More than a dozen Lima area BFL bassers prep for regionals

Al Smith - Guest Columnist

This is time sensitive depending when it runs online and in the paper. Put the time sensitive stuff in red.

More than a dozen Lima area bass anglers fishing in regional tournaments in different parts of the country will be hoping to finish among the top six next Friday through Sunday (Oct. 17-19) and qualify for the 2020 All-American Championship, which will be held April 30-May 2 at Lake Hartwell in Anderson, South Carolina.

These local anglers will be fishing T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) events on the Potomac River out of Marbury, Maryland, and Kentucky and Barkley Lakes in Buchanan, Tennessee. Most planned to leave for their destinations Friday or early today (Saturday) Qualifiers from the Buckeye Division will be fishing the Potomac River while qualifiers from the Michigan Division will be fishing Kentucky and Barkley Lakes. Practice ran from Saturday (today) through Wednesday.

The two regionals offer quite different bodies of water. The Potomac is a tidal river where the water is constantly moving, which is completely different from lake fishing. Twice a day the water changes on the Potomac and as much as two feet. Top 12 anglers after two days qualified for the third day of the event.

Two of the local qualifiers have placed in past All-Americans with veteran Dick Shaffer, of Rockford, finishing runner-up and Kyle Weisenburger, of Columbus Grove, finishing sixth.

Shaffer has been fishing on the BFL circuit more more than two decades. He began fishing it when it was the Red Man Trail. The veteran angler hopes he fares much better on the Potomac this time compared to his his prior experience in 2015.

“Last time was awful. I never had a bite the first day of the tourney,” the veteran basser said. “The fish position differently when the river rises and falls. You have to be there when the bite is right depending upon the tide. It can be a narrow window.”

When Weisenburger qualified for the All-American he did it in 2015 by placing fourth on the Potomac.

“I am excited to get back to the Potomac. It has treated me well in the past, he said. “I have very high expectations this time around. I have a lot of ideas in my mind of possible ways to attack the Potomac.”

During the past week he rigged 24 rods and set them up specific ways so he would have more practice time on the water.I have rigged rods over the past week and had 24 rods I just loaded in my boat Haha. I feel it’s better to have these rods setup a specific way so I am not taking time on the water during practice to give these ideas a try. He plans to have those 24 rods dialed down to six or less by the time the tourney begins.

“I will let the conditions determine my approaches as bodies of water can drastically change from year to year(water level, water clarity, amount of grass, etc.).” Weisenburger said.

Cody Seeger of Lakeview, has fished the Potomac before in regional competition.

“I’m trying to stay optimistic and not trying to get locked into one thing. I’ve done my research on the area and I do feel like it is going to set up for me,” he said. “The Potomac River fits a lot of my strengths, but I’m going to try and let the fish tell me what they want. I’m a versatile fisherman so I feel like I can adapt to the changing conditions.”

Gary Ginter, of Lakeview, has fished in several regionals, including the time one on the Potomac in 2015.

“There are primarily two types of patterns to fish - grass or hard wood. I’ll likely fish grass in the main river and bays. You also have to find the critical time the tides are to catch fish,” he said.

Bob Logan, of Waynesfield, will be fishing the Potomac for the first time. He has fished regional competition on Chesapeake Bay and Kentucky Lake.

“I’ve looked at maps and checked things out on Youtube and the Internet. I won’t know exactly what my plan will be until I get there and get a look at it,” he said.

Greg Burwell, of North Baltimore, won’t leave for Virginia until Sunday evening because he is fishing the Great Lake Largemouth Series Championship. It will be going out of West Harbor Saturday and Sunday.

“I feel pretty confident heading to the Potomac. I know my timing was off last time down there with the tides, but with a few adjustments I should be able to make it all work for me,” he said “I need to be in my best spots at the right tide. I don’t know how the grass is going to set up this year. I know there’s been a lot of changes in the weather and water levels there with all the storms that came in, so it depends on how the grass is set up on what pattern I might have to run.”

Another boater, Jay Ellis, of Celina, qualified for the Potomac regional and he was in Welcome, Maryland Thursday.

“It’s not easy fishing tidal water. You want to fish it when the water is up because there is more room to catch fish,” he said. “I want to get out every day I can to practice. Hopefully I catch enough fish to finish among the top six.”

Wilson Burton, of Findlay, was among three area bassers to qualify for the Kentucky- Barkley Lakes regional out of the Michigan Division as boaters. Matt Elkins, of Spencerville, who finished ninth in the points standings and Zach Maisch, of Lima, who finished 18th in the points standings had prior work commitments and cannot fish the regional.

Burton hopes to do better at the same site than he did a year ago.

“I was on the fish to win but did not capitalize the first day. I plan to put in good hours on the water (during practice) and try to find some fish,” he said. “I’m going to go with my gut this year and start deep versus working shallow since we have had warmer temps especially at Kentucky lake.”

A foursome of local bassers qualified in the co-angler division for the Potomac River regional. They include Ron Weisenburger, of Continental; John Long, of New Bremen; Jon Angstmann and Carter Mox, of Minster, 32nd. Alex Newman, of Celina, qualified for the Kentucky-Barley regional on the co-angler side out of the Michigan Division.

Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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