Final Day Mix Bag Pushes Kent Mittelstaedt to Win on Lake Pokegama
The MN BASS Nation held its annual State Championship on Lake Pokegama in Grand Rapids, MN on August 16th and 17th and it was Kent Mittelstaedt that topped the field of over 220 of Minnesota’s best bass fisherman.
Going into the event Kent knew that the event would either be won with all smallmouths, or a mixed bag from the main lake, or largemouth from up River. “I focused the majority of my practice out on the main lake looking for good smallie areas and figured out early that I could not get the deep smallies to bite, so I focused on fish in the 6 to 16 feet depth range.”
The first day of the event saw a three hour long plus fog delay, which cut many anglers day short, but luckily for Kent he was in the last flight so he had some extra time which let him relax and fish slow. On day one of the event Kent had his limit of 12.7 pounds, which had him sitting him in 16th place. “I spent a good portion of the first day on a small flat with a rock vain and some small gravel patches, because with the sunny clear skies, the smallies pulled shallow, up on top of the high spots on the flat.”
Kent returned to his day one spot to begin the second day and got a four pounder, but only four little keepers to accompany it. This is when Kent moved to an offshore hump and had a bass that would’ve helped him jump over the net and get away. “I gathered myself and said, “Let’s learn from that fish and make a positive out of a negative.”
Kent has become a student of the game and has put a ton of focus on the mental side of the game, “the book, The Psychology of Exceptional Fishing, written by Jay McNamara, I feel has brought me to a new level of fisherman and has helped me stay positive, and recovering quickly from lost fish.”
Unlike on day one, day two the skies were hazy, which Kent felt pushed the smallmouth deeper. This is when things started to pop for Kent, as he caught a 4 pound smallie, coupled with a 4.15pound and 3 pound largemouth to bump his bag way up.
These upgrades propelled Kent to the top of the leaderboard after his day two weight of 17.45 pounds, gave him a two day total of 30.15 pounds. Kent’s final day bag consisted of three smallmouth and two largemouth bass. Kent fished main lake sand and gravel flats with a homemade soft plastic tube bait with a homemade jighead in it to catch his fish.
He attributes hard work, believing in his abilities and a positive attitude as the keys to his success. “I feel I had some major momentum going into this event following my top-ten finish at the Bassmaster Open event on Lake Champlain fishing on the co-angler side the week prior,” stated Kent.
“This win is especially iconic to me, as I first fell in love with targeting smallmouths in tournaments following the 2009 State Tournament on Pokegama Lake where Rick Pelletier won with all smallmouths, it was my first tournament that I targeted smallmouth and I was hooked immediately.”
With the win, he now qualifies to compete in the BASS Nation Central Regional in 2019 at a location that will be announced at a later date.
“I can’t thank my wife Melissa, my family and friends for their support!”
Big Bass on Day Two Surges Fabiano onto State Team
Following a shortened day one due to fog, Daniel Fabiano was filled with optimism for day two as he had more time to fish and mentally changed up his game plan for day two.
“I decided to share water with a club member on a large flat for about an hour in the morning and after only grabbing one small keeper, and knowing that we would have high sun, and calmer conditions from the day before I ran to the docks to grab a quick limit before the masses swarmed the shorelines,” said Dan.
This did result in a quick limit for Dan, but it was not going to propel Dan up the standings to make the MN state team. “I had a bunch of stuff from practice up north, but was hesitant on taking the run. With a little convincing from my co-angler Jeff Pfeffer, we ran up to an island I was successful on in practice. Within my first few casts I was able to upgrade with a 2.9 lb fish to help the cause.”
Dan then ran across the bay to a long secondary point with deep water on the sides while the flat sat in about 4-8feet. The flat was bare apart from scattered cabbage and grass which held some decent numbers in practice, but the size was not present. Dan was casting into the dark areas on the flat, which was littered with perch and bluegill.
After about ten minutes up on the flat Dan picked up his 3/16 oz shakey head with a 3″ Arsenal BoomStick screwed on the end, and on his first cast he set the hook and felt something immediately dig into the grass. “Feeling the strength, weight and how it was darting towards the boat I thought I had an enormous pike on the line. When it got closer to the boat I could feel that beast shake her head and knew it was a massive largemouth. It was stuck deep in the grass which started to really scare me. I was getting anxious and noticed I started to yank her up and stopped immediately before I made a mistake and just let her swim out on her own accord. The moment I gave her some slack, she immediately swam free and directly up to the side of the boat like she was ready to be done fighting. After a few scary jumps and thrashes, Jeff was able to scoop her up and we celebrated as I had pretty large screaming session and spaz on my front deck!”
On the next cast Dan had another largemouth around the same size come off, but this kept Dan in this area for another hour. With thirty minutes left Dan went to a spot he had caught some three pound bass in practice. “I thought it was extremely risky to take that drive to only have time to fish for maybe ten minutes max, so I decided to stop by my number one spot from both practices. I pull up and notice nobody was on the spot for once during the two day event, and I was going to be able to position myself exactly how I wanted to grab the fish I knew would be there. I turned to my co-angler and said, if they are here, I am going to make State.”
Dan picked up a Neko-Rig with a 3/32oz Arsenal Pagoda Nail Weight tucked in the end of a 6.5″ worm and first cast caught a 2.12 and 3.10 to upgrade his limit. His co-angler stopped fishing and told Dan that if he caught one more he would most likely be a contender to make the team. Dan casted out and boom caught another 2.10 largemouth, “I started to freak out and shake so hard I couldn’t even continue to fish. Jeff looks at me in disbelief and says I think you are around 17 lbs now, I can’t believe that just happened.
“In disbelief myself – I told him I didn’t want to risk being late, so we packed up and headed to weigh-in. What an epic day that I will never forget for the rest of my life.”