Lake Erie Day 1 Coverage - Major League Fishing

Lake Erie Day 1 Coverage

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The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit concludes its regular season with Super Tournament No. 3
August 11, 2020 • MLF • Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit

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2:29 p.m. – Shutting down

As the first flight of anglers prepares to check in, we’ll be shutting down the live leaderboard and coverage blog for the day. The live weigh-in show will pick up in 30 minutes on flwfishing.com.

Thanks for sticking with us today. Be sure to come back tomorrow for the day two coverage blog, live leaderboard and FLW Live coverage from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET. 

 

2:00 p.m. – That’s it for FLW Live

FLW Live is now off the air. The live weigh-in show will pick up at 3 p.m. ET. In the meantime, we’ll continue to update the live leaderboard and coverage blog for the next 30 minutes. 

As it stands, everyone is looking up at Justin Lucas, who set a mess of records at Sturgeon Bay in the final stage of the MLF Bass Pro Tour season not long ago. When it comes to catching big smallmouth, Lucas is right at home. There’s a chance someone brings a bigger bag back to the weigh-in stage later, but Lucas isn’t going very far on the leaderboard.

One pound separates 10th from 5th right now and 2 pounds from 20th to 10th. Those are unofficial weights, of course, and we’re missing updates from a decent portion of the field. Still, it’s pretty clear Erie and St. Clair have been fishing pretty well today, all things considered. Rough water certainly didn’t help matters. A whole bunch of pros had to spend valuable fishing time just safely navigating Erie.

We’re still working on an update for AOY leader Ron Nelson. There’s virtually no chance the Northern smallie hammer doesn’t bring a limit back to Sandusky with him, but anything can happen. If he doesn’t have at least a decent limit, the door is going to be left swinging wide open for the pros right behind him in the race.

 

1:33 p.m. – Winding down

The day is winding down for pros in the early flights and for those who need to make long runs back to weigh-in. That means FLW Live is closing in on quitting time, too. The show will go off the air at 2 p.m. ET and coverage will pick back up an hour later for the live weigh-in show.

Because so many anglers are making runs to get back within shouting distance of Sandusky, there hasn’t been a whole lot of movement on the leaderboard. Justin Lucas still has a commanding lead with 24 pounds and a bevy of pros sit behind him with near-20-pound bags. Based on what we’ve seen – and knowing we don’t have updates for a lot of pros – it’s safe to say we’ll probably have at minimum five or six bags over 20 pounds, and potentially more.

 

12:43 p.m. – Another new leader

And just like that, we have a new leader. Justin Lucas, who has been lurking near the top of the leaderboard, now has 24 pounds. With spotty service on Erie and St. Clair, it’s not unusual to get a bulk update from an angler that includes a massive move in the standings. A 24-pound bag is going to be hard to top today, no question.

 

Ron Nelson

12:33 p.m. – New leader and AOY update

Casey Scanlon has unofficially pulled into the lead with just over 20 pounds. He’s on some quality fish, as every reported catch has been of the 4-pound-plus variety. Scanlon is in Lake Erie north of Kelleys Island near the Canadian border, which means he still has some time to fish today with not having to make a long run back to weigh-in. 

Josh Bertrand is still sitting with about 20 pounds and right behind Scanlon. Six other pros have at least 16 pounds in the box at the moment, including Scott Dobson. Todd Faircloth has also jumped into that group with 16 pounds even.

We’re still working on some updates for AOY leader Ron Nelson, who’s as much of a lock as anyone to catch a good limit or two on Lake Erie. So far, though, we have him with one fish for 3 1/2 pounds. We’ll be monitoring that situation closely, as just about the only thing that can sink Nelson’s AOY chances is a terrible showing today.

 

11:59 a.m. – No changes at the top

The top of the leaderboard hasn’t changed too much lately, but we’re getting as bunch of fish catch reports from all over the place. We have reports for 78 anglers who have caught at least one keeper and 34 anglers with at least 10 pounds – to say nothing of the pros without marshals who haven’t reported anything yet.

Josh Bertrand remains in the lead as the only angler over 20 pounds. It’ll be interesting to see how many 20-plus-pound bags are weighed in today. For the anglers who ran to St. Clair, there’s a good possibility of a 25-pound bag, but those pros don’t have a ton of time to fish with how long the return trip will be this afternoon.

 

11:15 a.m. – Bertrand over 20 pounds

Josh Bertrand is the first pro to go over 20 pounds on the day. He’s sitting unofficially with 20 pounds even. He has some competitors right behind him, but for now, he’s in great shape.

Scott Dobson is mulling a move further north after starting his day in the Detroit River. Dobson, of all people, knows how good St. Clair can be. With 13 1/4 in the box (four fish), he might be ready to mine that St. Clair bronze for his limit and some kickers. For now, he's a couple miles up from where he was, still searching. 

 

Zack Birge

11:05 a.m. – Birge making the best of it

Despite not being able to use his trolling motor, Zack Birge has managed to fill out his limit for about 16 pounds. That’s a huge win for the MLF pro, who was probably pretty worried about what he could do just drifting around. Once he gets his trolling motor back in operation come tomorrow, his confidence is going to be through the roof. 

Like Birge, Sam George busted his trolling motor on his way to St. Clair. Unlike Birge, he hasn’t managed to catch a keeper yet.

Jacob Wheeler self-reported a limit of about 16 pounds. After winning at Chickamauga and finishing second at Mississippi, anything is gravy for the world’s No. 1-ranked bass angler at this point. Don’t be surprised if he manages 20 pounds by the end of the day.

 

Tyler Woolcott

10:50 a.m. – More limits, more equipment issues

Zack Birge, who had a great showing at the Mississippi River Super Tournament a couple weeks ago, has a couple keepers for around 6 1/2 pounds. He also has a trolling motor that isn’t working. Birge broke two bolts on the ride north – “It was BAD.” – and can’t deploy his trolling motor now. He’s drifting to catch his fish, but at least he’s in an area where there are fish to be caught. Birge will not be the only angler in the field with busted equipment this week.

Josh Bertrand and Justin Lucas remain atop the unofficial leaderboard, but Casey Scanlon is making a push with 16 1/2 pounds and only four fish in the livewell. He’s one bite away from the lead. Joseph Webster has 17 pounds as well.

Behind them is Tyler Stewart with 15 1/4 and four anglers with about 14 pounds (Jason Vance, Timmy Horton, Tyler Woolcott and David Dudley). Everyone in the top 25 has at least 10 pounds, and there are likely a bunch of pros who have 10-plus pounds with no updates yet.

 

Josh Bertrand

10:20 a.m. – Big moves

Since our last batch of updates, two anglers – Josh Bertrand and Justin Lucas – each went over the 18-pound mark. Bertrand is in the unofficial lead with 19 pounds, and he’s clearly on the right fish to start his tournament. Both MLF pros got a taste of hammering on big smallmouth not long ago during Stage Five of the Bass Pro Tour at Sturgeon Bay, finishing third and first, respectively.

There’s a bit of a gap behind the top two, with Tyler Stewart hanging on to third place (unofficially) with 15 1/4 pounds. Behind him, everyone in the top 20 is in the double digits. That’s an easy spot to get to on these fisheries, but culling up with the 4-pound-class smallies is where the money is going to be made this week.

On a non-fishing-related note, Michael Neal is doing his good deed for the day. He's got a jet ski in tow behind him. Let's hope that turns into good fortune for the Tennessee pro when he gets back to fishing.

 

Boyd Duckett

9:33 a.m. – Into the river

We’ve got a bunch of pros through the river and into the mouth of St. Clair. Our on-the-water reporters haven’t seen anyone stop in the river itself. The flow of boats up into St. Clair should be steady for a while now, but we should also start seeing some fish catch reports from up north pretty soon. Kyle Hall was the first to arrive, and apparently he spent about five minutes “putting his boat back together” before doing anything else.

Jason Vance called in his weight a little earlier. He has a limit for about 14 pounds, which moves him into the early unofficial lead. Not far behind him, Boyd Duckett has a limit for about 13 1/2. Tyler Stewart, Tyler Woolcott and Michael Neal round out the rest of the pros who are over the 12-pound mark, or at least that we have reports for.

No surprise, Scott Dobson made a run to the Detroit River to work on catching a few early. If it doesn’t go well (or even if it does), he’ll probably head north into St. Clair to do his damage – if he deems the further run necessary. If anyone knows how rough that trip can be, it’s Dobson, who has tons of experience on these fisheries.

So far, we have reports for 39 of 196 anglers. There are likely plenty of fish catches that haven’t made it to us yet, and cell service out on the lakes is spotty at best. We’ll keep the live leaderboard rolling as reports come in. 

 

9:06 a.m. – Slow and steady

“Slow and steady” perfectly describes the fishing and the boating conditions so far today. We’ve seen some limits, but we’ve also seen a ton of pros who haven’t yet gotten to their starting spots. We should see some anglers setting down in St. Clair fairly soon, though.

While pros like Tyler Woolcott, Michael Neal, Tyler Stewart and Bill McDonald all have solid limits to start the day, it’s going to take 20-plus to grab the day one lead, which means a ton of culling from here until check-in. Stewart has been doing his share so far, self-reporting three culls to get over 12 pounds already.

Gerald Sphorer made his long run count already. He ran an hour and a half to get to his juice and boated a 2-pounder almost immediately after that. Elsewhere, Boyd Duckett, who’s fishing near Grae Buck, has four in the box for about 10 1/2 pounds. 

 

8:30 a.m. – A couple early limits

Tyler Woolcott has taken an early lead with a limit of about 12 pounds. Billy McDonald is still right behind him with 11. Mike McClelland only has three in the box, but he has almost 9 pounds, so he’s on the right fish early. Bradley Dortch also has three keepers but for a little less weight (6 pounds).

A big portion of the field is still running. St. Clair is such an enticing fishery for anglers who want to swing for the fences. Anglers in good shape to make the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota might be fine with staying in Erie and taking the double in the gap, but the MLF pros in the field, especially, might be more inclined to take a big cut with no AOY points on the line and no TITLE to make.

By all accounts, the run to St. Clair is not one to be envied today. Our on-the-water reporters – even with a lot of prior knowledge of the Great Lakes – say it’s particular rough today. Anyone making that run might end up with precious few hours to actually fish.

 

8:03 a.m. – FLW Live on the air

FLW Live is now on the air at flwfishing.com. There’s six hours of on-the-water coverage ahead, so be sure to tune in. 

In the last 15 minutes, 10 anglers have gotten on the board with some quick keepers. Bill McDonald is the first to report a limit – one that’ll go about 9 pounds. Tyler Woolcott is one shy of a limit with abut 8 pounds. 

It sounds like no one has made it to the mouth of the Detroit River yet. All the reported catches have come from Erie to this point. 

 

7:44 a.m. – Slow start

It’s been a slow start to the morning, but that’s to be expected on a pond as large as Erie. Even with a stiff breeze that’s going to add a lot of chop to an already long run, some pros are going to make the trek to St. Clair and give up hours of fishing time today to do it. We probably won’t have updates from a decent portion of the field for another hour or so when they start to set down on St. Clair.

Some anglers have chosen to stick close, though, like John Murray, who put a couple small keeper largemouth in the box to start his day. Tom Redington initially planned on making the run to St. Clair but decided to abandon that approach after reaching the Catawba Island area. It’ll be interesting to see how many of his fellow pros have the same thought once they realize how rough that run could potentially be. 

 

7:00 a.m. ET – Go time on Erie

The 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro circuit regular season has been a tumultuous one, and it culminates this week with the final of three Super Tournaments featuring nearly 200 of the best bass anglers on the planet. As pros begin launching from the public boat launch at Shelby Street in Sandusky, Ohio, it’s with the knowledge that whatever Lake Erie (as well as St. Clair and their surrounding waters) have to offer the next four days will determine a whole lot – namely, who makes the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota and which anglers take home Angler of the Year and Polaris Rookie of the Year honors.

And, of course, who will claim the top prize of up to $160,000. 

Ron Nelson has a commanding lead in the AOY points race and he’s right at home on these Northern waters full of giant smallies. For anyone to chase him down, Nelson is going to have to stumble in a big way. The ROY race, on the other hand, is a lot tighter, and the likes of Kyle Hall, Jimmy Washam, Cole Floyd and a host of others are all in the running. There’s certainly no lack of intrigue this week.

And then there’s Jacob Wheeler, who has no AOY points on the line. What he does have is a win in Super Tournament No.1 and a second-place finish in the Super Tournament No. 2 on the Mississippi River less than two weeks ago. The world’s No. 1 bass angler is riding a hot streak the likes of which has rarely been seen in the tournament world. 

For coverage of all those storylines and more, be sure to stick with the live blog and tune in to FLW Live on flwfishing.com from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET all four days of the tournament.

 

CONDITIONS

Temperature at takeoff: 70 degrees

Forecast high: 84 degrees

Sky: Partly cloudy

Precipitation: 20 percent chance of rain

Wind: WNW 10 to 15 mph

 

TOURNAMENT DETAILS

Hosted by the City of Sandusky

Takeoff: 7 a.m. ET at Shelby Street Public Boat Launch, 101 Shelby Street, Sandusky, Ohio 

Weigh-in Days 1 & 2: 3 p.m. ET at Paper District Marina, 611 W Shoreline Drive, Sandusky, Ohio

Weigh-in Days 3 & 4: 4 p.m. ET at Paper District Marina

FLW Live studio and on-the-water show: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. ET all four days

FLW Live weigh-in show: 3 p.m. ET to end of weigh-in