Rice Lake WI brought in a FULL FIELD and 112 bass were weighed in and released!!!
A FULL 20 BOAT FIELD FILLED VETERAN'S MEMORIAL PARK IN RICE LAKE JUNE 10th
The site chosen for the second annual JAMES GANG Bass Invitational Major League Fishing event was Orchard Beach Park in Rice Lake, WI. There were several factors considered in choosing this location, including reported bass abundance, parking ramp/park quality, surface area, and most importantly CELL RECEPTION. For Major League Fishing events, anglers use the internet on their mobile device to run Scoretracker Live. This gives you a Real Time scoreboard that tracks updated fish catches throughout the day. This means there is no weigh in, no live well use, and virtually no "fish kill." Anglers use their own digital scale to weigh their fish, and then photo themselves with the scale and a card with a PIN number (issued by the tournament director at the start of the day.)
KAYAK ANGLER LOR LEE PROPERLY PHOTOS HIS FISH FOR VERIFICATION
On the eve of the tournament, 4 of us James Gangers camped up near the lake and enjoyed a camp fire and some delicious meat off the grill. After a night of very little sleep, the 22' Hurricane Deckboat was trailered up and towed down to the park where the festivities could begin.....
ALEX, PAPA STEVE, & MASON TRY TO RELAX AT THE CAMPFIRE BEFORE HEADING TO BED IN THE CAMPER
THE TOURNAMENT BEGINS....
ALEX & MASON MINGLE WITH JAZ & GAVIN DUNCAN AND CHRIS PERRY'S TEAM AS THEY HEAD OUT TO CLAIM THEIR SPOTS
MAT EICHINGER & CRYSTAL SMART TURN THEIR BOAT AS THEY BEGIN THEIR JOURNEY TO FIND THE EARLY MORNING BASS BITE
LUKE & TYLER KRUMENAUR SHOWED UP WITH THEIR IACONELLI-INSPIRED ALUMINUM BOAT
IF YOU THINK FULLY RIGGED BASS BOATS ARE INTIMIDATING, YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN A LOADED FEEL FREE KAYAK! CHANG LOR (LAST YEAR'S CHAMP) & LOR LEE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO TAKING ON THE FIELD OF POWER BOATS
"Lines in" at this year's event was 7 am. This means after the 6am-7am launching, you can go do a "drive around," and then claim your spot (you can't cast your line until 7am!) The anglers in this event were from all different levels, we had returning James Gang pro staffers, amateur anglers, returning veteran tournament anglers from the previous fall event, and the kayak boys. In the fall event, the team of Mike Etzel & Tony Nelson spent the day battling it out on Dairyland Flowage vs Doug Helmuth & Zach Nelson. After both of their solid performances, we figured these were the teams that would be hard to beat on Rice Lake. After 3 rough pre-fishing trips to Rice Lake, it seemed that the bite was extremely tough. The tournament started off fast, as Doug & Zach took off with an exploding lead right away, pulling away from the entire field within just the first 3 hours. Doug & Zach already boated 16 lbs 10 oz of bass! Holding 2nd place was James Gang member Kevin Rogalski & Alex Whitmire with 8 lbs 12 oz, including a 3 lb 8 oz largemouth landed on our BOOTYKICKER swimbait. That fish was probably around 18-19" in length. Bobby Gibson was sitting in 3rd, and James Gang member Mat Eichinger (with the help of Crystal Smart) were in 4th hoping to get a good frog bite going to beat out Kevin's biggest bass. Last year's fall winners Mike & Tony were in 5th with 6 lbs and starting slow much like the last event. This team really likes to start slow and come back strong to try and claim a victory it seems. Jake & John got on the board early, Shawn Malison & Jesse Goss found a bay that they liked and slowly caught one here and there throughout the day. We were pleased to see our 11 year old buddy Douglas Stevenson on the board already with 3 lbs 15 oz.
11 YEAR OLD DOUGLAS STEVENSON STARTS THE DAY OFF STRONG WITH HIS FIRST BASS
BILL HAMM WEIGHS IN HIS THIRD FISH IN A BAY NEAR LILY PADS
ALEX JAMES STARTS HIS DAY...
JAMES GANG CEO ALEX JAMES FINALLY BREAKS HIS MLF BAD LUCK AS HE WEIGHS A BASS EARLY IN THE 2018 BASS INVITATIONAL
Since we had to hand out PIN cards to every team at launch, we left the ramp at 7AM to start the day. Being that my practice fishing was completely worthless, we started over. We had no solid game plan other than we felt like the bass were post-spawn and not tight to shore. We chose to fish very close to the ramp in a shallow bay of lily pads. We fished shallow and deep, tight to shore, out in open flats, lily pad pockets & points, and nothing was happening. We were using frogs, buzz frogs, spinners, soft plastic finesse baits, and the struggles from practice continued. As we worked around the lily pad field we found several other tournament boats. Out in the middle of the bay, Ron Wojahn and Bill Hamm were seen setting the hook on a legal bass. Then another one, then another one!!! It was obvious that they caught their fish no where near shore, it was an off-shore deal. We then switched up to a finesse worm that I poured at home in a discontinued kiwi iridescent color that looks very much like a live nightcrawler. On the first cast I felt a bite, gave the rod to Alex, and WHAM! Fish on! I grabbed the net and Alex let out a loud IACONELLI scream! We put it on the bump board and it was legit - a 1 lb 2 oz largemouth bass. Alex was very relieved that he finally got on the board after failing to do so in the last 2 events. This bass put him in 11th place out of 20, and Team Wojahn put themselves up to 8th place with their 3 catches in a row. We worked the lily pad edges on the deep side 2x, and missed one tiny bite. We wanted to give Ron & Bill space and saw other boats so we decided it was time to find another spot.
LOOKING FOR A TROPHY SMALLMOUTH BITE...
JAMES GANG BASS JERKER IN "GOLDEN SHINER"
During memorial weekend, John Beaudette & I did some scouting on Rice Lake looking at the cover and structure as we tried to learn the look. To our surprise, we found a bunch of crazy huge smallmouths on their beds protecting their eggs. The sizes of these fish were unreal! We saw 3.5 pounders all over the place, we had a run in with a 4 lb and we were above a 5 lb for sure hanging around by the bridge. This is the same location that I caught a few the previous trip on my Bass Jerker. Also throughout that day we ran into the DNR, and after he checked our licenses and looked over the General Lee boat for life jackets, etc, he told us that the orange fish smacking our bass lures are golden shiners. Later in the day we got a good look at a few that definately were shiners. Perch, bluegills, and rock bass were all over our bass lures all day that day too. So I decided to take some Lucky Craft Pointer blanks and paint up 2 of these in a new Golden Shiner color for the tournament. Jerkbait fishing is my #1 confidence method and my favorite way to fish. After fishing the bay by Team Wojahn and Team Malison we headed to my spot full of smallmouth and threw the jerkbait. On the first cast I hooked up on what I thought was too small of a fish to weigh. Alex grabbed the net and get it in for me and it was 12.25"! This fish would count as #2 for us. Alex weighed it and we were on the board again!
ALEX JAMES WEIGHS A 1 lb 1 oz BASS CAUGHT ON A "GOLDEN SHINER" BASS JERKER
While Alex and I were celebrating, Papa Steve and his partner Mason K (8 years old) were starting to get into some northern pike. As we excitedly looked at Scoretracker Live, we were amazed how fast Doug & Zach continued to catch bass. We were not surprised that Tony & Mike put another big comeback charge on as they tried to run them down. Alex was very proud to be in the middle of the field in 9th place (fell to 11th quickly) among so many teams. Doug & Zach already boated 15 bass by 11 AM, Tony & Mike landed 7, and their buddies Team Gibson were not far behind them. 11-year-old Douglas Stevenson and his dad Mike were doing well with 3 bass weighed in at this time, sitting in 9th place. A team moving up slowly is Luke & Tyler Krumenauer in their small aluminum boat decked out to match BASSMASTER Mike Iaconelli's. They were in 10th place with 3 fish, hanging out at the inlet of the Red Cedar river. Much like the kayak guys, they used their lightweight craft to get into areas the big boats could not. Luke & Tyler used a push pole to advance them into this area and take advantage of a great largemouth bite as the river current came through the thick weed growth. 11 year old Douglas Stevenson helps out his father, Mike, as he catches his 2nd MLF legal bass, at 1 lb 3 oz.
DOUGLAS STEVENSON WEIGHS HIS SECOND FISH OF THE DAY!!
DOUG HELMUTH & ZACH NELSON WERE HOPING FOR QUALITY BUT CATCHING VERY HIGH QUANTITIES - A GREAT WAY TO WIN IN MAJOR LEAGUE FISHING!!
STUNT PLANE FLYBY TAKES PLACE OVER CHANG LOR'S KAYAK
Chang Lor & Lor Lee were competing in kayaks and combining their weights for the tournament. They were off to a slow start, but at the day progressed, Chang began getting bites from pike and bass, legal and undersized, on the BOOTYKICKER swimbait. All while he sat on his comfy feel free kayak watching old planes put on a show over his head for Rice Lake's Aquafest.
A LIGHTWEIGHT KEEPER GETS CHANG'S LATE START GOING
SMALLMOUTHS NOT COOPERATING, PIKE WERE A DIFFERENT STORY.....
TODD LUNDQUIST & DOC GILLES GIVE A HUGE THUMBS UP TO SHAKE OFF THEIR STRESS OF LOSING 2 GIANT BASS ON VIBRATING JIGS
After we fished around the bridge points, we headed to the rock pile with the loon flag. Papa Steve landed another pike, and unfortunately must have not noticed nicks in his line. Within just a few casts with his spinnerbait, he hooked into a very nice bass. This bass shook his head in the water and SNAP! Nothing but a broken line. He tied on another spinnerbait and within a short time got into another pike. We bailed from that area and headed to where I thought I could win big bass with giant smallmouths. We worked the 5-10 foot range of boulders, gravel and deep wood cover. We tried plastics, topwaters, and lots of jerkbaits. The area was completely dead for all of us. Senkos didn't get the job done either. We ran into several of our fishing buddies that were on the move, and Team Lundquist/Gilles lost 2 giant largemouth on a vibrating jig. Team Martinek were struggling (like us) to get their first bass to weigh in and were on the move too.
KEVIN MARTINEK & HIS PARTNER MICHELLE RELOCATING IN SEARCH OF SOME BASS
JOHN BEAUDETTE & TREVOR MEEKS WORKING ON SOME SMALLMOUTH BASS LOCATIONS
CRYSTAL SMART & MAT EICHINGER WORK THE SHALLOW WOOD IN THE EAST BAY
Crystal & Mat have caught fish here and there throughout the day. Crystal was catching a lot of fish, but unfortunately they would be just undersized, or the wrong species....
Sorry guys, that's not gonna work. But just as I want to make fun of them, they catch one that does work - a very healthy 16" largemouth!
TEAM EICHINGER WITH A HEAVY 16" BASS WEIGHING IN AT 3lbs 2oz!!
PIKE, PIKE, PIKE, MORE PIKE, KRUMENAUER'S AND TEAM NELSON/ETZEL TRY RUNNING DOWN THE TOP TEAM AS MEEKS AND BEAUDETTE MOVE UP
As Mike Etzel & Tony Nelson try putting the pressure on Doug Helmuth & Zach Nelson, The Krumenaur boys are hammering fish in the Red Cedar River inlet. No one is catching giants, so this has become a game of who can catch the highest number of fish. Chris Perry & Chuck Deutsh finally got some of their Booyah frog bite rolling, and landed 3 MLF bass in the second half. Meanwhile Trevor Meeks finally hooks into a beautiful 3 lb 2 oz smallmouth bass, putting their weight up to 8 lbs 5 oz. They are sitting in 8th place right behind Kevin Rogalski & Alex Whitmire, who are still holding on to the "DAILY LUNKER" at the moment....
CHRIS PERRY WEIGHS IN A FINE LARGEMOUTH BASS AFTYER STRUGGLING THE EARLY PART OF THE DAY
TREVOR MEEKS IS A HAPPY ANGLER WITH A GORGEOUS 3 lb 2 oz SMALLMOUTH BASS
THE SHORES ARE LINED WITH DEER, ENJOYING THE SHOW!
CHRIS PERRY & CHUCK DEUTSCH PHOTO A FEW FANS IN ATTENDANCE
Up near the Red Cedar River inlet, Luke & Tyler Krumenaur came out of nowhere and shot up the score board. Fish after fish after fish, they landed 11 more bass late in the day. They had an issue with their scale, and they thought they may have beaten Kevin Rogalski's big bass. After calling us asking what to do, we had them keep their fish in a livewell as I called 4 different game wardens. I called others in the tourney to see what is legal and what to do. We came to the conclusion that weighing in fish for them at the end is against the law and we were not licensed for a live weigh in. As I called the boys to tell them the bad news, the scale dried out in the sun and came back to life! They were able to start weighing fish again and their beautiful fish weighed in at 3 lbs 1 oz, 7 oz short of the Big Bass leader.....
LUKE KRUMENAUER ADDS ANOTHER BASS TO HIS TOTAL, TRYING TO CATCH THE TOP 2 TEAMS
TYLER KRUMENAUER IS HELPING HIS TEAM GAIN GROUND ON THE LEADERS IN THE FINAL HOURS OF COMPETITION
LATE CHARGE BY NELSON & ETZEL COMES UP SHORT.......
During the second half of the day Mike & Tony seemed to be on pace to catch the leaders. Doug & Zach were stuck at 26 lbs for quite a while, while the 2nd place team was boating fish after fish. As they closed the gap to make this a high pressure battle, Doug & Zach shut the door on the second place team and finished off strong - weighing their 21st fish of the day! Their daily weight of 37 lbs 12 oz is the highest weight ever achieved in our 3 tournaments. Tony & Mike finished with 15 fish weighed in at 28 lbs 6 oz. The Krumenaur boys took 3rd, but almost over took 2nd with 14 fish weighing 23 lbs 3 oz. The ending of this day turned out to be a very exciting one. Unfortunately in our boat we never dialed in anything worthwhile in any of the pre-fishing or the tournament visits. We had opportunities on just one quality fish each per team today - I lost a bass on Lovertail 2 that was probably a 17" bass around 3 lbs or more, but even with that fish were were struggling in the standings. Papa Steve dominated the pike in our boat with 7 landed. A bonus rock bass gave us a visit, too. We were pleased to find out that end the end of the day our good buddy Kevin Rogalski held off the field and did end up winning the Big Bass Award - on our JAMES GANG BOOTYKICKER swimbait!!
THIRD PLACE TEAM - LUKE & TYLER KRUMENAUR
Jesse James is an avid fisherman that loves smallmouth bass fishing, loves spending time with his family, with other family-orientated people, and loves seeing children fish. A huge fan of BASSMASTER Elite Mike Iaconelli, like Mike, he is known to be a little strange, and obnoxious, but only to have fun and make people laugh.