Deerwood, MN – The Champions Tour presented by Skeeter Boats, in an event unique unto itself, hosted the Champions Tour Pro-Am presented by Dakota Lithium which piggybacked off the previous days regular season Champions Tour event.
The event allowed high school anglers who served as boat officials during Champions Tour events a chance to fish with a Champions Tour pro in a team style event with big prizes. Pros and ams were randomly paired together and would fish as a team to put together the biggest eight bass they could on the Reel LiveWell App. The event was on the Whitefish Chain once again, but this time with no lunch break and no lake split. Just eight hours of interrupted fishing time with no off-limits areas.
With as tough as the lake had fished the previous day there was plenty of uncertainty as to how the weights would shake out, but when you put 52 of the region’s best anglers with some of the top high school talent in the state, fish will be caught no matter what. Only needing to catch eight fish changed the strategy for some teams as there was a surge of anglers that started the day looking for big smallmouths on the main lake knowing those fish would be bigger, although much less numerous. Topwater, drop shots, and paddletail swimbaits were the weapons of choice for those searching for bronze. That bite didn’t pan out for many, but we did see a handful of four plus pound smallmouth caught including David Sicheneder’s 4 lb 11 oz fish, which would bring home the YETI big fish honors for the tournament.
Although there were some familiar faces from the day prior at the top of the leaderboard many of pros who struggled on Thursday found themselves in good position on Friday including Bagley Baits Pro Tony Hatten with partner Tate Blomquist who had their limit of eight early and steadily culled their way to a top-ten finish. Pro James Chapman and am Gabriel Dozak were another powerhouse pair that locked up a top five spot with a mixed bag adjusting from smallmouth to largemouth throughout the day and making a few major culls.
As the day started to wind down it really was almost anyone’s game in the top five, as Evan Blakley and Wyatt Landt would land a key keeper in the final hour to surpass Tim Schroeder and Layla Longo by just two ounces. David Sicheneder and Maxwell Keeler would give both a run for their money as well with a crucial upgrade to bring them within four ounces. But in the end, it was the local angler Evan Blakley and partner Wyatt Landt who would narrowly squeak out a victory with 23 pounds and 2 ounces. Tim Schroeder and Layla Longo would finish with 23 pounds even and the team of Sicheneder/Keeler would finish with 22 pounds and 14 ounces.
The biggest takeaway from the event was the enthusiasm and talent that was brought forth by the high school anglers fishing as amateurs. They led the way as pictures poured into the Reel LiveWell App and were shared across social media. Seasoned pros had nothing but good things to say about the event and the format and hope to see more collaborations like this in the future. It was certainly a day that anglers won’t forget.
For full results, media coverage, and more from the Champions Tour Pro-Am check out https://www.classicbass.com/ and get the schedule of upcoming events as well.