UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Lanier

Johnson Jumps Out Front

Johnson Jumps Out Front
Jimmy Johnson claims the early lead with his 20-pound, 4-ounce bag comprised of smallmouth that included these two brutes.

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Fishing high water is no easy task to begin with on the Mississippi River. But when the water has been high and stable for several days and then drops nearly a foot or more overnight it makes for some seriously tough fishing. That’s when putting your time in on the river really shines. Enter Jimmy Johnson of La Crosse, Wis., who cracked 20 pounds, 4 ounces on day one to take a hefty lead in the final event of the year for the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division.

The Mississippi River around La Crosse is loaded with 2- to 2 ½-pound fish. Quality in this neck of the woods means getting on some 3-pounders. To crack 20 pounds with a five-bass limit is quite the feat and left many of the locals shocked to see that kind of weight brought to the scale. While his day one weight was more than he expected, Johnson knew this caliber fish could be found.

Johnson finished second in last week’s BFL on the river. He led after day one with over 17 pounds of smallmouth but they shut down for him on Sunday. He spent his practice looking for either species – largemouth or smallmouth – this week and happened to stumble back on some big bronzebacks.

“It’s really a pattern that I’m fishing,” said Johnson. “I really got clued in on it yesterday. I ran some of the stuff I found yesterday but I also fished my pattern and found some new water today. I have lots of knowledge on this river and that really helped more than anything.”

The forecast for water levels on the river call for another drop of close to a foot by the time takeoff begins on Friday. After many anglers found their best water unfishable today it seems tomorrow could be even tougher.

“With the way things are going right now it’s really playing into the conditions to make the smallmouth bite,” Johnson explained. “The high water really spreads the largemouth out. Hopefully my pattern will hold up but who knows. It’s a crapshoot if my big fish spots replenish. I’m just going to get back out there and see what I can do.”

Johnson wouldn’t expand on how much water he is covering but did note that he has two primary baits that provide a one-two punch for big smallmouth.

2nd place – Mark Tucker – 16 pounds, 2 ounces

Mark Tucker scratched out a 16-2 limit despite falling water conditions to sit in second place.Mark Tucker of Kirkwood, Mo., awoke to find the water had fallen and was concerned he may not be able to make it in his backwaters. Even though he managed a very solid limit of over 16 pounds, the falling water has him unsure if he will be able to get back to his fish.

“I have been up here for six days practicing,” said Tucker. “The water has stayed up every day until today. I’m very nervous I won’t be able to get back to them tomorrow. It’s like the water has fallen so much there isn’t really any cover to hold the fish on and it makes it really difficult.”

Tucker’s bag included both largemouth and smallmouth. He ran to his largemouth spot right away and plucked 10 keepers from there. After that he ran to his smallmouth  area and caught three fish that were over 3 pounds.

“I was really trying to save that smallmouth spot for tomorrow, but I wasn’t sure what I would be able to fish it so I had to try them. I did leave after I caught those good ones and tried to duplicate some of the water I was fishing, but it seems like the fish are so finicky right now I didn’t really get on anything.

“I’m catching them on two different baits and I would really like to try and expand on that some more. The only problem is that the bite window is so short that I can’t afford to try something new right now. Maybe if I make it to Saturday I’ll be able to experiment.”

3rd place – Gary Yamamoto – 16 pounds

Thanks to this smallmouth at the end of the day, Gary Yamamoto sits in third place with his 16-pound catch.With a tough bite it comes as no surprise to find Gary Yamamoto up near the top of the leaderboard. He stuck to Pool 8 to catch his limit of 16 pounds, though, it took almost all day to accomplish.

Yamamoto had a tough morning and decided to call the lockmaster around 10 o’clock to see if he could lock up. After finding out he wouldn’t be able to make the lock he stuck to his area which ultimately worked out for the best.

“I struggled to catch a limit today,” said Yamamoto. “At the very end of the day I caught a largemouth and a smallmouth that were both over 4 pounds. If I would have locked up I probably couldn’t have caught the bag I did so I am thankful I didn’t make the lock.”

Yamamoto says that he is fishing docks and isn’t too bothered by the falling water. His main bait of choice to probe the many docks lining the backwaters is a Neko Rig.

“I may make a change tomorrow and run up to Pool 7 to start my day,” the Palestine, Texas, pro said. “Since my bite doesn’t really get better until later in the day it can’t hurt to try something different.”

4th place – Mike Brueggen – 15 pounds, 15 ounces

Local Mike Brueggen found some decent largemouth to give him a 15-15 limit.Another local stick that is showing his stuff this week is Mike Brueggen of La Crosse, Wis., who hauled 15 pounds, 15 ounces worth of bass to that stage to hold down fourth place after day one.

After winning the BFL last week with all largemouth he knew he would have to locate some smallies in order to compete this week. He located some good spots in practice and began his day by locking down to Pool 9.

“I ran down to my smallmouth spot and started catching largemouth,” laughed Brueggen. “I caught a some good fish from that spot and then just kept a swim jig in my hand and went fishing.

“I’m very pleased with how my day went. A 3-pounder on this river is a great fish and I had four of them today.”

The only problem with the areas Brueggen is fishing is that they are fairly shallow. If more water falls off them the fish will scatter and could be hard to relocate.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll have to fish some new water tomorrow,” Brueggen went on to say. “If that’s the case, I’ll just burn some water with a Lethal Weapon Swim Jig.”

5th place – Terry Fitzpatrick – 15 pounds, 13 ounces

Terry Fitzpatrick rounds out the top places with his 15-13 catch of smallies.Terry Fitzpatrick of Waukon, Iowa, rounds out the top five with a 15-pound, 13-ounce limit comprised entirely of smallmouth. Fitzpatrick has a lot of experience on this part of the river which helped him out given the tough conditions.

“I caught all smallmouth today but I do have a secondary largemouth pattern,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m kind of fishing a milk run of spots. I catch one here and there throughout the day. I should be able to catch some more fish even with the conditions the way they are.”

Even with his vast experience on the Mighty Miss, Fitzpatrick only managed to catch seven fish all day. He is using a variety of baits to catch his fish, but for obvious reasons is remaining tight-lipped about his offerings.

Rest of the best

6th place (tie) – Peter Cherkas – 14-10

6th place (tie) – Casey Gallagher – 14-10

8th place – Doug Stanton – 13-15

9th place – Corey Smith – 13-14

10th place – David Ryan – 13-11

Big Bass Award

Jimmy Johnson – 4 pounds, 9 ounces – $126

Terry Fitzpatrick – 4 pounds, 9 ounces – $126

For complete results click here.

Holsapple takes co-angler lead

Co-angler Terry Holsapple displays his two best from his 13-4 bag.Terry Holsapple of Greenup, Ill., caught 13 pounds, 4 ounces to take a 1-pound lead over Richard Conrad. He caught his limit by 11 o’clock after a slow start. The key was figuring out a specific bait the bass wanted which actually led him to out fish his pro until the pro made a change.

Richard Conrad of Burnsville, Minn., put himself in contention with his 12 pound, 4 ounce limit on day one to sit in second place.

Ronnie Shepard Jr. of Oak Hill, Ohio, wrangled 11 pounds, 4 ounces worth of fish to settle in third place.

Charles Hardin of Evansville, Ind., caught a respectable limit to the tune of 10 pounds, 15 ounces to hold him in fourth.

Carl Gillespie of Old Hickory, Tenn., rounds out the top five for the Co-angler Division on day one with a 10-pound, 8-ounce limit.

Rest of the best

6th place – Alan Bernicky – 10-6

7th place – Nick Cline – 9-15

8th place – Lajos Draviczki – 9-13

9th place – Garry Kincaid – 9-9

10th place – Dylan Fisher – 9-6

Big Bass Award

Lajos Draviczki – 4 pounds – $168

Complete co-angler results can be found here.

 Anglers will take off from Clinton Street Landing West located at Clinton Street Bridge in La Crosse, Wis., at 7 a.m. each day. Weigh-ins will be held daily at the landing beginning at 3 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: kyle-wood  headline-story  2014-09-18-mississippi-river-la-crosse 

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