Tournament Recap: International Falls Bass Championship

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

The ninth annual International Falls Bass Championship took place over the past weekend on Rainy Lake and the Rainy River.  The IFBC has a unique format that puts anglers on the water for two days—one day is spent on the U.S. side of Rainy Lake and the other is spent on Rainy River.  Fishing two bodies of water in two days is a stiff test for anglers because it is much harder to put together two strong days.

Gussy while prefishing for the IFBC.

Gussy while prefishing for the IFBC.

My buddy Scott Dingwall and I have fished this event since the first year in 2005 and have been fortunate to win the tournament three times.  I missed the event last year because of a conflict with an FLW Tour event at the Detroit River, but Scott represented, fishing with our friend Kalan Wagner from International Falls, and finished in third.

Since we’ve fished the event for several years, we have compiled a number of spots on both the river and the lake where we knew we’d like to spend our time.  I spent three days prefishing for this tournament—one day on the lake and two days on the river.  Traditionally, we are a lot stronger on the lake than we are on the river, so I thought I would try to put in as much time on the river as I could.  Part of the reason the river is such a challenge for us and other anglers is that it is constantly changing.  In the three day span last week between prefishing and the tournament day, the river dropped about two feet, leaving some boulders that I caught fish on in practice completely dry and out of the water.

As things turned out, I ended up having five great days in the International Falls area.  The weather was great all week, which has been tough to come by this summer, and fishing was excellent on both bodies of water.

We were happy when we learned at the tournament rules meeting that we would be fishing the lake on day one of the tournament.  The weather looked a little bit better on day one, with bright sun and light winds forecasted.  Over the years, one thing we’ve learned about Rainy Lake Smallmouths, on both the Canadian and U.S. sides of the lake, is that they love sun and heat—when you get these conditions a lot of big fish move into shallow water.

We had a great first day of the tournament, catching one of our best limits ever on the lake at 17.50 pounds.  We caught our fish on a variety of baits, including a Jackall SK Grande popper, a new prototype Northland Impulse tube (green pumpkin) and a Northland Bugaboo Jig.  Once the sun got up, we casted our jigs at as many shallow boulders as we could, plucking fish off here and there to cull up to our final limit.  We ended the day in third place and had a little bit of catch up to do on the river.

The next day on the river we felt like we would likely need to catch 16 pounds or more to win the tournament.  Our friends Dave Skallet and Mark Fisher from Minnesota brought in a monstrous 19.40 pounds from the lake on day one, so the ball was in their court.  In second place after day one were local River studs, Nathan Brigham and Brett Myers, who are typically really strong on their home water.

On day two, Scott and I had a great day on the river, catching 15.20 pounds, to take the lead when we weighed in.  Unfortunately we came up a little bit short in the end—getting beat by the local boys by about a pound to end up with a 2nd place finish in the tournament.

Tournament winners, Nathan Bringham and Brett Meyers.

Tournament winners, Nathan Bringham and Brett Meyers.

We caught all of our fish on the river on the Impulse tubes rigged with ¼ oz Gamakatsu jigs—again plucking most of our fish from boulders along the river bank.  During practice I caught quite a few fish on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and topwaters; but during the tournament, the fishing was a little bit tougher and we had to slow things down to get bites.

The IFBC is one of the premier bass events in Minnesota, you can find all the information you want on this event at the tournament website – www.ifallsbass.com.  Maybe you could join us on the waters during next year’s tournament!

 

Storm has a Winner with New Arashi Series!

Storm Arashi Review

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

When Storm recently released their new line of Arashi crankbaits, it definitely passed the eye test for baits that would require some serious consideration from bass anglers.  But just as with most new bait introductions, the rubber really hits the road when you can actually get a bait into the water and try it for yourself.  Besides the cool looks, attractive colors and bait profiles, I was most interested in their new self-tuning line tie system.

Last week I picked up a pair of the Square Bills in both the 3 & 5 sizes.  But, as excited as I was to test these baits, I didn’t have a ton of time to get out in the boat. Because of my excitement, I tied one of my new Size 3 Square Bills in the Moss Chartreuse Craw color to my Dobyns Champion 705CB, and threw it in the back of my vehicle in case I had a few moments to water test these from shore.

Late last week, I was able to squeeze in about an hour of time to hit a heavily pressured pond not too far from where I live.  This pond has fairly dirty water, just a little grass, some wood and rock, and a mixture of bottoms.  It sees quite a bit of fishing pressure and the fish seem to get smarter every time I go there.  I figured this would be a pretty good first test—not everybody that reads bass fishing blogs has a big fancy boat with access to unpressured fish, but everyone can usually find small waters.

I started out with a few short casts just to get a feel for how the bait runs and to watch it in the water; I was very interested to see how the self-centering line tie would actually work.   The bait ran well in the test casts, so I started firing around and searching for test panel participants.  On my 3rd or 4th cast across a little shallow rock shelf, my rod bowed up under what felt like a solid fish.  After a few cranks of the reel, the bass came to the surface and, to my pleasure, the hooks kept it buttoned through several aerobatic attempts to throw the lure.  It ended up being a chunky fish that was probably just under 3lbs.

Fish and Arashi Square Bait

I fished this crankbait for around an hour and caught several more fish. I put it to the test—running it over rocks, mud, sand, scattered grass, old pipes, culverts and other random objects in this dingy pond—and it never hung up for more than a second.  It showed great deflection characteristics; climbing over obstacles in its way, and always quickly returning to a true path no matter how quickly or slowly I worked the bait.  With the rotated hook hangers, high-quality VMC hooks and circuit board lip, this bait has all the features of a high-end Japanese crankbait that would normally set you back $15. Instead, Storm delivers it all for about half the price.

I set up this bait on my Dobyns 705CB, paired with a Shimano Curado G6 and spooled with 15lb fluorocarbon—it seemed perfect for this crankbait. It casted like a rocket, I could feel everything that my bait climbed over, the soft action of the rod ensured all bass took the bait, and there was enough backbone to bury the hooks and keep the fish on all the way to the bank.

I am anxious to continue trying these baits this coming week in my next BFL tournament on the Mississippi River, but I already know this bait is a winner and will have a place in my tackle box!

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).

Rod Lure Setup

Forrest Wood Cup Recap: Tharp Makes his Mark on the Red

 

Photo from ForrestWoodCup.com.

Photo from ForrestWoodCup.com.

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

The moment FLW announced the Red River as the sight of the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup, Randall Tharp circled it on his calendar.  He knew that of all the venues that would host the Cup in coming years none would likely better align with his strengths as an angler.  Tharp is well-known for extracting big bass from shallow vegetation all over the south.  It’s not that he can’t catch them everywhere, but he is particularly comfortable on venues like the Red River—plus his nickname on tour is the Mongoose, how fitting is that?!

Sunday’s final weigh-in marked the finale of the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup, which featured 46 of the best professional bass anglers from across the country.  Tharp crossed the stage with a 5-bass limit weighing an even 14 pounds on Sunday to claim the title of Forrest Wood Cup Champion as well as $501,000 in prize money and contingencies.  Tharp, with a 4-day total of 20 bass for 53 pounds, 2 ounces, won by a 4-pound margin over the reigning Forrest Wood Cup champion Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, IN.  Wheeler caught 5 bass, weighing 14-3, to push his 4-day total to 20 bass, weighing 49-2—earning $75,000.

Despite the drastic cool front that greeted the anglers between the practice period and the tournament, Tharp made key adjustments that put him in a position to earn the title.  The Everstart pro said that he had several key baits this week.  His primary bait was a 3/8-ounce bluegill-colored swim jig paired with a Strike King Rage Craw, which he used to weigh several of his fish throughout the week, including his bigger bites.  He said that he boated a few keepers throwing a square-bill crankbait and his three biggest fish from Sunday came on a white-colored Spro Bronzeye 65 frog with orange tails. He had two primary areas that he fished—every day he started just north of the ramp in a small lake lined with houses until he had his limit, then would spend the rest of his time in his big-fish area looking for a few upgrades.  Tharp’s patience was a major contributor to his success, as he normally would only get one or two good bites in his afternoon area, but those were the bites that carried him to victory.

The top 10 pros finished the tournament in:
1st: EverStart pro Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, FL, 20 bass, 53-2, $501,000
2nd: Jacob Wheeler, Indianapolis, IN, 20 bass, 49-2, $75,000
3rd: Chevy pro Bryan Thrift, Shelby, NC, 20 bass, 46-1, $60,000
4th: Kerry Milner, Bono, AR, 20 bass, 44-7, $55,000
5th: Chevy pro Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, AR, 20 bass, 44-4, $50,000
6th: Michael Neal, Dayton, TN, 20 bass, 44-2, $45,000
7th: Walmart pro Mark Rose, West Memphis, AR, 15 bass, 43-7, $40,000
8th: Troy Morrow, Eastanollee, GA, 20 bass, 41-8, $35,000
9th: Tom Monsoor, La Crosse, WS, 20 bass, 41-2, $30,000
10th: Robbie Dodson, Harrison, AR, 19 bass, 37-11, $25,000

A complete list of results can be found at ForrestWoodCup.com.

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).

 

Photo from ForrestWoodCup.com

Photo from ForrestWoodCup.com

Tournament Recap: Kenora Bass International

Pro Staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Carrying our big catch to the scales on day one.

Carrying our big catch to the scales on day one.

The 26th annual Kenora Bass International tournament took place this past weekend on Sunset Country’s massive Lake of the Woods.  The KBI is one of the premier open, team bass tournaments in North America. Since 2000 my good buddy Chris Savage and I have fished the tournament together.  We have been fortunate to have some great finishes over the years, including wins in 2000 and 2008 to go along with four 2nd place finishes.

This year we came out of the gates swinging—bringing in the largest catch of the tournament on day one, which weighed 19.78 pounds.  Our mixed bag of three largemouths and two smallmouths was one of the largest we have ever weighed in at this tournament, so we were obviously really happy with our start.

A big "cull" on day one-- changing a two-pounder for a five-pounder.

A big “cull” on day one– changing a two-pounder for a five-pounder.

We were challenged a lot more on day two.  After hitting all of the spots that produced on day one we did not have any big fish (anything over three pounds) in the boat.  But years of fishing this water and having a lot of spots to fall back on helped us round up five decent fish by the end of the day.  Our day two catch of 16.63 pounds actually increased our lead over second place to a little more than two pounds.

We were confident heading into the third day, and felt like if we could put together 16 pounds or so, we would have a good chance to win the tournament.  We couldn’t be conservative because there were a lot of good anglers right on our heels.  Day three ended up being a train wreck for us.  We caught a limit fairly quickly in the morning but they were all small fish (around two pounds each).  We stuck to our largemouth program for most of the day, trying to get those couple of good bites but it just didn’t happen.

I think it was a combination of us running out of fish, other angler pressure and the fish simply not biting in our area that lead to our demise on day three.  At the end of the day we finished in 9th place—which is still a solid showing at this competitive event, but we were obviously disappointed with the way we landed there.  That’s fishing though.

Over the three days we caught our largemouths on a ½ ounce Northland Jungle Jig with a five-inch Impulse Dip-Stick worm, and our smallmouths on a Jackall SK Grande Popper.  We weighed two or three smallmouths each day of the event.

August and her cousin Tara, the only all-female team in the tournament, with a big smallmouth on day one. They ended up in 54th place.

August and her cousin Tara, the only all-female team in the tournament, with a big smallmouth on day one. They ended up in 54th place.

The eventual tournament winners were Bill Godin and Leroy Wilson.  These guys have a history of winning tournaments around the Sunset Country Region and were able to bring in big catches of smallmouths each day of the event.

A huge Thank you to the tournament committee and volunteers for making another great event happen.  There was a huge crowd (over 1000 people) at the final day weigh-in so that was pretty awesome.  For bass anglers out there looking to take a trip to fish in one of the best bass tournaments in North America on the famous Lake of the Woods, this event takes place every year during the second week of August.  You can find all the information you need for this event at the tournament website – www.kbifishing.com.

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).

Pulling into the dock for day two weigh-in.

Pulling into the dock for day two weigh-in.

Stick Worm: The Most Underappreciated Lure in Bass Fishing

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

One of the first baits I learned to use when I started bass fishing was a stick or cigar style worm. At first glance the bait doesn’t look like much, or like anything I had ever witnessed fish eating before–but it catches fish. For a stick style bait, I prefer the Trigger X Flutter worm. This bait can be fished using a variety of methods and in all types of cover.

Rigging your Stick Bait

One of the easiest ways to fish a stick worm, and often the most effective, is weightless. I’ll usually Texas rig the bait on a VMC Wide Gap worm hook or wacky rig it on a VMC Wacky Hook. If you’re not familiar with these rigging styles, we’ve got you covered.  We explained how to Texas rig in Rich’s blog earlier this year. Or, if you want to wacky rig the bait, all you have to do is put the hook through the middle of the bait.

Flutter Worm Blog

Wacky rigged flutter worm.

I like to skip docks and work shallow vegetation, like reeds and lily pads, with a weightless Flutter worm.  This bait is normally overlooked by other fisherman who would rather throw something heavier like a jig.

A weightless Flutter worm can also be deadly on weed lines. You can throw the bait out, let it slowly sink to the bottom, and let it sit a minute or two before moving it.  We call this “soaking.” If you have to let it sit still for a long time we call it “soaking the dye off.” This takes a lot of patience but it works well. Also, it’s great for kids because they can catch fish by simply throwing the bait out and leaving it be.

Pairing Stick Baits with Jig Heads

Another way to use a stick-style bait is on a jig head. There are many jig head options and many sizes to choose from. When selecting a weight it is important to keep in mind the speed at which your bait is falling. You do not want your bait to fall too quickly because many times fish will eat the bait when it is falling.

Jig heads work extremely well when fishing cover on the bottom like rocks, weed lines or brush. With a jig head you have more contact with the bottom and are able to feel the structure better. You want to choose a heavier weight in windy days or in areas with fast currents because it will make it easier to keep contact with the bottom. A VMC Stand Up Shaky Head Jig is great to use in almost all situations—around docks, bridge pilings, rocks, weeds or laydowns. This jig allows you to rig the flutter worm weedless works really well when you’re fishing in cover. Or if you are fishing rocks or shell beds, the VMC Rugby Jig allows you to drag a worm across the bottom without getting stuck as much as other style jig heads.

Flutter Worm Blog

Picking your Stick Bait

Personally, I use a 5-inch Flutter worm in most situations. I will us the smaller 4-inch worm on a drop shot rig or shaky head if I am getting bites but the fish are not taking the bait all the way.

The color you should use will vary depending on the lake, but one of my favorite colors is green red flake. I tend to use more natural colors like pumpkin or green pumpkin in clear water. Then adding colored flake, like red or purple, will help in stained water. For really muddy or dirty water, I like a black with blue flake or something with chartreuse to catch the fish’s eye.  If you’d like to learn more about color selection, you can check out Rich’s take on the topic here.

This is a bait that all bass anglers should have in the arsenal. I have one tied on at all times because, when fishing gets tough, my go-to tactic is to “soak” a Flutter worm. Make sure you try some of these techniques next time you’re on the water!

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).

Simplifying Plastics: How to Pick the Right Colors

This is what you will typically find for soft plastics in my boat and what I think will catch fish almost anywhere you go.

This is what you will typically find for soft plastics in my boat and what I think will catch fish almost anywhere you go.

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

Whether I am giving a fishing seminar, working a show or just running into other anglers at the boat ramp, one of the most common questions I get is: “does color matter to bass?”  In short, yes, color matters to bass, but to what degree is up for debate.  Personally, I think an angler could write a thesis on color, but today, let’s just talk about soft plastics—we’ll break down other baits in the future.

As a person that has tubs and tubs of soft plastics in my basement, I feel like I am an expert on this topic.  I used to get caught up in new colors. To make matters worse, every time I fished with somebody that caught fish on a color I didn’t have, I would rush out and buy 3-4 bags in a few different shapes and sizes. After a few years of this behavior, I have Rubbermaid tubs of plastics that rarely make it out of the basement.

As I have gotten older and—I believe—wiser, I’ve gotten tired of rummaging through and carrying all these plastics. Lately I have really pressured myself to simplify what I buy and carry in my boat and/or tackle bags.

I think the best step for achieving this simplification is to limit the colors that I use. I like to keep it to a few colors that look natural and suit the water color I am fishing.  For me, a couple variations of Green Pumpkin/Watermelon and Black make up most of my arsenal.  I also carry some white for shad presentations and bed fishing as well as a few red/purple colors of worms.  There are always exceptions to the rule in certain water systems, but for clear to stained water I typically use my lighter greens and for dirtier water I use the darker greens and black tones.

From there, I still need a fair variety of shapes and actions for the conditions.  Stick baits, finesse worms, ribbon tails, craws, beavers, creatures, etc, all have a time and place.  There are a lot of options, so find a few of each that you have confidence in and stick with those!

Try to simplify things for yourself and hopefully this will save you time and money when out fishing!

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).

 

NWT Sturgeon Bay Recap with Bill Shimota and Dusty Minke

Winners of NWT Sturgeon Bay

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

After the National Walleye Tour Sturgeon Bay event, all of our walleye anglers have landed in the Top 20 in the race for Angler of the Year.  After last week’s interview with the tournament winner, Korey Sprengel, we thought you’d all enjoy a little insight from our other anglers—Bill Shimota and Dusty Minke!

What were your thoughts before going into the Sturgeon Bay tournament?

Bill: I felt really good going into this one. We were on a “hero or zero” kind of pattern but we spent all of our time in practice dialing in to the big fish up north.  I felt I stood a good chance of getting a few bites at a minimum, which would result in a respectable weight, or I would be in contention to win if I could get a limit.

Dusty NWT Sturgeon Bay

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

Dusty: I was feeling pretty good! Some days where a grind on “The Bay” and others were spectacular!

Prefishing was a blast to say the least! I got to spend two quality days on the water with my pops, Todd Minke, and our great family friend, Uncle Mark Harrington.  I also had a great time with three Heil dealers who joined me on the water–my stomach still hurts from laughing and all of the guys went home with some fish.

How was day one of the tournament and what tactics did you use?

Dusty: It was a grind—the day started with a long, windy boat ride and the struggle continued while we brought fish into the boat. A big storm came through, blowing gusts of 50 mph with rain and hail, and turned one of our Off Shore Planer Boards into a kite. It was unreal!

Nothing was working for us and I live and die by the spinner! It was a matter of finding the right water and keeping our lures off the bottom all day long. The rocky bottom was full of gobs, zebra mussels and black moss.  Staying free of this debris was key.

I told Steve, my co-angler, that I had one more spot to hit on the way in. In the last fifteen minutes we boated one 30” and two 24” walleyes. We literally went from 0 to 18 pounds in one pass! This goes to show you that you have to keep working hard until the last moment—even though we were mentally and physically beaten, we never gave up. I wish we had one more pass at those fish; I know we could have had 30 pounds then!

Dusty and Co-angler Green Bay WI

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

Bill: It was a little rough getting to our fishing location, but once we got to our spot we were somewhat protected from the wind.

I stuck with the same plan throughout the tournament. I pulled crawler harnesses with in-line weights and spread my lines out with Off Shore Tackle Planer Boards.   My biggest struggle was finding promising areas to fish—I had to keep moving to find the areas that had the right water temp. I found the most success when using my Minn Kota iPilot to constantly adjust my speed. This allowed me to raise and lower the running depth of my lines when I was going over and around structure.

Bill Fish

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

How did your experience change on day two?

Bill: The wind was blowing even harder when we took off in the morning on day two.  It took me about an hour and ten minutes to get to my spot.  Just like on day one, my first fish was over 10 pounds.  I got another fish on the same pass so I thought it was going to be a good day, but after that pass it got down right tough.  I stuck with the same patterns but I really had to run and gun to get a couple more bites.  I ended up weighing only four fish each day, but fortunately they were the right ones.

Dusty: On day two I decided to start where we had caught the nice fish at the end of the day one. This area was only ten miles from the take-off location and I had great success during prefishing there.  Also, I had lost the lead on day one, so I wanted to give Bill and Korey some space to make sure that they got the best opportunity on the best spot right away in the morning! I had decided that I would go to our location later in the morning if my spot didn’t produce.

We also figured the weather and wind change was going to affect the fish and adjusting to the conditions was going to be key. Tim, my co-angler, hooked into a dandy 5-pounder around 10am but we couldn’t manage another fish into the boat for the rest of the day! I decided to stick with the spinner program because I had watched other boats pulling cranks with no success.

How did you guys do? 

Bill Trophy

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

Bill: I took 3rd place by bringing in 34.5 lbs on day one and 26.5 lbs on day two.  I won $19,775 and am now in 3rd place in the Angler of the Year standings.

Dusty: I ended up in 63rd place with no money on this one.  However, I’m sitting in 18th place for Angler of the Year going into the championship on Devil’s Lake.

When is your next tournament?

Dusty: We’re both in the NWT Championship, September 19th-21st, on Devils Lake in North Dakota.  I’m really looking forward to Devil’s—it is my kind of tournament and I love that time of year!

Is there anything else you guys want to share?

Bill: It was a great week—like always we worked very hard during our prefishing period and it paid off.  I have fished Green Bay a handful of times, but this was the first time that there has been a major walleye tournament launched out of Sturgeon Bay.

I hope to go back to Door County again—it is no doubt one of this country’s crown jewels. Its only problem is the Packer fans all over the place!

Dusty: I want to thank all of my sponsors Krugerfarms.com, Crown Royal, Heil-(ICP), Ranger Evinrude, Humminbird, Minn Kota, Arctic Ice, Under Armour, Formula Propeller, and Spy.

Also, I’m very proud of my teammates Korey and Bill for their great finishes at Sturgeon Bay! I really like how our team is working this season—I look forward to each and every tournament we fish together.

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors.

Getting Ready for Fall with White Rock Decoys

Brian and crew

Pro-staff Contributor: Brian Cote

It is no secret. We wait all summer long counting down the days until opening day.  We watch movies, clean out trailers and do other activities that help calm the itch of the off-season.  Then, we finally get to this time of year and the time comes to get everything lined up for the coming fall.  So we start by figuring out what has to be replaced or maybe some simple upgrades we can make to our rig.

Stay Hidden

When it comes to waterfowl hunting, there are many factors that are crucial to having a successful hunt.   I am primarily a field hunter so I believe the two most important factors are scouting and concealment.  When I first started out waterfowl hunting, I could only go to a few places and knew nothing about scouting.  My success rate was quite low to say the least.  Then my crew and I started getting more dedicated and we all put some miles on our vehicles to find that elusive “X”.  Taking the extra time to find the perfect location increased our harvest numbers dramatically—but an important step in finding the right location was checking for a the “hide.” I would ask myself, “What kind of cover are we able to use to stay out of sight and get the birds close?”  There are many ways to disappear from the birds’ keen sight, but when you’re faced with situations where it is tough to hide you have to adapt and find new solutions to the problem.

New to the Game

I got very excited when I learned about the Blind Door Decoys from White Rock Decoys. They now have a full lineup of Blind Door Decoys that include Canada Goose and Mallard models.  These decoys can help solve many issues when it comes to trying to hide a blind.  Their ability to break up an outline, something that can easily stand out in a spread of decoys, is a large advantage.  During the last year or two, the guys I hunt with have played with many different types of set ups sometimes the blinds would be outside of the spread or other times we’d try radical spread formations to help draw the birds’ attention elsewhere.  With these new decoys you can now place yourself just about anywhere in the spread and be well hidden.  They will also help cut down on the time spent brushing in blinds–which is especially great for me because this is my usual job in the field and I am very picky about making sure every blind is invisible.  If you have ever tried to hide 5+ guys in a field, you know this can get rather difficult.  These blind door decoys remove the empty holes from your setup that look unnatural.

I’m also excited about White Rock’s new field Canada Goose and Mallard decoys.  Having the ability to set up, maneuver, and take down a spread is a huge bonus when it comes to field hunting and these decoys give you all three of those things.  We hunted a field last year at least 12 times within a couple weeks only because we had a system down:  set up, shoot our birds, pick up, and get out as soon as we could to let the late arrival birds get to the field and have it all to themselves.  These field decoys are the little difference that will make the season better.

If you want to check out these decoys in-person, come join us at the Game Fair August 15-17th!  Or, as always you can find these awesome decoys on our site!

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.

Blind Door Decoys

Tournament Recap: Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship Win

Gussy and John with Trophy

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

The 19th Annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship took place this past weekend at Rainy Lake.  On the border between Minnesota and Ontario, Rainy is one of the premier smallmouth bass fisheries in North America.  I would call it the best topwater fishery on the planet for smallmouths!

Since 2007 Northland Fishing Tackle President, John Peterson, and I have teamed up at this event.  With several top five finishes in recent years, we were starting to feel the pressure to win this tournament.  We felt like we had been given the opportunity to win a couple times over the past few years but failed to seal the deal.  We wanted to take advantage of the opportunity if it happened again this year.

We had a great start to this three-day event—catching a five-bass limit worth 19.17 pounds to take the early lead after day one.  The weather on day one was really nice with light winds and some sun before a rain set in late in the day.  We hit as many points and boulder shorelines as we could while trying to hunt down big smallmouths, and caught most of our fish on a Jackall SK-Pop Grande using a  7’2”
Shimano Compre baitcasting rod (CPC-72MC) and a 6.2:1
Shimano Core baitcasting reel (CORE100MG) spooled with 30lb Power Pro braid.

Gussy and John with FishOn day two the wind really started to pick up; it wouldn’t let up until after the tournament was finished.  We struggled early on and finally put together a mediocre 15.90 pounds in the afternoon.  Because of this we slipped into fourth place after day two, but we were only about a pound off the lead so we were happy that we would have a chance to win the tournament heading into the final day.

We started day three on a point at which we caught several of our keeper fish on day two and were pleasantly surprised to find that there were some big fish on it that were willing to bite.  In the heavy wind, we used the same baits as on day two, relying on ½ oz spinnerbaits, particularly the Northland Reed Runner Pro Series.  We fished these baits quickly, covering water and looking for active fish.  When the big fish hit these spinnerbaits, they smoked them, almost ripping your arm off!  Within the first half hour we caught a limit that weighed over 18 pounds and throughout the day we were able to make a few upgrades to give us our biggest catch of the tournament.  Our day three limit of 20.35 pounds was enough to seal the win at this prestigious event!

To win this tournament was one of the highlights of my fishing career.  To do it with my friend John, a long time sponsor of mine was special as well.  We had a lot of fun and look forward to returning in 2013 to defend our title!

If you want to learn more about the tournament, you can visit the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship site here. Or, if you want to visit Ontario and get a taste for recreational smallmouth fishing visit Ontario’s Sunset Country’s site here.

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 John with Fish