TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
What turned out to be the warmest T.O.C. day in our recorded history & the second warmest tournament day ever with a high of 88 degrees wasn't neccessarly the best fishing day. BUT as allways we got a pair of champions Chad Constantineau & replacement Rob Newhouse pounded every Bone Lake dock possible and came away with the title weighing in a 12.72 lb. bag anchored by Chad's big bass a 3.13 pounder. Maybe now Bass Pro Shop will upgrade Rob's boat & give him a Ranger. Second place was our Angler's of the Year Jamie Gibson & Doug Peterson who caught their 12.58 lb. bag in 30 feet of water WOW what an opposite from the winners. Third place were the Bone Lake hammers Gene Henck & Larry Henck who caught 11.77 lbs. Rounding out the money winners with a fourth place finish was Tim Andrea & Chad Andrea who had 11.20 lbs. Don't think Bone showed its true colors as the bigger fish were nonexsistent, the winning weight & winning big bass weight along with the 2.125 lb. average size fish was the lowest in T.O.C. history, but the 56 fish that were weighed is the second most in a T.O.C. So yes the fish were biting just not the good ones.
Check out the 2018 recap link on the home page.
The weather at the circuit's final regular season tournament held on Birchwood's Big Chetac Lake was absolutely beautiful maybe the best ever. Big Chetac's 87 fish weighed in is the high for the year but its 1.89 pound average per fish was the lowest. The bite on Chetac seemed to be a bit off maybe from the previous day's storms that went through, fish on the rocks were hard to come by which really threw a loop into some of the angler strategies but they improvised as allways & still got em. Weights were very close only 1.96 lbs. seperated the top 8 teams. When the last fish was weighed Troy Olson & Nick Strulzik came away with the win weighing of 14.13 lbs. Prior to the event these guys were sitting on the bubble in 12th place & in danger of falling out of the T.O.C. but they handled the pressure pretty well & got the job done. Coming in at second was Todd Larson & Steve Warren with 13.96 lbs. for their third consecutive money finish. Third place went to Gary Constant & Russ Shilts weighing in 13.63 lbs. making it two consecutive money finishes. Gene Henck & Larry Henck came in fourth with 13.60 lbs. Rounding out the money winners were Rob Newhouse & Mike Anselmo at fifth place who had 13.40 lbs. The good finish for these two time AOY & TOC champs moved them into a tie for twelveth place but they came up a quarter of a pound short in the tie breaker which is total weight for the year so their done for the year but you can dam sure bet they'll be back in a big way next year. Randy Grinnell caught the big bass for the day a 4.60 lb. largie, Randy has now tied Stacy Andersen for winning 4 big bass awards in their U.N.B.C. careers. Donn Schlapper & Joel Blazer had their circuit leading streak of 18 consecutive tournaments with a 5 fish limit snapped just 3 tourneys short of the Henck boys all time record of 21, the new leaders are now the Hencks who are sitting with 8 straight. Jamie Gibson & Doug Peterson are the 2018 Angler's Of The Year, their 5 point lead in the standings evaporated at Big Chetac & they finished in a points tie with Randy Grinnell & Derek Anderson but they edged them out by a mere 1.47 lbs. for the total yearly weight. Randy was overheard still barking at Dewy about a fish he supposely knocked off with the net back on the Big Chip which would have gave them the AOY title (oh well thats fishing). After being in the the finals of the Head to Head Tournament four of the past five years Gene Henck & Larry Henck finally pulled off the victory over team Schlapper/Blazer giving them the 2018 title.
The weather on tourney day at The Big Chip was gorgeous, a little breeze, mild temperatures & no humidity which made for a great day of fishing (but not that great for everybody). Gary Constant & Russ Shilts came away with the victory weighing in 15.04 lbs. of smallmouth bass. These guys overcame a bout of deep pre-fishing depression after a day where Gary's trolling motor puked on them causing them to virtually get in no pre-fishing time on Wisconsin's third largest inland lake. So they just found themselves a hump on tourney day & camped on it for seven hours & proceded to catch a winning bag of fish. Jamie Gibson & Doug Peterson took second place with 14.85 lbs. anchored by Doug's big bass winner a 4.26 pounder. Donn Schlapper & Joel Blazer came in at third place with 13.67 lbs. Fourth place went to Todd Larson & Steve Warren with 13.34 lbs. & rounding out the money winners was Joe Wilcox & Eric Hermansen at fifth place & weighing in 13.23 lbs. The low water level really threw a loop into all the shallow water anglers as that bite was pretty much nonexistent. Jamie & Doug's second place finish vaulted them into the lead in the Anglers of the Year race, while Randy Grinnell & Derek Anderson fell to second five points back & still with a shot in third is team Schlapper/Blazer seven points out of first. Pretty sure Jamie & Doug have not forgotten 2010 when they took a seven point AOY lead into the final tournament at LCO & when that day ended they were in a points tie with the old dinasour team of Leo & Morey, they lost the tie breaker which was total weight for the year by a mere .42 lbs. so anything can happen. The TOC qualification race has really heated up team Olson/Strulzik are currently sitting in a tie for 12th place with team Otsby/Postle who have nothing to lose because they have allready qualified along with the 11th place team of Constant/Shilts due to tournament wins. A couple of teams just on the outside of making it at the time are team Fox/Anderson one point out of 12th & Nitro/Mercury pro Rob Newhouse along with partner Mike Anselmo are 4 points out of 12th. Team Schlapper/Blazer & team Hencks came away with wins & will battle it out for the Head to Head Championship on Big Chetac.
Tournament day on Webster's Yellow Lake started out with some very foggy conditions causing the rule's committee to put a no wake restriction on the lake at take off time, very early on the fog gave way to a very sunny day with no wind making it seem way hotter then it actually was. With the rivers being very high, fast & dirty it took out a lot of the river rats chance at a pay day. As is often the case on Yellow the dock fishermen took home the bulk of the pay day & the sunny windless conditions played right into their hand. First year angler Troy Otsby with alternate Chuck Richardson won the derby with 15.98 lbs. thanks to Chuck's 3.87 pound big bass winner. Coming in at second place was Randy Grinnell & Derek Anderson with 15.06 lbs. this finish bumped these guys up into the lead of the point standings at the half way point in the season. Third place & missing out on second by a hundreth of a pound was Gene & Larry Henck at 15.05 lbs. After a slow start at Balsam Todd Larson & Steve Warren bounced back to take fourth place weighing in 14.89 lbs. Fifth place went to the Andrea brothers Tim & Chad with 14.45 lbs. Average size of the fish was 2.32 lb. which was Yellow's smallest average of the five U.N.B.C. tournaments held there & 3.87 lbs. for the big bass was the smallest there as well. Lets hope that's not going to be a sign of things to come for the lake. There seemed to be some mishaps pre-fishing & on tourney day getting under the bridge going into Little Yellow, reports of Bill Cote & Doug Richert taking some paint off their power poles & also causing damage to Bill's hydraulic line. Doug also slammed into the side wall of the bridge while his prop was bouncing off the rocks below & Joe Wilcox made it under the bridge allright but just about took the next dock out. Sure there were other problems that nobody wanted to talk about as well but nobody got hurt so all is good. Gibson/Peterson are second in the point standings two points behind Randy & Dewy & Schlapper/Blazer are in third seven points back. The semi finals in the Head to Head tournament at the Big Chip will feature Schlapper/Blazer vs Larson/Warren & Henck/Henck vs Hirsch/Lukasik.
The Up North Bass Circuit began it's season on Balsam Lake where it started out as a beautiful windless morning but that all changed about mid point of the day when temps dropped & the wind switched blowing 20+ out of the North making a tough bite day even tougher. But when it was all said & done the sight fishing experts of Jamie Gibson & Doug Peterson came away with 12.67 lbs. of bass to win the title. This makes 4 out of the last 6 years these guys have been in the money at the May tournaments & twice the champs. Jamie claims they actually only caught three of their fish off beds but they were quality fish which gave them just enough to sqeeze by the second place team of Stacy Anderson & Jeff Fox who had 12.38 lbs. Stacy said they found their fish off of rocky shallow points. Randy Grinnell & Derek Anderson took third place with 11.55 lbs. Team Hirsch/Lukasik were fourth with 10.22 lbs. & rounding out the money winners were Schlapper/Blazer at fifth with 10.20 lbs. Nick Strulzik caught the big bass for the day a 4.23 lb. pig. Moving on to the the next round in the Head to Head competition will be Schlapper/Blazer vs Constantineau/Constantineau, Olson/Strulzik vs Larson/Warren, Gibson/Peterson vs Henck/Henck & Fox/Anderson vs Hirsch/Lukasik There were a few decent smallies brought to the scales which maybe a good sign of things to come on Balsam. The day kind of threw a loop into the anglers after Monday's day of pre-fishing when the water temps were reaching the low 60's & the the next four days had highs in the 80's everybody thought the fish would be spawning all over on the lake BUT that wasn't the case. The water temps remained in the low 60's & allthou there was some spawning going on the bigger females were tough to come by which made for a very low weigh-in. The average size per fish was the second lowest ever at 1.904 lbs. per fish. Jamie & Doug's winning weight of 12.67 was the fourth lowest winning weight in the circuit's history BUT I'm sure they'll tell ya a win is a win is a win.