My tournament partner, Nick Gross and I kicked off our 2013 season back in May with the St. Jude Bass Classic with a so/so start, we were around the right fish, but didn’t make the right decisions, which cost us a check. We were going to do everything in our power to keep that from happening again as we began prefishing for our first event, but second event of the season for the North American Bass Circuit.
The event was being held up in Grand Rapids, MN on Lake Pokegama, which is a lake off of the Mississippi River. This was my first time to the lake, but Nick had been here before, so we had some prior insight to go off of.
Going into practice, we knew there would be for sure two distinct patterns to focus on, pre spawn smallmouth on the main lake and largemouth up in the river. So for the first two days, we divided up the water and patterns, I stuck with my strong suit of river fishing for largies and Nick pursued smallies on the lake.
All I have to say is wow, what a fishery Pokegama is! I caught numerous bass in the 2 lb. and the northern pike were also on a tear, which kept things interesting and my jig box empty! Up the river, I was looking for largies in warmer water bays with emergent vegetation and from what I found the closer to the main river channel the better.
Through my two days of practice I became developing a milk run of spots in which I was able to duplicate several patterns and in turn was catching some quality fish, with several 4 lb. fish landed and even one on Thursday that was over 5 lb’s!
Back down on the lake, Nick was also putting together some areas for pre spawn smallmouth, so when tournament day came on Saturday, we had two options to go with. We opted to start in the river with my largemouth pattern and right away things got going, with Nick getting a small keeper on a Texas-rigged plastic and then me hooking up with our big fish of the day, a 4 lb. 14 oz. brute that hit an RC Tackle Swim Jig.
We continued working our first area until we had a limit of fish, using the above lures still. I then wanted to quick hit a small spot where I got a 4 lb fish in practice, so off we went and within three casts on this point, I hooked up with a 3 lb. fish on a spinnerbait.
At this time, Nick and I figured we had about 14 lb’s and knew it was going to take around 18 lb’s to cash a check, so we need to upgrade at least two fish, so we felt the best opportunity for this was to go after some big pre spawn brown fish.
Well after getting down to the lake and seeing the conditions, we knew things had changed, but we braved the 25 mph winds and rain in hopes of getting a fish to bite, but that never happened.
We finished up the day with 14 lb. 8 oz., which put us in 48th place, this wasn’t what we were hoping, but we still have two tournaments left to move us up in the standings to qualify for the TOC in October.
Looking back, the pattern that we didn’t expand enough upon in practice was the bays off of the main lake; this is where many of the good bags came from with a mixture of largemouth and smallmouth.
All in all, it was a fun four days on the water, caught a lot of fish and learned a lot. I’m looking forward to the next NABC event, as it is in July on my home water of the Mississippi River in La Crosse!
Key Gear Notes:
On tournament day the conditions were less than favorable, but we were able to fish slowly and cover the areas with precision by dropping my dual Minn Kota Talon’s.
Our Onyx Pro Tech Rain Gear kept us dry and warm despite the cold rain.
I used a ¼ oz. RC Tackle Swim jig and I needed to make long casts and know I could get the bass out of heavy cover, which is why I relied on Seaguar Kanzen Braided line in 30 lb. test.