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

Quick Bites: Chevy Open, Detroit River, Day 4

Quick Bites: Chevy Open, Detroit River, Day 4
Second-place pro Vic Vatalaro stopped to help a man and two children on top of a capsized boat on Lake St. Clair on the final day of the Chevy Open.

Wal-Mart FLW Tour
Detroit River, Trenton, Mich.
Final round, Sunday


Vic lends a hand ... It's often stated that the pros fishing the FLW Tour are more than just some of the finest bass fishermen in the world - they're plain good people, too. After the humanitarian effort put forth by Chevy Open runner-up Vic Vatalaro on the water today, it's doubtful a finer ambassador for the sport could be found. After securing yet another fine limit of smallmouths from his honeyhole on Lake St. Clair today, the Pringles pro from Kent, Ohio, left his spot early at 1:05 p.m. to make sure he got back to check-in in plenty of time due to the incredibly strong winds that were Thrill of victory, agony of defeat: pros Alvin Shaw and Vic Vatalaro react to the final outcome of the Chevy Open, which Shaw won by 3 ounces.whipping the water into a frenzy of waves. On his way back, he saw "a rescue helicopter hovering over a capsized boat ... in the middle of the lake," he said. He added, "At first when I was looking at it, I thought it was a sailboard or something like that ... until I saw a propeller sticking up out of the water." What Vatalaro found when he approached was a man and two children, wearing life jackets, on top of the overturned vessel. "The scariest part was - I looked down in the water, and I could see something floating about 10 feet down ... it looked like a person," Vatalaro said, adding that he was quite shaken by the sight until the man assured him it was his rain suit that had gone overboard. "So we stopped to make sure they could all make it back safe," he said. Vatalaro told the operator of the camera boat that had been following him for TV to pick them up and return them to shore, which he did. Vatalaro ultimately placed second, only 3 ounces back from a $200,000 win; had he passed up the party in distress, it's possible he would have had time to make a few extra casts on the Detroit River before ending his day. But true to form for an FLW Tour pro, Vatalaro had no regrets about his decision to do the right thing.

Pro Mark Modrak of China Township, Mich., fished his first-ever FLW Tour event this week in the Chevy Open and impressed by finishing third.Much more than beginner's luck ... Mark Modrak of China Township, Mich., is no stranger to FLW Outdoors competition; he has amassed 11 top-10 finishes in BFL Michigan Division competition, fished the Stren Series, has found success in The Bass Federation (in partnership with FLW Outdoors), and even fished a Ranger M1 Millennium tournament and a Ranger Owners Tour event. But nothing could prepare him for fishing in his first-ever FLW Tour event in Detroit this week and turning it into a top-10 experience. "This is a dream," said the pro of making the cut his first time out. "I've been in a whirlwind all week." Modrak's at-home fishing partner and 8-year-old son, Brandon, put it another way: "It's really, really cool!" Modrak's wife, Jan, was also at the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit on Sunday to support her favorite top-10 fisherman: "This is his passion - bass fishing - this is his dream. I love you dear, and you deserve it." It was reminiscent of another FLW pro sitting on the top-10 stage today: J.T. Kenney of Port Charlotte, Fla., won the very first Tour event he fished on Lake Okeechobee in 2002. Modrak didn't quite get the win, but he earned the respect and admiration of the crowd and his newfound pro peers onstage by placing third in the Chevy Open. He also earned a handsome payday of $40,000 - nearly quadrupling his career earnings with the tournament fishing organization.

Scout's honor ... Michelle Smith of Waterford, Mich., visited the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit today to watch the final weigh-in of the Chevy Open with her 7-year-old son, Nathan, Pictured with her family, including Mike and 7-year-old son Nathan, Michelle Smith of Waterford, Mich., was the winner of the Ranger boat given away on the final day of the Chevy Openand his favorite fishing partner Mike MacLachlan. Nathan, an avid Wolf Scout and angler, wanted to come check out the action and pick up a free rod and reel from FLW Outdoors. But none of them expected to leave the convention center with a brand-new Ranger boat. Michelle said they had received an invitation to the event from the Cub Scouts, part of an outreach initiative and partnership between FLW Outdoors and the Boy Scouts of America. Upon arrival, Michelle filled out a form for the Ranger-giveaway drawing. When the weigh-in concluded, her name was drawn, and the family walked excitedly to the new boat. "I'm selling our other boat," Mike said, adding that he can hardly wait to take Nathan out fishing in the new Ranger. Mike quickly opened his cell phone to reveal several pictures of Nathan holding up bass and walleyes from previous trips. He said: "He loves fishing. That's the main thing we do is go out fishing." Michelle said of her son: "He's the fisherman in the family. He's the reason why I came."

Quick numbers

8: Average number of "quality bites" of smallmouth bass per day, according to Chevy Open champion Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., regarding the area he was fishing on Lake St. Clair.

3: Number of words heard on the weather radio Sunday morning by eighth-place pro Keith Monson of Burgin, Ky., that convinced him to stay in the Detroit River for final-day fishing: "small craft advisory."

2: Number of Chevy Open pro finalists with multiple top-10 finishes this season (Shaw and Michael Bennett of Lincoln, Calif.; Shaw placed ninth at Beaver Lake and won on the Detroit River, while Bennett won at Lewis Smith Lake and placed seventh here).

50,000: Cost, in dollars, per ounce of Vatalaro's 3-ounce deficit to Shaw's two-day winning weight of 39-11. Vatalaro pocketed $50,000 as runner-up to Shaw's $200,000 win.

Pro David McCrone of Minnetonka, Minn., led the opening round of the Chevy Open, but fell to 10th place by the end.Sound bites

"I guess you could sum it up as heaven and hell." - pro David McCrone of Minnetonka, Minn., who led day two of the event but zeroed today and ended up in 10th place, on how he would describe his experience in the Chevy Open.

"I just went home and had a steak and a vanilla milkshake." - Chevy Open co-angler champ Mark Frickman of Grand Ledge, Mich., on what he did to celebrate his victory and $30,000 payday after winning last night.

"Tournament fishing is all about decisions, and if you knew what the outcome was going to be beforehand, you could make a lot better ones." - Livonia, Mich., pro David Reault, after placing sixth.

"I'm a big boy, and I'm not afraid to tell you I was scared; you really have to respect that lake." - Kenney, on the size of the waves he witnessed on Lake Erie today in 30-mph winds.

"Well, it'll either be a good ride home or a quiet one." - Mark Shaw, son of pro Alvin Shaw, predicting the aftermath of the Chevy Open before his dad's limit of bass sealed the victory.

Tags: patrick-baker  quick-bites  2008-07-10-detroit-river 

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