UPCOMING EVENT: TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

Hastings on top after tortuous day on Erie

Hastings on top after tortuous day on Erie
Aaron Hastings of Middletown, Md., leads the EverStart Northeastern wtih 20 pounds, 3 ounces.

CLEVELAND - Call it a "blowout." Simply put, Lake Erie reared its ugly head today at the EverStart Series Northeastern Division event.

Just how brutal were the conditions? Perhaps the most immediate indicator are the day-one standings, which reflect that only 74 pros and 59 co-anglers weighed in bass today.

Another stark reminder was the vacant weigh-in line. Normally, the weigh-in line at aDuring the middle of weigh-in, the holding tanks, which are normally packed with hefty bags of smallmouth, were strangely silent. Lake Erie EverStart is a three-and-a-half-hour nonstop parade of smallmouth limits. But today, at times, the weigh-in tanks were eerily empty between flights.

Chris Jones called it the most demanding day he has ever had on the job as the EverStart Series tournament director. During the day, he fielded dozens of calls from anglers who had wisely forfeited their catch for a much safer ride home by land.

Or, you might consider the weighty words of Lake Erie veteran Steve Clapper who said, "I don't normally get sick out on that big water, but today, I even got a little nauseated."

Nevertheless, as always in bass tournaments, fish were brought to the scales and Aaron Hastings of Middletown, Md., took the early lead with 20 pounds, 3 ounces, the only 20-plus string of the day.

"The main reason I'm leading this tournament right now is because of the quality product that Ranger Boats builds," Hastings said. "I only took one wave over the bow today; that boat stood up to some of the most grueling conditions I've ever been in."

Hastings made a 20-mile run this morning, which took about an hour. He fished out in the big rollers without success for two hours and then made a small adjustment.

"I moved about 4 feet shallower than what I had been fishing, and they started biting." he said. "I probably caught about 10 keepers, and we started making our way back."

Coates Second

Pro Bryan Coates of Amherst, Ohio, is in second place with 19 pounds, 12 ounces.Bryan Coates of Amherst, Ohio, who finished seventh in last week's EverStart Northern on Erie, is in second with 19 pounds, 12 ounces.

Coates made it clear that he did not fish the same water today as he did last week.

"I went west, but I didn't go that far," Coates said. "I stayed closer for more fishing time. I fished until my trolling motor batteries were completely worn out. When my co-angler started getting sea sick, I knew it was time to head in."

Coates declined to say exactly how deep he was fishing, only that he is fishing "real deep."

Smith third

David Smith is from Del City, Okla., leaving most people to assume that he is a fish outPro David Smith of Del City, Okla., is in third place with 18 pounds, 12 ounces. of water on the Great Lakes. But as crazy as it sounds, Smith actually likes fishing these kinds of conditions.

"Being a professional angler is not just about casting and reeling, it's also about boat handling," said Smith, who is in third place with 18 pounds, 12 ounces. "These type of tournaments up here allow us to demonstrate how critical boatmanship is in our sport.

"In these conditions it's not necessarily about lures and colors, but rather about boat control. That's why my partner (leading the co-angler division) and I did so well today."

Smith ran approximately 25 miles to the west, where he fished rocky shoals in 34 to 36 feet of water.

'The General' survives for fourth

Pro Steve Clapper of Lima, Ohio, in is fourth place with 17 pounds, 9 ounces.Steve Clapper of Lima, Ohio, (a.k.a. "The General" in these parts) showed how he has earned his rank on Lake Erie by bringing in 17 pounds, 9 ounces for fourth place.

"My plan this morning was to make the long run to Pelee Island," he said. "But by 10 a.m., I was just hoping to survive the day and not take myself completely out of it."

Clapper abandoned his long-run plan and instead fished the closest spot he knows - 14 miles away.

"I went to that one little spot and just kept grinding away on them," he added.

Hull fifth

Jim Hull of Sidney, Ohio, is in fifth with 16 pounds, 10 ounces. Pro Jim Hull of Sidney, Ohio is in fifth place with 16 pounds, 10 ounces.

He reported making a 30-mile run to the west to the Lorain area and catching his fish in 30 feet of water.

Hull was also interested in trying to harness the power of the Internet to find his GPS unit, which was knocked off by a wave on the return home this afternoon.

"If anyone finds a GPS unit floating around out there, it's mine," he quipped.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros in the EverStart Northeastern:

6th: Christopher King of South Amherst, Ohio, 16-8
7th: Warren Wyman of Calera, Ala., 15-9
8th: Joe Balog of Harrison Township, Mich., 15-4
9th: Chris Daves of Hopewell, Va., 14-11
10th: Jack Dalzell of Amherst, Ohio, 14-8

George Plevrakis of Avon Lake, Ohio, collected $525 for the Pro Division's big bass of the day.

Wilson leads co-anglers

John Wilson of Hazelwood, N.C., leads the Co-angler Division of the EverStart Series Northeastern with 18 pounds, 14 ounces.In the Co-angler Division, John Wilson of Hazelwood, N.C., leads with 18 pounds, 14 ounces.

Wilson fished with Dave Smith today and reported catching about 10 keepers.

"Dave is an awesome partner," he said. "Despite the wind and waves, he was able to keep us right on top of the fish."

Dale Fisher of Watsontown, Pa., is in second place with 16 pounds, 2 ounces.

"It's typical Lake Erie fishing: dragging plastics around in deep water," Fisher said. "Except today I had to go to a 1-ounce head just to keep my bait on the bottom."

Rick Horner of Bridgewater, Conn., is in third place with 15 pounds, 10 ounces. He reported catching his four keepers on a Poor Boys Drop-Shot Goby.

Bill Gift of Alix, Ark., is in fourth with 14 pounds, 13 ounces.

And Mark Myers of Minneapolis caught a limit of largemouths weighing 12 pounds, 14 ounces for fifth place.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers:

6th: Ron Jackups of Fairfield, Ohio, 12-12
7th: John Pellegrino of Smithtown, N.Y., 12-1
8th: Alan Hench of Lititz, Pa., 11-14
9th: Teddy Bradley of Mishawaka, Ind., 10-11
10th: David Galloway of Raleigh, N.C., 9-5

Dai Kitajima of Osaka, Japan, recorded the big bass in the Co-Angler Division for 4 pounds, 14 ounces.

The day-two takeoff begins tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. from Voinovich Park in Cleveland.

Tags: rob-newell  headline-story  2005-07-27-lake-erie 

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