(Sep 24, 2015 - Sandusky, Ohio)
David Reault of Livonia, Mich., battled against the wind Thursday to take the lead in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open presented by Allstate on Lake Erie.
Reault has 25 pounds, 9 ounces with a lot of close company behind him. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Derek Remitz is second with 24-4, and New Jersey pro Pete Gluszek is third with 23-1. Charlie Hartley, another Elite Series pro from Ohio, is fourth with 22-4.
The 20-pound mark set the benchmark for success. The Top 19 anglers have bags at or exceeding that mark, with the next 10 anglers with 19 pounds or better.
Reault, a real estate broker, is a part-time tournament angler with expertise fishing for smallmouth on the Great Lakes. He is unsure of duplicating his success on Friday to make the Top 12 on Saturday.
“I’m looking for places that won’t be so affected by the wind,” he said. “Too much of it makes it really difficult to be effective in one area.”
The bane of the wind for Reault is boat control. The balancing act between keeping the boat over a productive spot and then catching the bass is a tough proposition.
That is especially true when it blows from the northeast on Erie. Local anglers say due to the lake’s shape it allows the wind to funnel more turbulent waves.
Remitz let the wind blow in his favor.
“The wind helped me set a drift over my key spots,” he said. “Without it I wouldn’t have that weight.”
Spots is the key word. Remitz, like many of the open water anglers, knows the smallmouth roam across expansive areas of shallow, rocky shoals. The key attractants are specific, small and sometimes obscure spots that polarize the fish in a specific location. Those can be a slight change of depth, a boulder, or any other bottom irregularity.
For Remitz, the northeast wind allowed him to drift directly over those sweet spots. He used the trolling motor like a rudder, to keep the boat tracking over the strike zone.
The heaviest catches crossed the scales early, with some anglers returning earlier than their original check-in time. The trigger was the midday wind that ticked up from a slight breeze to 10-15 knots.
At least one boat required a rescue and tow. Michigan angler Brian Schram’s boat became swamped after the bilge pump failed. That’s not a direct fault of the wind, although it likely played a factor due to waves spilling aboard.
The partner of Pennsylvania pro and Erie guide Destin Demarion became so sea sick the anglers returned at 11:30 a.m. Demarion weighed 19-3, even though he lost a part of the day. His partner, Lance Baker of Iowa, stuck it out so Demarion could finish his limit.
The service crews worked overtime to repair windblown gear. Friday, the wind could be another game changer.
There is much at stake, in addition to determining the winner. The final event of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open Series presented by Allstate means five anglers will receive invitations to the 2016 Elite Series. The standings are tight and an extra day will matter, given the potential for a heavy catch.
Fishing resumes Friday morning with takeoff at 7 a.m. ET at Shelby Street Public Boat Launch. Friday’s weigh in will be at the same location at 3 p.m. Saturday’s takeoff will take place at the same time and place, and the weigh-in will be held at 4:15 p.m. at the Bass Pro Shops in Branson, Mo. Tune into Bassmaster.com for live blog updates, photos and more on Friday and Saturday.
2015 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Title Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
2015 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Presenting Sponsor: Allstate
2015 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2015 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Premier Sponsors: A.R.E. Accessories, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, GoPro, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha
2015 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Supporting Sponsors: Carhartt, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, Huk Performance Fishing, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Power-Pole, Rigid Industries, Shimano
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The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series presented by Allstate, Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.