Mittelstaedt’s Huge Day 2 Carries Him to National Championship Qualification
At last week’s B.A.S.S. Nation Central Region Championship, Kent Mittelstaedt came out on top as Minnesota’s 1st place boater alongside Zach Yarnes who took the co-angler title. Mittelstaedt attributes his day 2 limit of 19-2 as one of his best tournament bags outside of his home waters of Minnesota and the reason why he was able to push forward for the Minnesota title.
Practice: Mittelstaedt had only spent one day on Lake Guntersville, several years ago. He remembered an area that had healthy grass and decided to start his search in that creek. Quickly he found some good vegetation, but was disappointed with the quality of fish.
“One of the coolest things about this tournament is all 20 of our Minnesota anglers meet each night and break down what worked and didn’t work.” From the information shared at the meetings, Mittelstaedt was able to expand on some ideas and found areas with grass and shellbeds that produced keeper quality fish. Still not happy with the size of fish he was catching, he decided to trailer up the river and fish some water that had less pressure. After seeing some decent fish, and catching one big one later in the day, Mittelstaedt now had found the quality he was looking for, but didn’t know if he’d be able to catch the numbers he needed.
Tournament Day 1: Not convinced that his big fish area could produce, and not wanting to stumble too far down on day 1, Mittelstaedt elected to play it safe and stuck to the creek and the patterns that got him the most bites within 10 miles of the takeoff area so he could maximize his time. He caught four fish around the 15” minimum and one decent fish around 3.5lbs, catching all of his weigh fish on a Carolina rigged zoom speed craw. His day 1 limit was 11lbs 8oz and the leader for Minnesota (Mike Lebsack) had 16lbs 7oz.
Tournament Day 2: Knowing he needed a big day 2 to make the cut for day 3, Mittelstaedt decided to take a big risk and run way up the river to where he caught his one big fish during practice. He talked through the idea with club mate and coangler competitor Erik Gaffron, and they concluded that he wouldn’t be able to catch up the amount of weight he needed by trying to repeat day 1. Mittelstaedt said of day 2 “I basically swung for the fences and hit a homerun.” Shortly after arriving near the area where he caught his biggest fish of practice, Mittelstaedt caught a fish in the 3.5lb range. Then after a few more flips of his Texas rigged Biffle Bug, he caught one over 4lbs. “Catching those two big ones right away in the morning really sealed my game plan for me. At that point I knew I would stay in that area the rest of the day.” Mittelstaedt proceeded to catch two more bass in the 3 to 4lb range. He finished his limit with a 2.75lb bass and was able to cull it out around noon in exchange for a 4+. After culling once, he decided that he had enough to continue on to day 3 and made a very difficult decision to save any other fish in that area for day 3. Mittelstaedt’s day 2 limit of 19lbs 2oz bumped him into the top position for Minnesota by a pound and a half, and skyrocketed him all the way to 9th overall in the tournament.
Tournament Day 3: “After I left those fish biting on Day 2, I had kind of committed to going back for Day 3 at that point.” He made the long run back up river for Day 3 and knew he would be faced with tougher fishing conditions. Day 3 brought cold, rainy and windy conditions. “I knew with all that wind my other program which was more main lake, would be extremely difficult, so that made my decision to head back north a lot easier. My area upriver was well protected from wind.” At that point, Mittelstaedt committed to the grind of fishing for 5 bites in his 200 yard area. He missed his first bite in the morning on one of his “juicy” areas on the weed flat. “The flat was mainly milfoil, so I felt right at home with it. There were a few little areas mixed in that had hydrilla as well, and those were the key to the bigger fish for me.” The thought of that missed fish kept popping in his head, but he knew he had to force himself to keep positive and really believe in his program. He had a couple other fish that morning that tapped his bait but didn’t commit to it. Mittelstaedt decided with the tougher, colder conditions to downsize his Arsenal tungsten flipping weight from 3/4oz to a 1/2oz. After making that slight adjustment, the fish started getting the bait better and he got back on track to one bite per hour. Mittelstaedt had to call it quits around 1:15pm to make it back for his 2pm check-in. With only four in the boat, he knew he had left the door wide open for fellow MN competitors Mike Lebsack and Tom Kiefer. Much to his surprise, Kent’s 4 fish sack of 11lbs 7oz was just barely enough to maintain his lead and finish the tournament 1st in Minnesota and 17th overall out of 190 boaters.
Winning Gear Notes
Carolina Rig: 7’ MH St. Croix Avid casting rod, 1/2oz Arsenal tungsten bullet, 3ft fluorocarbon leader (15lb Seguar Invisx), zoom u-vibe speed craw (watermelon) rigged weedless on a 4/0 owner worm hook.
Texas Rig: 7’ 3” MH casting rod, 3/4oz and 1/2oz Arsenal tungsten Flipping weight, 5/0 Owner Jungle Flippin hook, Gene Larew Biffle Bug (watermelon candy) on 20lb Seguar Invisx.
Key Factor to Success
“Staying positive and completely in the zone, free from any distractions. I’ve never really been a 5-bites-a-day guy, so for me it was really tough mentally to go for that game plan. In the end it paid off, and I was able to do it because I truly believed that every single flip I made was going to result in a big one.”