UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Dardanelle

Rambo draws first blood after opening-round cut

Rambo draws first blood after opening-round cut
The opening-round leaders, co-angler Ted Will (left) of Zeeland, Mich., and pro Paul Rambo of Brighton, Mich., share a laugh following a successful day of fishing.

Will finds way to dominate both divisions with almost 42 pounds

SANDUSKY, Ohio - Paul Rambo fears almost no one in this week's $185,000 EverStart Series Northern Division tournament on Lake Erie. The last two days he was able to harness that attitude and take over the Pro Division lead in the opening round with a 10-fish weight of 36 pounds, 13 ounces.

"I wholeheartedly plan on winning this thing and then win the next one, too," Rambo said following today's action.

So far, the Brighton, Mich., rookie pro has been right on target to do just that. In third place yesterday, he caught five bass weighing 17 pounds, 3 ounces today to push into the lead over second-place Ken Jones of Shelby, Ohio, (35-5 opening round, 17-3 today) in the tightly contested Pro Division.

Rounding out the top five pros were Don McCulla (3rd place) of New Baltimore, Mich., with 10 bass weighing 35 pounds, 2 ounces; yesterday's leader James Vitaro (4th) of Wooster, Ohio, with 10 bass weighing 34 pounds, 7 ounces; and Larry Bailey (5th) of Vermillion, Ohio, with 10 bass weighing 34 pounds. The Pro Division Big Bass award on day two and $750 in went to Eric Guinter of North Benton, Ohio, for a 5-pound, 3-ounce smallmouth.

Rambo's key to survival has been his ability to capitalize on the very prolific Sandusky smallmouth fishery using a hefty rig. He threaded 20-pound fluorocarbon line through a heavy-action Loomis rod, tipped it with a 1/2-ounce jig head and dragged it across a shoal about 42 miles north of Sandusky in Canadian Lake Erie.

"I put the fairy wand away," said Rambo, who's a 42-year-old retired state trooper. "I'm just throwing stuff real heavy and keeping it on the bottom. I think I've got a very good technique going."

His take-no-prisoners approach landed him a five-fish limit by 10 a.m. today, leaving him enough time to roam around and search for new fishing locations. He's confident his heavy-action strategy will hold up this week as long as his fish do - which he insists will not be a problem.

"There's so many fish out in that lake," Rambo said. "The boat ride is the only hard part."

As far as he sees it, Rambo said the only thing standing between him and the first-place cash and boat prize is one man. Lima, Ohio's Steve Clapper (24th place, 28-7 opening round) won the Wal-Mart BFL Michigan Division event on Lake Erie based out of Brownstown, Mich., earlier this month and also won a BFL event here at Sandusky last year. Several pros, including Rambo, have mentioned Clapper as the one to beat here this week.

"The wind should come out of the northwest tomorrow, which is perfect for what I want to do," said Rambo. "Unfortunately, it's also perfect for Clapper."

Will held onto the top spot in the Co-Angler Division with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 41 pounds, 12 ounces, including this nice smallmouth. His weight was the best catch in either division.Will maintains stranglehold on co-angler lead

Paul Rambo may have led the Pro Division, but co-angler Ted Will is really the one who's dominating this tournament. After leading both divisions yesterday with a dominating 22-pound, 7-ounce one-day total weight, Will came in today with five more bass that tipped the scales at 19 pounds, 5 ounces. His weight today placed second overall behind only pro Carlo Alessandrini's 19 pounds, 12 ounces.

Needless to say, with a total of 41 pounds, 12 ounces under his belt, Will led the Co-Angler Division in the opening round - by a lot. Second-place went to Dwight Ameling of Fremont, Ind., for a two-day weight of 35 pounds, 8 ounces.

"It feels good to be on top," said Will, a native of Zeeland, Mich. "I've fished these tournaments for 10 years. ... But it really hasn't sunk in yet. I'm just fishing."

While he said the fish he was on today moved to shallower water, Will, like Rambo (who are paired together for tomorrow, incidentally), pointed to the heavy Carolina rig he is using to snag the Lake Erie smallies as the key factor. He employs a 50-pound test braided line with a 30-pound test leader tipped with a 1/2- to ¾-ounce walleye sinker, No. 4 hook and dark watermelon tube.

"I did the same thing today that I did yesterday," Will said. "As a matter of fact, I even rigged an extra rod for my boater last night."

However, Will caught nine keepers today. Using the same rig, his pro partner, Ernie Freeman of Waldorf, Md., only caught two. What's Will's secret?

"I had to work the tube erratically," he explained, saying the fish would strike after his sinker would get caught and come loose on the bottom. "I guess it's just my technique. It's something the fish don't see a lot of."

Following Will and Ameling on the leaderboard were Don Amari (3rd place) of Fort Wayne, Ind., with 10 bass weighing 33 pounds, 6 ounces; James Wengard (4th) of Hartville, Ohio, with 10 bass weighing 30 pounds, 11 ounces; and Leonard Hoskins (5th) of Louisville, Ky., with 10 bass weighing 10 pounds, 2 ounces. Big bass and $250 in the Co-Angler Division went to James Swingle of Crooksville, Ohio, for a 5-pound, 5-ounce smallmouth.

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 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 6:30 a.m. at Bickely's Boat Dock located at 101 Shelby Street in Sandusky. 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 5500 Milan Road in Sandusky at 4 p.m.

Day-two related links:

Photos
Results
Tomorrow's pairings
Press release


* Editor's note: Yesterday we incorrectly reported that Hal Graham of Toledo, Ohio, won the day-one pro Big Bass award for a 5-pound, 6-ounce smallmouth. Actually, Gary Deramo of New Philadelphia, Ohio, won the day-one pro Big Bass award and $750 for a 5-pound, 9-ounce smallmouth. OperationBass.com regrets the error.

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2001-08-22-sandusky-bay 

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