By Bob Groene, The Dispatch and Rock Island Argus
Mississippi River bass fishing, certainly to include pre-fishing for the 36th annual Children’s Therapy Center charity bass tournament, was a couple of weeks ago going so good that some veteran anglers were predicting that it would take an 18 or even 20 pound stringer to win the year’s biggest tournament. Unfortunately, that was just before ma nature changed conditions just enough to all but shut down the big-bass bite and bring bass angling closer to normal.
Long-time tournament partners Dave Peterson and Jim Thieme, both of Milan, won the event and its $3,000 first place prize with a 5-bass tournament limit weighing 13.14 pounds—the only limit over 13 pounds.
“We stayed in Pool 14 and used crankbaits fishing around wood and rocks,’’ Peterson explained. “Most of our fishing was in fairly shallow water—less than five feet deep.’’
“Altogether we caught nine keepers (over 14 inches) and six or seven shorts,’’ Thieme added. “And nearly all of our time was spent in just three spots, some with current and some without.’’
Peterson and Thieme’s limit was one of just 11 brought in by the tournament field of 92 boats. Noteworthy is that 55 of those boats’ anglers (60 percent) either did not catch a keeper or elected not to weigh-in. That compares to the 2008 event when nearly half of the field brought in limits.
Prior event winners, but with different partners, Bob “coach” Walker of Clinton and Mike Felderman of Galena, took seconds with 12.73 pounds.
“This was a lucky day for us,’’ Felderman said smiling. “We caught two keepers on a tree in pool 14 before locking up, caught two more on wood in pool 13, then came back to pool 14 and got one more on lily pads. Those were our only keepers.’’
Francis Blodgett of Kewanee and Jason Peach of Princeton, Ill. had the best fishing stories of the event in route to coming in third with 12.69 pounds. .
“We got to our spot in Pool 13 right on schedule and caught nothing for a while,’’ Blodgett explained. “Then like a light-switch turning on we caught five keepers on five straight casts, which was a great 20 minutes of fishing. We were able to continue catching bass, but no more keepers.
“So after a while, we moved to another spot where we caught no keepers; then returned to where we started. When we got there, a guy pre-fishing for another tournament was on “our” spot and said he had just caught a two and a half pounder and left the spot for us. We caught more shorts, for a total of about 30, but no more keepers.’’
The third place anglers also told of another unusual fishing experience.
“Pre-fishing I was catching bass on a certain color Rapala crankbait,’’ Peach recalled. “But it hit a rock and the plastic bill broke-off. I knew I wouldn’t be able to find an exact replacement, so I super-glued the bill back on and secured it with braided fishing line—two of our keepers came on that repaired bait this morning.’’
For the last ten years the charity tournament has been held on the third Saturday in August. A 2009 Iowa DNR tournament regulation change only allows “warm water” tournaments to last for half a day, so the charity tournament organizing committee moved the tournament to September to allow for a full day of fishing. Ironically, only a small handful of bass weighed-in over the last ten years have succumbed and not been released back into the Mississippi River.
The most impressive fish from the event were caught by brothers Scott and Adam Crigger, both of Clinton. Their three fish weighed an amazing 12.55 pounds—good enough for fourth place. They used surface frogs in pool 13.
The day’s big bass, weighing 4.70 pounds was caught by Rob Wienken, came on a crankbait in Pool 14, and earned the Sterling angler a new trolling motor.
Skeeter Performance Boats bass pro Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, along with local TV anchor and reporter Chris Williams of WQAD and KLJB, both did a masterful job of emceeing the rain-filled weigh-in.
The reel winners of the 36th annual charity bass tournament are the hundreds of youngsters with developmental disabilities and delays who receive therapy services at the Children’s Therapy Center of the Quad Cities as a result of this fundraiser. This year’s event raised over $10,000 bringing the all-time tournament total to nearly $480,000!