Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation Tournament of Champions Day 1

Leech Lake, Walker, MN

I drew Larry of Lakes Area Bassmasters as my day 1 partner. We were fishing out of his 20 ft Champion. Right away Larry took us to his patch of rice that proved productive for himself during practice. I quickly caught a descent fish about 2.5 lbs. on a 3/4 oz. Grassmasters Jig (Black and Blue),tipped with an Uncle Josh Phantom Craw Pork Rind (Black with Blue tips). I know it sounds weird using the pork. I haven’t used pork since the real early 1990’s, when I was a kid fishing with my grandpa. But it works real well up there. I was in the back of the boat so I figured to give myself the best odds I would have to work water that Larry was not. He was pitching the edge and the first 5 feet of rice, so I was forced to pitch deeper. I would pitch my jig into any possible open area of the rice about 10 to 15 feet past the edge. This proved to be productive since I was getting more bites. The downfall to this is that the wild rice is some real gnarly stuff. Unfortunately for me I boated only one bass and lost 2 real nice ones. Both fish almost made it into the boat but then managed to hang up in the thickest clump of rice. Frustrated I told Larry of a nice area that I had found in practice and explained that we could both fill a limit of fish there. With Larry only having one small fish in the livewell it didn’t take much convincing. We showed up in the area near Steamboat Bay and I started throwing my Sumo Frog (Black). It didn’t take but 45 minutes and I had a full limit and was culling. The problem was that I was only culling about an ounce at a time. Larry managed to pick up another three fish and then decided to take us back to his rice patch. Unfortunately for the both of us we didn’t get a single bite. I’m sure this rice bed was being picked over pretty well by mid afternoon. With about an hour to go we abanded the rice patch, went back to my area in Steamboat. It was a bit slower but I managed to cull out one more time and Larry caught his 5th fish as well.

After a 20 minute boat ride back to the weigh in we got back 15 minutes early. I remembered a marina close by that Rich and I stumbled across in practice. We headed over there and on my first skip under the first dock I set the hook on a nice 3 pounder! That helped. I knew I wasn’t sitting in the top ten or even twenty but more importantly I knew I would have a chance the next day to make a run at the top twelve. I weighed in at 13.68 lbs. Could be better, but could also be a lot worse. Larry weighed in at 10.22 lbs.

This isn’t a money tournament. It is a qualifying tournament. The top twelve after day 2 go onto divisional’s. If you can make it past divisional’s you qualify for nationals, which is aired on ESPN. If you are lucky enough to get through nationals you can qualify for the BASSMASTER Classic! Also have a shot for the Elite Series. Since that is my biggest goal in life to compete at that high of a level, it’s needless to say I was anxious to get out there on day 2 and make it happen. I figured I need 17 pounds on day 2 and I would have a chance. Sounds like a lot but Leech Lake is notorious for giving up big sacks. The day 1 leader was weighed in at 21.04 pounds. Hopefully it would work out for me.

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