Although there are two Pokegama Lakes in Minnesota, the one the Pros find themselves on is the one formed by the Upper Mississippi River located just a few miles southeast of Grand Rapids. Pokegama is actually connected to another body of water: Jay Gould Lake. Together, the two lakes offer about 7,000 fishable acres to the Elimination Round 1 Summit Cup anglers.
Select Pros Keith Poche and Jacob Wheeler joined full-time Cup anglers Edwin Evers, Skeet Reese, Jeff Kreit, Aaron Martens, Tommy Biffle, Gary Klein, Dean Rojas and Alton Jones looking for a chance to score one of four spots in the Sudden Death Rounds.
“You really look forward to coming up here just because these fish don’t get fished for at all, everybody up here fishes for walleye and pike,” Evers said. “They leave the bass alone and it’s awesome—you can catch ‘em any way you want to catch ‘em.”
Klein had the first catch of the day with a 1 lb., 14 oz. fish. It was Martens, though, who took a commanding lead early on in Period 1, including catching two fish at the same time.
At the end of Period 1, Martens, Wheeler, Klein and Evers were in the top 4 spots. Those four would continue to dominate through the rest of the day and eventually take their place in the Sudden Death rounds later in the week.
Reese was able to jump from 7th to 2nd quickly fishing around the docks. As Period 2 drew to a close, Klein also caught 2 fish on one cast, proving just how many schooling fish were hiding in the lake.
At the close of Period 2, Martens, Klein, Reese and Wheeler were holding strong in the top 4 spots with Martens on 44 lb., 6 oz. and Klein on 26 lb, 3 oz.
“We’re always looking to stick the knife in deeper,” Martens said. “We’re a bunch of killers. A lot better than struggling to be top 4.”
By Period 3 the wind was blowing nearly 20 mph out of the SE, causing all the anglers to reconsider their strategies and how to best adapt to the conditions on the lake. The winds were no issue for Evers, Wheeler and Martens, who had 4 and 5 lb. catches early in the round.
At the close of Period 3, Martens as he ended the day with 88 lbs., smashing Kevin VanDam’s previous single-day MLF record of 82 lbs., 6 oz. from Alpena, Mich., in the 2014 Summit Cup. Though Reese, Jones and Wheeler were in a tight race for 4th place, Wheeler came out on top with the final spot to advance.
“Man, that was a tight day,” Evers said. “We got a little space there at the end, that 5 and that 4 really helped me a bunch, that one dock, my magic dock, I need to go leave a $5 bill on the end of that dock for those people.”
Martens, Klein, Evers and Wheeler move on the Sudden Death rounds, one step closer to a bid to the 2017 Summit Cup Championship.