La Crosse Championship
July 13th-14th 2023
Final Recap




One hundred and eighty-eight teams converged on The Upper Mississippi out of La Crosse Wisconsin. The area is a fisherman's paradise, offering cover and patterns to fit any anglers strong suits. The towering bluffs and hills surrounding the clean clear waters simply adds to a beautiful location to visit or hold an event. If you missed this trip, you missed a good one and you should add La Crosse WI to your bucket list.

Interviews and reporting:
Logan McKenzie


2023 U.S. Angler's Choice Champions - Jeff Geller and Clint Gradeless - 35.22 lbs

Their first time on the Mississippi River, Pools 7,8 and 9 proved to be magical for Jeff Geller and Clint Gradeless. The team, hailing from the Michiana division put together 35.22lbs to win the 2023 US Anglers Choice National Championship.  Opting to fish out of different boats during practice, the duo was able to cover more water in Pool 8, with Jeff fishing deeper and Clint fishing shallower.  Eventually, they were able to identify 6 key areas, all about 10'x10' in size, holding schools of fish.  The identified areas contained small depressions that created current breaks and eddys, allowing the fish to school up when they wanted to feed. Day 1 left them sitting in 5th place, bringing in a bag of 16.50lbs, using only 2 of their spots and catching their fish fairly quickly. More surprisingly, there was almost no pressure on their spots, as they only had one other boat near them all day.  Going into day 2, the stars further aligned; they only had to use 1 of them.  Weighing in the largest bag for the tournament of 18.71lbs.  The pair commented they "basically spot locked it for 7 hours" and waited for the feeding windows, at one point catching 4 fish over 3 pounds in 4 casts.  During practice they identified these areas by covering water with swim jigs and larger swimbaits but during the tournament they parked on their spots and threw an unnamed worm to catch their fish. The team fishes out of a Bass Cat boat and for their winning effort they are bringing home another brand new Bass Cat Pantera II with a 200hp Mercury Outboard.

2nd Place - Zach Schmieglitz and Mike Schmieglitz - 32.69 lbs

Zach and Mike Schmieglitz amassed 32.69lbs of largemouth to secure a 2nd place finish.  The father-son duo, coming out of the Fox Chain division, knows a thing or 2 about shallow river systems.  Zach has previously fished several tournaments on the river and his dad, Mike, has spent time up there ice fishing. Zach described practice as "mediocre." They spent their first couple days in Pool 7, where they thought they could catch a mixed bag of 12-14lbs per day, predominantly largemouth.  On the last couple days of practice they decided to venture back to Pool 8, finding "the juice" late in the evening on the last full day of practice. "After fishing miles of the same looking stuff, we pulled into this slough and it just looked right,"  said Zach. Upon catching a 4 pounder and shaking off several more fish in this 40 foot stretch of mat, they knew they found what they were looking for. Being Team of the Year from the Fox Chain division landed them boat #7 on day 1, allowing them to get to the area first.  They caught between 7-8 keepers on day 1, for 16.52lbs, which had them sitting in 4th place going into day 2.  They reported seeing specific feeding windows when catching their better quality fish.  With boat order reversed, they thought there was no chance of getting back on what they had found.  Much to their surprise, nobody was there!  Day 2 followed the same pattern as day 1. They again went to work catching 7-10 keepers, using frogs, swim jigs, and flippin' a Sweet Beaver to put 16.17lbs in their livewell. They leap frogged from 4th to 2nd.  Their finish awarded them a Bass Cat Pantera Classic with a 150hp Mercury Outboard.  Zach and Mike wanted to give a shout out to Triangle Sports & Marine in Antioch, IL and DAH Custom Propellers.

3rd Place Power-Pole Top Contenders - Kurt Kahl and Mike Feldermann - 32.47 lbs

Experienced river rats, Kurt Kahl and Mike Feldermann, from the Mississippi River Pool 13 division brought home 3rd place with a 2 day weight of 32.47lbs. With both Kahl and Feldermann having extensive knowledge of the Mississippi River, they used separate boats to cover more water during practice, hitting key areas in pools 7, 8, and 9 that they had previously known to hold fish.  The river legends, descibed by Feldermann as "I just think that means I'm old" commented they thought it would take 34-35lbs to win the 2 day event and they were correct.  Because of this they opted to stay in Pool 8, where they thought the quality was better, focusing on a key 300 yard stretch of bank near the main river with an eel grass weedline.  This stretch of bank had a solid current break and heavy presence of baitfish. They reported catching 10-12 keepers per day using chatterbaits and swim jigs, with their better bites coming on the swim jig.  Kahl and Feldermann said the early hours of both days were best for them, boating a majority of their weight under lower light conditions.  They weighed in 16.76 on day 1, with 4 largemouth and one smallmouth.  The smallmouth, weighing over 4lbs, was described by Feldermann as a "fluke" as they were mostly on a largemouth pattern.  This left them sitting in 3rd place after day 1, a mere 0.29lbs behind the leaders.  On day 2, focusing again on the same stretch of bank, they kept winding their chatterbaits and swim jigs to bring 15.71lbs of largemouth to the scales. Their consistent 2 day effort kept them in 3rd place.

Lunker Lure Overall Big Bass - Michael Sutton and Evan Sutton - 5.72 lbs

Smallmouth?! YES! Smallmouth. Evan Sutton boated the 5.72lb monster around 1:00pm on day 1 citing "little jigs and Texas rigs were best for our big fish. "Speaking on the wing dam he continued that "the key was to find the rock that rose up 1-2 feet below the surface."  After locking back up to Pool 8 from Pool 9, the father-son team hit a key wing dam that produced big bass of the tournament.