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Tournament comparisons show an interesting picture

July 24, 2020 by Beckie Gaskill

Being a bit of a geek, but also a tournament bass angler, I find comparing tournament results to be fun and, at times, quite interesting. While there are many smaller club tournaments on lake dotted across the Northwoods, there are three main trails in which bass anglers compete for a bit bigger purse.  

One of those is a division of U.S. Angler’s Choice, the Northern Wisconsin Division. That is run by Greg Klug from Stevens Point. Another is the Central Lakes Division of the Upper Midwest Bass Challenge (UMBCS), run by Gregg Kizewski from St. Germain. The third is a series for which I am the tournament director called the Central Wisconsin River Series.

I fish all three of these series, although I only fished two of Klug’s tournaments this year so far. There are several anglers that fish all three, some who just fish two and others are dedicated to one particular series. The Angler’s Choice tournaments draw the highest number of boats, with anglers competing for a spot in a national championship. The UMBCS has three divisions and those anglers are all vying for a spot in the Tournament of Champions, which will be on the Mississippi River this year. In my series, anglers compete just in their own series, for a place in the championship, which will be held in September this year on the Manitowish Waters Chain.

One of the fun things is we fish a lot of the same lakes at different times throughout the season. One lake all of the series have fished is Lake Nokomis in Tomahawk. The lake gives anglers solid options to fish both largemouth and smallmouth, making it a great competition for every series.

The UMBCS hit that particular body of water first, with their tournament on June 21. Fish were in a post spawn funk, as I remember it, and fishing was not easy. But, as always, some teams found the golden horseshoe, as it were. I do not have full results from that tournament, unfortunately, but I can say that 124 bass were caught, with 76 of them being largemouth and 48 smallmouth. The biggest bag to hit the scaled was by Yeng That and David Vue, who brought in five fish for 15.45 pounds. Big bass for the tourney was 4.39 pounds. Twenty-six team were registered for the event. That gave an average number of fish per team of approximately 4.8.

The Angler’s Choice trail held a tournament the next weekend, with 49 teams taking to the water. They brought in more largemouth than smallmouth as well, with 1,367 largies and 54 smallies coming to the scale. This gave them 191 fish for a total of 432.81 pounds. The made for a 2.27 pound average. Average number of fish per team was just under 3.9. With twice as many teams as the first tournament on the water, it comes as no surprise that more anglers found fish — and more anglers did not, so I expected the average to be a bit lower, even before I calculated it. Big bass for that tournament was 3.98. Average weight for fish in the AC tourney was 2.26 pounds. 

For the tournament I ran on Nokomis, The River Series tournament, I had 33 teams, meaning 66 anglers. We, too, had more largemouth brought to the scales, with 76 large and 46 small. We split our big bass pot and pay half to largemouth and half to smallmouth. Our big largemouth was 5 pounds even, with our big smallmouth being just under that at 4.95. This tournament was July 11, and it seemed as though things were evening out a bit after a really weird spring, although high water temperatures did not make for ideal conditions, either. 

In the end, my anglers were able to bring in 122 fish for a total of 293.9 pounds. So the average fish weight in the River Series tournament was 2.41 pounds. The average number of fish per team was 3.69 pounds. 

Anglers in these three series come from all over the state. Most of the anglers who fish River Series are from northern and central Wisconsin. Many of the anglers in the UMBCS are from the western part of the state, and AC draws from central Wisconsin as well. All of the series have many, many locals who fish them as well. 

Of course, not everyone fishes the same, and we all have different ideas and different levels of experience fishing in general, and fishing a particular body of water. What is interesting to me, always, is how close all of the averages are. I think that is an important number at which to look. If I look at just the number of fish caught, or the overall weight, that does not really tell the whole story. Average weight in July was higher than the two post spawn tournaments, which makes sense and is to be expected. But in other ways, the tournaments were pretty similar. 

One thing of note that may be of interest to tournament anglers more than others, but it has to do with “cut off” for pre-fishing. For those who do not tournament fish, tournament anglers will go out onto a body of water where they have a tournament, at some point before the tournament, to “prefish,” or practice. This allows us to figure out where the fish are, what patterns they may be in, and get a plan together for how we will tackle the lake on tournament day. 

In the River Series, we have a cutoff, meaning anglers cannot be on the tournament waters, on the Sunday before the tournament. That means to anglers on the water for any reason after midnight on the Sunday the week before. Neither the UMBCS or Anglers’ Choice has a cut off. Some anglers feel a series needs a cut off so the fish have time to settle down and people are not out “sticking the fish” the day before the tournament. I used to feel that way as well, which is why my series still has that cutoff. But, as I learned the first year I did these comparisons, and as I feel we will see throughout the year this year — that may not be the case. 

The averages are fairly similar from one series to the next, and I think there are as many reasons not to have a cutoff as to have one. As the season goes by, I will do more comparisons, for those interested. It is always fun to see what they bring about.

Beckie Gaskill may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]


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