Three Different Angler Perspectives on the Season Opening Champions Tour Event
With the 2019 Champions Tour set to begin in just over a month, anglers have begun preparing for the June 15th event on the Le Homme Dieu Chain in hopes of a late spring/early summer slugfest.
The Champions Tour is no stranger to this chain of lakes as it was the site of the 2018 Championship held last August. Minnesota angling legend and Champions Tour heavy hitter, Dean Capra caught a total of 47 bass that weighed 80 lb 10 oz to win the tournament. Dean used a combination of finesse and power techniques to fool bass in isolated vegetation.
But that was then, and Dean said he expects things to play out a little differently this year. Citing the tournament date, he expressed that whereas 90% of his fish last year came in deeper water, he would be looking for a much shallower bite this time around. “The fish are the fish and although we are at a different time of year I would say the weights should be pretty similar,” said Capra when asked what he thought it would take to win this event.
Dean also gave his thoughts on the buzz around an increasing smallmouth population in the chain. “It will really depend on the way the lakes are split and what the weather looks like, but I don’t expect them to play a large role. The potential is there for a few anglers to target them, but it’s not the numbers game that you will need in this type of event.” The reigning champion has himself prepared for anything and is approaching this event with an open mind ready to defend his title.
Alexandria local and last year’s runner-up Matt Gilbertson shared a slightly different opinion on how he thought the event might play out. “The first thing that comes to my mind is that we will probably be faced with more of a post spawn pattern and schools of fish may be harder to come by. Typically this time of year we do not see a lot of the bigger fish weighed in during local events.”
With that said, Gilbertson still expects the weights to exceed the event last fall. “It is early yet and the weather is going to play a big role between now and the middle of June, but I expect the weight to exceed what Dean caught in August. I would not be surprised that the winner of this event catches 95 plus pounds of bass.”
Weights like that could certainly keep the student angler marshals busy recording catches. Gilbertson also had a contrasting take to Capra on the potential impact of Smallmouth during the event and said “the population of Smallmouth in the chain has been increasing since the introduction of zebra mussels and we are seeing them in a lot of bags during local competition. Again, the weather is going to be the deciding factor on just how big of a role the smallies will play, but they will show out this time.”
Now a veteran on the tour, Matt has had some time to get used to the unique format and will be changing up his style a little to better suit this type of tournament. “I am most comfortable fishing slow and methodical with just a few rods on the deck. With the format of every fish counts, “power fishing” anglers can have an advantage of covering water and fishing what is in front of them which can play well with the score tracker. This type of fishing can be very effective at times and something that I need to get more comfortable with this coming season.”
A lot of eyes are on this hammer to make an impact in the coming tour season and he is up for the challenge.
Jacob Novak will enter the 2019 Champions Tour season as a rookie and the youngest angler on tour at just 19 years old. The young gun is primed and ready to make a splash this season and is well aware of how much time and dedication it’s going to take to succeed. Novak said he has high hopes for Le Homme Dieu and will be spending every moment he has researching and prefishing. This hard-working and studious attitude could bode well for the rookie who expects 70 to 80 pounds of bass will be needed to have a shot at the title.
Jacob said that he plans to employ “a combination of both deep and shallow tactics” to attack the diverse body of water. When asked about the first three baits he will have tied on the young angler said a Neko Rig, Drop Shot, and Swim Jig, would all be on the front deck of his boat ready for action. Don’t let age fool you, Jacob does not lack experience on the water and come June 14th he will have his sights set on the top spot.
The Champions Tour is excited to be back on Le Homme Dieu and knowing its history as a unique and diverse fishery with a large population of bass in all sizes we expect this event to be full of fish catches and score updates sure to keep anglers on their toes. Stay tuned to classicbass.com for more as the event nears and anglers ready for the 2019 Champions Tour to kick off.