Kelley Grabs Lead with 43 Pounds - Major League Fishing

Kelley Grabs Lead with 43 Pounds

Big day two propels Jonathan Kelley to top of leaderboard on St. Lawrence
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Jonathan Kelley Photo by Charles Waldorf.
September 20, 2019 • Sean Ostruszka • Toyota Series

It’s all about windows and areas on the St. Lawrence River right now.

Down near Ogdensburg, N.Y. – roughly 45 miles from takeoff – was the area on day one of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division finale presented by Gajo Baits, as the majority of the top bags came from there. A day later, it was the anglers who ran 75 miles or more down to Clayton, N.Y., and beyond who scored big, while the Ogdensburg bunch either capitalized in small windows or not at all.

Complete results

Top patters from day two

Day one leader story

Jonathan Kelley is among the Clayton bunch, and no one capitalized the hot fishing down there more than he. After weighing in 19-1 yesterday, the young pro from Old Forge, Pa., brought in the biggest bag of the event – 23-15 – to take the lead with 43-0.

“I flip-flopped my pattern today,” says Kelley, “and I caught a 5 1/2-pounder within the first five minutes, which really set the tone.”

Kelley originally had been focusing the majority of his efforts out deep in 12 to 15 feet of water, but what he came to find out was his deep bite really didn’t turn on until after 10 a.m., and his fish were actually moving a little deeper each day into about 25 feet.

With that knowledge, Kelley started on a shallow pattern he actually figured out last week for the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) event out of the 1000 Islands. There, he quickly caught that kicker and eventually filled out a small limit before heading out to his main deeper areas.

“I went out deep, and it was on,” says Kelley. “Every drift, I’d catch one or two good ones. Then I’d let that spot cool off and run to a new one. I’d catch another one or two big ones; let that spot cool off. I did that three or four times and finally said enough.”


Scott Dobson

Angler of the Year showdown

While Kelley may be leading the tournament, he has three of the best anglers in the Northern Division right on his tail (along with arguably the best angler in the sport).

Scott Dobson came into this event leading the Angler of the Year race by two points over Casey Smith. After two days he’s been able to widen that lead … to four points. Dobson currently sits in third, and Smith is sitting in fifth, just 9 ounces behind Dobson. 

And then there is Wayne Vaughan, who was fifth in the points (just seven points behind Dobson) coming into the event. Vaughan is currently in second, putting him just six points behind Dobson.

Tomorrow is setting up to be as close a finish for AOY as can be possible, as any slip-up could be the difference. 

Oh, and Bryan Thrift – reigning FLW Cup champion and one of the best in the sport – is lurking in eighth in hopes to score his second victory of the Northern Division slate this season.


Top 10 Pros

1. Jonathan Kelley – Old Forge, Pa. – 43-0 (10)

2. Wayne Vaughan – Chester, Va. – 42-10 (10)

3. Scott Dobson – Clarkston, Mich. – 42-6 (10)

4. Ken Golub – Pittsford, N.Y. – 42-5 (10)

5. Casey Smith – Macedon, N.Y. – 41-13 (10)

6. Jason Burger – Bridgeton, N.J. – 41-4 (10)

7. Brian Hughes – Barrie, On. – 40-15 (10)

8. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 40-10 (10)

9. AJ Slegona – Pine Bush, N.Y. – 40-10 (10)

10. Neil Deleeuw – Fenwick, On. – 40-3 (10)


Jeff Zeisner

Local Zeisner in co-angler lead

Jeff Zeisner is fishing a drop-shot like everybody else, but he’s found a special bait that has him in contention to win on the co-angler side.

“I fish the 1000 Islands a lot,” says the co-angler from Arva, Ontario. “I’m using the same techniques here as I do down there. I’ve just found something different that’s working, and I’ve stuck with it.”

Obviously, he wasn’t about the say what it was, but it worked on day one while fishing with Douglas Kirkbride to the tune of 17-7. And despite his pro, Jeff Young, catching only one fish, Zeisner’s magic bait produced 18-11 on day two to push him to 36-2.

“I’m catching a lot of small fish, but every so often I’ll catch a 4-pounder,” Zeinser says. “I just have to keep chugging along.” 


Top 10 Co-anglers

1. Jeff Zeisner – Arva, On. – 36-2 (10)

2. Noah Winslow – Naugatuck, Conn. – 35-9 (10)

3. Jeff Melsop – East Liberty, Ohio – 35-3 (10)

4. Grant Loney – Beamsville, On. – 34-8 (10)

5. Gary Haraguchi – Antioch, Calif. – 34-8 (10)

6. Dexter Andrews – King George, Va. – 33-11 (10)

7. Michael Sciacca – Augusta, N.J. – 32-9 (10)

8. Will Litchfield – London, On. – 30-14 (10)

9. Joshua Hertzog – Ephrata, Pa. – 30-12 (9)

10. D Brett Walker – Kansas City, Mo. – 30-10 (10)