Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5-6 days, you’ve heard about the absolute smash fest that the BASS Elite Series anglers put on during the AOY Championship on Lake Mille Lacs. Angler after angler came to the stage with 20 or more pounds of Mille Lacs smallmouth and said something along the lines of “This is the best big smallmouth fishery on the planet”. There’s no doubt that the lake showed the bass world what a special place it is and how important it is that we protect it. Classic Bass wanted to share a few sights and sounds from a great week up on the Big Pond!
The top 50 Elite Series Anglers ease out at Day 1 takeoff from Eddy’s resort in the SW corner of the lake. Points leader and eventual 2016 BASS Angler of the Year, Gerald Swindle led them out.
The lone Minnesota angler in last week’s field was Seth Feider. With an extremely clutch 2nd place finish just a week earlier on the Mississippi River in La Crosse WI, Seth was able to qualify in the 50th and final spot for the AOY Championship on Mille Lacs. Seth instantly became the favorite to win and he certainly did not disappoint. The “King of Mille Lacs” won the title by over 6 pounds with a total of 76lbs 5oz over 3 days.
The Drop Shot dominated the tournament for most anglers. Big boulders in the 15-20 foot zone seemed to be key. Here we see Bradley Roy Drop Shotting one of Mille Lacs’ many deep Structures. Roy tallied over 23 pounds on Day 1.
Big Bass of the tournament belonged to Brent Ehrler who weighed this 6lb 10oz monster on the final day. Multiple fish at and just over 6lbs were weighed throughout the 3 day tournament.
Very few anglers struggled to average 3-3.5 pounds per fish but believe or not Angler of the Year champ, Gerald Swindle was one of them. With just 3 fish on Day 1 and a 15lb bag a Day 2 Swindle was getting frustrated. But just as he did so many times in 2016 the “G-Man” came through on Sunday with over 22lbs of Mille Lacs smallmouth. His points lead was almost impossible to catch but his big final day left no doubt!
The story of the final 2 weeks of the 2016 Elite Series season was Bloomington, MN native Seth Feider. It was very unlikely that Seth would even qualify for Mille Lacs but hard work and a good plan on the Mississippi landed him an incredible 2nd place finish just behind Ott DeFoe. Seth took that momentum to Mille Lacs, a lake that he likely has more hours on than the entire Elite Series field combined. With an average of over 25lbs per day, Seth was crowned champion on Mille Lacs for his first Elite Series victory.
When the dust settle, I think 99 people out of 100 would say that this was the best Elite Series event of the season. Mille Lacs showed that it is right near the top in terms of the best smallmouth fisheries in the land. The tournament saw big crowds each day at the takeoffs and weigh ins. The event certainly put Mille Lacs and Minnesota on the map! Congratulations to Seth Feider and Gerald Swindle!