By: Lance Baker, Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff
The first weekend in May has become a tradition over the last few years for my friend, and Berkley Pro, Carl Vogel and I to head to Lake Okoboji and battle with some of the best anglers that Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin have to offer for the annual Okoboji Open.
This year, 53 teams set out for a title that is as hard to earn as it is deal with the wind in northwest Iowa. Carl called me while my Bass Pro Shops pro staff partner Kary Ray and I were at the river last weekend and advised me to be ready for some cold weather and a good bite…and man he wasn’t kidding! Vogel has become one of the top anglers on Okoboji and Spirit Lake and when he says that, I know the time is right!
We practiced for two solid days in the absolute worst cold, wet, conditions this old southern boy has ever seen and it was miserable! We managed to put two solid patterns together and figured we could get a solid 15 to 17 lbs out of it. But, for Vogel that wasn’t gonna cut it. He sat down and told me he had a game plan that if the conditions were right we could possibly not only win, but catch the biggest bag of fish that either one of us had ever weighed on that lake. We had a tough decision to make, but me knowing his history up there I put 100% confidence and faith in his thoughts and prayed to the fish gods to let it work!
Blast off came and went and we put our heads down and stuck exactly to his plan and, guys and gals, let me tell you — you had to see it to believe it. The fury of the biggest bass in Lake Okoboji began to make a move and they came to exactly where he planned! Through the netting, boat flipping, hooting, hollering, man hugs, and high fives…3:00 p.m. weigh-in was five minutes away. Carl and I sat down for the first time of the day and simply were in disbelief of what had just happened and to be honest it still hasn’t set in. As we were trailered to the weigh-in, we heard that 16.93 was leading and a 5+ was leading big bass. As the truck came to a stop and we both reached down in the livewells and grabbed two of our biggest fish and lifted them to the crowd, the feeling began to set in, “We’ve done this!” Our bag hit the scale and our best five of the day went for a huge 21.74 pounds and a big bass kicker of 6.33!
Family, friends, sponsors, and fans…that moment was the reason we get up and do this everyday. All your well wishes and support crowned Vogel and I as the 2013 OKOBOJI OPEN CHAMPIONS! Thank you everyone for giving us the patience, equipment, and support to make this dream come true.
And, Mr. Vogel when you read this, “THANK YOU for letting me share a day with you that will go down in the record books!”