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Accomplishing Goals on the James River

Posted by menacebaits on October 19, 2017 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

This was it! I’ve accomplished my goal of this season; qualify for the Regional Championship! I’ve worked so hard to get here and I’m so proud to have accomplished this in my first year of competing in the FLW Bass Fishing League. This tournament brought us to Williamsburg, VA to fish on the very tough James River. I knew that as a co-angler in this event, it wouldn’t take much to make the top 12 and fish on championship Saturday. I would just need to put my head down, fish, and take things one day at a time. I was just happy to be here, so no matter the outcome, I would be greatful for the opportunity to fish in a tournament of this caliber!


The first day definetly presented its ups and downs. After my boater established a solid topwater pattern and boated several quality keepers, I couldn’t get anything together. I had a couple of fish miss my topwater popper, but nothing. If I wanted to have any shot at qualifying for Saturday, I knew I needed to figure out something fast! I down sized my popper and went to work. Doing this let me put three small keepers in the boat. While it was a start, I still really needed number four and five as my boater left the spot with his limit. After pulling up another barely keeper on a crankbait at our next spot, we ventured into a very shallow and narrow creek. I didn’t want to put down that popper since that gave me almost all of my fish today, so I continued throwing it with determination. Out of nowhere, a beautiful 2 lber breached an inhaled it and I boated my 5th keeper! I finished day one in 39th place with 6 lbs 7 oz for 5 fish. I needed a big bag tomorrow if I wanted to have any shot at qualifying for Saturday!

 

Day two is a day that I’ll never forget. I started off with 2 small keepers with the same topwater pattern as yesterday, then we went through a long dry spell. After a few hours of no luck, we pulled into a large creek and my boater caught a very nice fish on a crankbait. I decided I’d try to replicate his success, and then the magic happened! Fish after fish after fish for both of us; they couldn’t stay off that crankbait! I threw my shallow diving crankbait as shallow as I could and crashed it into structure and ripped it out of the grass with my 7’10” Quantum Tour KVD Cranking Rod. When the tide was right, the fishing was amazingly unbelievable. I finished day 2 with a quality bag of 10 lbs 6 oz, which gave me 16 lbs 13 oz. After anxiously watching the rest of the field weigh in and watching my name drop spot after spot on the leaderboard with the other co-angler’s large bags of fish, I managed to stay in the top 12 by finishing the second day in 9th place; qualifying me for championship Saturday! I was ecstatic; not only did I qualify for the FLW BFL Regional Championship, but now I was fishing in the top 12 on Saturday!


After great success and establishing a pattern the first and second day; day three was like a nightmare. My boater started out early finesse fishing and flipping, but I knew that wasn’t what these finicky fish wanted. While my boater was flipping, I bombed my popper out as far as I could to the other side of the creek and had a massive blow up! I set the hook, but she just wasn’t there. Devastated, I cranked my bait all the way back to the boat and flung it out there again. Another blow up! But unfortunately again, it just didn’t get hooked. I couldn’t believe it, it was so hard to hook up with these fish on a 60-80 ft cast with monofilament line! My boater soon caught onto the idea and tied on a similar plug and went to work, quickly boating a 4.5 lber. While I was quite shocked and disappointed about missing those fish and having my boater catching a quality fish on my technique in front of me, I continued to put my head down and work.


10:00 am rolled around and I still didn’t have one fish in the boat. As we idled back and fished the same creek again, I had a 12.5 inch bass blow up on my popper. I set the hook and managed to land my first small keeper! At this point, I was just ecstatic that I was going to bring fish back today and weigh-in at Bass Pro Shops! But after making a critical move, I had my opportunity to qualify for the All-American. We moved towards another creek and we threw our poppers as we did all morning. It was like a bad dream; we must’ve gotten 20 or 30 blow ups and bites on our plugs, but they just wouldn’t get hooked! After slowing down and fishing towards the middle of the creeks, my boater managed to catch onto a flurry of success and boat three keepers right away. I threw my plug up to the fish and landed two quality largemouth! Then the bite died. Disappointed, I came back to the ramp with only three fish.

 

Weighing in at Bass Pro Shops in Hampton, VA was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life. When we pulled up to the parking lot, a big crowd was already gathered around the FLW weigh-in stage and the tournament director was hyping them up! I brought my few keepers on stage and weighed in 6 lbs 2 oz which gave me a 3 day total of 22 lbs 15 oz. While I came up short of winning the new Ranger boat and was short of qualifying for the All-American; I still made my first career top 10 in FLW and got a vey nice check for my efforts!


This regional championship is one I will never forget, it surely had it’s ups and downs, but it was probably some of the hardest fishing I’ve ever experienced. I consider this such a great way to finish my career as a co-angler as I begin to prepare for being a boater in the 2018 FLW Northeast Bass Fishing League! It was definitely a great year; I fished many diverse fisheries and fished with many great boaters, and I’m so excited to continue pursuing my goals and dreams next year as a boater. I came into this year with one goal, and I've been blessed to accomplish that and so much more!


Ending the Season with Supersized Smallies

Posted by menacebaits on September 18, 2017 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (1)

The last stop of the 2017 Northeast Bass Fishing League brought us to Clayton, NY for the grand finale super tournament of the season on the St. Lawrence River. This was my time to seal the deal on qualifying for the Regional Championship on the James River next month! This is another new fishery to me, but I knew of the caliber of fish that lived in here. You wouldn’t have a shot qualifying for day two unless you had a bag of smallies over 20 lbs. In fact; there would be bags that weighed in over 25 lbs probably!


For my day 1 boater, I drew Matt Stasiak; the owner of a fishing clothing company called Apollo’s Shield. He told me we were going to make the long run to Ontario as he was on massive quantities of quality smallmouth. As my nerves and excitement began to grow with anticipation, I backed in Matt’s boat and met him at the dock. As we tried to motor away, he realized his left Power Pole was stuck on the bottom of the boat slip! We weren’t moving from that spot. We had a small crowd of boats around us trying to help us lift the pole, but our efforts seemed pointless. At this point I didn’t even know if I’d be going fishing on the season finale of my first year on tour!

 

It was crunch time to get this pole up. After 45 minutes of messing with it, take off began in 15 minutes! Somehow, we all tied a rope to the busted Power Pole from the bottom and hauled it up as hard as we could. It finally budged and we were able to pull it up and tie it up! I was going fishing today! We rushed over to boat check and anxiously awaited take off!

 

After the prayer and national anthem, we began the hour long run to Ontario. It was a very rough ride, but so worth it! The second we arrived, I dropped by bait down below the boat and my boater hooked up. I went to go net his fish, then came back to my line which also had a fish on it! I must’ve filled my limit in a matter of 15 minutes! That was the most unbelievable day of fishing I’ve ever experienced; we must’ve caught about 40 or 50 quality smallies! We were throwing 4 lb fish back because they wouldn’t help us. After rushing back to weigh in, my 5 fish limit weighed in at 23 lbs 7 oz! Not only was that my largest bag of fish that I’ve ever weighed in; but I was sitting in 2nd place just 1 lb behind the leader going into day 2!

 

Ironically, I drew the same exact boater for the next day since we were both sitting in 2nd place after Saturday. He told me we were going to do the same exact thing and hope for the best. Little did I know that I wasn’t going to close the deal on championship Sunday, but rather learn a very painful lesson about how finicky smallmouth can be.


I zeroed the second day. After catching 40 or 50 fish on the same spot and throwing 4 lbers back yesterday, I zeroed! Besides breaking off one 2 lber at the boat, I received no action all day. It just amazed me how drastic of a change occurred over night as we scrambled all over Ontario trying to salvage the day!


Despite my terrible day 2, I managed to only fall to 15th place thanks to my huge day 1 bag. Despite a disappointing finish, I learned so much about smallmouth fishing on big water. It was a great way to cap off the regular season as this finish put me 6th place overall in the Northeast Division; punching my ticket to the Regional Championship on the James River next month! After a long and exciting season all across the region, I've accomplished my goal. Now it's time to prepare and get ready for the most important tournament of my life yet and fish for the $45,000 top prize!


Last Cast Smallie

Posted by menacebaits on September 18, 2017 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (0)

After grinding 'em out of Blue Marsh all day, I ended the day on a high note with this beautiful smallie on a Rapala Shadow Rap Deep! We probably caught about 20 fish all together today.

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#Fishing The 50; Challenge Accepted!

Posted by menacebaits on September 2, 2017 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Fishing has always been an incredibly fun sport to partake in. As the saying goes; "A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work." Lately, some fishermen have been taking the sport to new levels of fun by coming out with exciting and complicated challanges to challenge themselves and ultimately become better anglers. These include events such as "The $20 Challenge," "The Barbie Rod Challenge," and "The Broken Rod Challenge," just to name a few. I, myself, make challenges to myself to see if I can accomplish them to ultimately try to make myself a better fisherman. I've only taken baits that I've never fished with before to try and catch fish on them and gain confidence in new techniques, I've fished with broken and busted rods rods, and my newest challenge that I'm starting is what i call "Fishing The 50!" I plan to travel around the United States and catch a fish in every state! I've actually gotten started already and knocked out Maryland, Washington, and of course Virginia since I live there. I think fishing in different waters in each state will make me a more versatile fisherman and I'm looking forward to learning how to approach these differnent scenerios outside of my comfort zone. I'm not sure what doors that this challenge will open up for me, but we will see. As long as I'm getting my dose of the great outdoors, it will be a success to me. Be sure to get your dose #FishingThe50


Blue Marsh Finned Freak of Nature

Posted by menacebaits on August 24, 2017 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (0)

We had a decent day out on Blue Marsh Lake today with my buddy, Grant Leydon, who caught his first Blue Marsh bass (also his personal best). Must've caught around 13 or 14 fish with a couple half decent ones and one finned freak of nature at the end!

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Making the Most of Champlain

Posted by menacebaits on August 7, 2017 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

The fourth stop of the 2017 Northeast FLW Bass Fishing League brought us to beautiful Ticonderoga, NY to fish Lake Champlain! This tournament was probably one of the most special tournaments of the year for me. Not only was my family traveling with me for this event, but my great grandfather; the man I credit for inspiring me to fish, used to be a local fishing legend here in Ticonderoga. Little did he know that when he shared the sport of fishing with me when I was just beginning to walk, would it become my life long passion and pursuit. Sadly, he passed away when I was seven or eight years old before he could see me begin my tournament bass fishing career. But I know that if he was still around today and at the weigh in, he would be so proud of me!


I drew boat number 32 with my boater, John Campos. When our number was finally called, my boater put the boat in to gear but it only made a very harsh sounding sputtering noise. "That's not good..." I thought to myself! Finally the boat kicked into gear and we blasted off a few miles away from launch to our first spot. When we arrived at the flat, we were being rocked by the hundred or so boat field racing past us. While waiting for the water to calm down a little bit; I picked up my jig rod tied on with my 1/4 oz Black and Blue Original Menace Jig. Because my 7'6"  Heavy Action Quantum Smoke casting rod was so sensitive, I was able to feel a very subtle bite as I popped my jig over the grass flats and I got the perfect hookset on my first keeper of the day! He wasn't a giant, but a good little 1.5 lb largemouth to start the day. My boater proceeded to land two good keepers right after that and after a little dry spell; we decided to make a move further north. After we tied down, my boater started the motor which was sputtering a lot more than it did earlier. When he tried to put the boat in gear, it stalled. He tried again and again, and replicated the same result. We were stuck to an idle for the rest of the day, and we had about an hour and a half ride back to weigh in at this speed!


Then it poured. Poured is an understatement; it was more like a monsoon or hurricane than a rain shower! You couldn't even see two feet in front of you the rain was so hard and thick! To add to the dissapointment, the bite absolutely died and I was sitting on just one tiny fish. It was then that I started getting really upset and frusterated. This was supposed to be my best tournament of the year and all of my family was waiting to watch me at weigh in after traveling hundreds of miles here with me. And then I thought about all of the AOY points I'm probably passing up with just this one fish. Would I even be in position to qualify for the regional championship anymore, especially after stumbling at Oneida a couple of weeks ago?


The rain eventually cleared and after being completely soaked, we continued to grind. We continued idling from spot to spot wasting precious fishing time. With just about an hour left of fishing we pulled into our last spot. Just a few minutes in, I heared a solid hookset from the front of the boat. My boater hooked a good one! I scooped the fish up for him and I proceeded to flip my Menace Jig into the thick stuff with determination. Sure enough, I felt that famous "tick, tick" and I reeled down, and set the hook as hard as I could! My rod was completely loaded up and I felt several solid head shakes! My boater scrambled for the net and after we fumbled around for the fish for a minute, we managed to bring him in the boat! The solid 3 pounder swallowed my jig and I threw her in the livewell with a huge sigh of relief. The addition of that fish might not have won the tournament for me, but it sure saved my day and potentially even my season! 


The weather cleared up more and the sun started coming out; and that meant the topwater bite was about to turn on. I bombed a frog out over the grass and worked it with finesse. When I pulled the frog into a little open pocket, something vicously attacked it and I set the hook. I proceeded to bring in my third keeper who just barely kept! With just fifteen minutes left, I began frantically trying to put two more fish in the boat since the bite was on! After I caught a short and a big pike, I casted my frog way out into the open of the flat. Immediately, the biggest fish of the day jumped clear out of the water for my frog. Not exaggerating, this was probably one of the biggest fish I've hooked this year, perhaps over 6 lbs! My Quantum Prism frogging rod was completely loaded up and the behemoth started thrashing. I continued to reel with confidence knowing I have 65 lb braid loaded on my reel! Then nothing. Devestated, I reeled my line in to see only a frayed end on my line. That pike I caught casts before must've put a micro frey in my braid which failed me when it was so critical. I just missed a fish that might've won lunker and got me major ground in the tournament. But what else can you do but keep fishing?


Our time had expired and we began the very long and disapointing idle back to weigh in. We lost so much fishing time and I believe we were on the fish that could've won the event. We just needed more time. But what can you do as a co-angler? I could be ungreatful and be upset at the fact I was on a boat with mechanical problems all day. I could be livid about the fish of a lifetime I just broke off. But what it came down to was that my boater and I had a great day of fishing, we learned some new things, and we successfully patterned the fish and grinded them out. John Campos set me up great for the event and was an absolute pleasure to fish with all day and I'm so grateful to still be sitting 8th place overall in the division after my 3 fish weighed in 5 lbs 8 oz for 66th place. With just one tournament left in the division this year, I'm sitting in great position to qualify for the regional tournament at the James River. After making the most of our situation on Champlain, it's time to capitalize on my opportunities the rest of this year and see where it takes me!



Biggin's on Blue Marsh

Posted by menacebaits on July 29, 2017 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I've never fished this lake before, but our club's next tournament was at Blue Marsh Lake in Reading, PA. I was able to get out and practice for the event a little bit with my brother and learn the layout of the lake. Blue Marsh is only 1,150 acres, so it wasn't too hard to cover a majority of the water in a day with my Nitro 929 CDX. After a very successful practice, I formulated a game plan for the upcoming tournament. 


On tournament day I pulled up to my first spot and started throwing my confidence bait; a 1/4 oz Black and Blue Menace Jig. On the third cast, something took the bait and it totally caught me by surprise. I got such a weak hookset in and fumbled as I fought the fish back to the boat. As I was scrambling around for the net, the fish surfaced next to the boat. She had to be at least 4 pounds! As I reached again for the net, the fish surfaced again and spit out my bait. What a way to start a tournament, especially in a lake where keepers are not so common!


After gathering myself back together, I moved on fishing more focused and determined. Just twenty feet over I flipped my jig over to a laydown and worked it out very meticulously. A good smallie nearly ripped my Quantum Smoke casting rod and reel out of my hands and I set the hook as hard as I could. "Forget the net!" I told myself this time after the incedent that just recently occured. She got closer and I saw she had my jig perfectly in the roof of the mouth like she was supposed to. I flipped in my first keeper, a good 2 lb smallie! 


As the morning bite faded and the sun came out, it was time to downsize and finesse the bite. I picked up my ultra sensitive Quantum Smoke spinning rod and reel and started drop shotting a Strike King Dream Shot. I casted my drop shot over to a log and held it steady in it's place feeling for whatever might bite. Sure enough, something took the bait and I did the perfect reel set. This is where a super smooth drag on a Quantum reel is so critical, fighting a ridiculously aggressive smallmouth on super light Seaguar braid and fluorocarbon! After dancing around the boat with the fish for what seemed like forever, I netted the fish and threw my second keeper in the livewell; another good sized smallie! 


After milking that spot for all it was worth, I decided to fire up the Mercury and make a long run back to the other side of the lake. I picked up the drop shot again and attempted to finesse my last fish to a limit. I casted back over to some more deep water structure and something subtly took the Dream Shot. I set the hook and the fish started digging down deep. I fought the fish back in and landed a nice sized largemouth that just barely kept. Our club has a 3 fish limit, so I just completed my limit for the day!


I knew at this point I had decent positioning with a limit; but definetly was in no place to win with these quality of fish. I ran back to my first spot and decided to switch it up a little bit with a reaction bait. I fired a Rapala Shadow Rap Deep accross a deep point and worked it with determination. Half way into the retrieve something smacked the bait. It was a better quality fish for sure! My rod was completely loaded up and the fish was pulling drag hard! It was a really good sized smallie that would definetly cull out the little largemouth I just caught! I landed the fish and made the cull. 


With no luck the rest of the day, I came back to weigh in with three smallies for about 6 pounds, good enough for a third place finish! After this finish I am sitting 2nd place overall in my club's standings! Reflecting back on the day I see how critical it is to use scent on your baits. By using JB's Fish Sauce attractant, the fish could follow a scent trail to my bait. But the biggest advantage I saw today was just how long a bass would hold onto the bait with the sauce on it! I could probably have not even set the hook and the fish would've still held onto it! Our club is half way done the season and I'm sitting pretty well in standings moving forward. Blue Marsh was such a fun lake to fish and pattern and fish; I love fighting good quality smallies all day long!



Staying Alive at Oneida

Posted by menacebaits on July 23, 2017 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The third stop of the 2017 FLW Northeast Bass Fishing League brought us to Oneida Lake, NY on July 15th. After the Bassmaster Opens had just taken place here recently putting together some huge bags on techniques I had a lot of confidence in, I had really high hopes for this event. The weather forcast was once again calling for 20 mph winds and rain; because it just wouldn't be a Northeast BFL without some wind and rain! I don't care about the weather though as long as I'm on the water ripping lips, and this event was my mid season opportunity to capitalize on some more valuable AOY points and hopefully cash another check. Prior to this event, I was sitting 4th place in standings. In order to qualify for the regional championship at the James River in October, I need to be sitting in 45th place or above.


I drew FLW Tour Rookie Grae Buck as my boater, a fellow angler who I have talked and dealt with several times before this tournament! Grae had a lot of experience on this lake and has dominated on the Northeast BFL's and Costa Series years prior, so I was really excited to see what we could come up with! We drew boat number 100, and we blasted off to our first spot once our number was called. Right off the bat, Grae hooked up with a good keeper and I scrambled for the net! Seeing a good keeper in the boat so early got my hopes up and I kept on fishing! I started out dragging a Carolina Rig on some rock piles while Grae finessed on the front deck. 


Not too much time passed until what felt like a solid fish picked up my bait! As I set the hook, I felt a huge weight and a head shake! Then nothing... Devestated, I checked out my rig only to see something straightened my hook! I couldn't bear to fish a Carolina Rig anymore that day after that malfunction. As Grae continued to boat keeper after keeper, I was still trying to catch my first fish. Hours had passed and as Grae put his 5th fish in the boat. I changed my mindset; I'm just here to learn, and I have been given such a great opportunity to ride, fish, and observe an FLW Tour Pro all day long. That's what the whole co-angler experience this year is about for me, I'm just preparing myself for next year as I compete as a boater in my new Nitro 929 CDX bass boat! I began taking notes of every little detail, choice, and decision he made in this tournament. 


After jumping all around Oneida for a few hours, I decided to pick up another confidence bait to try and finally boat a keeper and salvage the day! I tied on my favorite Jerkbait and fished the rock piles with determination. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a solid smallie follow my bait back to the boat! Unfortunetely, I couldn't get the fish to cooperate and made another cast. "At least something looked at my bait..." I thought.


That's when the fish started biting for me. The only problem is, they were anything but a bass! I went on to catch a huge drum, two pickerel, a walleye, a bluegill, and five or six big yellow perch on the jerkbait. Another fish slapped my jerkbait and I started reeling him in without giving it much thought. "Just another perch probably, don't worry about the net!" I mumbled to my boater. However, this was no perch; It was a bass! A living, breathing, largemouth bass! The only problem was he was tiny. I flipped him in the boat and figured I'd measure him real quick before I threw the dink back just incase. It turned out that fish measured 12.5", which meant I had keeper #1 in the boat! I don't think I've ever been so excited about such a small fish! I slipped on a cull ring and threw him in the livewell and proceeded to fish with a new determination! I wasn't going to win the tournament with that fish, but I just kept thinking about the valuable AOY points which I thought I'd hopelessly lost in this tournament. The very next cast, another small largemouth bass! Just another barely keeper, but I had two fish in the boat! After another 3 or 4 perch, I managed to catch one more bass but unfortunetly, it wasn't long enough to be #3 for me. 


Those were the only fish I managed to catch that day. My boater, Grae Buck, brought back 18 lbs for the win! He also won lunker for a 4 lb 11 oz smallie. I ended up in 85th place with 2 fish for 2 lbs 3 oz. Not a good finish, but I managed to stay alive in the AOY race and I am currently sitting in 8th place with 624 points after this event. There's just two events remaining this season at Champlain and 1000 Islands, so in order to qualify for the regional in October I'll need to finish the year strong!


All in all I had such a great day on Oneida, Grae taught me so much and I learned a lot about the lake for next year. 



Sharing the Passion of the Sport

Posted by menacebaits on June 3, 2017 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I had such a great time today at the Walmart in East Greenville for the FLW Reel Fun Fishing Expo. I met so many new people and got to share fishing tips and information all day. My favorite part of the day though had to be sharing the sport of bass fishing with the young kids. I let some children hold my premium Quantum rods and reels and they had a look of amazement on their faces! They even got to try their luck at casting with a Zebco combo. Today is a good reflection of what bass fishing is all about, and I'm so honored to have been given the opportunity to share my passion of bass fishing with everyone at Walmart today!



FLW Walmart Reel Fun Fishing Expo

Posted by menacebaits on June 1, 2017 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I will be making an appearance at the Walmart Shopping Center in East Greenville, PA this Saturday, June 3rd at 11:00 AM for the FLW #reelfun Fishing Expo in celebration of National Fishing & Boating Week! I will be sharing fishing tips, holding a kids casting contest, and giving away FREE fishing license holders and a FREE digital subscription to FLW Bass Fishing Magazine! Come stop in for some fun, say hello, and check out my some of my own baits and line up of Quantum rods and reels!


The address is;


Walmart

620 Gravel Pike

East Greenville, PA



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