In the decidedly competitive world of Big Bass Tournament fishing the difference between first and fifth place isn't hundredths of a second - it's about twenty-two ounces. Derek Kuntz, from Inver Grove Heig, Minnesota, caught a 5.73 pound largemouth bass at Lake Minnetonka, which was his second big bass of the tournament, and it helped secure a fifth place finish for his team out of 51 boats entered.
A big fan of K&N products, Derek hands out brochures to anyone that asks.
It's important to scout the lake in order to know where the fish are and which artificial lure they're biting, explains Kuntz.
"We missed first place by a pound-and-a-half - ouch," remarked Kuntz.
Kuntz's tournament of choice is the Fishers of Men National Tournament Trail, with 34 states participating towards the national title and the grand prize of a new fully rigged Triton bass boat motor and trailer.
"We are in the Minnesota West Division which is in the Midwest region, and in our first two tournaments out of five within our state, we didn't finish so well," admitted Kuntz.
Derek and his father, teammate Bob Kuntz, earned fifth place in Lake Minnetonka Big Bass Tournament.
After those two initial events Kuntz's team was tied for 25th in the overall standings out of 51 teams. However the team's fifth place finish on Lake Minnetonka moved them into 12th place. Then just this past weekend the team took sixth place on Gull Lake, which moved them into the top five, with one tournament to go on the 28th of August, on the Horseshoe Chain of Lakes in Stearns County, Minnesota.
"If we win that one we will be able to finish in the top position and automatically get a spot at the National Tournament, and we won't have to go to Regional's," say Kuntz.
"As far as our tournaments go, we pride ourselves on upholding the highest standards of sportsmanship to help showcase our sport of bass fishing. With all of our sponsors on our vehicles, boats and our tournament shirts, we are basically a walking, talking billboard."
At pre-tournament meetings the Tournament Director will instruct teams as to where they can and can't go on that body of water, along with any other rules, like posted speed limits for that particular body of water. If you get ticketed for speeding you get disqualified from that tournament.
Tournaments are a two-person team event, and only five fish in total can be weighed in. Smaller fish can be culled out as long as they are not dead. If you have to keep a dead fish, you will be penalized a quarter of a pound, which is taken off of your overall weight tally for those five fish.
"We do go out and put time in on the water so that we know where to go come tournament day," explains Kuntz. "It's really important to stay on top of what the fish are doing, so you can make the right decisions the day of that tournament, which helps to take ‘luck' out of the equation. With that said, I'd still rather be lucky than good on any given day."
"Skill comes into play every minute you're out there though, knowing which artificial lure the fish are going to be biting helps you put them into the boat," adds Kuntz.
"Being prepared with new fresh lines tied and hooks sharpened will improve your odds of getting fish in your boat too. Finding a number of spots is very important as well, because if you draw boat number 50, and you go to your number one spot and someone is on it, you need to adjust and go to your second, third, or even fourth choice. All that said, it's what we love to do, and it's great being around our friends and fellow competitors."
"I have been promoting K&N all across the state of Minnesota since being added to their sponsorship program by Mr. Bob Harris. I have installed an Air Intake System, and use K&N Oil filters with every Oil Change. Fellow competitors have stopped and asked me about K&N, and I tell them how happy I am with the products and I give them a brochure."
"Finishing in the top 25 of our division will give us an automatic birth into the Regional Tournament, which will be held in Paris, Tennessee on Kentucky Lake, September 21th through the 26th. If we can get through that, we will be going down there to compete later in September for a shot at the Nationals, which will be held in Georgia next April 2011."
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