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Froggin’ Up a 7th Place Finish on the Mississippi River

Largemouth Bass with Snag Proof Frog in mouth
Mississippi River largemouth that ate a Snag Proof Bobby’s Perfect Frog.

Going in to this past weekend’s T-H Marine Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division Super Tournament on the Mississippi River, out of La Crosse, WI on Pool 8, I had several ideas in my head how the event would play out.

Two year’s ago this event was an absolute smash fest and I made the cut in 19th or so place with 14 lb 15 oz, and then last year I barely missed the cut with 11 lb’s and change, the difference between the years and how the River is fishing?  Bait!!

In the fall on the Mississippi River, the size and location of the bait plays the biggest role in how the bass will set up, their size and just how aggressive they will be.

For this year’s event I was going to have limited practice, in all about a total just shy of ten hours, so that led me to checking areas that historically have held bait in the fall for me and would be holding schools of bass based upon the low water the River finally was seeing for the first time this year.

I found an active school of bass holding on a point with wind and current pushing bait on to it and it was a feeding fest on my topwater walk-the-dog plug.

Topwater Plug Gear –

Rod:  Witch Doctor Tackle Shaman 6’10” MH
Reel:  Wright & McGill Victory II High Speed Casting Reel
Line:  Seaguar Smack Down Braid 40 lb test
Lure:  Evergreen Shower Blow w/ Eagle Claw Lazer TroKar Treble Hooks

Once I had this school in the back of my head, I expanded my search in this area to see if there were any bigger fish holding on some of the isolated pieces of hard cover and what I did notice is that areas that had fresh, duck wart blown into it made the perfect ambush spots for bigger largemouth.

This pattern would prove to be key into the weekend…

On Saturday, I had an early boat draw so I was able to get on my starting spot with the school I mentioned above and quickly put a small keeper in the livewell, but very quickly I noticed the wind was no longer pushing bait on to the weedline, thus the bait wasn’t as thick and the bass that still were on that spot were not actively feeding.

Pulling the plug on this pattern was a must as I knew the fish were active and I had to get on them, so I went to my fall back plan of flipping a Texas-rigged Zoom Z-Craw to hard cover and this allowed me to fill out my limit and slowly upgrade my limit throughout the day.

Setting the hook with a Voodoo II Rod
Setting the hook on a bass with the Voodoo II rod!

Texas-Rig Gear –

Rod:  Witch Doctor Tackle Voodoo II 7’2″ H
Reel:  Wright & McGill Victory II High Speed Casting Reel
Line:  Seaguar Inviz X Fluorocarbon 17 lb test
Lure:  Eagle Claw Lazer TroKar TK133 Pro V Bend Flippin’ Hook, 3/8 oz Tungsten Weight (pegged), Zoom Z-Craw Green Pumpkin

With about an hour and a half left in my day, I knew I only had about ten lb’s and that was not going to make the cut, even if the bite was tough.  So I went back to an area where I had caught a 3 lb fish in practice underneath blown in duck weed and quickly boated a 3 lb fish!  At that point I was committed to running this pattern for the remainder of the day and it paid off again with a mid range 2 lb fish…these two fish pushed my day one limit to 12 lb 5 oz and put me in 15th place…the top 17 were making the cut and fishing on Sunday, so rigging up my Witch Doctor Tackle Rods for another day on the Mississippi River was in order!

A wind shift, cloudy skies and cooler temperatures greeted us on Sunday, which I knew would greatly affect my flipping/pitching pattern that yielded me the vast majority of my catch on day one.

I started on my same starting spot from day one, as the wind had changed and I thought it my position the bait on the weedline how it had been in practice…one small keeper in the box, no dice.

On to my fail safe pattern of fishing a Texas-rigged creature bait around hard cover…one small keeper in the box, no dice.

From here I went to an area that held a lot of bait in practice and had promise of holding a school of bass where I could fill out my limit and then go big fish hunting on wingdams and points.

Upon arriving in this area and fishing the stretch I did in practice, again I quickly noticed the bait was minimal and the school of bass was either inactive or gone.

What I did notice?  Blown in duck weed on a bank, so at that point I committed to keeping my foot on my Minn Kota Ultrex and covering water, knowing that the chance of running into quality bass underneath these soft, green canopies was there.

My eyes were glued to the bank for patches where the duck wart had blown in and was covering stumps, laydowns or along the bank where it made a point.

Casts made and my limit filled, I began up grading my limit my ounces, then a 4 lb largie!  At this point I was pot committed to this area for the rest of the day with my Snag Proof Frog doing the work!  Two more culls in the last hour helped push my day two limit to 14 lb’s even.

I had a lot of ground to make up to make a run at the top spots, but I figured the bite would be tougher on day two, so as I weighed my fish, I did get to sit in the hot seat as a few angler’s ahead of me weighed and couldn’t surpass my two day total weight of 26 lb 5 oz’s.  But finally I slipped down to second place and the angler’s that held the top five spots after day one weighed and even though their weights slipped on the second day, my deficit from day one was too much and I ended the event in 7th place.

Snag Proof Bobby's Perfect Frog on a Shaman Rod
Snag Proof Bobby’s Perfect Frog rigged on a Shaman Hvy rod.

Frog Gear –

Rod:  Witch Doctor Tackle Shaman 6’10” Hvy
Reel:  Wright & McGill Victory II High Speed Casting Reel
Line:  Seaguar Smack Down Braid 65 lb test
Lure:  Snag Proof Bobby’s Perfect Frog

In all this event played out how I thought it would in my head…a one-two punch of lures and areas would be the key to putting together a solid finish.

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