By Steve Weisman
A huge success! That best describes the first annual Clear Lake Yellow Bass Bonanza (fishing tournament) held Saturday, February 16. Successful to the tune of 195 contestants and 4,545 yellow bass brought to the scales! Contestants came from seven states: Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
An ecstatic co-director, Kevan Paul, owner of Paul’s Fishing Guide, said, “Chris (Scholl) and I would like to thank all the sponsors that helped make this happen. We had a great show and can’t wait to see what happens next year. Many people came up to us and said that they couldn’t believe how well organized and planned out it was. That is a true testament to the efforts of all of the volunteers that helped make things run so smoothly. I’d like to personally thank these volunteers: Bill Miller, Van Miller, Alicia Miller, Ally Pike, Cory Muffins, Eric Welsh, DJ Kline, Lesa Paul, Jeff Kelly, Hunter Scholl, Levi Scholl, Kalyn Gullic, Cory Behr, Randy Mumm and Kevin Hulsing. ”
Leading the way and cashing the winner’s check of $600 with a 50-fish limit weight of 13.58 pounds was Jim Oberfoell from Osage, IA. The second place check of $400 went to Kevin Wiemer from Algona, IA with a 50-fish limit weight of 12.76. He also took the Berkley Big Fish Award of a 2.43-pound white bass, which garnered an additional $415 in cash and a $150 Berkley Prize Package. Matt Hull finished in third place, receiving a $300 check for his 50-fish limit weighing 12.75 pounds.
A total of 43 anglers brought in 50-yellow bass limits to the scales, and 165 contestants weighed in fish. In addition to the usual top 10 placings, Paul and Scholl tweaked the interest of all anglers by offering additional prizes to random placings in the standings. “We thought it would be fun to give everybody a chance at cash or a quality prize by doing this. So, the 15th place winner won a Vexilar FL 12 Pro Pak II, 25th, 50th and 120th places each received $200, while 75th place took home a Clam Pro TC Fish Trap. We were also able to give out a lot of other quality prizes as door prizes.”
To add a little excitement to the 8 a.m. takeoff, the first angler that brought a 50-fish limit to the scales would receive a $50 bill. “It took only a little over an hour. To be exact, at 9:16 a.m., Justin Humpal from Monroe, IA, brought in a 50-fish limit!” noted Paul.
The festivities for the Yellow Bass Bonanza actually began at 5 p.m. on Friday evening with the official Ice Bash at the Ventura Community Center. “The cost for the meal was only $5, and we made one heck of a lot of brisket,” Paul said. Friday evening was all about helping all anglers learn more about yellow bass and tips on where and how to catch them. In addition, DNR Fisheries Biologist Scott Grummer spoke about yellow bass and Clear Lake.”
Results on Saturday showed that the contestants were prepared. “Most of the limits came from the little lake, but some did come from the big lake by the west aerator out in front of the Pump House,” assessed Paul. “Most of the guys used mud bugs tipped with several silver wigglers or spoons with at least two silver wigglers on each barb of the treble hook. This seems to work the best, because the yellow bass are notorious bait stealers, and by having several silver wigglers on the hook, it’s easier to catch them. Plus it makes it easier to catch several fish without having to rebait. Some guys did use cut bait, too.”
Paul and Scholl are already looking toward next year. “As directors, we just plain had a great time. We have plans for next year to make the annual Clear Lake Yellow Bass Bonanza bigger and better. Of course, none of this would be possible without the help of our great sponsors.”
Sponsors who gave so freely of their time and products include the following: Clam Corp, Cabelas, Vexilar, Kahtoola Micro Spikes, Miller Beer, Berkley, FCIS Insurance, Coca Cola, Thul’s West River Meats, Clear Lake Tourism, Best Western, Caseys General Stores, Crazy Minnow Company, Ice Team, Recycled Fish, Cold Snap Outdoors, IceAholics anonymous, Behr’s Auctioneer Company and the Mirror Reporter.