The day started out a little cool at Sawyer County's Round Lake but it turned out to be a pretty nice day. The points leader Schlapper/Blazer were a little worried going into this tournament their pre-fishing didn't go very well but on game day that all changed as they hammered out 16.44 lbs. to come away with the victory & win the Angler's of the Year title. This is Donn's fourth & Joel's third AOY titles. In the process they broke their own record for the most points in a season which they set in 2015 when it was a 19 team field, so the 75 points this year isn't quite as impressive as the 72 of 2015. They had two first, one second & a sixth place season so very well done boys. Placing second was team Henck & Henck with 15.32 lbs. & Larry caught the big bass for the day a very big smallie that tipped the scales at 5.28 lb. Gene & Larry also finished in second place for the yearly standings, they also were competing in the Head to Head finals for the fifth time in six years & they won that title for the second consecutive year, they beat Newhouse/Anselmo by a mere .54 pounds. Rob & Mike's weight of 14.78 lbs. was enough for a third place finish & a third in the final points standings as well. Fourth place went to Otsby/Postle who had 13.95 lbs. Rounding out the money winners were Constant & Merkt with 13.28 lbs. They were also the biggest movers of the day moving up five places from fourteenth to ninth & making the TOC. The largest drop in the standings went to Grinnell/Andersen who went from sixth to eleventh but no harm no foul for them as they stayed in a qualifying position to fish the TOC. Durand/Leverty fell out of TOC qualifying after having a very rough day on Round Lake. Team Larson/Warren ended up in eighth place but decided not to fish the TOC to fish in another circuit's year end championship & a chance to qualify in a team tournament at Lake Hartwell (South Carolina) in December, the winner of that one goes to the Bassmaster Classic. So by them declining that made the thirteenth place team get a invite to our TOC & Constant/Simonson got that spot by winning a tie breaker (total weight for the season) over Hirsch/Lukisak. Round came away with the fewest fish caught this year & fewest total pounds as well but did have the best average size at 2.60 lbs. per fish. The general feelings from the anglers is that the one smallie rule with a 18" minimum on Round, Grindstone & LCO is not doing any justice to the tournament statistics on these powerhouse smallie fisheries, sure hope we get the permited tournament exemption from that in the near future. Bear Lake beat out Big Round by a vote of 8 to 4 for the TOC location.
Next up The Tournament of Champions on Bear Lake
The circuit has very little history at Bear Lake it's only visit there was a TOC in 2005 there's not much for records on that day but Corey Andersen did get a fill in partner Gary Constant & they won the eight fish tournament with 20+ pounds. Pat & Donn Schlapper came in second. Allthou the winning weight was impressive there were very few fish brought to the scales & fishing was really tough for most of the anglers. Seems as thou not many of the guys have been there since but you can bet with all the new technology on the boats now & some pre-fishing time these hammers will figure this thing out this time around.
It was a gorgeous day on Burnett County's Birch Island when the UNBC anglers hit the water, maybe to nice for a good fish bite but these guys still managed to catch them. While the entire field pounded the lake's shorelines most of the day Gene & Larry Henck camped on a off shore spot & managed to catch the largest bag of the year at this point a very respectable 18.39 lbs. Second place with 15.81 lbs. & taking a tough loss in the H2H tourney against Gene & Larry was Donn Schlapper & Joel Blazer, for their second consecutive top two finish, Donn also weighed in the big bass for the day a 4.47 lb. mutt. Rob Newhouse & Mike Anselmo came in at third place weighing in 14.82 lbs. Fourth place & back in the money after a three year wait was Mr. Birch Island himself Doug Richert along with partner Sue King they weighed 14.13 lbs. Fifth place & another past highly succesfull Birch Island team was Todd Larson & Steve Warren who had 13.20 lbs. & came in ahead of Constant/Merkt by a mere .01 for the second time this year. The Head to Head championship at Round Lake will feature Gene Henck & Larry Henck going against Rob Newhouse & Mike Anselmo, this will be Gene & Larry's fifth championship match in the past six years their also going for back to back titles but Rob & Mike are no stranger to this title as well they were the 2013 champions & we're going to their kind of water. The AOY race may seem to some like it's about over with Schlapper/Blazer in the lead while Henck/Henck & Newhouse/Anselmo are six points back. Six points can easily be made up if the leaders happen to slip up a bit, it's happened before. The TOC qualification race is a close race as allways, only six points separate fifth place back to thirteenth place, on the bubble in twelvth place currently is team Durand/Leverty who actually are tied in points with Hirsch/Lukasik who sit in thirteenth. Doug & Sue were the big movers jumping eight spots in the standings & Leo & Morey were the biggest lossers dropping seven spots.
The weather man was calling for rain all week prior to the LCO/Grindstone tournament but thankfully he was wrong again & it turned out to be a pretty good day with the exception of some wind & somebody trying to launch their pontoon at weigh-in time which delayed everything about 40 minutes then to top it they gave up trying to launch it & while pulling it back into the parking lot they hit the tournament director's boat trailer. Anyways after the last fish was weighed Donn Schlapper & Joel Blazer were left standing with the first place hardware & an envelope full of cash when their fish tipped the scales at 15.41 lbs. These guys are no stranger to being in the winner's circle but after a two year drought their back in it. Randy Grinnell & Derek Andersen came in second place with 13.37 lbs. Third place went to Troy Otsby & Chuck Postle who weighed 12.47 lbs. for their second consecutive money finish. Todd Bottolfson & Brody Larson were a big surprise as they took home the fourth place prize money with a weight of 12.28 lbs. Then the old tandem of Leo & Morey snuck in the money with a fifth place finish when their fish weighed 12.26 lbs.Steve Warren caught the big fish for the day a very nice 4.04 lb. smallie. The two smallie limit proved to be a tough task for some but there were also anglers that struggled getting largemouth as well. This year's spawn was 2 to 3 weeks behind a normal year which made the fishing really unpredictable, their were reports that some of the guy's were still catching fish of beds yet. There were 70 largemouth weighed & 18 smallmouth most were post spawn making the weigh-in a little light but still a decent tournament. Our semi finals in the Head to Head Tournament is going to feature two big time match ups with Newhouse/Anselmo going up against Otsby/Postle & Schlapper/Blazer taking on last year's champs Gene & Larry Henck. Otsby/Postle have a two point lead in the AOY race over Schlapper/Blazer & six over Newhouse/Anselmo who are very hungry for titles after a disapointing season last year but Birch Island is not one of their favorite lakes seems it dosen't set up well for these deep water guys. The Henck boys are in fourth place 8 points back but by no means are out of it yet.
Doug & Jamie's winning limit 17.56 pounds along with Jamie's 4.87 pound big bass winner
Troy & Chuck second place bag 16.61 lbs.
Well the long wait for the 2019 season was finally over for the UNBC anglers when they arrived at Barron County's Red Cedar Lake but the weather seemed more like March than May, after a pretty nice week of weather prior to the tournament which probably got the bass moving up & getting ready to do their thing the fish & fisherman got hit with a blast of cold temps, steady rain & a brisk NE wind. The high temp for the day was 46 which was at 4:00 a.m. which makes this tourney day the coldest on UNBC record, there was a lot of talk about comparing this day to Bone Lake 2013 which was also a very brutal day but the big differance was that day there were only 28 bass brought to the scales & Red Cedar produced 94 fish which weighed 241.43 pounds & was the second heaviest weight of all time a mere 1.36 pounds behind Birch Island's high from two years ago(those record's have benefited from the 20 team expansion the last three years). There were 48 smallmouth & 46 largemouth weighed in but make no mistake this day was all about the very heavy pre-spawn smallies, the top six teams all had very impressive five smallmouth bass limits. When it was all said & done last year's AOY champs Jamie Gibson & Doug Peterson stayed hot & came away with the win weighing in 17.56 lbs. anchored by Jamie's 4.87 lb. big bass winner. Second place went to Troy Otsby & Chuck Postle who had 16.61 lbs. Third was & back in a big way from a down year Rob Newhouse & Mike Anselmo with 16.19 lbs. Fourth place was (allways in the money) Gene & Larry Henck 15.95 lbs. & rounding out the money winners were Troy Olson & Eli Hinze with 15.09 lbs. Winners in the Head to Head battle & moving on will be Constant/Merkt vs Newhouse/Anselmo, Otsby/Postle vs Hirsch/Lukisak, Olson/Hinze vs Schlapper/Blazer & Henck/Henck vs Gibson/Peterson.