Looking across a glass calm Lake Minnetonka, anglers relished a moment of peace before the ensuing storm.
The second stop of the 2021 Champions Tour season felt like home for many, and a foreign world for a few who haven’t had the opportunity to fish this legendary metro waterway previously.
With a steamy summer day on the horizon anglers knew how crucial the morning bite would be and set out to try and take advantage of what the west side of the lake could offer them in the morning hours.
With just two events left to solidify a spot in the Championship there’s no room for error regardless of previous finishes. Former Champions Tour winner on Minnetonka and all time weight record holder, Tim Schroeder was amongst those who started the morning off strong, along with Jason Stangel, Dave Larson, Luke Gillund, and others. Finesse was the name of the game as anglers relied on jig worms, stick baits, and spinning gear around weed clumps, points, and docks. This is arguably the best way to find numbers on Minnetonka and when the right school fires an angler can find themselves climbing the leaderboard fast. Especially if that school proved to have above average sized fish.
Clayton Stoering and Dave Larson both boated fish near four pounds which were worth their weight in gold in a tournament this tightly contested. Many of the top anglers shared water and even shared schools of fish as the morning wore on.
Luke Gillund and Tim Schroeder sat out front, but as the first half closed a barrage of fish catches across the board had them fending off savvy tour veterans and newcomers alike. Both fell out of the top four by the end of the half, but wouldn’t stay there for long. There were a total of six different leaders in the first half, but two anglers very familiar with Minnetonka in Chad Keller and Brian Bengston went into the break in first and second with Keller holding the lead at 50 pounds even.
As anticipated, the second half saw the pace slow down considerably. High sun and scorching heat coupled with increased boat traffic made the east side of the lake a grind.
Tim Schroeder surged to the lead with young gun Luke Gillund right on his heels. Champions Tour rookie, Hunter Wendt and second year pro Kyle Schutta kept themselves in striking distance, but slowly Schroeder and Gillund pulled away to make in a two horse race at the top.
With under two hours to go, less than two pounds separated 13th from 20th place with the final check spot being 15th. Every fish catch sent anglers pin-balling up and down the Reel LiveWell app leaderboard and it seemed as though just one bite could be the difference between a check and going home empty handed.
Luke Gillund found the right school late in the day and his average size increased dramatically, boating multiple fish between two and a half and three pounds and even a four pound kicker to boot. His steady pace could not be matched by Schroeder or Keller and in his first ever tournament on Lake Minnetonka he came out victorious by just under 12 pounds with a grand total of 47 bass for 92 lb 2 oz.
51 Champions Tour anglers caught, weighed, and released 1,120 Lake Minnetonka bass, but in the end no one could catch the rookie from Ham Lake, MN who left Lord Fletcher’s Lake Lodge with a check for $12,000 and an ever valuable spot in the Championship in September on Mille Lacs where he will compete against the top half of the 2021 Champions Tour field for a chance at a new Skeeter boat.
Up next for the Champions Tour is Pelican Lake in Orr, MN our final regular season event, on August 26th, where anglers will fight tooth and nail to secure the points they need to earn an invite to the Championship.
For more information on our Minnetonka event including the full results, photo gallery, and more check out the rest of our website or the Reel LiveWell app.