DETROIT – Thunderstorms and higher winds tossed a wet blanket over the catch rates in the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Chevy Open on the Detroit River during day three.
Four pros came to the scales a few fish short of a limit, and overall, anglers said their number of keepers dwindled.
Several pros fishing in St. Clair endured a vicious lightning storm that sent them to the bank for cover and cost them a couple of hours of fishing time.
After day three, the Chevy Open looks to be a two-horse race between tournament leader Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., and Vic Vatalaro of Kent, Ohio. Both anglers are fishing in Lake St. Clair.
Shaw now maintains a 13-ounce lead over Vatalaro with five bass weighing 20 pounds, 14 ounces. He, too, is the only pro to have brought in over 20 pounds each day.
The Kellogg’s pro only caught six fish today but they were all monsters, including three over 4 pounds.
Between practice and the tournament, Shaw has caught so many bass off certain spots that he is starting to see patterns in his GPS waypoints that are helping him be more efficient in his fishing. In essence, his GPS coordinate conglomerations are like islands on his screen telling him where the fish are.
“Every time I’ve caught a fish this week, I’ve created a waypoint on GPS,” Shaw said. “Now I’ve got about hundred waypoints and what’s neat is I can see how the waypoints are bunched together and it kind of gives me an idea of how a certain ridge or grassline is laid out. Then when I come back to fish my areas, I know where the hot spots are.”
Another interesting thing Shaw has done is switched to casting tackle versus spinning tackle for his tube fishing.
“I’ve got spinning rods, but in my opinion they’re too limber for the way I’m fishing that tube,” he explained. “I’ve gone to casting rods because they’re stiffer. I’m making long casts with the tube, dragging it along until I feel a stem of grass. Then I try to hang the grass a little bit and snatch the tube out real hard to get my bites. My spinning rods are just too limber to snatch that tube out clean.”
Since Shaw is using 8-pound line on his casting rods, he has backed the drag way down to play the fish correctly.
“I did catch one of my bigger fish on that Berkley Gulp! Leech today as well,” he added. “I might fish that a little more tomorrow.”
“I’m sticking with the same plan,” Vatalaro said. “Pitching a Mizmo tube to holes and bare spots in grass in about 18 feet of water. It’s still a real strong pattern. There is a ton of bait down there – I can see it on my graph. My partner (co-angler winner Mike Frickman) and I really caught them good today. He got a couple of 4-pound plus bites today as well so there are still plenty of big fish in that area.”
“I’m hoping for two 5 pounders tomorrow,” he added. “I think that’s what I’m going to need to win.”
BP pro JT Kenney of Port Charlotte, Fla., is one of the lone soldiers still relying on Erie for his catch. Today he sacked up 16 pounds, 14 ounces on the big water to start the final round in third place.
“We rode out there about 35 miles and my partner and I got our limits in about an hour,” Kenney said. “With the weather and wind, I decided to head back to the river and I culled up with a 4-pounder there.”
Interestingly, Kenney has found his success this week on a Berkley Saltwater Gulp! Jerkshad worked on a drop-shot rig.
As for tomorrow, Kenney said he is eyeing the weather.
“If it’s 15 mph or less in the morning, I’ll go out to Erie again,” he said. “But if it’s 20 mph or more, I’ll stay in the river. I don’t have any delusions about catching the leaders; it would probably take a 23-pound bag to do that so I’m not going to act like I’m going to make some heroic move tomorrow. I just want to catch about what I caught today and hold myself in third place – that’s still a pretty darn good check.”
Reault returned to his jerkbait pattern in St. Clair today, tossing a Lucky Craft Pointer 100 and a Staysee 90.
“They got much smaller on me today,” he laughed. “At one point I got embarrassed that I was having to measure so many 13-1/2 inch fish. So I pulled a giant 5-inch tube for a bigger bite and that only resulted in 14 inchers.”
Rounding out the top 5 is Lake St. Clair expert Mark Modrak of China Township, Mich., with a five bass catch weighing 12 pounds, 9 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 pros in the Chevy Open on the Detroit River after day three:
6th: Kim Stricker of Howell, Mich., five bass, 11-15
7th: Michael Bennett of Lincoln, Calif., three bass, 8-12
8th: Keith Combs of Del Rio, Texas., three bass, 8-1
9th: David McCrone of Minnetonka, Minn., two bass, 6-15
10th: Keith Monson of Burgin, Ky., three bass, 6-11
Day four of the Chevy Open on the Detroit River will begin Sunday at 6:30 a.m. from Elizabeth Park Marina located at 202 Grosse Ile Parkway in Trenton, Mich.