Tournament Season 2018 Begins for Team YouBetcha! Outdoors
The 2018 ice fishing season has been underway a little over a month now, but the tournament season only began last weekend for Chris and Mike in the Ultimate Panfish League. The first event was held on Big Marine Lake in Scandia, MN. Having fished this lake in the UPL in three of the past four seasons, the boys were definitely familiar with the lake, however, brutal cold pre-fishing conditions provided extremely tough bite in the days leading up to the event. Mike and Chris were able to cover a lot of water the day before the tournament, eliminating a lot of water with the help of Mike’s Aqua Vu micro underwater camera. Admittedly, confidence was not very high heading into the tournament as 3 total fish were pulled out of the lake in three days of pre-fishing prior to the tournament.
Then there was an unexpected development. At the 11th hour (almost literally) before the tournament, Mike had to back out of the tournament and Jake stepped in as Chris’ partner, marking his ice fishing tournament debut. Weather for the tournament was much more tolerable as the cold temps finally snapped and temps were in the 20’s most of the day.
Chris and Jake started the day in a known early morning spot and picked up almost half of their tournament limit of fish in the first hour and a half of the day. After the morning bite wore off for the guys, they made a long run to the south end of the lake and were able to finish off their limit while adding some decent kicker sunfish and one kicker crappie to their bag. Past experience has proven that the lake is capable of impressive 15 fish limits so there was uncertainty where the team would end up in the group of accomplished ice anglers that make up the UPL.
At the end of the weigh-in, Chris and Jake finished in 9th place out of 30 teams with a total weight of 7.58 pounds for 8 crappies and 7 sunfish. Big crappie weighed 0.78 pounds while big sunfish for the team weighed 0.575 pounds. Definitely a respectable start to the season, especially given the last-minute personnel changes that took place for this tournament.
Productive patterns for Chris and Jake included fishing weeds with tungsten jigs tipped with plastics or eurolarvae. Crappies were found to be cruising the tops of the weeds and would typically crush whatever bait was in front of their face while the sunfish were more finicky throughout the day and often needed to be convinced with subtle jigging movements that it was time to eat.
Overall it was a great day on the ice. A new UPL record was broken for total weight of fish weighed in at an event (175.085 pounds). Chris and Mike will be back out on the tournament trail January 28 when the UPL heads to North Arm Bay of Lake Minnetonka for the 2nd event of the season. The Ultimate Panfish League is an ice fishing league based in the Twin Cities Metro area of MN. Check it out on Facebook or Online for more information and updates from each event.
First: Snow Drop XL with a Maki Draggi for crappies.
Second: Custom Jigs and Spins JaJe tipped with euros for gills.