Anglers Choice Classic

     Last year Josh (Chopper) and I qualified for the Anglers Choice Classic by winning the Cedar Lake Division. We were both very excited because the lake we were going to compete on is very near to my heart.
     Finally the day arrived and we headed south to Lake Guntersville. Our first two days of practice we spent combing the shallows in search of spawning bass. We did find two fish locked on beds but I questioned myself whether more would come or if we should look at more pre spawn areas..
     The last three days of practice were a bit of a struggle for us. We were catching one here and one there with no consistency. We did however find a small grass hump where we caught two big fish in two casts. We were just praying that they didn’t move before the tournament started.
     Day One- We made it to our first spot and fished it hard without a bite. We decided to make a move to a spawning flat. Chopper was first to connect with our first keeper. We were dragging a Rage DB craw with a 3/16 ounce weight in four to six feet of water. It was painfully slow but we managed getting on more keeper. Around 10:30 we decided to head out to the hump. The current wasn’t running but we had good wind current. Within five minutes I boated a 4 ½. Several casts later I caught another keeper. Then the wind died and so did the bite. In practice several of our friends were catching fish on Pure Poisons but we couldn’t seem to get the bites so I switched to a one ounce Hack Attack Heavy Cover spinnerbait and ripped it through the grass. The two hump fish came off that bate. We ran back to our flat for the last hour and Chopper filled out our limit with a 3 ½ off the DB Craw. Our 14 ½ pounds put us in 70th place. Not the way we wanted to start.
     Day Two- We switched our rotation and went to our shallow fish first. We caught three keepers real quick and then the bite died. I knew the current wasn’t running yet so we went looking for two more quality keepers. It didn’t happen. We ran back to the hump and decided to camp on it until the end. Around 2:00 I had one of the fiercest strikes I have ever had in my life. The fish hit so hard I never had to set the hook. After a few second battle Chopper netted the 6 ½ pound giant. We had probably taken 500 casts to that exact spot. It is funny how much current plays a role in river impoundments. My arm was starting to get tired from ripping the one ounce so I decided to tie on a 5 ½ Shadilicious. I threw it for a couple of minutes then handed it to Chopper. Finally he got bit and boat flipped the 3 pounder which gave us our limit.
     We ended up with 15 ½ pounds which was good enough for 37th place and a nice check. I was pleased with our performance because we never lost a fish and we never gave up. Out of 275 boats, I couldn’t complain.
     Our gear consisted of Ardent Denny Brauer Swimbait rods, Ardent Apex reels, spooled with 17 pound Vicious Fluorocarbon. We caught all of our keepers on three baits. Strike King DB craws with a 4/0 Mustad Grip Pin hook, a 5 ½ inch Shadilicious with a ½ ounce Squadron Head, and a Hack Attack Heavy Cover one ounce Spinnerbait.
     I also want to congratulate my good friend Mark Obrien and his partner Ryne Sanders for finishing 2nd place and winning a Legend Boat. They found the right fish and got the job done. I couldn’t be happier for them.

18th Annual Strikeking Open Bass Fish Off

The 18th Annual Strikeking Tournament will be held on Saturday, May 21, 2016 at Kinkaid Lake.  Please print off applications and either mail or drop off to:

Luke Estel
71 Noelle Drive
Murphysboro, IL 62966

*Best way to do it is to save the image to your desktop and then print.  If you can't get it to work, please email us at luke.estel@yahoo.com and we will send you via email.*


90 boats showed up this year for the 17th Annual Strike King Bass Fish Off sponsored by 17th St. Bar & Grill held on Kinkaid Lake in Murphysboro, Illinois. With a front moving through and light rain all day, most of the anglers struggled to catch their limit. What looked like a great top water day, the fish just wouldn’t cooperate. Like with any other tournament there were several teams that got the right bites and were able to fill their limit. By the end of the weigh in, twelve teams were able to put their five fish limit on the scales. Here are the final results.

·         1st Place-Larry Hastings/Josh Coppedge – 18.30 pounds.  $2200.00
·         2nd Place-Dusty Lepere/Brian Gass- 16.76 pounds. $1500.00
·         3rd Place-Todd Bennett/Josh Ballard- 16.71 pounds. $1000.00
·         4th Place-Jack Yates/Justin Looft- 16.31 pounds. $800.00
·         5th Place-Tony Dowdy Sr./Tony Dowdy Jr.-15.67 pounds. $700.00
·         6th Place-Marc Sheffer/Kevin Reynolds-15.60 pounds. $600.00
·         7th Place-Jedd Harper/Jerry Rednour-15.40 pounds. $400.00
·         8th Place-Duane Grammer/Todd Hughes-15.03 pounds. $250.00
·         9th Place-Holthaus/Holtaus-14.28 pounds. $150.00
·         10th Place-Jim Budde/Luke Budde-13.97 pounds. $100.00
·         1st Place Big Bass- Chris Hicks/Brad Curtis-6.17 pounds. $600.00
·         2nd Place Big Bass-Keith Clore/ Joey Crain-5.87 pounds. $200.00
·         3rd Place Big Bass-David Blumenstock/Jason Fred-5.49 pounds. $80.00

This year we were able to donate $440.00 to Kinkaid Reeds Creek Conservancy District to help with the restocking of bass into Kinkaid Lake.

I would like to thank all of the anglers that participated in this great event. Without your support this tournament wouldn’t be what it is today.

A big thank you to Strike King Lure Company, 17th St. Bar & Grill, Venegoni Distributing, Tony Chacheres Creole Seasoning, Vicious Fishing, Kinkaid Marina.




“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” – Babe Ruth.

     The USA Bassin Classic was again held this year on Kentucky Lake. My partner Josh “Chopper” and I left early the Sunday before to get several days of practice in before the event. When we arrived at the lake we immediately noticed the water had dropped and pulled the last remaining spawning fish with it. Therefor we would concentrate off shore on Kentucky’s famed ledges to try and locate schools of post spawn bass. Every day we searched for schools with my electronics and kept noticing that these fish were deeper than normal. We managed to catch a few in twenty to twenty two feet of water but had not found the mother load of bass yet. Most days we practiced from daylight until dark. Most days we spent only half of our day fishing while the rest was spent idling around trying to locate catchable schools. We finally figured out that the fish we needed to catch were in front of major spawning areas that held deep water out front.
     Day One- We blasted off to our first spot where Chopper quickly connected with our first keeper that bit a Denny Brauer Structure Jig in twenty feet of water. On stop number two I caught one throwing a Strike King 6XD on the top of a sixteen foot hump. As we made our way back up the lake I decided to stop on a channel swing we had found earlier. On the second cast I immediately hooked up. The cast after that I lost one. Boats were now starting to crowd us but we stood our ground. Chopper put our fifth in the boat which was a little over four pounds which gave us five. Those fish came off of a 5.5 Shadilicious and a Series 5XD. Time was up and we raced back to the weigh in where we ended up in 18th place for the day.
     Day Two-  Pumped wasn’t the word for us. We both knew that we had found a special spot. We raced down the lake and set up on the ledge. We could see the fish out deep and some shallow. The magic was beginning to happen. There were fish everywhere. I put the first three pound fish in the boat and it didn’t stop for five hours. We would catch a fish on a Shadilicious and then a 5XD. The action would slow down for only brief periods and then fire right back up. We had our limit within the hour and spent the next four hours upgrading. After I culled with a five pound fish I knew we might have a chance. But it wasn’t until I hooked our big fish of the day did I think we could actually win. He hit on the end of my cast and after a two minute battle he was in the boat. I couldn’t hold my emotions any more.  We left early for fish care reasons. I didn’t want to have any dead fish at the weigh in. When we got there we both knew we had done something special. The director put the fish on the scales and I was shocked! 23.62 pounds!!! We held the lead for a brief period but ended 3rd overall with 3rd place big bass at 6.36 pounds.  We caught our fish on a Strike King 6XD, a 5XD, a 5.5 Shadilicious, a Denny Brauer Stucture Jig, and even a Sexy Dawg.

     That day was a day that every bass fisherman dreams of having. Where nothing goes wrong, no lost fish, and each decision worked to perfection. To Chopper and I it isn’t about the money, it is about working hard and figuring out how to catch the right fish. After all, it’s just fishing.
  I would like to first thank my wife Heidi who has been so supportive in this passion of mine. To Chopper, the best attitude I have ever been in the boat with and a drive to learn what it takes to win. My Strike King family, without them I wouldn’t be where I am at today. Rigid Industries, Vicious Fishing, PLP Battery, Natural Gear, Sure-Life, Mustad, Power Pole, Stormr, and Leisure Time Outdoors. Thanks for all of your support.