DOUGLAS S. & HIS PARTNER STAN MILLER ARE READY TO GET THE 2019 JAMES GANG BASS OPEN STARTED
19 BOATS, 38 ANGLERS, (7 CHILDREN) TAKE ON THE CHAIN OF BALSAM, RED CEDAR, & HEMLOCK LAKES IN OUR 5th MAJOR LEAGUE FISHING EVENT
38 ANGLERS ON TEAMS OF 2 ARE FISHING FOR THIS TROPHY IN A MLF FORMAT CATCH-AND-RELEASE TOURNAMENT
In our fifth Major League Fishing event that we had organized, we chose to return for redemption on the body of water in which it started - RED CEDAR LAKE, WI. In a typical spring, the smallmouth bass are spawned out around Memorial Weekend, and the largemouth are on their beds at that time. In 2017 when we scheduled our event on Saturday of Memorial weekend, we had an unusually cold spring and the water temperatures were way below average. This led to a delayed spawn and a very tough bite for our field of 13 anglers in our only single-angler, non-team events. I knew how "willing to bite" the bass on the Red Cedar chain typically are around post-spawn, so we knew we needed to give it another shot in 2019. When choosing a date, we chose to go later to guarantee a post-spawn bite. What is extremely crazy is that the spawn was even later this year than in 2017, but as fish were finishing up the spawn or even abandoning their beds in this event, there was no doubt that they were feeding across the chain and that this event was going to be extremely competitive.
CHILD 12 & UNDER PARTICIPANT, CHAMPION, & KIDS BIG BASS TROPHIES
DESIGNED BY 10-YR OLD JAMES GANG CEO ALEX JAMES
FOLLOWING A MAJOR TOURNAMENT..........
JUNE 8 CWBA LAUNCH - PHOTO BY JASON LANGOSCH
There was some concern about how well the bite would be, as the Central Wisconsin Bass Anglers (CWBA) held a tournament on June 8th, the previous day to our event. The talk was that the weigh in was incredible, as anglers brought in limits of extremely impressive smallmouth compared to years past, and typical CWBA winning weights for this chain was lucky to even earn you a 6th place check. The winning team of Pat Schlapper & Wade Rickey weighed in an average of basically 4 lbs per fish! With a 40-boat 80 angler field that excelled in their tournament, the pressure would make one to believe that our MLF event could be majorly affected. But we found out by the end of the day, that it would not be the case as this body of water was ON FIRE! If you would like more information about the CWBA, click on the button below. They are ran by Craig Kloth of Medford, WI, and it is an outstanding tournament with a great group of guys competing in it!
CWBA ANGLER AND JAMES GANG SPONSORED SCOTT WILCZEK WITH A LIMIT OF GORGEOUS RED CEDAR LAKE SMALLMOUTH, GOOD FOR 18# AND A CHECK
6 AM "LINES IN"
5 YR OLD HENRIK S. & HIS PARTNER NEIL SANDFORD ARE READY TO START THE EVENT
The anglers arrived at Cedar Lake county park to launch between 4:30 AM - 5:45 AM. When they received their PIN cards and conversed on any confusion with the unique format, they were free to open up their throttle for a drive-around and claim their starting spot. They were not allowed to start casting until 6 AM. As the tournament director, I drove my vehicle to the launch, handed out the PIN cards and backup scorecards, and then drove to our camper on Balsam Lake, where "Papa Steve" was waiting on his boat lift to fire up the trolling motor and begin casting. We began fishing around Balsam lake around 6:15 am with no sight of bass present and no bites. We chose an early start time in hopes of a hot topwater bite early morning, and during our pre-fish there was no slime or algae present in our starting area. We rigged up with treble hooked topwaters, and found that the conditions changed drastically from the previous week, as the wind blew slimy debris all over our starting area, killing the action of our lures. We had to adjust, and I went to a Flappin' Jig vibrating jig and a slow sinking senko-style worm. As we covered hot areas of the past, there wasn't anything positive happening. The amount of muck present made it appear to be non-spawning areas. I felt that we were covering areas too fast with my vibrating jig approach, and I really wanted to walk-the-dog. Since treble hooked walking baits were a no-go, I switched up to a presentation my little boy came up with last year that worked well for largemouth - a beaver bait on a weighted VMC hook. With this lure I was able to walk the dog and have a weedless setup. I used a green pumpkin/chartreuse setup to mimic baby bluegills, craws, or frogs. As we entered the channel to the main lake - I felt a bite. With a fast hook set, we had a 13" bass ready to weigh.
MY FIRST OF 6 BASS I WEIGHED - 1 LB 2 OZ
5 YEAR OLD HENRIK S. WITH A 3 LB 5 OZ GIANT SMALLMOUTH EARLY IN THE DAY
As I entered my first catch in Scoretracker Live, we were shocked to see 5 year old Henrik & his partner Neil Sandford already in the lead with 12 lbs! The young angler already had a 3 lb 5 oz smallmouth on the board and was off to a record-setting pace of weight. Our previous record of the 4 past events was 37 lbs on Rice Lake in 2018 by Doug Helmuth & Zach Nelson. Half the field was already on the board, and as I boated 2 more bass in the channel, our position on the leaderboard was all over the place. We would bump up to 9th, then after even the smallest dry spell of 10 minutes, we would already lose 5 places. It was crazy, intense, and a blast. We had largemouth bass charging hard all over after our beaver bait, and unfortunately northern pike were keying in on it as well. We came out of the channel with about 10 strikes on the lure, and we ended up boating 4 bass and 11 northern pike. By the time we entered the main lake, we had once again moved back up to around 9th place, and we were entering an area that I felt we could find some 2-3 pounders as all of our fish were around 1 lb 2 oz in the channel. We made our run around the bay and had no sign of life, besides a beat up 2.5 pounder i grabbed from the top of the lake that looked very ill. The fish slipped out of my hands but I don't think cheating by noodling dying bass would count (or even help) in this fast-action event (joking!) As we finished the bay, we dropped towards the bottom of the standings once again, but we knew our presentation was hot. We just needed to find the right location to put it to work and catch them as the bass were viciously attacking it in the channel. A final look on Scoretracker live, and 8 year old Beau D. weighed in a 3 lb 3 oz smallmouth, to propel him and his partner to the top of the leaderboard, neck and neck with Neil & Henrik. This was going to be a heavyweight shootout as the fish numbers were just steadily increasing.
8 YR OLD BEAU D. WEIGHS IN HIS BIGGEST SMALLMOUTH EVER - 3 LBS 3 OZ AND FINDS THE TOP OF THE LEADERBOARD ABOUT EVEN WITH TEAM SANDFORD
SMALLMOUTH BITE FOUND TO BE SLOW, SUCCESSFUL ANGLERS SWITCHED TO LARGEMOUTH
8 YEAR OLD GAVIN D. PUTS HIS TEAM ON THE BOARD WITH ONE OF HIS 4 BASS HE HOOKED AND BOATED HIMSELF FOR TEAM DUNCAN
As many of the experienced anglers started their days in pursuit after the quality smallmouth in Red Cedar that it is known for (and were caught the previous day) a few were landed and then the anglers watched themselves fall right down the scoreboard as they failed to find bites. Some stayed committed for a short time, but the very experienced anglers knew that they had to adjust or lose this event, so many of them made the switch to largemouth. Even though the smallmouths were hard to convince to bite after the big CWBA event, a few anglers such as Team Eichinger the Team Small were able to coax a few into biting. Mat & Crystal started off the day with a steady start on Balsam Lake, keeping themselves a little above us in the same area. While we were catching small largemouth in a channel tight to shore, Mat & Crystal were focusing on gravel points and cover with reaction baits. After being stuck at 5 pounds for a while and falling down the standings, Mat & Crystal made an adjustment and went to some community holes on Red Cedar fishing some of the extremely pressured areas from the previous day. They found success as both of them were able to catch a few here and there throughout the day, starting out with this beautiful 17.5" smallmouth bass!
JAMES GANG PRO STAFFER MAT EICHINGER WITH A 3 LB 3 OZ RED CEDAR BASS
As we monitored Scoretracker Live, we assumed the high numbers of 1 pound class fish were people hammering smallmouths, as this chain is known for quality largemouth, not as much for 1 pounders. So we stuck with our plan and continued fishing Balsam Lake. My dad kept with the beaver bait presentation and I pulled out my trusty James Gang Bass Jerker, my #1 all time lure for this lake. Unfortunately, the action was dead. I was not getting any bites or follow ups. I then switched over to a slow sinking worm as we fished cover with finesse. My dad threw a beautiful cast tight to a laydown tree trunk near deep water, and he had a great bass bite. I had a good look close to the boat as he opens his mouth and the lure flies out, hook still "texposed" in the plastic. Unfortunately this was more than likely a 3 lb largemouth, no doubt at least 2.5 lbs minimum. It would have shot us up several places at the time but probably would not have overtaken Henrik's big bass at the time. We shook it off and continued to cover water. My dad landed about a 1lb 2 oz largemouth but then we once again failed to find action. We then had to make a move and run a different shoreline, and were amazed that the usually reliable deep wood cover was not producing at all on this day. We did our best to "fish the moment" and not worry about history as with the live updates it was very obvious the fish were biting and the other teams were on high concentrations of them.
12 YR OLD DOUGLAS S. & HIS PARTNER STAN MILLER ARE FINDING THINGS STARTING TO CLICK AS THEY MOUNT A COMEBACK THROUGH THE LATE MORNING AND ARE NEAR THE LEADERS IN A HIGH NUMBERS BATTLE OF BASS-CATCHING
ELK MOUND HIGH SCHOOL ANGLERS JAMES JAVANOVICH & BLAKE ROSENTHAL ARE IN THE BATTLE DURING THE FIRST HALF LINGERING AROUND THIRD PLACE IN A BAY LOADED WITH LARGEMOUTH BASS AFTER THEY STRUGGLED WITH SMALLMOUTH
LANCE & DEB SPITLER REGISTER A DECENT BASS IN THEIR FIRST MLF TOURNAMENT
THE FIELD SEPARATES MID-DAY
A clear shift occurs in the standings around 10 am. Several teams that were keeping with the flow of catches suddenly ran out of productive locations and were not able to recover. Other teams made a few location changes and found flurries throughout the day. And then the top teams made several changes and decisions and continuously boated bass throughout the event and remained consistent during the mid-day all the way to the end. As we continued to struggle to find biting fish locations, I visually saw a largemouth follow up my lure in a shallow spawn-type area between shore and weed cover. I threw back past the fish once more time, walked the dog and watched it smoke my lure. I set the hook and we registered bass #6 as we rose back up to 9th place of 19 teams. This was our biggest one yet, unfortunately just 2 oz more than the others had been.
JAMES GANG PRO STAFFER ANDREW DRAPER JUMPS PAST US WITH HIS PARTNER TIM LEHR WITH MULTIPLE FISH CATCHES MID-MORNING TO MID-DAY
ANDREW DRAPER'S TEAMMATE TIM LEHR HAS HELPED HIM JUMP
UP TO 9 LBS 1 OZ WITH THEIR 6TH BASS
Jon Small & his wife Shannon started off with the slow smallmouth bite ,as did several others, so at 11 am they switched up to largemouth bass. This was a great move as they were able to get steady bites for about an hour before they ran out of prime location of feeding bass. They jumped up in the standings during this hot hour and slowly fell back in the afternoon. Once we went a long period on Balsam fishless, my dad and I tried a few spawning type areas looking for gravel and smallmouth bass. We came upon one 2 lb quality bass on its bed and I was able to get a strike on the first cast with the beaver bait but missed the hookset as it immediately blew out the bait. Things were getting very frustrating as most of the field was completely off of Balsam and the Scoretracker was on fire. We knew we had to make a move to Red Cedar and cover some areas for big largemouth or rock reefs and points for smallmouth bass.
MATT PROSEK & JEREMY MOLDRUM HAD A GREAT SHOWING WITH 14 BASS WEIGHED IN ON SCORETRACKER LIVE
CORY JASKIERNY & RYAN VREELAND WEIGHED 5 FISH FOR 8 LBS 8 OZ
FINAL DECISIONS & AN INCREDIBLE SHOOTOUT
AFTER MULTIPLE DISMAL PRACTICE TRIPS, JESSE GOSS & SHAWN MALISON HAVE ABSOLUTELY FOUND THE MONEY SPOT IN THE RED CEDAR MLF EVENT
AARON KNUTSON & HIS 13 YR OLD PARTNER GABE FOUND SOME SMALLMOUTH BASS SIGHT FISHING NEAR THE END OF THE DAY ON BALSAM LAKE AS THEY PASSED 3 TEAMS ON SCORETRACKER LATE IN THE DAY
We presented multiple lures in a bay of Red Cedar and were able to attempt some sight-fishing, with multiple follow-ups but no solid commitment in clear water. At one point I saw a nice 3 lb largemouth, so I cast past it and right when my lure hit its general area I hooked up. I was pumped as I thought it could challenge the big bass. Unfortunately a different fish moved in for my lure out of nowhere as I boated our 12th smelly northern pike of the day. As he flopped on the boat deck, the pike puked out about a 3" yellow perch, so apparently he was hungry eating our lures with a mouthful of bait. We hit some well-known points on Red Cedar and fell to near the bottom of the scoreboard as time was getting late. We focused then on a big fish bite as the lead was way out our our hands. 3 teams were battling each other in the final 2 hours, including Stan Miller & 12 year old Douglas, Chad Ducummon & 8 year old Beau, and Neil Sandford with 5 year old Henrik, who had held onto the tournament big bass lead most of the day. As the Scoretracker bounced back and forth between these three teams, we decided to head back to Balsam, look for a big bass bite, and prepare to load the boat with the trophies and prizes. Out of nowhere, Matthew Timmers and Tiffany Haines, who fished similar patterns in the morning as us, made a move to a channel loaded with largemouth bass, and shot up the scoreboard from the bottom half with around 20 lbs of bass just in the final hour! Aaron K. & his partner Gabe (13 years old) spent most of the day struggling on Red Cedar Lake, so they made a late-day move to Balsam Lake, where they were able to pull a few smallmouth bass off their beds sight fishing. They were way behind in the standings as it was too late for a giant comeback, but they had a blast and were able to blow past the bottom three teams and lock into 16th place in the final hours. Luke & Tyler Krumenauer, our 3rd place team from the 2018 Rice Lake event, found a solid pattern very late in Hemlock Lake, and ran out of time to mount a comeback that they needed to land in the top 5. The brothers ended up catching 13 bass and lost a few more at the boat, as they weighed 15 lbs 10 oz, good for 12th place.
LUKE & TYLER KRUMENAUER DITCHED THEIR EARLY SMALLMOUTH AFTER CATCHING THIS LAST ONE AND FOUND STEADY ACTION ON HEMLOCK, BUT WAY TOO LATE IN THE DAY!
MATTHEW TIMMERS & TIFFANY HAINES FOLLOWED A SPECIFIC WATER TEMP PATTERN FROM BALSAM LAKE AND CARRIED IT OVER TO HEMLOCK LAKE AND WEIGHED 20 LBS OF BASS IN THE FINAL HOUR! HERE IS A QUALITY BASS TIFFANY FOUND PRE-FISHING.
8 YR OLD GAVIN D. BOATS 4 FISH HIMSELF AND HELPS HIS PARTNER (JAMES GANG PRO STAFFER JAZ DUNCAN) GAIN GROUND ON MAT & CRYSTAL IN THE FINAL HOURS WITH OVER 18 POUNDS OF BASS!
12 YR OLD DOUGLAS S, IN HIS FOURTH JAMES GANG MLF EVENT, IS FISHING "LIGHTS OUT" WITH HIS PARTNER STAN MILLER IN THE FINAL HALF OF SUNDAY'S EVENT
ALL THE FANCIEST ELECTRONICS, BOATS, OR EQUIPMENT IS NO MATCH AGAINST A CRAFTED VETERAN ANGLER LIKE STAN MILLER, WHO MADE THE CORRECT ADJUSTMENTS AND KEPT DOUGLAS BUSY WITH NON-STOP FINAL HOUR WEIGHT ENTRIES ON A EXPLOSIVE TOP-WATER BITE IN HEMLOCK LAKE
DOUGLAS & STAN STOLE THE SHOW IN THE FINAL HOUR AS TEAMS SANDFORD & DUCUMMON TRIED RUNNING THEM DOWN.
"Lines out" was scheduled for 1:50PM, and the payouts were scheduled at 2 PM at the ramp. In the final hours, Malison & Goss, Timmers & Haines, and the top 3 teams all lit it up. Unfortunately the bites died off fast for several others, but a few were able to find some last-minute heroics and move up a few spots before the end of the tournament. Jon & Shannon Small, who started on smallmouths and went to largemouths, found their 2nd pattern die so they returned back to smallmouths and boated a few more late in the day. Then the Elk Mound High School team of James Javanovich & Blake Rosenthal found money in the final minutes on a last fish that bumped them up to 6th place in their first-ever MLF event. The Elk Mound duo weighed in 21 lbs on 14 bass. As 5th place was the final payout, they saw their cash prize stolen by the incredible hour put on by Matthew Timmers & Tiffany Haines, as they finished with 32 lbs on 25 Bass!
ONE LAST BASS IN THE FINAL MINUTES MOVED ELK MOUND ANGLERS JAVANOVICH & ROSENTHAL TO 6TH PLACE IN THEIR FIRST MLF EVENT
JON & SHANNON SMALL WEIGHED A FEW SMALLMOUTH IN THE FINAL HOURS
LINES OUT! WE HAVE A WINNER!!
We met up with the anglers after 2 PM for the payouts, and we couldn't have been happier with the outcome. The top 3 teams in the event had children on them, and we verified with Neil Sandford that 5 year old Henrik S. did end up holding off the field with the biggest bass! Now what is really special about this is that we have gone to a unique Kids 12 & under Big Bass award, separate from the overall adult "Daily Lunker" award for the tournament big bass. Here this little boy won BOTH awards as his 3 lb 5 oz smallmouth was the heaviest bass weighed out of our new record 280 BASS! Our previous record was 112 bass weighed in an event. Henrik was so proud as he accepted his IKE FOUNDATION HAT, a gift pack from JB'S FISH SAUCE, a Kids Big Bass Trophy, his "Daily Lunker" big bass plaque, and in the end he also helped his partner take third place, so his three cash prizes equaled $300!!!! Chad Ducummon & 8 year old Beau slipped ahead of Team Sandford by oz in the final moments, and Stan with young superstar angler Douglas held off the field with non-stop topwater action for the victory! Stan & Douglas managed to weigh 56 lbs of bass with 37 fish, and said they lost around 8 more fish in the final hour (in addition to the crazy amount they did catch!) Shawn Malison & Jesse Goss put out an incredible performance as well, as all 4 of the top teams ALL beat the all-time weight record of 37 lbs of fish weighed!! Malison & Goss weighed in 45 lbs of bass on 34 fish! Great job by the top 5 teams as they all continued to catch fish under pressure in the final hour!
5 YR OLD HENRIK S. - WINNER OF BIG BASS & 3RD PLACE IN STANDINGS $300 CASH
MATTHEW TIMMERS & CRYSTAL HAINES $60 CASH
SHAWN MALISON & JESSE GOSS $80 CASH
THIRD PLACE, "DAILY LUNKER" & KID'S BIG BASS
NEIL SANDFORD & HENRIK S. (5 YRS OLD) $100 CASH / TROPHY / PLAQUE / IKE FOUNDATION HAT / JB'S FISH SAUCE PRIZE PACK
CHAD DUCUMMON & BEAU D. (8 YRS OLD) $140 CASH
2019 JAMES GANG OPEN CHAMPIONS
STAN MILLER & DOUGLAS S. (12 YRS OLD) $484 CASH & TROPHIES
RECORD-BREAKING CHAMPIONS STAN MILLER & DOUGLAS S. (56 LBS 7 OZ)
RESULTS / IKE FOUNDATION & FISHER'S OF KIDS
THANK YOU ANGLERS FOR DONATING $2 PER ENTRY FEE TO THESE FINE ORGANIZATIONS! This money will be used to provide fishing tackle to children in need and in big cities to hook them on positive activities as they are introduced to the outdoors.
Thank you Mike & Becky Iaconelli, Carol Muracco & the entire IKE FOUNDATION team for providing for a great cause and for allowing Alex represent what you do as we help spread the word of your great charity.
Thank you Samantha Gay for letting us be affiliated with your work at FISHER'S OF KIDS ANGLERS ACADEMY and in raising money to provide for the children of your area as they are introduced to the outdoors.
Thank you James Block for supporting our events and providing us with your quality products and gift packs at JB'S FISH SAUCE attractants
2019 JAMES GANG BASS OPEN - RED CEDAR LAKE
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.