Live Blog: Collegiate Bass Fishing Tournament (Bull Shoals Arkansas)

Bull Shoals Arkansas 

The event I had attended happened to be an event I had participated in myself. I have been competitively bass fishing for over ten years now. I currently fish for the UWW bass fishing team here at Whitewater Wisconsin. I am the current vice president of the bass team alongside the president Mitch Vanert. I have been honored to have the opportunity to fish on the UWW bass fishing team through my college years. I was fortunate enough to qualify for nationals during my sophomore year of college. For this specific event I chose to do for my live blog, we fished down in bull shoals Arkansas. This is a three-day event; competitors fish the third day if they qualify the second day of fishing.

Weigh in Process

The way tournament bass fishing works go like this; you have eight hours to fish a given body of water. The fish that are eligible to weigh consist of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. Typically fish must be over fourteen inches to weigh in. When tournament bass fishing artificial lures are the only bait of choice no live bait allowed. The heaviest bag of a five-fish limit of bass wins the event. For this specific event, it was a five-fish limit of bass over fifteen inches. My partner and I had caught a lot of fish during practice days of this event. We had found a solid smallmouth bass bite that lasted us most of the event. Unfortunately, the weights of the smallmouth bass weren’t enough to cut it to qualify for this tournament. We had competed against around two hundred schools. For the college series events, there are many different ways you can fish and get involved.

Facebook Live

For my live blog, I decided to do a Facebook live to record the action that was taking place for this event. I was able to capture some footage within the last twenty minutes of the event. For my live blog, I was able to explain how the weigh-in process works within competitive bass fishing. I wanted to give a live visual of exactly the process and vision of how competitors walk onto the stage and show off their catch. I was able to do a quick brief from the start explaining what the event was about and where it takes place. I then proceeded to show the college teams walk on stage and record their catch weights for their places. I also incorporated the commentator Hank who announces the final weights once you enter the stage. For the weigh-in process, you have three flights of boats that take off. Depending on the number of boats in each event, flights may vary. For this specific tournament, we were flight three which happened to be the last flight of the day. I also wanted to show the weigh-in station and how much work goes into making one of these events possible. Bethel University had won the event with an 18.5 lb bag of bass the last day.


Jerk bait Fishing

Jerk Bait 101

One of my absolute favorite ways to catch fish while casting is with a jerk bait. Jerk baits come in many different shapes and sizes ranging from an inch all the way to a foot long. I started using jerk baits about six years ago and fell in love with this lure. Jerk baits can be fished throughout most times of the year and prove to be a consistent fish catcher. This versatile lure allows you to fish it in most situations. My favorite brand when it comes to jerk bait fishing is the Mega Bass Vision 110. This Japanese made lure simply catches fish. I started using this lure about three years ago while fishing a college bass master’s tournament down in Missouri Lake of the Ozarks, taking home a second place trophy with it.


I primarily use this lure when bass fishing, although this lure has proven to be deadly on just about every fish that come across it. I have caught many species including walleye, pike, crappie, and musky on this lure. When fishing jerk bait there are many different ways to work it. The most common way to fish a jerk bait consists of a jerk, jerk pause presentation. This lure can be highly productive during the pre-spawn or cold water conditions when bass tend to be more lethargic. It’s common to here an angler say “it’s a reaction bite today” meanings the fish aren’t necessarily eating the bait out of hunger but rather anger. Another effective way to fish jerk bait is by using a stop and go technique. This system allows you to pick up fish that may be acting a bit more finicky.


Typically when bass get lazy they won’t move much to eat a lure. Jerk bait’s can play a large role here in which the slow tantalizing pauses seem to trigger neutral fish. Jerk baits seem to have an action you can’t compare to any other lure. When fishing a jerk bait I like to use a spinning rod, typically a St. Croix 7′. I will rig this rod with a 2500 size Shimano Sahara reel.  When it comes to the line I will run anywhere from eight to ten-pound line, depending on the water I am fishing. It is important to have a rod that can softly absorb the rips when jerking a jerk bait. Today, I will rarely leave the water without grabbing my jerk bait box ahead of time. Be sure to pick up a few jerk baits next time you’re at the store and hold on!

Utilizing Electronics on The Water

Basic Units

When fishing, understanding how to properly use and navigate your electronics is critical to success. Today there are hundreds of electronic designs to choose from. Knowing how to properly work and mark your graph is just half of the battle. Fishing with electronics has been a way to locate and find fish that may be harder to find. When fishing deeper water electronics can be the key to finding those finicky walleye. When talking about utilizing your electronics it’s important to keep in mind that this is primarily when fishing from a boat. Most boats today come equipped with some sort of graph or depth finder from the start. As you get more serious about fishing and decide to get a boat, upgrading to a quality graph can highly improve your fish catching rates.

Breaking Down Unit

Today I rarely leave the water without my two Humminbird Helix 5’s. These two electronics have helped me locate fish in many different situations both competitive bass fishing and guiding clients. The benefits you are getting while fishing with an electronic fish finder is the following. Not only do fish finders help you locate fish. Fishfinders also allow you to find the depth you are fishing along with the water temperatures. Depending on the particular fish finder you decide to purchase, you can choose from a variety of advantages. When just starting out I would recommend a beginning Humminbird model to adjust to before upgrading to a more expensive product.

Take Aways

My favorite brand when it comes to freshwater fishing is Humminbird. Humminbird electronics have proven to be quality and reliable for me on the water. I have personally been using Humminbird products for about five years now and love them. Today you can get Humminbird systems that are so advanced it would make your head spin. Technology seems to be growing at such a rapid pace in today’s day of age that the fish can’t hide. Another key factor in locating fish with your electronics consists of locating underwater structure. When it comes to fishing deep murky water your electronics can prove to be the most important aspect of catching fish. If your new to the sport of fishing or just looking to catch more fish, I would recommend looking into a new piece of equipment to add to your arsenal.

Breaking Down a Pond

Pond Basics

Most of us have grown up fishing local neighborhood ponds growing up as kids. I remember riding my bike to the closest nearby pond in pursuit of a fish. I have always had a strong passion for the sport of fishing, it’s who I am. There are thousands of fishing opportunities across the country to explore. Pond fishing offers easy access and good fishing. Most ponds across the Midwest offer fishing for bass, catfish, panfish, and carp. Typically ponds are stocked by the state DNR depending on the location. Many ponds are usually man made to control runoff water that builds up in communities during storms. Neighborhood ponds are usually enjoyed by everyone, not just for fishing purposes.

Pond Residents

Residents are usually the ones paying for these ponds to be stocked and maintained. Property owners usually have rights to control who is allowed to fish ponds within there community and who isn’t. When entering a pond you have never fished before it’s important to determine if the pond is private property or not. Some landlords take trespassing their property ponds very seriously and may call authority in some situations. Most of the time resident won’t mind you fishing their community pond, but it’s good to be safe. Most ponds you fish across the Midwest range from around ten to fifteen feet of water. These ponds are usually created my man, with artificial structure added to the ponds for fish to hide in.


It’s common to see many ponds with manmade structures such as gravel and rock shorelines and submerged Christmas trees; these can be places to expect to find large concentrations of pond fish stacked up. Fish such as bass, bluegills and crappie use structure like this to feed. Pond fishing offers easy fishing for anyone to enjoy. One of my favorite ways to fish a small pond is simply a light action spinning rod and a wacky worm. I like to rig up a six-foot spinning rod rigged with eight-pound test line to a number four hook and worm. Going back to the basics can be highly effective when targeting pond specimens and these fish are usually willing biters. Always be sure to check your local fishing regulations before fishing a new pond. Pond fishing can be easy and exciting for those that are just looking to have a good time on the water!

Becoming a Fishing Guide

Fishing Guide

I have always enjoyed taking my friends and family fishing let alone people who have never fished before. Fishing has been a way for me to express my passion with others. Since I was a young child I have always enjoyed sharing my knowledge for the sport with others. Once I turned nineteen years old I decided to start my own fishing guide business. From the start, it wasn’t an easy task. I had to get licensed, buy liability insurance and gain approval. From there I was able to start building up my business.

Skill Sets

being a fishing guide requires people skills and a true love for the sport. Having the skills to effectively communicate with people is a large factor. As a fishing guide, you are also a teacher. It’s your job to respectfully teach others how to catch fish. I like to take clients fishing and teach them the basics of fishing, including how to break down a body of water to locate fish. To be a fishing guide it’s important to establish the type of fishing you will be doing. You have many options from becoming a saltwater guide to an Alaskan salmon charter. Being a fishing guide its important to narrow your focus to fit the needs of your client.


In my current situation guiding in southern Wisconsin, I am limited to certain species of fish per season. Another major factor is supplying the right amount of equipment for your clients. I like to bring around ten to fifteen fishing rods with me on my guide trips to suit everyone. A good rule of thumb is to keep at least three rods per species of fish you decide to target that day. Always call in advance when setting up a guide trip to confirm location and go over the plan for the day. I like to keep a calendar, marking all of my guide trips for that month to keep organized and on top of the game. It also pays to prepare all of your equipment the day before your guide trip to be on top of the game. Being a fishing guide requires patience and a true passion for fishing. For me it is what I love to do, I am blessed to share my passion on the water for a career. 

Breaking down a Lake

Lake Basics

When fishing a lake there are many factors to take into consideration. Lakes provide the opportunity to fish both shallow and deep water depending on the species of fish you are after. The state of Wisconsin offers thousands of lake fishing opportunities. Lake Michigan, one of our great lakes offers a diverse fishery that many people take advantage of. We are truly blessed with the amazing fisheries we have here in Wisconsin. As a fishing guide and competitive bass angler, I’ve spent countless hours on the water weekly. I primarily fish southern Wisconsin lakes and have seen many situations. It’s also important to realize there are different scientific names to each lake you fish. Generally, before fishing a new lake, I like to have a map of the contour and break down of a lake to help me get a visual beforehand. Electronics also play a critical role when locating fish and finding structure within a lake.

Inland Lakes

One of my favorite inland lakes to fish here in southern Wisconsin is Lake Geneva. Lake Geneva continues to produce some amazing fishing for multi-species action. I have been fishing Lake Geneva since I was a child and continue to learn to allot about the lake to this day. As one of the deepest lakes in Wisconsin, Lake Geneva offers the chance at catching lake trout and brown trout. This lake reaches depths of around 100-140 feet of water. This lake is full of springs and cold water discharges making for a healthy ecosystem for fish to thrive. Lake Geneva has been known for its smallmouth bass population and thriving northern pike fishery. Wisconsin offers many great fishing opportunities when it comes to fishing an inland lake. By doing a bit of research online you are sure to find a few lakes near you capable of producing solid fish. Breaking down the lake is just half of the fun when it comes to catching fish.

Lake Formats

When fishing a lake the first thing I ask myself is; what are the species of fish that I choose to target. From there I can decide the structure that I want to locate to find that particular species of fish. When targeting walleye out of a typical lake system I want to locate sand, rock, and gravel bars. Walleye seem to hold tight to this type of structure in most lakes. Depending on the lake, weeds or rocks can consume the majority of the water making fishing difficult. Some lakes I have fished in the past have been totally choked with weeds during the late summer months, narrowing your focus to weed-less lures. On the other hand, I have fished lakes that are deep, clear, and cold making for a finesse fishing format. Every lake presents a different opportunity and fishing approach. It pays to utilize your electronics and do your homework before entering a lake to be prepared for what to expect on the water.


How to Fish a River System

Breaking Down a River

When fishing a river system there are many different options to choose from depending on the location you are in. Rivers offer a diverse fishery that many people seem to enjoy. When breaking down a river there are many factors to take into consideration. First, you need to identify the species of fish you are targeting. It’s critical to under\stand the many of depths you will be presented with when river fishing. Most rivers will consist of one main depth throughout most of the river. Although, when fishing a river there are also deeper holes you can fish that will hold large portions of fish (if you find them). When breaking down a river I like to spend time doing online research before entering the water. Most rivers will have a mapping system you can access online for a cheap price.

River species 

Typically the river systems I fish here in southern Wisconsin are fairly shallows and small in size. These rivers tend to hold good populations of pinfish and smallmouth bass. You can also look to find channel cats, blue cats and bullhead catfish stacked up in most river systems. Rivers offer a large variety when it comes to fish to catch. Late fall you have the opportunity to catch king salmon out of the Lake Michigan tributaries. Going into early spring you can look to find steelhead and walleye on the move for their spring spawning migrations. This opportunity can present some of the most exciting experiences when fishing a river. When fishing further north in the Hayward Wisconsin area, you then have the opportunity at catching river musky. River musky in my opinion is one of the most challenging yet rewarding fish to pursue. When it comes to river musky, my favorite lures to use are either a small bucktail or a topwater lure. Expect a vicious attack from a river musky when hitting the bait.


It’s important to keep in mind when targeting river fish that you are equipped with the correct tackle. Rivers are full of snags and tangles that can turn a good fishing day into a nightmare fast.  I like to rig up a few rods when entering a river, braided line is critical. You want to be prepared with a line that can take the harsh elements of the heavy flowing river. Rivers have some of the largest variety of fish to be caught. Not only do you get the opportunity to catch fish, you get to adventure a large area of water. Be sure to bring extra tackle when fishing a river, you are likely to lose a lure or two. I highly recommend the art of fishing a river system; you never know what you’ll catch. Not only do rivers offer beautiful scenery, but an amazing experience while catching some fish.

Choosing the Correct Fishing Line

Line Basics

When it comes to fishing line there are hundreds of options to choose from. Fishing lines have been around for hundreds of years and continue to evolve as time goes on. There are many different styles of fishing lines to choose from including braided lines, monofilament and fluorocarbons which I will go into detail on later. When choosing the correct fishing line for the right occasion it’s important to keep in mind the species of fish you are after and the type of water you are fishing. When fishing lakes or rivers with extremely clear water it’s important to use clear lines such as fluorocarbon lines. When fishing water that’s heavily structure based with lots of rock and wood braid may be your best option. When chasing larger fish such as pike and musky it’s important to use heavier lines such as a braid or a super line.


Braid is most effective when fishing around heavy structure such as rock and timber. Braid allows for you to fish in thick weeds or wood without frilling your line and causing extreme abrasion. Braid is an extremely important tool when fishing; you just never know when you will need it. Another reason to use braid is when targeting larger fish. Bigger fish require a stronger line to control, braid offers just that. Braid also offers the option of zero stretch allowing you to feel every little bump on your line. It’s important to realize in most situations when using braid that it’s important to use a fluorocarbon leader when fishing clearer water situations. When fishing murky and heavy structured water it may be appropriate to run straight braid to your lure. Another advantage of using braided line is the low diameter allowing your lure to dive deeper than your average lines.


Monofilament is your most traditional style of line. Monofilament is probably the most popular type of line available on the market today. Many newcomers to the sport of fishing will be introduced to monofilament when just starting out. Monofilament allows for some major benefits on the water that are still used today. Monofilament offers the advantage of a high stretch line that absorbs more impact. A good example of this is when trolling crank baits many anglers will turn to monofilament as their main line to absorb the current and drag when pulling crankbaits behind the boat. Due to monofilaments high stretch capabilities, this line can also be used for a big fish rod such as chasing deep water catfish with stiff poles. Having a high stretch line allows for the absorption of big fish when eating larger sized baits with a fast action rod.


Fluorocarbon is probably my favorite type of line to use when fishing. Fluorocarbon allows for a low stretch line that is virtually invisible under the water. This line excels when fishing water that is extremely clear or pressured. Generally, when fishing with fluorocarbon you are finesse fishing for finicky fish. When fish get heavily pressured or in a neutral feeding mode this line can truly shine. Fish such as clear water pressured smallmouth bass require a line that is light, thin and clear to trick these fish into biting. Fluorocarbon can be a bit more expensive but it’s definitely worth having as an angler.

Spring Steelhead Fishing

Steelhead basics

During early spring around late May and into April steelhead trout start to make their migration into the rivers to start there spawn.  Many southern Wisconsin rivers including Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha tributaries bring a large return of steelhead that makes there way back into the rivers. Steelhead trout can be one of the most rewarding fish to catch out of the trout species. These fish once hooked are extremely acrobatic and fast swimmers. it’s important to know how to fight these fish once hooked. Steelhead will offer a series of jumps, line screams, and heart attacks once hooked. Lake Michigan steelhead is generally a stocked species of fish managed by the Wisconsin DNR programs. Steelhead generally grows between 20-40” depending on the location you are fishing.


These fish can be caught with a variety of lures. Steelhead trout are aggressive and willing to chase down most baits put in front of them including crankbaits. When targeting spring steelhead I like to keep my rig simple and effective. My general rig consists of 14LB nanofil braided line connected to a 2-way swivel leading to about two feet of 6LB fluorocarbon leader. when it comes to fluorocarbon I prefer to use Seaguar or Top Knot fishing line. these line brands are strong, clear and durable. When it comes to the fishing rod and reel I like to use a long nine-foot rod generally fiberglass with a soft tip to absorb the trout’s massive runs they take once hooked. I like to use a St. Croix avid trout rod for best results on the river. When it comes to the reel, I prefer to use a size 3000 reel to hold enough line to manage the heavy trout runs in strong currents. I like to use a P-fluger president reel or Shimano brand, both have been proven reliable reels for me over the years.


When fishing river steelhead there are many obstacles to overcome once a fish is hooked. Steelhead are a smart species typically running directly upstream once hooked. These fish will look for anything they can to wrap up around once hooked. I have lost countless fish due to getting wrapped up around snags such as large rocks and trees. This is why having the right equipment is key to success. Last but not least, it’s always important to remember fish safety when handling a steelhead. Trout can be a fragile fish and deserve to be handled with some care once caught. Most of all, learn something and have fun on the water!