August 25, 2023 at 5:50 a.m.

Wisconsin Bass Team Trail anglers hit Lake Mohawksin for their last qualifier of the year

Brothers Matt and Dan Hirman took the win at the Wisconsin Bass Team Trail Lake Mohawksin event with 15.65 pounds. (Photos by Beckie Gaskill/Lakeland Times)
Brothers Matt and Dan Hirman took the win at the Wisconsin Bass Team Trail Lake Mohawksin event with 15.65 pounds. (Photos by Beckie Gaskill/Lakeland Times)

Outdoors Writer

The Wisconsin Bass Team Trail recently held its last qualifier tournament of the year on Lake Mohawksin. There were 40 teams signed up for the event, but one team dropped out due to motor problems. This meant 78 anglers would take to the lake in search of the five biggest largemouth and smallmouth they could boat for the day. 

Anglers were not only thinking about this particular tournament, but also Team of the Year points. The top three were close, putting the title within reach of all three teams. 

Chris Flanagan and Ken Darton bested the Thaos big largemouth with this behemoth that weighed in at 5.56 pounds. Darton took Big Largemouth for the Mohawksin event.

The Team of the Year for the Wisconsin Bass Team Trail receives free entry into each qualifier tournament for the next year as well as awards, T.O.Y. jackets and the ever-important bragging rights. It has taken consistency to win the top honors in this series, as there are many capable teams, “hammers,” as they are called, in the field every year.

In total, 134 fish crossed the scales at the end of the tournament. With 304.69 pounds of fish weighed that day, the average weight per fish was 2.27 pounds. That is about equal to past years. Only five largemouth crossed the scales, but two of them were bigger than most had seen come out of that fishery in recent years. 

Yeng “Opi” Thao and John Thao came to the scales with a 5.38 pound largemouth. The field was sure that fish would be big bass for the tournament.

That is until Chris Flanagan and Ken Darton showed up with a 5.56 pound bucket mouth. Interestingly, neither team to boat a fish over five pounds was able to bring a limit of fish to the scales. Thao and Thao had only three fish while Flanagan and Darton had only four.

The big smallmouth for the tournament was just under four pounds at 3.80. That bronze back was brought in my Mike Luther and Steve Grooms.

Sixteen teams were able to bring a full limit of fish to the scales at Lake Mohawksin that day. Only four teams did not weigh any fish. The average weight per team was 7.81 pounds.

It would take over 11 pounds to climb into the top 10 on the day. 

The top five were all over 12 pounds. When the scales closed, brothers Matt and Dan Hirman were once again victorious on Lake Mohawskin. They have won five events in a row on that fishery, according to Dan Hirman. Their 15.65 pound haul landed them almost two pounds above second place.

The father and son team of Clair and Raffe Hulce, back from a short retirement from tournament fishing, landed squarely in second. Their five smallmouth weighed 13.87 pounds. 

Tom Perkins and Blake Melvin snagged third place with 12.96 pounds.

The Wisconsin Bass Team Trail uses a points system to determine Team of the Year. The points system gives each team points based on weight as a percentage of the top team in each event. The winning team receives 100 points for each event. When points were tallied and the regular season was in the books, the team of brothers Dylan and Jake Minch were victorious, taking the Team of the Year honors for 2023. 

The team took the honors despite being in a back-up boat without all of the “bells and whistles” of their normal bass boat, as that boat had to go in for repairs.

 After all four qualifiers are done, points are tallied and the top 34 teams who have fished at least three events are invited to the championship. The past year’s Team of the Year, as well as the last year’s championship winner, are also invited to the championship. This means there could be a total of 36 teams at that event.

This year’s championship will be held on Sept. 23 and 24 on the Minocqua Chain. The series will take off and weigh-in at Torpy Park. Weigh-in will start at 3 p.m. each day and an awards ceremony will take place after weigh-in on Sunday. The public is welcome to attend and watch the weigh-in and awards ceremony. 

More information about the Wisconsin Bass Team Trail can be found on their website

Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at [email protected].


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