When District 8 announced the Semifinals tournament was going to be held on Lake Okoboji in 2022, there was a lot of excitement from a lot of great anglers.  Lake Okoboji located in the Northwest corner of Iowa is arguably one of the best lakes in the Midwest, if not the nation.  A lake where multiple 20lb bags are weighed no matter the season or tournament size, and sometimes a 20lb bag isn’t even enough to crack the top 5.

This weekend was no different.  On Day 1, Nick Siepker sacked up 26.92 pounds to take the lead over Chard Garton who weighed in 23.01.  This year Garton made the jump to the front end of the boat after winning The 2023 Bass Federation National Championship as a Co-Angler.  Rounding out the top 3 was former college angler, Charlie DeShazer bringing in 21.40.  But a stacked field was hot on their trail:

  1. Kent Priel – 21.40, 1998 Bassmaster Classic Qualifier
    5. Jared Knuth – 20.60, 2013 Bassmaster Classic Qualifier
    6. Hunter Suchsland – 20.25 – 2023 Bassmaster College National Championship, 10thplace finisher

Strong storms moved in overnight, but cleared just in time for takeoff.  The weather threw some of our top anglers a curveball, while others were able to keep the pedal down, and some continued to climb the leaderboard.

Charlie DeShazer brought in 17.52 to finish 6thoverall.  Joe “The Zark” McKay came charging from behind weighing 24.89lbs anchored by a 7.78lb largemouth to finish 5th overall.  Hunter Suchsland stayed consistent and brought in 19.53lbs to finish 4.  Jordan Hirt, the 2022 Bass Federation National Champion weighed 19.92lbs to finish 3rd overall.

With the final 2 left, Nick Siepker was not able to replicate his day 1 total, and weighed only 15.28lbs on day 2. This left the door open for Chad Garton.  Garton also could not replicate his day 1 total but still weighed a solid 18.43lbs of fish.  Garton’s two day total was 41.44lbs.  In the end only .76lbs separated the two anglers, but Garton was unable to close the gap with Siepker’s two day total weighing 42.20lbs and winning the District 8, 2023 Semi-finals.

On the co-angler side, Iowa High School State Champion Ways Raasch won District 8, 2023 Semi-finals with 31.57lbs, besting the closest angler by over 2.5 pounds!

  1. Hunter Fry – 28.96
    3. Mark Moorman – 27.67
    4. Jon Small – 25.98
    5. Hunter King – 25.97
    6. Brad Rockford – 24.98

The following anglers were the top placing finishers in their state and will be going to The Bass Federation National Championship in 2024.

Angler: Nick Siepker
Co-Angler: Mark Moorman

South Dakota
Angler: Troy Diede
Co-Angler: Terry Laverack

Angler: Joe “The Zark” McKay
Co-Angler: Ways Raasch

TBF Nebraska was the host state, and would like to thank your sponsors.  Fort Randall Hotel and Casino, Big Stone Lake Chamber of Commerce, Oak Hills Outdoors.  The weigh-master and MC was Bob Harris with South West Iowa Fishing Teams, who made the tournament one of the premier events in the Midwest.  Thank you Bob!

2023 District 10 National Semi-final Illinois and Indiana

On October 7th and 8th 2023 the District 10 IL/IN Semi Finals was held on the Mississippi River Pools 18 and 19 Launched at Fort Madison Iowa. This event was hosted by the Illinois Bass Federation.

Registration for the event was held Friday evening at the Quality Inn Fort Madison.

There were 109 Boaters and 109 co-anglers competing in the event to qualify for spots for the 2024 TBF National Tournament next spring. Location TBD.

Illinois qualified 1 boater and 1 co-angler and Indiana qualified 2 boaters and 2 co-anglers.

The weather was warm during practice on Wed and Thurs. A cold front and high winds came through on Friday to start the cold front for the event on Saturday and Sunday making fishing more difficult for most anglers.

Those who found biting fish did very well.

Congratulations Pete Saele as he was the overall Boater winner with a 2 day total of 28.69 Lbs. He will advance to the 2024 TBF National Tournament for IL.

Congratulations to Chris Lally as he was the overall Co-angler winner with a 2 day total of 14.72 Lbs. He will advance to the 2024 TBF National Tournament for IL.

Indiana Boaters Scott Bateman 27.40 Lbs and Chris Wilkinson 21.57 Lbs. will advance to the 2024 TBF National Tournament.

Indiana Co-Anglers Jason Cross 11.38 Lbs. and Daniel Eversole 11.04 Lbs. will advance to the 2024 TBF National Tournament.

A big thanks to all who helped in running the tournament.  Especially Joe Snyder, Ryan Winstead, Don Delong, Pat Welch, Pat Reeves, Derick Price, Mike Goins and Chi Easton, City of Fort Madison

And a big thanks to Chi Easton and team from the City of Fort Madison for their help with parking the boats and trailers on the tournament mornings, helping at the registration meeting and at the tournament weigh-in.

2023 District 13 National Semi-final Delaware Washington DC and Maryland

TBF District 13 is made up of Delaware, Washington DC and Maryland.  This year Semi-Finals was hosted by Maryland and we launched out of Millard Tydings Memorial Park.  The 3 states totaled 36 boats and co-anglers, bringing 72 competitors (brothers and sisters) together chasing their dreams to reach the Federation National Championship.  The week of leading up to the Semi-Final, the weather was in the 80’s, water temperatures were in the 70’s and anglers were reporting that the weather was awesome, and the fish were “chewing”.

Friday, October 6th we have reports of foul weather with small craft advisory for both days with wind gusts up to 30 mph and rain throughout the two days.  We contacted the National Tournament Director, Randy Sullivan to discussed that it should be a decision made at the ramp the morning of the competition.  Most important thing is that angler safety was the TBF’s first priority.  I wouldn’t say that the weather condition was our friend the two days, but we were able to fish.

With the tough conditions of 40-to-60-degree weather with very strong winds both days, we had some really good results.  The winner in the Boater’s Division was Thomas Bavaro III (MD) with 34.94 lbs with Second Place, Danny Rodriguez (MD) with 34.5 lbs.  These gentlemen represented Maryland well.  Our co-anglers had some awesome results as well.  Edward McGinness (DE) came in with 25.67 lbs to win the co-angler division and our own Paul Badders (Md/Tournament Director) came in with 24.31 lbs to take 2nd place.  It was a tough couple of days of fishing with some really good results.

Congratulations to the winners and I want to thank everyone for their participation.  I also want to send out a special thanks to everyone that helped me along the way in making this a successful event:

Sara Dixon (DE Tournament Director), Brian Barnes, Steve Wiseman, Randy Sullivan, John Sison (DC TBF President), Gary Brandt (DE TBF President), the Ladies at the TBF main office (who I only called 50 times this year) and all my directors in Maryland.  Thank you all, you guys are the best.

2023 District 15 National Semi-finals New Jersey and Connecticut

The 2023 TBF District 15 National Semi-Final was held over the weekend of September 30 and October 1, 2023, on the Hudson River.  The anglers from the two attending states, host New Jersey and Connecticut, were met with benign fall conditions during the first two practice days.  However, that all changed on Friday practice, when 5 inches of cold rain pelted the area; making an already challenging fishery that much more challenging, especially given the 15-inch minimum fish size.

Saturday’s Day 1 weather was only slightly improved from Friday, where anglers were greeted with on and off rain, and cool, overcast conditions.  Surprisingly, the previous day’s torrential rain did not muddy the water, and the low pressure made it a mostly successful fishing day.  Many Boaters posted five-fish limits and the leading Boater, Mike McMahon, of New Jersey, smashed them with a 19.49 bag.  The Co-Angler leader also was on big fish, as New Jersey’s Mike Wotanowski only had three keepers on the day, but they weighed a whopping 13.65 pounds, anchored by a 5.76 pound largemouth.

While Day 2’s weather was excellent and the river water remained mostly good, the high-pressure conditions made for a much more difficult day to catch keepers, as the results showed. Mike McMahon had a much tougher day two but still did enough to easily win the Boater Division with 30.39 pounds.  His victory made him the New Jersey Boater qualifier for the 2024 TBF National Championship.  The second place Boater, Keith Cleary from Connecticut, had two solid days, weighing in a total of 24.58 pounds to take the Connecticut Boater TBF National Championship qualifier spot by over one pound.  In the Co-Angler Division, many anglers struggled, including the Day 1 leader, which left an opening for New Jersey’s Jerry Vitiello to catapult to the top.  Vitiello’s two-day total of 20.38 pounds easily outdistanced second place angler Casey Noble and gave him the New Jersey TBF National Championship Co-Angler spot.  The fourth-place angler, Ronald Haag, was Connecticut’s highest Co-Angler with 12.83 pounds, edging out his nearest Connecticut competitor by one ounce.  That one-ounce difference gave Haag the Connecticut Co-Angler spot in the TBF National Championship.

Overall, 190 fish were caught and all were released alive.  The total weight was 473.01 pounds, for a solid 2.49 pound per fish average.