(Aug 28, 2015 - Tower, MN)
Applying local knowledge on unfamiliar tournament water is a risk sometimes worth taking. Doing just that paid off for Wisconsin’s Gary Adkins, winner of the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Divisional on Lake Vermilion.
The Green Bay angler caught 48 pounds, 4 ounces, after three days of fishing under a variety of weather conditions. Minnesota’s Corey Brant, the leader after two days and presumed favorite to win, finished second with 45-15. Illinois angler Ryan Whitacre earned third place with 43-2.
All three anglers and the overall leaders from the eight Midwestern states participating in the tournament advance to the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. The event is bass club fishing’s premier event, with an international field of anglers competing in October on the Ouachita River in Louisiana.
Adkins found striking similarities between his home water of Lake Michigan and the northern Minnesota tournament fishery. What he found is a combination of gravel bottom mixed with the large boulders that form most of the smallmouth habitat.
“The gravel bottom was a standout feature,” said Adkins, a five-time divisional qualifier. “It’s what I look for in Green Bay when fishing for smallmouth.”
Adkins keyed on one particular rock and gravel formation rising from 30 to 15 feet off the bottom. The sharply defined dropoff was a wise choice after a cold front pushed through the area on Wednesday.
“My other areas in shallower water didn’t produce because the fish had to move way out to find deeper water,” he added. “Finding them again would have been tough, as it was I am sure for some of the other guys.”
Adkins chose a green/pumpkin pattern Get Bit Slender Tube inserted into a 5/16-ounce jighead for fishing the sloping contours of the gravel bottom. The key attractant was crawfish being fed upon by the smallmouth.
Later in the day he moved to a rocky shoreline offering yet another similarity to his home water. Most shorelines on Lake Vermilion feature sharp drops into deep water. Instead, Adkins chose a gently sloping shoreline that created warmer water.
“The afternoon sunshine warmed the rocks and that attracted the crawfish,” he said. “It’s the same type of bottom I fish back home.”
Adkins chose a square billed PH Custom Crankbait that matched the size and action of the crawfish for the afternoon bite.
Each day began on the gravel side of the rocky shoal. Later in the day, he moved to the shoreline to fill his limit.
Advancing to the national championship are these remaining state winners. They are Greg Vance (Iowa); Daniel Brown (Illinois); Dave Watson (Indiana); Jeff Fischer (Michigan); Nick Leonard (Ohio).
Minnesota won its third consecutive state title with a total weight of 456 pounds, 11 ounces. Wisconsin was second with 401-11 and Illinois placed third with 372-04. Ohio took fourth place with 336-12 and Indiana was fifth with 318-12. South Dakota earned sixth place with 310-12 and Michigan was seventh with 295-10. Iowa finished eighth with 286-12.
Minnesota’s overall score received a huge boost from its team competing in the B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Division High School Divisional. Mason Raveling and Ben Provost weighed 34-8 to also take first place in the high school contest. The anglers are from Prior Lake High School.
Minnesota received a Triton boat, powered by a Yamaha outboard and rigged with accessories. The package is valued at $37, 292.
Corey Brant earned the $250 Livingston Lures Leader Award as Day 2 leader.
Andy Hriber received the $500 A.R.E. Award as highest placing angler using the brand’s truck caps.
2015 B.A.S.S. Nation Title Sponsor: Old Milwaukee
2015 B.A.S.S. Nation Premier Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, GoPro, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha
2015 B.A.S.S. Nation Supporting Sponsors: A.R.E. Accessories, Carhartt, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, Huk, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Nationwide, Power-Pole, Rigid Industries, Shimano
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines, Bassmaster website, television show, The Bassmasters , social media programs and events. For more than 45 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 presented by Allstate, Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.