UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

Canadians rule ‘football’ season opener

Canadians rule ‘football’ season opener
Leading the charge with the heaviest five-bass limit Wednesday at Lake Erie was pro Mike Desforges of Burlington, Ontario, with 21 pounds, 3 ounces.

HAMBURG, N.Y. - West side, east side - it doesn't matter where you fish for smallmouth bass on Lake Erie. Chances are, you're going to catch a ton. That's exactly what EverStart Series anglers did on opening day of Northern Division competition on the big lake. Fishing the east side this time, the pro field brought in a total 2,079 pounds, 15 ounces of bass - almost exclusively smallmouth, many of them as fat and round as oversized footballs - and almost set a new EverStart record in the process.

On top of the pros, the co-angler field caught 1,566 pounds, 6 ounces, which meant that a total of 3,646-5 of eastside Erie bass crossed the scale Wednesday. That mark just barely fell short of the heaviest one-day total ever recorded on the EverStart Series - 3,708-2 - which was set, not coincidentally, on the west side of Lake Erie at the Detroit River tournament in 2003.

"I'll tell you what," said pro Brian Hensley of Edwardsburg, Mich., who placed sixth with a nice limit of smallies, "this place is awesome."

Pro Aaron Barber of Fenwick, Ontario, placed second with a limit weighing 20-5.Leading the charge with the heaviest five-bass limit of the day was pro Mike Desforges of Burlington, Ontario, with 21 pounds, 3 ounces. He was followed by fellow Canadian pro Aaron Barber of Fenwick, Ontario, with a limit weighing 20-5.

Desforges goes big smallie hunting

To a degree, it was a typical tournament-fishing day on big Lake Erie Wednesday. While there was just a moderate south wind, anglers still had to do battle with 4-foot waves. That's not unusual here; horror stories about big water have historically dominated events based out of the Detroit River and Northern Ohio. Many anglers also caught their quarry of smallmouths, as is typical here, by drifting with the wind and using the ubiquitous Lake Erie "dragging-a-tube" technique.

But the difference today was the depth at which many of the leaders caught their fish. The biggest sacks of the day came out of water as deep as 40 feet or more. That's deep, especially on Lake Erie, which is the shallowest of the Great Lakes with an average depth of just 48 feet. However, the eastern end of Erie is deeper than the western, so anglers had to go down to get after the good ones.

"I was mostly just fishing for big fish," said Desforges, who dragged an avocado-colored tube Wednesday to catch his limit. "I went to about seven or eight spots. They're all spots that I know are usually big-fish spots. I was trying to get a big bag today so it would be easier to make the cut tomorrow."

Al Gagliarducci of Agawam, Mass., tied for the pro big-bass award with a 6-pound, 1-ounce smallmouth - yes, smallmouth - and placed fourth by fishing a drop-shot in 40 feet of water. He caught 19 pounds, 4 ounces.

"It seems the bigger ones are off the deeper shoals," he said. "I lost a 4-(pounder) and a 3-(pounder) today, and I caught a 6-2 in practice."

Pro Jimmi Leuthner of Vernon, Vt., tied for fourth place with 19-4."It's really no different than (fishing the western side of the lake). It's just a matter of finding the right kind of rocks and drop-offs," said pro Jimmi Leuthner of Vernon, Vt., who tied Gagliarducci with 19-4 for fourth place. "But I think there are more fish out here than there are out there."

"I'm fishing really deep, actually," said Hensley, who caught 19 pounds even. "It was something I noticed in practice: When you get deeper, the fish seem to get a little bit bigger."

The other 20-pound sack

While limits too many to count came across the scale, just three of them weighed more than 20 pounds. In addition to those caught by Desforges and Barber, third-place pro Rodney Sorrell of Stokesdale, N.C., caught 20 pounds, 3 ounces.

"I was even laying off a bit," said a surprised Barber. "This time of year, the top weights shouldn't even be 20 pounds. They should be closer to 18 or 19 pounds. ... I caught them on an ISG tube. It's a Great Lakes tube, period. It works everywhere."

Pro Rodney Sorrell of Stokesdale, N.C., caught 20 pounds, 3 ounces to place third.While Sorrell did fish deep, he didn't throw a tube Wednesday. "I'm doing something a little different," he said. "I caught them on a Yum Dinger. The harder the wind blew, the better they bit."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros after day one at Lake Erie are Terry Boyd of Cincinnati, with 18 pounds, 12 ounces (7th place); Jack Bell of Kane, Pa., with 18-8 (8th); Kevin Bishop of Hilton, N.Y., with 18-5 (9th); and Richard Lowitzki of St. Charles, Ill., with 18-4 (10th).

All 10 of the top pros caught limits. In fact, you had to drop all the way down to 70th place to find the first nonlimit Wednesday.

Pro Kenneth Plencner of South Bend, Ind., tied Al Gagliarducci's big-bass mark with this 6-pound, 1-ounce smallmouth of his own.More impressive than the limits, however, was the distended size of some of the smallies. Kenneth Plencner of South Bend, Ind., tied Gagliarducci's big-bass mark with a 6-pound, 1-ounce smallmouth of his own. Indeed, a handful of smallies in the 6-pound range were weighed in for big bass, and countless 5- and 5 1/2-pounders likely weren't even tried for the award.

Harris heads co-anglers

Jeff Harris of Grand Blanc, Mich., led the Co-angler Division with a limit weighing 18 pounds, 12 ounces. He was followed in second place by James Richardson Jr. of Cincinnati with 17-10.

Casey Hewes of Thornton, Ill., placed third with 17 pounds, 1 ounce; Lou Zahra of Lawrenceburg, N.Y., placed fourth with 17-0; and Franklin Collins of Huntington, W.Va., and Jim Short of Ocean Pines, Md., tied for fifth with 16-7.

Jeff Harris of Grand Blanc, Mich., led the Co-angler Division with a limit weighing 18 pounds, 12 ounces.Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers after day one at Lake Erie are Richard French of Newfield, N.Y., with 16 pounds, 3 ounces (7th place); Mark Grahn of Wautoma, Wis., with 16-0 (8th); Jim Parker of Jonesville, Mich., with 15-14 (tied for 9th); and William Trychel of Temperance, Mich., with 15-14 (tied for 9th).

All of the top 10 co-anglers also caught limits.

Tutt's catch

While weigh-in spectators were treated to a parade of huge Erie smallmouths, one fish drew more oohs and ahs from the weigh-in crowd than all the rest. Sid Tutt of Longview, Texas, caught the biggest football of the day when he landed the big-bass winner on the co-angler side. His fish - a smallmouth - weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces and was the heaviest single bass in either division.

"I thought it was a drum for the longest time. (After hooking it) I told my partner, `Keep doing what you're doing. I'm going to be a while,'" said Tutt, who is the father of FLW Tour pro Jim Tutt. "It would take me 30 years to catch another smallmouth like that."

Protecting the resource

Since so many fish came out of deep water, FLW Outdoors officials made a concerted effort Wednesday to return them to the water at depth from the release boats. Staff on the two boats worked overtime crating the fish and dropping them down to ensure survival, which periodically led to delays in the weigh-in proceedings. That, combined with nearly every boat coming in with fish, made for one of the longest weigh-ins on record. At four hours long, it took half as long to weigh them all in as it did to catch them on day one.

The opening round of EverStart Series Northern Division competition at Lake Erie continues with its second half Thursday as anglers take off from NFTA Boat Harbor in Buffalo, located at 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd., at 7 a.m. Eastern time. The full fields will be cut down to the top 20 anglers apiece following tomorrow's action.

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2004-08-25-lake-erie 

Falcons Win by 2 Ounces on Erie

Falcons Win by 2 Ounces on Erie

The Bowling Green State University team of Jamesen Simion of Saline, Mich., and Cameron Wilt of Alvada, Ohio, won the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at Lake Erie event Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 1 ounce. The victory earned the Bowling Green bass club $2,000 and qualified them to compete in the 2021 College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

Bishop Hartley wins Erie Open

Bishop Hartley wins Erie Open

Ohio’s Bishop Hartley High School duo of Braden McNamara and Mike Abbott brought five bass to the scale Saturday weighing 15 pounds, 15 ounces to win the FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Lake Erie Open. READ MORE »

Mallory Drops 25-5 at St. Clair

Mallory Drops 25-5 at St. Clair

Boater Buck Mallory of Lawton, Michigan, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 25 pounds, 5 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake St. Clair in Harrison Township, Michigan. For his victory, Mallory earned a total of $4,652. READ MORE »

Monsoor Clinches Win on the Mississippi

Monsoor Clinches Win on the Mississippi

Weighing 12 pounds, 10 ounces on the final day, Tom Monsoor totaled 54-10 to win the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries on the Mississippi River. Leading the final three days, the win is Monsoor’s second at the top level and earned him $125,000.   READ MORE »

Carter Cruises to Wheeler Win

Carter Cruises to Wheeler Win

Anglers who have fished the Toyota Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine in the southeast any length of time know the name Kip Carter of Mansfield, Ga. For years, Carter has pocketed plenty of checks from both leagues with a career total of 50 top 10s. This year, Carter decided to jump back into regional competition with the Southeastern Division of the Toyota Series, and in just his second event back, he found his way to the winner’s circle at Wheeler Lake.  READ MORE »

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 3

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 3

The fish were biting pretty well for the top 10 on the final morning of Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Wheeler Lake. Overcast skies and a steady south wind put a perfect buzzbait ripple on the water back in the shallow flats in creeks – and the anglers were taking advantage of it.  READ MORE »

Mississippi River Day 4 Coverage

Mississippi River Day 4 Coverage

Complete coverage from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at the Mississippi River July 29-August 1, 2020. READ MORE »

Monsoor stays ahead on the Mississippi

Monsoor stays ahead on the Mississippi

After day three of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries on the Mississippi River the weights are stacked as tightly as they were on the first two days. With the lead, Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis., weighed 13 pounds, 5 ounces to stay in the lead with an even 42 pounds. Behind him, Zack Birge, David Walker and Scott Wiley have all crossed the 40-pound mark and are hot on his heels. READ MORE »

Carter Takes Over at Wheeler

Carter Takes Over at Wheeler

Kip Carter of Mansfield, Ga., may not have the nicest, shiniest boat in the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event this week, but it sure gets him where he needs to go. His beater aluminum tunnel hull craft has plenty of nicks and dings in it and for good reason: Getting into the places he has fished on Wheeler Lake the last two days has required enduring some scratches and dents. READ MORE »

Mississippi River Day 3 Coverage

Mississippi River Day 3 Coverage

Complete coverage from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at the Mississippi River July 29-August 1, 2020. READ MORE »

Monsoor Moves Ahead at the Mississippi

Monsoor Moves Ahead at the Mississippi

After two days of fishing in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries on the Mississippi River the weights are as tight as can be. Moving into the lead on day two is Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis., who weighed a second 14-pound bag for a 28-11 total. In second, Scott Wiley is one of seven anglers with 27 pounds and some ounces in the top 10, making the tournament anyone’s game in the final two days. READ MORE »

Millsaps Grabs Lead on Wheeler

Millsaps Grabs Lead on Wheeler

Wheeler Lake doled out some lumps today in the second event of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division season. Only 14 pros managed to crack the 10-pound mark and six pros took a zero on the day. Leading the way is Jesse Millsaps of Jasper, Ga., with five fish weighing 14 pounds, 15 ounces. His biggest bass weighed 5 pounds, 5 ounces, which was certainly the difference maker in nudging him to nearly 15 pounds in a challenging summertime grinder. READ MORE »

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 1

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 1

Wheeler Lake has turned out to be beyond stingy to the anglers fishing the second event in the Toyota Series Southeastern Division today. After visiting with some 20 pros this morning, the most fish reported caught by a pro was just two keepers. The rest either had just one bass or an empty livewell. READ MORE »

Mississippi River Day 2 Coverage

Mississippi River Day 2 Coverage

Complete coverage from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at the Mississippi River July 29-August 1, 2020. READ MORE »

Wiley Leads on the Mississippi

Wiley Leads on the Mississippi

As expected on the river, the weights are bunched together after the first day of fishing in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries. More than a quarter of the field are in the 11-12-pound range, and 10 pounds marked the exact halfway point of the field. That means leader Scott Wiley only has a 5-pound, 3-ounce lead over half the field after weighing in 15-3. READ MORE »

Live Leaderboard - Mississippi River

Live Leaderboard - Mississippi River

FLW marshals and media staff provide unofficial weight estimates for the fifth stop of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at the Mississippi River. READ MORE »

Mississippi River Day 1 Coverage

Mississippi River Day 1 Coverage

Complete coverage from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at the Mississippi River July 29-August 1, 2020. READ MORE »

Cayuga Double-Header Shows Out

Cayuga Double-Header Shows Out

It was a double-header for bass anglers this past weekend in Union Springs with the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine on Lake Cayuga events. READ MORE »

Estes, Pike Tie for Potomac Title

Estes, Pike Tie for Potomac Title

Boaters Cody Pike of Powhatan, Va., and Keith Estes of Spring Grove, Va., both brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 14 pounds, 14 ounces to tie for the win at the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine on the Potomac River in Marbury, Md. Estes earned a total of $4,262 after contingency awards, while Pike took home $10,262, including the lucrative $7,000 FLW PHOENIX BONUS contingency award. READ MORE »

Buntin By 3 Ounces on Alabama River

Buntin By 3 Ounces on Alabama River

Boater Sean Buntin of Satsuma, Ala., brought a five-bass limit bass to the scale Saturday totaling 12 pounds, 1 ounce to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event on the Alabama River in Prattville, Ala. Buntin topped his nearest competitor, Ben Weldon of Petumpka, Alabama, by just 3 ounces and earned $4,296 for his victory. READ MORE »