Elites journey to La Crosse

Tag along with our Bassmaster Elite Series anglers as they exit Mobridge, S.D., and transition from stop number eight on Lake Oahe over to the final event of the season in La Crosse, Wis., where they’ll compete in the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at the Mississippi River.
First, Oahe champ Austin Felix needs a nap after a job well done.
While Progressive Bassmaster Angler of the Year front-runner Brandon Palaniuk tries to put his first tough derby of the season behind him. Time to put the past in the rearview mirror and finish strong.
Frank Talley locks his rig into high gear and heads due east towards La Crosse.
Some beautiful views exiting South Dakota.
The Swindles stop to smell the rose … sunflowers.
Another family presses pause to enjoy the moment.
The Kennedys have been one of the most fun families to follow as they journey across the country.
This adventurous group …
… truly enjoys doing life together.
And they are getting to see some stunning views …
… while shooting pics for the rest of us to enjoy as well.
It’s not all scenic and peaceful though, as is evidenced by this bear the Kennedys stumbled upon along a trail in the woods. (The video on Steve Kennedy’s Instagram is worth a watch.)
And another nearer to civilization.
Our own Chris Mitchell shot some of the scenery as well.
And the Morgenthalers did this, enjoying a trip to a winery along the way.
The Pipkens family took time to celebrate Chad’s birthday between events.
With newborn Ellie celebrating dad as well.
Dynamic Sponsorship’s Luke Stoner stopped along the way to bring us a few awesome shots of Sitting Bull’s monument in Carson County, S.D.
A sight to see no doubt.
Jay Yelas made a detour to enjoy a little fishing with some awesome people, the C.A.S.T. For Kids crew.
Jay Yelas serves as the executive director of C.A.S.T. For Kids.
In his own words, “The C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation enriches the lives of children with special needs, supports their families and strengthens communities through the sport of fishing. We empower families and communities to celebrate children with special needs, making these children feel valued and loved so they can overcome limitations and be successful.”
Time to roll into La Crosse, photo courtesy of Marc Frazier.
The Jocumsen crew sets up camp.
Time for a little R&R before business picks back up in the morning.
The sun sets with only one more day to prep for the start of practice.
A little strategy session for the guys.
Then it’s up and at ‘em early, as the anglers start to ready their rigs.
A look at what Caleb Sumrall plans to use this week.
Gerald Swindle is still gathering his thoughts, while making a full 180-degree swap of gear. Oahe saw lots of small line and spinning reels. It’ll be straight braid and baitcasters for the majority of the field on the mighty Mississippi this week.
Chris Zaldain takes the pups to the water’s edge to get a look at the lake.
Mark Menendez shows us his view for the week.
Another pretty shot from Ed Loughran.
As day one dawns on practice, things are looking a little foggy.
Make that a lot foggy.
The guys venture out onto the Mississippi River under dense fog.
Reports from around the river say the fog has been hanging around until about 8 a.m.
The concern on many an angler’s mind, will there be a fog delay Day 1?
Another challenge this week, the water is a little lower here than the anglers are used to. That’s making getting in and out of the backwaters a bit of a challenge.
Jason Christie made it into a pretty little hidey-hole.
But the challenges still abound, as the eel grass bogs down even the strongest trolling motors.
John Crews spotted a fox along the shores of the Mississippi.
And several anglers are having run-ins with frogs.
Carl Jocumsen hung out with this beauty for a while.
Anglers are actually catching frogs on frogs, they’re so plentiful here.
Matching the hatch is important, and David Mullins has apparently done just that.
Hollow-body frogs will no doubt be big-time producers here, as we’ve seen in the past.
Picking out the exact right one could mean the difference in a blowup and an actual bite, as lots of anglers will surely be tossing these around.
But bass aren’t all that bite them, as Luke Palmer shows us here with this pike.
Paul Mueller is impressed with the size of the perch on the Mississippi.
Chris Zaldain has a partner for practice.
And apparently he’s responsible for quality control.
Matty Wong shows off a nice bass. See his full breakdown video on how practice has gone on Bassmaster.com.
Another nice one from Bryan Schmitt. A 3-pounder is gold here according to the reports we’re hearing from on the water.
That means this chunk from Carl Jocumsen’s practice is a real kicker.
And we leave you with this picture of a thick bass from Lee Livesay’s practice. Apparently, they’re eating good on the Mississippi River.
Tune in tomorrow as competition begins for the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at the Mississippi River to see who will hoist the last blue trophy of the year.