ERIE, Pa. – Scott Weiland of Saddle Brook, N.J., steadily climbed the leaderboard this week to emerge at the top on the final day of The Bass Federation Mid-Atlantic Divisional on Lake Erie. His three-day haul totaling 48 pounds, 13 ounces propelled him into first place and also handed him a victory on the New Jersey team.
For the overall victory, Weiland earned a $500 Wal-Mart gift card as the Castrol Maximum Performer, but cash awards are given to the state teams whose members caught the most weight over the course of three days. Seven 12-man teams competed in this week’s divisional, and the West Virginia team took top honors with a 278-pound, 5-ounce three-day catch. Coming in second is New Jersey with 253-15, and Pennsylvania followed in third with 247-15. Taking fourth is Delaware with 246-15, and the Virginia team ended the event in fifth with 230-8. The District of Columbia team wound up in sixth with 218-2, and the Maryland team rounds out the list in seventh with 185-12.
Weiland heads to the nationals
“This feels good,” he said. “I am in shock right now. I suppose it will sink in on the drive home later. I have been working hard for this, and it feels good to seal the deal.”
Weiland’s 48-pound, 13-ounce three-day catch gave him an amazing 23-pound, 8-ounce margin of victory, although the runner-up is a winner too – each state’s No. 2 advances to the nationals as a co-angler. For New Jersey, that was Nick Angiulo of Hainesport, N.J., with a three-day catch of 25-5. According to Weiland, Angiulo and the rest of the New Jersey team are to thank for a lot of his success.
“My team was a big part of my win,” Weiland said. “We did a great job of working together and having meetings about our plans.”
Weiland has been upwardly mobile all week, finishing day one in fifth overall and day two in second. He led his state team all three days. His presentation of choice was a chartreuse spinnerbait on 15-pound Berkley Big Game line using an Abu Garcia Revo reel.
“I was burning it as fast as I could reel, keeping the bait about a foot below the surface,” he said. “They were hitting it so hard they would nearly pull the rod from my hands.”
Weiland caught six keepers today.
Harkness claims West Virginia win
The West Virginia team had a different leader each day, and when the dust settled, it was Robert Harkness of Elizabeth, W. Va., who will represent that state at the nationals as a boater. His 43-pound, 5-ounce three-day catch landed him in second place overall. Day-two overall leader Eric Stewart of Anmoore, W. Va., took second on the state team to advance to the nationals as a co-angler.
“I fished a drop-shot all week, and today I fished in 43 feet of water,” Harkness said. “It was very difficult in the wind today. We had the trolling motor at full tilt just to keep us still. When I got a fish on, the wind would push me 100 yards off my spot.”
Harkness returns to the nationals a year after his appearance there as a non-boater.
“It was a terrific time,” he said of the 2008 experience. “I am looking forward to representing our team. This week I had three wonderful partners, and it is all about partners. We caught limits each day – that is what it’s all about.”
Alexander wins Delaware
Tops in Delaware and fourth overall is day-one leader Greg Alexander of Hebron, Md., with a three-day catch of 38-3. Alexander will represent Delaware at the 2009 nationals as a boater despite some tough luck this morning.
“I had boat problems when I first took off this morning,” he said. “I thought I blew my motor. There was someone watching over me, though.”
Indeed – Alexander ultimately caught the tournament’s heaviest bass, a 6-pound, 4-ouncer, shortly thereafter.
“The Lord blessed me this week and all year,” he said. “It has been a crazy year. It feels good to have the chance to move on and make some money. That is what everyone is here for.”
Tommy Dadds of Henderson, Md., took second place on the Delaware team and will compete at the nationals as a co-angler.
McNeal holds on to win Pennsylvania
Leading the Pennsylvania team all three days is Brent McNeal of Huntingdon, Pa., whose three-day catch of 36 pounds, 7 ounces afforded him a trip to the nationals as a boater. A recent college graduate, McNeal is ready to see what the future holds.
“I was in college last year, so it made it hard to afford to fish,” he said. “Now I am all about the competition, no matter what level. I am ready to make it happen.”
McNeal made it happen this week on Lake Erie rock piles.
“I had one small pattern working well for me east of (the launch ramp) on a rock pile in Lake Erie,” he said. “I fished a drop-shot in 22 to 24 feet of water using a Berkley Gulp minnow.”
McNeal adjusted to get fish in the boat, knowing what he needed to do to finish first.
“I lost two good ones the last two days, and today I knew I had to catch some big ones to catch up,” he said. “My first cast at my first spot, I landed a big one, and then another one 10 minutes after that. At my partner’s spot, I also caught one on my first cast.”
Finishing second in Pennsylvania and advancing to the nationals as a co-angler is Steven Allard of Wattsburg, Pa., with 34-15 over three days.
Williams returns to the nationals from Virginia
“I can’t describe how it feels to go,” he said. “It’s been a four-month process to get here. I shared all the information I gathered about this body of water with my team because it is a team event.”
Williams will be joined at the nationals by teammate Rueben Williams of Rice, Va., who finished second with 27-10 and will compete at the nationals as a co-angler.
“The key was great teamwork and cooperation with my partners this week,” said Bobby Williams. “My main lures for this week were spinnerbaits, a Bandit crankbait and Yamamoto Senkos in 3 to 7 feet of water on the lake.”
Routzahn takes D.C.
“It is a great feeling to go to the nationals,” he said. “It will be good to get a taste of it to see if it is something I want to do in the future.”
Routzahn used “a plethora of lures,” including tubes, drop-shots, Rat-L-Traps, crankbaits and spinnerbaits to catch his bass.
“I started fishing deep water at the beginning of the tournament and then moved to shallower water toward the end,” he said. “Today it was intimidating on the lake with the wind blowing, which caused us to stay shallow. I would like to thank my partners; I had great partners all week.”
Taking second on the D.C. team and heading to the nationals as a co-angler is Danny Shanz of Adamstown, Md., with 33-11 over three days.
Pearl claims Maryland win
“This feels great,” he said. “It is a dream come true.”
Pearl used a variety of methods each day to ultimately claim a victory.
“I caught four the first day using Brush Hogs, and then I caught two the second day drop-shotting a black Berkley Gulp 6-inch worm with red flakes,” he said. “Today I caught three using crankbaits and spinnerbaits.”
Brandon Clark took second place on the Maryland squad, advancing to the nationals as a co-angler.