The 2018 Dick Hiley St. Jude Bass Classic in Wabasha, MN on the Mississippi River was a special event yet again. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the event and an all time high of $660,294 was raised for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In its 20-year existence, the tournament has now raised more than $3.3 million. The weather was perfect and the fishing wasn’t too shabby either!
Brian Harmon and Cory Hauk came out on top with a two day total of 46.98 pounds of River bass. Classic Bass caught up with the winning team to learn how the tournament unfolded.
“We had an interesting practice to say the least,” said Hauk. “Brian was on some largemouth early in the week. I started on Wednesday and had a brutal day. As more boats showed up, the odds of us getting on Brian’s largemouth were fleeting. Fortunately, as it got later in the week we started to see the smallmouth where we wanted them.”
“Saturday, we made a few stops before a short lock. We were back up around 10:00 am and just went fishing. Conventional River tackle like tubes, Senkos and Super K Swim Jigs were key. The fish catching wasn’t wild, but we caught one here, one there all day. Day two we did almost the exact same thing and were pleasantly surprised. Spots we had left on day one were better than expected.”
Brian and Cory wanted to stress how awesome this event is for the kids. They’ve left the St. Jude with poor finishes in the past, but nothing outweighs the wonderful feeling of being part of something so powerful. The tournament results are small when compared to the overall purpose of the St. Jude.
In second place was the team of Dave Mansell and Josh Miller, who totaled 46.64 pounds. Their practice was fairly typical for St. Jude tournament. They head out with a divide and conquer approach where one angler typically hunts largemouth while the other chases smallmouth.
“It was clear after the first day of practice we needed to key on smallmouth,” stated Miller. “We found quite a few largemouth up cruising getting ready to spawn but found pre-spawn areas holding big smallmouth and we felt that these spots would only get better with the upcoming conditions.”
Dave and Josh raised $37,000 for the event which was a tie for the top fundraising spot. This granted them boat number one at takeoff on Saturday. They focused on fishing heavy current which allowed the team’s Minn Kota Ultrex to shine. “The Ultrex is a game changing piece of equipment for a bass boat,” said Miller. “That trolling motor was key to allowing us both to focus on fishing and not boat control.
Late in the day Dave and Josh had a solid bag, but knew they needed an upgrade. They hit a spot, made four casts total and caught two three and a half pound smallmouth putting them at about 22 pounds. They left the area hoping to exploit it more on day two.
Sunday brought excellent fishing. “It seemed like every spot we stopped had a three pound bass on it,” laughed Miller. “We again found a rogue largemouth hanging out in the current, this one was five lbs and it anchored our 24.76-pound limit on Sunday.”
Dave and Josh have been fishing this tournament for ten years and have had a great time watching it grow. “The board did a terrific job promoting the 20th year and even better job running the tournament. Dave said it best on stage, we all need to remember how fortunate we all are and do everything we can to continue to help St Jude’s hospital and the kids it serves.”
Joe Hall and Aaron LaRocque landed in 3rd place with 45.69 pounds. “We lucked out a bit and were in the right place at the right time,” chuckled Hall. The team focused on slack water areas and stayed mobile, as things were changing fast, but a few places seemed to hold on to fish over the course of the event. During the two days, Hall and LaRoque weighed in a mixed bag of largemouth and smallmouth using jerkbaits and tubes to catch their fish.
Once again, the Dick Hiley St. Jude Bass Classic was a huge success. Classic Bass is a proud supporter of the event and can’t wait to kick off next year’s season in Wabasha for the 21st time. For a full list of the results and other recap information visit http://stjude.org/dickhileybassclassic and follow them on Facebook at @dickhileybassclassic.