Sunday was the last stop of the Upper Midwest Bass Series Challenge (UMBCS) Wisconsin Lakes Division. The points title for the series was all but locked up, but one team was not out mathematically. The problem, however, was they would have to catch over 16 pounds of fish to take away that title. There are some nice bass in Lake Mohawksin, the site of Sunday's derby, but 16 pounds would be a lot to ask from that fishery.
I have a fair amount of experience on Lake Mohawksin and felt pretty good about the day going into it. I have not spent much time on the lake this year, so I was fishing history, which can be a bad move. I fished the tournament with a friend of mine, Lisa Hirman. Her husband Rich and son Kyle Froelich were just one of the 30 plus teams we were battling against, which added a bit more fun to the day. This was one of my first experiences as "team captain," if you will, in a big tournament, so I did feel some pressure, but in all I just wanted to go fishing and have fun.
The rain started long before take off and it did not seem as though it was going to let up. But, as they say, the fish did not care they were already wet. As far as human creature comforts, however, it did not add much to the day. Shortly before take off the wind kicked up, too. I do not mind fishing in the rain. Sometimes I would rather fish in the rain than sweltering heat. But fishing in the wind, as most anglers know, can be problematic. Lisa and I were one of 34 teams to take off into the wind and rain Sunday morning. I had one of two places I wanted to start the day, based on where I saw other boats go at take off. Retrospectively, I think I picked the wrong starting spot. I could be wrong, the fish may not have been on at my other spot either, but the morning started off fairly slow. When I finally did abandon my first spot, a sloping drop near a rocky shoreline, and headed to my next spot, a feeding flat that turns on and off like a light switch, I caught what must have been the tail end of the feeding window for the morning. I caught one keeper and we had several short fish pick up various baits as well. For the remainder of the day we bounced back and forth between four or five different places I have caught fish before, only managing one more keeper. We were entertained by many short fish, a few northerns and one really nice perch, though.
For me, Lake Mohawksin is all about timing. I know where the fish are, but not necessarily when they are there. There are areas that seem to have little fish highways, and if you are there when the fish are coming up to feed, every pass you make over an area, you will pick up a fish on a fish highway. But, that was not to be the case for Lisa and I last weekend. How far off I was I will never know, but we had a great time together in the boat. I have to say that fishing the UMBCS has always been a great experience and I have met some awesome people, but I was surprised by the number of other teams who were really pulling for Lisa and I, the only all-female team in the field. It is truly a great time to fish with anglers who are not only good sticks but all around great people as well.
Tournament director Gregg Kizewski and his wife Joni are good friends of mine, and they have cultivated a group of people much like themselves - genuine, caring, fun people to be around. I look forward to fishing with them again in the future.
While my result was not what I expected, of course, many people did very well against a sometimes difficult Lake Mohawksin. In all 121 bass were brought to the scales and returned to the water alive. As I expected, the majority of them were smallmouth. Only 18 largemouth were weighed in. One of those, however, was a 5.10 pound bucket-mouth brought in by the father and son team of Kevin and Alec Schumann.
First place went to Mike Oliver and Lonnie Peterson, who brought in five fish for 13.09 pounds. Second place was Keith Wendt and Ryan Merzit with a 12.38-pound limit. Third place was Pat Kilbey and Chris Withers with five fish for 1276 pounds. Preston Johnson and Jason Miloszewicz, the team with a mathematical chance to take the Wisconsin Lakes Division points title, took fourth place with 12.42 with the Schumann's rounding out the top five with 12.42. It would take more than 10 pounds to get into the top 10 in this derby.
The next stop for the series is the Tournament of Champions on the Minocqua Chain, which will take place on Oct. 6 and 7. The Beacons will host the tournament.
Weigh-in will be at 3 p.m. each day and the public is encouraged to attend to see how the anglers fare. I am truly looking forward to spending one more weekend with this great group of anglers before we all start to think about going into hibernation until next year. It should be a great time. I hope to see you there!
Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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