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TBF State Team Qualifier Fishing Details on Wilson Lake, KS

The TBF State Qualifier was on Wilson Lake August 27th and 28th.  The top 12 anglers qualify for the state team.  Next June those anglers will participate in the divisional tournament, which will be in Louisiana.  They do not announce which lake until November.

From the divisional you have a chance to make the national championships and winning the Living The Dream Package.  Living the Dream Package lets you fish the FLW circuit with all entry fees paid.  They also give you a truck and a boat to fish out of with some sponsor money.

Larry Stoafer, a fellow member of the Leavenworth Bass Club, and I practiced on Friday.  We did more looking than fishing.  The first place we stopped Larry flipped a frog on top of the grass mat and caught an 18 inch smallmouth.

We tried different baits and different areas of the lake. There wasn’t any one thing we found that worked better than anything else.  It seemed the smallmouth bite was the most consistent bite we found.  Which wasn’t saying a lot cause they weren’t biting real good.

Friday afternoon I was teamed up with my boater through a random selection process. With the TBF each person gets the front of the boat for half the day.  My boater happened to be from Salina, KS and fished the area quite a bit.  We discussed what we thought the bite would be and where to go.  We agreed to go to his spots first.  Of course I haven’t fished a TBF event or heard of a backseater in the TBF get to go to their spot first.  I guess that’s the perils of not brining your own boat.

At his first spot we caught a couple short fish but no keepers.  After a few hours of jumping around and fishing for largemouth we realized they were not biting and he asked if I had any spots.  I told him down by the dam we were catching smallmouth in practice.  So we headed down there.

I tied on a drop shot the night before and had a white Zman ShadZ on.  As my boater was fishing the grass line and grass mats, I threw out the deep side of the boat.  Right away I caught a 14-inch small mouth.  I then proceeded to catch fish about every other cast.

The smallmouth bite was on.  They were following it up in groups of 3 and 4.  I quickly caught 4 keepers (not a 5 fish limit for this tournament) along with a few smaller fish.

My boater tried all kinds of baits and never caught a fish.  I think it was that Zman ShadZ that made the difference.  The action of the tail and the smaller size matched the baitfish.

It was great getting into the fish like that.  My emotions went from worried about not making the team to thinking I had a chance to win.  I finished the day tied in first place with 9 pounds 4 ounces.

Second day was a different story.  I fished with a different boater who thought he could find some largemouth.  He was wrong.  Luckily he recognized it quickly and after an hour and a half or so he said lets go to your spot.

Once we got down to the dam area I caught a keeper fairly quickly.  So my hopes were high that I could catch three more and have a good chance of winning this tournament.  Even though my main concern was to just make the team.  There is no money on the line so there is no difference between 1st and 12th.  But winning would be cool.

I knew if I could weigh in two fish I would solidify my spot on the team.  Three fish and I had a good chance of winning.  One fish and I’d be on the line of making the team and leaving my fate to what the other tournament anglers caught.

We caught a couple of short fish but the bite had slowed down.  We fished it for a few hours and could not catch another keeper.  We could see fish chasing shad all around us, but could not get them to bite.

So we headed to Hell’s Creek to see if the large mouth had started biting.  We saw the co-leader from day one and he said he only had one fish.  The other boat in the creek also only had one fish.  So we basically fished for about an hour and left.  Went back to the dam and finished out our day not catching another keeper.

I was crazy nervous when I got to the weigh in. I really hoped I made the team.  I started listening to the dock talk about how the other anglers struggled, which encouraged me.

My smallmouth weighed 2 pounds 4 ounces, which was enough to put me in 5th place overall and on the team.  I would not have made the team if I had not caught that fish.  It was the difference between making the team and not.

Come to find out the smallmouth were on the other side of the lake.  The wind had changed and was blowing out of the south forcing baitfish up on the rocks.  I heard rattle traps and buzzbaits were catching smallmouth all day long.

So now I wait to find out which lake we are fishing for the divisional championship.  I’m excited to fish in Louisiana.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.






About Travis Perret