Bassmaster Classic Preview

The 2015 Bassmaster Classic is now just a few days away.  Rewind the clock about 12 months and you may vaguely remember a Central Open held on Lake Amistad.  KrugerFarms.com angler Andy Young won that event in early February of 2014 and was the 2nd angler to qualify for this year’s classic on Lake Hartwell, he qualified even before the defending Champion Randy Howell.

Andy Young Hoisting the Hardware!

Andy Young Hoisting the Hardware!

After the long year wait, Young is finally getting his shot at bass fishing’s biggest crown.  If you are not sure who you are pulling for in this year’s Bassmaster Classic, you will not find a more likeable angler in the whole field then Andy Young.  Beyond that, Andy is one heck of an angler and on top of that he has been putting in his time to take him to the next level.

Andy_Young_Fishing_Boat2

Andy spent a few weeks on Lake Hartwell this winter before the cutoff and has been touring the Southeast part of the country in the mean time fishing different southern fisheries fine tuning his skill set and at the same time prepping for the 2015 FLW Tour Season.

Andy_Young_Fishing_Boat

Starting now and all season, make sure to Follow Andy Young’s Fishing Page as well as the KrugerFarms.com Fishing Facebook pages to see what Andy and the Coor’s Light – KrugerFarms.com wrapped Ranger are up to all season!

Good Luck Andy!

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BASS Nation Northern Regional Recap

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

Having fished several Northern Divisionals in the past and a few of them in this region with tough fishing, I was mentally prepared for a tough tournament long before I started driving down to Lake Monroe in Indiana.

It actually turned out to be tougher then I actually thought and the actual tourney days were more difficult than the practice days.  My first practice day I got out on the water sometime after 8am on Saturday, after driving through the night and catching a quick nap in the truck.  In summary I caught about 8-10 shorts that day fishing the end towards the dam on buzzbaits and squarebills, but actually had several bites and action, just no size.  I also spent a few hours scanning the mouth of Moores Creek with my Humminbirds, found lots of good structure and cover, but no bites.

Day 2 , I chose to spend the majority of the day covering Moores creek and look at all the shallow water.  By no means was it gang busters, but slowly started building a shallow pattern throwing buzzbaits, buzz frogs and flipping a 3/8oz Okeechobee Craw BassTEK Tungsten jig.  As the day went on, I took the pattern to other pockets and creeks and it held.  Between the fish caught and shook off that I saw, I would have had an easy 16lb plus bag.

A quality fish from 3rd practice day on a buzzbait
A quality fish from 3rd practice day on a buzzbait

On practice days 3 and 4, I focused on looking at as many pockets and creek arms as I could and looking for more water to fit my pattern.  As the week went on, the buzzbait bite seemed to fade and the senko and creature bait bite seemed to get better, plus shad balls seemed to be moving around quite a bit, not staying in the same pockets.  Also, I started finding bites in shallow clumpy grass as well.

All of practice was pretty much rain and clouds, the tourney forecast was all about bluebird skies, sun and little to no wind, so I knew things would get tougher and change.

Day 1 I drew out in 2nd flight with a Gary Adkins from Wisconsin, he was on a completely different deal fishing deep, but we had water in the same parts of the lake, so we opted to work together throughout the day.  I spent the first 2 hours and change running my best shallow water and we ended up both missing bites, I broke a fluoro leader on a senko and he couldn’t convert on a topwater fish.

Day 1 Take-off, blurry photo cred to Jeremiah Shaver
Day 1 Take-off, blurry photo cred to Jeremiah Shaver

The next 3 hours we spent working his deep areas with hardly a tap, both frustrated with things, we went to Allen’s creek to flip grass, Gary ended up getting a 3-02 flipping a sweet beaver in sprayed grass.  We got a few more bites there, but nothing that kept.  During that time I took control of the front of the boat and tried some more grass in that area.  From there I went to Ramp Creek where I had an isolated weed clump that I pulled on a good fish the day before.  First flip with a Rage Bug and I put a 3-03 in the boat.

We finished our day in Ramp and then a sunken brush pile just south of Ramp, no more bites or fish.  That one quality fish had me tied for 30th out of 96 anglers on day 1 and about 5 lbs back of the top Minnesota guy and qualifying for Nationals.

Day 1 Weigh-In, thanks to Rapala for the Alternate Team Jerseys!
Day 1 Weigh-In, thanks to Rapala for the Alternate Team Jerseys!

Day 2, I had Jesse Weener from Michigan, he was 2nd coming into the day.  He had caught 4 fish for around 9lbs on day 1.  We also agreed to work together.  The 2nd day, I chose to start in Ramp, fished several pockets and we each got a short on topwater, then finally in the back on a beaver dam I scored a 15 inch fish on weightless senko.  From there I ran into an isolated pocket where I had pulled on a fish on Tuesday and then actually spooked again on first tourney day.  Same thing, I ended up spooking fish with my buzzbait, mental note, planned to come back later to get him.

During the middle part of the day, we went to Jesse’s area which was around Cutright.  He was catching most of his fish on a drop shot (dream shot dirt color), fishing shallow around points and docks.  He ended up getting a pretty good fish on the first pass.  The nest pass, I got keeper throwing my senko to sandy patches and points in grass clumps.  Before we left Jesse got one more good keeper on a senko as well.

With a little bit of time left on my clock, I ran back that isolated fish, first cast with my senko, I put him in the boat and it was scramble time to get back to weigh-in.  Long story, short, ran out of gas about 2 miles from Four Winds.  Thanks to Ed Rounsaville from Indiana for picking us up with our fish, total life saver and yes, I am an idiot for running out of gas.

My 3 fish weighed 7-02 and I jumped up to 12th place, but I was actually 4th on my team still and 3-15 back from our leader and had to leap 3 anglers on the last day.  Also good news, the Minnesota team jumped from 4th place to 1st place in the team competition.

Day 3, I ended up with the Illinois team alternate and I got to run my water all day.  I stuck to my pattern, but threw buzzbait less and fished soft plastics more.  Even with that, it took me until almost noon to get my first fish in the boat in the back of a pocket on a senko.  It was only about 14.25″ and didn’t weigh much, so I knew I needed one more good fish to catch the leader to have a chance if he stumbled.  I kept with it and got another fish just before 2pm that I felt put me really close to the 4lb mark between the 2 fish, but in my head I really thought I needed one more fish to make it happen.

I fished hard to the bitter end, but it never happened, 2 fish was all I would end up with.  I made it back to weigh-in with plenty of gas and a few minutes to spare.  I was first flight and 2nd angler from my team to weigh in.  When I weighed the number was 3lbs 15oz to take the lead and I wasn’t certain whether I had enough.

This is what it looks like when you take the lead by a single ounce early in the weigh-in
This is what it looks like when you take the lead by a single ounce early in the weigh-in

I ended up with exactly that weight, while talking to Jon Stewart, I was pretty casual knowing that 2 more anglers that only need a fish or two were still coming to weigh and I was certain it wouldn’t hold.

About half way through the weigh-in, all the guys that were close to me had weighed except the day 2 leader had weighed and I was still in the top place for Minnesota.  Then word got to me that our leader had zeroed on day 3.  Honestly, I was couldn’t believe it at first, it definitely took awhile to set in and I didn’t want to get excited until all MN anglers crossed the stage.

Well it turned out to be official, my 6 fish for 14lbs 4oz over 3 days was good enough for 8th place overall and a trip to the BASS Nation Nationals in November on the Ouachita River.  My main setup for my fish in tournament was a 5″ senko stick worm fished weightless on a 4/0 EWG hook, 12lb SX1 Sunline Braid fished on a Dobyns Champion 702SF Spinning Rod and Shimano Reel.

My main setup for 5 of my 6 fish
My main setup for 5 of my 6 fish

This was my 6th divisional and it feels awesome to finally make it to Nationals and be part of a team that won back to back boats at the divisionals.  Assuming Italy sends an angler to this event, I basically have a 1 in 9 chance to fish my way to the 2015 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell.  I have been tournament bass fishing for about 20 years now and I have worked for this the whole way.

Next week is our Minnesota TOC state qualifier on Lake Vermillion, after that, I will be 100% focused on the Ouachita 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).

Big Bass on Pickwick Lake

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

The fifth stop of the season on the FLW Tour took place last week at Pickwick Lake, out of Florence, Alabama.  After a week and a half at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin for the annual Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament, then a week out in British Columbia with my wife to tape a couple of TV shows for my program, Fishing with Gussy, I showed up at Pickwick ready to wrap up a month on road.  I was hoping for a good tournament before I could head home to Sunset Country for a little break before the last event the last week of June at Kentucky Lake.

GoPro: Over the course of the three practice days, my buddy Brian Partak and I put in some long days, fishing from dark to dark.  Most of the guys fishing in these tournaments do that.

GoPro: Over the course of the three practice days, my buddy Brian Partak and I put in some long days, fishing from dark to dark. Most of the guys fishing in these tournaments do that.

Pickwick Lake is part of the Tennessee River and is a well-known bass fishery, much like Chickamauga, Guntersville, Wheeler and Kentucky Lakes, also part of the same system.  In my experience, fishing on these lakes is usually really good.  They all have a lot of bait and good numbers of fish.

A big 5+ that I caught in practice on the Jackall Muscle Deep 15 crankbait

A big 5+ that I caught in practice on the Jackall Muscle Deep 15 crankbait

Heading into this tournament, the predictions were that it was going to be an offshore, ledge fishing tournament so my plan was to spend as much time graphing around with my Humminbirds as I could in hopes of finding a few schools of fish.

Over the course of the three-day practice period I was able to find a number of schools of fish but the problem was that most of them were on high-profile, obvious spots that many other anglers in the field found as well.  I spent quite a bit of time looking for less obvious spots and did find a few that I thought had some potential, but the biggest schools I found were on the community spots.

Preparing to blast-off on Day One of the Pickwick Lake FLW Tour event. - FLW Outdoors

Preparing to blast-off on Day One of the Pickwick Lake FLW Tour event. – FLW Outdoors

I drew boat number 165 the first day of the tournament, not exactly a great start number in a tournament where getting on one of the popular community spots early was a good bet for cashing a check.
My strategy was to just fish whatever was open out of all the spots that I had found.  My first few spots produced a few smaller keepers (15” at Pickwick).  At around 10am I pulled up to a point facing into the current that I caught a couple of decent fish on in practice.  There was a shell bed on the point where it dropped from six to twelve feet of water.  I was throwing a ¾ oz football head jig on most of the spots that I was fishing and it was great on this particular spot because I could feel the shell bed and that was where I was getting most of the fish to bite.

Fishing on day one of the tournament - Photo credit - FLW Outdoors

Fishing on day one of the tournament – Photo credit – FLW Outdoors

This stop changed my day quickly.  I immediately started catching fish and put a decent limit together.  About half way through catching around 25 fish off of this spot I set the hook on the biggest bass that I have ever caught.  After an intense battle that included several jumps and a power run under the boat my co-angler Ralph Logan netted the 10 pound, 12 ounce monster.

10 Pounder - My big bass from day 1 - Photo credit - Joel Shangle (OutdoorsFIRST media)

10 Pounder – My big bass from day 1 – Photo credit – Joel Shangle (OutdoorsFIRST media)

I made a few small upgrades throughout the rest of the day and managed to put together the biggest five fish limit that I ever caught in FLW Tour competition.  My 24-8 total landed me in first place after day one and ranks right up there in the fishing accomplishments that I have had to date.

Day two went okay but I lacked getting a big bite.  My limit weighing 15-15 dropped me to 12th place but I managed to make the top 20 cut to fish day three, which was my goal heading into this event.  With little pressure on day three I fished to try to catch a big limit and came up short, bringing in 12-02.  I ended up with a 17th place finish, which is my best yet on the FLW Tour.

Waiting to blast-off on day three...the field was cut to the top 20 anglers heading out for the third day.

Waiting to blast-off on day three…the field was cut to the top 20 anglers heading out for the third day.

The ¾ oz football jig was probably my most productive bait last week at Pickwick but I also caught fish on deep diving crankbaits and swimbaits.  I was using two crankbaits primarily, a Rapala DT 20 and a Jackall Muscle Deep 15.  I was using the DT 20 on the deeper edges and Muscle Deep 15 in the 10-15 foot stuff.
I fished my football jig on a 7’3” G. Loomis NRX rod (NRX 873C), a Shimano Chronarch CI4 reel (7.6:1) and 12 lb Sunline Sniper FC line.

Pickwick is known for it's big smallmouths and though I didn't catch any during the tournament, I did catch a good one after the event.

Pickwick is known for it’s big smallmouths and though I didn’t catch any during the tournament, I did catch a good one after the event.

The last event of the FLW Tour season takes place next week at Kentucky Lake, one of the best lakes in North America right now.  The fishing should be really good so I’m looking forward to it!  It will be more offshore, ledge fishing, which I’m comfortable with.  Hopefully I can end the season on a good note!

Comfort Products who I fished with for a couple days following the tournament.  We caught'em pretty good!

Comfort Products who I fished with for a couple days following the tournament. We caught’em pretty good!

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 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).

Winter Sales Deals at KrugerFarms.com

Late winter into spring is when most anglers, hunters and outdoorsmen stock up for the upcoming year.  Christmas is behind us and we may have a bit of a tax return coming in the near future, so now is the time to score some deals and stretch your dollars a little farther.

The first place you should look is the Winter Clearance section of the Kruger Farms website.  You will find some sweet deals on Shimano, TriggerX Walleye Plastics, UnderArmour gear, Jackall hardbaits, decoys, blinds, hunting gear and much more!

KrugerFarms_Winter_Clearance

And for all of you Sitka fans out there, check out the annual Sitka sale we are having which is 20% off through the end of February.

Sitka_Sale Don’t see what you are looking for in the sale sections, we have great hunting and fishing merchandise throughout the store and adding new stuff all the time.  Recently we added GoPro action camera and much more.

Leave a comment for things you would like to see offered at KrugerFarms.com!  Also, don’t forget to subscribe at the bottom of any post to be in the loop on all future sales.

 

Shimano releases a game changer

Admittedly I have been a Shimano fishing reel junkie for years, my Dad I bought several of the original green bantam Curados when they came out in the 90’s, they were a great reel and Shimano has been reliable and good to me ever since. I even have a few of the original green Curados still in my arsenal.

NEW Shimano Chronarch CI4+

NEW Shimano Chronarch CI4+

That being said, I usually purchase and try out the newest and greatest Curados, Chronarchs when they come out and even have a Core in my lineup. The newer reels are often lighter, smoother and have a few extra bells and whistles than previous models.  That being said, I was extra stoked about the release of the new Chronarch CI4+ for this year when it was announced at ICAST 2013. I spent quite a bit of time searching around online stores looking to see who would get these reels in first.

Fortunately, KrugerFarms.com was one of the firs to have them in stock in the 150HG model, which is the right handed, high speed version.  At 7.6:1, I am pretty sure this is the fastest reel Shimano has put out yet for the freshwater market.  It is nice ordering from Kruger Farms, as I usually get my stuff in 1-2 days versus a full week from other online retailers that are often based on the West Coast. My initial out of the box impression was very impressive, the reel is super light and you can instantly feel the smoothness and quality of the reel. Once I paired it with my Dobyns Champion Extreme DX745C, it made it feel like a new rod. It made an already great rod feel even more unbelievably light and balanced.

Chronarch CI4+ on Dobyns DX745c

Chronarch CI4+ on Dobyns DX745c

Once on the water, the reel really proved its merit. As smooth as any reel I’ve ever fished, casts a mile and with the added external cast control it manages lures of all weights and sizes with just a few quick clicks. If you are in to having the best of the best in bass fishing gear, this new Chronarch is a must have! Or with Christmas around the corner, if you are looking to have your favorite fisher persons eyes light up on Christmas morning, this is a can’t miss!

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).

Recap of National Walleye Tour-Lake Erie Event

The krugerfarms.com anglers had another strong NWT tournament on Lake Erie in Port Clinton, OH. Even though the tournament was unexpectedly cut down to one day, every one of them landed in the money! We sat down with Dusty Minke, Korey Sprengel and Bill Shimota again to get their thoughts.

So, first things first, how did you guys finish?

Dusty – I took home $11,000 for finishing in 9th place with 44.15 pounds.

Dusty on Lake Erie.

Dusty on Lake Erie.

Korey – I took 16th place with 42.87 pounds and won $6,555.

Bill – I ended in 24th place with 41.11 pounds for $4,770 in winnings.

Nice job guys!  What were your thoughts before going into the tournament?

Dusty – Honestly, I felt pretty good even though practice was short for me—I was only able to prefish Monday through Wednesday.  The bite was good during practice and our krugerfarms.com walleye team had a game plan going into the event! We had a great crew; everyone pitched in and worked hard.

Bill – I was pretty confident going into the event, and I told myself that I would be disappointed if I came in with less than forty pounds.  At the same time, I knew most of my competitors would have the same kind of prefishing experience so it would come down to getting the 9-10 pounders instead of 7-8 pound fish.

Korey – I thought that we all had a shot at having a good finish.  Prefishing went great, as it did for everyone else, but we stumbled upon an area in prefishing that had quality fish that weighed more than average fish of the same length.

How much experience have you had fishing this specific location? How did the weather affect your prefishing?

Bill – I have competed in about eight tournaments on Lake Erie.  The weather during practice was great; we were able to go where we needed to fish almost every day, which is pretty rare for Lake Erie.

Korey – This was my first tournament on Lake Erie but I felt confident because I had learned a lot about what to expect and where to look for the right fish. The weather was fairly good when we were prefishing, we only lost one day due to wind—the day before the tournament.

Dusty – This was the second event for me on Lake Erie.  Like Bill said, the weather was nice for the short time I was prefishing but we had our work cut out for us and a lot of miles to cover because Canada was in play—I really put Sparkie, the Ranger Evinrude, to work!  Peely Island and the Canadian side offer endless fishable water, making it hard to dissect in a short amount of time.

The tournament was postponed on Day One and didn’t start until June 15th. Why did that happen?

Dusty – There was a wind and small craft advisory—basically the waves were too big to let us out of the gate.  We were running around 25 miles so that could have taken a long time in that wind…

Korey – The winds were gusting over 30 mph.

Dusty – …Some other teams were running 50 miles one way to the East, so I couldn’t imagine that would have been ideal in those conditions.

What were your thoughts when Day One was postponed?

Bill – I think it was a good call but I was disappointed because I was so excited to get out to those big walleyes again!

Korey – I was kind of relieved knowing that I was making a 25-mile run on the lake no matter the weather conditions, but it may have played to our advantage if we would have started the tournament on the 14th as planned.

Korey on Lake Erie.

Korey on Lake Erie.

Dusty – Honestly I was ready to go! But when I looked at the main water I could see it was brutal and that the tournament director made the right call! We prepare ourselves to compete and fish but when it comes down to it, the tournament has to consider the safety of the anglers. No matter what we have to respect the director’s call!

What tactics and lures did you use to fish?

Korey – We trolled Chartreuse Crawler harnesses with gold or antifreeze blades in Colorado, pulling them behind 3oz weights. The key was to keep moving around to find active fish—after about 2-3 passes on a school they would scatter or quit biting.

Bill – I pulled Jolly Roger Spinners and in-line weights.

Dusty – I was fishing with spinners and crawlers—using a mixture of VMC, Northland and Jolly Rogers spinners in Gold and Chartreuse with the gold-orange–green and chartreuse beads. I also used 1-1/2 and 2 ounce inline weights, fishing from 20 to 30 feet behind off-shore planer boards in 40 Feet of water.  Typically, I’d be moving around .9-1.3mph. This was the first time I had only six rods in the boat for the tournament!

Did you have to adapt your methods because of the wind and weather?

Bill – The only thing we had to adapt to was the current; you really had to watch it every day and that would tell you how fast or slow you needed to troll.

Dusty – The day of the tournament was flat and calm, just like it was during prefishing, so no changes were needed. I did, however, learn to give myself more time to get in! The wind kicked up on the ride back which created big waves off of the waves created by pleasure boaters in the area. I was a little nervous I wouldn’t make it back in time.

You all did really well this tournament, but did you try any tactics that didn’t work?

Korey – During prefishing, I tried cranks but didn’t have much luck. I probably should have tried them more because this is how the tournament was won!

Bill – I didn’t really experiment with tactics.  I’ve been on Lake Erie enough times to know what needs to be done and I didn’t waste any time trying new things.

Day two was cancelled due to weather. Do you think things would have turned out differently if you’d had a second tournament day?

Bill – Again it was a great call with safety in mind, but I was bummed because I felt I could move up in the standings with a second day to fish.  That being said, when the smoke cleared, we were all pretty happy to end up in the money!

Bill on Lake Erie.

Bill on Lake Erie.

Korey – If we would have had a second day it might of played to our advantage a little—because we knew that we were going about half as far as some of the leaders…but it would be hard to say if that would have played out as we hoped.

Dusty – I definitely think it would have played out differently! That is why the NWT hosts two-day events. It allows the tournament to be won by someone who consistently brings in big bags. I feel that if we could have returned to our spot for a second day that we could have got them—but there are some things we will never know! Weather, wind, and currents change and the angler that adapts and finds them can have the advantage. However, I respect the decision to cancel day two because the wind got worse, which would have been really hard on the equipment and anglers.

When is your next tournament?

Dusty and Bill – NWT in Sturgeon Bay, WI. It will take place on July 26th and 27th.

Korey – My next tournament will be the MWC on Winnebago, June 28th and 29th.

Do you have any parting thoughts or words of wisdom?

Bill – If you ever have a chance to experience fishing on Lake Erie I would highly suggest it.  Like they say, “There’s Lake Erie, and then there’s everywhere else!”  Where else would you need an 8-pound average just to get a check?

Guys at the Lake Erie NWT Event