UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Vatalaro victorious again at Lake Erie

Pro Vic Vatalaro of Kent, Ohio, won $10,000 cash and a new Ranger 519VS Comanche bass boat Saturday as the winner of the EverStart Series Northern Division on Lake Erie.

Ohio pro lands biggest sack of tournament, successfully defends 2001 EverStart title

PORT CLINTON, Ohio - The last time Vic Vatalaro fished Lake Erie in competition out of northern Ohio, he won the 2001 EverStart Series Northern Division tournament launched out of Sandusky. Saturday, just up the road in Port Clinton, the 34-year-old pro from Kent, Ohio, showed why that first victory was no fluke when he went out and caught the biggest stringer of this year's Northern Division tournament here to win his second EverStart Series trophy.

"I'm pretty excited," he said. "Right now I'm still in a state of shock."

So are the other nine finalists. Vatalaro crushed the rest of the Pro Division Saturday by weighing in five beautiful smallmouth for a total of 23 pounds, 7 ounces. Not only was it the heaviest sack of fish the entire tournament, it defeated second-place Robert Sherry by over 7 1/2 pounds.

Obviously, Vatalaro was on some serious fish throughout the week. He started Wednesday in third place and never looked back, even when the wind shifted to the north on Friday - which he led - and blew a lot of competitors off their fishing holes. In four days of fishing on Lake Erie, Vatalaro weighed in 20 fish for a total of 79 pounds, 7 ounces.

Surprisingly, the winner said he was in desperation mode coming into the event. Having finished a disappointing 105th place at the previous Northern Division tourney out of Michigan's Detroit River - which fishes pretty much the same water - Vatalaro had to shift gears shortly before he arrived in Port Clinton for practice. Instead of mining the usual haunts around Pelee Island just north of Port Clinton - which he fished in the Detroit River tournament - he instead turned east and zeroed in on a spot 50 miles away that he hadn't fished in years.

"I went and practiced at Pelee, but I came back in and said, `Man, the fish are just not good enough out there,'" he said. "So, in desperation, I went to the old stuff. It's a spot that hasn't gotten pounded a lot, and it's what I'd call a sleeper spot. In practice, I caught a 7-pound smallmouth there that I thought I should have put on my wall."

The spot is area an old friend of his told him about years ago. Understandably reluctant to reveal its exact location, Vatalaro described it as a half-mile-wide, horseshoe-shaped rock pile with deep edges. In the middle is a deep hole that is a veritable bronzeback mine full of the 4- and 5-pound smallmouth that filled his livewell every day this week.

Vatalaro wasn't the only EverStart angler on the spot this week, though. Semifinalist Dwayne Horton of Knoxville, Tenn., also found the hole and worked it into a 17th-place finish. But Vatalaro said it wasn't an easy spot to fish.

"The deal is, if you don't fish it right, you won't catch any fish there," he said, adding that he didn't use a drift sock at all, just his trolling motor. "These smallmouth would just pick up the bait, put it down, pick it up, and put it down again. I easily saw 10 other pros come through there and not catch anything. The thing is, you had to hold still and cast to them like you do in the South."

Vatalaro fished pretty much the same rig all week: a green tube with a 5/16-ounce jig head on 10-pound line. Despite pounding 5-foot swells and a couple lost fish, he had a 20-pound limit by 9 o'clock Saturday morning. He eventually culled out to 23-7 even after losing five more fish and breaking his landing net.

"Those rollers almost swept my rods off my deck a couple of times," he said. "I went for broke today."

He collected $10,000 and a new Ranger 519VS Comanche for the win. But which one was sweeter, the first or the second win?

"Definitely, this one," he said, "because it makes it a double."

Sherry scrambles for second

While the incessant waves were trying to wash off the deck of the winner's boat, much of the rest of the field had trouble just reaching their prime fishing spots. Sherry knew the wind and current at his location on the east side of Pelee Island was going to be a tough customer Saturday, so he opted to stay close to home. The pro from Saint Charles, Ill., ran a couple miles just to the other side of Cedar Point and caught five bass weighing 15 pounds, 13 ounces for second place. He collected $10,000.

"I knew I couldn't get out to my original fish, so I went about two miles and just went fishing," he said. "I figured I would get more fishing in than if I tried to go out in the middle."

Dobson claims third

Scott Dobson of Waterford, Mich., did, in fact, make it out to Pelee Island where he and seventh-place pro Joe Balog were sharing a hole, and every fish Dobson weighed in was a solid 3 1/2- to 5-pound smallmouth. Unfortunately for him, he only landed four of them, worth 15 pounds, 5 ounces. He finished in third place and collected $9,000.

"On the way in I tried to stop and catch a little squeaker, but it didn't happen," Dobson said. "But I'm happy with the way things went today."

Liechty gets swamped, still claims fourth

Jim Liechty of Fort Wayne, Ind., burned through two bilge pumps Saturday and ended up fishing out of a half-submerged boat for most of the rough-water day. Fortunately, he was fishing the same area as Sherry and didn't have far to go. Liechty caught five bass weighing 12 pounds, 4 ounces, finished fourth and claimed $8,000.

Also, he pointed out how fortunate he was to be in a Ranger boat.

"A 522 holds a lot of water, I can tell you, and it still floats," he said. "Whatever it holds, about half of that was in my boat today."

Mansky takes fifth with bay bass

Dan Mansky of Youngstown, Ohio, finished in fifth place with a four-bass weight of 7 pounds, 6 ounces. He collected $7,500.

"My fish didn't bite this morning, so I kind of panicked and ran the 25 miles back and caught some in the bay with a spinner bait," he said. "It was rough going out there."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top-10 finishers in the Pro Division are Don McCulla of New Baltimore, Mich., (sixth place, $6,500) with two bass weighing 4 pounds, 7 ounces; opening-round leader Joe Balog of Independence, Ohio, (seventh, $5,500) with one bass weighing 2-15; Daniel Dyke of Clayton, Ohio, (eighth, $5,000) with one bass weighing 2-10; Mike Trombly of Perrysburg, Ohio, (ninth, $4,500) with zero bass; and Brian Hensley of Edwardsburg, Mich., (10th, $4,000) with zero bass.

Coming up

The next EverStart Series tournament is the fourth and final Northern Division contest of the season. It will be held at Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, N.Y., Sept. 24-27.

Day-four links:

Photos
Final results
Press release
`Cooksey claims co-angler trophy at Erie'

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2003-08-20-lake-erie 

/news/2016-07-29-two-for-one

Two for One

The sibling partnership has done that with staggering ability. The two have a practice system in place that, while simple, has generated success north to south. That system, and the teamwork that makes it possible, is about to get its greatest test this week at Wheeler Lake. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-28-early-reports-from-wheeler

Early Reports from Wheeler

Starting this Sunday, the 50 Forrest Wood Cup competitors will hit Wheeler Lake bright and early for the first of three days of official practice. It’ll be the first time the anglers have been allowed on the Tennessee River reservoir since the pre-practice cut off date of July 17. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-celebs-seminars-on-deck-for-the-cup

Celebs, Seminars on Deck for the Cup

The 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart in Huntsville, Ala., on Aug. 4-7 will be crawling with some of the best bass anglers in the industry – both active pros and bassin’ legends. Fans in attendance will have the opportunity to personally wish their favorite anglers good luck before takeoff, snag a picture and an autograph from an industry superstar, or sit in on a seminar. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-bass-and-bbq-festival-set-for-forrest-wood-cup-expo

Bass and BBQ Festival set for Forrest Wood Cup Expo

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – FLW is adding some Alabama flavor to the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup with its Bass & BBQ Festival as part of the FLW Expo outside the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama, August 6 and 7. The BBQ Festival, presented by WQRV 100.3 The River, will feature four award-winning BBQ teams offering delicious fare to visitors at the Forrest Wood Cup. A portion of all... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-bk-s-year-as-the-champ

BK’s Year as the Champ

Brad Knight plans on getting a good night’s sleep before this year’s Forrest Wood Cup on Wheeler Lake begins on Aug. 4. Sounds pretty straightforward, but there have been times during the past 12 months when dozing off wasn’t so easy for the defending Cup champion. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-1000-islands

Top 10 Patterns from the 1000 Islands

High wind and fluctuating water temperatures made things a little difficult for the anglers, but the top-10 pros adapted and utilized the whole playing field to exploit everything from deep smallmouth to shallow largemouth. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-mccartney-o-keefe-tie-for-win-at-flw-bass-fishing-league-great-lakes-division-event-on-mississippi-river-presented-by-navionics

McCartney, O’Keefe Tie For Win at FLW Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division Event on Mississippi River Presented By Navionics

LA CROSSE, Wis. (July 25, 2016) – Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-mccartney-o-keefe-tie-on-the-mighty-miss

McCartney, O'Keefe tie on the Mighty Miss

Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi River presented by Navionics. For his win, McCartney earned $5,540 after bonuses, and O’Keefe took home $3,540. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-country-music-superstar-dustin-lynch-to-perform-free-concert-in-huntsville-presented-by-wdrm-102-1

Country Music Superstar Dustin Lynch to perform Free Concert In Huntsville presented by WDRM 102.1

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Country music superstar Dustin Lynch will perform a free concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage at the Propst Arena in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville on Sunday, August 7, starting at 4 p.m., prior to the final weigh-in of the world championship of professional bass fishing, the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. The concert is presented by WDRM... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-canterbury-s-next-challenge-

Canterbury’s Next Challenge

At the time of writing, Canterbury had been picked by every pundit and 50 percent of players overall, which is a decent bump over Morgan at 47 percent. The dollars attached obviously make a difference, but there’s no doubt that everyone expects great things. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-jay-kendrick-the-rookie-

Jay Kendrick – The “Rookie”

A rookie by designation if not by experience, Forrest Wood Cup contender Jay Kendrick finished 34th in the standings in his first year on the Walmart FLW Tour to clinch a spot in the championship. What makes it even more fortuitous for him is that because the Cup is taking place on Wheeler Lake, he’ll be able to stay at his own house for the event, which is just about 30 minutes from takeoff at Ditto Landing. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-fan-freebies-and-contests-at-the-cup

Fan Freebies and Contests at the Cup

One pro angler is going to win $300,000 at the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart Aug. 4-7 on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Ala. That’s good for him. For fans, the chance to win is pretty good too. FLW and its partners and sponsors have lined up a sweet selection of giveaway prizes for the Cup and the accompanying FLW Expo, ranging from a tricked-out bass boat to a fishing trip with Jimmy Houston. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-24-1000-islands-top-10-baits

1000 Islands Top 10 Baits

The top pros from the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands kept it pretty simple to catch both largemouths and smallmouths from this massive fishery that includes the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Drop-shots, spinnerbaits and jigs all saw action and got it done from the lake to the river. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-24-penn-state-taps-docks-at-chautauqua-

Penn State Taps Docks at Chautauqua

The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-thompson-co-angler-champ-on-1000-islands

Thompson Co-angler Champ on 1000 Islands

The 1000 Islands is a great place to take a vacation, especially if you are from the south and want to escape the heat. That is exactly what co-angler Joe Thompson of Clayton, Ga., did and wound up capturing the top spot in the co-angler division bringing home a Ranger Z117 with a 90 hp motor. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-penn-state-university-wins-flw-college-fishing-northern-conference-event-on-chautauqua-lake

Penn State University wins FLW College Fishing Northern Conference Event on Chautauqua Lake

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. – The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-michigan-s-dobson-leads-wire-to-wire-wins-costa-flw-series-event-at-1000-islands-presented-by-mercury

Michigan’s Dobson leads wire-to-wire, wins Costa FLW Series Event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury

CLAYTON, N.Y. – Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 68 pounds, 8 ounces. For his win, Dobson earned $82,669, including a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-dobson-dominates-1000-islands

Dobson Dominates 1000 Islands

Scott Dobson didn’t expect it to come so quickly, but 30 minutes is all it took for him to find the winning pattern during his first day of practice for the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands. That pattern would lead him to three consecutive limits of more than 20 pounds, including today’s final-round bag worth 21-12 – the day’s biggest limit, yet his smallest of the tournament. His three-day total weight of 68-8 earned him a check for more than $37,000 along with a Ranger Z518C with a 200-hp engine for being Ranger Cup qualified. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-1000-islands-top-5-patterns-day-2

1000 Islands Top 5 Patterns Day 2

Strong winds limited competition to only the St. Lawrence River on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands, but that was no problem for the majority of the top 10. Even though most of them fished Lake Ontario on day one, they were able to adjust and stay on the fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-dobson-extends-lead-at-1000-islands

Dobson Extends Lead at 1000 Islands

A windy day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on the 1000 Islands didn’t stop day-one leader Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., from sacking up the biggest bag of the day. Dobson threw down an impressive 22-pound, 3-ounce limit to extend his lead to 5 pounds over Cal Climpson – a noted Lake Ontario maestro. Dobson’s two-day total stands at 46-12, and with lighter winds tomorrow some big bags are expected. READ MORE »