Minnesota Angler Captures TBF Super Regional Title and Moves on to National Championship
A total of 100 anglers (50 boaters, 50 non-boaters) spent this past weekend fishing Gull Lake, in Brainerd, Minnesota competing in the District 9 TBF Super Regional Event. It was veteran Minnesota tournament angler Scott Bonnema who captured the title, his second on Gull Lake in 2016.
The official practice days the week of the tournament had Scott a little on edge as it was really windy and he wasn’t able to find any new areas with quality bass in it. “I had gone out prior to the off-limits and found three good areas of fish,” stated Scott. “I didn’t check those areas the week of the tournament, so when practice was getting tough; it started to have me worried.”
Bonnema relied heavily on his Humminbird Helix units with their LakeMaster mapping cards, as he was able to highlight the key ten foot depth range and keep his boat in that the whole time. Bonnema paid close attention to the LakeMaster contours looking for small points and inside turns.
On day one, Bonnema had a fun day on the water despite the breezy conditions. “I prolly caught 40-50 fish and what was neat about it, is I would circle around the key areas I had marked, catch a fish, engage the Spot Lock on the new Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motor, tag my fish, get right back up on the front deck and catch another two or three fish off of that same clump,” explained Scott. “The Ultrex is the only thing that would’ve allowed me to do that, without it, I would’ve been blown across the lake, it is a gamer changer!”
At the end of day one Scott brought in a massive Gull Lake limit of 18.10 lb’s. What Scott was doing was making flips into cabbage or coontail that was in the ten foot depth range and the eight foot diameter coontail clumps really had the bigger bass grouped up. “I’m not sure why they group up in that stuff, if it’s a comfort thing, warmth or oxygen, but they sure do like it,” smiled Bonnema.
Scott began day one using a ¾ oz jig as he was fishing it more on the edge of the vegetation, but late on the first day he began getting more pike bites, so he switched to a smaller ½ oz size. “Besides getting pike bites on the ¾ oz jig, I noticed my co-angler was getting a few more bites on the smaller size as his jig would get hung up in the vegetation,” stated Scott. “I made the switch and would shake that ½ oz jig in the coontail and the bass would come find it and eat it!”
Bonnema relied on the same gear he used to garner a win on Gull Lake in July, a Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Lite Mag Flipping Stick rod (7’6” Heavy) and a Team Lew’s Lite reel (7.5:1 gear ratio). Scott made note that the rod comes with Winn Grips on it and this has made his flipping game a sure fire one as those grips don’t allow your hands to slip, no matter how wet or cold it is. As for line, he spooled up with Suffix 832 braid in 30 lb test, as he feels that line is the best cutting line in the vegetation.
This event was one of the first pro-am events that Scott has fished in a while and when talking with fellow veteran Minnesota tournament angler Brad Leifermann, he noted that his experience has really taught him to not get spun out and to have fun. “If my co-angler catches a fish, I’m happy for him or her,” said Scott. “Instead of dwelling on the fact they caught a fish I possibly could’ve used, I instead look at what they were doing to catch that bass. Fish are creatures of habit and if you can identify those habits and replicate them, you will be successfully.”
Scott’s two day total weight was 32.53 lb’s, which was 1.52 lb’s more than runner-up angler, Brad Leifermann, who also hails from Minnesota. The top finishing boater and non-boater from each state (MN & WI) will now move on to the TBF National Championship next spring. Joining Bonnema from Minnesota will be John Fairbanks Jr on the co-angler side.