LA CROSSE, Wis. — The Mississippi River delivered two surprises to Devin Teigen, who won the Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open with a three-day total weight of 43 pounds, 3 ounces. The most significant delivery was the opportunity for the Nelson, Wis., angler to hold a first-place trophy in the first B.A.S.S. event he ever fished.
“It feels like a dream; can somebody pinch me?” Teigen said. “I never saw this coming.”
En route to claiming the win, Teigen had to reckon with changing river conditions that required a new game plan. After several weeks of high water, the Mississippi lost about 3 1/2 feet since the weekend prior to the tournament. This repositioned fish and shook up several of the patterns that had been working in the higher conditions.
“A week and a half ago, I felt pretty good with smallmouth stuff — until I saw the forecast for the river dropping,” he said. “The first day, I was going to run it and see what happened and I literally caught five smallmouth before 7:30. Luckily, four were good ones.”
Day 2, the river proved less generous and, with no fish in his livewell at 11 o’clock, Teigen shifted gears to a largemouth pattern — throwing frogs into shallow vegetation. Quickly securing three keepers in Pool 7, he returned to Pool 8 and finished his limit.
“I ran that pattern today and caught 15 keepers,” Teigen said. “They were all good quality fish. I only weighed one fish because the first four that I flipped into the boat, I thought they were all over 3 pounds.”
Teigen caught his winning fish on a Spro Bronzeye frog. He threw frogs with white, yellow and darker bellies, with the lighter baits producing most of his bites. Teigen fished a 7-6 heavy rod with braided line.
Teigen placed ninth on Day 1 with 13-15 and held that same spot a day later by adding 12-7. Adding 16-13 — the tournament’s heaviest bag — on Day 3 sealed the deal. Admittedly, a big loss earlier in the day had Teigen concerned he may have seen his opportunity wither.
“I started the day with three frog rods on my deck and after two hours, I had one left,” he said. “I messed up the reel on one and with the second one, I threw into a little pocket in the duck weed, the fish boiled on it one time and I could see it was a good one, so I threw back in there.
“He smoked the frog and when I gave it to him, my rod blew up in three places. It broke right at the reel seat, so I had no way to fight the fish. I tried pulling it in with my hand and it came off.”
Fortunately, Teigen amassed enough weight to secure the victory and a $39,600 prize by an 11-ounce margin.
Mike Brueggen of La Crosse, Wis., finished second with 42-8. He placed 15th on Day 1 with a limit of 13-9 and rose to fourth the next day by adding 14-15. Capping his performance with 14 pounds pushed him up two more spots.
Brueggen caught his bass on a 1/4-ounce white swim jig with a boot-tail trailer and a variety of topwater frogs. The week’s changing conditions pulled the fish out of more accessible areas, but Brueggen said he still had to mind his stealth.
“I had to stay away, cast far and get them to react to the moving bait,” he said. “I spooled the reel every time. Speed was key, but it’s hard not to tight-line them when they bite, so it was kind of a fine line.”
After leading for two days, Wes Logan of Springville, Ala., finished third with 42-4. After catching his fish on a 5/8-ounce Dirty Jigs Scott Canterbury Flipping Jig, Logan switched to a frog today when he realized his big-fish bait was unproductive.
“When I got bit today, it was a 2-pounder instead of a 3- or 4-pounder like the last two days,” he said. “I knew I probably couldn’t win the tournament on a frog, but I had to make sure I didn’t fall on my face. I thought I could catch some 2-pounders and I finally caught five.”
Kenta Kimura of Osaka, Japan, won the Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with a 5-8.
Fernando, Lobato of Sparta, Wis., won the co-angler division with 20-8. His daily weights of 7-1, 6-11 and 6-12 earned him a $19,800 first prize.
“I think the key was that I practiced for this tournament by watching were I saw the pros practicing,” Lobato said. “I would go fish right behind them and try to figure out how to get bites behind them.
“I found a couple of baits that would get those extra bites. I fished a Zoom Speed Craw on the back of a 1/4-ounce swim jig and on a Carolina rig. I think that smaller profile was key.”
Thaddaeus Vettrus of Chippewa Falls, Wis., won the Phoenix Boats Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 4-4.
The event was hosted by Explorelacrosse.com