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

Strong winds, stronger bite

Strong winds, stronger bite
Pro Richard Fike and co-angler Richard Dobbs hold up their 36-pound, 6-ounce limit. Both Fike and Dobbs lead their respective divisions after day one.

TRENTON, Mich. - Thursday's stiff westerly winds weren't enough to hold back a red-hot Lake Erie walleye bite. Although both the Detroit River and the Michigan side of Erie are in play at the season-opening FLW Walleye Tour event, most anglers opted for the lake. What they found was clean water and hungry female walleyes. Twenty pros registered limits in excess of 28 pounds, but none were bigger than Richard Fike's 36-6.

Fike said his practice was productive so he wasn't necessarily surprised by his day-one success. He is, however, extremely pleased to be leading.

"Finishing first on a day like today with this weather - it's going to be memorable," Fike said onstage.

As soon as Fike and his co-angler partner reached their primary area, the fish started biting. In fact, they had four big females in the boat within the first hour. But as the wind picked up, the bite slowed considerably.

"At about noon the weather really turned; it was a bad deal. To hold the boat and keep the speed down was next to impossible."

But the two kept their focus (and their spinners in the water) and were rewarded with another keeper.

"The highlight of the day came at about 12:30 p.m. We were about to move, and we had reeled in three of the four lines. We looked back and the fourth (planer) board was just buried - tail down, sticking straight up."

That fish, which weighed approximately 9 pounds, was their last of the day and anchored their impressive limit. With similar winds forecasted for tomorrow, Fike plans on returning to the lake.Pro Troy Newman celebrates after weighing in his 36-pound, 4-ounce limit.

"I don't really want to fish the river unless I'm forced to," said the Farmington, Pa., native.

Newman second

In second place is River Rouge, Mich., pro Troy Newman. Newman's bite was fast and furious; he estimated he caught 30 fish on the day.

"It was an easy decision to fish the lake," he said. "I understand the limits of my vessel and I have the utmost confidence in my abilities."

With five walleyes weighing 36 pounds, 4 ounces, it clearly was the right decision. But Newman's day could have been even better.

"We lost some fish - three big ones. They were bigger than anything I weighed today. But I feel confident for tomorrow. I turned loose so many 5 1/2-pound fish. And if they restrict us to the river, I feel confident I can compete there too."

Stachowski third

In third place is Canton, Mich., pro Ed Stachowski. Like Newman, Stachowski calls the Michigan side of Lake Erie home. Today he fished both the lake and the river and the result was five walleyes that weighed 35 pounds, 2 ounces.

"The bite was strong all day for me," said Stachowski, a former Michigan Division Walleye League angler. "I had a limit at 8:30 this morning and I replaced fish all day; my balance beam got a workout."

Stachowski fishes this waterway approximately 60 times a year. Basically he's on either the lake or the river from ice out until ice up and is very much in tune with their seasonal migrations.

Pro John Campbell and co-angler Mirko Canji hold up their two biggest walleyes from Thursday"This tournament is going to be interesting. These fish have all spawned out and they're on the move."

Campbell fourth

John Campbell, a former Illinois resident who now calls Florida home, had no problem acclimating to the cold and windy weather. Like the other leaders, he opted for the lake and returned with a 35-pound, 1-ounce sack. He'll start Friday's competition fourth in the Pro Division.

Illinois pro Mark Meravy is in fifth place after catching 33 pounds, 6 ounces on day one. Meravy

In 2007, Mark Meravy won the Walleye Tour opener on the Detroit River. But this time around, he's fishing the lake.

"We were rigged for both this morning; it was a tough decision," Meravy said. "I actually practiced mostly in the lake because I know the river pretty well. I like river jigging, the Illinois River is my home water. But here once you find the right school it is pretty easy."

Today the lake produced a 33-pound, 6-ounce limit, good enough for fifth place.

"If it's rough at all tomorrow I'm not going to go to the lake. There are plenty of big fish in the river. I don't normally like running big water, but it looked very runnable this morning."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros on day one on the Detroit River/Lake Erie:

6th: Dean Arnoldussen of Appleton, Wis., five walleyes, 33-0
7th: David Kolb of Rockford, Mich., five walleyes, 32-8
8th: John Gillman of Freeland, Mich., five walleyes, 31-13
8th: Jon Bondy of Windsor, Ontario, five walleyes, 31-7
10th: Pat Byle of Colgate, Wis., five walleyes, 30-13

Dobbs reels in 36-6 for co-angler lead

Co-angler Richard Dobbs was put to good use on day one. His pro partner, Fike, had him reel in most of the planer board fish while Fike did the netting.

"I've been on both sides of the situation and he wanted to reel," said Dobbs. "So of course that's what we did."

Dobbs also had the opportunity to crank in the 9-pound kicker at the end of the day.

"That last fish was a Hail Mary. The bite had really slowed. But we knew big fish tend to school together."

The Woodridge, Ill., resident then reflected on what was a wild, wet day.

"This is my third year fishing as a co-angler and I've never encountered a partner like this. I've also never encountered weather like this. I love that captain. Since we're both named Rich, I guess you can say were Rich in blessings."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top five co-anglers on day one on the Detroit River/Lake Erie:

2nd: Joseph Bruno of Strongsville, Ohio, five walleyes, 36-4
3rd: Tom Nevans of Strongsville, Ohio, five walleyes, 35-2
4th: Mirko Canji of Belle River, Ontario, five walleyes, 35-1
5th: Todd Macker of Columbus, Mich., five walleyes, 33-6

Day two of FLW Walleye Tour competition on the Detroit River/Lake Erie begins as the field takes off from Elizabeth Park Marina in Trenton at 7 a.m. Eastern time Friday for the final day of the opening round.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2010-04-08-detroit-river 

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