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Grosse points the way in Michigan

Grosse points the way in Michigan
Richard Grosse of Hebron, Ohio, claimed the No. 1 qualifying spot Friday going into the final round of the $210,000 EverStart Series tournament on the Detroit River with five bass weighing 19 pounds, 8 ounces.

Top Northern Division pro semifinalist catches 19 1/2 pounds; co-angler leader also posts over 19 pounds

TRENTON, Mich. - It's been nearly a perfect tournament so far for Richard Grosse. The pro from Hebron, Ohio, respectively placed second and third the first two days of EverStart Series Northern Division competition on the Detroit River, and he came through again in Friday's semifinals with a Pro Division-leading weight of 19 pounds, 8 ounces. He hasn't caught less than 18 pounds, 8 ounces of bass on any given day of the tournament so far.

And that's the kind of fishing it's going to take to win this thing. Of the top 10 pros and co-anglers who advanced to Saturday's final round, all of them, except one, caught limits of five bass in the semifinals.

Grosse's ears perked up Friday morning when the wind switched direction and picked up in velocity. He knew that might cause trouble for some of his fellow competitors who planned to make the long run onto the open water of Lake Erie. And he was right.

"The wind hurt us today," said Larry Mason of Waterville, Ohio, who only managed to catch two bass weighing 5 pounds, 8 ounces and finished the tourney in 19th place. "We had problems keeping (the bass) on the hook."

Livonia, Michigan's Ed Dietrich managed to squeak into the finals in 10th place with a five-bass weight of 14 pounds, 15 ounces, but today's action took its toll. "I'm sore," he said. "It was rough out there."

And that would have been music to Grosse's ears except that he had his own problems with the wind Friday. Grosse is fishing in the relative shelter of the Detroit River, while many of his counterparts are fishing Erie. He thought that a nice blowing wind would give him an advantage by making it tough on the others as they battle the waves, but he found that it gave him fits, too.

"It was awful today," he said. "The wind was blowing in the same direction as the current. I have a 24-volt trolling motor and it couldn't keep up. I actually had to anchor for a while."

Fortunately for Grosse, he'd already done all the fishing he needed to do by that point. Using a green-pumpkin tube, he caught his hefty five-bass limit while the wind was still calm in the first hour of fishing. Still, he kept plugging away all day in the teeth of the wind knowing full well that five good-sized fish are never enough at this prolific bass fishery.

"My scale was broken," he explained. "I thought that I only had 15 or 16 pounds."

It was a pleasant surprise, then, when the official scale read almost 20 pounds, and he took over first place after hovering so close to it the entire week.

"It feels good to be leading," he said. "But it's really an honor to be fishing with these guys in the top 10 - especially when I'm able to catch enough fish on the river to compete with them. ... One more thing, I want to wish my wife, Crystal, a happy fifth anniversary."

Clapper on again

One of the guys that Grosse has mentioned by name several times is Lima, Ohio's Steve Clapper, Thursday's leader who "lucked" his way into second place Friday with a five-bass weight of 18 pounds, 15 ounces. In the midst of making his run out toward Pelee Island on bumpy Lake Erie, the straps on Clapper's trolling motor broke. He had to abort the run and make repairs.

"I was lucky, man," he said. "By 10:30 I only had one 14-inch fish. So we ran about 20-some miles and then (the weather) got really bad. So we stopped, didn't catch anything and then ran another 15 miles where there was a really bad storm."

It was then that Clapper's trolling motor broke, and he headed back toward the river and a lucky little spot that he had scoped out about a week ago.

"We turned back and managed to eke them out," was how he explained his big stringer.

Still, come rain or sleet or broken trolling motors, Clapper plans to head back out to his bread and butter on Lake Erie Saturday.

"I want to win bad," he said. "I'm going for broke, that's for sure. What worries me is that while my prop is turning, the other guys' reels are turning."

The rest of the top five

Opening-day leader Neil Vandebiezen of Portage, Mich., had another good day, grabbing third place in the semifinals with five bass weighing 18 pounds, 8 ounces.

Ted Angers of Clinton Township, Mich., caught five bass worth 18 pounds, 1 ounce for fourth place, and Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., landed five for 17-7 and fifth place.

Local advantage? No wonder there's a rivalry

One item of note is that every single pro finalist hails from either Ohio or Michigan. Five are from the Buckeye State and five are from the Wolverine State.

"These are some really heavy hitters coming up," said 18th-place pro Terry Boyd of Cincinnati, Ohio. "In this part of the country, the local talent in tournament bass fishing is really remarkable. I would not want to have to make a living here."

Nineteen-pound sack swings Schwierking into co-angler lead

Catching the heaviest five-bass weight of the week from the back of the boat was Wixom, Michigan's Patrick Schwierking, who tallied 19 pounds, 5 ounces and took over the Co-angler Division lead in the semifinal round. The next closest angler in that division was second-place Aaron Jakub of Lincoln, Neb., with five bass weighing 16-6.

Schwierking credited some fortuitous pairings for his eye-opening stringer Friday. On Wednesday, he fished with pro Thomas Ledingham of Trenton, Mich., and was paired up with him again on Friday.

"I knew what he was going to be doing, and it's my style of fishing," Schwierking said. "I was just throwing tubes and popping them off the bottom."

As for his remarkable catch weight from the back of the boat, he said: "I had no idea that I had that much weight. ... Today, I felt like everything was just going right. I had the right color going, and I'm feeling confident heading into tomorrow."

Following Schwierking and Jakub in the co-angler top five were Daniel Cramer (3rd place) of Van Wert, Ohio, with four bass weighing 13 pounds, 13 ounces; Barry Baldwin (4th) of Dayton, Ohio, with five bass weighing 13-12; and Kenneth Taylor (5th) of Shelby Township, Mich., with five bass weighing 13-0.

Saturday's action begins at 7 a.m. at Elizabeth Park in Trenton, Mich. All competitors will restart the day with zero weight. The final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 2155 N. Telegraph Road in Monroe, Mich., beginning at 4 p.m. The pro winner of the one-day shootout will take home $15,000 and a Ranger boat, and the co-angler winner receives $6,000.

Click here for a preview of day four.

Day-three links:

Photos
Results
Tomorrow's pairings
Press release

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2002-09-25-detroit-river 

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