Minnesotans Daniel Larson and Gary Rehbein sacked an impressive 17.97-pound, 5-fish limit to win top honors and $10,000 in cash at the Cabela’s North American Bass Circuit’s Gull Lake qualifier.
"I can’t even begin to fathom what to feel right now," Larson, of Onamia, grinned moments after topping the field of 98 anglers from six states in a wild shootout in front of a roaring crowd gathered lakeside at scenic Cragun’s Resort.
"It’s an absolutely amazing experience," added Rehbein, of St. Cloud. He explained the team punched 1/4-ounce Booyah jigs tipped with appropriately-named YUM Money Craws through the canopy of a cabbage-coontail intersection on the offshore weedbeds of main Gull lake. "We were fishing for five good bites, and we got them."
Larson noted that the bass were cruising a narrow band of open water beneath the tangles, and bites? though few? were "crushing." The victors also pegged beefy VMC tungsten worm weights to deliver their Money Craws to the strike zone.
The win earned them the $10,000 first-place check, along with an additional $1,000 through Ranger Cup, $500 Cabela’s gift card through the Cabela’s Angler Cash program, U2 Pro Formula contingencies, a $100 prize package from Trigger X and Sufix, and a $250 PRADCO baits package for being the highest-finishing team using Bomber, Booyah, XCalibur and YUM products.
Second-place finishers Joseph Hall, of Lake City, MN, and Aaron LaRocque, of Wabasha, MN, weighed 15.69 pounds, worth $3,400 plus a $100 Normark prize pack and $1,000 for catching the largest bass of the tournament, a 5.13-pound brute. In third, Minnesotans Mark Fisher, of Nowthen,and Scott Bonnema, of Zimmerman,cashed a $1,500 check plus the Oxygenator contingency and $600 for second place in the Big Bass Pot with a 4.31-pounder. In 16th place, Keith Tuma of Baxter and Jim Smith of Brainerd earned $250 for the Optima Batteries contingency. In all, the top nine teams shared a $19,800 payout plus $2,000 from the Big Fish Pot and thousands more in sponsor contingencies.
The Gull Lake Chain yielded 237 bass weighing a total of 582.75 pounds in the Circuit’s catch-and-release format. On a charitable note, the Cabela’s NABC donated $15 per boat, for a total of $735, to the Range Bassmasters Club for their conservation projects. In exchange, the club provided an army of volunteers to assist with tournament operations. To date, the Cabela’s NABC and its sister trail, the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit, have donated more than $300,000 to fisheries conservation and outreach projects, including the Outdoor Adventure Foundation, which takes combat-wounded veterans and children battling life-threatening diseases on fishing and hunting adventures.
Before and after the weigh-in, the Cabela’s NABC called kids age 12 and under to the stage, to present them with rod-and-reel combos courtesy of the National Professional Anglers Association and Pure Fishing. The tournament drew extensive media coverage. Representatives of North American Fisherman, In-Fisherman and Lindner Media covered the event, and participated in photoshoots featuring Cabela’s NABC anglers and sponsor products after the event.
This was the third stop on the NABC’s 2012 season. The remaining qualifier is September 8 at Leech Lake, Minnesota, out of Trappers’ Landing Lodge near Walker. Teams fishing two or more of these NABC tournaments compete for berths in the NABC World Bass Championship, set for Oct. 5-6 on Pools 4 and 5 of the Mississippi River. The event offers a $30,000 cash purse plus sponsor bonuses, and carries a $20,000 first-place paycheck plus ultimate bassin’ bragging rights.
The NABC is open to all anglers regardless of club or sponsor affiliation. And its popular team format lets you choose your partner and cut your costs. Teams may fish one or all qualifying tournaments. Payouts are based on the number of teams entered in each event, not including sponsor bonuses from Cabela’s, Stratos Boats, Ranger Boats, Bomber, Booyah Bait Co., Optima, Oxygenator, Sufix, Trigger X, XCalibur and YUM.