The 20 semifinal-round pros and co-anglers start at zero Friday and will compete for one day to determine the 10 pros and 10 co-anglers that will fish in Saturday’s final round. Miller’s five-bass limit Thursday weighed 18 pounds, 7 ounces – his exact weight on day one. Miller’s fishing history in the area no doubt contributed to the solid limits that put him ahead of the field.
“I’ve been fishing Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League tournaments here for years,” said Miller, who has two BFL victories to his credit. “This is where I always fish – Lake Erie. But I probably just got five bites to catch a limit. I don’t know what mood the fish are in. I’m catching big fish, but there is not a big quantity of them. They’re in an area that nobody seems to know about.”
Miller made a one-hour run in 6- to 8-foot waves to claim his spot at the top of the leaderboard, but he said the wind died down around 10 a.m. and stayed calm long enough to catch a limit. He caught his bass Thursday around rock humps in 25 feet of water on a tube with an Owner hook.
Steve Clapper of Lima, Ohio, sits in the No. 2 position heading into the semifinal round thanks to a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 36 pounds, 8 ounces. Behind him in third is Al Gagliarducci of Agawam, Mass., who caught 10 bass over two days that weighed 35 pounds, 2 ounces. David Reault of Livonia holds the No. 4 spot with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 35 pounds, and rounding out the top five pros is Dick Shaffer of Rockford, Ohio, with nine bass weighing 34 pounds, 7 ounces.
Mark Lyons of Marion, Ind., leads the 20 semifinal-round co-anglers thanks to a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 34 pounds, 15 ounces. He fished with pro Patrick Goodman of White Pigeon, who he was also paired up with at last year’s EverStart Series event on Lake Erie out of Port Clinton, Ohio. Goodman disagrees with the sentiment of a few anglers who believe Erie’s quantity of bites has slightly diminished.
“I try to fish any tournament I can on Lake Erie because I like it,” said Lyons, who dragged watermelon pepper and green pumpkin tubes to claim the lead. “I don’t believe them. You look at some of these weigh-ins up here, and it takes 20 to 30 pounds to win. They know how to run the operation up here, Michigan does. It shows.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Scot Keefe of Hinesburg, Vt. (10 bass, 30 pounds, 6 ounces); Karl Acord of Dearborn Heights (nine bass, 26 pounds, 8 ounces); Ron Norris of Portage (10 bass, 26 pounds, 4 ounces); and Daniel Peterman of Falls Creek, Pa. (10 bass, 25 pounds, 13 ounces).
Thursday’s $750 big-bass award in the Pro Division went to Shaffer, who caught a 4-pound, 13-ounce bass. D.J. Plotner of Powell, Ohio, and Bill Volberg of London, Ontario, tied for big-bass honors in the Co-angler Division. Both anglers earned $125 for catching a 5-pound, 5-ounce bass.
Competition continues Friday from Elizabeth Park in Trenton, located at 200 Grosse Isle Parkway. Elizabeth Park hosts daily takeoffs each morning at 6:30, 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 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.