to what the fish are telling you. Small changes in weather conditions, like an increase or decrease in wind or clouds, can change the bite. You need to be able to make changes to your presentation, like changing the color of the spinner blade or the depth at which you run your bait, to get the fish to bite.

Breaking Down the Carolina Rig

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

The Carolina Rig, C-Rig, Quitters Rig, Old Ball and Chain, whatever you call it, is a proven fish-catching rig.  For those more familiar with walleye, the setup is actually pretty similar to a Lindy Rig.  This rig does not greatly differ from the Texas rig (which we broke down here)—the main difference is the use of a leader to separate the weight from the lure.

C Rig Lure 2

How to Set Up a C-Rig

In its simplest form, the C-rig consists of a traditional offset worm hook on one end of a leader with about 24” of line linked to a barrel swivel, then a fairly heavy barrel weight (1/2-1oz) is placed above the swivel on the main line with, more times than not, a bead for extra noise and to protect the knot from the heavy weight.  Proper rigging of the C-rig is easier if you do a little planning, especially if you prefer to use a Palomar knot.  If you use the Palomar knot, you will want to rig your leader in its entirety before attaching your main line.

A Carolina Rig can be fished at any depth, but is often used in depths of 5ft or more and is best around sparse cover.  The leader of the c-rig can often be a hindrance in really heavy weeds or brush, but on the other hand it does great around rocks and snaggy cover.

What to Use

My typical setup starts with a 7-7.5” heavy action rod—my personal favorites are my Dobyns Champion 735C or 765FLIP paired with a Curado G7. The length of the rod is critical to take up large amounts of line on a sweeping hook set and the high-speed reel helps catch up to deep fish swimming off with your lure.  I normally use 16-17lb fluorocarbon on my main line and 18-24” of 14lb mono for my leader.  I prefer a 3/4oz tungsten weight so that I can feel even the most subtle changes in bottom composition when searching for bass.  As far as lure choices, I like creature baits and lizards rigged on 3/0-4/0 EWG hooks.

This simple setup is great for kids and anglers of all skill levels. Fish often take the bait well because it has a fair amount of freedom from the weight, giving anglers ample time to set the hook.  Give it a whirl on your favorite deep rock spot or in the sparse deep grass beyond the normal weed edges—you may find a whole new untapped bunch of bass in your favorite lake or river.

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 like him on Facebook (facebook.com/bassinblog).

C Rig Rich 2

Minnesota DNR Announces First-ever August Canada Goose Season

Canada goose decoysIf you’re anything like us, you’ve been counting down the days until fall arrives and the hunting seasons open. Well, the Minnesota DNR just announced that we won’t have to wait as long as expected! In an effort to control Canada goose populations, the DNR is opening up the first August Canada goose season from Saturday, Aug. 10 to Sunday, Aug. 25.

Steve Cordts, the DNR’s waterfowl specialist, said “the state’s Canada goose population is very high and exceeds our statewide goal…We have continued agricultural depredation concerns in the western portion of the state with large numbers of Canada geese. This is one more option for us to try and increase our harvest of Canada geese.” (DNR News Release)

“Hunting will be restricted to an intensive harvest zone in west-central Minnesota. The daily bag limit will be 10 Canada geese with no possession limit.  Shooting hours will be from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. A small game hunting license, special goose permit and state waterfowl stamp are required.” (DNR News Release)

We’re going to make sure we’ve got our Avery/GHG decoys ready for this new season! Check out our Avery/GHG decoys online, or if you’re in Starbuck come to our Pro Shop Fall Primer August 2nd and 3rd! We host a Fall Primer once a year to offer you the hottest prices on hunting gear. This year, we’ll also have “try it before you buy it” firearms and we’ll be sure to have our Canada goose decoys available just before the season opens. We’re pumped that the season is now less than month away!
Compressed Map

 

Year-Round Trail Camera Tactics

Pro-staff Contributor: Brian Cote

The evolution of trail cameras has been an incredible thing to witness over the last decade or so.  I can remember looking through hunting magazines and looking at all the advertisements for the old Cam Trakker trail cameras.  When they first came out, everyone wanted one just to see what might be roaming on their hunting properties.  Because the pictures were produced on 35mm film, you needed to check the cameras on a regular basis and then rush to the store to get them developed.

Trail Cam Tactics

The digital age has helped take our scouting methods to a whole new level.  You can see how much has changed just by looking back at the pictures from the 35mm film and comparing them to the pictures you get today.  Merely having the ability to leave your camera out longer gives you more benefits than the original 35mm models. And the options are abundant—today we have options such as the Moultrie Panoramic 150 Game Camera that can take pictures that span 150 degrees in one burst.  This can help when watching a food plot, or to capture a picture of a buck trailing a doe.

Pre-Season

The placement of your cameras will change throughout the year.  During the long days of summer, when bucks antlers are in their developmental stage, placing your camera near a mineral mix is a great idea.  Using minerals will not only draw deer to your camera but will also help in their antler growth.  Joe Dirt’s Chunky Buck Mix is a great choice that brings the deer in and allows you to get the most pictures possible.  During this time, use your trail cam to discover the home territories of the bucks you plan to put on your hit list.

Early Season

When the season kicks off some of the best places to have cameras are food plots/fields and heavily used trails that travel from bedding to feeding areas.  Deer are very easy to pattern this time of year because the only thing on their mind is sleeping and feeding.  Use your trail cam to learn when deer are getting on their feet to head out and grab some food—this information will help you punch more tags.

541433_942069864130_68230395_n

The Rut

Once the temps start to drop and rut activity starts, scrapes can be one of the best places to have a camera.  Finding the correct types of scrapes will help you be more successful.  You want to target  primary scrapes that are on the interior of the woods.  Wood line scrapes, also known as secondary scrapes, are more than likely being used and checked at night which will limit your chances of catching the bucks on camera.  Primary scrapes will see the most traffic throughout the day and will also get many different bucks patrolling the area to see who is coming around their territories.  This is the time of year when you want to try and check your cameras as often as possible to know if a big buck has been cruising your area as soon as possible.

Overall

Trail cameras have come such a long way in the last 10-15 years. They scout for us in places we can only visit once or twice a month.  Having these advancements has truly helped avid hunters put more deer in the back of their trucks.  So get to the woods and get some pictures that will make your buddies jealous! If you catch anything cool on your camera, be sure to submit it to the krugerfarms.com Facebook page Trail Cam Contest—a new winner each month gets a free Wildview TK30!

Brian Cote is a website administrator at krugerfarms.com and a devoted outdoorsman.  He’s eager to take up any opportunity to hunt waterfowl, deer and turkeys in the Midwest region. You can follow him on Twitter (@BrianJr22) and find him on Facebook (facebook.com/brian.cote.148).

Trail Cams

Fishing for Beginners: What You Need

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

Fishing seems like a simple sport at first glance, but when you walk into a tackle shop or start researching tackle and equipment online it can be very overwhelming. There are a few basic things you should keep in mind–like a life jacket, sunscreen and boat snacks–then check out my tips below to help decide what rods, reels and tackle you should focus on for your first fishing trip!

Rod and Reel

Michaela (fishing here at the BASS National Championship) attributes her love of fishing to starting at a young age.

Michaela (fishing here at the BASS National Championship) attributes her love of fishing to starting at a young age.

To begin with, you are going to need a rod and reel–the options in this category are endless! For beginners, I would recommend starting with spinning gear because learning to fish on baitcasting reels can be frustrating. When it comes to rods and reels, the saying “you get what you pay for” holds very true. In comparison to their cheaper counterparts, the more expensive reels will offer an easier cast, smoother handle, and added sensitivity. However, if you are afraid of making a big investment right away, or are taking a kid fishing for the first time, you don’t need the latest and greatest. Shimano has a great lineup of reels under $75, like the Sedona, Solstace and Sienna, that are great for starter reels or as gifts for kids.

When you are picking out your rod, you should consider what action you are looking for.  If you are targeting panfish specifically, I would use a light or ultra-light rod like the Shimano Clarus. If you are fishing for whatever is biting, a medium to medium-heavy action rod has good all-species action. A medium-heavy rod will be your best option if you are using heavier baits or catching a lot of pike. Along with action options, you can also choose your rod length.  You will be able to cast farther with a longer rod, but a rod over 7′ long can be tough for kids to handle–so if you’re fishing with kids, focus on a 6′ 6″ or 6′ rod which will be a lot easier to use.

Tackle and Line

Tackle is a huge category and as you start to advance and fish more it becomes easier to pick which baits you think will work best for the specific lake and species you are fishing. For panfish, the basic equipment is light line (like 4lb Sufix mono), bobbers, small hooks or jig heads (like an 1/8oz VMC Dominator hammer head jig), and bait (such as night crawlers). If you’re not fishing for a specific species, use a slightly heavier line like 10 lb Sufix mono or fluorocarbon and a VMC Neon Moon Eye jig with a minnow. Playing with the minnows can also be great entertainment for kids if the fishing gets slow.

Michaela at a kids fishing event.

Michaela at a kids fishing event.

If you want to target walleyes, crankbaits (like a Rapala Shad Rap) or spinners (like a VMC Revolution Classic spinner) with a night crawler or minnow are great options. Bass fishing adds a ton of options when it comes to using artificial baits. The basic types of baits to consider are a fast-moving bait–that imitates a baitfish and entices a reaction bite–and a bait that has a slower presentation for less aggressive fish. The Rapala DT series provides options for fishing in all depths and around all types of cover. Also, I believe that one of the most under appreciated baits in bass fishing is the stick-style worm. My favorite is the Trigger X Flutter worm. I always have this bait on hand and it is my go-to bait when I take kids fishing.  There are so many ways to rig this bait and they all catch fish. The two most productive ways I have found to rig a flutter worm is weightless (which means using the just the hook) or on a VMC Stand Up Shaky Head jig. I will fish it weightless either Texas rigged on a VMC Wide Gap hook or wacky rigged on a VMC Wacky Hook.

I hope that these tips help you feel comfortable prepping for your first fishing trip. Once you get your toes wet, there are a lot of options to try out and you can test out your success in different types of water and foliage. In Minnesota there will be a lot of fish in the weeds and weed lines, which are easy to find without any electronics. If you need more help getting ready–feel free to post your questions on this blog and I’ll be happy to answer them!

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).

Co-angler Report – Lake Chickamauga FLW Event

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to fish as a co-angler in the last FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tennessee last weekend.  This was a great opportunity to fish with the pros and get a taste of what tournaments will be like once I move beyond college fishing tournaments.

Prefishing

Mich 3On the first day of prefishing I fished with Gussy. We fished a lot of different areas and tried a lot of techniques. We were able to catch some small fish around laydowns and a few keepers in the grass, but once we moved out a little deeper we caught better fish. In a few spots, where we marked fish, we were able to catch a few on drop shots. While fishing a point where we had graphed fish, out of nowhere a school of giant bass started busting shad on the surface. We turned the trolling motor on high and hustled over there. I threw in a big topwater bait and had one smack it away, then Gussy threw in a big fluke and caught at least a six-pounder.

During the following two days of practice I was able to fish with Terry Bolton. He is an awesome ledge fisherman and I knew I was going to learn a lot. During our two days of practice together we did a lot of idling and scanned a bunch of ledges. If we didn’t graph fish we went to the next ledge. There are a lot of ledges to look at so it took up a lot of time. There were some key features we were looking for: old creek channels, rocks or shells, points or anything different that helped narrow down our search. The key lures we used were football head jigs and big 10-inch worms on the VMC rugby jig. We also threw deep diving crankbaits like a DT-20—which caught fish—but the slower presentations on the bottom produced bigger fish. Towards the end of the day, we decided to try something different and hit a point with shallow grass and a few brush piles. On my second cast with a size 7 Rippin’ Rap, I caught a chunky five-pounder. We also caught a few nice fish out of the brush piles.

Tournament Fishing

For the first day of the tournament I was paired with Dale Hightower.  In the morning , we fished a rocky bank and jetty that had some grass. Then later in the day, we flipped some laydowns and docks. It was tough to fish the rock bank and jetty from the back of the boat because we were paralleling the bank so it made it difficult to cast. However, I was able to catch two keepers off of the front face of the rock jetty. There was a little hole that I slow rolled the Rippin Rap through—keeping it a little bit above the bottom.

Mich 1The second day I fished with Rodney Thomason and had a ton of fun. He didn’t want to battle people for spots on ledges so he had found some grass that had grown to the surface and some lily pads. I had not seen lily pads or grass that tall all week, so I was excited to try something new. I caught some small fish on a Trigger X Flutter Worm and he caught a few on a frog but we couldn’t connect with any keepers. Rodney had at least one monster bass blow up on a frog, but it just pushed it away and didn’t eat it.

I picked up a few lessons as a co-angler in this tournament.  Both boaters I fished with did not want to be fighting for a spot on the ledges and fishing right next to other competitors. Because of this, they taught me that there are still fish to be caught shallow—even when everyone else is deep. It is tough to be a co-angler in these events, because it is totally dependent on your draw and if you are put around fish, but it was a great learning experience and I hope I will be able to fish a few more events next year!

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).

Lake Chickamauga FLW Tour Report

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Gussy prefishing on Lake Chickamauga

Gussy prefishing on Lake Chickamauga

The final event of the 2013 FLW Tour season took place this past weekend at Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee.  For many anglers on the tour, this was an important event, because after it was finished the 35 anglers with the most points after the six-event season qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup—the annual Tour Championship where anglers fish for a first place prize of $500,000.  My chances of qualifying for the Cup were eliminated earlier in the season after a couple of bad tournaments.  So I went into the event with the goal to cash a check and end the season on a good note.

I had spent a few days at Chickamauga in late May before the lake went off limits, which helped me because I had a good idea of what I wanted to do when I got back for the official practice.  I planned to check out some places where I had caught fish earlier—both shallow and deep—hoping that would give me a start on things I should focus on during the week of the tournament.

Over the course of the three day practice for this tournament, I found a few different areas that held fish, and had a reliable dock pattern that would put a few extra fish in the boat after I was finished working over my “spots.”  The best place I found was a small ledge that had a shell bed on it.  In practice I caught a couple of big fish off of it on a ¾oz football jig.

Gussy with friend and fellow pro-angler, Blake Nick at the rules meeting.

Gussy with friend and fellow pro-angler, Blake Nick at the rules meeting.

When the event started, this ledge was my first stop and it paid off when I caught a five-pound largemouth on my third cast of the day.  I caught this fish on a Jackall Muscle Deep 15 crankbait in the chartreuse shad color.  I was throwing this bait on a 7’11” G. Loomis GLX crankbait rod (GLX955CBR)Shimano Chronarch reel (CH200E6) and 12 lb Sunline Sniper FC line.  I could get this bait to touch the bottom in 14-16 feet, where the fish were and put a few of my biggest fish in the boat during the tournament with this set up. Over the course of the event, I also caught a few of my weigh fish on a football jig, a drop-shot rig and by pitching a jig around some docks—all using G. Loomis rods and Shimano reels.

After a good catch on the first day (18-05), I sat in 21st place.  My goal on day two was to improve my position and try to make the top 20, which would have allowed me to fish another day.  I ended up having a little bit of a tougher second day and brought in 13-14, to finish in 26th place—earning a check for $10,000.

Overall, my experience fishing the FLW Tour this season was awesome!  I learned a lot and look forward to giving it another shot next year.  I feel like the experiences I had this year, both good and bad, will help me down the road.  Huge thanks go out to all of my sponsors for making it possible for me to fish the FLW Tour this year, as well as all the people that supported me through the ups and downs of the season.  It’s been fun!

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).

Here was the biggest fish Gussy caught at Chickamauga--it was over six pounds.

Here was the biggest fish Gussy caught at Chickamauga–it was over six pounds.

Recap of the Masters Walleye Circuit – Lake Winnebago Event

We sat down with Korey Sprengel after another strong finish–this time, in the Masters Walleye Circuit event on Lake Winnebago.

How’d you guys finish?

Derek Navis and I finished in 6th place out of 118 boats, with 29lbs 3oz, and won $2,750.

Korey and his partner after Cabela's MWC. Photo from walleye.outdoorfirst.com.

Korey and his partner after Cabela’s MWC. Photo from walleye.outdoorfirst.com.

Can you tell us a little bit about the MWC tour and Lake Winnebago?

The Masters Walleye Circuit is a team format tournament and is one of the oldest circuits–it’s been going for 29 years. Lake Winnebago would be considered my home lake, at around 30 minutes from my house, it is the largest lake in Wisconsin. It’s considered a system–made up of four lakes and many rivers–so there are endless areas to cover.  It makes for a very diverse tournament!

How was your experience prefishing? What tactics did you use to get prepared for the tournament?

Prefishing was a little tough for me. I caught a ton of walleyes each day (40-50) but many were in the 12-14 inch range. There is an area that I know well, and expected to spend a lot of my tournament time fishing, but I only spent one hour during prefishing in this area so that I could concentrate on locating areas for big fish. I mainly trolled crawler harnesses in golds and purples on mud flats and shoreline breaks. I also casted Berkley Flicker Shads on main lake points and pitched Berkley Ribworms on 1/4 oz jigs in the river.

Did you change your plans for day two or stick with what you did in day one because you had success?

Photo from walleye.outdoorfirst.com.

Photo from walleye.outdoorfirst.com.

We stuck to our same day-one game plan which was trolling. This was a no cull tournament: we were allowed to keep six fish but we only weigh five, leaving us one fish for insurance. So, we stuck to our same plan and only kept fish over 22in if we caught them before noon. Right away in the morning, we threw back three fish from 18-21 inches and kept one at 24 inches. With strong northeast winds at 15-20 mph, our area got too stirred up and muddy.  With 1 1/2 hours left, we gave up on it and just went to get a limit in the box. We started casting main lake points with Flicker Shads in purple tiger and firetiger and caught a 19 inches fish with 15 minutes to go. I told my partner that we needed to get the trolling rods back out and troll for the last 10 minutes, so we put as many baits in the water as we could to try to get a limit. Before we got our last Off-shore Planer Board out, we had a 21-incher on the floor, then another short fish, and then we lost 4-5 more fish! It was just chaos during those last ten minutes! Because we ran it til the last second, the Mercury-powered Ranger was full throttle all the way to check in, and set down with 15 seconds to spare.  We used every minute we had that day for 3 fish!

When is your next tournament?

My next stop will be National Walleye Tour at Sturgeon Bay,WI. It’s one of my favorite places–I can’t wait.

Any parting thoughts or words of wisdom?

Always give it your all and use every second you can because it might just pay off.  The last two fish in the last 10 min of fishing were worth over a $1000.

Photo from walleye.outdoorfirst.com.

Photo from walleye.outdoorfirst.com.