Though the day started off rainy, the six anglers competing in Qualifying Round 2 of the GEICO Selects Bass Pro Shops Summit Select presented by Ferguson were ready for a big day of fishing from Lake of the Ozarks, MO.
Veteran MLF Select Anglers Randy Howell, Fred Roumbanis, Mark Rose, Keith Poche and Brandon Palaniuk were all on the hunt for their spot in the Cups and new MLF angler Russ Lane was ready with a plan for his first event.
Although the anglers were staying in the Lodge of the Four Seasons right on the waters of Lake of the Ozarks, some remained convinced that a small lake or river would be their destination, as they never know where MLF might take them.
“I thought they were playing a joke on me,” Palaniuk said. “I’m thinking Lake of the Ozarks, it’s all about dock fishing, I can’t see a dock in sight, bunch of liars. Come to find out if you just turn the corner, there’s docks everywhere.”
Docks seemed to excite most of the anglers as they first headed to the ramp. These six anglers were headed back to the Grand Glaize tributary of Lake of the Ozarks, waters which the Qualifying Round 1 anglers also competed on.
Both Palaniuk and Lane saw a long shallow point on their Lowrance units and decided to have an idle over the area to see what they could see.
“Looks like we were gonna start here, looks like Russ Lane decided to start here too, we’ve got about two minutes, we’re both going to drop our trolling motors and see what happens—things might get interesting.”
Palaniuk had the first fish of the day with a 2 lb., 4 oz. fish.
“As soon as we caught that fish, Russ dug in his rod box and pulled out a spinning rod,” Palaniuk said. “I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing if I was him.”
As all the anglers looked to find their spot and started putting fish on the board, Poche was able to jump ahead with a 4lb. 15 oz. catch in the back of a creek, which he said may have been his biggest catch in MLF history. He followed it up with a series of 2-4 lb. fish in the pockets
Going into Period 2, the other five anglers were trying to figure out just what it was that helped Poche get out 17 lbs ahead of the pack.
Although he was ahead by more than three times the amount of fish, Poche kept grinding into Period 2 and 3. At this point, although all the anglers were catching good size fish, it wasn’t a contest for first so much anymore as it was a contest for survival.
By Period 3, though Roumbanis and the other anglers had found some patterns that work and made some big catches, it was still Poche who was dominating the day.
The last 30 minutes had all 5 anglers vying for their sport in the survival round, and it was a fight to the bitter end to get the coveted spot.
After leading the entire day, Poche ultimately took the win with 37 fish for 58 lbs., 2 oz and a bid into the 2017 Summit Cup in Grand Rapids, Minn. Roumbanis, Rose and Russ Lane will head to the Survival Rounds in the hopes of securing their spot.
“I’ve never been so happy to barely beat half the field in my life,” Lane said. Golly, Major League Fishing.”