UPCOMING EVENT: HIGH SCHOOL FISHING - 2019 - Pickwick Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Pure bliss

Pure bliss
Tournament director Chris Jones presents Neil Heiden as the Detroit River co-angler champion.

TRENTON, Mich. - Neil Heiden is one excitable guy. Upon hearing he'd won the co-angler title at the EverStart Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River, his face stretched into a mile-wide grin as he began to bellow his thanks to the pros who helped get him there.

"Kevin, thank you! Tony, thank you!" Heiden shouted joyfully to his final-round pro partners Kevin Vida and Tony DeFilippo.

The excitement was contagious - and well-earned. Heiden caught 10 bass over two days weighing 31 pounds, 13 ounces to win $4,400 as the last co-angler EverStart Series winner. The trail becomes the Stren Series next year.

"When I started yesterday, it was in boat No. 10," Heiden said. "It was a squeaker. This is awesome."

Co-angler winner Neil Heiden weighs in a fish from his five-bass stringer, one of two co-angler limits on day four.Indeed, Heiden's trip to the finals was hard-earned, as he was only in 22nd after day one with a limit weighing 12 pounds, 4 ounces. He caught another limit the next day that weighed 11 pounds, 12 ounces, bringing his two-day total to 24 pounds, good enough to slip into the final rounds in the last spot - 10th.

That put him in the back of DeFilippo's boat on day three, and Heiden outfished his pro to land in fourth place with a limit weighing 16 pounds, 1 ounce. It all fell into place on day four when Heiden brought in one of only two limits on the co-angler side, a 15-12 stringer that brought his two-day total to 31-13, enough to win by a pound and a half.

"I started out with a spinner bait, and then I proceeded to make a bunch of mistakes," he said. "I completely lost my composure. For two hours, I wasn't there. We moved out deeper, and that's when I caught the big one."

Heiden fished with pro winner Vida, who was obviously on some big ones, and he got his mojo back when he caught the estimated 5-pound, 5-ouncer.

"After that, it was fish after fish after fish," Heiden said. "All my fish this week were caught on one rod, one set of line, three jigheads and four tubes. That's all I used, other than the spinner-bait fish, for four days."

The win was Heiden's first top-10 finish in three years of EverStart competition, and his 2005 season was shortened due to family issues. As such, the only two tournaments he fished were this year's Detroit River events, and he believes his luck this week was nothing short of destiny.

A jubilant Neil Heiden shows off his first EverStart trophy."The first day, I had an awesome pro who put me on good fish in Erie," he said. "The second day I gave him a spot, and we had limits in an hour. That was in St. Clair.

"The third day, we took a long trip south, and we were looking at 10-foot waves. Tony put me on some good fish and helped me get to this point."

Unfortunately for Heiden, he was not a Ranger owner so he did not win the new Ranger boat as part of the contingency program. The blame for that, he says, falls with someone else.

"I've been wanting a new Ranger for six months, and my wife said no," he said with a laugh. "I'm going to make her eat her words."

Harris ties career-best finish

Co-angler Jeff Harris finished second at the Detroit River event, his second EverStart runner-up finish.Finishing in the No. 2 spot on the co-angler side is Jeff Harris of Grand Blanc, who hauled in nine bass over two days weighing 30 pounds, 5 ounces to earn $3,400.

Harris went out with No. 4 pro Mark Dowd today and found his early morning bite a bit slow.

"I didn't have a fish before 10 o'clock," Harris said.

Harris and Dowd fished an area at the mouth of Lake Erie in the Detroit River, and Harris caught his four bass today on a drop-shot goby-type bait.

"I think it was just timing and location, being there when they decided to eat," he said. "I had that fifth fish on four or five times, and it just didn't work out for me."

Fate not kind to Richardson

No. 3 co-angler James Richardson Sr. holds up two fingers in place of his missing second bass.James Richardson Sr. of Harrison, Ohio, led days one and three and caught a hefty 21-pound, 15-ounce stringer yesterday, only to falter today and bring in one bass for 3-9. That one bass was still enough to land him in third with a two-day total of 25 pounds, 8 ounces worth $3,125.

Richardson fished with day-three pro leader Thomas Moleski, who elected to make a long run to the big water, a decision he ultimately regretted.

"The first part of the morning, we went to the big water, and the farther we went, the rougher it got," Richardson said. "We went about 15 miles and decided to turn back. I told him I had a spot (in the river), and that's where I caught my fish."

However, in an interesting twist, Richardson's lofty position in Northern Division points standings opened the door for his wife, Shirley, to qualify for the EverStart Series championship. The pair fished the Southeast Division, and James earned a championship berth by ranking 13th while Shirley was the first one out at 41st. (Only the top 40 advance to the championship.) However, James double-qualified, finishing fifth in Northern Division points, and his berth is determined by the division he placed highest in. Therefore, since he advanced to the championship via the Northern Division and not the Southeast, the door was opened for the 41st Southeast Division angler - Shirley - to move into the championship.

Myers, Neves round out top five

Mark Myers took fourth place on the co-angler side with a two-day total of 21 pounds, 4 ounces.The fourth and fifth co-anglers also found their luck ran dry on day four, as Mark Myers of Minneapolis went from 18 pounds, 5 ounces on day three to just 2 pounds, 15 ounces on day four. His two-day weight totaled 21 pounds, 4 ounces, good for fourth place and $2,240.

Nick Neves of Jerome ended day three in the No. 2 position with 20 pounds, 11 ounces but blanked on day four to end the tournament in fifth place on the strength of his day-three catch. He earned $1,740 for his fifth-place finish.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers at the EverStart Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River:

6th: Mike Lawrence of Toledo, Ohio, five bass, 15-8, $1,640
7th: Ryan Hopping of Lake St. Louis, Mo., six bass, 15-7, $1,540
8th: Dwight Ameling of Fremont, Ind., five bass, 14-5, $1,440
9th: Andrew Bray of Clinton Township, one bass, 3-5, $1,340
10th: Craig Brannon of Crooksville, Ohio, one bass, 2-11, $1,240

Coming up

This week's event was the final regular-season EverStart Series event of the year. The EverStart Series Championship will be held on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala., Nov. 2-5.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  co-angler-headline  2005-09-21-detroit-river 

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