EverStart Series - Northern
Lake Erie - Buffalo (Aug. 18-20, 2011)
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Granola bars, muffins, fresh fruit – these are the common breakfast items of tournament fishermen. But lasagna? Who looks for that in the morning? Apparently, someone intent on winning a tournament like the EverStart Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie.
Today, that someone was Lawrence Mazur, the laser-focused smallmouth hunter from Lancaster, N.Y. Coming into day three in second place, Mazur brought a ton of momentum after weighing a monstrous sack of 24 pounds, 3 ounces, which stands as the heaviest of the pro division. At the start of the final round, Mazur knew he had to locate a bottom scenario the he described as resembling the popular Italian dish.
“I was looking for what I call ‘lasagna’ – that’s when you find the fish stacked in layers like lasagna,” he said. “When I find that, I’m pretty happy.”
Mazur found that look in about 52-70 feet of water over an area of chunk rock and boulders where baitfish concentrations and comfortable temperatures attract big groups of smallmouth that continually reload. In the four years that he’s been fishing this area, Mazur has found that the smallies start stacking over the structure in late July and stick around through early September.
Today, the fish were not exactly where he had found them on day two, but a brief search turned up the mother lode about a quarter mile away. Mazur said the importance of quality electronics cannot be overstated in this game.
“These Lowrance graphs with side imaging are amazing,” he said. “Everything I found before was straight down, but now with my Lowrance side imaging, it’s incredible. You can drive around and look at stuff 200 feet on the right or left. You can see the ripples in the sand, the rock and all the transitions. It makes a big difference.
“You gotta have good electronics and you gotta know how to read them. You can watch your line go down on your graph into a school of fish and you know exactly where it’s going. Sometimes, you’ll see a fish swim up and your line stops. It’s like watching TV.”
The winner caught all of his fish on drop-shots baited with Poor Boys Erie Darters. He used green with purple flake in the morning and switched to a brown and white pattern by mid-morning, as the sunlight increased.
“I just drove around and looked for them on my graph and when I’d see them, I’d drop my bait down there and pull up a (big fish),” Mazur said.
Notably, Mazur was the tournament’s only angler to break 20 pounds all three days. He opened with 20-4 on day one, added the 24-3 a day later and finished with 20-1. His three-day total of 64-8 gave him a 2-pound, 8-ounce margin of victory.
Costabile takes second
Day-two leader, Gaspare Costabile of Niagara Falls, Ontario, brought a high level of consistency into the final round after bagging 22-2 and 22-11 the first two days. Unfortunately, his productivity slipped on day three and Costabile caught a limit of 17-3 that gave him a second-place finish with 62 pounds.
Fishing a sand flat with transitional bottom – gravel and rock – in 42 to 45 feet. Costabile caught most of his fish on dropshots with Set the Hook Crush Worms in green pumpkin and watermelon. He also used a hand-tied goby imitator that he drags along the bottom.
“Fishing wasn’t easy (today) – you had to really look for them,” Costabile said. “I had an area with some really big fish. The first two days, I didn’t execute well. I still had some really big fish on this spot. Today, I was hoping to land them, but they moved off.”
Frost moves up to third
Simon Frost of St. Catharines, Ontario, tied for the day-one lead, slipped to fourth on day two and regained one spot in the final round to finish third with 58-15. His day-three limit of 17-12 reflected a day of scrambling.
“I ran out of fish, so I just ran around and watched the graph,” Frost said of his final-round frustration. “Most of my fish over the last two days were all on dropshots, but today it totally changed up and I caught all of my fish on tubes.
“It was mostly a dark melon color that worked best. I tried some other colors and got some bumps on them, but the dark melon was what I caught my fish on.”
Desforges settles in fourth
After placing 26th on day one, Mike Desforges of Burlington, Ontario, made a big day-two move to fifth. Today, he gained another spot and finished fifth with 54-12. While his competitors plied Lake Erie’s deep structure, took a different approach this week and fished shallow water in the 10- to 12-foot range.
“I actually started the first morning out deep, but all the fish I had out deep, I could mark them but I couldn’t catch them,” Desforges said. “I abandoned that plan and went shallow. I had some fun catching some fish and it worked out for me.”
Desforges threw a spinnerbait in the shallows. He said he didn’t catch many fish on the blades, but he attracted plenty of followers, which he picked off with a tube.
Voyles settles at fifth
Finishing just 3 ounces behind, Desforges, John Voyles of Petersburg, Ind., caught 12-9 and ended in fifth with 54-9. Fishing the slope of a rock pile in about 42 feet down near Dunkirk, Voyles caught his fish by dropshotting a Reins 5-inch Bubbling Shaker in watermelon.
With strong winds on day one and a sporty blow today, Voyles stressed the importance of good equipment when challenging Erie. “My Ranger and Evinrude engine got me down there and back three days in a row. It wasn’t always an easy run, but they got me there and back.
Voyles was confident enough in his main area to fish it for three days. Unfortunately, the luck of the draw worked against him in the final round. “Today, I caught plenty of fish, but I just couldn’t get the big bites.”
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top 10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series Lake Erie event:
6th: Barry Pringle of Welland, Ontario, 54-8
7th: Brad Brodnicki of Amherst, N.Y., 52-8
8th: Bob Izumi of Milton, Ontario, 50-13
9th: Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Ontario, 48-13
10th: John Murray of Phoenix, Ariz., 44-13