After three days of competition, the 36-year-old member of the St. Catharines Bassmasters scored a winning weight of 48 pounds, 9 ounces, consisting of smallmouth bass.
Rorke, an employee of superstore warehouse retailer Costco, advances to the BASS Federation Nation Championship to represent Canada and the Ontario BASS Federation Nation to compete for the amateur bass fishing world title. The event is set for January on Alabama’s Lake Neely Henry.
“Champlain is much shallower but it fishes like Lake Erie,” remarked Rorke, a skilled angler on the Great Lakes fishery. “I’m very comfortable with a tube jig and it worked quite well here.”
Rorke relied on a 3 ½-inch soft plastic tube (watermelon/black flake) rigged on a 3/8-ounce jighead. The rig was fished on 10-pound Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon line spooled on a Shimano Sedona spinning reel with a 6 ½-foot medium/heavy action Quantum Tour Edition rod.
Rorke found the smallmouth plentiful on a tapering flat extending from 6 to 17 feet located in the Inland Sea region of the lake. An important feature to the area was the presence of isolated vegetation that offered ambush cover for the smallmouth preying on an abundance of baitfish roaming the area.
“The key was to make extremely long casts and having experience in detecting light strikes,” he added. “The fish were not hitting aggressively at all. I’d get a soft, mushy feeling through the rod that was the fish lightly biting the lure.”
“The water was also ultra-clear and that improved the bass’ ability to see the baitfish,” he added.
The eight Federation Nations competing in this regional championship advanced their top anglers to the championship to join Rorke, the Ontario representative. Other qualifiers are Chris Novack (Connecticut), Eric Femiak (Massachusetts), Scott Nadeau (Maine), Brian Morin (New Hampshire), Joe Matt (New York), Joel St. Germain (Rhode Island) and Sean Alvarez (Vermont).
Massachusetts won state bragging rights as the division’s top Federation Nation with its 12-angler team accounting for a collective score of 394 pounds, 12 ounces. Rhode Island was second with 389-7. Connecticut was third with 381-13 and Vermont fourth place with 360-3.
The final qualifying event for the Federation Championship is next week, when teams from six states compete at the BASS Federation Nation Mid-Atlantic Divisional. The competition is set for the Potomac River at Waldorf, Md., Sept. 27-29.
Sponsors of the Federation Nation include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide and Evan Williams.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.Bassmaster.com.