Ramapo double shot - Major League Fishing
Ramapo double shot
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Ramapo double shot

New Jersey school puts two teams in Northern Regional top five
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Ramapo College's Joseph Zapf and Jeff Voss sacked up a nice bag of smallmouth to lead day one. Photo by David A. Brown.
September 1, 2011 • David A. Brown • Abu Garcia College Fishing

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – It’s hard to say who had it tougher – the 20 teams trying to coax keeper bass from Sayers Lake, or the media types trying to coax a few solid facts from the top teams on day one of the National Guard FLW College Fishing Northern Regional Championship.

Most anglers were unwilling to divulge any details aside from the indisputable fact that their fish were wet. Uh-huh. Well, that’s to be expected, given the challenging scenario of sharing a small lake (1,730 acres) with the division’s best anglers. Throw in a morning thunderstorm that had fishing rods humming with static electricity, and this day shaped up to be profoundly challenging.

The bite was certainly tough, and only five teams found five-fish limits. However, Sayers Lake yielded an impressive number of quality fish – largemouth and smallmouth. A handful of bass over 3 pounds drew applause, and a couple of teams reported losing fish in the 4-pound range.

One of the most interesting statistics is the number two – that’s how many teams Ramapo College has in the top five. It’s also the number of years the school’s bass club has existed. See, in 2010, BobJoseph Zapf loads a fish for Ramapo College as teammate Jeff Voss looks on. Rieder, who along with Charles Danza took fourth place today, founded the school’s club on the principle of shared angling knowledge. Watching teammates Jeff Voss and Joseph Zapf take the lead with 12-10 solidified that objective for Rieder.

“I’m excited to have both of our teams in the top five,” Rieder said. “That’s really what it’s about – having your whole club do better and having everybody learn as a unit to become better anglers. The opportunity that FLW College Fishing gives us is awesome.”

Voss and Zapf remained mum on the details of their catch, but noted that they caught their better fish on a spot that they located in practice. Theirs was a mixed game plan with multiple baits.

“We threw pretty much everything we could at them,” Zapf said. “We fished largemouth spots and smallmouth spots. Today, the smallmouth spots held the bigger fish.”

Despite owning the first-round lead, Zapf said his team had no cakewalk today. They had their weight by noon, but it did not come easily.

After catching a couple of keepers shallow, Fairmont State University“We had to have patience today,” Zapf said. “It’s a tough lake, and everyone’s struggling. We were catching them all throughout the day, but there were a lot of shots with some big ones mixed in there.”

Fairmont’s double-digit catch earns second

Fairmont State University’s Wil Dieffenbauch and Brent Dodrill were the only other team to break 10 pounds on day one. They sacked up a limit that weighed 10-14, putting them in the second-place spot.

At this morning’s takeoff, Dodrill displayed a Rapala suspending crankbait with a custom-painted crawfish pattern. This morning, that bait produced a couple of their keepers on the bank, with the rest coming on plastics later in the day.

Dieffenbauch described his team’s second-phase bites as coming from a mid-depth range. Their offshore fish bit a variety of worms and creature baits with multiple rigging configurations.

“We just junk-fished,” he said.

The morning storm, Dieffenbauch said, had a definite effect on fish and fishermen: “It seemed like the fish knew when it was coming. We could feel static electricity coming through our rods, and our hairVirginia Tech was standing up.

“The fish just shut down for a little while. We caught some fish before the storm and right after it.”

Virginia Tech takes third

Wyatt Blevins and Carson Rejzer caught a limit of 8-13 to put Virginia Tech in the third-place spot. They, too, held their cards low, but Rejzer said they were confident fishing their strength.

“We were using a technique we were very familiar with, which is plastics,” Rejzer said. “We had to grind for them all day. We knew where some fish were, but finding keepers on this lake isn’t the easiest thing in the world. You have to go through several small fish to get those keepers.”

Their bag had all green fish, but Blevins said they were not picky: “Carson caught a keeper smallmouth in practice, and we went back to that area today and broke one off. I don’t know if it was a smallmouth.

“We were pretty much fishing for anything that bit. We would have taken anything. I’m just glad we got those five.”

Blevins said that fishing over good, hard bottom was essential for his team. Their day started off with a Fourth-place duo Bob Rieder and Charles Danza gave Ramapo College its second top-5 representation. bang, as the anglers boated their first keeper at 7:30 a.m. However, thanks to the morning storm, they didn’t catch another fish until noon.

“When I practiced here, the weather was beautiful, sunny, warm, no wind – that’s when I caught all my fish,” Rejzer said. “Today was the first day I fished with overcast skies and rain. It changed stuff, but once that rain stopped, it caught on fire for us.”

Ramapo in fourth place

Danza and Rieder’s limit weighed 8-11. Reider said the fish they were targeting were scattered from a foot to 12 feet. They fished spinnerbaits and crankbait for reaction bites and switched to finesse baits when they needed to get deeper.

“It was consistent, but we really had to work at it,” Danza said. “We would catch one, and then like an hour and a half would go by and we’d catch another one and another one. We just had to be really persistent and had to keep fishing hard because we never found them all piled up on one spot.”

Danza said that bagging their limit took focusing on a variety of habitat from banks to road beds. Every fish they Fifth-place Christopher Newportcaught, he said, came on a different bait.”

Christopher Newport takes fifth

Ryan Ingalls and Derek Berhalter of Christopher Newport caught their team limit and took fifth place with 7-6. Berhalter said that gathering five keepers was an all-day effort.

“We caught fish early this morning, and then we didn’t catch our last keeper until 2 o’clock,” Berhalter said. “We threw, I don’t know how many baits at them.”

Ingalls said that he and his partner caught their weigh fish on several different spots, but all with a similar type of habitat.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top 10 leaders at the Northern Regional Championship:Justin Lonchar shows off a pair of nice bass for sixth-place Slippery Rock University.

6th: Benjamin Tawney and Justin Lonchar of Slippery Rock University, 6-3

7th: Tyler Berger and Kyle Feucht of Ohio State, 5-3

8th: Ben Dziwulski and Jeff Bumgarner of NC State University, 4-6

9th: Josh Hooks and Casey Johnson of NC State University, 3-0

10th: Justin Brouillard and Kyle Sabourin of Vermont Technical College, 2-10

Day two of National Guard FLW College Fishing action continues at Friday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. Eastern time at Bald Eagle State Park, Hunters Run East Ramp, located at 149 Main Park Road in Howard, Pa.