TRENTON, Mich. – In 10 years of FLW Outdoors competition, Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., has notched seven victories, five of which have come on the Detroit River, Lake Erie or Lake St. Clair. Therefore it was a shock to no one to see the name Kevin Vida at the top of the leaderboard at the conclusion of this week’s EverStart Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River.
Numbers fell off dramatically on day four, with only four out of 10 pros bringing in a limit. Vida was one of the four, improving his day-three catch by exactly 1 ounce and proving his Saturday morning prediction that if he could get his bass to bite today, he’d bring in 18 pounds.
Vida ended day one in 19th place and steadily worked his way up to the top, advancing to the finals from the ninth position with an opening-round catch of 35 pounds, 1 ounce. He caught more than 18 pounds three days running, hauling in 18 pounds, 5 ounces on day three and 18 pounds, 6 ounces on day four.
“I was told about five years ago, ‘You’ll win when you’re least expecting to win,’” Vida said. “I wasn’t expecting this.”
Vida, a self-proclaimed river man, stayed put at the mouth of the Detroit River to bring in consistently solid stringers of bass. Though he avoided the big-water/big-wave mess that shook up Erie fishermen all week, Vida said he still got wet.
“It’s been a fun four days but a rough four days,” he said. “I’m three miles out, and I’m still getting soaked every day. These guys going all the way to Pelee – I would never do it.”
Vida says he did have a bit of an issue with local traffic today, as a local tournament with a good number of boats was also competing in the area. His bright orange, Banana Boat-wrapped Ranger probably didn’t help him stay incognito.
“We had a lot of boats out there, and I kept my cool, and fortunately for me and Neil (Heiden, co-angler winner), we came out ahead in this one,” Vida said. “The guys were all around me. One guy got close, but for the most part, they stayed away.”
Vida also used a Berkley Frenzy lipless crankbait in blue chrome to search out his bass in practice, and he combined that with the tube rigged with 1/2-ounce and 1/4-ounce jigheads to bring in his limits during the tournament. He fished mostly shallow water.
“I caught more fish today than I did yesterday,” he said. “I lost a couple this morning, and I thought that was going to kill me.”
“I got four and moved, and I caught a 3 1/2-pounder right away and two more that helped me,” he said.
Though he got soaked by the waves, he wasn’t as bothered by that as much as the adjustments that this week’s wacky weather required.
“The currents were changing on me,” he said. “On one spot, it made the currents favorable – it stacked the fish a little better.”
For the win, Vida earned $8,400 cash plus a fully rigged Ranger boat. He also earned contingency money from Yamaha, Garmin and Ranger Cup.
Reault takes runner-up spot
Finishing in the No. 2 spot is Livonia, Mich., pro David Reault with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 35 pounds, 5 ounces worth $8,400. Reault, who has three BFL victories on this fishery, brought in 16 pounds, 8 ounces today to earn his career-best EverStart finish.
To hear him tell it, finishing second was no walk in the park. Rather, it was an uphill battle to retain his position all four days. He was eighth on days one and two and third on day three before finishing the tournament in second.
“I’ve had some really good weights that don’t reflect that I haven’t caught a lot of fish,” Reault said. “I’ve really struggled – it’s been a challenge. I’m pleased to have done as well as I have.”
Reault utilized a host of baits to reel in his bass, including tubes, spinner baits and jerkbaits, in addition to doing a little drop-shotting.
“I stayed in the river today,” he said. “I went into Erie, and it was rough and muddy, and I couldn’t do anything.”
He managed to catch about eight keepers today in the more fishable river.
Goodman lands in third
Also earning his career-best EverStart finish this week is White Pigeon, Mich., pro Patrick Goodman, who caught a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 35 pounds, 5 ounces to earn $8,000. Goodman is also a well-known Detroit River stick, with all four of his FLW Outdoors top-10 finishes coming on the Detroit River/Erie/St. Clair fishery.
Goodman’s final-day catch of four bass weighing 14 pounds, 2 ounces came as a bit of a relief to him, as his bass-rich rock pile that he thought was dried out wound up being too rough to fish.
“I was so worried about my rock pile,” he said. “I made it there today, and it took me an hour and a half, and it was dirty with 10- to 12-footers. I said, ‘We’ve got to go back to the river.’”
What’s incredible about that is Goodman’s proclaimed ignorance of the river, an ignorance that still produced a sack good enough for third.
“I caught that last one with 20 minutes to go,” he said. “I knew if I could get one more I could have it, but I just couldn’t do it.”
Dowd, Ferguson round out top five
Finishing the tournament in the No. 4 spot is Westland, Mich., pro Mark Dowd, who caught a 15-pound, 2-ounce limit today to boost his two-day total to 32 pounds, 4 ounces. He earned $7,350 for his fourth-place finish.
“I got into this tournament with no practice, and basically there’s one spot that’s been producing every day,” Dowd said. “Today my primary didn’t work, so my co-angler (Jeff Harris) gave me a schooling.”
Art Ferguson III of St. Clair Shores, Mich., scored yet another Detroit River/Erie/St. Clair top-10 finish with a fifth-place showing this week. His 16-pound, 9-ounce catch today brought his final-round total to 30 pounds, 11 ounces, which earned him $6,850.
“It was a different kind of day for me – I woke up, and I was really tired,” Ferguson said. “I couldn’t even think. I started on a spot down here in the river, and I’d been running to St. Clair every day. I struggled all day long.”
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top 10 pros at the EverStart Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River:
6th: Joe Balog of Harrison Township, Mich., eight bass, 29-1, $5,850
7th: Thomas Moleski of Elkhart, Ind., six bass, 25-12, $4,850
8th: Eric Struif of Lake Villa, Ill., six bass, 12-11, $4,350
9th: Tony DeFilippo of Lake Ann, Mich., two bass, 7-9, $3,850
10th: Nate Wellman of Jenison, Mich., two bass, 7-8, $3,350
Rose, Jancasz claim points titles
This year’s Northern Division pro angler of the year is Marion, Ark., pro Mark Rose, who finished the year ranked No. 1 with 735 points. His best finish of the year was 12th at this week’s event, and he finished in the top 25 at all four Northern Division events.
Trevor Jancasz of White Pigeon, Mich., took co-angler-of-the-year honors with 731 points this season. He opened the season on the Detroit River with a fifth-place finish and did not finish lower than 29th at any of the four Northern Division tournaments.
This week’s event was the final regular-season EverStart Series event of the year. The EverStart Series Championship will be held on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala., Nov. 2-5.