LA CROSSE, Wis. – All week, local fishermen spoke about how tight the leaderboard would be with the state of Wisconsin instituting a three-bass limit. They said the outcome of the EverStart Series event on the Mississippi River would likely come down to one big bite. Rex McTier was fortunate enough to receive that bite on day three. Although the brute made a charge toward the thick vegetation, McTier pulled it out and in turn pulled out the co-angler victory.
Starting the final day in eighth place, McTier was languishing at 11:30 a.m. with three average keepers. Then the kicker largemouth blew up his frog and everything changed.
“I tried punching the lily pads and slop early, but my pro partner (Paul Malone) was catching them so good on a frog it was hard for me to do anything else,” McTier explained. “As soon as the big one bit, it buried itself in the weeds. I pulled the rod as hard as I could and my partner kept telling me to reel. After I got her in, I had to sit down for a few minutes. That one sealed the deal.”
McTier’s largemouth weighed 5 pounds, 12 ounces and anchored his 10-pound, 6-ounce limit. His 10-6 was also only the second double-digit limit of the entire week for the co-anglers. McTier finished the three-day event with 26 pounds, 2 ounces.
“Today everything I weighed came on a black, popping frog. I can’t remember what brand it was, but I know it wasn’t a Spro. I did catch one earlier in the day on a swim jig but I culled it out.”
On days one and two, everything McTier weighed came from that aforementioned swim jig, a 3/8-ounce Lethal Weapon.
“I drew the swim jig legend Tom Monsoor on day one and I caught seven fish behind him. But I would’ve needed a clicker counter to see how many he caught. The man is a machine and I learned a lot.”
For his win, the Endeavor, Wis., co-angler earned a Ranger 177TR with a 90-horsepower outboard. Since he’s already the owner of a Ranger boat, he has some decision making to do in the immediate future.
“I don’t know if it’s all set in yet, but I’m excited. Everything just fell into place.”
Warner caught his fish Saturday swimming a jig, but the first two days he was flipping a tube.
“I’m real happy with this week,” he said. “We caught a lot of fish each day. Today I drew Dan McGarry and he’s a great young fisherman.”
Conrad finishes third
Richard Conrad of Hudson, Wis., moved from fourth to third after catching three bass (two smallmouths, one largemouth) Saturday that weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces. Conrad finished the event with nine bass weighing 25 pounds, 8 ounces. He earned $3,654.
“I was swimming a white Lethal Weapon jig on 40-pound braid,” Conrad explained. “I fish here a lot and the first two days I was able to fish some of my own water at the end of the day and that really helped.”
Jamie Gomez of Onalaska, Wis., had his toughest day Saturday and slipped from third to fourth after catching 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Gomez finished the tournament with a total weight of 25 pounds even, earning $3,197.
“I was flipping the cut banks today and I think the water was just too muddy,” said Gomez.
Day-two leader Rick Krassinger of House Springs, Mo., fell to fifth after bringing in three bass for 7 pounds. Krassinger’s three-day cumulative weight was 24 pounds, 12 ounces. He earned $2,740 and leaves La Crosse as the Strike King Angler of the Year leader in the Central Division.
“I didn’t get that last keeper until 15 minutes before we had to come in,” said Krassinger.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers at the EverStart Series Mississippi River event:
6th: Greg Halleland of Rochester, Minn., 24-10
7th: Jason Ferge of Markesan, Wis., 24-1
8th: Paul Nogalski of Germantown, Wis., 23-4
9th: Eric Boberg of Arcadia, Wis., 21-1
10th: Terry Sportsman of Sycamore, Ill., 19-15
The next EverStart Series event is slated for Aug. 16 on 1000 Islands in New York. The next Central Division event takes place Sept. 13 on Lake of the Ozarks.