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Bass fishing’s best

Crowning a Classic champion

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Tanner Mallams, Minot, carefully works in hopes of tempting a smallmouth bass to bite during the recent Classic Championship on Lake Ashtabula. Mallams was the Badlands Bass Bandits circuit season runner-up.

VALLEY CITY — This year’s Badlands Bass Bandits Classic Championship was won by the Minot team of Colton and Jamie Blomberg. And what a weekend it was!

The BBB culmination event of the year was staged on Lake Ashtabula September 11-12. Originally the Classic Championship was scheduled for Lake Sakakawea but low water caused the event to be moved to Lake Audubon. That didn’t work either as Audubon is being lowered, leaving just one boat ramp available, the east Totten Trail ramp, and the BBB’s insurance didn’t meet Corps of Engineers requirements.

So, the eleven-team field representing the state’s top bass anglers took off at first light at Lake Ashtabula on Sept. 11 for day one of the two-day classic. The teams had some wind to contend with, but not enough to stop the seasoned field from putting some big smallmouth bass in their livewells.

At the 3 p.m. weigh-in time there was a lot of buzz around the scale as fishermen knew that a number of big smallmouth bass had been caught. All were anxious to find out where they stood after their first day on the water, hoping not to have fallen too far off the pace to be in the mix for a trophy on day two.

When the last catch was weighed and the totals entered on the board, the team of Colton and Jamie Blomberg of Minot were in first place. Their top five bass, including the biggest bass of the day at 5.19 pounds, tipped the scale at 21.70, a crazy good 4.34 average. In second place was the always competitive father/son team of Dan and Alex Martel of Christine with an 18.41 pounds bag of smallmouth.

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Colton Blomberg, Minot, center, and Jamie Blomberg, Minot, right, captured first place in the Badland Bass Bandits Classic Championship staged Sept. 11-12 on Lake Ashtabula, adding another title to their season points championship. At left with one of the winning bass is Tanner Mallams, Minot.

As the fishermen intently looked at the total weights being tallied it became obvious that it would take a limit of a four pounds or better average bass to make a real run at the top on day two. Ashtabula has an abundance of them, even bigger, and the challenge for the experienced field on the second day of the Classic was to find those fish.

Day two started out in calm conditions that continued throughout the day. A light overcast gave way to brilliant sunshine later in the morning, causing some bass anglers to make adjustments to their presentations.

Getting on the bass on day two, big bass, and figuring out how to catch them was Team Blomberg. All the anglers had a pretty good day but none could match the impressive total posted by the Blombergs. Their catch was 24.97 pounds, better than their remarkable first day, for an unreachable total of 46.67 pounds and an average single fish weight of 4.67 pounds. The unmatched catch included the biggest bass of the day, again, this one at 5.6 pounds, the biggest caught at any Badlands Bass Bandits event in 2021.

Dan and Alex Martel made a serious run at the top with a second day total of 20.03 pounds, good enough for a second place total of 38.44 pounds, but still more than eight pounds short of the lead.

“The bass turned off for us about 12:30 both days, just shut off, but we had our limit by 11,” said Dan Martel.

Teammate and son Alex Martel also commented following the completion of the season finale.

“We definitely got more fish than we were expecting,” said Alex Martel. “At the start of the morning my dad caught a good one, about four pounds. Later I caught our big fish of day, just under five pounds. Basically, we were fishing docks, flipping drop shots and spinner baits.”

Colton Blomberg shared his experience on the water on day two, saying it didn’t start particularly well but changed for the better when the clouds gave way to sunshine.

“Once the sun came out a little bit we got into the shade a bit more and started fishing real slow and it just happened,” remarked Colton Blomberg. “They all came about the same time, basically dead sticking it.”

“It was a blast!” added Jamie Blomberg. “We caught lots of fish. I like to fish with him and support his dream. I love doing that.”

Colton Blomberg showed some emotion once the Classic Championship was securely added to his growing bass fishing resume.

“This has been an actual dream of mine for a while, to win the Classic,” said Colton Blomberg. “I’ve got other trophies but this is the one I really wanted.”

The Blomberg combination had a wonderful season on the Badlands Bass Bandits circuit, winning twice and posting a pair of runners-up and three fourth place finishes out of eight events. They also topped the season points standings which earned them Angler of the Year honors. Jamie Blomberg was named Rookie of the Year.

“Today I just found something that pretty much everybody else didn’t,” said Colton Blomberg about his team’s terrific day two catch. “It was just off the wall a little bit and that’s what I try to look for most of the time. I feel that’s why I did so good this year.”

Good against some darn good bass fishermen too.

“I’d say these are definitely the best bass fishermen in North Dakota and they can definitely compete against other states,” said Alex Martel.

Father/son fishing team

Alex Martel started his angling career fishing a trout pond with his dad not far from their home in Christine, eventually buying a boat and trying their hand at walleye fishing. Father Dan has watched the evolution of the young fisherman as he has become a familiar face on the BBB circuit.

“It’s always fun fishing with Alex. He teaches me how to fish all the time. I couldn’t even begin to compare to what he knows about fishing. I don’t know where he gets it from, but it’s not me,” said Dan Martel.

Alex Martel is one of several young bass fishing enthusiasts who have become well known throughout the state’s bass fishing ranks. His passion for the sport began while watching bass fishing videos on the internet.

“I thought it was very cool and wanted to try it,” said Alex Martel. “We went to a little bass pond and caught a few off my kayak. Ever since then I was addicted.”

“It’s a disease. Absolutely. Now I’ve got it, thanks to him,” laughed Dan Martel.

Alex said his father went bass fishing with him a few times and started liking it because of the hard fight bass put up when hooked.

“Ever since then we wanted to try competing and found this league. We’ve been fishing tournaments and having a blast doing it,” said Alex Martel.

“Absolutely,” added his father. “You look at these fishermen and they are some of the top bass fishermen in North Dakota.”

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