JESSE JAMES LANDS HIS BIGGEST BASS OF THE YEAR NOV 2ND
What a year its been, and what a crazy experience fishing in Fall of 2017! There were moments where lots of fish were caught, there were moments when I couldn't get a bite no matter what I did, and most importantly, a lot was learned about fall fish movements. We fished hard all of October, and for the most part, fishing just felt a lot like summer fishing. At times they were extremely tight to shore, at times they were deep on weed cover edges, and then they came shallow once again in mid-October. At no point in early or mid-October were the fish fattened up, or doing a great job of chasing minnow-profile lures. I had several decent outings leading up the the Fall Flambeau Classic on the Dairyland Reservoir, but unfortunately at the tournament, I never boated a single fish! A few weeks later, when the water temp dropped to the 50s, the GOOD fall fishing finally arrived!
PRO-STAFFER KEVIN MARTINEK HOLDS UP A PAIR OF FLAMBEAU RIVER BASS IN COLD FALL WATER
James Gang pro-staffer KEVIN MARTINEK and I had an incredible day one year ago in November, catching giant, girthy smallmouth bass on the Flambeau River in 48 degree water temperatures. We went out this year on October 23rd, for only a few hours, hoping to find some success hooking into some more fattened up late fall Flambeau river beasts.
When we arrived in the Crawfish Bandit, we noticed the water temperature was at 52 degrees. We were a little concerned that we were too early for the magic bite, but figured they would be staged nearby last year's winter hole, just up in the shallows near wood cover. We casted for quite a while around the cover with no luck at all. On occasion, we would mark a fish here and there in 9-12 feet of water on the bottom. I switched up to a blade bait and a Rippin' Rap, putting the bait right in their faces. No luck at all. I ran a Baby Squid Bait through the fish, nothing would bite. Kevin decided to tie on a 3/8 oz jig head and add a Kalin's Sizmic Grub 3.8" in chartreuse pepper. Not long after, Kevin jacked a nasty power set, and yelled "FISH ON!" This fish battled with 100% effort. I thought he had on a monster. When I got the fish in the net, we were pleasantly surprised to see another Flambeau River freak! This fish was only 14.75" on the bump board, but weighed 2 lbs 8 oz!! the girth was insane! It looked like a rock bass on steroids, along with gorgeous Flambeau River coloring.
I WAS SUPER PUMPED DISPLAYING KEVIN MARTINEK'S 2-8# FISH AT 14.75"
JAMES GANG PRO-STAFFER KEVIN MARTINEK WITH A 14.75" BASS AT 2-8#
After Kevin boated his beast of a smallmouth, I looked at my side imaging. We were next to a large school of about 20 fish on the bottom of the lake in deep water. I immediately tied on the same Kalin's Sizmic Grub, and my first cast I had a nice smallmouth run it down and pound the lure under the boat. He literally hit it so hard that I almost lost the rod into the water. I battled him hard at boatside, he was full of energy. When Kevin scooped him up into the net, I grabbed a hold of a very fat 15.5" smallmouth. We put him on the scale and he weighed 2 lbs 11 ounces. A very nice fish for his length. I couldn't have been happier. We kidnapped both of these fish, Mark-Zona style, and continued casting.
JESSE JAMES IS ALL SMILES AS HE LANDED A 2-11# SMALLMOUTH BASS, SPORTING THE TYPICAL UNIQUE FLAMBEAU RIVER BRONZE COLORS
Kevin wasn't waiting around. As soon as I got my bass in the livewell, Kevin got back to casting. He immediately yells "FISH ON!" again, and sure enough, he has another BEAUTY on. But this fish looks much longer than the others we have ever seen on this body of water. When I netted the beast for him, we were screaming and high-fiving on this beautiful, sunny, windless day. Kevin put his bass on the bumpboard, and it was 18" long - our longest Flambeau River bass yet. On the scales, the beast weighed 3 lbs 9 oz. What a beautiful, well-fed healthy fish!
KEVIN MARTINEK PROUDLY DISPLAYS OUR 3RD BASS IN 5 MINUTES - A 3 LB 9 OZ BEAST AT 18 INCHES IN LENGTH
NOVEMBER 3RD - COMING BACK FOR ANOTHER HELPING
A GLASS-CALM 27 DEGREE NOVEMBER DAY ON THE RIVER
On November 3rd, Kevin and I returned for more, hoping that we didn't miss our "magic" 48 degree water temperature window from last year. When we checked the NOAA water temperatures locally, it appeared that we were fishing around 40 degree waters. It made us a little nervous, but we thought that if anything, all the fish were in the winter hole, and the quantity of fish present should be huge. We ran our 2016 contour pass, and were not hooking up or marking any fish. I pulled out a stick of JB's FISH SAUCE, baitfish-flavored, and scented up my James Gang BABY SQUID BAIT. Within a few casts, I finally hooked up. This fish was about 14' deep near a point with some current rolling through. The fish was a nice fighter and gave us some confidence for the limited time schedule that we had on the water for the day.
We continued to fish hard, staying deep but occasionally working shallow to deep near cover. We really were not marking fish and were not getting any bites. Kevin kept his Kalin's sizmic grub on, as I worked a Ned Rig and the James Gang DIRTY DAVE hairjig. We covered the area that was full of smallmouth on the last visit, and had no luck this time at all. We decided to slowly travel through the deep winter hole with the Marcum flasher searching for fish. We were not marking ANY fish, and we definately did not get any bites, either. With only an hour to go, we decided to try the point where I had hooked the one fish early. I tied on my star lure from last year, my homemade weighed swimbait Alex named "THE BOOTYKICKER." Once again on a very heavy 3/4 oz VMC Swimjig design by Mike Iaconelli. Feeling desperate, I caked on some JBs FISH SAUCE. On my first cast, I hooked into a fish, a very nice and colorful 15.5" bass at 2-11#, same size as my last trip here. The next two casts I felt bites again, and I landed another bass around 13.5-14" that we didn't measure. We knew we found a school. We fished it a few more minutes and felt the bite had died from pressure, so we moved back to our sweet spot from October's late visit.
JESSE JAMES WITH A 2-11# BASS AT 15.5" IN LENGTH
When we reached our area that was full of bass on our last trip, Kevin dipped his Kalin's Sizmic Grub in some Spike It Crawfish red dye. On his next cast, he reeled in a 14.25" smallmouth, but it was another freak beast weighing in at 2 lbs 6 oz! Right after he released that fish, he had another MONSTER bite that he missed. I took my Skeet Reese rod and whipped my Bootykicker Swimbait as far as I could past his bite location. Near the boat, my rod loaded up, and this fish WOULD NOT BUDGE! During the entire fight, the rod stayed bent all the way to the net. This fish was a hog, and I was very happy that I had my Skeet rod to absorb the shock from this fish's fight. It was my best fight of the year. The fish looked crazy huge, and when we finally netted him we freaked out. The bass was 18.5" on the bumpboard. Looking at him he looked so much bigger than that. He appeared to be a 20" fish around 4-5 lbs. But when we put this nasty smallmouth on the scale, we were very happy to see that his weight did indeed break the 4 pound mark!!! It is absolutely incredible that a fish at ony 18.5" can have the girth to give him the typical weight of a 20" fish. The bass ended up being the biggest bass that I caught the entire year!!
JESSE JAMES WITH HIS BIGGEST BASS OF 2017 - 4 POUNDS 1 OZ AT ONLY 18.5 INCHES LONG!!! WHAT A FISH!!
We continued to fish that school a bit, and I landed another 14" bass. We decided to hit the other school after we gave them some time off, and on the first cast, Kevin hooks into another high-quality fish. We when got this one boated, we knew we had ourselves another very special day. Kevin's bass weighed 3 pounds 1 ounce on the scale and measured 17" on the bumpboard! We only were able to fish a few more minutes and managed to finish the day off with another 15" on the Bootykicker, and a total of 7 fish boated. We missed several bites. I did have a small lull in between schools of fish, but after I re-applied my Fish Sauce on my swimbait, I instantly got that 15" bass to bite. What a way to end the season! What we learned is that in this particular river, the bass moved close to their winter holes around 60 degrees, but stay near the shallow wood cover. When the water temperatures drop to the low 50s, they are in fall feedbag mode on the bottom of their winter holes. They work the contour lines but stay on the bottom. What surprised me is that when the water temperature hit 40, they still chased lures VERY aggressively, sometimes hitting just under the boat. You need to keep an open mind. Try slow, try fast, try deep. Its very clear after this trip that scent was the difference-maker, and JBs Fish Sauce is a fantastic product that WILL hook you into more fish. There is no doubt about it that I felt the bass nip the tail, taste the baitfish flavor, then commit to the lure by eventually following it towards the boat, then sucking it down its mouth with a very violent strike. Overall, not including my guided trip on Lake Michigan, probably the best quality day of fishing I ever had. I was so excited to end the year with a 4 pounder. I intended on fishing for panfish in the boat this week, but the bays are already frozen on most area lakes due to the unusually cold November. The Crawfish Bandit General Lee crawled into hibernation tonight, and will be peacefully sleeping until April arrives in 2018. Enjoy these pictures, have a fun hunting season and holiday season, and our next posts should be around January regarding the Wisconsin Fishing Expo. We have VERY LIMITED inventory for the remainder of the year, we will stock up after New Years. Thank you to all of our customers, to over 50,000 people for reading these blogs, to our pro-staffers, to the Iaconelli family and the entire Ike Live crew, especially Brian the Carpenter, to Dale Stroschein, for all of your continued support. And to James Block, for helping me catch more fish this fall with your JB's Fish Sauce sticks, both on the Dairyland Reservoir and the Flambeau River.
KEVIN MARTINEK IS ALL SMILES, AS HIS FINAL OPEN WATER FISH OF THE YEAR IS A BIG, COLORFUL 17" SMALLMOUTH BASS WEIGHING 3 POUNDS 1 OZ
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.