Inaugural Rod Gaskill Memorial Bass Tournament draws a good crowd
The name Rod Gaskill has been known by many as a tough competitor on bass tournament trails in the Northwoods as well as the former tournament director of the Hodag Bassmasters Boom Lake Open. Last summer Gaskill lost his long battle with pancreatic cancer and plans immediately went into effect to create an event of which he would be proud.
Last Saturday marked the first of what would become an annual bass tournament to benefit the nonprofit organization Tackle the Storm. The organization takes kids who have been effected by a storm in their life, gets them fishing equipment, and gets them back out on the water, taking the time to just be a kid again. Gaskill loved to see kids get into the sport of fishing, making this a perfect organization to receive the profits from the event.
In all, 38 two-person teams got into the event, with some of those being first time tournament anglers. There were even two anglers under the age of 12: 10-year-old Ethan Hirman of Stevens Point, who fished with his dad Matt, and 7-year-old Logan DeGolier of Minocqua, who fished with his dad Travis. Many of the anglers and teams were regulars of the former Hodag Bassmasters Boom Lake Open.
The teams were able to fish all water on Boom Lake and the Rhinelander Flowage south of the McNaughton Bridge. There were four Dash 4 Cash Hours, where anglers could decide to stop fishing, return to the launch ramp to weigh a fish, and have a shot at $100 each hour. Three of the hours were sponsored by Tony Bartishofski of Tomahawk and one by Super K Jigs. Anglers who thought they caught the biggest fish of the hour were able to come back and weigh that fish, with the biggest fish of each hour being awarded that $100 at the end of the day.
The Dash for Cash winners of the 9 o’clock hour were Wayne Schulz and Clayton Krohn. They spun a hub at take off and were fishing close to the launch ramp. The team boated a 2.57 pound fish and weighed it, realizing likely no other teams had come in to weigh. It turned out they were right, which netted them $100.
Ten o’clock marked the next Dash for Cash hour. Of the four fish weighed that hour, Matt and Ethan Hirman brought in the biggest fish at 2.73.
The noon hour was won with a 4.77 pound smallmouth from the river brought in by Brendan Garrigan and Kyle Martinson. That healthy brown fish would not be the biggest the team boated all day, however. At the end of the day, they also won the Big Smallmouth award with a giant 5.05 pounder.
Chase and Cody Vaughn won the last Dash 4 Cash hour. It was a 4.20 pound smallmouth that took the last $100 of the day for this team. It was one of four fish weighed for that hour.
At the end of the day, river smallies reigned supreme, which was no surprise to many anglers. Greg Klug and Jake Minch took top honors on Saturday with an 18.21 pound 5-fish limit of fish weighing in at 18.21 pounds. Their bag was anchored by a 4.89 pound smallmouth.
Garrigan and Martinson, with the 5.05 pound big fish of the tournament, were able to take second with a 15.73 pound limit. Third place went to Kris Webster and Ed Berndt with a 15.33 pound bag. Jay Przekurat and Dylan Minch, no strangers to the top of the leader boards this year, found themselves in fourth place at the end of the day with 15.06 pounds. And the top five was rounded out by Yeng and John Thao with 14.75 pounds. They also took the Big Largemouth award with a 4.79 pound bucketmouth.
Of the 39 teams, 14 were able to bring limits to the scale. In the top 20, six teams did not have limits, but had heavy enough fish to place very well. In all, only three teams were unable to boat a legal-sized bass and bring it to the scales at the end of the day. A total of 128 fish were caught and released back into the lake healthy and alive after weigh in. Those fish weighed a total of 323.3 pounds. That gave an average per fish of approximately 2.53 pounds. The number of largemouth versus smallmouth brought it was close There were 68 largemouth and 60 smallmouth weighed.
The nonprofit group Let’s Go Fishing provided food and beverages to the anglers, their family, friends and fans all afternoon. The organization keeps a pontoon boat in Boom Lake and takes out groups of seniors, disabled residents, veterans and kids fishing or on sight seeing excursions along Boom Lake and the Rhinelander Flowage all summer long.
The tournament raised $765 for Tackle the Storm and paid out over $6,000 in cash and prizes to the top nine places, the four Dash 4 Cash winners and the biggest largemouth and smallmouth. Organizers of the event felt it was a big success and are already planning for next year’s event on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, making this an annual event they hope will continue on for many years to come.