BEMIDJI, Minn. – With waters warming quickly now, late spring is the time for midwestern bass fans to shake off the last remaining effects of winter, renew fishing friendships and refresh their competitive spirit on wide-open waters. With those thoughts in mind Bagley Bait Company is proud to announce it will once again partner with the Classic Bass Champions Tour for the 2022 season.
The premier maker of traditional, premium, super-light balsa and hand-selected hardwood baits, Bagley Baits are designed with the utmost craftsmanship, quality and artistry of classic handcrafted lures paired with unmatched ferocity in design, finish and action. Sixty years of legendary bait-making skill is boiled down, energized and hand tuned into the most lethal collection of fish assassins ever assembled.
The Classic Bass Champions Tour is the Midwest’s most exciting and prestigious bass tournament trail. Created by Classic Bass owner, and longtime bass tournament angler, Scott Bonnema, the circuit’s goal is to bring the finest anglers from various regions of the Midwest together to compete. “Bagley Baits is committed to serving the bass community here in the Upper Midwest and honored to be associated with Classic Bass again this season,” says Mike Anselmo, Marketing Director for Bagley Bait Company.”
Noah Schultz, a Bagley Baits pro-team member, calls the partnership “a great fit,” noting that both companies have roots in Minnesota, and long histories of involvement with Midwest bass fishing. “Both Bagley Baits and The Champions Tour are well run, responsive to angler’s needs and offer premium product, ” says Schultz. He should know. The 38-year-old from Waseca, Minnesota, graduated to the Classic Bass Champions Tour four years ago after making himself known in local tournaments and he’s made a huge splash by winning the Classic Bass Champions Tour two of the last three years.
“I guess you could say I’ve done pretty well on this tour,” he says proudly. “I was Angler of the Year in 2022 while winning the Classic Bass Championship for the second time in three years. Last year’s title came with a $55,000 Skeeter X200 bass boat! I took on Bagley as my first-ever sponsor last year and their lures helped me immensely. I had a third-place finish at Pelican Lake in Orr, Minnesota, and caught 95% of my fish on a Flat Balsa B2 Crankbait.”
At the championship on Lake Mille Lacs, a week later, Schultz used a Bagley Balsa B1 Squarebill Crankbait to lock in his victory by banging it off isolated boulders in five- to eight-foot depths. “It was fun to participate in such a great tour,” he states, “and catching smallmouth on that squarebill crankbait made the big win extra sweet. So, yes, I’d say Bagley Baits and Classic Bass are a great combination.”
Tony Hatten, 48, from Richmond, Minnesota agrees. A four-year veteran of the Champions Tour, he’ll be representing Bagley Baits this year as he did last. “I enjoy every minute of this tour, the intensity, the instant score tracker, and the change of pace versus regular team or individual tournaments,” reveals Hatten. “Between Bagley Baits and the Champions Tour, bass anglers in our region have the tools to catch more fish and earn recognition for their skills. It’s a great match.”
Hatten placed in the top ten at the Pelican Lake Champions Tour event last year while throwing Bagley Pro Sunny B and Diving Balsa B crankbaits in a Hot Claw Crawdad color. “Nearly every fish I caught in that tourney fell to a Bagley Bait, which makes me feel really excited for the season ahead. I’m an ex-hockey player and competition is something I crave. Still, you need an edge to compete at this level and my Bagley Baits provide just that. I can’t wait to get started.”
New to the Bagley Baits pro team, Dane Vocelka, of Richmond, Minnesota, is ready to dive into the 2022 tournament season. “It’s great that Bagley Baits is partnering with the Champions Tour,” he says. “Both have great reputations, and it’s exciting to be with a company that’s willing to give me a chance to fish their baits and represent them well. Bagley Baits give me a lot of confidence heading into this outstanding series because I know that from color selection to diving depth and durability, I’ll be able to do my job.”
Vocelka notes that Bagley’s balsa crankbaits are perfect for the shallow water action he expects at stops along the Mississippi River and on shallow, rocky waters like Lake Vermillion. “I fish a lot of shallow flats where largemouths and bronzebacks suspend above the weeds. In those situations, baitfish often hold off the corners where bottom baits and topwater offerings aren’t really the ticket. But I can turn those bass on most days with Bagley’s Pro Sunny B in Crawfish/Gill and Balsa B squarebill baits, then clean up some more fish with their Knocker B Topwater. I know several of my rods will have Bagley Baits on the front deck every time I head out.”
Another new addition to the Bagley Baits pro team planning to fish the Champions Tour is Aaron Teal, 28, from Watkins, Minnesota, who is thankful to have such a well-run competition matched to a top-tier lure manufacturer. “Everyone fishing this trail is blessed to have support from companies like Bagley Baits. Bagley is unique in that nobody else really makes high-quality balsawood hardbaits these days. It’s been really cool to see them put forth this old-school balsa revival with a new twist due to their innovative technology.”
With all the fishing pressure these days, Teal believes that bass throughout the Midwest, and particularly in his home state of Minnesota, are getting conditioned to seeing the same thing over and over. “But these Bagley balsa hardbaits can break through and refresh the bite by offering a distinctive look and feel,” he explains. “This is a power-fishing format, and I think Bagley crankbaits on the front deck are going to be a huge factor this year because there are several bodies of water where they’ll really shine.
“Vermillion Lake, for example, is full of rocks and there’s nothing better than banging a crankbait off hard structure to draw a quick response from bass,” continues Teal. He especially likes the Balsa B if it’s warm out because it deflects off rocks and comes through cover like nothing he’s thrown before. “With its amazing balsa buoyancy you can snag that lure between a couple of rocks, give it some slack, and watch it float back up to the surface. With an approaching cold front, the Balsa B 2 or Pro Sunny B in Burnt Crawdad can really shine, too. They really highlight that “Balsa is Better!”
With the first Champions Tour event scheduled to kick off Thursday, June 9, on Mississippi River Pools 4 & 5, it won’t be long until the Bagley pro team starts crossing some eyes. You can catch their performances July 7 on Lake Vermillion, August 25 on Gull Lake, or at the Champions Tour Championship Presented by Skeeter Boats and Yamaha, September 1, at a location to be determined.
“It was a blast working with the Classic Bass crew and watching the successes of Tony and Noah last season. Bagley Baits played a role at each of the events, which I think opened some eyes throughout the tour and its anglers,’ adds Bagley’s Marketing Coordinator, Charlie Peterson.
“We’re looking forward to kicking off the 2022 season this week on the Mississippi River with an expanded team of pros that now includes Aaron Teal and Dane Vocelka, both great fishermen who will represent us well.”
For details on the 2022 Bass Classic Champions, visit www.classicbass.com. To check out the full line of Bagley’s premium balsa hardbaits, exciting new colors and hardbait kits, visit https://www.bagleybait.com.