My First Season: Beaver Trapping

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

I began trapping my senior year of high school with one of my favorite hunting partners. We were in the same outdoor connections class and our teacher used to trap in Alaska so we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to learn something new.  We only trapped a few weeks that first winter but were able to get two grey fox and learned a ton before our mentor moved back to Alaska. I go to college in St. Paul and there are not many places to trap near by so I took a year off. Last year I decided to try trapping something new after talking to my grandpa. He wanted to hire a trapper to trap the beavers that according to him were “devastating“ the forest at our farm. Because I had never trapped beavers before I did some research online to try to learn as many different tactics as possible before I actually tried my hand at trapping a beaver. YouTube helped a lot because there are plenty of videos that go through how and where to place different sets.

53lb Trapped Beaver

53lb Trapped Beaver

At our farm it was pretty obvious where the beavers were feeding so from there I started looking for slides and trails. Slides are where the beaver actually slides down the bank on his stomach back into the water. You can tell if they are fresh or recently used if they are muddy. I had a dozen snares from when we trapped foxes so I decided I would try to us them first. I was able to find five slides near where they were feeding and that is where I decided to place my first sets.

            When making my sets I started by cutting 2 sticks from a surrounding tree to use to keep the snare in place. These sticks can’t be flimsy they need to hold up to being pushed into the ground and the weight of the snare.  You want to place these sticks in the water one on each side of the slide and about an inch or two in front of where the slide meets the water. I took a small diameter wire and ran it through a rubber ring on the snare, which I used to hold the snare in between the two sticks I placed in the water. I had my snares partially in the water so it hid a portion of the snare. The bottom of the snare should be at least 2 to 3 inches off the ground if the beaver is going to be walking through your set. The loop on the snare should have a diameter of about 7 to 10 inches. With a snare you want to catch the animal by the neck so the trap will work effectively if you have your trap to low or with too big of a loop you may catch the animal by the stomach or miss them all together.

            You have to tie your trap to something that can with stand the fight of the animal you are trapping. This was the part I was most concerned about because there were not a ton of big trees in the area I was setting my traps. When I could not tie to a tree I used a big rebar steak and drove it as far as I could into the ground and tied the trap to that. The lead on the snares I was using was about 3 feet after setting the loop of the snare. This was nice because I was able to hide the snare wire better than the cord I used to tie the trap to. I used a thick wire cable that is coated in rubber so it is easy to tie but hard to cut.

Once you have your trap set and anchored you want to block off any other possible paths. We used broken tree limbs and sticks you don’t need to make it impossible to go through. Animals will try to go through the clearest path so adding obstacles on the nearest alterative paths increases your odds of the animal going through your trap. Beavers make caster mounds, which are clumps of mud that the beaver will secrete caster onto to mark their territory. You can order beaver caster online so I used that to make my own caster mounds in hope of causing the local beavers to come and investigate the new smell. I was not sure if this would actually work but I did notice all the mounds I built were destroyed with-in a week. I also added some fresh shaved birch sticks, which from my research I found out is a favorite snack of beavers, in the slide to try to attract a hungry beaver. 

            My grandpa came out with me and helped me set traps the first day. We set 9 total snares because some of the slides split as the entered the water. He definitely had his doubts as we were setting the snares; he kept asking me if I knew what I was doing or just making stuff up on the go. But after an hour our two we had all the sets ready to go. Unfortunately I had to go back home that night to get back for class in the morning so I had my grandpa check the traps for me the next morning. In Minnesota you need to check your traps every 24 hours but you can give someone written permission to check traps on your behalf if you cannot. That first morning I was so excited to hear from my grandpa that I could hardly pay attention in class. I knew from my previous experience with the foxes that the first night normally gives you a good idea if there are animals interested in your bait or using your trails. The first night is also when most misses happen because you are not sure what to expect or exactly how to place the trap. My grandpa finally called and he had good news, we had trapped our first beaver! It wasn’t any average beaver either it was a 53 pound beaver! This thing was massive it measured into the biggest class of beavers which is a double blanket. We also trapped three of the pups before the pond iced over.

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Michaela showing result after skinning beaver

            The hardest part was skinning and fleshing this massive beaver. I was really nervous because I did not want to ruin the hide and I had never skinned a beaver before so I was going off of YouTube videos. After it was all said and done I think I did a good job there were no massive holes just a couple small cuts. The pelt is at the tannery now and I am looking forward to getting it back to see how it turned out.

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Three Pup Pelts

Michaela Anderson is a professional 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).

michaela-trees-jersey11

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).

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).

Tournament Recap: FLW College Central Qualifier on Kentucky Lake

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

This week was the last FLW College Central Qualifier on Kentucky Lake. Unfortunately, we were not able to prefish this event because I was recently in an accident. Luckily, everyone in the vehicle walked away without a scratch, but I can’t say the same about my boat and truck—which were both totaled! As discussed in my blog about whether prefishing is worth the work, I do not like fishing tournaments without logging some time on the water.  However, I was assured after doing some research and talking to friends that have fished the lake in the past that there were a lot of fish in the lake and it would be a fun tournament to attend. Also, we were motivated to participate in this event because it was our last chance to qualify for the FLW Central Invitational.

Michaela's truck and boat after the accident.

Michaela’s truck and boat after the accident.

From our research we determined that bigger fish would be caught on the ledges. I like throwing big, deep-diving, crank baits like a Rapala DT-20, so I was looking forward to trying my hand at fishing ledges. The morning of the tournament, we made the long run up towards the dam to an area of ledges we knew were productive. We found an area of shell beds on a ledge that we marked fish on, and started the morning there. My partner, Bryan Billeadeau, caught our three keepers in this spot with a Terminator football head jig. I was throwing all sorts of baits trying to get a bigger bite. I caught at least ten short fish with a Carolina rigged lizard, but wasn’t producing fish of any size. I also tried the DT for more of a reaction bite but had no luck. We started to graph suspending fish over the shell bed we were fishing, so I tried a Scatter Rap through the school again with no luck. After Bryan caught the third keeper, I switched to a football head jig as well but I continued to catch short fish.

Bryan with the three keepers from the tournament.

Bryan with the three keepers from the tournament.

We stayed in that area for most of the day because we knew it held big fish and we had a lot of fun catching a bunch of short fish. With about an hour and a half left, we ran back towards the launch and fished another shell bed—which again only produced short fish. We ended the day in 19th place and were 4 ounces away from qualifying. It was a little upsetting that we couldn’t the additional fish we needed to qualify for the invitational, but we were happy with the way we fished given we did not have a chance to prefish. In hindsight, the only thing I would have tried differently would be a Trigger X flutter worm or drop dead minnow on the suspending fish.

Overall, one of the biggest things I learned is how many nice people there are in the fishing industry—everyone was willing to help us out. One of our friends that fishes the FLW Everstart Tour stayed an extra night so that we could use his boat for the day. He woke up early on his day off to meet us at the landing and drop us into the lake. Without him we would not have been able to fish the tournament so I am extremely grateful.

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).

B.A.S.S. Midwest College Qualifier Recap

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

Last week was the B.A.S.S. Midwest Qualifier in Fort Madison, Iowa. The tournament was supposed to be on pools 18, 19 and 20 of the Mississippi River where we spent six days prefishing.  The conditions of the river were less than ideal during prefishing.  The current on the main river was so strong it was almost impossible to fish. Additionally, there was less than an inch of water clarity—one of our competitors said it was like fishing Willy Wonka’s Chocolate River—which made fishing the creek channels our only option. The water temps dropped from the 68-70 degree range down to 65 degrees in the week leading up to the tournament because of rain and water they were letting down from northern pools. Yet, in these conditions, we were able to catch fish flipping a Black Blue Purple Terminator jig and really soaking it. We knew we were on good fish and heard from many other teams that never had a bite, so we thought we would have a good chance at being in the top 10 and qualifying for the National Championship.

Michaela and Brian during weigh-in on Day 1.

Michaela and Brian during weigh-in on Day 1.

Then there was a sudden twist of events. The river was at flood stage all weekend and storms were predicted for the entire week leading up to the tournament. A flood warning was issued, and the river was expected to go another five feet above flood stage, which would make the river extremely dangerous. B.A.S.S. was forced to make a quick decision and for safety reasons moved the event to a different body of water.

Iowa does not have very many lakes, especially larger ones, so we moved to the closest lake near Fort Madison: Lake Sugema. It is a 500-acre lake with a slot limit of 10-12 inch fish or fish larger than 18-inches. There were 53 teams so we really filled up the water! Every team had one day to prefish, so we decided to spend the day looking for fish deep because we knew that the banks would be pounded. We fished areas with standing timber and a few points with rocks but only caught an 8-inch walleye in the timber and a 5-inch bass in the deeper areas.

We knew the tournament was going to be an extreme game of bumper boats and it truly was. At any point during the day I could see five other competitors. We caught a ton of fish flipping a Black Blue Purple Terminator jig and a Blueberry Candy Goo Bug but they were all in-between 12 and 18 inches so we couldn’t keep them. We did, however, catch a few small fish in the 10-12-inch range on a Red Crawdad Rapala Clackin’ Crank 55.

Over all it was very disappointing to not qualify for the National Championship but I was able to learn a ton about fishing fluctuating water levels and current flow on the river.

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).

A panoramic of Lake Sugema during take-off on Day 2.

A panoramic of Lake Sugema during take-off on Day 2.

How to Become a College Tournament Angler

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

There are many ways to get started fishing college tournaments. The best way is to start before you enter college by competing in small and local tournaments.  Your first tournaments should focus on lakes that you are already comfortable fishing and know well. This will allow you to remain confident while using your knowledge of different spots on the lake to adapt your strategy during the tournament—because the fish always seem to change their patterns on tournament days. Local clubs and youth programs are also a great way to start.

Michaela with her mentor, Mark Fisher.

Michaela with her mentor, Mark Fisher.

Youth & High School Fishing

For kids, youth programs offer an amazing learning experience. Now some states even have high school fishing as a varsity sport! There are a few different organizations that have state tournaments that provide kids with the opportunity to fish in regional and national tournaments in other states. The best way to find these organizations is to look for information on your DNR page, or the FLW and BASS pages, or of course you could just Google it! One other option you have is to email your local TBF contact to find out where the nearest youth club opportunities are located.

Youth tournaments provide a lot of opportunities such as college scholarships and experience traveling to fish in other states. During youth tournaments you do not need to provide your own boat—you just need to show up with a life jacket, rod and reel. The boaters become amazing mentors and help teach kids during the day out on the water. You are able to make many new friends and many connections for the future. Unfortunately, at 18 you become too old to fish the youth tournaments and you must move to adult and college tournaments.

Stepping up to College Tournament Angling

College tournaments provide a great opportunity to travel to many different lakes across the country and learn a lot about other types of fisheries. Many schools have clubs, which allow you to fish in the FLW, BASS, and Boat USA college tournaments. There are also a few schools that have bass fishing teams and some offer scholarships for fishing! Each tournament trail is run a little differently but the basic format is that you fish in the qualifying events in hopes of making it to the National Championship. These tournaments take your angling to a whole new level and test your skills on lakes across the country. It is a great way to make new friends and to establish a strong network.

Becoming a Professional

Once you graduate you have a few choices. In Minnesota, and most states I have traveled to, they have many local tournaments— you could fish a tournament every weekend if you wanted to. If you want to take a step up to another level, check out Rich Lindgren’s blog about getting started in the BASS and FLW leagues.  These tournaments will test your skills against some of the best anglers in the country—so it will give you a good idea of your competitive skill level.

One key reminder I would give you is that the best way to learn is to be out on the water. The more you get out fishing the more you will learn. Force yourself to learn new techniques and practice even the basic skills like casting. If you work hard at building your skill level, and take advantage of the resources and links I mentioned earlier—you can have a fun and rewarding experience as a college tournament angler like I have. It’s definitely worth the effort!

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.

Michaela and her team mate, Brian, at the 2012 B.A.S.S. National Championship

Michaela and her teammate, Brian, at the 2012 B.A.S.S. National Championship

Tournament Fishing: Does Prefishing Really Work?

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

This weekend I fished in the FLW Central Division Qualifier on Pickwick Lake (a part of the Tennessee River) in Alabama and it did not go like I planned at all! Because of this I had to wonder, is prefishing all its hyped up to be?

Fishing Pickwick Lake

Personally, I do not feel comfortable fishing a tournament on a lake I have never been on.  So before the tournament, I packed up the truck and boat and went down to Alabama for four days. The FLW restricts prefishing so that the lake is off-limits during the five days prior to competition. Therefore, the first day we practiced was over a week before the actual tournament—a lot can change in a week!

Michaela prefishing for FLW Pickwick Lake College Tournament

Michaela prefishing for FLW Pickwick Lake College Tournament

When we started fishing, the river was about three feet above average level and the water temps ranged from 62˚ to as high as 70˚. We caught at least 30 fish that day by flipping Trigger X Goo Bugs in the reeds, in cuts and coves along the shore, and close to the main river channel. However, in the following days they started pulling water in anticipation of storms that were rolling in so that our successful locations became depleted of all water.  We did not want to put all our effort into one pattern so we focused on finding deeper fish on Saturday and Sunday. With these efforts, we found fish in an area that had a slight drop off leading to a shell bed and an old river channel. There were fish stacked in this location so we thought that it would stay consistent even with the change in water levels.

After returning home, I watched the water levels and weather all week. Storms had gone through the area and the water levels were almost up to flood stage, which is 18 feet above normal! This worried me because I knew it meant that all of our grass was under water. By the time we arrived at the lake on Friday the water was about eight feet above normal.  That night a storm came through and there was a big temperature drop. We decided to follow our original game plan and start deep because we figured the fish would move out with the colder weather and if we didn’t catch fish that would mean they would probably be shallow so we would then go fish the weeds we had found earlier.

Finally it was time to launch—we were boat number 44 out of 50.  We had only seen one person in our planned area during prefishing so we were not concerned about others beating us to our spot.  When we finally arrived at our spot, which was about 20 minutes away, we were shocked to see about 10 other college teams in the same area. We caught short fish on Carolina rigs and shaky head jigs but could not catch any keepers. The rain had definitely cooled down the water because it was only 64˚. After about two hours we knew we had to change patterns. We started seeking out the areas with grass we had discovered during prefishing—ruling out areas that were now under water or had another tournament boat on them. Again we could only catch short fish. We finished up the day fishing by the dam in search of some of the large small mouth bass we had stumbled upon in practice…with no luck.

Pros and Cons of Prefishing

On the extremely long 15-hour ride back, I couldn’t get the tournament out of my head—I just kept thinking about how well we had done the weekend before. Then I thought back to the last FLW Qualifier on Lake of the Ozarks when the same thing had happened to us. That made me think: is it worth it to drive that far to prefish for a 6-hour tournament? If it was an 8- or 9- hour tournament, like most others, you have time to adjust and change patterns. But during a 6-hour tournament, it is extremely hard to make adjustments if your first pattern doesn’t work.

The first day of pre fishing has always been our best and I started wondering, why? I came to the conclusion that our success was slightly due to the fact that we had no preconceived ideas or patterns. We had done research online but had no clear idea of where to start, so we just started by fishing with the best methods we knew and went from there. On both Lake of the Ozarks and Pickwick we had a solid pattern on the first day and just tried to expand and build on it during the following days.

Another shot from prefishing on Lake Pickwick.

Another shot from prefishing on Lake Pickwick.

The benefit to prefishing was that we knew where to find different structures and did not waste any time looking around. The disadvantage to pre fishing was that we thought we knew the spots that had fish.  Then when we were only catching short fish, we started to panic and fish faster than we should have so that we could try to hit all of our spots in the short 6-hour time period.

So, Will I Prefish Again?

I still think you should prefish before a tournament—otherwise you wouldn’t know what the lake looks like, where you can and can’t drive, or where to find different types of structures. When you cannot prefish immediately before the tournament, I think your prefishing should be more focused on covering water and finding as many different types of spots as possible. I think our mistake was that we focused too much on actually catching fish and not on finding a wide variety of spots. So much can change in a week, so you need to have a lot of variety to work with. Another thing I’ve taken away is that I need to go into tournaments with an open mind and to remember to fish with my tried-and-true methods.

Even after the last two tournaments, I truly believe that if you put in the effort and work hard you will be rewarded. I have learned more than I can include in two short blogs from these last two tournaments, even though we didn’t finish where we had hoped. I am very lucky to be able to do what I am doing and have these experiences—but I’m not ruling out getting a lucky rabbit’s foot, horseshoe, or four-leaf clover to help catch keepers in the future!

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).

Boat Prefishing

Fishing California Bass with Rich Dobyns

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lake of the Ozarks FLW College Tour Recap

Michaela with a bass she caught while pre-fishing Lake of the Ozarks.

Michaela with a bass she caught while pre-fishing Lake of the Ozarks.

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

Last weekend I competed in the first FLW College Central division qualifier on Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. The field was limited to 50 college teams from the Midwest. It was a tough tournament to say the least! It took four fish, totaling 12.14 pounds, for Missouri University of Science and Tech’s team to take the win. To be in the top 15, which qualifies you for the Central Invitational in July, you needed 4.07 pounds. Unfortunately my partner and I tied for 26th because we were not able to find any keeper bass that measured at least 15 inches.

Pre-Fishing

Tournament waters go off limits the Monday before the event; so in order to prepare, we fished the waters during a long weekend prior to the event and had a lot of success. The weather was in the 50’s with water temps in the high 30’s to low 40’s in some spots. On Friday, we spent most of our time fishing secondary points with jerk baits. Later in the day I caught our biggest fish with a ghost colored, size 10, X-Rap on a brush pile in about five feet of water. This made us think that the fish may have been shallower than we expected. On Saturday, we started to key in more on this pattern. We were able to catch a limit of keepers fishing pea gravel banks around brush piles and docks. We were a little surprised to have found so many keepers on these banks because they are normally where the fish will go to spawn, but the water temps seemed too cold for that. There was a down pour all morning on Sunday, but we fished for a few hours before we had to head back home in order to make it to our classes on Monday. Even with the rain, we were able to catch three keepers in about four hours on new pea gravel banks so we were feeling pretty confident in our pattern by the time we left the lake.

Tournament

The weather leading up to the tournament was consistently in the high 60s and even reached 83 on Friday. We figured that the sunshine meant that the brush piles and banks we had found successful during the previous weekend would still be productive.  A cold front blew in on Saturday, bringing the temps down to 40 and dropping, but I was still super excited when we got to the ramp; full of optimism that we would be able to have a good day on the water. We started the day at 7:30am—hitting all the spots in which we had previously caught fish. But we soon found that we were not getting bites in these locations. We only caught two short fish out of eight key spots. We threw the same X-Rap that had worked so well in the past, as well as jigs and flutter worms around the key brush piles with no luck. After we determined that our key pattern did not stick through the week, we made a change to some steeper chunk rock banks where we had graphed huge schools of shad. We were able to catch five short fish off of these banks but could never connect with anything over 15 inches.

Unfortunately, we ended the tournament with an empty bag. But we’re looking forward to the next qualifier on May 4th at Pickwick Lake in Alabama. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on our progress!

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).