NORTH EAST, Md. – During Friday’s EverStart Series competition on the Chesapeake Bay, the sun finally appeared, the wind picked up and the fishing was notably improved over Thursday’s opening round of tournament action. In fact, it was difficult to find many similarities between the first two days of Northern Division competition – with one major exception. And that exception was Frank Poirier.
For the second day in a row, the Virginia pro held onto the top spot in the overall standings, posting a two-day total of 33 pounds, 10 ounces to increase his lead from 5 ounces to nearly 2½ pounds heading into Saturday’s finals.
“I feel good about where I’m at,” said Poirier, the only angler to produce 16-plus-pound sacks on consecutive days. “Anytime you’re in the lead, you have to feel good. But there’s still another day of fishing left.”
Although Poirier has made it look easy, despite the changing conditions and relatively difficult bass bite that has plagued most anglers throughout the competition, the Virginia pro said he definitely had his ups and downs during today’s competition.
“I’m really having to scramble around out there and find new fish each day,” said Poirier. “I definitely worked a little harder to catch what I caught today compared to yesterday. The wind and mud kind of took over a few of my spots today but hopefully that will change tomorrow. I also had a lot more boat traffic today – but luckily I still managed to catch some fish. I’m not catching a lot of fish, but the bites I’m getting are quality bites.”
Like yesterday, Poirier said he targeted “area-specific patterns.”
“I’m not fishing a one-bait pattern or one area,” he said. “I’m looking for a specific kind of area where three to four things have to be present for everything to come together. We might have to fish it for an hour, but if those (elements) are there you can usually catch a fish there.”
Poirier said he’s mixing up his arsenal depending upon the situation, rotating between crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics. Poirier also noted that he took some of the day to scout out new locations just in case the weather takes a turn for the worse in the all-important final day of competition.
“I’m doing a little bit of everything depending on the type of cover,” he said. “I also found some new spots today, so that helps. I just wanted to make sure I did a little prospecting near the (marina) in case the wind blows tomorrow.”
As far as tomorrow is concerned, the Virginia pro said he’s pretty much going to stick to the same gameplan barring any drastic changes in the weather.
“I’m doing the same thing tomorrow,” he said. “At this point, there’s nothing else I can do.”
Stasiak climbs into second
Despite fighting off the lingering effects of a major sinus infection, Matt Stasiak of Pittsburgh, Pa., couldn’t be having a better tournament. Bolstered by a 15-pound, 4-ounce catch in today’s competition, Stasiak moved up from third place to second after today’s second round of action with a total catch of 31 pounds, 6 ounces.
“I feel blessed. I’m speechless right now,” said Stasiak, who is arguably having one of the best tournament runs of his career. “I’ve never been in this position before. It’s my first top 10 at the end of a long season so it feels really good. “
Like yesterday, Stasiak said his goal was to cover as much water as possible. But unlike Thursday, he had to sidestep myriad hurdles.
“I caught a good keeper in my starting area and then I lost three fish right after that. It was heartbreaking. I just figured this was how my day was going to go,” he said. “Then I went to a couple of my other spots and there wasn’t enough water because the tide had left. At that point I had nothing but the knowledge from my practice to go on. So I just decided to fish the only areas I had left. For the rest of the day I was able to catch one here and catch one there, but it was a grind. There was a lot of time between bites, sometimes 45 minutes to an hour. I knew I just had to keep on chucking and winding and it worked out in the end.”
Stasiak said he mostly targeted bass with swim jigs and ChatterBaits. However, with an incoming tide, Stasiak would break out a flipping stick equipped with a Zoom Baby Brush Hog to fish boat docks.
With his first trip to the finals under his belt for the 2013 season, Stasiak said he can’t wait for the final day of competition to arrive.
“I’m just going to go out there and go fishing,” he said. “And I’m going to keep on smiling like I always do.”
Moran surges up leaderboard
Although Mike Moran of Ruffs Dale, Pa., found himself in 15th place after yesterday’s competition, he did everything he could today to ensure that he didn’t stay there for too long. Bolstered by a 17-pound, 13-ounce catch, the largest stringer of the tournament to date, Morgan shot up the standings, finding himself in third place overall by the time the top-10 cut was announced.
“I was tickled to have had what I brought in today,” said Moran. “Overall, it’s not too shabby. After 11 a.m., I didn’t even pick up my rod because I want to save as many fish as I could for the finals. And I think I can get 15 pounds or more again tomorrow.”
Moran said that he’s been fishing a variety of “moving” baits, spinnerbaits and employing flipping techniques to land the majority of his catch.
“I couldn’t get the grass bite to work for me so I’ve been pitching to wood,” he said. “It seems like the low tide is working out the best for me – although low tide has been getting later each day. As far as the area I’m fishing, it’s basically a special stretch a couple of thousand yards long. Another good thing is that I have my area kind of all to myself right now. So that helps.”
With a total, two-day catch of 31 pounds, 3 ounces, Moran needs to make up a little more than 2 pounds in the finals to snare the tournament title.
“I figured it would take about a 15-pound average a day to win this so I think I’m in pretty good shape,” he said. “We’ll just have to see how it goes tomorrow.”
Schmitt falls to fourth
Although Bryan Schmitt of Deale, Md., had the exact same two-day weight as Moran, the Marlyand pro technically found himself in fourth place overall due to tie-breaker rules. However, Schmitt was undoubtedly far more concerned with how he’s fishing than tie-breaking procedures at this point.
“My Plan A, B and C didn’t work today so I had to resort to Plan D,” said Schmitt. “I only caught six fish today but I feel like I figured out something again by the end of the day. And that should help me tomorrow. I also feel pretty good because I know what this place has (to offer). There are some really big fish here and I think anybody in the top five has a decent shot to win this.”
Schmitt, who was fishing grass flats “exclusively” today, said he was targeting bass with a combination of swimbaits, Senkos and jigs.
“I was pretty much doing the same thing as yesterday,” he said.
Rodriguez snags fifth
“Making the top-10 on my home water is always a nice accomplishment,” said Rodriguez, who boasts nearly four decades of fishing experience on the Chesapeake Bay. “So I’m feeling pretty good right now.”
However, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have his work cut out for him tomorrow.
“I went to the same area today but I didn’t have nearly as many bites as yesterday,” he said. “So I really think I’m going to have to change things up tomorrow.”
While Rodriguez is already making a long run – he had a 40-minute one-way trip in today’s competition – he said he just might log some extra miles in the finals.
“I’m not going to start where I caught them the first two days,” he said. “I think I’m going to start a little further south. It’s going to take me 10 to 15 minutes longer to get there and if I don’t catch them, I’ll probably head back to the same place I fished today. But I’m not really sure at this point.”
Like yesterday, Rodriguez said he targeted bass fishing a customized homemade jig, keying on mud banks, grass and wood.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 pro finalists:
6th: Charles Harvey of North East, Md. - 29 pounds, 11 ounces.
7th: Jay Pirollo of Warwick, Md. – 29 pounds, 10 ounces.
8th: Jerrod Lloyd of Millville, N.J. – 29 pounds, 2 ounces.
9th: Michael A. Sentore of Gloucester City, N.J. – 27 pounds, 1 ounce.
10th: Joseph Wood of Westport, Mass. – 27-pounds, 1 ounce.
Wood all but wraps up AOY title
Although it’s technically an unofficial result, Joseph Wood of Westport, Mass., managed to sew up the EverStart Series Northern Division points title with his tenth-place finish on the Chesapeake Bay.
“I haven’t slept in a week so it’s definitely been nerve wracking,” he said. “But it’s been awesome. When you fish at this level, you’re competing against the best local guys at every single lake so it’s pretty cool to win an award like this. I really fished my butt off so it means a lot to me.”
For winning the season-long points’ race, Wood receives an automatic invite to the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup which comes with a guaranteed pay day of at least $10,000.
Richard Damianos of Cortland, N.Y., landed the day’s big bass award in the Pro Division after netting a 5-pound, 12-ounce largemouth. The fish ultimately earned Damianos a check for $152.
For a complete list of pro results, click here
Reese nets co-angler lead
“It’s always good to be in the lead and have people chase you instead of you chasing them,” said Reese. “But tomorrow is what really counts.”
Reese, who didn’t pre-fish at all, said that he’s just been trying to adjust on a daily basis while relying on his instincts.
“I didn’t pre-fish and haven’t been here in like three years so I’m just trying to go out there and read the water each day,” he said. “I’m just going with the flow. That’s the key to it.”
Reese said his two pro partners have targeted quite different areas so he’s had to adjust accordingly.
“Yesterday I fished jigs and creature baits and today I fished spinnerbaits and ChatterBaits,” he said. “I’ve fished grass and I’ve fished hard cover. So it just depends. But that’s why you really have to be versatile. Tomorrow, once I get out there, I’ll see what I have to do. But if I can keep that 2-pound lead, I do know that’s one less fish that I’ll have to catch tomorrow.”
Bavaro surges into second
“I’m feeling pretty good, but it’s not over yet,” he said.
Bavaro said that he pretty much earned every ounce during today’s competition after going on a wild ride with his pro partner.
“It was a rough ride today with that wind,” he said. “We really ran a good bit.”
When the ride ended, Bavaro said he targeted submerged timber, alternating his presentations depending on the tide.
“For me, the tide makes a big difference,” he said. “During the higher tides, I’d go power fishing. And during the low tides, I’d do more finesse fishing.”
Best of the rest
Ryan Bauman of Fleetwood, Pa., qualified for the finals in third place with a total catch of 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Bauman also landed the day’s big-bass award in the Co-angler Division after netting a 4-pound, 14-ounce largemouth.
Jerry Pyles of Middletown, Md., finished the day in fourth place with a catch of 19 pounds, 13 ounces.
Dick Gum of Woodbridge, Va., grabbed the fifth qualifying spot with a catch of 18 pounds, 8 ounces.
Rounding out the top-10 co-angler finalists:
6th: Andy Dick of Wilmington, Del. –16 pounds, 10 ounces.
7th: Manuel Cruz of Clifton, N.J. – 16 pounds, 0 ounces.
8th: Lenny Baird of Stafford, Va. – 14 pounds, 15 ounces.
9th: Chris Land of Joppa, Md. – 14 pounds, 15 ounces.
10th: James Goins of Baltimore, Md. – 14 pounds, 10 ounces.
In addition to his top-10 finish, Manuel Cruz also walked away with the EverStart Series Northern Division Angler of the Year award. The award is expected to be officially presented during Saturday’s weigh-in.
For a complete list of co-angler results, click here.
EverStart Series action resumes during Saturday’s final takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. at Anchor Marina, located at 36 Iroquois Drive in North East, Md. Bass-fishing fans can also tune into FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com at 4 p.m. Eastern time to watch live streaming video and audio of Saturday’s day-two weigh in.
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