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Shaffer surges into lead

Shaffer surges into lead
Dick Shaffer of Rockford, Ohio, finished the day atop the leaderboard in the Pro Division after netting a total catch of 12 pounds, 4 ounces.

FORT MADISON, Iowa - While the majority of the field struggled mightily with high winds, rough seas and generally all-around nasty conditions on the Mississippi throughout Thursday's competition, Dick Shaffer seemingly had no such problems.

Bolstered by an outstanding catch of 12 pounds, 4 ounces, Shaffer grabbed the overall lead in the Pro Division by becoming one of only four - yes, four - anglers in the entire tournament to boat a five-fish limit during today's competition.

In fact, Shaffer's performance was so noteworthy given the conditions that he seemed as surprised as anyone with his own success.

"This far exceeded my expectations," said Shaffer, commenting on his day-one performance. "I would have been happy with that limit over two days of competition. But I guess with the conditions we've been having, it's still possible it could end up that way after tomorrow."

As fate would have it, Shaffer said that a spur-of-the-moment decision just before takeoff contributed greatly to today's success.

"Right before takeoff I made a last-minute decision to run the opposite way I was going to run because of the wind," said Shaffer, a resident of Rockford, Ohio. "In the end, that turned out to be a pretty good decision."

Shaffer said that he employed a variety of baits - jigs, crankbaits and spinnerbaits - while targeting wood and timber in shallow water.

However, despite his success in the opening round of competition, Shaffer admitted that he still has plenty of strategizing to do heading into Friday's action.

"We'll have to see how the weather is," said Shaffer. "But right now I have no clue what to do."

Kerr holds down second place

Pro Chad Kerr of Burlington, Iowa, finished the day in second place with a total catch of 11 pounds, 4 ounces.Like many anglers, a lot of things conspired to make Chad Kerr's day on the water one that he would rather forget. For starters, he got caught by some bad timing heading into a lock. Then he spent the entire day desperately trying to get back to weigh-in with a limit.

"I was running about 56 miles each way, but I wound up getting stuck waiting to lock through for a good two and a half to three hours," said Kerr. "That really cost me a lot of fishing time. And in the end, I never could quite catch that fifth fish. Tomorrow, I don't think I'm going to try and lock through at all."

But unlike the majority of the field, Kerr still managed to turn in a double-digit stringer despite his travails, recording an 11-pound, 4-ounce bag, which ultimately turned out to be good enough for second place.

Stetich overcomes mechanical problems to net third

Pro Michael Stetich of Omaha, Neb., took third place overall with a catch of 10 pounds, 11 ounces.Like Kerr, Michael Stetich of Omaha, Neb., rallied for a successful outing despite having his fair share of problems during today's competition.

"I lost power in my main engine, and I wasn't able to run faster than 25 mph all day," said Stetich, who ultimately boated a 10-pound, 11-ounce stringer to claim third place overall. "It happened first thing after takeoff. I had only run about two miles before I started having problems. I debated whether to turn around and head back in, but decided in the end to keep fishing."

As it turned out, it was a good choice.

"I actually wound up catching four fish before 9 a.m.," said Stetich, who claimed one of the four five-fish limits posted during today's competition. "Basically I went to an area that I hadn't fished since Saturday's practice, and it worked out pretty well."

Stetich said he targeted bass by using a combination of three "fast-moving" reaction baits as well as employing a flipping technique with soft plastics.

Bohannan snares fourth place

Pro Greg Bohannan of Rogers, Ark., used a total catch of 10 pounds, 7 ounces to land fourth place overall. Greg Bohannan of Rogers, Ark., used a total catch of 10 pounds, 7 ounces to land fourth place overall. However, like many pros, Bohannan argued that the conditions were so tough and the waves so large that it reminded him of many past tournaments on the Great Lakes.

"I really thought I was on Lake Erie for a while," joked Bohannan. "I think I actually saw 7- and 8-footers out there today."

Not only did Bohannan have to battle the waves and the elements, but he also had to battle some mental lapses before the tournament had even begun.

"I started out the day by locking my keys in the truck," said Bohannan. "My co-angler was nice enough to loan me his vehicle. But then when I got to the marina, I realized that I had left all of my electronics in the truck. So I started walking down the marina asking everyone if they had an extra (GPS/depth finder) they could spare. Finally, I found one guy who loaned me his $2,000 unit. All I have to say is that there are some really great people here."

McGinnis nets top-five finish

Pro Mike Deushane of East Peoria, Ill., won the day's big bass award after netting a 5-pound, 2-ounce largemouth. Rounding out the top five pro finishers in today's event was John McGinnis of Clarkson, Ky. McGinnis ultimately recorded a four-fish catch of 9 pounds, 7 ounces to remain in strong contention for a tournament title.

Big bass

Mike Deushane of East Peoria, Ill., won the day's Folgers Big Bass award in the Pro Division after netting a 5-pound, 2-ounce largemouth worth $225. Deushane, who only brought one fish to the scales, finished the day in 15th place.

O'Neill lands atop co-angler leaderboard

On the strength of a 4-pound, 13-ounce catch, Brian O'Neill of Sandwich, Ill., claimed the top spot in the Co-angler Division.On the strength of a 4-pound, 13-ounce catch, Brian O'Neill of Sandwich, Ill., claimed the top spot in the Co-angler Division heading into Friday's round of tournament action. As it turned out, O'Neill was also one of only five co-anglers to bring more than one fish to the scales - further underscoring what a difficult day of fishing it was for the full field.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top five co-anglers:

2nd: Michael Radake of Cape Girardeau, Mo., 4-11
3rd: Troy Karafa of Hebron, Ill., 3-14
3rd: Neil Lemaster of Fort Madison, Iowa, 3-14
5th: Ryan Lapine of Portage, Mich., 3-13

Big bass

Lemaster also took home the day's Folgers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division after landing a 3-pound, 14-ounce largemouth worth $112.

Day two of Stren Series Mississippi River competition begins at 6:30 a.m. Central time at Captain Kirk's Marina located at 902 4th St. in Fort Madison, Iowa.

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2009-08-20-mississippi-river 

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