Click on any pictures to enhance on this website
TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
So the Up North Bass Circuit angler's were greeted with cloudy skies & a unseasonably mild temperature when they arrived at Big Wood for the 2022 Tournament of Champions, but those cloudy skies turned into a all out downpoor by midmorning eventually clearing off for the final few hours of the tourney as well as the weigh-in. The weigh-in as well as all the weigh-ins this year was attended by a large amount of family, friends & bass fishing fans (thank you all for coming especially those of you who help out). For the third time in the past six years Todd Larson & Steve Warren have won the TOC & this time they only needed four bass to do it but apparently they were the right four (they sure know which one's to win). They had a couple a four pounders in the sack one was Todd's big bass winner a 4.43 lb. hawg & another one that was close to four but all in all good enough to win by 2.8 lbs. over second place's 14 year old Cruz Constantineau & his dad Chad who weighed in 12.29 lbs. (their third time in the money this year). Third place was a bit of a surprise as the up & coming team of Todd Bottolfson & Brody Larson took the honors with a 12.17 lb.bag. Coming in at fourth place & fishing the Big Wood rocks all day was Rick THE STICK Simonson & Mark RUBY Robarge who weighrd in 11.84 lbs. Big Wood which is known for big bass was definitely off probably due to the seasonal change going on, but the 55 fish caught ranks 5th highest in the past 14 years & the total weight of 123.74 lbs. is 6th highest (both those rankings were a bit higher because of the 13 teams in this year's event compared to the 12 that there normally are). The 2.24 average weight was the 9th highest in the past 14 years & the winning weight of 15.09 also ranked ninth.
Check out the link with a full recap of the 2022 season
The anglers were greeted with heavy rains when they arrived at Lake Wapogasset along with some severe lighting which delayed the tournament 35 minutes. The early morning bite was on followed by a tough bite later in the day & some very strong winds to go with it. After the last bag of fish hit the scales the two guy's who have been in the circuit since it's begining came away with the win, Steve Constant & Doug Richert won the derby with a impressive limit that weighed 16.91 lbs. anchored by Doug's big smallie that went 4.37 lbs. which was good enough for the big bass award. Doug' s smallie came on a largemouth lake & Steve won the last one with a largemouth on a smallie lake(go figure). What seems like always Gene Henck & Larry Henck were towards the top of the leaderboard taking second place with 15.65 lbs. They started out the day with a quick limit then had some live well problems which could a been a disastrous situation for their AOY hopes, sounded like there was a very stressfull time in that boat until they got that problem resolved. Coming in at third place & securing a TOC spot was the Minnesota team of Pete Lukasik & Doug Bierman, their fish tipped the scales at 15.47 lbs. Taking fourth place for the third consecutive time this year was Rob Newhouse & Mike Anselmo who had 14.60 lbs. Rounding out the money winners was Jeff Fox & Stacy Anderson their bag weighed 13.59 lbs. which was good enough for fifth place. A lot of the weights were really tight in this one, there were 5 teams that weighed within a tenth of a pound from each other. So who were the movers & losers for the last regular season tournament, Gary & Frank dropped 6 positions in the standings & seen their TOC hopes slide away. Todd & Brody lost a 12th place tie breaker (total weight for the year) by 16 hundreds of a pound to Scott & Chad ending their season as well. As far as winners go Steve & Doug's win jumped them up 6 spots to 11th place earning them a TOC qualification. Foxy/Stacy & Scott/Chad also were on the outside looking in prior to Saturday but their performances locked them into the TOC as well.
Rob Newhouse & Mike Anselmo defeated Simonson/Robarge to win the 2022 Head to Head Tournament, their second time winning that award. The 2022 Angler's of the Year award goes to none other than Gene Henck & Larry Henck who won by 14 points which is the second highest margin of victory ever for that award & is the most prestigious title the circuit has to offer it is a true testament of consistency for a complete season, they proved that by placing in all 4 tourneys this year (two seconds & 2 thirds). Their second time winning it together & Gene also won one with his brother Todd back in 2002. So congrats to them no doubt they are true HAMMERS when it come's to catching them bass.
The weather at Round Lake couldn't been much better it was a pretty pleasant day other than it got a little breezy toward the end & the pleasure boaters along with the PWC's made for terrible traffic as expected. The winning bag of fish was brought in by Troy Ostby & Matt Olson who weighed in a big sack of smallies that went 18.29 lbs. The margin of victory was by 3.76 lb. over second place so a great job by them boys. Chad & Cruz Constantineau took second place weighing 14.53 lbs. with 4 of their 5 fish being largemouth something a little uncommon for Round but not uncommon for these two. Third place was Team Henck who had 13.49 lbs. for their third consecutive money finish. Fourth place was Rob Newhouse & Mike Anselmo who's weight tipped the scale at 12.94 lbs. These guy's seem to be near the top of the leader board whenever there's smallies on the venue. Taking fifth for the second time in a row was Tim & Chad Andrea who had 10.90 lbs. The overall weigh-in was down compared to most of the circuit weigh-ins, the seven limits brought in was the fewest since Big Chetac's seven in 2020 & the 71 bass weighed was also the least since the same tourney which had 61.The smallie bite was incredibly tough which made Team Ostby/Olson's weight very impressive, whatever they were doing it was something differant than the rest of the field. Team Larson/Warren had their circuit leading 12 consecutive 5 fish limit steak snapped as well as did Team Gibson/Peterson's who had 11 straight, there is now a three way tie at 8 for the current consecutive limits between Henck/Henck, Newhouse/Anselmo & Fox/Anderson. By the way them Henck boys do hold the record at 21 for consecutive 5 fish limits & have had 44 limits in their last 46 UNBC tournaments (WOW). Been hearing about a lot of relief as far as it being at the end of the long travel to the Hayward area, 35 of 40 anglers live in Polk or St. Croix Counties so with the price of gas it's understandably so. Also some are pretty happy to be done with the smallmouth thing.
The Angler's of the Year race maybe all but over as Gene Henck & Larry Henck have opened up a 8 point lead over Team Andrea not impossible to catch but going to one of their local lakes next it's gonna be one hell of a feat to pull off. These guy's have a very impressive track record on Polk County lakes going back 30+ years & they have been on some kind of roll this year winning the Balsam Lake Classic & placing in the top three in all three of the UNBC tourney's. They also deserve a little credit for their strategy going into Round, after some tough pre-fishing they knew they had to somehow just survive to keep their AOY hopes alive so they decided to fish Little Round & go for the green fish which payed off in a big way for them (along with a stumble from the Durand/Leverty & Larson/Warren teams). There's also going to be a hell of a battle for TOC qualification come late August as Team Lukasik/Bierman are tied with Team Ostby/Olson (who are automatically TOC qualified) for 11th place while Team Gibson/Peterson are just two points ahead of them. One point behind the cutoff off point at this time is another tie between Team Fox/Anderson & Team Cran/Edwards while Team Schlapper/Blazer are just 2 points back so anything is possible. The Head to Head Championship will feature Team Newhouse/Anselmo going against Team Simonson/Robarge.
Yes it rained again at Grindstone for the UNBC anglers as it allways seems to when they visit the famed Hayward fishery. But it didn't seem to matter as the weigh-in was as epic as some expected it would be. Some things seem to come full circle in life & it did at Grindstone as the once dominating team of Leo Durand & Morey Leverty had a resurrected performance & came away with the victory weighing in a whopping 17.48 lb. bag of smallmouth which included Morey's winning big bass that tipped the scale at 5.03 lbs. the first five pounder caught in three years within the circuit. These boy's have won every title their is to win in the circuit but this win was their first in five years. A combined age of 155 years young (the oldest in the circuit) proved they can still get it done & they did it the old fashion way by throwing traditional jigs & football jigs a heck of an accomplisment in today's word of smallie fishing where most are winging neds, drop shots & hair jigs. Leo & Morey have been winning UNBC tournaments for a quarter century & so has Gene Henck & Larry Henck who came in second with another big bag of smallies that went 16.64 lbs. Third place was Chad Constantineau & his 14 year old son Cruz who weighed in a surprising big bag of largemouth that went 16.46 lbs. (he followed that up by placing in the Round Lake Open on Sunday fishing with his 16 year old daughter again with all largies). So there was a 70 year old differance between our oldest angler & champion Morey & the circuit's youngest Cruz, say's something for our sport of bass fishing. Fourth place were the smallie hammers Rob Newhouse & Mike Anselmo who had 16.37 lbs. they also followed that up with another fourth the next day at Round, these boy's are pretty tough on them brown fish lakes. Fifth place went to the Andrea brothers Tim & Chad who usually are pretty consistent at the largemouth fishing but they came in with a impressive bag of smallies for 16.19 lbs. So who were the mover's & losers's, Team Constantineau moved up 6 spots in the standings to 9th place while Constant/Richert dropped 6 spots to 15th place.
There was a lot of whinning going on about Grindstone before the the tourney about how the fishing was going down hill as far as fish numbers & size. Let me tell ya that's all bull s__t the numbers don't lie. The 99 fish caught beat the old Grindstone record by 21 fish, (and it's a new UNBC all time record) the 285 pounds (second all time) weight beat the old Grinstone mark by 73 pounds(WOW) & the average size fish weighed of 2.88 lbs. increased by .17 of a pound. So Grindstone is alive & well especially with the largemouth population increasing as proven by the 27 that were weighed in.
Head to Head Tournament winner's & semi-final match ups feature Gibson/Peterson vs Newhouse/Anselmo & Durand/Leverty vs Simonson/Robarge. As far as the AOY battle at the half way point we have a tie between Leo/Morey & Gene/Larry with 37 points followed by last year's winners Todd/Steve with 33.
The first tourney of the year brought the angler's to Hayward's Nelson Lake where the morning started off at a very chilly 39 degrees & only warmed to the low 50's. After the last bag of fish was put on the scale it was determined that a couple of guys who hadn't won a UNBC tournament in quite a while ended that streak winning by a large margin (3.15 lbs. as a matter of fact). Their bag of bass tipped the scale at 15.84 lbs. While the defending AOY champs Todd Larson & Steve Warren came in second with 12.69 lbs. Placing third & allways near the top of the leaderboard was Gene Henck & Larry Henck who weighed in 12.36 lbs. Taking fourth place was the new combination team Gary Constant & Frank Brantner who had 12.20 lbs. Fifth place went to the old timer team Leo Durand & Morey Leverty with 11.42 lbs. The big bass of the day was caught by Tom Wiess at 3.80 lbs. The Nelson weights were down for some reason probably due to the spawn & the alarming fact that weights have been slipping there the last dozen years or so. Back in 2010 the average size of the fish for that tourney was 2.51 lbs. & has declined each of the past 6 tournaments down to this year's 2.22 lb. average, sure the loss of vegatation plays a big part in that outcome. Some angler's thought the spawn hadn't begun yet but more of the guy's figured those fish were in & did there thing in the week prior to the tournament. The fish were skinny & pretty beat up so maybe the later is true. Winners & pairings for the next round in the Head to Head Tournament are as follows Constant/Brantner vs Gibson/Peterson, Larson/Warren vs Newhouse/Anselmo, Durand/Leverty vs Constant/Richert & Simonson/Robarge vs Lukasik/Bierman.