September 29, 2006 by David Hart
MOUNT ARLINGTON, N.J. - Virginia angler David Keisel proved that it doesn't always take a limit to win a tournament. The Virginia Beach police officer was consistent enough, however, to take first place in The Bass Federation Mid-Atlantic Divisional Championship on New Jersey's Lake Hopatcong with a three-day total of 20 pounds, 15 ounces.
With only two fish in his livewell, however, he wasn't too confident about keeping the first-place slot he held on day two when the final weigh-in took place Friday.
"I was pretty sure I had blown it," he said. "The worst thing is that I was in the first flight so I was one of the first ones to weigh in today.
"I had to sit there and watch some pretty big bags of fish come to the stage. I figured someone that wasn't too far behind me would move ahead of me," said Keisel, whose two fish weighed only 3 pounds, 12 ounces today.
Three limits were weighed, including a 14-pound, 1-ounce sack, but none were heavy enough to overtake Keisel, who was awarded the Castrol Maximum Performer Award, a $500 gift card from Wal Mart.
Hopatcong, located in northern New Jersey, was relatively calm on the first two days of the championship, but a powerful cold front roared across the state last night, leaving behind a cold, strong wind that hampered Keisel's strategy. He caught all of his fish the first two days on a 5-inch wacky-rigged Yamamoto Senko that he worked around docks, but the steady wind prevented him from using that bait effectively. Fortunately, he caught his only two bass on topwaters early in the day.
"I got several hits yesterday on a topwater early, but they didn't eat the bait," he said. "Fortunately, two did today. I got both on a Bagley's Bang-O-Lure off a grass-covered point near where I caught my fish the first two days."
Jay Walls, a member of the Delaware Bass Federation, jumped from sixth place yesterday to second overall after bringing in a five-bass limit today that weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces. His total weight was 20 pounds, 4 ounces. Four of those fish were smallmouths.
Walls fished a wacky-rigged 5-inch green-pumpkin-and-watermelon laminate Senko on the outside edge of a grass line. It was near the same area he fished the first two days.
"I was catching them on the inside edge of the grass, but they weren't there this morning, so I moved to the outside edge and started catching them," he recalled. "I had to lay my line down on the water after I cast so the bait could sink down to the fish. That was what helped me catch the fish today."
Walls, who was fishing as a nonboater, credits his partners for allowing him to go to the areas he located fish during the practice period.
"My partner today gave me control of the boat for the entire day. I'm not sure I could have done as well if he didn't do that," he added.
Schneidereit nets third
Rich Schneidereit also stayed consistent enough to finish third after bringing three bass that weighed 6 pounds, 4 ounces to the scales today. His three-day total was 18 pounds, 11 ounces.
"The way the wind was blowing, I changed up a little and threw a spinnerbait to windy banks. I was just working the inside edge of grass lines. The wind actually helped me today," he said. "I tried a crankbait some, but I didn't get anything on that."
The following anglers will represent their states at The Bass Federation National Championship: Delaware - Jay Walls and Tony Kibler; West Virginia - Jody Green and Eric Stewart; New Jersey - Rich Schneidereit and David Frost; Pennsylvania - Randy Follner and Shawn Richard; Virginia - David Keisel and David Andrews; District of Columbia - Bill Kramer and Danny Shanz. (Anglers fishing in the boater division are listed first.)
Final state standings
The team from Delaware caught 44 pounds today and jumped from third place yesterday to first overall with a three-day combined weight of 109 pounds, 8 ounces. The West Virginia Bass Federation finished in second place with 99 pounds, 10 ounces, followed by New Jersey, which had a combined weight of 94 pounds, 7 ounces. Pennsylvania finished fourth, followed by Virginia and the District of Columbia.
The Mid-Atlantic Divisional Championship was hosted by the New Jersey Bass Federation and presented by The National Guard.