UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Sitko braves perilous Erie for EverStart win

Pro champion Michael Sitko holds up one of his five huge smallmouths from day three on Lake Erie.

TRENTON, Mich. - Two consecutive days without wind is a rarity on Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. Three consecutive days is virtually unheard of and true to form, the third and final day of the EverStart Series Central Division finale was wet, windy and wild. Each of the top 10 pros started with the intention of running east to Erie, but only one ended up fishing the entire day. That brave soul was Michael Sitko. In truth, Sitko had an equipment advantage; he runs a Ranger 621VS as he also competes in national walleye tournaments. While it cost him a bit the first two days as the smaller bass boats would race past, today it was worth its weight in gold. Michael Sitko caught a five-bass limit Saturday that weighed 21 pounds, 6 ounces.Sitko started the final day in seventh place and ran 35 miles east along the North Shore. He boated a quick limit that included one 4-pounder and four peanuts that barely measured. By 9 a.m. he had three good fish in the livewell and all the other tournament boats around him had vacated. He headed back too, but stopped after 12 miles to sample another spot. There he caught a 4-pounder and a 3 1/2. Unfortunately, his co-angler partner was getting violently ill due to the consistent 5- and 6-footers. "I kept checking on him; I knew he was hurting but I also knew I was in contention," said Sitko. "I told myself that at 11:30 I was going to go in. I pushed it a little and at 11:40 I caught my last fish, a 4-pounder which culled out the 3 1/2." Sitko raced back and safely checked in at 12:30 p.m. His final tally was 21 pounds, 6 ounces, which more than gave him the improbable comeback win. As the other nine finalists retreated to the Detroit River or Lake St. Clair, Sitko's margin of victory was over 4 pounds. "The wind was the key. It was pretty nasty but I needed it to be rough to give me a shot. I knew these other guys couldn't get there or fish effectively. I was able to go where I needed to go; that boat made a huge difference." A closer look at Michael Sitko Sitko used two standard Erie presentations to catch his fish - a drop-shot and a tube. His drop-shot setup consisted of either a 1/2- or 3/8-ounce weight with a Poor Boy's Erie Darter or a Berkley 3-inch Twitch Tail Minnow. His tube was 4 inches long and green pumpkin in color. Sitko estimated he weighed nine fish this week on the drop-shot and six on the tube. "I fished water anywhere from 12 to 25 feet deep, but most came in that 12-to 15-feet range. I had six spots that I made a milk run through, each were isolated rock. Sometimes they were suspended where I'd lift the drop-shot up to catch them or they'd already be on when I clicked the bail over on a cast. Other times they were right on the bottom. Today I was only able to hit four spots, my best being the furthest one away. "I'd known about these areas for years," Sitko continued. "But when I checked them in practice, they weren't anything special. I had a pretty miserable practice altogether. I hit them again during the tournament, though, and they had turned on. Every spot produced." Michael Sitko reacts after learning he won the EverStart Series Central Division event on the Detroit River. Sitko has won many local tournaments on the Great Lakes, but he's never been victorious in an event of this magnitude. He took third two weeks ago at the BFL event and fourth earlier this year at an MWC walleye tournament. "It still doesn't seem real. I'm looking at the trophy and I don't believe it. It's surreal. It's awesome. It's incredible." For a total weight of 61 pounds, 15 ounces, Sitko earned $33,071 plus a Ranger Z518 with a 200 horsepower engine. And with it the battle for smallmouth supremacy in Detroit swings back to Lake Erie. Taylor retains second Mother Nature ended any notion of Rick Taylor winning his second EverStart Series event in 2013. Taylor, who won the Wheeler Lake event in May, started his day pointed east to Lake Erie. Like many others, he quickly realized that was a mistake. Rick Taylor retained second place after catching a 14-pound, 4-ounce limit Saturday."I love these lakes so much I fished them both today," quipped Taylor, whose long boat rides resulted in only an hour and 45 minutes of fishing time. "We started at Erie and visited the 4:06 spot but the waves were taller than me. So we shifted gears, bought gas and then went up to St. Clair." Taylor had a pretty good practice on St. Clair, but late Wednesday afternoon found the mother lode in Erie. "I was 35 miles away from the ramp when I found that spot at 4:06 p.m. Check-in for registration was between 4 and 6 p.m. It just goes to show you, you never give up in this sport." The appropriately-named 4:06 spot was a 20-acre area of rock, with the fish stacked on one specific pile. The bass were suspending and chasing bait, which is why Taylor caught them in as shallow as 6 feet and as deep as 30. Taylor's bite was so strong the first two days he could almost call his shot in the morning. When he'd bring a fish in, the entire school of smallmouths would follow the hooked fish to the boat. This allowed his co-anglers to catch several, but it also required Taylor to wait approximately 10 minutes for the school to return to the rock pile. The West Olive, Mich., pro caught fish this week on jerkbaits, swimbaits, tubes and crankbaits. But by far his most productive bait will remain a secret. Taylor explained it's a bait reigning Bassmaster Classic champion Cliff Pace clued him in on. Because the Elite Series makes a stop here in less than a month, Taylor wants to keep the bait quiet out of respect for Pace, his good friend. Taylor's limit Saturday weighed 14 pounds, 4 ounces, giving him 57-4 for the tournament. He earned $12,315 for second. "I knew when I turned around I conceded the win, but I was happy to preserve second." Wagner slips to third Heath Wagner slipped from first to third after catching 13 pounds, 4 ounces on day three.Like Taylor, day-two leader Heath Wagner attempted to fish Erie Saturday. But instead of running all the way up to St. Clair, Wagner retreated to the Detroit River. He was able to scrounge up a limit, but they weighed only 13-4, a far cry from his 24 pounds on day one. Included in his limit were several largemouths, a green-colored type of bass previously foreign to the Angola, Ind., pro. "Truly and honestly, I was just trying to catch every ounce I could in the river and give my co-angler a chance at winning," said Wagner, who won the BFL event on Erie two weeks ago. "I've fished this lake for 20 years and this was one of the top three worst days I've seen. It was ugly out there." Wagner caught his fish Saturday on a Keitech swimbait, a wacky-rigged Senko and a spinnerbait. Earlier in the week he was fishing in approximately 27 to 29 feet with a Poor Boy's tube (smoke purple flash color) and a 3/8-ounce weight. In the afternoons he'd sample a shallower area in 8 feet of water with a Strike King 5XD crankbait. Those two Erie spots accounted for all of his weigh fish the first two days. Wagner finished the week with a cumulative total of 56 pounds, 13 ounces. He earned $8,440 for third place. Jancasz finishes fourth Trevor Jancasz caught a 14-pound, 5-ounce limit Saturday and rose from fifth to fourth.Trevor Jancasz had a very similar third day to Wagner - initially trying to fish Erie before punting to the Detroit River. His limit consisted of three smallmouths and two largemouths and weighed 14 pounds, 5 ounces. "It was rough, but we salvaged a pretty decent day," said Jancasz who moved up from fifth to fourth. "I knew what the forecast said, but I didn't want to believe it. I had to go." Jancasz lasted an hour on the big lake and even caught two fish, but ultimately couldn't hold on the spot. Other boats were leaving, and he admittedly got a little scared and decided to error on the side of caution. "Once I got to the river I basically flipped a jig around boat docks. The first day I caught them on a drop-shot and yesterday I used a drop-shot and a crankbait." Jancasz's key baits were a 4-inch Strike King Super Finesse Worm, a Strike King Series 5 crankbait and a 5XD (both in sexy shad). With the finesse worm he used either a 1/2- or 3/8-ounce drop-shot weight. Jancasz fished the North Shore area. His crankbait spot was approximately 10 feet deep and his drop-shot spot was roughly 25 feet. The White Pigeon, Mich., native finished with a three-day total of 55 pounds, 7 ounces, earning $7,389. Said falls to fifth Ryan Said finished the week in fifth place with a total weight of 51 pounds, 10 ounces.Ryan Said also initially tried Erie, but thought better of it and ultimately decided to head back and fish close - catching four smallmouths Saturday that weighed 10 pounds, 6 ounces. "I had a pretty good pattern going earlier in the week - catching my better ones in less than 10 feet," Said explained. "But 6-foot waves don't exactly work when you're fishing only 10 feet of water." When Said was shallower, he'd throw crankbaits - a Lucky Craft CB D-20, CB D-10 or a Norman Deep Little N (all in shad colors). But each morning he'd start out in 24 feet of water and fish with either a Poor Boy's Erie Darter, DS Darter or tube. That deep bite would last until 7:15. "Then it was like they would flip a switch and completely stop biting." The Wixom, Mich., pro finished fifth with 51 pounds, 10 ounces, earning $6,568. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros at the EverStart Series Detroit River event: 6th: Jeff Vizachero of Grosse Ile, Mich., 51-6 7th: Matt Belletini of Birmingham, Mich., 49-9 8th: Jared Rhode of Port Clinton, Ohio, 49-0 9th: Skip Johnson of Goodells, Mich., 47-14 10th: Gary Greenwood of Irwin, Pa., 47-5 After finishing 12th this week, Dan Morehead captured his second EverStart Series Angler of the Year award with 746 points over four events. By winning the Central Division AOY, Morehead solidified his spot in the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup. The next EverStart Series event is slated for Sept. 12 on Chesapeake Bay in Perryville, Md.

Tags: headline-story 


Devere Takes BFL Wild Card Win

The decision of what to fish come tournament time can be difficult for most. For others – like Mike Devere – relying on a single bait that you have confidence in is all you need. Devere’s one bait, one rod method was strong enough to carry him to victory by nearly 2 pounds in the BFL Wild Card held on Lake Hartwell. READ MORE »


Hanselmania 4.0

Saturday, in Paducah, Ky., on the shores of the Ohio River, Ray Hanselman rewrote history for the second time this season. After winning all three 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division events, which had never been done before, Hanselman came to Kentucky and won the Rayovac FLW Series Championship. READ MORE »


Rayovac Championship Day 3 Coverage

The final day of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River will largely be fished on the Tennessee River, as all but two anglers rolled up it to chase smallmouths. READ MORE »


Hanselman on the Verge of Four-Peat

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River was fished primarily on the nearby Tennessee River and resulted in a major shuffling of the leaderboard. In the end, Ray Hanselman rose from second to first and will lead the top 10 into the final day with 30 pounds, 14 ounces. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from the Ohio River Day 2

After two days of competition, Ray Hanselman leads the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River, but as the leaderboard has reflected, the river’s hefty smallmouths are certainly capable of producing some fireworks and providing some surprises. READ MORE »


Rayovac Championship Day 2 Coverage

Down at Paducah, the start of day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship was just about perfect – a light wind, temps in the low 40s and no fog. That’s not the case elsewhere. READ MORE »


Barnes Blasts 21 on the Ohio

On day one of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River David Barnes Sr. of China, Maine, hauled exactly 21 pounds of smallmouth across the stage to take the lead on a day that was tough for many. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from the Ohio River Day 1

Shortly after David Barnes electrified the Rayovac FLW Series Championship weigh-in with his leading weight of 21 pounds of smallmouths, Ray Hanselman followed suit with an all-smallmouth limit weighing 19 pounds. READ MORE »


Rayovac Championship Day 1 Coverage

Updates from day one of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River. READ MORE »


McCaig Wins Neely Henry Regional

There are times that a little local knowledge helps you in a bass tournament, and then there are times it does not. And sometimes, it pays to ignore past experiences altogether, as Mark McCaig figured out en route to winning the Oct. 22-24, 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Neely Henry out of Gadsden, Ala. By disregarding what his local experience might have suggested he do and approaching the tournament a little differently, the Oxford, Ala., boater posted a three-day total weight of 45 pounds, 7 ounces to take home the $20,000 winner’s purse as well as a 2015 Ranger Z518C with 200-hp outboard. READ MORE »


Goodwin Wins at Lake of the Ozarks

Day-two leader Shonn Goodwin of Moore, Okla., held on to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional presented by Mercury at Lake of the Ozarks Oct. 22-24 by bringing four bass to the scale on the third and final day. Those fish weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces. His three-day total of 14 bass weighed 43-13. For the win, Goodwin earned $20,000 and a new Ranger bass boat. READ MORE »


Walters Wins Wateree BFL Regional

Todd Walters relied on a combo pattern to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional on Lake Wateree. The North Carolina boater fished rocky cover upstream and brush piles in the lake's clear lower end. The two-part program produced a three-day winning weight of 47 pounds, 4 ounces, which was 11 pounds better than second place. READ MORE »


Uribe By An Ounce

After Jody Jordan brought 24 pounds, 5 ounces to push his total past 66 pounds on the final day the crowd waited with bated breath for day two leader Joe Uribe Jr. to bring his fish to the scale. As Uribe transferred his third bass from the bag to the scale, he shook his head and whispered back “you’ve got it,” to the watching Jordan. READ MORE »


Anderson Wins KY Lake Regional

You might say there weren’t any surprises at the 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake Oct. 15-17. The techniques of the top 12 pros who fished the final day were typical of the Tennessee River in fall: surface fishing with frogs and Zara Spooks and winding Rat-L-Traps and ChatterBaits. The winners weren’t surprising either: Ryan Sykes of Hamilton, Ohio, won the co-angler division for the second consecutive year, and Tennessee pro Brent Anderson earned his sixth win on the Kentucky/Barkley system since 2009. READ MORE »


Grover Takes Co-angler Title on Clear Lake

Rick Grover of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., pulled in 55 pounds, 5 ounces of bass for the Rayovac FLW Series co-angler win on Clear Lake. All told, it was worth a new Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower outboard and $5,000. READ MORE »


Clear Lake Midday Update Day 3



Uribe Takes Lead and AOY at Clear Lake

Joe Uribe Jr. jumped into the lead going into the final day of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Clear Lake. Uribe caught 20 pounds, 13 ounces on day two for a total of 44 pounds, 8 ounces and was the only pro to weigh more than 20 pounds both days. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Clear Lake Day 2

When the scales had closed after the second day of the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division tournament presented by Evinrude on Clear Lake, no doubt more than a few anglers breathed a sigh of relief that they were still in contention. READ MORE »


Clear Lake Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Clear Lake has been a little slower than day one. READ MORE »


Crutcher Cracks 29-9

Midway through a weigh-in that was noticeably lacking in super-sized bags, Mark Crutcher of Lakeport, Calif., lit up the leaderboard with 29 pounds, 9 ounces of Clear Lake goodness. READ MORE »