On Saturday June 13th the Wisconsin Team Circuit (WTC) visited Evert's Resort on the north end of the Mississippi River Pool 4 in Hager City, Wisconsin. As usual, Dean Marshall of Evert's was an awesome host and this venue is incredible for holding tournaments, with plenty of beach space, parking, and lodging all on site.
The WTC staff of Bill, Karen and Bear Schutts made a wise decision to delay the tournament take-off by 30 minutes due to fog - they always consider the safety of the anglers first, and that is one of the many reasons that the WTC is the oldest bass tournament circuit in Wisconsin.
With the announcement that the tournament would be taking off at 7:30, my tournament partner Steve Crotteau and I made the decision we would not lock through into Pool 3 or the St. Croix. We had 30 + waypoints on the north end of Pool 4 that provided pretty consistent action on our pre-fishing days. Our plan was to bang out 5 fish early and then try to put some kicker fish in the boat.
Our first stop was a little pocket in Red Wing that held some nice fish the week earlier. That stop produced 2 keepers. We went through 4 stops on our milk run before we picked up our 5th keeper at approximately 9:30 am. The bite was so incredibly light, that you had to literally watch for slight line movement and then set the hook. The fish that we were after were very color specific in regards to bait choices. During pre-fishing, it was not until a smallmouth spit a crawfish on my deck that I was able to add that piece to the puzzle. That crawfish was almost all green pumpkin in color except for the pinchers which were red. With a little help from a bottle of red Spike-It dye, I added red tint to the bottom 1/2 inch of several different green pumpkin jig trailers and Beavers - that turned a real fishing struggle into true confidence.
Now the bad news - I left 3 fish out there that would have given us a great finish.
First lost fish: We had just pulled a keeper and a short fish off of a log and I threw deep back into a pocket - a 3+ lb largemouth absolutely drilled the bait - I set the hook, the fish came up enough to get a good look at it and then commenced to wrapping itself aound an underwater branch - it was gone.
Second lost fish: I noticed my bait (a Beaver) moving upstream and set the hook - those that know me and have fished with me know I set the hook hard, and Saturday was no exception - but...... for some reason I didn't get a good hook in this fish but it did get all the way to the boat before it spit the bait - a 18" to 19" smallmouth that came unbuttoned.
Third lost fish: During pre-fishing I had found some very good largemouth in a ditch off of a sand drop. The water was up around 6" from pre-fishing and the fish had vanished. With the rise in the water however, my boat now was able to get through the ditch and into the shallow pocket behind it. Immediately we saw bass, minnows and carp swimming in the ultra-clear bay.I saw a dark spot next to a stick and made a long cast - immediately I hooked a 2 1/2 lb largemouth - there was less than 8" of water where I hooked him - even though I held my rod tip down, he came straight up and spit the bait.
These fish were truly lost opportunities, as we weighed in our 5 bass limit for 10.27 lbs and and 11th place finish. Of the 5 fish we weighed, 2 of them were 1.5 lbs and one was 2 lbs. Those 3 fish would have been a 3.5 lb upgrade. We had the right game plan and we can't even complain about the execution, as sometimes things just happen.
I am not quite sure how many limits were caught, but the winning bag of 13.91 lbs was caught by Cory Hauk and Andy Bylander. Cory was also entered in the Skeeter Real Money Program and received an additional $1000 from Dave Markquart and Dan Meyer of The Skeeter Boat Center in Chippewa Falls. The Skeeter "Real Money" program allows Skeeter owners to collect up to an additional $3000 when they win a tournament in a Skeeter sponsored circuit. Anyone in the market for a boat that is fishing one of these circuits is leaving money on the table if they don't take advantage of these incentives!
The baits used in this tournament were: Super K Jigs and Beavers
Special thanks to all of our Grafe Auction Company and all of our sponsors!