As the Leaves Turn….

5-02.1Right now in the upper Midwest, the trees are turning to brilliant shades of crimson, orange and yellow and at the same time mornings greet us with a cool crisp bite.  These are sure-fire signs that it’s football season and for many outdoor anglers, hunting season.

While many of my fellow anglers start to stow their rods to make room for camo and firearms, I get excited at the bountiful big bass opportunities that come with fall fishing.  As long as you can put up with some cooler temperatures, you will likely be rewarded with hefty hungry bass and empty boat ramps.  Dressing properly with Under Armour Gear and other quality clothing makes it easy to tolerate the dropping temperatures on the lakes & rivers.3-14.1

Many a lunker bass will make themselves available in shallower then normal depth contours.  As much of the green vegetation starts to wane, fish gravitate to the cover remaining.  Look for wood, docks, pads and other remaining vegetation and it can often be easy pickings.  For me, hard cover seems to be a real key in Autumn (i.e. Wood & Docks).

Not all days will produce huge numbers, but often the few bites you will get are from behemoth bass fattening up for the long winter.  Lures like buzzbaits, shallow crankbaits, jigs and spinnerbaits tend to load the boat this time of year.  Perfect example, last week I was out for 6 hours and I caught a pair of largemouth over 5lbs and several in the 3-4lb class, not very often in the heat of the summer will you catch more than a single bass over 5lbs.5-01.2

So pack a radio, listen to your favorite football team, enjoy the solitude of fall fishing and start hunting your local lakes for better than average size bass!

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).

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).

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