It sounds like a broken record, but Limaland bass anglers continue to sizzle on the Walmart FLW circuit.
Over last weekend, Spencerville’s Matt Elkins won the Bass Fishing League (BFL) tourney in the Michigan Division on the Detroit River. Lima’s Zach Maisch and Steve Clapper wound up fifth and sixth in the event. In the process, the legendary Clapper took over the points standings lead and Maisch moved into the top 10 and sits in eighth place.
Kyle Wesienburger, of Ottawa, stepped up from BFL competition to the Costa circuit and qualified for the national championship event in November by placing sixth during a three-day tourney on New York’s Lake Oneida.
As he did a year ago, Elkins continued his late summer success. He fished seventh in the BFL Michigan Division tourney on July 30 on the Detroit River. He says there is a reason for that.
“I tend to perform better as the summer progresses because as the water temperature rises many of our big smallmouth bass migrate way off shore on to deep isolated structure and I’m able to intercept them when they get out there,” Elkins said. “Earlier in the season, the shallower fish have more area to spread out. It’s easier to catch more numbers of bass earlier in the season, but harder to target larger bass.”
Although anglers took off from the Detroit River, Elkins caught his bass in Lake Erie. He used purple passion-colored LBA Baits Ding Dong and a smoke-purple Jackall Crosstail Shad on a drop-shot ring. And he fished well off shore (about 30 miles) and deep (more than 30 feet). His five-bass limit winning weight was 22 pounds, 11 ounces. It was his second career win on the Detroit River.
“I fished very specific, isolated spots,” said Elkins. “I stood on the trolling motor and casted 30 feet forward and dragged it slow over rocks piles or a ridge.”.
Maisch finished fifth in the event with five bass that weighed 21 pounds, 2 ounces while Clapper was sixth with five bass that weighed 20 pounds, 10 ounces.
With one tourney remaining on the Michigan Division schedule (Sept. 10 on Lake St. Clair), Clapper leads the points standings with 980 points. He has finished in the top 10 of all four tourneys this season. Maisch is eighth with 926 points while Elkins climbed to 23rd in the standings. Celina’s Jay Jefferies is just out of the crucial top 40 as he stands in 43 place. In the co-angler standings, Vickie Jeffries of Celina is 42nd..
Weisenburger, who fished in the BFL’s All American national championship this summer, needed to place in the top 10 to qualify for the Costa national event. He left no doubt about that as he was second after two days of fishing. The top 10 after two days qualify for the final day of the tourney.
He hammered fish during the first two days in his primary area, but didn’t have enough fish left there to maintain that spot. Yet, a sixth placed finish easily qualified him for November’s national tourney.
He said his area was. “a pretty big shoal and on the edge was a little finger that came out with grass on top of it. I’d sit on the edge and fire the Alabama rig up to it.”
Weisenburger said there were a lot of good quality smallmouth on the shoal, but after hitting it hard the first two days, he knew the third day would be tough. He caught most of his fish on a Yum Alabama rig (YUMbrella Flash Mob Jr.) and a few on a Zman Chatterbait.
“Each day was a little different,” he said. “The first day I threw it out and just let it slowly fall as I retrieved it. On day two I would fire it out and kind of twitch and jerk it back, and a couple of times after I jerked it out of grass they would eat it.”
Back on the BFL circuit, Wesienburger and his father, Ron, appear to have locked down regional qualifying spots in the Hoosier Division as Kyle now sits sixth points standings having moved up from 12th while Ron is 8th, moving up from 23rd. Dick Shaffer of Rockford is 38th in the Hoosier pro points standing.
In the Buckeye Division the trio of Weisenburger, Shaffer, and Cody Seeger, of Lewistown, are second through fourth in the pro points standings.
The top 40 pros and top 40 co-anglers qualify for regional competition.
Qualifiers from the Buckeye and Michigan divisions will be regional competition this fall at Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, Ky., while qualifiers from the Hoosier Division will be in regional competition at Chickamagua Lake in Tennessee.
Weisenburger has could have some tough decisions to make. He likely will qualify for both BFL regionals and with the Costa championship, it could mean taking three weeks off from his teaching job. He said he is not sure what he will decide to do.
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or and you can follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL