UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Grand Lake

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Sabbi takes over TBF Mid-Atlantic

Sabbi takes over TBF Mid-Atlantic
Pennsylvania's Mike Sabbi assumed the overall lead at the TBF Mid-Atlantic Divisional with a two-day catch of 21 pounds, 8 ounces.

SEAFORD, Del. - The Nanticoke River served up another good day of tidal fishing for The Bass Federation's Mid-Atlantic Divisional contenders on today's second day of competition. Four of the seven day-one team leaders retained their No. 1 status, though Michael Sabbi of the Pennsylvania team claimed the overall lead on day two with a combined catch of 21 pounds, 8 ounces.

This week's Mid-Atlantic Divisional championship will send 14 competitors to the 2008 TBF National Championship, one boater and one co-angler per team. Teams from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia each sent six boaters and six nonboaters to this week's event, and the No. 1 finisher from each state will earn a boater slot in the 2008 national championship. Each state's runner-up will advance to the nationals as a co-angler.

Sabbi "surprised" to land in overall lead

Sabbi led the Pennsylvania team on day one with a five-bass catch weighing 11 pounds, enough to land him in third on the overall weight list. Today he caught another 10 pounds, 8 ounces to ascend to the top of the overall weight list and retain his No. 1 status in Pennsylvania with a combined total weight of 21 pounds, 8 ounces. That gives him a whopping 6-pound, 9-ounce lead in Pennsylvania and a 13-ounce lead overall.

"I'm just surprised," Sabbi said of his good fortune. "There are a lot of good anglers here. I just shocked that I'm leading after two days."

Persistence seems to be the key for Sabbi, as he reported doing the same thing today as he did yesterday to land his bass, and yesterday found him returning to the same trees in his area multiple times until the bass finally bit.

"I did the same thing, though I got bit earlier," he said of today. "I had my limit probably by 10 o'clock or earlier. I did pretty good until the tide really started coming, and it slowed down for us."

Once Sabbi boated his fish, he handed over the reins to his nonboater partner the rest of the day. He said he caught his bass today throwing jigs.

"I fish the Northern Bay a lot, and a lot of times we get on an area that we know holds fish, and you just hunker down and wait," he said. "When the tide is right, you'll get a flurry of bites. That's basically what I've waited for. Yesterday I almost gave up; today, I got bites early and figured out a couple things here and there that will help me, I think."

Sancho takes over New Jersey lead

In second overall is New Jersey leader Joseph Sancho with 20 pounds, 11 ounces over two days.In the second position on the overall leaderboard is New Jersey team member Joseph Sancho of New Windsor, N.Y., with a two-day catch of eight bass weighing 20 pounds, 11 ounces. He leads the New Jersey team by 2 pounds, 8 ounces and got by today with a little help from his friends.

"I want to thank one person, George from Susquehanna Tackle," Sancho said. "I needed something, and he overnighted it to me. I have it in my possession, and I caught a big fish on it yesterday. It was a key fish that I really needed because yesterday I only had three fish, so thanks a lot, George."

Indeed, Sancho is the only team leader who did not catch a five-bass limit each of the past two days, though he did bring in five today that weighed 10 pounds, 11 ounces - only 11 ounces heavier than the three he brought in yesterday.

"The last couple of days, I've been lucky to get a big bite each day," he said. "Yesterday I had one that was 4-15; today I had one that was 3-11. I'm fishing really, really slowly - that's the key."

Sancho wouldn't reveal what his most productive bait was, though he did own up to covering a lot of water the past two days to catch his fish.

"I'm pretty much running all over the place," he said. "I'm fishing the whole river, from the bridge down south all the way up to the clear water. I'm just trying to run and gun the tides. I'm a Hudson River fisherman, so I pretty much know what to do on the tides."

Sancho says he has never fished a TBF national championship, though he has come close twice, and he is hoping his good fortune continues tomorrow and results in his first-ever championship berth.

"This is awesome," he said. "This is the reason why you fish the Federation. This is the whole deal; it's a dream come true. I've been doing this for 20 years and I've come close a couple of times, so let's hope it pans out."

Williams stretches Virginia lead

Bobby Williams leads the Virginia team by 3 pounds, 5 ounces thanks to his two-day haul of 19-7 that has him in third place overall.Continuing to lead the Virginia team is the No. 3 overall angler Bobby Williams of Washington, D.C., with a combined weight of 19 pounds, 7 ounces that stretched his Virginia lead to 3 pounds, 5 ounces. He caught 9-5 yesterday and improved that today with another limit weighing 10 pounds, 2 ounces.

"It was a really slow bite today," said Williams, who is competing this week as a boater. "They didn't really start biting until about 10 o'clock, and I lost two giant fish right off. That ruins your day, just about."

Williams managed to pick up the pieces, he said, by staying focused and keeping his head in the game.

"By 12 o'clock, we were culling, and the rest is history," he said.

Williams hopes to continue with his pattern on tomorrow's final day but knows he'll have to make adjustments because his area is changing due to boat pressure.

"There has been so much boat traffic in the creek I'm fishing," he said. "It's starting to muddy up. We're going to have to downsize, slow down and be even more patient than we were today."

LaClair moves into Delaware lead

Brian LaClair took over the Delaware lead with a two-day catch of 18 pounds, 12 ounces.Taking the Delaware team lead from yesterday's overall leader Larry Taylor is Brian LaClair of Denton, Md., with a two-day catch of 18 pounds, 12 ounces. That gave him a 4-ounce lead on the Delaware team and landed him in fourth on the overall weight list.

"I probably caught 15, maybe 20 keepers," LaClair said of day two. "What I'm doing is fishing stuff that nobody else is fishing, trying to learn it from all the past tournaments on this river."

Delaware is the host state for this week's event, and LaClair is enjoying his familiarity with the tournament waters. He said he caught his fish today on channel drops in the main river channel, fishing the stump beds that are on them.

"I think some of the pressure from the surrounding areas is putting fish on them," LaClair said of his stump beds. "Some of (the fish) moved in pretty heavy today, and hopefully tomorrow there will be some more moving in."

LaClair said his fish are biting on both the incoming and outgoing tides, and he noted that paying attention to the tides is the key to fishing the Nanticoke River.

"I've got to wait for the tide to get just right," he said. "It takes the tide. After they move out, they move right back up and start beating again for a couple hours. I'm fishing way up behind the stumps, just dropping a jig right on them. I just follow the fish out and then follow them back."

Hanshaw hitches a ride to keep West Virginia lead

Charlie Hanshaw leads the West Virginia team another day despite mechanical trouble on day two.Yesterday's West Virginia leader Charlie Hanshaw of Sissonville, W. Va., held on to his No. 1 position today with an 8-pound, 14-ounce limit that brought his two-day total to 18 pounds, 11 ounces. That weight put him in fifth overall and gave him a 2-pound, 4-ounce lead on the West Virginia team.

"It was a little tougher for me today," Hanshaw said. "There were fewer fish, and it was just tougher overall. I'm doing the same things but not getting as many bites. I'm flipping close to targets, making a lot of presentations tight to cover, and really just fishing hard."

Indeed, Hanshaw's weight did drop on day two by about a pound, but nevertheless, the real reason for his day-two success hinges on the generosity of fellow contender Bobby Williams, the Virginia leader.

"My boat broke down with about 15 minutes to go, and Bobby Williams and Brian Barnes stopped," he said. "I spun a hub, and they actually changed my hub for me and got me back going, and we made it back to the ramp with a couple of minutes to spare. Those guys risked it just to help me out, and that was really the key for my day."

Given the fact that Williams is also in serious contention for a national-championship slot, Hanshaw couldn't say enough about his Good Samaritan efforts.

"The people out here are great," Hanshaw said. "In Bobby's case, I think he's third right now, and he risked that to help me out, and you can't say anything more about a person than that. He didn't ask for anything in return; he just did it, and that was the key for my day, really."

Mahan extends Maryland lead

Howard Mahan now leads the Maryland team by 3 pounds, 4 ounces thanks to his two-day catch of 18-5.Jumping out to a 3-pound, 4-ounce lead in Maryland is yesterday's Maryland leader Howard Mahan of Oxford, Pa. He caught a limit yesterday worth 8-9 and followed that up today with another five weighing 9-12 for a combined total of 18 pounds, 5 ounces.

"The plan worked out pretty good," Mahan said. "I went to my fish, and I upgraded a little bit from what I had yesterday. The tide getting in an hour later is hurting me a little bit, but other than that, everything's going pretty well."

Mahan, a boater, said he had a limit by 10 o'clock today and plans on more of the same tomorrow.

"Most of my fish are tight to cover, and most of them are jig fish," he said. "I'm doing a lot of flipping and pitching."

With one day left of competition and another day of leading under his belt, Mahan definitely has the national championship on his mind.

"That would be great," he said. "It would be a new experience and probably the biggest tournament I've ever fished, that's for sure. I look forward to it if I can hold it up tomorrow."

O'Donnell claims D.C. lead

Taking over the lead on the Washington, D.C., team is Peter O'Donnell of Deale, Md., with a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 14 pounds, 9 ounces. He leads No. 2 Timothy Cameron of Gaithersburg, Md., by only 1 ounce heading into the final day of competition. O'Donnell caught 7-12 yesterday to sit in third on his team but followed that up today with 6 pounds, 13 ounces to take the lead from William Kramer, who fell to fifth.

Delaware continues to lead race among the states

Though tomorrow's overall winner will receive a $500 Wal-Mart gift card as the Castrol Maximum Performer, tournament cash awards are given to the states whose team members catch the most weight over the tournament's three days. Delaware extended its lead in that race another day with a two-day haul of 174 pounds, 15 ounces, followed by No. 2 New Jersey with 159 pounds.

Competition wraps up tomorrow

The final takeoff will commence at 7 a.m. Friday morning from Phillips Landing in Seaford, and competitors will weigh in their final catches there tomorrow beginning at 3 p.m. A Ranger boat simulator will be offering rides to spectators at tomorrow's weigh-in beginning at 2 p.m.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  headline-story  2007-09-26-divisional-nanticoke-river 

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