Limbaugh’s liberal sack of bass leads all pros - Major League Fishing

Limbaugh’s liberal sack of bass leads all pros

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Jeff Limbaugh of Sikeston, Mo., claimed the No. 1 qualifying spot Friday going into the final round of the $210,000 EverStart Series tournament on Lake Champlain with five bass weighing 20 pounds, 5 ounces. Photo by Jeff Schroeder. Angler: Jeff Limbaugh.
July 26, 2002 • Jeff Schroeder • Archives

Missouri native catches biggest stringer of the week at EverStart Lake Champlain

TICONDEROGA, N.Y. – When pro Jeff Limbaugh hooked his biggest bass at Lake Champlain Friday, he had a little trouble landing it. The fish weighed close to 6 pounds and was putting up a fight. He needed some help from his net man, but there was a problem. At that moment, his co-angler partner, Ted Will, was – shall we say – indisposed and unable to attend to Limbaugh’s kicker bass.

“I said, `Ted, get the net!'” Limbaugh explained. “And he looked at me and said, `I’m (busy answering the call of nature)!'”

Will eventually got around to helping Limbaugh land the fish – which was weighed at 5 pounds, 10 ounces – and it helped push the pro’s five-bass catch weight to a tournament-heaviest 20 pounds, 5 ounces. Limbaugh, from Sikeston, Mo., took the top spot in Friday’s semifinals and will lead the Pro Division in boat number one in Saturday’s final round.

Thanks to one extremely productive fishing location on the main lake, Limbaugh has been solid all week long. He caught limits of 14 pounds, 4 ounces Wednesday and 13-6 Thursday to edge into the semifinal round in 19th place. His 20-pound-plus stringer Friday not only led the division, it is the only sack to break the 20-pound barrier so far – this on a week when the generous Champlain is serving up limits like Moe Szyslak. All 20 pro and co-angler final-round qualifiers caught five-fish limits Friday.

The fishing spot is a weedline with a ridge that drops down into deep water that Limbaugh found in practice. Flipping a brush hog into roughly 10 feet of water, the pro leader has mined the spot for countless largemouths – and he’s mined it fast.

“I’ve fished it every day,” he said, grinning. “I’ve probably pulled 50 pounds of fish off of it. You know, I’ve caught my limit there on my first five casts all three days. But today, by all means, was the better day.”

No kidding. Limbaugh already had about 17 pounds in his livewell when he hooked into his 5-10 kicker bass later in the day. That one was extra, and it earned him a headline.

Not surprisingly, the Missouri pro – who finished a respectable 15th at the Central Division EverStart event in Shreveport, La., in June – has a lot of confidence about his spot heading into Saturday’s one-day shootout.

“All I need is about a 10-mph south wind and a little bit of sunshine,” he said. “Hopefully, it will hold up for me tomorrow.”

Pro Division second place went to Chris Parker of Manchester, Conn., who caught 18 pounds, 13 ounces. Like Limbaugh, Parker stayed focused on the largemouth bite despite many anglers’ propensity to seek out Champlain’s smallmouth.

“You take a big risk going north to get those smallmouths,” Parker said. “It’s an awful big lake up there to go that far for the smallmouth. Besides, there are plenty of fish right down here (on the southern end). You’ve just got to get the right bites.”

One of those who took that risk Friday was opening-round pro leader Scott Dobson of Waterford, Mich. He made the rigorous run north to the spot that yielded more than 34 pounds of smallmouth bass the first two days. But he found that things had changed. The weather was calm and sunny in the opening round. Today, clouds rolled in, and the wind picked up.

“It took us an hour and a half to get there and we were seeing 5-foot waves on the main lake,” he said. “When I got to my area, the water was chocolate mud. I wanted to cry right there.”

Dobson scrambled for a five-bass weight of 13 pounds, 4 ounces but finished the tourney in 14th place.

Rounding out the top five pros, all of whom had limits, were Steven McGahan of Gales Ferry, Conn., (third place) with a weight of 18 pounds, 10 ounces; Kevin Bishop of Hilton, N.Y., (fourth) with 18-6; and Marcel Veenstra of Newtown, Pa., (fifth) with 17-2.

Other notable pros qualifying for the finals include past EverStart champion Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis., (Mississippi River, 2001) in sixth place; former Wal-Mart FLW Tour runner-up Jimmi Leuthner of Windsor Locks, Conn., (Lake Okeechobee, 2002) in seventh place; and past FLW champion Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tenn., (Red River, 2001) in ninth place.

New boss from Jersey takes co-angler lead

Mitch Pierson, who finished third at the last Northern Division event in Red Wing, Minn., compiled a 13-pound, 8-ounce five-bass stringer to take the helm in the Co-angler Division semifinals. He topped second-place Dan Luman of Manchester, Conn., (11-12) by almost 2 pounds

Understandably, the Newton, N.J., native had nothing but good things to say about the Lake Champlain fishery.

“There’s no place like Champlain,” he said. “Everybody wants to retire in Florida, but when I retire, I’m moving to Lake Champlain.”

Pierson estimated that he has caught between 75 and 100 bass during the last three days using mostly a 6-inch Berkley power worm. He’s looking forward to more Saturday when he and Limbaugh pair up for the finals. Friday, Pierson fished with Veenstra, who happens to be fishing the same productive weedline that Limbaugh rode into the pro lead in the semifinals.

“I’m going to be fishing the same way I’ve been fishing all week,” Pierson said.

Following Pierson and Luman in the co-angler top five, all of who had limits, were Stan Wehr of Huntingburg, Ind., with a weight of 11 pounds, 10 ounces; James Schneider of Menands, N.Y., also with 11-10; and Chris Wade of Preston, Conn., with 11-7.

Final-round action ensues Saturday with the top 10 from each division taking off from Ticonderoga City Ramp at 6 a.m. All anglers will restart the day with zero weight.

Saturday’s final-round weigh-in begins at 4 p.m. at the Wal-Mart located at 1134 Wicker St. in Ticonderoga. The pro winner of the one-day shootout will take home $15,000 and a Ranger boat and the co-angler winner receives $6,000.

Day-three links:

Tomorrow’s pairings
Press release

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