Thirteen Limaland bass anglers have qualified for regional competition from three divisions in the T-H MarineFLW Bass Fishing League (BFL).
The qualifiers are familiar to those who fish in the Buckeye, Hoosier and Michigan divisions. But one name stands out because he has qualified for more than 20 regionals during BFL competition.
Dick Shaffer, of Rockford, began this type of competitive fishing in1986 when it was known as the Redman Trail. Many of his competitors today were not born when he started this type of bass fishing competition.
“I haven’t gotten any smarter, but I keep doing it,” Shaffer said Thursday afternoon taking a break from pouring concrete in 90-degree heat with high humidity. “On days like this years ago, I could go up one of the shallow creeks where it was really hot. I could take it a lot better than those older guys then. Now, I’m one of those older guys.”
For the eighth time in his career, he has qualified to fish two regional tourneys in one year. There are times the regional tourney was for competitors from both regionals he had qualified. However, this year, he can fish two regionals because Buckeye and Hoosier anglers are in different regional competition. Hoosier Division anglers will fish Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, Ky., while Buckeye and Michigan division qualifiers will fish the Barren River in Scottsville, Ky. The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the region based on point standings, along with the five winners in each qualifying event are entered in BFL regional competition.
Shaffer finished fifth in the Buckeye Division points standing after a solid fourth place finish a week ago in the division’s final tourney on Lake Erie out of Sandusky. He finished 28th in the points standings in the Hoosier Division. He has fared well on both regional bodies of water in the past.
“Usually I do well on Kentucky Lake, but sometimes it’s not ready for me,” Shaffer said. “I qualified for one of the All-Americans by winning a regional on the Barren River. It’s a great fishery.”
The veteran angler’s resume is outstanding. He has qualified for regional competition 27 times - 15 in the Hoosier Division, 10 in the Buckeye Division and 2 in the Michigan Division, which he hasn’t fished since the early 2000s. He has qualified for a regional 12 consecutive years out of the Hoosier Division and a total of 18 straight out the three divisions. He has qualified for regional competition out of the Buckeye and Hoosier divisions the past three years and five of the last six years. He has qualified for three All-Americans, finishing as runner-up in 2012. He also fished the national event in 2005 and ‘07.
“I’ve had a couple of so-so years… Not like it was five or six years ago. I would like to get back to that kind of fishing,” he said.
The regional on the Barren River will be held Oct. 5-7 while the Kentucky Lake Regional is set for Oct. 12-14.
Shaffer is not the only familiar name qualifying for regional competition.
Kyle Weisenburger, of Ottawa, who finished fifth in the 2016 All-American, qualified for regional competition for the eighth straight year. Cody Seeger, of Lewistown, qualified for the fourth consecutive year. He wound up finishing second in the Buckeye points standings after tying Ron Nutter of Saint Louisville with 1,314 points, but Nutter took first on a tiebreaker. Seeger solidified his standing with a sixth place finish last weekend on Lake Erie. It was the third time Seeger has finished runner-up in the points standings. He finished behind Weisenburger in 2014 and ‘16.
“I’m excited to compete in the regional. I have fished Barren before and feel good on that body of water,” Weisenburger said. “I really want to finish the season off strong and get another shot at the All-American. Also, a good finish would really give me some good momentum going into the 2018 FLW Tour season.”
As for Seeger, “It’s kinda bitter sweet because I really want to win the points title since it’s a personal goal of mine I have to accomplish before I go to the next level”
Also qualifying out of the Buckeye Division as pros were Craig Burwell, of North Baltimore, who finished 19th in the points standings while Jay Ellis, of Celina, was 38th.
Five Lima area bassers qualified as co-anglers out of the Buckeye Division including Ron Weisenburger, of Continental, who is Kyle’s dad. He also qualified a year ago. He solidified a ninth place in the points standings last weekend with a ninth place finish in the Lake Erie tourney. John Lane, of Findlay, was 22nd, Jon Angstmann, of St. Marys, was 34th, Sidney Hoover, of Findlay, was 36th and John Long, of New Bremen, was 44th.
Three Limaland anglers qualified out of the Michigan Division with Lima’s Zach Maisch finishing 14th among the pros in the points standings while Dan Cramer, of Van Wert, was 38th. Maisch’s mother, Vickie Maisch Rumer, who was among the top 10 co-angler’s for much of the year, finished 12th in the points standings. Neither Maisch or his mother will be able to fish at regionals due to some scheduling conflicts with work.
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL