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Stren Series finale on Detroit River to have it all

Stren Series finale on Detroit River to have it all
Hanging onto the top spot at the Stren Series Central Division tournament on the Detroit River is Brian Hensley of Edwardsburg, Mich. But he fears his best spot might be devoid of big fish when he heads Saturday for the final round. i

TRENTON, Mich. - There's something for everyone as the Stren Series Central Division tournament on the Detroit River heads for Saturday's final round.

Like a dark horse? Five of the top 10, including the leader, Brian Hensley, have never won a tournament.

Prefer a favorite? Five of the top 10 have won a tournament, and second-place Michael Trombly has won four, all on the Detroit River.

Like smallmouth studs? You got 'em throughout the lineup.

Prefer green-bass guys? There's Ryan Chandler, who wandered this way from Hobart, Ind., in search of points and says he's tickled pink to be a third-day threat.

Like tight races? In the Pro Division, first through third places are separated by 1 pound, 7 ounces, and places five through eight are separated by 1 pound. Places four through nine in the Co-angler Division are separated by less than a pound.

Want to see pros and co-anglers tested by circumstances they can't control? Tomorrow is Saturday on the Detroit River, meaning every weekend warrior who owns a watercraft of any kind within a 30-mile radius of here will load up the wife, kids and a cooler of their favorite beverage to head for the water.

Oh, and there's another bass tournament featuring about 100 boats that begins tomorrow. It could get a little crazy out there.

So we have newcomers and old timers, river guys and lake guys, jiggers and riggers. Tomorrow it all gets sorted out beginning at 6:30 a.m. with the launch Elizabeth Park Marina. Weigh-in is at Walmart in Woodhaven beginning at 4 p.m.

Weights were down across the board Friday. None of today's top 10 pros matched their weight total of the previous day, and the top 10 got five new members: Shawn Murphy, who moved from 17th to sixth; David McCrone, who moved from 15th to eighth; Jared Rhode, who moved from 14th to ninth; and Chad Pipkens, who moved from 19th to 10th.

Falling out of the top 10 on day two were Tony DeFilippo, Jack Gadlage, John Zubkoff and Todd Koehler.

The biggest bag today weighed 21 pounds, 7 ounces and was caught by Frank Novock of Rockwood, Mich. And Michael Trombly again appears to be peaking at just the right time; the Perrysburg, Ohio, pro is just 6 ounces behind Brian Hensley of Edwardsburg, Mich., who clings to the lead for the second straight day. After day one, he led by 1 ounce over Chip Harrison, who's now in third place. When this tournament is over, someone should toss Hensley a bottle of Pepto Bismol.

It's not just that Hensley, who has never won a tournament, is being hounded by nine other pros who have combined to win 12, but he fears he's running out of fish on his best spot. He described Friday's outing as "very tough," and he had to fill out his five-fish limit with a 1-pounder, which brought the bag to 19 pounds, 12 ounces. His two-day tournament total is 42-8.

Thursday, toward the end of the day, Hensley lost a giant bass right at the boat. Minutes later, he lost another. He went back there today and caught the biggest bass in his day-two bag.

"It sure looks like the one I lost," Hensely said. "Just down the way I caught my second-biggest. But I'm worried that's all that's there. These fish are roaming. I'm used to pulling up to a rock pile, or eddy, or weedbed, something I can target. But these fish are just roaming the flats. The lake is 20 miles by 12 miles. Where do you start?"

Trombly makes his move

Michael Trombly has won tournaments on the Detroit River in '01, '06, `07 and '08. That includes two To nobodyStren Series wins and two BFL wins.

"It's a fantastic feeling," he said. "It never gets old."

In the past Trombly has won with fish from Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie. This time he's working Erie. But he said he's concerned that a forecast for 15-25 mph winds Saturday might make a long Erie run impossible, despite his Ranger 620.

"I'll make that call in the morning," he said.

Trombly has backup spots in the river and Lake St. Clair, but he isn't sure he can maintain the same weights he's brought to the scales so far, which included Friday's biggest weight of the day, 20 pounds, 14 ounces. Thursday he had the third biggest weight at 21 pounds, 4 ounces. His two-day tournament total is 42-2, placing him just six ounces behind Hensley.

"But the fish are moving," Trombly said. "Maybe they'll move into some of the spots they haven't been yet?"

Harrison hangs in third

In a single fluke incident Friday, Chip Harrison lost his biggest bass and his best crankbait. A big smallie he hooked jumped from the water and cut the line with its gill plate, an unusual accident that Harrison hopes won't cost him the tournament. With that fish in his bag he estimates his weight today would Chip Harrison of Bremen, Ind. dropped from second to third place on day two, but still is within striking distance of first place with 41 pounds, 1 ounce.have improved by about 3 pounds. It officially came in at 18 pounds, 6 ounces, bringing his two-day tournament total to 41-1, which is 1 pound, 7 ounces off the pace.

"I definitely would have had a bigger bag than (yesterday's 22-11)," said Harrison, who fell from second to third. "It was a giant fish."

Harrison said he caught a white bass just prior to hooking the big smallie and he questions if the white bass nicked his line enough to weaken it.

Like Hensley, Harrison isn't overly optimistic heading into the final.

"There are some things changing out there big time," he said. "The wind direction switched today and brought in a bunch of floating grass, which made it hard to make my presentation. And where I got my biggest fish the water is starting to turn milky."

Time for Plan B?

"I've got one area where I haven't made a cast yet," Harrison said. "If it gets too crazy out there I might have to try it tomorrow."

Bondy goes where no weeds grow

While many pros are targeting the weed flats on Lake St. Clair, Jon Bondy of Windsor, Ont. has found something rare; a weedless area where big smallies and big schools of baitfish are abundant. He used that spot today to pull 18 pounds, 12 ounces, which moved him from fifth into fourth and brought his two-day tournament total to 39-3.

"I haven't knocked off a speck of grass in four days of fishing," said Bondy, who guides full time inJon Bondy, a Windsor, Ont. angler who guides when he isn Canadian waters when he isn't tournament fishing. "I think that's why they're there."

A lot of pros have said the bass are feeding on crayfish, Bondy said his bass are feeding on gobies and gizzard shad. "Monstrous schools, millions of 'em," he said of the gizzard shad.

If the wind blows tomorrow - and that's pretty much a given - Bondy said he likes his chances.

Chandler's along for the ride

Ryan Chandler went out in eighth place Friday and improved his position to fifth with a limit weighing 17 pounds, 8 ounces. He said he went for nearly two hours without a bite, but when he finally got on fish the action was non-stop.

The only new member to the top five on day two, Ryan Chandler of Hobart, Ind. heads out on day three in fifth place with 36 pounds, 1 ounce."I probably culled four limits today," said Chandler, whose total weight for the tournament is 36 pounds, 1 ounce. "I didn't get the big bites I've been getting, but there are plenty of fish around. Once you start catching 'em you just keep going. Yanking 3-pound bass on board with 10-pound test can get tiring after awhile."

Chandler is fishing in 15-17 feet on Lake St. Clair. He says he dreads making the run upriver past Detroit, where the water will be extremely crowded Saturday.

"You gotta do what you gotta do," Chandler says with a shrug.

This is Chandlers third trip to the Detroit River, and he wonders if his relative lack of experience will hurt him Saturday.

"I don't have high expectations," he said. "I just came here to get points and now I'm in the top 10. But I'm a largemouth fisherman. The top 10 is loaded with smallmouth studs and this green bass guy is just happy to be hanging with them."

Chandler said he's doing something a bit different from the rest of the field and he hopes it holds for one more day. "I have no particular spots," he said."Today my best spot was a place I'd never been before."

Leader takes the lead in co-angler division

John Leader of Granger, Ind. used a 17 pound, 2 ounce sack Friday, third best among co-anglers, to bring his two-day tournament total to 35 pounds and take over the lead in the co-angler division from Erik Jacques of Harrison Township, Mich., who weighed 13 pounds, 14 ounces Friday and fell to second with 32-15 overall.

Leader credits pro Shawn Murphy, who Saturday will go out in the sixth-place spot, with helping him make an important adjustment.Leading the co-angler division at the Stren Series Central Division tournament on the Detroit River is the aptly-named John Leader, who with 35 pounds has a a 3-pound lead going into day three.

"We got on some key colors for tubes and I'm sure they've made the difference," Leader said.

Today he fished with Boo Woods, who put him onto a drop-shot rig in 15 feet. They found a weedline where the St. Clair River enters the lake and Leader filled out his limit with a 4 pounder and 5 pounder.

As a co-angler, Leader says his goal is to cover as much water as possible from the back of the boat. He says Lake St. Clair is producing weights equal to Erie this week, and he would have no problem heading for either location tomorrow with Brian Hensley.

Pro places 6-10

6. Shawn Murphy, Nicholasville, Kent., 35-5
7. Terry Baksay, Easton, Conn., 35-2
8. David McCrone, Minnetonka, Minn., 35-1
9. Jared Rhode, Port Clinton, Ohio, 34 pounds, 12 ounces
10. Chad Pipkens, Holt, Mich., 34-3

Co-angler top 10

1. John Leader, Granger, Ind., 35-0
2. Erik Jacques, Harrison Township, Mich., 32-15
3. David Matual, Chicago, Ill., 31-12
4. Ron Norris, Portage, Mich., 29-15
5. Cade Laufenberg, Stoddard, Wis., 29-15
6. Craig Brown, Powell, Ohio, 29-13
7. Mike Simpson, Dayton, Ohio, 29-11
8. Larry Creech, Columbia City, Ind., 29-2
9. Kenny Woods, Hazard, Ky., 29-1
10. Bill Valberg, London, Ont., 28-12

Tags: vince-meyer  headline-story  2009-07-23-detroit-river 

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