Seth Feider's AOY Tournament Trophy
Fishing legend AL LINDNER really liked Alex's Lovertail 2 invention
Alex gives a thumbs up after the legendary RON LINDNER complements his design
Congrats to the 2016 AOY Champion GERALD "G-MAN" SWINDLE & his lovely LULU
Hall of Fame angler JAMES LINDNER hangs with Alex before weigh-in
First of all, Gerald Swindle, if you read this, I wanna give you a HUGE "congrats" on your 2nd AOY title in 12 years. Anyone that is a sports fan with half a brain would realize that his trophy he took home is the HARDEST trophy to win in all of professional sports. After he qualified to even compete, he then payed GIANT entry fees for 20 years just to gamble his money hoping his talents, his knowledge, and his decision-making while battling nature during changing weather fronts was going to be enough to defeat ALL 108 of the world's top bass anglers. Lost fish, boat troubles, fishing pressure, flooding, drought, wind, rain, snow, none of these excuses matter. You have no team, unlike football, you don't have ONLY 31 competitors, unlike football. Its you against everyone, and they want to destroy your hopes, even if off the water they respect you and are your friend. What a crazy way to feed your family and pay bills. But G Man is one of the best fisherman ever, with a great wife that fully supports him. Team Swindle won it all in front of us and it was an absolutely awesome moment to sit in the front row next to his parents as Gerald cried his eyes out when accepting his trophy. He is a great role model, has great family values and morals, and it has been awesome to meet and talk with guy on multiple occasions. I hope my goofy shirt I made to wear in front of him Saturday made his day. He was very greatful that we made a Lovertail 2 for him and seemed impressed. We talked several minutes as I explained the design and intention of the lure Alex designed, and we hope he gives it a whirl this fall on Lake Guntersville.
Brandon Palaniuk & Aaron Martens - Thanks for the video intro for the Alex Fishing Show! It was great to see you guys again. Brandon you are super cool and I was really impressed that you knew my little dude without me having to even say anything. Throw the crap out of that Lovertail and have fun!!! Aaron you are a goofball and we are hoping to take you fishing in the General Lee boat someday.
Then there is Mister MIKE IACONELLI. It was awesome to hang out with that whack job for quite a while Saturday afternoon. I am super grateful that the IKE FOUNDATION is sponsoring Alex's tournament fishing next year with a huge logo on a jersey. Mike and his awesome wife Becky started an awesome charity that everyone into fishing should check out. They take used rod donations, and distribute them to inner city children, and teach them to get into positive outdoor hobbies, to stay out of trouble and live a positive life. Mike and Becky are fantastic people, and anyone that can't stand the guy off the water has probably never met him. He is a very good person, especially around kids, and treats everyone like a long-time buddy. We laughed and joked a while at his truck Saturday as he loaded our donated rods, and like always was awesome to Alex. Its crazy how in a sport like this you can meet and get to know these sports heroes in person, and that they are so down-to-earth and not fake. Check out https://theikefoundation.org and donate to paypal or rods in person at a BASS Elite event or Northern Opens when Mike is around. He was very genuine, sincere, and grateful, and he really appreciated our donation. This guy is for real. All the crazy crap he does on ESPN is just him having fun and showing his passion. He is super excited to win, and super mad when he loses. And to an angler at home, I would think many people find his ridiculousness pretty entertaining, good or bad. The last thing we discussed was a sponsorship request. I expected a "No" being a business with liabilities attached to the things that people say and do, but Mike said that he would "ABSOLUTELY' love to sponsor Alex's tournament fishing career. Not only that, he told me that he is going to email me a higher resolution logo for the Ike Foundation to use on the jersey. He gave us his permission to use it on anything, our fishing shows, etc. What an awesome thing for him to do for my little boy.
AL & RON LINDNER - When we found out Mille Lacs, MN was hosting the BASS AOY Championship, I thought maybe the Lindner clan would possibly attend at some point. I made 2 extra Lovertail 2 lures Friday night just in case we would run into Ron or Al Lindner on the grounds. We set our chairs down in the front row, next to the BASS RESERVED/FAMILY chairs, and here Ron Lindner was seated just one row behind us!!! It was an honor to meet him. The 82-year old legend drew a lot of attention. After the media was done talking to him, we approached him, shook hands, and introduced Alex to him. Ron was extremely polite and when we showed him Alex's Lovertail 2 lure, he was very excited. He said 2x that he "WILL CATCH A WALLEYE ON IT!" He gave me his phone to take pictures with Alex and said that it was awesome he designed such a nice lure at 7 years old. He also said James and Al were on the grounds and we would be able to find them as well. We found Al not much longer, had a great conversation with him about his lure designs and sales in Chicago in his high school years, and he absolutely LOVED the lure. The Bull Bluegill color really got his attention. He said that Alex has a huge head start on him and that we could use the Angling Edge logo on his tournament jersey in 2017. We are so thankful for our heroes to be so giving in such a unique and AWESOME way. Al and Ron were people that I looked up to since I first got cable TV as a child and started watching In Fisherman. I never imagined meeting them in person, and to have conversations with them and have them be impressed by my son's designs at that young of an age is just incredible to me. AL and RON, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!
Not long after, we found James Lindner and talked Mille Lacs topwater fishing. He gave me all kinds of great tips and I found out he is good buddies with Dale Stroschein as well. We discussed our upcoming fishing adventure with Dale, but the weigh in began and the magic of Gerald Swindle's Championship, Brent Erhler's 6 lb 10 oz smallmouth in our face, and the Amazing Fiedermans ridiculous weigh in weights were fast approaching. What an incredible time that I will never forget. It will be crazy looking back on this weekend as an 8 year old boy filmed videos with Kevin VanDam and the others, picked up sponsorships by the biggest names in the fishing world, and delivered his lure design to 5 huge people in this sport. The weather was so perfect at the campground, there were no bugs, and one howling coyote under the full moon at 3 am. My half of the entire trip for me including the FREE admission, gas expenses, and tent site rates with electric was only $30!!! Try and beat that NBA, NFL, MLB fans!!!! What a weekend. Watch for Alex as he sat front row on the big day, filmed at least 10+ times be ESPN2. Air date in mid October!!
Alex James makes the Mille Lacs Messenger paper answering questions about soft plastic presentations during Mike Iaconelli's seminar at the AOY Championship
BIG BAY DE NOC AT SUNSET
Once again another fun trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan fishing on Bays de Noc near Escanaba. We stayed at Lindberg's Cove Resort, near Gladstone, MI for the 2nd time in 3 years. We love that place! The prices are great for cabin rentals, the cabins are right on the waterfront, they include free docks, and a free private boat ramp. There are a lot of northern pike that can be caught right off his docks, and just out from his resorts are some great spots for walleye and smallmouth fishing.
This was our 3rd year in a row vacationing out here, and we get a small amount of fishing in each year as well. I have learned a lot every single trip, and probably learned the most last year, even though it was my least productive trip. Trying to understand Great Lakes bass fishing in clear water is so different than fishing stained reservoirs with laydowns all over the place and heavy vegetation like we have around Western Wisconsin. I think a huge reason why I love this place so much is that I can use my favorite way to fish out there and catch some good ones - JERKBAITS!!!
Instead of going with our James Gang Fishing lures, I chose to go with the KVD DEEP JERKBAIT for this trip. Our jerkbait is only designed 5-7 ft, and with 25 ft water clarity, I felt better running a little deeper. Last year I ran our 4" Bass Jerker and did land a 3 lb beauty at the Gladstone Lighthouse, but I had schools of trophies following it and not committing to hammering the bait. I think it ran a little too high for them to feel safe in that clear water. The year before I ran a Rapala X Rap DEEP #10 (we did not start making Bass jerkers until 2015.) I landed a 16.75" smallmouth and a 21" smallmouth in 2 casts that year. The KVD DEEP was supposed to get down 11 ft.
I tested out my new lure, and on the 3rd cast I landed a very nice 9 lb Pike on Little Bay de Noc in horrible waves. There was a small craft advisory out so I had to be super cautious as always on that big water. The 16' Lund Big Lakes did very well in nasty 2-3 foot waves. I tried a little trolling with the KVD DEEP and no doubt about it that it went at least 11' down with great action. Not as good as the bass jerker and smaller jerkbaits, but very impressive for its size and diving ability. I landed an average Pike on a troll near Hwy 2 weed line between Gladstone and Escanaba. When I fished near the Wells town shipwreck, I landed another small pike. To my disappointment, the first pike bent the crap out of the factory hooks, and the 2nd one actually busted a hook completely off! Later a secret hole (I found last year) north of Kipling hooked me what felt like a pretty nice smallmouth in the waves, but my battle ended at the boat. It dove under the bow and threw the jerkbait. I found a pile of them there on the bottom tight to some cover 25 ft down but drop shots failed and boat control was impossible. I then ran back to my starting point where I had the pike and I had a 1-2 lb smallmouth swipe at my jerkbait 3 times in clear water at the side of the boat, missing on all 3 snaps of the lure. As it was getting dark, I threw a LOVERTAIL 2 in Smokey Shad, and a pike drilled it as I was lifting it out of the water. The jerk bit the tail off and the action sucked so I had to replace the Kalins Sizmic Grub to make it look awesome gain for the next day. Night time came and I had to head back and charge my troller after the brutal abuse my boat and body took during the horrible waves I dealt with. If you are wondering why I would go, well it seems like they prefer to bite in that crap and HATE calm water out there.
9 lb Pike little bay de noc on KVD Deep Jerkbait
Pike caught trolling a KVD Deep Jerkbait
The next day, I had to run around town while waiting for my batteries to charge. The winds were pretty calm, so I made to run to Garden Bay on Big Bay de Noc to battle the really big water. It was not bad at all, I couldnt go 100% throttle but I was running around 75% while keeping the prop in the water. Much better than having the prop out of the water constantly at 5 mph like the previous day. I went right to my fast dropping ledge spots from 2014, and there were 2 boats on my waypoints. I continued south fishing my butt off with jerkbaits on fast dropping ledges with no luck at all. The water clarity was down to only 15 ft this time. The other boats didnt reel any in, and I worked that ledge north for FIVE hours on the KVD Deep, drop shots, tubes, spinners, deep diving cranks, with NO follows and no sighted fish at all!! I gave up on smallmouth and went to the mouth of the river near Garden in 6 ft of water in very dark water with some weeds. I was bumming that my boy was at school and not with me and saw his BABY SQUID BAIT in my tackle box. I thought, now is the time to try it on a nice pike out here. First cast I felt a hit. Next cast another hit, I slow rolled the blade and WHAM! fish on!!! A sub-legal smallmouth. I was pumped. Next cast, another one in the boat. 3rd cast another one in the boat! The dock owner, and 2 others were watching me catch bass after bass trying to guess the lure. I was laughing since my little boy's invention totally saved this outing from disaster. 7 smallmouths landed in 5 minutes!!
3 of the 7 smallmouth caught in a few minutes on the BABY SQUID BAIT
I made a second pass around that hot dock and had zero action. I tried some weedless inline spinners with no luck either. I then decided to go north to Ansell Point and Kate's Bay where the underwater deep point comes in near the boulder ledge. I thought if they were holding shallower, maybe our BASS JERKER would be the way to go. I didnt have my custom painted "BLOODY CISCO" ones with, all I had was one in factory-painted GHOST SHAD, which I never tried but figured may work great in clear water like Lake Michigan. After just a few casts, the jerkbait gets pounded, and again, and again. I marked my way points, worked north and it died right off. I looked at my chartplotter and saw the contour that I liked and tried to duplicate it for a pattern. I then fired up the old 1976 Evinrude and hammered on it about a half mile to the next similar looking contour. 3 casts in a row, 3 more smallmouths, plus a few lost during the retrieve during acrobatic jumps on the surface. Once again it died off when the contour straightened and I continued my pattern a mile north again. Then it was lights out. Bite after bite, a few lost a few landed, and as the sun started setting, the fish finally got better sized. a 2 lb 2 oz was boated then a crazy explosion by a 17-18" 3+ lb smallmouth caught on video. He did it again and jumped several times, as I was netting him he made a huge leap, shook his head and tossed the lure. It was possibly the toughest fighting smallmouth of my life, he blew away my 21" I caught there 2 years ago. The drag was screaming on my spinning reel. I would have released him anyway, and I got one just like it last year so it didn't bother me much to loose him. The battle was incredible. Right after him I landed another fun one not quite legal. It shut right down about 30 minutes before darkness and I packed up and hauled booty across Garden Bay to get to the WRX and load up with some daylight left. The drive back was just gorgeous. The Hiawatha Forest is full of thick pines and wildlife, and the sunset was one of the best I ever seen. I truly felt like I was on vacation listening to that old Evinrude scream across Lake Michigan with so much scenery after I landed 17 smallmouth in one hour after the worst 5 hours of fishing I ever had. The store bought lures were useless that day, and our BABY SQUID and BASS JERKER not only saved the day, it turned it into my best day for smallmouth fishing action in 2.5 years. I had to adjust a lot from 2014, and it shows that you can't get stuck with the same presentations and locations over and over. You have to learn fish movement and get on them with the lures that they wanna hit or react to.
Less clarity pushed them shallower , but they still would not go shallow enough to be seen. They were on ledges that dropped into 14 ft not 30 ft and in very dark 6 ft water with poor clarity. They were clearly near sparse weed growth in all my successful spots too, 2014 there were no weeds around where I found them. Every trip is a huge learning experience and I am so happy I figured it out in the final hour. What a feeling having your son's invention totally save your fishing trip. I did not want to go home skunked on smallmouth for both days of fishing!!! And one thing I was really impressed with - our VMC red trebles did not bend or break after battling about 22 smallmouths that fought very hard, just lost some paint on them. And the feather dressing I tied on was still holding together. I am sure KVD changes out every hook on his own lures for a tournament. Probably to triple-grip Mustad Elites.
BIG BAY DE NOC SMALLMOUTHS CAUGHT ON OUR BASS JERKER AT SUNSET
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.