UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Keyes unlocks secret to the storm

Keyes unlocks secret to the storm
Daniel Keyes of Manchester, N.H., shows off two of the bass that helped him attain the pro lead for the opening round and make his first tournament cut since 1999.

LA CROSSE, Wis. - It's been a long time coming for Daniel Keyes. Known throughout professional bass fishing for his Life On Tour online journal that faithfully details the day-to-day grind of trying to make it a success on the competitive angling circuit, the Manchester, N.H., native now has some good news for his loyal readers. Keyes captured the Pro Division lead Thursday in the two-day opening round of the $185,000 EverStart Series Northern Division tournament on the Mississippi River.

When not fishing his tail off on the EverStart Series and Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Keyes, along with his wife, Annie, entertain followers with their insightful journal entries. The last two days, Keyes used some old-fashioned fishing insight to catch a two-day total of 10 fish weighing 24 pounds, 4 ounces and take the lead by almost 2 pounds over day-one leader Ronald Cherkas of Des Moines, Iowa.

On Wednesday Keyes fished well, catching five bass weighing 10 pounds, 15 ounces, and placed 10th. He found a small stretch of grass upriver on Lake Onalaska that provided him just enough big keeper bass to keep him in the top 10.

This morning he faced a decision. In practice, Keyes had found a spot downriver on Pool 8 where he could use a crankbait on some rocks, and he wanted to give that a shot in lieu of his sure spot on Lake Onalaska. As he took off from downtown La Crosse, he was headed south toward Pool 8 when he suddenly decided to veer back north to Lake Onalaska instead.

"We thought there would be hundreds of boats in (Lake Onalaska)," he said. "I was headed down (to Pool 8) this morning, but I changed my mind."

What changed his mind was the weather. Sporadic thunderstorms with gusty winds beat up on tournament competitors all day Thursday. However, just at takeoff, the wind laid down for a spell and Keyes figured he would fare better back up on his day-one spot, a 20-yard stretch of shallow water where he caught 17 bass including a couple of fish that neared 4 and 5 pounds.

"Anyplace north of the Mason-Dixon Line where you can catch a 5- and 4-pounder, you go back there," Keyes said. "You just don't get bites like that up here. I caught six keepers there the first day and five keepers today, but they were all big fish."

Still, it was no walk in the park. One of the several weather fronts that blew through the area this morning wreaked havoc with his tube-pitching efforts. He managed to land three good bass from the grassline using mainly a Gambler black-and-red tube lure before moving to another nearby area to catch two more. A five-fish limit in his livewell by 11 o'clock that ended up as the third-heaviest weight of the day at 13 pounds, 5 ounces, Keyes went looking for more spots to bolster his efforts tomorrow and Saturday.

"I'm on a big-fish spot and I'm really beating it to death," he said. "Today I found another neat little spot up there that I guarantee no one has fished. I'm definitely going north tomorrow and not south."

For Keyes, a five-year veteran of all three Operation Bass circuits, gaining the opening-round lead here in La Crosse has been a major boost. The last tournament cut that the journalist/angler made was in 1999 at the Ranger Millennium M1 event at Cypress Gardens, Fla.

"I'm proud to say (the journal readers) get to read about something good this time," he said. "I feel like I have a good chance. I don't feel lucky to be here. I feel the fishing gods are with me this week."

Another pro who seems to be sitting in good favor with the fishing gods is Cherkas, yesterday's pro leader who brought in five bass weighing 10 pounds, 2 ounces today to bolster his two-day total to 22 pounds, 5 ounces. He earned second place for the opening round.

"I feel really happy, really blessed," Cherkas said. "My wife burns a green candle for me when I go out, and when she does that, I do well every time."

Cherkas, who said he backed off his fish today and just "took them as they came," hopes to take advantage of the nine fishing locations he says he has scouted for this week. Of those locations, he has only fished in one over the last two days.

"My quality fish are still there," he said. "I'm sitting really good."

Rounding out the opening-round top five in the Pro Division were Robert Izumi (3rd place) of Canada, with 10 bass weighing 21 pounds, 15 ounces; Joe Flinn (4th) of Iola, Wis. - who caught the day's biggest five-fish stringer at 14 pounds, 4 ounces - with a two-day total of eight bass weighing 21 pounds, 2 ounces; and Nick Prvonozac (5th) of Warren, Mich., with eight bass weighing 20 pounds, 7 ounces.

Capturing the day-two $750 pro Big Bass award was Bill Baker of Rockford, Ill., who weighed in a 4-pound, 8-ounce largemouth.

Andrle tops Co-Angler Division - somehow

Tadd Andrle of Fairfax, Iowa, captures the Co-Angler Division lead with a weight of 18 pounds, 9 ounces.Co-angler Tadd Andrle gave two reasons why he ended up in first place for the opening round at the Mississippi River: "One, I fished with two outstanding (pro) anglers. Two, I've been able to put bass in the boat."

Past that, the Fairfax, Iowa, co-angler is offering little clues as to his strategy, patterns and techniques this week. Instead, he rightfully gave most of the credit to his pro partners, Karen Savik (7th place for the opening round with 20 pounds, 1 ounce) of St. Louis Park, Minn., on day one and Mark Martell (9th place with 19 pounds, 9 ounces) of La Crosse on day two.

While still a bit protective of his fishing, the 28-year-old EverStart rookie was no less excited about his standout performance in the opening round, where he says he lost only two fish over two days.

"I'm just pumped," Andrle said. "I'm just hoping I get an even better draw tomorrow."

His pro draw tomorrow is Keyes, who is apparently sitting on a grassline with some pretty big fish.

"I can adapt to that," Andrle said. "I fish a whole lot of weeds."

Rounding out the top five co-anglers for the opening round were Jeffery Carmen (2nd place) of Liberty, Ky., with 10 bass weighing 17 pounds, 12 ounces; Brian Thomas (3rd) of Green Bay, Wis., with eight bass weighing 16 pounds, 2 ounces; Mike Blaesi (4th) of Donhue, Iowa, with six bass weighing 15 pounds, 4 ounces; and David Ashley (5th) of Markleville, Ind., with six bass weighing 14 pounds, 10 ounces.

The $250 Co-Angler Division Big Bass award went to Joseph Pappas of Southgate, Mich., for a 4-pound, 2-ounce largemouth.

The top 30 pros and co-anglers will start from zero Friday and fish for one day to determine the top 10 anglers who will advance to Saturday's final round. The winning pro will receive $15,000 cash and a new Ranger boat plus a $1,000 bonus from Garmin if he or she was using a fixed-mount Garmin sonar product. The winning co-angler will collect $6,000 cash.

Tomorrow's takeoff is scheduled to take place at 5:30 a.m. at West Clinton Street Ramp in La Crosse. Friday's weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. at the ramp, and Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart Supercenter located at 1210 Crossing Meadows Drive in Onalaska, Wis.

Day-two related links:

Photos
Results
Tomorrow's pairings
Press release

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2001-06-13-miss-river-la-crosse 

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