UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Norman

Day Three on Erie with Gelles

Day Three on Erie with Gelles
Kyle Gelles

Hailing from Pingree, Idaho, Kyle Gelles is about to wrap up his first season on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. Currently, he sits 56th in the Angler of the Year standings, and with a solid finish this week could punch his ticket to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay in a few weeks.

While his season has been full of the usual ups and downs one’s rookie season tends to present, Gelles is now faced with a chance to wrangle smallmouths in order to control his fate – something he’s more familiar with.

With that in mind, I took the opportunity to jump in the 30-year-old rookie’s boat for the third day of practice on Lake Erie to see how things are shaping up.

 

We meet at the Mazuirk Boat Access on Erie at 6:30 a.m. ET, though Gelles has already splashed his boat to try and beat the morning rush of a local bass tournament and weekend walleye warriors.

I jump in the boat and get the rundown on the day’s plan while Gelles sips his morning coffee.

“I think I want to try for a largemouth right away this morning,” says Gelles. “Then, we’ll head offshore and look for some smallmouths. I spent the last few days on the west side of the lake and in the Detroit River, so I want to see what is going on closer to takeoff today.”

 

Kyle Gelles

He doesn’t run far before Gelles sets down and starts pulling out rods for the morning. A crankbait and swimbait are his two main picks as the area has a pretty good supply of bait in it. After about 10 minutes or so of no bites, he packs up and moves out a little deeper.

 

Before making a cast on the next stop, Gelles takes time to tie a new leader of fluorocarbon to his drop-shot rod with an FG knot.

“I probably should have done this on shore out of the waves and wind,” laughs Gelles.

Still, he makes quick work of the knot and is fishing in no time.

 

Gelles makes a few drops on some of the marks he sees on his Lowrance, but no takers. He opts to switch to a tube and pulls out a football head, which he dips in Smelly Jelly before inserting it into the tube.

 

It doesn’t take long for Gelles to lean back on one with the tube, though he knows instantly that it isn’t a bass. That’s drum No. 1 on the day and likely not going to be the last.

 

Sure enough, the second and much smaller drum comes aboard just minutes after the first.

As he continues to drift along the flat, I ask Gelles what he thinks it’ll take for him to make the TITLE.

“I really think I need to make a top 50 in this tournament to have the best chance at making the TITLE,” he says. “I know I should probably stay close and try to catch largemouths and play it safe, but I think I’ll end up going for five big smallmouths every day. To me, that just seems like the best way for me to earn the points I need.

“I went up to St. Clair for a little bit and it was pretty good. I just don’t know if I want to gamble by running there. I still have today and tomorrow to look around, but I think I need to make at least an hour run to have a shot.”

 

Gelles makes a little move to another area full of bait. He tries everything from a swimbait to a crankbait and even a drop-shot. Unfortunately, he only manages a small white bass and begins thinking it’s time to head out.

“There’s just so much bait up here, I can’t believe there isn’t a bass around,” Gelles says.

With that, he straps down the rods, pulls out the butt seat and he begins trekking his way out into Lake Erie.

 

Setting down a few miles offshore around 10:30 a.m., Gelles works on getting his balance on the front deck.

“This is the only time I think I was happy to have the front seat. You just can’t fish out here without it.”

Being a Sunday, it’s no surprise there’s an abundance of pleasure boats ripping around, which seem to be the main cause of the bigger waves on the lake. After a few boats buzz by making it tough to hold on the spot, Gelles pulls the trolling motor and he makes another move.

 

Setting down at the next spot, Gelles points out his snack compartment. His selection is pretty stellar. A loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, apples, CLIF bars and coffee cakes – plus he has Snickers bars on ice in the cooler.

Surprisingly, he’s one of the few pros I’ve seen with a container for his bread, so I make a comment about his level of organization.

“That bread container was a treat to myself after getting fourth at the Harris Chain,” he laughs. “I won $20,000 and went to Walmart and figured I could afford to keep my bread from getting crushed.”

 

It’s getting warm on the water now and Gelles begins crawling his way around an area that he caught a few fish in pre-practice. After marking several fish on his graph with no takers, he finally loads up on the first smallie of the day.

“Man, I was starting to wonder if I was ever going to catch anything other than a drum,” he quips.

 

Making a short move, Gelles is back to moving around on his trolling motor dropping on any mark he sees. This time, a smallmouth bites when he’s not paying attention and the battle begins.

After he wrestles it in the boat, I ask about the differences in fishing for smallmouths back in Idaho and on the Great Lakes.

“Back home, they eat perch, crawfish and trout, and I usually throw a swimbait or a crankbait. But out here I can’t get them to eat that, so I’ve been using a drop-shot or Ned rig. But it doesn’t seem like these fish are any harder to catch. I think they are maybe harder to find in general.”

 

Happy with his discovery, Gelles takes time to whip up a PB&J sandwich and starts idling around for more likely smallmouth habitat.

With the break in action, I ask Gelles what he thinks about his performance this year on the Pro Circuit.

“The experience has been great this year,” he says. “I haven’t done as well as I’d like, but I’m still really happy to be in range to make the championship. I quit my job as a crop consultant for the local co-op to commit full-time to this, and as long as I qualify to fish next year, I’ll be back.”

 

It’s now creeping closer to 2 o’clock and Gelles decides it’s time to drop me back at the ramp before he gets back to the remainder of his practice day, so he pulls the trolling motor and he takes off.

 

After a bumpy 30-minute run back to Mazurik, Gelles drops me at the dock. He’s hopeful he can move around a little quicker this afternoon as the boat traffic hopefully tapers down.

Gelles still wants to find a decent largemouth bite closer to Sandusky just to have as a backup plan in case it gets really windy, or maybe to have a something to get a limit on quick in the morning. Though he’s a rookie on paper, he’s handling his practice like a seasoned veteran. And with a day and a half of practice still on the table, he’s got more than enough time to find some Lake Erie gold to help punch his ticket to the TITLE.

Tags: kyle-wood  pre-tournament  2020-08-11-lake-erie-super-tournament 

Eastern Finale Set for Norman  

Eastern Finale Set for Norman  

The Toyota Series Eastern Division will wrap up its season this week at Lake Norman. Hosted by Visit Lake Norman, Charlotte & Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Northern Division Finishes at Detroit River

Northern Division Finishes at Detroit River

The 2020 Toyota Series Northern Division will wrap up in Trenton, Mich., Sept. 17-19, at the Detroit River. Hosted by the Detroit Sports Commission, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac

Some of the top 10 pros chose a power approach to cover vast stretches of grass, while others slowed down with some of the finesse tactics that always seem to play on the Potomac. READ MORE »

Maupin Takes Potomac Title

Maupin Takes Potomac Title

The dock talk all week at the Potomac River for the Toyota Series Eastern Division event was that fishing was tough. That rang true again today as the wind help stall the tide making things tough for most of the top 10. James Maupin, however, kept his streak of consistency alive as he weighed his third 13-pound-plus limit of the week to move from second to first with 40 pounds, 11 ounces overall. For the win, Maupin earns his first FLW trophy and over $24,000.  READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 3

Potomac Midday Update – Day 3

Clouds have lingered throughout the morning, which most of the top 10 were thankful for as the bite has been better than it was during practice when conditions were calm and sunny. READ MORE »

Roten Best from the Back on the Potomac

Roten Best from the Back on the Potomac

James Roten has had a phenomenal year as a co-angler on the Toyota Series. He started it off with a top 10 in the Central Division event on Lake Chickamauga back in February. Then, weeks later he finished second on Hartwell to kick off the Eastern Division. Now, the 53-year-old mechanic claimed the top prize in just his fourth Toyota Series event ever. READ MORE »

Vaughan Cruising at the Potomac

Vaughan Cruising at the Potomac

The leaderboard definitely saw some shuffling on day two of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on the Potomac River, but Wayne Vaughan managed to keep the top spot thanks to another solid day. Weighing 14 pounds, 10 ounces today, Vaughan’s total now stands at 31-10 and gives him a nearly 5-pound lead over second place. If he can put it together for one more day, Vaughan will take home his second Toyota Series title in just as many years. READ MORE »

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Saturday’s final round will feature drastically different weather with sunshine in the forecast and with it being a weekend there will be plenty of people out enjoying the resource. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 2

Potomac Midday Update – Day 2

Clouds once again greeted the field for day two of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on the Potomac River and the fish were biting this morning. With low tide this morning around 8:40 a.m. ET – about an hour and a half later than yesterday – more anglers had time to capitalize on the strong bite revolving around that window today. READ MORE »

Vaughan Out Front on the Potomac

Vaughan Out Front on the Potomac

Taking the lead after day one with 17 pounds, Wayne Vaughan separated himself from the rest of the tightly-packed top 10 thanks in large part to his 6-5 kicker. Vaughan’s past experience on the river is playing a role this week, but a bite like that helps the cause almost anywhere in the country. READ MORE »

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

September is a tough time to fish almost any body of water and while the Potomac River may not be showing its true colors for the second stop of the Toyota Series Eastern Division the top pros are making do. Wayne Vaughan dropped 17 pounds on the scale to take the lead thanks in large part to his 6-5 kicker. Behind him, however, is a pack of hungry pros – some locals, some not – separated by just a few pounds with their sights set on fishing in the championship round. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 1

Potomac Midday Update – Day 1

It was a gloomy start to the first day of competition for the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on the Potomac River, and though it seems like a fishy day, so far the fish don’t seem to think so. READ MORE »

Eastern Division Heads to the Potomac

Eastern Division Heads to the Potomac

The Toyota Series Eastern Division rolls on with the Toyota Series at the Potomac River. Hosted by the Charles County Board of Commissioners, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Top 10 Locked for Championship Round

Top 10 Locked for Championship Round

The Knockout Round of the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota was a good one, with plenty of fish caught by most everyone, especially the anglers in the top 10. Winning the round, Spencer Shuffield caught 25 bass for 86 pounds, 10 ounces. Behind him, Joey Cifuentes tallied over 77 pounds, and Grae Buck, Bradford Beavers, Casey Scanlon and Rusty Salewske all banked over 60 pounds. READ MORE »

Mitchell’s First Look at Sturgeon Bay

Mitchell’s First Look at Sturgeon Bay

Having fished as a pro on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit for five years now, Kurt Mitchell started coming into his own during the 2019 season. That year he qualified for the FLW Cup – for the first time in his career – by finishing 24th in the points. This year, Mitchell kept rolling along cashing checks in five of the six Pro Circuit tournaments to settle at 31st in the points and now finds himself in his second straight championship. READ MORE »

Practice at Sturgeon Bay with Shuffield

Practice at Sturgeon Bay with Shuffield

Spencer Shuffield has had a tremendous season on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and he capped it off with a top 10 finish at Lake Erie. Now, he’s getting ready for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay, which has only the top 50 Pro Circuit anglers in it and will be a Major League Fishing (MLF) format event. READ MORE »

Big Prizes at Stake for College Open

Big Prizes at Stake for College Open

After being postponed due to COVID-19, the annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open is set to take place on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in mid-September for the sixth consecutive season. This time around, however, the stakes are even higher, as teams compete for a brand-new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat and 20 spots in the 2021 National Championship. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Erie presented anglers the opportunity to fish Erie or make a 100-mile run to Lake St. Clair. Pros found success doing both, with Justin Lucas taking home the crown by 1 ounce sticking it out on Erie. READ MORE »

Delta Hosts Western Restart

Delta Hosts Western Restart

The 2020 Toyota Series Western Division is set to return to competition next week in Oakley, California, with the Toyota Series event at the California Delta, Aug. 19-21. Hosted by the City of Oakley, the three-day tournament will feature a return to action for the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers as they cast for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Previewing the TITLE on Sturgeon Bay

Previewing the TITLE on Sturgeon Bay

The culmination of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season, the top 50 pros in the standings are headed to the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay. Fishing with the Major League Fishing (MLF) catch, weigh and immediate release format, the winner will take home $200,000 and be the first to win the new championship event. READ MORE »