Wisconsin's Randy Burch was the top dog on South Dakota's Lewis and Clark Lake with a three-day weight of 30 pounds, 9 ounces. This is the third time Burch has made it this far in Federation competition.
"I'm very excited," Burch said. "They say the third time's the charm and I guess they're right. The Federation Championship is what we were here for. We worked very well together as a team.
"The whole team of Wisconsin was swimming jigs. I was using a Black Super S swim jig, just casting it out and fishing it just like a spinnerbait. The conditions were pretty rough today; in fact, I didn't know if we were going to make it back in. We left in plenty of time, though, and made it. We were soaking wet, but we made it."
While the top anglers from the nine teams gathered at the Northern Divisional are heading to the 2005 BASS Federation Championship next spring, the teams were competing for a cash prize purse based on each team's cumulative weight over three days.
Burch's Wisconsin team claimed the $15,000 cash prize with a total weight of 258-9, which Team Captain Roy Bragg credited to teamwork.
"This was a total team effort," Bragg said. "We had team meetings and we discussed strategy. I have to say that it was really tough conditions and we really worked well as a team.
"I greatly appreciate my co-captain, Andy Ritchie. He helped us out a lot. We had a lot of broken boats and we were up long hours fixing them."
Iowa's Andy Somerfelt will also be heading to the Federation Championship. Somerfelt claimed the lead for his team on the first day of the tournament and held it throughout with a three-day weight of 29-11.
"I'm breathing a little easier now," Somerfelt said. "I'm happy. It's my sixth time in the divisional and it's about time I made it. I've been second a few times and I can tell you, that's as good as last.
"I caught most of my fish on a back-weighted spinnerbait with a chartreuse trailer. I found a patch of weeds, but they were floaty weeds. The first two days, I stuck with the top water, but today they weren't biting the topwater, so I started slow rolling the spinnerbait under the canopy."
Joining Burch and Somerfelt in the Federation Championship are South Dakota's Jami Fralik (27-13), Ohio's Brian McNeal (26-1), Indiana's Dewey Allen (23-9), Minnesota's Chuck Steinbauer (23-4), Ontario's Bill Todd (20-2), Illinois' Brian Plank (19-13) and Michigan's Nate Wellman (17-14).
Nebraska's Shane Oltjenbruns earned the $1,000 prize for the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament with a 4-9 lunker he caught on day one.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass-fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
Sponsors of the CITGO BASS Federation Northern Divisional presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Toyota, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Evan Williams, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.
Local Sponsors include South Dakota BASS Federation and the Yankton Convention & Visitors Bureau.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.