Michigan’s Lake St. Clair lived up to its reputation a week ago as T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) anglers caught loads of fish in a Michigan Division tourney.
Among those were several Limaland anglers, including a trio that averaged a little more than 4 pounds per fish.
Wapakoneta’s Alex Newman boated a five-bass limit that weighed 21, pounds, 12 ounces. Yet that heavy weight yielded him only a ninth place finish. Lima’s Zach Maisch also caught a limit, which weighed 20 pounds, 14 ounces, good enough for 18th place. Van Wert’s Dan Cramer finished 24th with a five-bass limit that weighed 20 pounds, 6 ounces.
Three other area bassers caught limits. Wilson Burton, of Findlay, finished 52nd with a catch weighed 17 pounds, 5 ounces while Steve Clapper, of Lima, was 61st with a weight of 16 pounds, 11 ounces and Matt Elkins of Spencerville was 64th with a weight of 16 pounds, 7 ounces.
Four area anglers are among the top 40 boaters in the points standings after two tourneys. Maisch is fifth with 467 points while Newman is 13th with 449 points, Burton is 19th with 426 points and Elkins is 37th with 397 points.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have two solid tournaments in a row now and hope to keep it going,” Maisch said.
He noted how good the fishing at Lake St. Clair is right now. Of the top 100 boaters, 96 of them had five-bass limits.
“Lake St. Clair is by far the best fishing lake in our country right now for numbers and quality of fish. The bass are healthy and fat, and the water quality is great. If people thought the FLW Tour event (the week before the BFL tourney) was impressive, what the locals did this past weekend was even more impressive. The guy that won with 28 pounds and had three smallmouth over six pounds. Very few people will ever catch a smallmouth over six pounds,” Maisch said.
Boater Heath Wagner of Angola, Indiana, caught a five-bass limit weighing 28 pounds, 15 ounces, to win the tourney. That’s an average weight of 5 pounds, 6 ounces per fish.
“I fished the Belle River hump area of Lake St. Clair. It’s close to the same area where some of the FLW Tour event leaders fished,” said Wagner. “The area was about one square mile in size, and had a mega school of fish.
“I was between fish that were on the outskirts of the school and the school itself. I roamed the flat looking for a certain type of bottom – a big sandy spot with shells. I could see down there, even in 18 feet of water. As soon as I found where I needed to be, I hit the Spot Lock (on my Minnkota Ultrex trolling motor).”
Wagner said every fish he weighed came from some type of Z-Man ElaZtech lures on a drop-shot rig. He noted that green-pumpkin-goby colors did well.
“I had four areas that were similar and I basically just circled them. I’d catch three to 20 fish in a location and kind of wear it out before moving on to the next one. There was a stretch where I caught 20 fish in a row between 4½ and 5 pounds, but didn’t even weigh any of them – it was pretty ridiculous.”
On the co-angler side, Maisch’s mother, Vickie Maisch Rumer, was 43rd with a five-bass limit that weighed 15 pounds, 11 ounces. Beau Bickford, of Findlay, was 47th with a limit that weighed 15 pounds, 7 ounces and Michael Kokoska, of Findlay, had a weight of 14 pounds, 5 ounces on a limit. Of the top 75 co-anglers, 70 caught five-bass limits.
In the points standings, Rumer is 19th with 433 points while Bickford is 32nd with 394 point and Kokoska is 42nd with 363 points.
The next Michigan Division tourney is slated for Aug. 4 on Muskegon Lake, which is right on Lake Michigan.
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The 2019 FLW Tour regular season features stops at the top two rated lakes in the country, according to Bassmaster Magazine. The other five tourneys will be held on highly regarded lakes in their region of the country.
The tour kicks off on top-rated Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Texas, on Jan. 10-13 and then makes a stop at second-ranked Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tennessee, on May 2-5.
Other tour stops are at Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Florida, on Feb. 7-10; Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Georgia, on March 7-10; Grand Lake in Grove, Oklahoma, on March 28-31; Cherokee Lake in Jefferson City, Tennessee, on April 11-14 and Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, New York, on June 27-30.
Kyle Weisenburger of Ottawa will fish the tour for the third consecutive year next season.
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL