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: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/news/2015-04-17-top-5-patterns-from-grand-lake-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake Day 2

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-17-college-championship-race-tightens

College Championship Race Tightens

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-17-hallman-out-front

Hallman Out Front

Spawning bite continues to produce for the anglers in the Rayovac FLW Series event on Grand Lake. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-17-lake-murray-midday-update-day-2

Lake Murray Midday Update Day 2

The air temperature reached a high of 53 degrees here yesterday, which tied a record for the coolest high temperature for that date. Apparently, the short-lived cold snap also had a chilling effect on the fishing at Lake Murray this morning, as several competitors in the FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance Insight Genesis College Cup reported meager results. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-liberty-leads-college-championship

Liberty Leads College Championship

A 22-pound, 2-ounce stringer anchored by a 7-pound, 9-ounce largemouth boosted Liberty University’s Travis Rulle and Caleb Eppler into the opening-round lead of the FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance Insight Genesis College Cup here on Lake Murray. Rulle and Eppler were the last anglers to weigh in on day one, and their five-fish limit gave them a lead of more than 3 pounds ahead of Eastern Kentucky University veterans Kyler Raymer and Ethan Snyder, who had 18-15. The surprise team of the tournament so far is Colorado Mesa University’s Josh Worth and Kennedy Kinkade, who brought in 18-10 despite never having fished east of the Mississippi River before. Worth and Kinkade are in third place, followed by Cade Laufenberg and Wyatt Stout of Winona State University, and Benn Curry and Tim Ward of Auburn University, both teams with 17-8. Lamar University’s Cameron Lafleur and Justin Royal in 10th place set the cut mark at 16-8. The entire field will fish again tomorrow, and only the top 10 based on two-day cumulative weight will fish in Saturday’s final round. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-castledine-stands-tall-on-grand

Castledine Stands Tall On Grand

Day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Power-Pole on Grand Lake produced stunning weights. With “thousands” of bass on the beds, the pros brought in a total of exactly 2,240 pounds and it took 16 pounds to make the top 60. Rising above the crowd was Nacogdoches, Texas, pro Todd Castledine, renowned for his prowess in Texas, the sight-fishing master cracked 23 pounds, 13 ounces and leads second-place pro Jonathan Henry by 1 pound, 6 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-top-5-patterns-from-grand-lake-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake Day 1

The first day of the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division tournament was all about the sight-bite – from day-one leader Todd Castledine on down. The event, presented by Power-Pole and hosted by the Grand Lake Association, undoubtedly featured other patterns, but every angler who did well relied in large part on bedding bass. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-lake-murray-midday-update-day-1

Lake Murray Midday Update Day 1

With precipitation ranging from an incessant mist to torrential downpours sweeping the area throughout the morning, the odds favored a slow start to the FLW College Fishing National Championship being presented by the Lowrance Insight Genesis College Cup here on Lake Murray. As it turns out, however, the bass apparently liked the extra water and reacted accordingly. A number of the teams that found prime spawning areas for blueback herring in practice earlier this week returned on day one and were rewarded with limit catches of largemouths and spots by midmorning. Among them was the local favorite, the University of South Carolina, which reportedly had culled up to about 13 pounds by 11 a.m. Likewise, the Oregon State University was sitting on about 15 pounds and had culled five times. Tanner Masters and Wyatt Ryan of East Central University (of Oklahoma) caught their limit fishing seawalls and riprapped banks during the sporadic herring spawns that fired up as soon as boats reached their first fishing destinations. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-hanselman-wins-back-to-back

Hanselman Wins Back-to-Back

Once you get Ray Hanselman going, just get out of his way. The Del Rio, Texas, pro is riding an incredible high right now after sewing up his second consecutive Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division win. Hanselman won the opener on Lake Amistad in February, then backed it up this week with a win on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in an event presented by Mercury. For his final-day limit, Hanselman plowed deep into Rayburn’s flooded cover to track down a five-bass limit worth 16 pounds, 10 ounces, raising his three-day total to 60-08 for a win by more than 7 pounds. For his efforts, Hanselman earned a cool $35,815 check and another trophy to add to his mantle. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-white-takes-bragging-rights-on-kentucky-lake-

White Takes Bragging Rights on Kentucky Lake

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Joe White of Princeton, Kentucky, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 15 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League LBL Division tournament of 2015 on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. For his victory, White earned $5,014. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-taylor-targets-bluebacks-for-hartwell-win

Taylor Targets Bluebacks for Hartwell Win

ANDERSON, S.C. – Brock Taylor of Pendleton, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 1 ounce Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Savannah River Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Hartwell. For his victory, Taylor earned $4,830. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-chenoweth-wins-on-kerr

Chenoweth Wins on Kerr

HENDERSON, N.C. – Rick Chenoweth of Fredericksburg, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Piedmont Division tournament of 2015 on Kerr Lake. For his victory, Chenoweth earned $5,241. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-rayburn-day-3-midday-update

Rayburn Day 3 Midday Update

A chilly morning greeted the top 10 pros and co-anglers for the final day of Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division competition on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury, but a warm sunrise filtered by scattered clouds bespoke the gorgeous conditions forthcoming. Winds have dropped off to barely a breeze, main-lake running is easy, and the coves and creeks where most anglers are fishing are glassy smooth. Fish surely pulled tighter to cover with the sunny conditions, but that probably makes little difference, as the majority of anglers have been flipping close to trees and into dense buck brush since day one. The heavy, tangled spots with vines seem to be the prime targets again today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-hansen-holds-lake-of-the-ozarks-title

Hansen Holds Lake of the Ozarks Title

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – Brian Hansen of Fenton, Missouri, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 18 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Ozark Division tournament of 2015 on Lake of the Ozarks. For his victory, Hansen earned $4,507. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-frog-carries-lowery-to-victory

Frog Carries Lowery to Victory

ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. – David Lowery of Phenix City, Alabama, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Bama Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Martin. For his victory, Lowery earned $4,385. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-gordon-grabs-title-on-dardanelle

Gordon Grabs Title on Dardanelle

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Shawn Gordon of Russellville, Arkansas, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Arkie Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Dardanelle. For his victory, Gordon earned $7,244. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-10-hanselmania-returns

Hanselmania Returns

He’s back at it again. Ray Hanselman of Del Rio, Texas, won the season-opening Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament on Lake Amistad, and today he weighed in 23 pounds, 5 ounces on the second day of competition at stop No. 2 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Hanselman vaulted into the tournament lead with a two-day total of 43-14. “Hanselmania” leads by 5 pounds, 6 ounces over Denny Brauer, also of Del Rio, who is in second place for the second consecutive day. The leader’s stringer is even more impressive considering that Hanselman lost three 5-pounders this morning and caught 23-5 on a day when only one other pro weighed more than 20 pounds, and only three others weighed more than 18 pounds. Day-one leader Joe Don Setina weighed in only four keepers for 11 pounds today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-10-rayburn-day-2-midday-update

Rayburn Day 2 Midday Update

With only one fish in the livewell at 10:30, Joe Don Setina was probably hoping for a repeat of day one – at least the part where he sacks ’em up in the second half. We found the leading pro fishing the Black Forrest area that he worked the first day, and he’s sticking with the same routine of flipping heavy cover. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-09-setina-overcomes-slow-start

Setina Overcomes Slow Start

Pittsburg, Texas, pro Joe Don Setina is off to a hot start in the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division this season. After a top-10 finish at the opener on Lake Amistad, Setina jumped out to the day-one lead on Sam Rayburn today. It wasn't all smooth sailing for Setina, however. He says nothing went right for him this morning, when he lost fish, snagged trees and finally had to sit down and collect himself before continuing on. After refocusing, Setina caught his first keeper at about 11 a.m. and proceeded to sack up 23 pounds, 6 ounces for a slim 8-ounce lead over second-place pro Denny Brauer, who also finished in the top 10 at the Amistad opener. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-09-top-5-patterns-from-sam-rayburn-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Sam Rayburn Day 1

Overcoming a tough start, Joe Don Setina rallied to take the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event presented by Mercury on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. He’s fishing flooded trees and bushes like most of the field and weighed in 23 pounds, 6 ounces. With the lake at a 15-year high thanks to recent rains, Rayburn’s bass are scattered, often in areas that are difficult to reach. Some pros are muscling their way through the thick stuff to search for bedding fish, while others opt for working the perimeter of the flooded zone for postspawn bass. READ MORE »