TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
The morning started out very cool on Burnett County's North Sand Lake but warmed up rather quick then became somewhat breezy but overall a pretty nice day. As the pictures indicate the smallmouth bass were the choice of fish for the top teams, Jamie Gibson & Doug Peterson brought in the biggest bag to claim the 2021 Tournament of Champions crown. They weighed in a very nice limit that tipped the scale at 16.57 lbs. anchored by Doug's big bass winner at 4.87 lbs. These guys were seen fishing deep all day on the lakes very sharp breaks, they said patience was the key to catching them. Coming in at second place was Donn Schlapper & Joel Blazer with 15. 66 lbs. of brownies (sounds like Joel broke one off that might've changed the outcome of this one). Placing third (thanks to some last 30 minute heroics) was the AOY champs Todd Larson & Steve Warren who came in with 14.38 lbs. Rounding out the money winners was a team who all ways seems to be somewhere near the top of the leader board was Gene Henck & Larry Henck who caught 13.94 lbs.
Check out the full summary of the 2021 season on the link above
The weather at Hayward's Chippewa Flowage couldn't have been better for fishing. In the weeks leading up to the tournament the anglers were faced with very sunny hot conditions which made for some extremely tough pre-fishing, that all changed on tourney day the cloud cover apparently turned the fish on somewhat the 13 limits brought in along with the average size was more than expected. After the last fish was brought to the scales Todd Larson & Steve Warren were crowned the champions, they weighed in at 17.86 lbs. this was by no means a record breaking bag for the circuit BUT it may very well have been the most impressive of all time. That weight on that bass fishery was very very impressive & very very unexpected. They beat the second place team by over 4 pounds which was Gene Henck & Larry Henck who had a very good bag themselves at 13.82 lbs. with the help of Larry's big bass winner a 4.95 pound mutt which also has moved Larry into a 3 way tie in the record books for the most individual big bass awards with 4. Third place was Chad Constantineau who fished solo & weighed 13.45 lbs. Fourth place was a tie between team Jeff Fox, Stacy Anderson & team Donn Schlapper, Joel Blazer who each weighed in at 12.84 lbs. So who were the movers & losers for the derby? Team Andrea along with team Bottolfson/Larson both dropped 4 spots in the standings which didn't cost the Andrea boys as the remained TOC qualified not so for Bottlfson/Larson as they fell out of the TOC & will have to wait for next year for another crack at it. Although team Constantineau moved up the most in the standings four spots the real winner of the day was team Newhouse/Anselmo who jumped up just two spots but it was enough to get them the last spot in the TOC. Smallmouth bass accounted for 45% of the fish weighed in so that species seems to be on the rise out there.
Donn Schlapper & Joel Blazer defeated Troy Otsby & Matt Olson to win the 2021 Head to Head competition. Team Larson/Warren came into the tournament clinging on to a one point lead in the Angler of the Year race & had four other teams within four points of them but they sure didn't crack under the pressure, the big sack they caught won them their first Angler of the Year title, so congrats to them.. Placing second in the AOY battle was Gene Henck & Larry Henck & coming in at third was Steve Constant & Doug Ritchert.
Would like to give a BIG THANK YOU to TIGER MUSKY RESORT for letting the circuit host the tourney at the resort.
LAC COURTE OREILLES
Hayward's LCO greeted the anglers with a mild breezy day with a lot of haze supposely caused by the Canadian wild fires which may have caused the smallie bite to be somewhat off (they like sunshine). There were 93 bass weighed in out of a possible 95 so catching fish wasn't a problem it was the average size that was down for the trophy smallie lake. There was 21 largemouth weighed in which maybe due to the large amount of weeds that have shown up this year. After the last bag was weighed it was the defending AOY champs who came out on top, after a win on Shell & a bomb on Red Cedar Joe Wilcox & Eric Hermansen have won again with 15.73 lbs. Word is they were about to bomb again but with a hour to go they found them & loaded up. After a long unsuccessful streak the once very dominating team of Leo Durand & Morey Leverty emerged from the shadows & came away with a second place finish (just when you thought they were washed up). The old timer's bag weighed in at 15.46 lbs. thanks to Leo's big bass a 3.93 lb. mutt. Third place went to team Constantineau (pretty sure 13 year old Cruz carried the old man in this one) weighing in 14.90 lbs. Fourth place was Gary Constant & Brad Merkt who had 14.66 lbs. & fifth place was a tie between Constant/Ritchert & Andrea/Andrea who both had 14.53 lbs. So who were the movers & losers team Andrea moved up 5 spots to 7th & team Constantineau also went up 5 spots to 10th. Dropping 5 spots in the standings was Foxy & Stacy who are all ready qualified for the TOC via a tourney win on Red Cedar.
In the H2H tournament team Henck who have won it all the past 3 seasons & had 11 straight match wins were finally beaten by team Schlapper/Blazer who will be going against team Otsby/Olson for the title who defeated Larson/Warren.
As far as the AOY championship goes the circuit has never had a race this close going into the final tournament, a mere 4 points separate the top 5 teams. Larson/Warren still hold the lead by one point over Wilcox/Hermansen, a point & a half back is Constant/Ritchert, Durand/Leverty 3 back & the Henck boys only 4 out. The TOC qualification race is about the same way from sixth place to sixteenth is only eight points differance. Sitting on the bubble at 12th is Gibson/Peterson with Simonson/Robarge one point behind them & Newhouse/Anselmo along with Otsby/Olson two behind.
On a gorgeous day at Red Cedar Lake in Barron County the fish were bitting so much so that all of the U.N.B.C. anglers brought a limit to the scales only the third time that has happened. The big fish bite was missing for the most part & there's no doubt the lake has them. Jeff Fox & Stacy Anderson did find the better quality fish with better than a three pound average which was good enough for the victory, their winning bag tipped the scales at 15.54 lbs. The win locks them into a TOC berth which has eluded them the past three years so congrats to them. Second place went to the long overdue father & son team Bill & Billy Cote who caught a impressive bag of largemouth which weighed 14.20 lbs. Another father & son team who are no strangers to winning money Larry & Gene Henck weighed in 13.40 lbs. good enough for a third place finish. The very hot team of Todd Larson & Steve Warren came away with a fourth place finish weighing in 12.87 lbs. Rounding out the money winners were Steve Constant & Doug Ritchert who had 12.44 lbs. to take fifth. Chad Andrea caught the big bass which was 3.98 lbs. Who were the biggest movers & losers following the Red Cedar tournament in the standings? Foxy & Stacy moved up 7 spots with the win from 10th place to 3rd & Team Constantineau droped 6 positions down to 15th place. With the right two tournaments just about anybody could make a run at the AOY title but for the most part it looks like it could be down to a four team race, Larson/Warren hold the lead two points ahead of team Henck (the only 2 teams who have placed in both tourneys). Five points back is Fox/Anderson & six back is Constant/Ritchert so probably gonna come down to the wire. Winner's & match ups for the semi finals in the H2H derby will feature the past 3 year defending champs team Henck going against team Schlapper/Blazer & AOY leading Larson/Warren going against Otsby/Olson who took 18th place at the first tourney (talk about luck of the draw).
The U.N.B.C. kicked off the season on Shell Lake May 22nd, it was a warm breezy cloudy day not the best conditions for sight fishing. But when it was all said & done these HAMMERS put on a show at the weigh-in. It broke LCO's eleven year old record from 2010 for average size per fish by nearly a quarter pound 2.99 lbs. to 3.20 lbs. some thought that would stand forever so WOW & it smashed the heaviest weight brought to the scales for a tourney by over 48 lbs. beating the old record from Birch Island in 2017 but with one more team back then 242.79 lbs. to 291.48 lbs. These records could very well stand for a long long time. Somewhat of a differance from a year ago when Big Chetac brought a mere 61 bass to the scales. SO Shell Lake is back & in a big way.
Last year's AOY Champs Eric Hermansen & Joe Wilcox proved that was no fluke as they brought up a sack of smallies to the scales that went 19.35 lbs. anchored by Eric's big bass winner a 4.42 lb. brute to take home the first place prize. These guys won a tourney a few weeks back so they are really on a roll. Coming in second place was Todd Larson & Steve Warren with 18.75 lbs. what was really impressive was they had 4 largemouth & only 1 smallie filling out their limit in a differant way then the rest of the top teams. They were also the only team at the top that wasn't sight fighing so a great job. Third place went to sight fishing expert's Jamie Gibson & Doug Peterson who had 18.46 lbs. Locals Donn Schlapper & Joel Blazer broke Donn's new Skeeter in the right way taking fourth place w/18.33 lbs. Gene & Larry Henck won their 13th straight Head to Head match weighing in a 17.65 lb. bag of smailleis which was also good enough for 5th place.
Quarter final H2H matches at the next tourney will feature Durand/Leverty vs Team Henck, Wilcox/Hermansen vs Schlapper/Blazer, Larson/Warren vs Team Andrea & Gibson/Peterson vs Otsby/Olson.