The Denny’s Super 30 Series on Lake Minnetonka is arguably one of the top team fishing circuits in the state, as you are fishing against top-caliber anglers, along with anglers/guides who fish seven days a week on Lake Minnetonka.
This plus, the opponent for all, the bass lives in a lake that has countless places to hide, is consistently changing, and during the summer months faces a CONSTANT bombardment of fishing pressure, makes each five of Denny’s events a very competitive and learning-filled experience. Likely why, anglers like Seth Feider, Austin Felix, and Josh Douglas cut their teeth fishing this circuit.
My tournament partner, Jack Gavin, and I have fished the Denny’s now for five seasons and in that time have learned a ton about fishing Tonka and more importantly how to adapt to conditions on tournament day.
Up to this year, our best season was in 2019, where we finished 8th in the team of the year standings and had a 10th place finish in the August event. So going into this season, we had the goal of cashing a check-in three events and again finishing in the top-ten in points.
Here is a quick recap of each five of the events…
June 1st – 5th place (19 lb 13 oz):
Targeted shallow water largemouth around a variety of cover, from vegetation to laydowns, we looked for areas that other anglers may have missed. Getting the year started off on the right foot was a good feeling, but we also did this last year with a 7th place finish, so we knew we needed to follow it up with a good event in June. Check number one of the year!
June 14th – 17th place (17 lb):
This event is always a unique event, the bass are pretty much done spawning, yet they haven’t fully moved into their summer patterns, so fishing shallow and mid-depth transition areas were the game plan. We started the day hot with a topwater bite to get a limit but lacked quality fish. Luckily, we stuck with it and caught two good upgrades with about an hour to go.
July 12th – 11th place (18 lb 9 oz):
Fishing typical summertime Lake Minnetonka patterns, rock/weed transitions, deep weedlines, and boat docks, was the game plan here and it worked well for us, but we lacked that kicker fish that most of the top-ten teams had. Our 4 lb 2 oz big bass and cookie-cutter three-pounders had us finish just out of the money on this one by just over a pound, ugh!
August 9th – 7th place (19 lb 10 oz):
This event was almost a cookie-cutter one to the July event, but our cookie-cutter 3 pounders grew a little, so we were able to bump our bag up by pound and the summertime pressure of Tonka had the bite tough for many of the teams, so our second check of the year was in hand! We did make a location change on the lake for this event, and this proved key for us as we were able to get on two schools of bass.
September 13th – 28 place (16 lb 1 oz):
Early fall on Lake Minnetonka is a crapshoot…the bass could be dirt shallow, they could still be in their summertime patterns, or somewhere in between. Going into this event we were 4th in the point standings, so our fate of getting our third and final check of the season and finishing in the top-ten in points was all in our control. In practice, I was able to relocate one of our schools from the August event and Jack found a couple of new areas holding quality bass. The morning started off good with our big bass, 3 lb 9 oz fish, along with three other bass off the starting spot. Then things got SLOW, and we ground out a limit with some keeper bass. Thankfully we reran two spots that we had fished previously in the day and were able to cull out our two runts with two fish that were at least over 2 lb’s, ha. These late-day catches and perseverance saved us some MEGA points and we were able to stay in the top ten in points, as we finished in 8th place.
So, we accomplished one of our goals for the season and fell just shy of the second one. But in all it was a great season fishing with Jack again, we continued to learn Lake Minnetonka and assemble a good game-plan for each event, and then adapted when we needed to. My biggest takeaway of the season was that I personally was able to use more finesse fishing techniques than I would have previously. If I can fish a power technique with a baitcaster in my hand I will but catching some key 3 pound plus fish, this year on a spinning rod is without a doubt how we were able to cash those two checks and get 8th place in the year-end point standings.
Jack and I are already looking ahead to next year’s Denny’s Super 30 Series on Lake Minnetonka to continue the Tonka learning curve and set our goal of improving upon this season.
Three-Key Baits for 2021 on Lake Minnetonka:
Wacky and Neko Rig – As I alluded to above, a spinning rod in my hand caught a lot of fish for me this season. A wacky rigged Zoom Zlinky or Senko worked well shallow early in the year and then a nail weight in the tail was my go-to when fishing deep. I used the #2 TroKar Finesse Hook and the Arsenal Neko-Wacky -Tube Plier when rigging. Without a doubt the line I used was key in feeling the bites and getting fish out of the heavy cover, my mainline was 30 lb Seaguar Smackdown Braid, connected to a 10 lb Seaguar Gold Label Fluorocarbon leader. My Witch Doctor Tackle Shaman 7’2” Medium spinning rod was in my hand more times than not this year.
Seaguar Smackdown Braid – 15% off: gwalker15 (https://tinyurl.com/yyxatfnu)
Seaguar Gold Label Fluorocarbon Leader – 15% off: gwalker15 (https://tinyurl.com/dd356rc7)
Zoom Zlinky – 15% off: gwalker15 (https://tinyurl.com/whmsxhry)
Arsenal Neko-Wacky-Tube Plier – 15% off: gwalker15 (https://tinyurl.com/84hcuju8)
Witch Doctor Tackle 7’2″ M Shaman Spinning Rod – 25% off: WDTPROGW25
All-Terrain Tackle Rock Rig – When fishing offshore rock spots, dragging the proven Rock Jig was my go-to. I primarily used the ½ ounce size in green pumpkin with a Zoom Z-Craw Jr as my trailer. I would fish it on 15 lb Seaguar Abraz X Fluorocarbon line.
Seaguar Abraz X Fluorocarbon – 15% off: gwalker15 (https://tinyurl.com/r4mwtbfn)
Zoom Z-Craw Jr – 15% off: gwalker15 (https://tinyurl.com/vxmeacsa)
Texas-rigged Zoom Mag Speed Craw – From flipping vegetation to pitching boat docks, or isolated weed clumps offshore, a Texas-rigged Zoom Mag Speed Craw was my bait of choice. It has a nice compact profile, and the kicking action of the feet is like non-other. I would rig my bait on a 5/0 Lazer TroKar Pro V Flippin Hook with a 7/16- or 5/8-ounce tungsten weight, the latter for flipping heavy weeds. I would either use 17 or 20 lb Inviz X Fluorocarbon, the latter when flipping milfoil.
Seaguar Inviz X Fluorcarbon – 15% off: gwalker15 (https://tinyurl.com/6zjj4x5j)
Zoom Mag Speed Craw – 15% off: gwalker15 (https://tinyurl.com/3sha8ena)
Four-Key Gear Items:
Humminbird MEGA360 – Keeping my eyes on my HELIX 15 on the bow, with the LakeMaster Map on the left side of the screen and MEGA360 on the right side, proved to be beneficial for me this year. From locating bluegill beds in the spring to finding isolated weed clumps and pin-pointing boulders during the summer, the MEGA360 helped me out at each event.
Minn Kota Raptors – The new Raptors got their workout early in the season when looking at largemouth shallow and then during the summer when fishing boat docks and flipping shallow milfoil. They held the boat in place and were silent when operating.
TH Marine HydroWave – Running my HydroWave is a must for me during the tournament day. Playing around with my settings, volume and delay is an ongoing thing, and I 100% can tell when those fish bite on a spot because of it.
Blackfish Gear UPF Guide Hoody – Being on the water for these events takes a toll on your body, staying cool and protected from the sun helps keep you on the water longer. I was cooler, more comfortable, and knew I was staying protected from the sun’s UV rays.