Monday night bass tournaments

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Heartland Outdoors

Bassmaster Elite Series heads to Mississippi River

Thu, June 21, 2018

Anglers who have fished the Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa portions of the Mississippi River will tell you that the so-called “postspawn funk” is a very real thing.

The bass in that section of the mighty waterway are voracious as they prepare for the spawn during late winter and early spring. Then they work tirelessly building and protecting their beds while the spawn is underway.

When it’s over, they need a moment to catch their breath — and they seem to have caught it just in time for the Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River presented by Go RVing.

The tournament is scheduled for June 21-24, with takeoffs at 6 a.m. each day from Veterans Freedom Park. The weigh-ins the first two days will be held back at the park 3 p.m., and the Saturday and Sunday weigh-ins will be held at 3 p.m. at Valley View Mall.

With the late-spring doldrums over, the weights could be impressive.

“Fishing is becoming much more stable,” said Jeremiah Shaver, president of the Wisconsin B.A.S.S. Nation and a regular on the Mississippi River. “The past few weeks, they’ve definitely been in their postspawn funk that you often hear about. But now, we’re seeing more and more standard summer patterns emerging.”

The water level has been holding steady at 7 to 7 1/2 feet, and it’s expected to remain that way throughout the tournament. Shaver said that means an angler might be able to find a good, solid pattern during practice and rely on it for all four competition days.

Ott DeFoe, a four-time B.A.S.S. winner who won the last time the Elite Series visited the Mississippi River back in 2016, said numerous patterns could work well — and fans should expect to see both largemouth and smallmouth brought to the scales.

“When I won in 2016, I think I only weighed in one smallmouth out of the 20 bass I brought in,” said DeFoe, who also had a 15th-place finish in La Crosse in 2013 and a 27th-place showing there in 2012. “But Seth Feider finished in second place in 2016, and the majority of the fish he weighed in were smallmouth.

“I think both species are definitely going to play.”

DeFoe said it’s possible to catch a largemouth on one cast and a smallmouth on the next. But most of the time, he said, anglers on the river have to make a conscious choice on which species to target.

No matter which one they choose, he expects it to take 65 to 67 pounds to win the event — and he expects it to be won shallow.

“It’s a really good shallow-water fishery,” DeFoe said. “You don’t have to spend a lot of time fishing deep — and I like that.

“The largemouth are going to be a little more focused in the backwaters, while the smallmouth are typically main-river oriented.”

In 2016, DeFoe had a 6-pound, 1-ounce largemouth that earned Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors as the largest of the tournament. While that fish was a godsend for him on what was a tough Day 2, he said you don’t necessarily have to have a bass that large to win.

“There’s a good number of 3- and 4-pounders there, and there are always a few 5-pounders caught,” he said. “Those are the fish you really need. You can’t have a really bad day where you only catch 8 pounds or so and then hope to go out and make up for it by catching 25 pounds the next day.

“You have to be consistent. If the smallest fish you weigh in the whole week is 2 3/4 pounds, you’re going to be right up there.”

With constant current and two species of bass to fish for, DeFoe said he expects to see everything from light-line finesse tactics to heavy-braid power techniques. Shaver said two patterns are already shaping up.

“Smallies are getting caught out in current around the (wing dams) and sand drops,” he said. “The frog bite is really starting to ramp up for largemouth. We should see plenty of fish being caught in a variety of ways.”

Competitors are allowed to fish both sides of the river, as usual, but this time they won’t have to worry about differing restrictions on the practice of culling, or releasing a small bass in their creel and replacing it with a heavier one. In 2013 Elite Series angler Brandon Palaniuk had a commanding lead in an Elite event on the river when he inadvertently culled a bass while just inside Minnesota waters. His catch was disqualified, and Palaniuk fell from first to 77th.

“Minnesota changed their regulations regarding culling last year so that tournaments permitted in Minnesota or in Wisconsin now have the same rules on the pools of the Mississippi River that these two states share,” said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland. “This levels the playing field for our anglers and removes confusion and uncertainty. Thanks go to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for recognizing the need to be responsive to their anglers and remove troublesome and unnecessary regulations.”

A field of 108 anglers will be vying for the $100,000 first-place prize and valuable points in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.

After five of nine regular-season Elite events, Kansas angler Brent Chapman currently leads the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race with 456 points, followed by Bradley Roy of Kentucky with 427 and Louisiana angler Greg Hackney with 422.

The Bassmaster Elite Series Outdoors Expo will be held in conjunction with the tournament. It will take place at Valley View Mall on Saturday and Sunday beginning at noon. The event will feature boat demo rides, an aquarium, free prizes and the latest fishing products on the market. The Rock-N-Ribs Festival will also be happening at Valley View Mall along with concerts, food and the bbq competition. All activities are free and open to the public. For more information, visit Bassmaster.com.

2018 Bassmaster Elite At Mississippi River Presenting Sponsor: Go RVing

2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Huk, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota

2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Academy Sports + Outdoors, Carhartt, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Phoenix Boats, T-H Marine

2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Elite Partner: Black Velvet Canadian Whisky

2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Local Partner: Mountain Dew

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), radio show (Bassmaster Radio), social media programs and events. For 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Series presented by Magellan Outdoors, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

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Monday night bass tournaments