DOUGLAS S. WEIGHS A TOURNAMENT SMALLMOUTH BASS IN
ALEX JAMES IS READY TO HAUL HIS 16' LUND GENERAL LEE TO THE FALL CLASSIC
ALEX JAMES WITH DOUGLAS S. AT THE TOURNAMENT LAUNCH
ALEX SHOWS HIS GAME FACE, READY TO LAUNCH!!
32 ANGLERS, 16 TEAMS, 15 BOATS, 2 KAYAKS, $640+Prizes....
On October 14th, 2017, 32 anglers competed on the Dairyland Reservoir in the JAMES GANG FALL FLAMBEAU CLASSIC. With a $20 entry fee per angler, the total winnings handed out was $640, which was 100% payout of the entry fees collected. The 16 teams battled wind, afternoon rain, and a tricky fall finesse bite, in hopes of splitting $480 with their partner, as well as taking home the trophies. Also up for grabs for all 32 anglers was the Big Bass Award, given out to the angler that landed the "daily lunker," the heaviest single bass of the day. The Dairyland Reservoir has been known in the past for having some giant trophy smallmouth in it. Even though the last decade has reduced the crawfish population, thus reducing girths and body weights of the smallmouths, our tournament produced one very respectable smallmouth by the end of the day.
WE WERE VERY PROUD OF THE 32 ANGLER TURNOUT THIS WEEKEND!
The tournament preparations started around 9 AM, with the kayakers showing up for their PIN cards first. They were cleared to launch at 9:15AM, but chose to allow all the motor boats to go first, so they would get the community park bay and dam rip rap areas to themselves after the wakes settled.
SMALL CRAFT OUTFITTERS GUIDE TYLER THEIDE POSES WITH ALEX & HIS FEEL FREE KAYAK
Dewey Lor & Tou Xiong started off the tournament red hot. Within the first hour or so, Dewey and Tou landed around TEN POUNDS of legal bass! They took a huge lead that held most of the day. They fished a sand point and pounded smallmouth after smallmouth in a very short time.
DEWEY LOR & TOU XIONG HAMMERED OUT 10 LBS OF SMALLMOUTH TO TAKE A LARGE EARLY LEAD IN THEIR 18 HP JONBOAT
Local ace, and tournament favorite Doug Helmuth, and his partner Zach Nelson, were not messing around either. Only 37 minutes into the tournament, Doug landed his biggest Flambeau smallmouth in years, a beautiful 4 pound 1 ounce fish, long body, huge head, nice girthy belly. This bass would be very difficult to top for the Big Bass Award, but with an entire day of fishing ahead of the other 30 anglers, it was definately possible to get one a few ounces larger to beat Doug.
LOCAL ACE DOUG HELMUTH LANDED THIS 4 LB 1 OZ BASS TO START THE DAY
I had a decent month of pre-fishing the Dairyland Reservoir, and found most of my success fishing deep water with BABY SQUID BAITS. Naturally, this was how I started my day. Alex threw a green pumpkin Senko wacky rigged, while I worked the squid in 8-10 feet of water along weed edges, near boat docks, and along wood cover. I also carolina-rigged a Strike King Baby Rodent green pumpkin creature/beaver style craw bait at times. I had multiple very light hits early, and hooked about a 10" smallmouth that threw the hook halfway to the boat in 8 feet of water. Soon after that, I made a run upriver towards the County I bridge, and had multiple bites in one retrieve on the Baby Squid Bait. I felt like a school of smallmouth may be present. I casted again, and hooked into a possible 3lb or more smallmouth, much larger than any I ever caught on this body of water. I handed the rod to Alex and hoped he would land this beauty. I turned on the video camera and got ready to grab the net when the 9 year old angler accidentally allowed the smallmouth to gain some slack in the line, jump near the boat, and throw the hook. It was a tough moment for the young angler, and from that point on, in combination of wind & rain, he completely lost focus on fishing for the day. The rest of his day was spent snacking from his cooler and watching Dad cast and cast and cast without a single bite the rest of the tournament. It really hurt to land ZERO fish in a tournament that we threw, but after the tournament was over, we understood what worked for the other anglers, and learned a lot from our mistakes, making us better fall fisherman for the future.
TODD LUNDQUIST PUT THIS 17" SMALLMOUTH INTO THE LUND FOR A TOURNAMENT ENTRY AND A PHOTO BY HIS SON, ARRIAN
As the day progressed, Kevin Rogalski and his partner Alex Whitmire boated a few here and there in short flurries in their 16' Crestliner. I returned to my spot where Alex lost his 3 lb bass two more times, trying carolina rigs, jerkbaits, senkos, and spinner baits. Still no luck. Later Team Rogalski/Whitmire hit the same area in which I felt a school was present, and landed 3 more legal tournament smallmouth on finesse baits. During this time, Mat Eichinger and John Beaudette caught a few on spinners, then went into a shallow bay with reeds and tried experimenting with topwater. Mat threw his custom HENG OUTDOORS airbrushed hard baits, and found a 38.5" musky, a pike, and a legal tournament smallmouth on his custom Whopper Plopper.
KEVIN ROGALSKI REGISTERS ANOTHER FINESSE SMALLMOUTH
ALEX WHITMIRE HELPS HIS TEAMMATE STAY IN THE GAME WITH ANOTHER BASS
STAN & 10 YR OLD DOUGLAS WORK THE COUNTY I BRIDGE SHALLOWS NEAR DOUG HELMUTH & ZACH NELSON
As the day progressed, a few boats could just simply not get bites, while others absolutely lit it up! Team Helmuth/Nelson kept their steady pace and climbed to the top. Scott Wilczek and his 8th grader nephew Carson, got onto some quality smallmouths. Carson also boated his first ever musky, at 35" long! Team Rogalski/Whitmire hit a small drought, biteless for a while. Mike Etzel was getting help from his teammate Tony Nelson, as their weight totals were slowly creeping up through the field. Dewey and Tou made another quick charge boating a quick 3 more pounds to the 10 they pounded at the start of the tournament. Then Anthony Xiong caught a true Wisconsin giant - a walleye weighing EIGHT POUNDS!! He also landed a nice smallmouth and got he and his partner Josh rolling....
ANTHONY XIONG WITH A WISCONSIN TROPHY WALLEYE
CARSON S. WITH HIS FIRST MUSKY!!! CONGRATS CARSON!!
UNCLE SCOTT WILCZEK LANDS ANOTHER NICE RIVER CHANNEL BASS
As Alex and I continued our disgusting struggles trying to get a bite, we paid less attention to fishing, and more attention to Scoretracker Live. We seen Mat and John make a steady climb, and saw their boat off in the distance. We wanted to catch up with them and BS a bit, but as we approached, John made a power hook set and hooked into a fish that refused to budge. I started the video and we were rolling footage. Here John's Beetle Spin hooked at 43" MUSKY!!!! We captured all of it on video, it was a crazy moment. I still can't believe the timing of this fish, it ended up being the largest fish (that didn't count) of the day. John was very proud of the beast and we got some great pictures of his catch.
JOHN BEAUDETTE WITH HIS 43" BEETLE SPIN MUSKY!
Getting towards the end of the tournament, the wind and rain picked up. The boats that were fish-less headed back to the ramp and called it a day. There was a 4 team race in contention for the win, including Dewey & Tou, Mat & John, Doug & Zach, and a late charge by Mike & Tony. Doug and Zach became the team to beat, but Mike Etzel got in a groove and found a school of smallies that were falling hard for his senkos. Mat & John squeaked out in front of Dewey and Tou by just ounces, then Mike turned up the heat in the final hour, landing a 2 lb 9 oz smallmouth, finishing the day with Tony's help by pounding out 20 lbs and 1 oz! They edged out the local aces Doug Helmuth & Zach Nelson's very impressive 15 lb 13 oz finish. Doug actually ran a shoreline with Zach right after I zeroed out on it, and landed 7 quick scorable fish in front of me. His early 4 lb 1 oz smallmouth held on for the Big Bass Award win after a long day of anglers aiming to beat it. These guys are very talented on their Flambeau waters!! Mat Eichinger and John Beaudette managed to take 3rd place with 13 lbs 12 oz on 9 fish. Kevin Rogalski & Alex Whitmire barely held of Scott & Carson, as Carson pulled a beautiful 2 lb 6 oz smallmouth just minutes before the tournament ended! After the fish was weighed, they were only behind Kevin & Alex by THREE OUNCES! What an intense tournament, and what a blast that was held by all!!
MIKE ETZEL'S 2 LB 9 OZ SMALLMOUTH, ONE OF SEVERAL LATE TOURNAMENT FISH LANDED WITH HIS PARTNER AND CO-CHAMPION TONY NELSON
THE TOURNAMENT ANGLERS RETURN TO CALL IT A DAY AT 5:30 PM
2017 JAMES GANG FALL FLAMBEAU CLASSIC CHAMPIONS MIKE ETZEL & TONY NELSON - $480 CASH & WINNERS OF OUR TROPHY
BIG BASS AWARD WINNER & 2ND PLACE TEAM FINISHER DOUG HELMUTH w/ALEX
DOUG'S TEAMMATE, 2ND PLACE FINISHER ZACH NELSON, WINNERS OF $112 FISHING TACKLE
THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!
a special thanks to PROTEKT (SCOTT & MIKE) and all of the James Gang Fishing pro-staffers for making this event happen, and a total SUCCESS!!!!
James Gang Pro-Staffer Doc Gilles with a 4.5 lb Lake Erie Smallmouth Bass
FALL IS FINALLY HERE!
The long awaited fall season has finally arrived. Water temps are finally lowering from summertime temperatures. Last weekend the July-type weather seemed to really get the fish feeding. Water temps on Lake Erie in Ohio and Sturgeon Bay, WI were around 72 degrees, which was about the warmest it had gotten all year! Pretty crazy how cold the summer was and when fall arrives the temperatures actually increase for several days instead of decrease. We spend all of our time fishing the Dairyland Reservoir near Ladysmith, ever since Labor Day weekend, preparing for the Fall Flambeau Classic on October 14th. We had steady water temperatures from Labor Day all the way to early this week. Finally on Wednesday it dropped from 64-68 degrees, and on Saturday it dropped to 61. Some shallow flats late in the day in the sun did reach mid-60s. The change in temperatures made everyday a totally different day presentation wise. The early trips found success on minnow profile baits moving. Then Wednesday the bite changed completely to ultra-finesse. Pro-Staffer Kevin Rogalski actually landed a smallmouth puking up black larvae. The fish was in less than a foot of water. It was no wonder why we struggled so much. Now that the temperature has dropped close to 20 degrees in 6 days, it seems to have shifted the bass to their fall minnow forage base. Very strange bites, very difficult to get bit, but when you do it right, they hit with all they got, and fight with 100% anger! We are in the very early stages of fall fishing, and hopefully by the time the tournament arrives the temperature will drop into the 50s and we can get the giants to come up and hit bigger lures. We are not at that point yet. What is exciting is that on the last 3 trips in a row the fish lengths kept increasing. From 6-12" fish, to 13.5" fish to 14.25-16" fish. That may be directly related to the water temperature drop. One thing is for certain, they are extremely lean right now and need to fatten up quick to make this tournament very exciting. The Flambeau River is well-known for producing EXTREMELY girthy smallmouth bass. Right now our 14.25" fish are weighing in at about 1-6, and our 15-16" bass are not even at the 2 lb mark. Last November we weighed in a 16.5" and 16.75" at 3-14 and 3-13 on the Flambeau! They have a few weeks to fatten up and get more active, hopefully that will be the case. A few anglers dropped out so there may be a few last minute openings, click on the button below to RSVP if interested:
PRO-STAFFER KEVIN MARTINEK WITH A PAIR OF BABY SQUID BAIT SMALLMOUTH
PRO-STAFFER KEVIN MARTINEK WITH A FLAMBEAU MUSKY ON OUR FLAPPIN' JIG
GREAT LAKES WALLEYE, SMALLMOUTH, & PERCH
PRO-STAFFER DOC GILLES & HIS CLAN FOUND INCREDIBLE SUCCESS ON LAKE ERIE
Pro-Staffer Doc Gilles and his goofball friends and family loaded up two pickup trucks full of crazy fish heads and road-tripped to Port Clinton, Ohio, in hopes for a pile of Walleyes with Coe Vanna Charters. What they ended up doing was incredible! They caught walleyes in crazy numbers the entire trip, I believe well over 100! They had doubles, even triples, and the fun never stopped. In between the walleyes they caught non-stop jumbo perch as well, and for a little bonus, they managed to land a few of them GIANT smallmouth bass that the Great Lakes are famous for. Doc actually landed the biggest smallmouth bass of his life, then shortly after, caught a clone version of the same fish - 19" at 4.5 pounds. Doc says that this trip was the best fishing trip of his life, and he has been around Canada many times. I would have to agree because it seems like nothing can match the Great Lakes in quality of fish. It is so much more intense when you KNOW on every cast that you have trophies present and even state record fish within a small range of you. The fish in the Great Lakes have great forage, and just simply get OLD! For more information on Coe Vanna Charters, check out Dave Whitt and the guys on the link below:
Pro-Staffer Doc Gilles with identical 4.5 lb Lake Erie Smallmouth Bass
Pro Staffer Kevin Rogalski and his gang took a 3 day trip to Sturgeon Bay, WI this weekend, but unfortunately the cold weather brought in terribly dangerous winds. They had a very difficult time fishing in awful waves. Kevin did manage a few smallmouths, including a beautiful 3 lb 11 oz. Also on the final day, they had a 30+ inch walleye, estimated at around 12 pounds, but the fish broke off the 6 lb flourocarbon at the boat and ended up swimming away instead of swimming into the freezer at Kevin's taxidermist. Tough deal there, but now that the boys seen the potential of Door County fishing, they will be back for more and will put a giant in the boat in the future. The month of October is typically the month that really lights up with giant fish in Door County, and the finest guide you can hire is Dale Stroschein of Wacky Walleye Guide Service. Click on his link and let him take you out in his beautiful 21 foot Nitro 350 hp Verado extra deep and safe boat:
JAMES GANG PRO-STAFFER KEVIN ROGALSKI WITH A STURGEON BAY 3.69# BASS
BEE WHACKERS & BABY SQUID BAITS
ANDREW DRAPER SCORES YET AGAIN ON HIS WHITE JAMES GANG BEE WHACKER
Andrew Draper is still tearing it up with his James Gang Fishing BEE WHACKER LM buzz baits! Now he submits a picture of a gorgeous smallmouth better than any I caught all year! Funny how we designed it for Largemouth and our customers kick our butts on our own baits with SMALLMOUTHS, our favorite fish. Thanks again for submitting this awesome picture, and best of luck with the muskies this October, Andrew. By the way, I hooked into an absolutely scary huge musky on the Dairyland Reservoir over the weekend on the BABY SQUID BAIT. This thing had a waist like the lure's designer himself (Alex James.) The fish was so girthy it didn't even look real! It was a very short, intense fight, I was completely caught off-guard and it hit at the boat. I had the drag too tight and didn't play it correctly at all, so when the giant made a speed burst under my prop, I didn't give it enough play in the rod and the lure came back at me, plastic all shredded in half. I honestly think this fish was 50+ inches. We tried reviving a 47 incher a few years ago on the Tiger Cat Flowage, this was MUCH larger. I wasn't too heart-broken, but man, it would have been nice to at least get a picture of this beast with Alex's lure design hanging out of his mouth. We were struggling bad bass fishing so we threw on the lure that seems to bail me out everytime I get skunked, the BABY SQUID BAIT. And it did catch the 4 biggest smallmouth of the day as well as the most. It has been my most productive lure on this lake over all my trips there since Labor Day. Hopefully it will continue over October, but the bite can change so fast in the fall, it seems.
JESSE JAMES WITH A 16" & 14.25" BABY SQUID BAIT SMALLMOUTH BASS
16" SMALLMOUTH BASS CAUGHT ON DAIRYLAND RESERVOIR EARLY FALL
14.25" to 16" SMALLMOUTHS ALL RELEASED BACK TO THEIR HOME AREAS
eBAY & LURE AVAILABILITY
Our lure inventory is getting much smaller as the fishing season is coming to a close. We stopped ordering parts in July, and are running out what we have on our eBay listings. Stanley Jigs has been out of weighted frog hooks for several months, so the bass sized DUNKIN FROGS are all sold out for 2017. We have just a few larger DUNKIN FROGS for northern pike and musky available on eBay. We have designed and tested a new HD musky version for 2018 with a longer body and skirt, it looked awesome on the lake. It will come out in time for the Madison Fishing Expo in February. Also the BEE WHACKER has a new MUSKY version coming out in 2018 as well. We experimented with trailers and found a Kalin's Mogambo Grub to give it the best look on the water. This lure was inspired by Andrew Draper's continued success on the bass version. We upgraded the musky version from 250# wire to 500# Toothproof Stainless Steel. HD stainless steel split rings. VMC HD 7/0 weedless hook as well. This lure sprays a good amount of water and may be a cheaper lure even though the quality is outstanding. All of our Bee Whackers LM & SM, Weedless and Non-Weedless are sold out for the year. We have Squid Bait parts, but found our new red blade does tarnish, so we will stop selling white & red this year and find a new supplier. We have a small amount of Green Pumpkin, but plenty of white bodies with high quality chartreuse blades as well as nickel available. We have quite a few firetiger Lovertail 2s left in stock, a few in Bull Bluegill, and a small quantity of other color variations. The Lovertail 2 is the kind of lure that could really catch you a giant in the fall! In fact, if we are struggling mid-day in the tournament, we will stop pursuing the heaviest weight win, put on a white Lovertail 2 and try and catch the biggest smallmouth bass that lives on the Dairyland Reservoir! The Lovertail 2 has caught some real Wisconsin trophies, on multiple occasions, when Tyler Theide gets to flinging that lure out of his kayaks. Hopefully Alex can one-up him on tournament day and win the Big Bass Award.
JAMES GANG LOVERTAIL 2 in "Bull Bluegill"
BOAT WRAP & STORAGE SOLUTIONS
And with fall here, scents can be the difference maker! Put on some JB'S FISH SAUCE on all your finesse baits. He has baitfish scent for the minnow profiles, crawfish scent for jigs, tubes, creature baits, as well as Kevin Rogalski's favorite scent, ANISE, and a few others (coffee, garlic, etc.) It will help on a tough day, it caught me a few on a hair jig on the brutally tough, but productive cold front day earlier this week!!
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.