TRENTON, Mich. – Rods, reels and lures are the normal tools for professional anglers. But as the day two weigh-in of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Chevy Open drew to a close, a few dozen calculators would have been handy, too.
Instead of a bass tournament weigh-in, the inside of the FLW Tour tent looked more like the New York Stock Exchange as dozens of pros held cell phones to their ears nervously watching the weigh-in and calculating where they stood in the overall points race, minute by minute.
For some, a coveted Forrest Wood Cup berth was at stake. And for several others, the Land O’ Lakes Angler of the Year race became a nerve-wracking ounce-by-ounce shootout to the very end.
For starters, the two pros who were the most eligible candidates for the 2008 FLW Tour Angler of the Year title coming into the Detroit River event – Andy Morgan and Glenn Browne – never crossed the weigh-in stage today and both recorded zeros on day two.
Then it looked as if Bryan Thrift or Luke Clausen, who were third and fourth in the standings, respectively, might take advantage of the open AOY door. But they only helped prop the door open with their 105th and 106th place finishes.
When the scales finally stopped spinning, the computers stopped tallying and the smoke cleared the doorway, the man left standing was none other than Castrol pro David Dudley (click to read the press release).
Amazingly, Dudley entered the Chevy Open 86 points behind the leaders and ended up edging out National Guard pro Brent Ehrler by a single point.
And no one could have been more surprised than Dudley himself.
“Angler of the Year never even crossed my mind coming into this tournament,” Dudley said in the closing minutes of the weigh-in. “I did not think I even had a prayer of winning it with the points lead all those guys had. I’m shocked.”
Dudley’s come-from-behind AOY win was a dramatic half-time show during the Chevy Open (for more on his title see day two Quick Bites) but with two days down and two top-10 days left to go, there is still a lot of excitement in store before this tournament is over.
Now leading the Chevy Open is David McCrone of Minnetonka, Minn., with a two-day total of 42 pounds, 5 ounces. He has sacked over 20 pounds per day from Erie.
McCrone is an FLW Tour greenhorn with just one previous Tour event under his belt. But when it comes to Lake Erie, he is no beginner.
McCrone is originally from Amherst, Ohio and as a result knows quite a bit about the waters around Sandusky, Huron and Lorain.
The last two days he has made long 60- and 70-mile runs to the southeast in Erie to get back to familiar stomping grounds around his former home.
“The water was a lot rougher today,” McCrone said. “I probably spent 5 hours of the day running and only about 3-1/2 hours fishing.”
He also hinted that the chances of returning to his favored areas during the finals are slim.
“The wind is supposed to blow 10 to 20 out of the west tomorrow, we have a shorter day and I’m not as familiar with the boat I’m going to be in so trying to go there tomorrow might be a little tough. I might consider it if the fish were biting a little better, but they’re not – they’re not stacked up like they were in practice. I only caught four over there today and I caught my last one right out in the mouth of the river just before check-in.”
As a result, McCrone is not real sure what his plan will be on Saturday.
“I’ve got a lot of places out around Pelee Island, so maybe I’ll go out there,” he added. “But those fish are not exactly eating it up out there, either.”
Shaw moves to second
Shaw is fishing in St. Clair and focusing on isolated patches of grass, rock and sand in 12 to 16 feet of water.
Interestingly he found his best places during the calmest days of practice.
“When it’s calm and there is no wave action, that’s when you can dial in your electronics and really read what’s down there,” Shaw revealed. “So when it was calm, that’s when I would look around with my graph and find these precise little areas that the fish are using. And I’ve probably got a hundred tiny places like that marked.”
Shaw noted that he is using Berkley tubes and leeches to catch his fish from the tiny spots.
Stricker is fishing shallower than most, in depths of 6 feet and less.
“These fish have been pressured quite a bit the last few days,” the Chevy pro said. “And I’m looking forward to getting out there tomorrow when there will not be as many boats fishing for them. They’re shallow and they’re skittish and it takes really long casts to catch them. But with less pressure I’m hoping they’ll get a little more cooperative.”
Reault is using a jerkbait to do his damage in St. Clair.
“I’m working a jerkbait pretty hard to get my bites,” Reault said. “That’s my favorite way to fish out here when the fish are scattered like they are right now.”
“We’ve had some pretty calm weather here the last few weeks and there are mayflies floating all over the lake; I think that’s what has them scattered out so much,” he added. “When the fish are feeding on bait, they tend to congregate a lot more, but when they’re eating those mayflies they’re a lot more scattered out.”
Vatalaro continued to work his St. Clair game plan today, which centers on pitching tubes to holes in grass in about 18 feet of water.
Danny Pierce of Greenbrier, Ark., caught the big bass in the Pro Division on day two weighing 5 pounds, 15 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 pros in the Chevy Open on the Detroit River after day two:
6th: Michael Bennett of Lincoln, Calif., two-day total of 38-1
7th: JT Kenney of Port Charlotte, Fla., two-day total of 37-7
8th: Keith Monson of Burgin, Ky., two-day total of 37-5
9th: Mark Modrak of China Township, Mich., two-day total of 37-3
10th: Keith Combs of Del Rio, Texas, two-day total of 37-3
Weisinger still leads co-anglers
Jerry Weisinger of Wyandotte, Okla., added another 20 pounds, 2 ounces to his day-one catch of 20 pounds, 10 ounces to take a commanding lead in the Co-angler Division with a two-day total of 40 pounds, 12 ounces.
Weisinger fished with Kellogg’s pro Alvin Shaw today.
“I fish Table Rock and Beaver Lake a lot and we catch a few smallmouths, but this is the first time I’ve ever weighed in pure limits of big smallmouth like this – it’s a pretty incredible experience.”
Weisinger noted that practicing with Castrol pro Darrel Robertson got him tuned up on drop-shotting Berkley Gulp! Gobies and Leeches, which is what he has used to catch his fish the last two days.
Mike Weidman Burton, Mich., caught 19 pounds, 13 ounces today to move into second place with a two-day total of 35-03.
Scott Gibson of Biloxi, Miss., is in third place with a two-day total of 33 pounds, 14 ounces.
Hector Delagarza of Garland, Texas, caught the co-angler big bass on day two weighing 6 pounds, 4 ounces to anchor his two-day total of 33 pounds for fourth place.
Mark Frickman of Grand Ledge, Mich., rounds out the top-5 in the co-angler Division with a two-day total of 32 pounds, 11 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers in the Chevy Open event on the Detroit River after day two:
6th: Diane Delagarza of Garland, Texas, two-day total of 32-07
7th: Andrew Lemle of Perrysburg, Ohio, two-day total of 32-04
8th: J.B. Young of Deer Park, Texas, two-day total of 32-04
9th: Ron Fabiszak of South Bend, Ind., two-day total of 32-02
10th: Todd Robbins of Robbins, Mich., two-day total of 32-00
Day three of the Chevy Open on the Detroit River will begin Saturday at 6:30 a.m. from Elizabeth Park Marina located at 202 Grosse Ile Parkway in Trenton, Mich.