May scoured Lake Erie for smallmouths Wednesday and came up big thanks to a Carolina-rig pattern that’s a bit different than that of his competitors.
“It’s really no secret that the big thing is to drag tubes on Erie,” said May, who is fishing his third season in the EverStart Series. “I’m doing something a little different; I’m throwing a Carolina rig with a 3 1/2-foot leader with a Senko, and I’m throwing it in 14 to 18 feet of water. I was within eyeshot of a group of boats all fishing on one rock; they were all together, and I was doing my own thing about 200 to 300 yards away from them.”
May finished 86th at last year’s Detroit River event, and the hard lesson learned is paying off now that May sits in the catbird seat heading into day two. “Last year, the wind blew the second day, and I gambled,” he said. “I went out to my spot and of course they weren’t there. When I got up this morning and listened to the weather forecast, the voice said go so I went. The fish were there, and nobody was on them.”
May said he plans to fish St. Clair tomorrow to make enough weight to earn a spot in the semifinal round. “If I make it through tomorrow I’m going to be really confident,” he said. “The plan for tomorrow is to survive. The weather is supposed to be really nice Friday and Saturday, which is conducive for the long run.”
Entering day two in the No. 3 position is David Kolodziej of Sterling Heights, who caught five bass Wednesday that weighed 18 pounds, 14 ounces. Behind him in fourth is Steve Clapper of Lima, Ohio, with a five-bass catch weighing 18 pounds, 9 ounces, and rounding out the top five pros is Jeff Miller of Crestwood, Ill., in fifth with a five-bass catch weighing 18 pounds, 7 ounces.
Glenn Billhimer of South Bend, Ind., leads the Co-angler Division by a scant 5-ounce margin thanks to his limit Wednesday that weighed 17 pounds, 14 ounces. He fished Lake Erie on Wednesday with pro Randy Ramsey of Battle Creek.
“We were pretty much just dragging tubes like everybody else,” said Billhimer, who is fishing in only his fourth career EverStart Series event. “We might be in deeper water, though – about 30 feet. You’ve just got to try different things with your tubes to try to finesse them a little bit and show them something a little different than what they’re used to. I don’t know about tomorrow, though, because there are so many different things that can happen that are not in your control. I guarantee you that I’m going to be trying.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Scot Keefe of Hinesburg, Vt. (five bass, 17 pounds, 9 ounces); Mark Lyons of Marion, Ind. (five bass, 16 pounds, 3 ounces); Kevin McClurg of Huntertown, Ind. (five bass, 15 pounds, 5 ounces); and Ron Norris of Portage (five bass, 15 pounds, 5 ounces).
A 4-pound, 13-ounce bass earned Kolodziej $750 Wednesday as the Pro Division big-bass award winner, and $250 went to Stephen Roth of Syracuse, Ind., for catching the biggest bass on the co-angler side, a 5-pound, 7-ounce fish.
Competition continues tomorrow from Elizabeth Park, located at 200 Grosse Isle Parkway in Trenton, where anglers take off each morning at 6:30. Tomorrow’s weigh-in will also be held at Elizabeth Park beginning at 2:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 7555 Telegraph Road in Taylor beginning at 3:30 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins.
The full field of 200 pros and 200 co-anglers will compete again Thursday, and the top 20 pros and co-anglers based on two-day accumulated weights will advance to Friday’s semifinal round. Anglers then start at zero Friday, and the top 10 pros and co-anglers will advance to Saturday’s final round, with the winners determined by the heaviest two-day weights.
The winning pro is guaranteed $10,000 cash plus an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger 519 VS equipped with Garmin electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart Batteries. If the winner is the original owner of a Ranger boat, he will receive a $10,000 bonus from Ranger for a top pro award worth $61,900. If he is a qualifying participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program, Ranger will award another $3,000 cash (or $1,500 to the highest-finishing Ranger Cup participant if not the winner), and Yamaha will match 50 percent of Ranger Cup winnings if the angler’s boat is powered by a Yamaha outboard. Garmin will award the winning pro $1,000 if he uses only Garmin electronics and at least one unit is a qualifying unit.
The winning co-angler is guaranteed $5,000 cash, and if he is a Ranger boat owner, Ranger will award him a new Ranger 519 VS for a total prize package worth $35,000.
The EverStart Series features a pro/co-angler format with pros supplying the boats, fishing from the front deck against other pros and controlling boat movement. Co-anglers fish from the back deck and compete against other co-anglers.
For more information on the EverStart Series or any of FLW Outdoors’ six tournament trails, visit FLWOutdoors.com.