The box score summarizes the kind of banner day enjoyed by the anglers at the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Divisional underway on Lake Vermilion.
Total fish caught: 456
Total weight: 1,045 pounds, 14 ounces
That is a stark contrast to yesterday, when the 96 anglers accounted for 319 bass weighing 677 pounds, 9 ounces. Today’s overall catch included more than double the five-bass limits, with a total of 74 of those weighed.
Only the name on top of the scoreboard remained the same. He is Corey Brant of Minnetonka, Minn. The club member of Twin City Bass caught a limit of smallmouth weighing 17-7 to boost his overall weight to 34-5.
Close behind is Joe Pruss, who caught the heaviest limit of the tournament so far weighing 17-15. The South Dakota angler is less than 2 pounds from Brant in the overall standings.
Gary Adkins of Green Bay, Wis., slipped from second to third place with a total weight of 32-10. Behind him is Ted Heitschmidt of Tomahawk, Wis., with 29-9, and Brad Ballard of Winona, Minn., with 26-15.
“I’m fishing very efficient,” Brant said. “What I’m seeing are a lot of guys fishing the same water, but I’m just fishing it slower.”
The prevailing pattern is targeting largemouth and smallmouth inhabiting the sharply sloping contours of glacial rockpiles ranging in depth from 5 to 20 feet and deeper.
Soft plastic tubes rigged to lightweight leadhead jigs top the list of favored lures. Following in preference are drop shot rigs and crankbaits.
Those are all of Brant’s lure choices, although he is exclusively targeting smallmouth. What matters most is the tempo of lure presentation and a keen focus on subtle changes in the habitat.
“Every rockpile on this lake looks good and there are thousands of them,” he said. “What I’m doing different is keying on a certain pieces of structure.”
He continued, “It’s a very focused pattern and relying on electronics is another key. I think other anglers are fishing faster, even though we are all fishing the same type of areas.”
Like yesterday, Brant said he caught two or three bass at each of his four stops, although he admitted to fishing new areas today after catching a limit. That happened at 10:30 a.m.
“They are all running about the same size, around 3 pounds,” he said. “I just can’t seem to find the 4-pounders that could separate me from everyone else.”
A southerly breeze blew from daybreak through weigh-in time. The more stable weather and steady wind proved advantageous for the overall catch, and especially that of Pruss.
“The wind definitely made it better by breaking up the visibility on the surface,” he said. “It took me all day though, to catch my limit.”
Pruss said he “left fish biting” and those are being caught on tube jigs and crankbaits.
Minnesota is pulling away with the state title in a competition between eight Midwestern states. The team total is 291 pounds, 7 ounces, or 52 pounds ahead of second place. Wisconsin has 239-3 and Illinois is third place with 227-8. Ohio has 212-4 and Michigan is fifth with 193-5. Iowa is seventh with 185-13 and South Dakota eighth with 184-11.
Minnesota’s overall score received a huge boost from its team competing in the Costa Bassmaster High School Northern Divisional. Mason Raveling and Ben Provost weighed 17-8 to also take first place in the high school contest. The anglers are from Prior Lake High School.
The winning state gets a Triton boat, powered by a Yamaha outboard and rigged with accessories. The package is valued at $37,292.
The tournament host is Fortune Bay Casino and Resort. Friday’s takeoff and weigh-in will be held at the resort marina at 6 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.