ALEXANDRIA, Minn. Catching the heaviest sack of the tournament in the
opening round made the difference for Minnesota angler Jim Severson as he
held on today to win overall champion honors in the BASS Federation Nation
Northern Divisional at the Le Homme Dieu Chain of Lakes.
Severson, a 39-year-old full-time fisherman from Breezy Point, Minn.,
earned the individual champion honors of the three-day event by amassing a
total weight of 33 pounds, 6 ounces. His closest challenger was his
first-day partner, Jeff Brown, of Brandon, South Dakota, who took the
runner-up spot with 31-14.
Competing in his seventh divisional, Severson set the pace the first day
by catching a 17-4 five-fish limit while keying on docks in less than 3
feet of water on Lake Darling. He caught all of his fish pitching a
1/4-ounce black-and-blue Lunker Lure Rattleback Jig and black-and-blue
Gene Larew Salt Craw. Most of the bites occurred while the jig was
falling, but Severson disclosed that his biggest fish of the day bit after
he let the jig sit for awhile on the bottom.
A stiff wind caused 3-foot waves to crash into his best docks the next day
so Severson changed patterns and selected a fire tiger 3/4-ounce
Rat-L-Trap that he ripped across the top of the weeds along flats 6 to 10
feet deep on Darling Lake. The move paid off as Severson added an 8-3
limit to his total to retain the lead.
A 3/8-ounce bass-colored Picasso spinnerbait with twin gold willowleaf
blades produced best today for Severson, who weighed in a 7-15 limit. "I
was reeling it at a pretty steady pace, but never really hitting the weed
tops," disclosed Severson. "I guess they were just coming up and whacking
it. I caught most of my fish right out here on Little Le Homme Dieu (in
front of the Bug-A-Boo Bay Restaurant weigh-in site)."
The Central Minnesota Bassmaster club member started today with the
Rat-L-Trap but it failed to trigger any bites. "I think the fish just got
used to the Rat-L-Trap in the places I fished (yesterday)," he said. "I
never caught one on it today."
During practice, Severson tried to target big fish in deep milfoil with a
craw tube, but he had to change his game plan when that tactic produced
only one keeper each of the practice days. He decided to go with shallower
patterns since he noticed the bass were moving up and the big fish in deep
water kept ignoring his offerings. "I was just trying to get a limit
basically," he said.
As the tournament champion and top finisher on his state team, Severson
advances to amateur angling's only international championship, the BASS
Federation Nation National Championship. The Northern Divisional is the
fourth of six regional qualifying events that advance the top finishers
from each Federation Nation competing in the tournament to the national
championship, which will be held in January 2007 at Lake Neely Henry in
Alabama. The top regional finishers at the Federation Nation Championship
then qualify for a berth in the CITGO Bassmaster Classic.
The other seven state winners qualifying for the Federation Nation
Championship include Pete Cherkas, Iowa; David Junk, Illinois; Terry
McWillliams, Indiana; Scott Lakey, Michigan; Bryan McNeal, Ohio; Jeff
Brown, South Dakota; and Mike Mattis, Wisconsin.
The Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament award of $1,000 went to David
Junk of Quincy, Ill. He caught a 6-pound, 2-ounce largemouth on a number 6
citrus shad Fat Free Shad crankbait that he worked along a drop-off with a
weed line on Lake Carlos on the first day of the tournament.
Eight Federation Nations competed for state bragging rights and a total
payout of $65,000 with the monies to be allocated to each state for
conservation, civic and fishing programs. Minnesota's 12-man team won the
first-place prize money of $22,400 by bringing a total of 177 fish
weighing 297 pounds, 15 ounces to the scales during the three competition
"These guys took the lead the very first day and they clawed and worked
hard," said Mark Gomez, Minnesota BASS Federation Nation vice president.
"They met last night and shared information to make sure they held onto
the lead. I am so proud to be associated with these guys."
The next divisional will be next week in New York when the Eastern
Division qualifiers compete on Lake Champlain.