BIG DREAMS, BIG STAGE, B.A.S.S. NATION
In 1968, a framework to unite bass fishermen throughout the world was created in the form of B.A.S.S. affiliated clubs. B.A.S.S. clubs do much more than fish. They are also involved in community activities, such as organizing events for groups like the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish and the Children’s Miracle Network. Club members then formed cohesive working groups to tackle projects and issues that affect the sport of bass fishing. In 1972, the B.A.S.S. Nation program was created to enable B.A.S.S. clubs to communicate and cooperate with each other. Today there are 57 “Nations” spanning the USA, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Namibia, Australia and Zimbabwe. The members of this global network of clubs participate in tournaments, conservation initiatives and youth programs. In the tournament series, anglers qualify through a rigorous series of local and regional elimination events leading to a national championship from
which the top 3 advance to fishing’s biggest stage, the Bassmaster Classic. In 1994, one of these anglers, Bryan Kerchal, won the Classic, proving that the dreams of amateur anglers can come true.
The next event, for those who have made it from their club level, is the 2021 B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Region Championship to be held on the Upper Mississippi Pools 7, 8, and 9, out of La Crosse, WI on September 1-3, 2021. Breaking down Pools 7, 8 and 9 of the Mississippi River is not easy. The launch in La Crosse is in Pool 8. They can run through the locks to either of the other two pools which gives them over 65 miles of main channel to run and access the backwaters and side channels of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Takeoff and weigh-ins will be at Veterans Freedom Park in La Crosse on the Black River. Two of the major draws in Pool 8 are spillways from Pool 7. One is near the head of the Black River, and the other empties into one of
the backwaters on the west side of French Island. The Black River itself is likely to see a lot of fishing.
Running the Mississippi is not an issue. Getting from pool to pool can be. If it was only bass boats, going through the locks would be no issue. Unfortunately, the Mississippi is regularly trafficked by barges that often take up the entire lock, and so anglers need to keep this in mind so as not to miss weigh-in times. The Mississippi has a series of riprap wing dams that stick out from the bank on both sides of the main channel. Wing dams direct the current toward the middle of the river, keeping it dredged and navigable. The wing dams themselves are great habitat for fish, particularly smallmouths. Pool 7 is the northernmost pool featuring a big backwater that makes up most of the lower east side of the pool. Traditionally the grass in this backwater is excellent, and when grass is good it offers productive habitat for largemouth. Pool 9 is the largest of the three and depending on water
level, there can be a lot more wood cover available. As the Title Cup anglers recently experienced, current is key throughout the entire system. Mississippi pool current can take many different forms and range in strength. The Mississippi is known for having tons of grass, cattails, pondweed, milfoil and lily pads. The most abundant vegetation in summer is pondweed and duckweed- “the cheese” as Skeet Reese calls it. Duckweed and a frog bite are a deadly combination.
There is an abundance of shad in all pools, and schooling bait makes for a great topwater bite. If shad are present on or below the surface, anything from a shaky head, to walking baits, poppers and buzzbaits will work. The Title cup was won with a Neko-rigged 6-inch finesse worm in black or green pumpkin with red flake on a weedless wacky hook with a 3/32-ounce nail weight. A Spook in a color called “I’ve caught 10,000 fish on it” also was a key bait. If you are lucky enough to have Berkley PowerBait MaxScent General, Berkley Choppo, Berkley Cane Walker and a Jack Hammer ChatterBait with a Berkley PowerBait Grass Pig trailer, those will also get it done as they did for the runner up.