UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Eufaula

Borsa barrels into lead

Borsa barrels into lead
Michigan's Philip Borsa assumed the overall lead after catching 21 pounds, 4 ounces today that boosted his two-day weight to 23-9.

SANDUSKY, Ohio - While things may have been a little blustery, the wind didn't howl quite strongly enough to keep The Bass Federation Northern Divisional competitors off big Lake Erie today. Confined to Sandusky Bay yesterday, the 72-man field was let loose on the big water today, and the leaderboard shaped up a lot differently because of it.

Now leading the overall weight list is Philip Borsa of Redford, Mich., with a two-day weight of 23 pounds, 9 ounces. That's an abrupt change of fortune from day one, when Borsa brought in a single bass worth 2 pounds, 5 ounces that had him fifth on the Michigan state team.

With one day of competition left, where a competitor stands among the 12 anglers on his state team is of the utmost importance, as the top two finishers from each state advance to the 2008 TBF National Championship. The 72-man Northern Divisional field is comprised of six state teams that each feature 12 competitors, with Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin making up the Northern Divisional states. The winner of each state team advances to the championship as a boater, and the runner-up from each state advances as a co-angler.

Competition among the states is also fierce, as tournament cash awards are given to the state teams that collectively catch the most over the event's three days. That leaderboard too saw a shift today, as the Wisconsin team now leads Michigan by just less than 7 pounds. Yesterday, Illinois led the six-state contingency but now finds itself mired in last place, more than 47 pounds behind the Wisconsin team.

Borsa lucks out, leads Michigan

The individual who catches the most weight over three days receives a $500 Wal-Mart gift card as the Castrol Maximum Performer, and currently, Borsa leads that race by only 4 ounces. His lead on the Michigan state team, however, is a little wider at 3 pounds, 10 ounces.

"Today was one of those shots in the dark - actually 10 shots in the dark," Borsa said. "We had no idea where we were going to fish, and I really have to thank my Michigan teammate Bob Evans. We didn't crowd him too much, I hope."

Indeed, Evans' generosity with his spot certainly helped propel Borsa to the top. Borsa is competing this week as a nonboater - six competitors from each state are fishing this week as boaters, meaning they use their own boat, and the other six are entered as nonboaters. Both are expected to have ample front-of-boat fishing time, and boaters and nonboaters are randomly paired each day.

"I got some bites, and some other guys didn't get bites," Borsa said of his day-two fortune. "I was one of the lucky ones."

Borsa caught all smallmouths today drop-shotting Gulp baits in 25 to 30 feet of water. Since luck and help from a friend played a hand in his success, and because he is a nonboater, he says he is unsure of what to expect tomorrow.

"I haven't really talked to the guy I'm going out with," he said. "I'm not really expecting much. I'm going to go out and try to have some fun. If I was on an area that I considered my fish, I would be excited, but I'll be somewhere else tomorrow. I'd rather be first on the last day."

Jones extends Wisconsin lead

Jim Jones continued his Wisconsin reign and sits only 4 ounces behind the overall leader with 23-5 over two days.Breathing down Borsa's neck with a two-day catch of 23 pounds, 5 ounces is Jim Jones of Big Bend, Wis. Jones led the Wisconsin team on day one with only three bass, but his good fortune escalated today when he was allowed to navigate the big waters of Lake Erie.

"We ran a long way," he said. "They didn't bite well, but I caught five. It was a long, rough ride."

Backaches aside, Jones' 13-14 limit was definitely better than his day-one catch of 9-7. He caught smallmouths today off an area he found in practice.

"We fished there the whole time," he said of that spot. "I caught some on a spinnerbait and some on a drop-shot."

Jones, a boater, heads into the final day with a 4-pound, 4-ounce lead over his nearest competition on the Wisconsin state team. Should he advance to the nationals, it would be his second straight trip to that big event.

"I've got to wait and see what the weather does," Jones said of his day-three chances. "They're talking about strong winds, so I don't know if they'll let us go out or not. If they do let us go out, I don't know if I can go that far in the rough water."

Severson takes huge Minnesota lead

Jim Severson leads the Minnesota state team by a whopping 10 pounds, 14 ounces thanks to his day-two catch of 20 pounds, 15 ounces.Leading the Minnesota team by an eye-popping 10 pounds, 14 ounces is Jim Severson of Stillwater, Minn. Severson zeroed yesterday but busted a five-bass, 20-pound, 15-ounce sack today to take over his state lead in grand fashion and move up to third on the overall weight list.

"It was kind of fun, actually," Severson said of his day-two experience. "I got paired up with a guy from Michigan, and we both wanted to fish the same area. We both caught them, so it came out perfect."

Severson is competing this week as a nonboater, and the biggest reason for his change of fortune is that yesterday, he and his partner experienced boat problems and didn't make it back to weigh-in. Nevertheless, he says yesterday wouldn't have been remarkable for him anyway, as he didn't practice in Sandusky Bay, where the contenders were limited to because of the gusty wind and rip-current threat.

"Today was almost perfect," he said of his trip to Erie. "There was a little chop on the way out, but once we got there, it laid down pretty well. Mostly we ran the trolling motor and hit these little rock piles that were out there, and the fish were on them."

Severson was catching smallies in 25 to 26 feet of water and can feel confident in his chances tomorrow no matter which way the wind blows thanks to his sizable lead.

"I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow," he said. "The wind is supposed to blow again, so that's probably going to be a big determining factor."

Steady McWilliams leads Indiana contingent

Terry McWilliams changed his game plan today and still came out on top in Indiana with a two-day catch of 19 pounds.With a day-two four-bass catch weighing 10 pounds, 5 ounces, Terry McWilliams of Greenfield, Ind., took over the Indiana state lead with a two-day total of 19 pounds. That opened up a near 4-pound lead heading into the final day despite the fact that McWilliams has yet to catch a five-bass limit.

"Starting out, I was going to make a pretty long run east of here, but my engine wasn't running right, so I kind of made a change in my game plan and went to a spot around Marblehead, which is close, in case I did have engine problems," McWilliams said of day two. "I caught two largemouths first thing this morning on my Stupid Tube."

McWilliams' "Stupid Tube" has helped put him in three TBF national championships as well as the Bassmaster Classic, and it's currently put him on top of the Indiana state team.

"It's a bait I've used about six years," he said. "It's a regular tube, but the way I rig it is a little different. That's what I caught all my fish on today. It kind of slowed down after I caught the two largemouths, so I went out on an area fishing a drop-shot in deeper water, trying to catch bigger fish, because that's what you do around here. But that's not my style of fishing; I'm a shallow-water fisherman. I came back shallow where I caught my two fish earlier, and I caught two smallmouths."

With a solid lead and a Stupid Tube, McWilliams feels pretty good about his chances tomorrow.

"I've got a 1 in 12 chance," he said. "I've only got 19 pounds, and one guy came in with 21 pounds today, so I could blank tomorrow and someone could come in with 21 pounds (and beat me). I feel blessed to have gotten as far as I have. I'd love to go on to the national championship, and hopefully I can get that done tomorrow. That's what I came up here to do."

Brandenburg takes slim Ohio lead

With 14 pounds over two days, Scott Brandenburg leads the Ohio team by 6 ounces.Taking over the Ohio state lead is Scott Brandenburg of Troy, Ohio, with a two-day catch of 14 pounds that leads his nearest competition by 6 ounces. Brandenburg caught a pair of bass yesterday weighing 4-11 and stepped it up today with a four-bass catch weighing 9-5.

Interestingly, Brandenburg advanced to his state lead - and toppled yesterday's overall leader Richard DiDonato in the process - without even fishing the main lake.

"I went out to a harbor west of the launching area," he said. "I started out early throwing a rat, and I caught two that way over vegetation. I caught two more on a jig in the vegetation. I tried smallmouth fishing, but the smallmouths let me down; I couldn't get my limit."

Brandenburg, a boater, is hoping Mother Nature cooperates tomorrow and allows him to get to a rather far-flung spot that he believes could send him to the nationals.

"There was another spot that was 23 miles down the lake that I didn't get to that I hoped to," he said. "This afternoon we had some wind come up, so I didn't make it down there. That's hopefully where I'm going tomorrow. We'll see what happens. I think I can go get five."

Peters claims Illinois lead

Loren Peters leads the Illinois team with 13 pounds over two days.Taking over the No. 1 spot on the Illinois team is Loren Peters of Normal, Ill. Peters caught three yesterday worth 8-2 to sit behind day-one leader Steve Parker, who zeroed today while Peters caught one bass worth 4-14. That single bass was enough to put him on top with a two-day total of 13 pounds. He leads Parker and the rest of his state team by a 1-pound, 8-ounce margin.

Competition wraps up tomorrow

TBF Northern Divisional qualifiers will head out again tomorrow for the final day of competition with a 7 a.m. takeoff from Sandusky Bay, located at 101 Shelby Street in Sandusky. Tomorrow's final weigh-in will also be held there beginning at 3 p.m.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  headline-story  2007-09-12-divisional-lake-erie 

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