Butler County’s Wheeler and Smithson win second leg of 2020 Kansas BASS Nation State Team Qualifier

Charles Chaney
Reggie Smithson (left) and Rick Wheeler (right) won second leg of the 2020 Kansas BASS Nation State Team Qualifier held at Wilson Reservoir

Former Heights Football coach and retired teacher Rick Wheeler of Whitewater and local El Dorado Insurance Agent Reggie Smithson were among eight anglers to qualify for the Kansas BASS Nation state team on September 19-20 at Wilson Reservoir West of Salina.

The top four boaters and top four non-boaters from this tournament will be joined on the Kansas delegation by the top four placers from each division from the first leg of the qualifiers that were held at Grand Lake June 27-28 along with the top two placers in each division from the Mr. Bass tournament held at Melvern Reservoir.

The team will compete during next year’s BASS Central Regional, the date and location of which have yet to be announced, with a chance to earn a spot in the 2021 BASS Nation Championship.

Wheeler sat in third after Day 1 almost five pounds behind the leader with a 15-lb. 5-fish limit. However, Rick’s consistency to duplicate his first day 15 lb. limit with a second day 15-lb. limit and over a 3-lb. average sealed the boater side win.

Smithson-landed in eighth place after a first day 3-fish limit and again was able to stay consistent with a 3-fish limit on Day 2 to win the non-boater side.

Both Rick Wheeler and Reggie Smithson fish for the Kansas Bassmasters club out of the Wichita area which is the second oldest bass club in the state of Kansas.

In practice moving baits seemed to be the ticket, but once the tournament started and the wind picked up the bite became tough. Slowing down and focusing on structure seemed to be the key to getting quality bites.

Jerry Hossli had the big bass on Day 1 for the boater side with a 5.8 lb. bass and on Day 2 big bass went to Dan Basgall with a 5.58 lb. fish.

On the non-boater side, big bass on Day 1 went to Clayton Rudmann with a 4.66 lb. fish and he also had a 4.82 lb. fish on Day 2 for big bass honors.

The Kansas BASS state team qualifiers are: Qualifier #1: Kenny Turpin, Chris Torkelson, Matt Mesplay and Nick Luna Qualifier #2: Rick Wheeler, Jason Baird, Josh Pladies and Klint VonFeldt and from Mr. Bass: Branden Garrison and Larry Stoafer on the boater side.

The Kansas BASS state team qualifiers on the non-boater side are: Qualifier #1: Nathan Fideldy, Richard Kiblinger, Lee Roberts, Kyle Torkelson. Qualifier #2: Reggie Smithson, Cody Paxton, Clayton Rudman and Jeremy Jackson. Mr. Bass: Justin Harris and Mike Turner.