SANDUSKY, Ohio – Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit angler Kurt Mitchell of Milford, Delaware, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Thursday weighing 15 pounds, 8 ounces to win the three-day Toyota Series at Lake Erie tournament in Sandusky, Ohio. Mitchell’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 60-2 earned him the win by a 2-pound, 10-ounce margin over second-place angler Mike Trombly of Belleville, Michigan, and earned Mitchell the top payout of $27,706 in the second tournament of the 2020 Toyota Series Northern Division.
“Today was a nail biter, I really thought I only had like 12½ pounds,” said Mitchell, who pushed his career earnings to more than $250,000. “It really hasn’t sunk in yet. Right now, I just feel relieved. I really thought I blew a 6-pound lead. That would have been horrible.
“I thought I was going to catch them today,” Mitchell continued. “The wind changed directions today, and it was really cool last night. It felt like a really high-pressure day, and they weren’t eating. I had two bites in the morning, and they were eating weird, they would sit and tap and tap a drop-shot or a Ned rig and not suck it in. It was bad, it was horrible, I lost like two or three big ones and broke off like six fish today.”
Mitchell had two primary patterns throughout the week – one was a rock jetty underwater and the other was a series of hard spots. Today, the rock jetty was almost a deal-breaker.
“The gobies were in there thick today, and the smallmouths were picking at my drop-shot just like the gobies,” says Mitchell. “So, I would really let them have it, and the gobies would take my bait right into the rocks, and if the bass would bite after, I would snap off every time.”
Mitchell’s primary bait was a drop-shot with a Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm in blue pearl silver flake in stained water and natural shad in clearer water. On days one and two, he used a 3/8- and a ½-ounce weight, but lighter wind and a tougher bite saw him downsize to a ¼-ounce weight today. Mitchell also used a Ned rig with a 1/8-ounce Picasso Rhino Ned Head and a shortened Yamamoto Senko in the crushed goby color.
Mitchell hails from Delaware, which is not really known for its smallmouth, but he’s got a real knack for the Great Lakes.
“I have a really good feel for when smallmouth get pressured,” said Mitchell. “It lets me know when to go or stay, or when to slow down. At Buffalo last year, I was throwing a (Strike King) Z Too in practice, and they were crushing it. As soon as a bunch of boats rolled into that area, they quit biting it, and I downsized my baits and ended up catching 20 pounds.
“I’m not an expert by any means, but I can usually find a couple areas and pound them out.”
The top 10 pros on Lake Erie finished:
1st: Kurt Mitchell of Milford, Del., 15 bass, 60-2, $27,706
2nd: Mike Trombly of Belleville, Mich., 15 bass, 57-8, $10,049
3rd: Randy Ramsey of Burlington, Mich., 15 bass, 56-15, $7,780
4th: Hugh Cosculleula of The Woodlands, Texas, 14 bass, 50-11, $7,483
5th: Pat Upthagrove of Monroe, Mich., 15 bass, 48-13, $5,835
6th: Chase Serafin of White Lake, Mich., 14 bass, 48-5, $5,186
7th: Edward Levin of Westerville, Ohio, 15 bass, 47-6, $4,538
8th: Justin Hicks of Roanoke, Va., 14 bass, 41-10, $3,890
9th: Jonathan Dietz of Corry, Pa., 14 bass, 39-7, $3,242
10th: Jason Kervin of Ramond, Maine, 12 bass, 36-15, $2,593
A complete list of results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Cosculleula took home an extra $1,000 as the highest finishing FLW PHOENIX BONUS member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $35,000 per event in each Toyota Series tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the FLW PHOENIX BONUS contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.
Dan Mundy of Swartz Creek, Michigan, won the Co-angler Division Thursday with a three-day total of 13 bass weighing 41 pounds, 6 ounces. Mundy took home the top prize package of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard motor.
The top 10 co-anglers on Lake Erie finished:
1st: Dan Mundy of Swartz Creek, Mich., 13 bass, 41-6, Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat w/115-hp outboard
2nd: Gary Haraguchi of Phoenix, Ariz., 14 bass, 39-11, $3,353
3rd: Melinda Hays of Rogers, Ark., 14 bass, 37-14, $2,682
4th: Edwin Bartlett of Casco, Maine, nine bass, 36-1, $2,396
5th: Matt Hummel of Lancaster, Pa., 13 bass, 36-0, $2,012
6th: Mike Urbania of Mentor, Ohio, 14 bass, 34-0, $1,677
7th: Ed Keplinger of Farmersburg, Ind., 11 bass, 31-4, $1,341
8th: Kyle Gelles of Pingree, Idaho, 13 bass, 30-14, $1,424
9th: Brandon Cline of Wheelersburg, Ohio, 12 bass, 30-9, $1,006
10th: Joshua Miller of Toledo, Ohio, 10 bass, 26-12, $838
The Toyota Series at Lake Erie was hosted by the City of Sandusky and the Lake Erie Shores & Islands Welcome Center. It was the second of three regular-season tournaments in 2020 for Northern Division anglers. The next events for Toyota Series anglers will take place on Sept. 2-4 – the Toyota Series at Fort Gibson Lake in Wagoner, Oklahoma, and the Toyota Series at Neely Henry Lake in Gadsden, Alabama. For a complete schedule, visit FLWFishing.com.
The Toyota Series consists of eight divisions – Central, Eastern, Northern, Plains, Southeastern, Southern, Southwestern and Western – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International division. Anglers who fish all three qualifiers in any of the eight divisions and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning $235,000 cash, including a $35,000 FLW PHOENIX Bonus for qualified anglers. The winning co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard. The 2020 Toyota Series Championship will be held Dec. 3-5 on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Kentucky, and is hosted by the Somerset Tourist & Convention Commission and the Burnside Tourism Commission.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Toyota Series on FLW’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, FLW and its partners conduct more than 290 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Zimbabwe.
FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show while Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. Acquired by Major League Fishing in late 2019, FLW is expanding its programming in 2020 to the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel as well as on-demand at MyOutdoorTV (MOTV).
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