Watch Luke Clausen catch a 9lber on the Orochi XX F4.5-70XX!

Luke Clausen introduces the F4.5-70XX on Clear Lake, CA, and catches a beauty on a Megabass prototype crank bait!

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Luke Clausen introduces the F4.5-70XX on Clear Lake, CA, and catches a beauty on a Megabass prototype crank bait!

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Shin Fukae Tournament Blog: Toyota Texas Bass Classic, Lake Conroe 2013

Toyota Texas Bass Classic

Lake Conroe

Montgomery, TX

20th place

9 fish, 24-08

 

Heading into the last event of this year in U.S., Toyota Texas Bass Classic is a unique format championship that the competitors are invited from their qualifications with Top 15 of each circuit’s AOY on the FLW Tour, the BASS Elite Series and the PAA Series in addition to 5 exemptions includes the defending champion. I qualified for the non-entry fee event as the PAA Series AOY current leader.

 

To me, this was the fourth tournament at Lake Conroe and I kind of knew what type of lake it was and what I would have to figure out. However, I haven’t done well on this lake before and I just was hoping I could make this championship and would fish harder as much as I could to win.

 

The water level was different each time I visited and this year some boat docks were unplayable due to the low. On the official practice days, I basically did run around the lake to see the overall condition first and after that, I checked how my waypoints in the past worked as well as tried to find new spots as many as I could. I know the most of Texas lakes hold tons of big fish and Lake Conroe is the one of them but to be honest, fishing the lake this time of year is a challenge and I had such a bad practice as I’ve never had. I caught some fish in shallow and some in deep but no kickers on the both sides so I couldn’t decide which was better for me until right before the tournament start.

 

On the Day 1, I had an early flight and started with fishing shallow before the boat traffic gets worse. I caught some fish there but nothing big same as practice days. A couple hours after the sun came up and my spots started getting some pressure on, I moved to my deep spots and spent the rest of time there. I fortunately managed 15-4 at the end of the day and that was worth tied for 9th.

 

On the Day 2, I decided to spend the all of my day with staying at deep areas since what I caught them at my deep spots on the first day was much better than what I felt from my rough practice. However, the day two turned out tough for me and in fact I could not manage a limit and only caught 4 fish with 9-4 despite of that I not only had a longer fishing time than the Day 1 but also had a good chance to make the final cut.

 

Although I missed the Top-10 cut, I ended up in the 20th that was much better result than what I had thought as well as compare with my finishes in the past. I can say that fishing with Megabass rods has been contributing to my performance on the water and I wouldn’t have better results without them. At this time, I mainly used Megabass Tomahawk cranking rod (F4-70GTA) for deep crankbaits as well as Megabass Orochi X4 casting rod (F6-71X4) fishing with Carolina rig. The Mat Bucker (F6-71X4) originally has made for light frogging game but the rod is very versatile and to me, that is the one of the most favorite rods.

 

Next up for me is the Basser Allstar Classic on Tone River/Kasumigaura in Japan (Oct.25-26), and that would be my last tournament this year. The event is the invitational tournament presented by Basser magazine and a lot of bass fishing fans come to show their support and have fun with the competitors and the sponsors. I have won it before and will watch for a chance of the second win. I also have been looking forward to meeting fans in person over there just because I don’t have many opportunities to do that since I came over here in U.S. I appreciate you all for the all kind of support and the wishes.

Shin Fukae Tournament Blog: PAA Table Rock Lake, 2013

PAA Series

Table Rock Lake

Branson, Missouri

7th place

15 fish, 38.54 lbs.

 

 

Heading into the third PAA series of the 2013 season I was leading provisionally with a slim margin on the Angler of the Year race. To gain an advantage over the competitors with the point race as well as to secure the qualification of the TTBC championship, I wanted a strong finish badly and I did pre-fish to figure something out before the cut-off.

 

Even though I have fished the lake before, the most of time was spring season. Plus, the lake had some record high rainfall in early summer this year so it was a whole lot different conditions compare to its usual. Those made me disturb enough when pre-fishing and I did run around all over the lake which had above summer full pool of water level to find whatever I can rely on from before sunrise to after sunset every day.

 

Despite fishing at deep water usually is dominant in the summer time on this lake, it looked like the unusual rainfall changed it completely and the thermocline was messed up. In fact, the lake produced to many anglers plenty of shallow bites on the tournament days. I caught some fish on the surface too during the official practice but I stayed and focused on fishing deep brush at 20 to 30 feet of water for all three competition days since I thought that was the strategy I could believe more than anything else and I worked hard to get some key bites from it.

 

I did not get many bites on the competition overall and catching a 5-bass limit every day was not easy to me especially on the final day, but I fortunately could make it with consistency for all three days by using two different presentations. Those were Texas-rigged plastics teamed up with either Megabass Orochi XX (F7-72XX) rod or Orochi X4 (F6-71X4) rod as well as Dropshot with using the Yamamoto baits and Gamakatsu G-Finesse Swivel Shot combo on the Megabass Orochi XX spinning rod (F3-611XXS). The rods for the Texas-rigged baits I choose basically depend on the weight sizes and at this time I picked the F7-72XX for the heavier weights while using the F6-71X4 for the lighter sizes. I have been using the Megabass Orochi Series rods for four years now and those helps to bring my performance out for sure, I think.

 

With the 7th finish on this event, I made another Top-10 finish following the last two events. Thankfully, the high finishes three times in a row on the PAA not only kept me as a provisional point leader with final event left on the tourney but also got me into the Toyota Texas Bass Classic which is called bass fishing world championship.

 

Next up for me is the Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Lake Conroe in Texas (Oct.4-6). I have fished the lake before so hopefully my prior experience works out at the event next month but I will give it my best shot whatever happens. The 2013 season to me is entering the final lap and it would be time to make a last spurt. Last but not least, thank you for all your support and the wishes.

Megabass Deep-Six Video!

Check out the DEEP-SIX diving crank bait in action on Lake Biwa, Japan!

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Edwin Evers Tournament Blog: Lake St. Clair 2013

Elite Series

Lake St. Clair

Detroit, Michigan

54th Place

10 fish, 30-01

 

Heading into practice at St. Clair, I knew that there would be no such thing as playing it safe. That’s not my style anyway, but in a tournament where everyone was going to catch limits it was important to find the schools that had better quality bass.

 

My goal in practice was to cover as much water as possible. I put my Motorguide trolling motor on high, grabbed a bunch of 7:1 reels, and started flinging crankbaits fast and furious. On St. Clair it might be 15 feet deep in one spot, then you go a half mile and it’s still 15 feet and 3 miles later the depth hasn’t changed, so it’s important to key on every little subtlety. Depending on the characteristics of the particular spot, I rotated between three Megabass crankbaits: the Deep-X 150, the Deep X-300 and the Deep-Six.

 

On the first day I found a quality group of fish and an area that had the potential to produce the win. I caught a five-pounder and a couple of fours, plus had a bunch of followers so I knew the school was a good one. In the second half of the day I made the long run up to Lake Huron. Now that I know where some of the top 12 were fishing, it’s obvious that I went further than I had to go, but right before dark I got into some schooling fish. That’s a situation that’s hard to gauge because it was later in the day than we’d get to fish – who knows if they’d be there during tournament hours? As a result, I didn’t think much about it.

 

On the second and third days I cranked until my elbows just about fell off and I found several more groups of quality fish, including a few 5 ½ pounders. Two of those areas were both around the size of a football field, and I also found a third area that was a lot bigger, an absolute monster. I felt that by catching the aggressive ones with a crankbait and supplementing it with a dropshot and a tube any one of those three areas could lead me to a top ten finish. I was confident heading into the event.

 

On the first day of competition the wind was out of the west and that seemed to change everything. I caught a smallmouth in the first 30 minutes of fishing, but at 2 o’clock that was still the only fish in my livewell. At that point I scrambled to fill out a limit for a little over 13 pounds, which left me pretty far down in the standings. I should’ve gone up the river to Huron, but I couldn’t pull the trigger.

 

Day Two started off equally tough, but at 9 o’clock I made the decision to pack up and head 30 miles up the river, where I caught 16 pounds in about 30 minutes and then proceeded to cull up to my eventual weight of 17 pounds even. I hoped that would be enough to get into the cut for Saturday, where I’d have a chance to reclaim the AOY lead, but ultimately I was a half pound short of the top 50. If I’d just gone up there the first day I’m sure I would have had at least 14 or 15 pounds and I would’ve been celebrating. One bad decision over the course of the entire Elite Series campaign cost me the title.

 

I was in the service yard getting some of my gear adjusted until well past the end of Friday’s weigh-in, so I didn’t really know what happened immediately, but I did have a gnawing suspicion that my decisions – or lack thereof – would come back to haunt me. Fortunately my family was there to keep me grounded. Your four year-old doesn’t care about the AOY race, he just wants to be with you. The next day we went kayaking and ate the biggest scoops of ice cream in Michigan and tried to put the one subpar finish behind us.

 

While the result wasn’t what I wanted it to be, I still have to give credit to my gear for allowing me to stay out there under conditions that’ll test any piece of equipment. My Optima batteries kept me going at full speed into the waves and current for three long days of practice and two days of competition. My Lowrance touch screen electronics enabled me to find groups of fish in ways that never would have been possible just a few years ago. My Nitro boat has a livewell cooling system that I’m sure was responsible for keeping several deep-hooked fish alive – without it, I’m sure a few of them would have died, costing me valuable places in the standings. Finally, I’m increasingly relying on the Megabass crankbaits and have come to realize that they outfish anything else in their class. In particular, the Deep X-300 was the perfect tool for the depth I was fishing at St. Clair.

 

My next tournament will be the B.A.S.S. All-Star week, again in Michigan, but before that occurs there’s lots to do. I’m headed to Table Rock soon for Tracker media days, and I just had two big pallets of Antler King food plot products show up. The best way to get over the disappointment of finishing 2nd in the Angler of the Year race will be to spend some time on my tractor.

Aaron Martens Tournament Blog: Lake St. Clair 2013

Elite Series

Lake St. Clair

Detroit, Michigan

12th Place

15 fish, 62-02

 

Heading into the final Elite Series event of the 2013 season there was a big gap between me and Edwin Evers in the Angler of the Year race. I was in 2nd place, but it was a very distant second. He could seal the deal with a strong finish, and I knew that under any circumstances I’d probably have to win or come close to steal the title away. The fishing reports indicated that the fish close to the launch site in St. Clair were skinny and light, so the combination of those factors made it easy for me to decide to make the long run to Lake Erie.

 

Of course, making that long run is perilous even under good conditions. I figured that at least one day out of the four we’d get strong winds and I’d have to make a decision whether it was worth the pain, but in my heart I knew that I could do it as long as the wind wasn’t much over 20 miles per hour.

 

Even though I’ve done well on Erie in the past, most of that success was up around Buffalo. I hadn’t fished this side of the lake too much, but it didn’t take me long to figure out a few sweet spots. I looked deep and shallow and on the second day I pinpointed a big area that I felt had the potential to produce a win. It wasn’t going to give me a lot of fish – maybe 10 or 15 a day – but there were lots in that 4 to 6 pound class.

 

It was pretty rough on the first morning of competition but it only took me about an hour and a half to run the 70+ miles to my spot. The fishing started off slow, and I lost a few good ones early. That was frustrating, because during practice I couldn’t shake them off. After a couple of moves I settled down and the fish stopped biting funny. Pretty quickly I culled up over 20 pounds. My final weight for the day was 21-14, which had me in 3rd place behind Chris Lane and Mark Davis. Meanwhile, Edwin only weighed about 13 pounds, which meant that if things stayed the same I’d be AOY. Still, a 20 pound bag on Day Two could put him back in contention, so I didn’t allow myself to think about anything but my own performance.

 

Day Two dawned a little calmer or at least the wind had shifted. That made the boat ride easier but the fishing a little bit tougher. I caught lots of drum but the bass were finicky. They’d mouth a bait and then spit it out. You could see on the graph that they weren’t in feeding position. I gradually got a few in the boat and once again they were the right size. My 19-19 moved me up to 2nd behind Mark Davis. The wind shifted again the next day, but the fish didn’t leave. I was persistent and it paid off with another 20+ limit. To be precise, I had 20-11 and that had me in 3rd behind Davis and Lane. I could only hope that their fish were running out because I knew that there were plenty left where I’d been fishing. Just as importantly, there was no way I could fall below 12th, which meant that I’d clinched the second AOY title of my career.

 

The fourth day of competition had some of the roughest water of the week. It didn’t prevent me from getting to my fish in a reasonable amount of time, but once I was there I had to keep the trolling motor on high to maintain my position. It still seemed like it was out of the water at least half the time.

 

I ran straight to what I thought was my best spot. It hadn’t produced much on the second or third days, but it was on once again. I caught a limit pretty quickly and then it got really good. I culled and culled until my smallest bass was 3-07. It wasn’t easy to land them in that rough water and I lost a few that might’ve helped, but overall my equipment enabled me to get the job done.

 

The wind seemed to die down the as the day progressed, but I didn’t want to take any chances. The day before it had taken me an hour and 20 minutes to get back, so with a good limit onboard I left myself an hour and 45 minutes for the ride. I pushed it a bit at first and then when I got near the mouth of the river it seemed to get worse. There were five footers out there and when I looked at the flag at the mouth of the river it was ripping hard. There’s current in there, too, and more big boats than you’ve ever seen in such a confined area.

 

When I got about three-quarters of a mile from where I was going to gas up, there’s a spot with an island and two channel markers. There’s also lots of rock there, so I played it safe and went right down the middle. There was a 50 foot boat coming at me, pushing a big bow wake. I still had over an hour to go the last 36 miles so all seemed in order. Meanwhile, the wakes from two other 40 footers were coming at me as well. I was trying to stay on top of things, but when the wakes converged all I could see was a cavern in the water and I was going right into it. Normally when you hit a wake it’ll jar you a bit, but there’s a certain amount of give. This time the boat just stopped.

 

When we impacted the swirling water, there was a loud snap and a popping noise. That can never be good, but I could only hope that it was something inconsequential rather than catastrophic. I was able to keep going for a short distance, but then I hit a 3 foot wake and the motor jumped off the studs. I’d broken one of the bolts that held it in place. There was nothing I could do at that point except try to contact another competitor. I called Randy Howell, who I figured was my last chance, but his phone was in a dry compartment and he never heard it ring.

 

I started heading toward the gas station but it was too late. With only 40 minutes to go, even if my boat miraculously came back together there was no way to make it in time. I tried calling Trip Weldon but I couldn’t get through, so I called Mark Zona and verbalized the bad news. At that point I got out my scale, weighed each fish individually, and let them swim away. My scale is a spring scale that tends to read a little light and it had me at 20-08, which probably means I was within an ounce or two of 21 pounds. Ouch.

 

I got the motor going to where I could idle and started the long trek back to the ramp in the river. Meanwhile Lesley had to drive through Detroit traffic to meet me. It was late by the time we got it on the trailer. At that point, we couldn’t really drive it anywhere without the motor falling off, so we headed to Lowe’s to get any kind of bolts that would secure it until I could get it to a certified mechanic. While we were in the parking lot my cameraman looked up the standings on the phone and told me that I would have won the tournament. All of the good feelings I had from winning AOY were soured and I could feel the blood drain from my face. I’m still frustrated about it, but there’s nothing I can do. Hindsight is 20/20, but I’d still take the risk of that long run if I had it to do over again. The same risk that cost me in the end was the one that put me on the fish to win the event. I’m mad that we suffer through so many needless no-wake zones and they let those big yachts fly around there at warp speed, but everyone had those same conditions to deal with so there’s no one to blame.

 

For the record, every fish I weighed in during the tournament came on a dropshot. Most of them were on the Orochi XX Drop Shot rod (F3-611XXS), but I also caught some on the Destroyer Aaron Martens Limited (F3-610XS). I fished 3/8 and ½ ounce weights below a variety of Roboworm products, including the 4 ½ Straight Tail worm in Aaron’s Magic and Pro Blue Neon, as well as the smaller Alive Shad in similar colors. Unlike other tournaments where I use straight fluorocarbon, in this one I used a main line of 10 lb. Sunline SX1 braid with a leader of either 8 lb. or 7 lb. Sunline fluoro. I attached the two with a swivel, and then had 12-15 inches of line before the hook, and another 20-25 inches of line from the hook to the weight.

 

Next up for me is the US Open on Lake Mead, one of my favorite lakes and an event that I’ve won three times. We’re filming MLF this week and then I have to drive back to Alabama before heading to Vegas. Maybe that will give me some recuperation time. We’re headed from some serious rough water on the Great Lakes to the furnace of the desert. As my career has progressed, I’ve learned to deal with extreme conditions better and better and I think the proof is in the results.

  • B.A.S.S. Elite angler Aaron Martens is perennially ranked among the Top 10 in the US--and with an AOY title in 2013 and 2004, multiple tour-level wins, and over $2.6 million in career winnings, it is no question why Aaron continues to dominate the sport.

Aaron Martens Tournament Blog: St. Lawrence River 2013

Elite Series

St. Lawrence River

Waddington, NY

5th Place

20 fish, 77-15

 

The St. Lawrence River and the adjoining waters are fantastic fisheries, and there’s nothing I like more than finessing up deep smallmouths in the late summer, so I expected that this tournament would play to my strengths. It didn’t hurt that I’d been fishing well, with an 8th place finish and a 2nd place finish in the last two Elite Series tournaments, so I had a good feeling heading into this one.

 

Looking back on it now, after two and a half days of practice and four days of competition, I feel like I fished well and made the most out of what I found. Of course I lost a few along the way, but that happens to everyone when you’re fishing for hard-fighting smallmouths. I suppose my one mistake was that I didn’t run out into the lake like other top finishers including Brandon Palaniuk, who ended up winning. I’m kicking myself now – especially because it looks like both Brandon and Chris Zaldain fished areas that I was familiar with, having explored them two years ago while filming a TV show with Mark Zona.

 

Heading into practice, I just felt like not only was the lake a 90 to 100 mile run, depending on where you were fishing, but also that there was no way conditions would allow someone to get out there and fish all four days. I was wrong, and there just weren’t the same caliber fish in the river in the same sort of numbers. Maybe if you’d fished there your whole life you’d know enough big fish spots, but that’s not possible in just a short official practice period.

 

Despite not going to the lake, my practice period was pretty good. On Monday, I had an unbelievable day – I probably would’ve had over 26 pounds, and my limit would’ve included my personal best smallmouth, a 7 pound 8 ounce beast that ate my Roboworm. On Tuesday, I would’ve had 21 or 22 pounds, just looking around and trying different things. The third day of practice wasn’t too good, but that convinced me to stick with the stuff from Monday and Tuesday.

 

On the first day, just about everything went according to plan and I weighed in 20-10 on a dropshot. The conditions were just right with a little bit of wind and they bit the way they were supposed to. Unfortunately, I lost a six-plus pounder that fought me for what seemed like forever. I chased her around the boat for probably two minutes and eventually she just came unbuttoned. It felt like somebody kicked me in the gut. That fish would’ve moved me up quite a bit, but in 8th place I was still in range of the lead.

 

The next day I backed it up with 21-08 to pull into 4th place. Brandon was still catching them out in the lake, but it was going to get windy on Saturday and I felt like I had him in my sights. Once again I lost a few quality fish for no obvious reason, including one that was probably five pounds, but that was happening to a lot of guys. It’s pretty typical – in practice you can’t get them to spit the hook and then when boats start running around during the tournament the fish start to bite a little funny. You can’t just let them swallow it, because they’ll spit it out, so you have to do the best you can.

 

On Saturday, the wind started to blow a bit more, which I thought might hurt Brandon. At the same time, there had been about a dozen competition boats in my area for two days and I knew that the fish were a little skittish. I dropped down from 8 lb. Sunline Sniper to 7 lb. Sniper to try to eke out a few more bites. It worked, but once again I had two big ones jump off. They would’ve given me about 19 pounds, but instead I weighed in 16-14 and slid back to 7th. On the day when I’d expected to make up ground, I ended up losing three places.

 

Brandon’s lead was huge entering the final day, so I knew that absent a miracle I probably wasn’t going to win, but I had little to lose and quite a few spots I could still move up. I decided to take a gamble and shoot for the 26 pound bag I knew was possible. I hit five new areas and caught fish on all of them with the dropshot, but when it clouded up later in the day, I made a decision to try some reaction baits to show them something different. I fished a few swimbaits and a ¾ ounce chartreuse/pearl Davis Vibe Spinnerbait. The real magic started when I pulled out an Elegy Bone Megabass Ito Vision 110 jerkbait – on my first cast I caught my biggest fish of the day. At that point I put a lot of my other tackle away and committed primarily to the jerkbait. It allowed me to cull three times in the last three hours, up to 18-15, but it wasn’t enough and I ended up fifth.

 

The more I fish these Orochi XX rods, the more I’m convinced that they’ve been integral to my success on tour this year. They’re so light that even at this late point in the season I’m not tired at all, and each one is specifically tailored to the presentation I’m making. I used the 6’11” Drop Shot Rod (F3-611XXS) with the 7 lb. Sniper and the 7’ Shakey Head Rod (F3.5-70XXS) with 8 lb. Sniper. I threw the spinnerbait on Luke’s signature series Spinnerbait Special (F5-610XX) and the jerkbait was on the Flat Side Special (F4.5-70XX). I still use the Jerkbait Special a lot, but sometimes the 7’ length of the Flat Side Special makes a little bit of difference on those spastic smallies.

 

I kept it simple on my dropshot lures – 4 ½ and 6-inch Roboworm STs in two colors – Aaron’s Magic Red, which replicates a goby, and Pro Blue Neon, to imitate an alewife or perch.

 

I’ve been fishing well and gradually making up ground in the AOY race. Unfortunately for me, Edwin Evers never lets up. He finished 25th at the St. Lawrence and I’m still about 30 points behind him heading into our final event on St. Clair. That’s another tournament that’s right up my alley, but then again Edwin won an Elite Series tournament on Erie a few years ago, so he’s no slouch there, either. My goal is to win and let the chips fall where they may. No matter how rough it is, or how far away I find the winning fish, I’m going to do whatever it takes to get to them. I have complete faith in my big Phoenix Boat and my blazing fast and ultra-reliable Mercury outboard. It’s up to me to make something happen. I don’t want to have any regrets. It could lead me to a resounding victory, or I could have a terrible tournament, but I’m not going to second guess my instincts.

  • B.A.S.S. Elite angler Aaron Martens is perennially ranked among the Top 10 in the US--and with an AOY title in 2013 and 2004, multiple tour-level wins, and over $2.6 million in career winnings, it is no question why Aaron continues to dominate the sport.

Edwin Evers Tournament Blog: St. Lawrence River 2013

Elite Series

St. Lawrence River

Waddington, NY

25th Place

20 fish, 55-01

 

This year was the first time I’d visited the St. Lawrence as a professional bass angler. Technically, I’d been there once before, for the Canadian Open back when I was in high school. I fished that tournament as a co-angler and I drew Ron Lindner one of the two days. Both days I fished for largemouths, so it really wasn’t much help this year.

 

I spent the tournament in the river, rather than heading out into the big water, but that wasn’t a matter of hedging my bets. There was no incentive or reason for me to play it safe. In hindsight of course I’m a little bit disappointed that I didn’t go out into the lake, but I had heard about a 27 pound bag from the river in a recent tournament where the competitors had to stay between the locks. They don’t get much bigger than that, so I felt like even in the river I’d be around the right caliber of fish.

 

Like just about everyone, I caught most of my tournament fish on a dropshot, but I tried quite a few other tactics in practice. I fished a Megabass jerkbait quite a bit and got some good bass to come up on a Dog-X Quick Walker, a topwater that is increasingly becoming one of my confidence baits. I also cranked a little bit with a Deep X-150. I’m really dying to fish another tournament where I get on a good crankbait bite, and I caught a few on it, but it seemed like every time I dropped a dropshot over the side I’d get a bite, so it was hard to rely on anything else.

 

I focused on the area of the river where it started to widen out, about 35 or 40 miles from the takeoff. That’s where the current changed from fast to slow and it seemed to hold more and better quality fish. I went there the first day of competition thinking I could catch 20 or 21 pounds. I wasn’t wrong about the area – a lot of the top finishers were within a mile of me – but execution problems hurt me. I lost a few fish that would have helped and ended the day in 25th place with 18-07.

 

On the second day I made some adjustments, trying different rods, different line and different sized dropshot weights, but the results were mostly the same. I lost several strong smallmouths that I needed to land and ended up with 18-10. Once again, I was in 25th place. I was obviously having trouble making up any ground with those consistent bags, so on the third day I committed to covering a bunch of new water. I wasn’t far from where I’d been the previous two days, but I was trying to tap into some bigger fish that maybe hadn’t been pressured as hard. Unfortunately, I never got the big bite I needed and brought in 18 pounds even, keeping me once again in 25th place.

 

Like many of the anglers, I regret that I didn’t at least check out the lake. On the other hand, with only two and a half days to practice, there’s only so much you can look at. In fact, if I had it to do over again, I might try to cover even less water in practice, perhaps confine my search to one stretch of a few miles and really learn its intricacies. I might also try to tap into the shallow fish a little bit more. I ended up fishing mostly in 25 or more feet of water. In practice I’d caught a few fish shallower, but no big ones, so I quickly ditched that idea. Maybe that was premature.

 

My dropshotting gear was pretty simple this week – a Bass Pro Shops 6’8” Pro Qualifier Rod as well as a 7’ Carbonlite. Both had 10 lb. braid with either a 6 or 8 lb. test fluorocarbon leader, and my dropshot weights ranged from 3/8 to ¾ ounce. The two key soft plastics were a Megabass Hazedong in both Scuppernong and China Oil Pepper, as well as a Zoom Z Drop in Green Weenie.

 

While I would have liked to have finished better in New York, I held onto the Angler of the Year lead and it’s hard to complain when you’re sitting where everyone else wants to be. I will head to St. Clair looking for the win. In the meantime, I’m spending the short break with my family cramming in as many activities as possible. Yesterday I played laser tag and putt putt golf with my son, and my daughter and I are planning to do some shopping. We’re also helping her prepare to drive when she turns 15 ½ -- in a lot of ways, that’s more nerve wracking than the AOY race.

Luke Clausen Tournament Blog: Oneida Lake

Bassmaster Northern Open

Oneida Lake

Syracuse, NY

60th Place

9 fish, 24-04

 

I had not previously fished a tournament on Lake Oneida, but I have a lot of experience on northern mixed species lakes so I was looking forward to this event. While I’d never been there for competition, once on the way to Champlain I’d stopped and driven around for a day, figuring that at some point I’d probably get an opportunity to compete there. As a result, I knew how the lake would lay out and had some ideas about where to start my search.

 

Looking back at past tournament results, it seems that most of the time the winner catches either all largemouths or a mix of the two species. That presents a problem, because there’s only a limited amount of classic shallow largemouth water. With 160 boats in this event and an unlimited practice period, I knew what little there was would be pounded.

 

Of course, I still made an effort to look for shallow largemouths, and I caught quite a few but overall their quality was lower than the smallmouths. That was fine with me, because the smallmouth fishing was exceptional during practice. I could catch them on a wide variety of lures – a Vision 110, a Deep-X 200 and an Ito Shiner, to name three – but the most effective presentation for both size and numbers proved to be the umbrella rig. The Megabass Spark Rig really seemed to get the suspended smallmouths fired up, including a huge number in the 3-pound class. It seemed easy. In fact, it was so good that I made a concerted effort not to throw it when other boats were around in practice. If they got too close I’d either switch lures or else move altogether. Heading into the first day of competition I felt pretty good about the way things were going.

 

On Day One everything went according to plan. I only had one boat around me most of the time and the fishing was consistent. I used a variety of soft plastic baits on the end of my Spark Rig, including both the Megabass Spark Shad and Z-Man Minnowz, and it didn’t seem to matter all that much what you put in front of them as long as it was on that Spark Rig. I caught fish all day long and eventually culled up to 15-01, good for 21st place, only about 2 pounds out of the lead. If I could get a kicker or two on Friday, I had a good chance to move up into the top twelve.

 

Unfortunately, the wheels fell off on Day Two and I’m still not quite sure what happened. I know that my primary area was still strong because Jacob Powroznik and Chris Daves were nearby, and they both made the cut to Saturday. I just couldn’t get the bites, but I could see them hauling in one fish after another with the same presentation, and that made it hard to leave. It’s hard to abandon biting fish, even if they’re biting for someone else. After catching tons of fish on the first day, I could only bring four bass that weighed 9-03 to the scales on the second.

 

In hindsight, I suppose I should’ve left the area and just gone fishing, but that’s not easy. Perhaps Jacob and Chris were doing something different with their umbrella rigs to trigger the strikes. I’m not a huge advocate of the rig in competition, but as long as it’s working there’s no choice but to use it. Nevertheless, anyone who thinks it’s a guaranteed way to catch fish every time out is sadly mistaken. At Beaver Lake earlier this year I spent nearly the whole practice period and most of the tournament throwing it and still finished 54th. Most of the top ten were throwing it too, which indicates to me that there are little tweaks and nuances that you have to understand in order to make it work. Speed seems to be the biggest factor and the other one is depth – over the course of your cast the rig will pendulum back to you, and you need to know where the fish are and how deep they are to make sure you intercept them. There’s always something else to figure out.

 

I fished the Spark Rig on a Megabass Orochi XX 7’9” Aaron Martens Flipping Special (F8-79XX). That length helps me make long casts and the rod has just the perfect balance to heave it all day without getting worn out. I threw it on 16 lb. test Gamma fluorocarbon, which is incredibly strong yet has almost no visibility.

 

Next up is the Forrest Wood Cup on the Red River in Shreveport. That’s a long drive from Syracuse, but I broke it up by stopping off at the house of my good friend Andy Morgan in Tennessee for a couple of days. He lets me keep some of my extra gear there, and I took a half day to organize my tackle for the Cup. I had intended to spend more time working on my tackle but it’s getting close to hunting season and I felt the call of the woods, so I spent some time researching and buying a new bow, too – a Hoyt Spyder Turbo.

 

While I love to hunt, competitive fishing is my true passion and the Cup has me excited. Any time there’s 500 grand on the line, you’d better be pumped up. I don’t know exactly what to say about fishing on the Red River in the summertime, because I haven’t done much of it, but I have a hunch that the weights are going to be lower than what everyone is predicting. That’s fine with me as I feel like I’m at my best in tougher tournaments. I’m hoping that my next journal entry is reporting on a big fat win.

  • One of an elite few who can claim titles in both the Citgo Bassmaster Classic (2006) and Forrest Wood Cup (2004), there is no question that Luke is one of the premier anglers in the field. With 3 wins, 17 top-ten finishes, and over $2 million in winnings since 2003, Clausen is clearly a force to be reckoned with on any body of water.

Luke Clausen Tournament Blog: Lake Chickamauga

FLW Tour

Lake Chickamauga

Dayton, Tennessee

9th Place

20 fish, 68-09

 

Through my friendship with Andy Morgan I’d spent a lot of time in and around Dayton, Tennessee, but not much of that time had been spent chasing bass on Chickamauga in summertime conditions. We might’ve fished for them once or twice, but other than that and a little bit of pre-practice, all I had to go on entering the official practice period for the final FLW Tour event of the season was a bit of very basic and general knowledge. Most of that was hearsay, and I figured most of my competition had access to the same info.

 

I assumed that Chickamauga would fish much like Kentucky Lake does this time of year, with big schools of bass out on the ledges. I knew that the lake was going to fish small, and the community holes would get hammered, so I entered practice looking offshore, but specifically trying to find schools that everyone else wouldn’t locate. On the first official day of practice I must’ve idled for 12 hours. It was hot, sweaty, boring and generally unproductive. There wasn’t enough obvious stuff to go around and I couldn’t get anything different going offshore.

 

The week before the tournament I’d spent some time at Guntersville and found some bass feeding around bream beds. I figured that would translate to Chickamauga, so that’s what I looked for on the second day of practice and it was on there, too. In about an hour and a half I had 22 pounds and probably could have had more. They were easier to catch than the deep fish, and the potential existed for a 20 pound plus bag, but the 30 pound potential probably wasn’t there, so I spent the rest of the day offshore. They were running a lot of current and in hindsight that probably broke a lot of the big schools up or made them tougher to catch.

 

On the third day of practice I tried to locate more bream beds, and I found some but they weren’t as good as the ones from the day before – lesser numbers, lesser quality. Having exhausted that bite and my offshore options, I ran up the river, where I figured the boat traffic would be lighter. On my first cast I caught a 3 ½ pounder and by bouncing around managed to find a few more. I decided that would be a pretty good backup plan.

 

On the first day of competition, I stopped on a deep spot and caught four fish, but I wish I had gone straight to the bream beds. When I got there, the bite was on and I culled out all but one of my deep fish. I was primarily swimming a 3/8 ounce green pumpkin jig with a Z-Man Paddlerz on the back, fished on an Orochi XX Tour Versatile rod (F6-70XX) and 16 lb. Gamma Edge fluorocarbon. I also caught a few key fish on a GG Ayu colored X-Pod fished on the Flat-Side Special (F4.5-70XX) and 50 lb. Tuf-Line prototype eight-strand braid. When things got a little tougher I went to a wacky worm fished on the Aaron Martens Shakey Head rod (F3.5-70XXS) and 8 lb. Tuf-Line eight-strand braid with an 8 lb. Gamma Edge fluorocarbon leader. Eventually I culled up to 19-02 which had me in 15th place.

 

On Day Two we had a fog delay of over two hours, which absolutely killed me. By the time we blasted off it was slick and sunny. I spent two hours on the bream beds and caught nothing. Then I went out deep and at 1 pm my livewell was still empty. At that point I made the decision to run to my upriver spot and in five casts I had 20-09. There weren’t many fish there and I didn’t want to beat on them, so I left quickly and spent the rest of the day searching for more productive and untouched water.

 

We didn’t have a fog delay on the third day of competition, but we were launching at 6:30 so by the time I ran down to the bream beds it was glassy and the fish were spooky. I managed a 4 ½ pounder on my second cast, but when I left at 10:30 I only had two in my livewell, so I made the long run up into the river. Once again, when I arrived they were biting. After I put my fourth fish in the well, I fired out another cast, caught another and dropped him in there, too. I was so excited that I cast again, caught another fish and deposited the 6th fish as well. Only after I made another cast did I realize I’d committed a violation of the rules.

 

I immediately called tournament director Bill Taylor, fearing that the penalty was a DQ. Instead, he told me it was a two pound deduction from my daily weight. That knocked me down from 16-02 to 14-02, and I figured I’d squandered my chance to make the cut, but I was lucky and squeaked into Sunday in 8th place. Casey Martin had such a big lead that I knew the chances of winning were essentially zero, but I had an opportunity to move up if I caught them well.

 

I started the last day on my deep stuff and managed a few small fish by flinging a deep-diving crankbait on the 7’11” Tomahawk GTA cranking rod (F4.5-711GTA). After that, my deep spots pretty much dried up. The rest of the top ten was fishing down lake and I didn’t want to infringe on them, so I went shallow to try to figure out how to supplement my limit. In the end, I totaled 14-12, respectable but not enough to move up. I ended up 9th for the week.

 

With the 9th place finish, I also ended up 9th in the AOY standings. Obviously, I want the title, but it was particularly important this year to finish in the top 15 so I’d not only qualify for the Cup, but also for two Toyota Texas Bass Classics. I’m glad that I gradually got better as the season progressed. I’m fishing with a lot of positive momentum right now and I hope that will continue in my remaining events.

 

Most importantly, even when I have bad practices, I’m making really good decisions. At this event I had up to 26 rods on the deck of my Ranger, and all 20 fish I weighed in came on something that I didn’t get a single bite on during practice. Of course, it’s great to be fishing in the moment and adjusting to whatever conditions are thrown at me. On the other hand, I feel like if I could get dialed in a little bit quicker, I’d have more water to run and I’d be able to do even better. It’s a double-edged sword. On the whole I’m happy, though. The decision to run up the river at Chickamauga was particularly satisfying because I was staring a blank in the face and ended up with 20 pounds. Of course there’s some good fortune involved any time you have a turnaround like that, but I avoided a result that would have haunted me and turned it into a great finish.

 

Now I’m home, catching up on bills and some other errands and obligations. Next up is ICAST, where I’ll be representing many of my great sponsors, including Megabass. They’re bringing out some products that will absolutely blow your mind. For a tackle junkie like me, the show is the next best thing to being on the water. After that, it’s on to northern New York for a Bassmaster Northern Open on Oneida. I’m anxious to keep my good season going.

 

  • One of an elite few who can claim titles in both the Citgo Bassmaster Classic (2006) and Forrest Wood Cup (2004), there is no question that Luke is one of the premier anglers in the field. With 3 wins, 17 top-ten finishes, and over $2 million in winnings since 2003, Clausen is clearly a force to be reckoned with on any body of water.