After claiming the 2013 Cabela’s North American Bass Circuit’s Team of the Year title in September-and scoring an impressive victory at the trail’s Sturgeon Bay qualifier in May-Jason Corrao and Matt Stefan capped a storybook season by winning the prestigious Cabela’s NABC North Region World Bass Championship Oct. 11-12 on Wisconsin’s Chippewa Flowage.
On Day One of the two-day tournament, they brought a monstrous five-fish Cabela’s NABC limit weighing 19 pounds, 2 ounces to the stage. The basket was enough to put them solidly atop the leaderboard nearly three pounds ahead of their closest rivals among Championship competitors battling for more than $28,000 in cash and prizes. Although fishing was a bit tougher on Day Two-they didn’t round out a limit until after noon-Corrao and Stefan finished strong, bringing in 14 pounds for a total weight of 33 pounds, 2 ounces. The tally extended their lead to more than 4 pounds over second-place finishers Justin Rowe and Pat Schlapper.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Corrao, of Madison, Wisconsin. Along with one of the most coveted crowns in all of team bass fishing, the win was worth $14,000 plus the $500 Cabela’s Angler Cash contingency for being the highest-placing team registered in the Cabela’s Angler Cash program. Corrao explained their go-to strategies were fishing jigs and Texas-rigged plastics in the heaviest vegetation and clearest water they could find.
“This is absolutely fantastic!” Stefan beamed. “With the level of competition on this circuit, winning one tournament was special. But winning the Championship, too, is amazing.” He noted that after 12 years of competing in smaller tournaments together, he and Corrao decided 2013 was the season to step things up and try the next level. He explained that by making the most of limited prefishing time on unfamiliar waters, then making solid decisions during competition, they managed to more than fulfill their original goal of qualifying for the Championship.
Rowe, of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and Schlapper, of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, collected $5,000 for second place, plus $290 from the Big Bass Pot for a 6-pound, 2-ounce largemouth that was big fish of the event. The Illinois team of Troy Karafa, of Hebron, and Wally Ciborowski, of Spring Grove, claimed the $200 Optima Batteries True Blue contingency.
Hosted by the Hayward Lakes Visitor’s and Convention Bureau and Lake Chippewa Flowage Resort Association, the Championship featured the top two-person teams from the Cabela’s NABC’s 2013 tournament trail, which included qualifiers at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Minnesota’s Leech and Pokegama lakes, and the mighty Mississippi River’s incredible border fishery.
A total of 187 large- and smallmouth bass weighing 452 pounds, 4 ounces crossed the stage at Treeland Resorts. All were returned to the Chippewa Flowage in the Circuit’s catch-and-release format. Plus, the Cabela’s NABC and National Professional Anglers Association presented youths with free rods and reels thanks to the NPAA. The festivities also included an open house on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward. Hall of Fame angler and Cabela’s NABC competitor James Lindner was among those on hand to meet the public on behalf of the Circuit.
Corrao and Stefan were awarded Team of the Year honors at the Championship. Besides serious bragging rights, the title earned them $2,000 in Cabela’s gift cards, plus trophies and a free entry into the Championship. “It was a really great season,” Corrao reflected upon accepting the award.
Image courtesy Cabela's