FORT MADISON, Iowa – Share and share alike helped Iowa end a long drought and win the 2011 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Northern Divisional presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats.
The top individual was Illinois team member Greg Heindselman. He totaled 32 pounds to lead the group of eight state winners who will advance to the Federation Nation Championship.
Iowa’s first victory in almost 20 years was impressive, as the anglers widened their second-day margin to more than 25 pounds for a clear victory over Wisconsin. It was something Iowa had been working toward since the members earned their spots on the team.
“We wanted this from the beginning,” Thad Takes said. “We haven’t won one of these in a long time and it was starting to get old. We wanted to redeem ourselves and we were willing to do what it takes.”
Every member of the team was willing to sacrifice their individual goals to help the team. In their minds individual weights had nothing to do with anything. That’s a hard thing to do in a sport known for individual effort.
“We didn’t do anything really wild or unusual. We just made up our minds that we were going to share all our fishing knowledge openly,” said Takes, who qualified for the 2003 Bassmaster Classic. “We knew if we did that we’d be competitive.
“To be fair, however, we were fishing our home waters and we had a really strong team. That shows if you look at the individual weights. Our guys who were struggling caught more fish than the guys who were struggling on the other teams. That’s why there was such a big weight difference between us and the other states.
“That comes from being able to use the knowledge we shared on waters we’re familiar with. We didn’t have to explain things in detail. Our guys knew what we were talking about when we told them something was happening out there. Truthfully, if we’d been fishing a strange lake things might have been different.”
For their efforts the team earned a Skeeter XZ 190 powered by a Yamaha VZ 150.
Greg Heindselman took top individual honors.
On the individual side, Heindselman, of Lewiston, Mo., credits his win to the professionalism of the other anglers. This morning he said his primary concern was the weather. It was cloudy and windy but that didn’t bother his fish.
His secondary concern was pressure from other boats. That didn’t happen, either.
“I can’t say enough about my fellow anglers. A lot of the guys knew where I was throwing my bait — I was flipping and pitching plastics back in a creek — but they stayed away and let me fish it,” he said. “That’s no small thing.
“I launched from the 30 slot this morning and don’t have a fast boat. It would have been easy for one of them to claim my water. They didn’t. I can’t say enough positive about that. It shows you the kind of men and women we have in this sport.
“I can’t wait to get home and display my trophy. Winning this Divisional and continuing on in my sport is something I’ve always dreamed about. This year my dream came true.”
Heindselman and the other top anglers from each state, Jesse Reynolds of Iowa, Matt McCoy of Indiana, Thomas Kiefer of Michigan, Andrew Nitchals of Minnesota, Bryan McNeal of Ohio, Todd Serfoss of South Dakota and Brian Christianson of Wisconson, advance to the 2011 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats, Nov. 3-5, 2011, on the Ouachita River out of Monroe, La.
From there, the top angler from each of the six divisions in the championship will be awarded a berth in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic set for Feb. 24-26 out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La.
The six anglers who advance to the Classic also receive automatic qualification into the 2012 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central, Northern and/or Southern Opens.
The Bassmaster Federation Nation Championship overall winner also earns a berth in the prestigious Bassmaster Elite Series.