Lima area pair place high in West Virginia tourney

By Al Smith - Guest Columnist

One good fish might have propelled a pair of Lima area pro bassers into first place last weekend in the West Virginia River and Rails tournament on the Ohio River.

As it turned out, Kyle Weisenburger and Craig Burwell, wound up fifth in the two-day event out of St. Marys, West Virginia. They finished with a weight of 14.8 pounds. The winning weight was 16.61 pounds. The two sat in seventh place after the first day with a weight of 9.02 pounds.

The duo had multiple bites in practice in a few creeks, but during the tourney, they found only one creek that was highly productive.

“We could find only one creek on tournament day with no pressure and we milked it for what it was worth. It was definitely was the winning area. We both lost fish that we saw and had hooked that would have put us up there, but that’s fishing,” Burwell of North Baltimore said.

“Our weight on day 2 was likely lower due to finishing that creek hard for two days in a row. I think we just ran out of productive water. That is part of fishing the river and everyone has to deal with getting very few bites,” Weisenburger of Columbus Grove said.

“Most bites came flipping laydowns and rock and a few fish came throwing a spinnerbait. It was an awesome event,” Weisenburger added.

They ran about 80 miles round trip each day of the tourney. The two used Burwell’s boat and towed it with Weisenburger’s truck.

Both anglers fish Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) presented by T-H Marine in the Buckeye Division. Weisenburger also competes on the FLW Warehouse Tackle circuit.

The Warehouse Tackle circuit gets back into action Tuesday after a three-month hiatus. The fourth regular season tourney on the circuit will be held on Lake Chickamauga out of Dayton, Tennessee. If they want, pros will be able to run and lock up into Watts Bar Lake or down into Nickajack Lake. The tourney will feature a different format from the first three events.

The event will feature 206 pros, including 54 Major League Fishing (MLF) anglers, competing for a piece of more than $1.3 million, with a top award of $160,000.

According to FLW, the roster was expanded to 206 after 54 Major League Fishing (MLF) anglers accepted an invitation to compete in three Super-Tournaments. MLF announced an abbreviated 2020 Bass Pro Tour schedule due to its mid-season pause related to the coronavirus and inflexible television production deadlines, which prompted FLW Executive Vice President Kathy Fennel to create the opportunity for both FLW and MLF pros, a FLW press release stated.

Weisenburger said he is “super excited” to be fishing in such a large and elite field.

“It’s a great way to get to compete against even more of the most accomplished anglers in the world. The larger field brings a larger prize pool and likely a bigger media following,” he said. “I feel my skills and mind are very sharp right now and anyone that knows me, knows how competitive I am. These events add even more to my competitive drive. One if the biggest challenges I foresee is with the larger boat field, the lake will fish much smaller. It will be very important to find fresh water to last through the event.”

Ron Nelson, the current Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Angler of the Year (AOY) points leader, said “It’ll shake things up and I’m not complaining about it at all. I’m excited to see those (MLF) guys.” He added, “This whole year has been upside down and changed, but I’m looking forward to having a positive rest of the season. There’s a lot of bad stuff in this country people are dealing with, and we get to go fishing and have fun and make a living.”

Although the Tennessee River has taken a pounding since the start of the coronavirus, “It’s still Lake Chickamauga, and we’re going to see some big bass and some huge limits,” said local MLF pro Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tennessee, who also will be competing in the event.

“Guys can cash a check fishing shallow, but the guy that wins will be fishing offshore. Everybody is well versed in electronics, so the key factors are going to be timing, rotation and the water generation schedule. I predict the four-day winner will have right around 75 pounds,” Strader added.

In Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit competition, the full field of 206 pro anglers compete in the two-day opening round on Tuesday and Wednesday. The top 50 pros based on their two-day accumulated weight advance to Thursday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition on Championship Friday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.

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Burwell plays a key role in the Fish With Veterans event. The second such fishing outing is scheduled for July 25.

A total of 30 veterans will be paired with professional bass anglers for the event, which will take off at 6:30 a.m. at Cullen Park and Marina located at 4526 North Summit St. in Toledo. Fishing poles, tackle and food will be provided for veterans.

Sign up for a veteran is available at Contact Elliott Shaffer at or call 419-581-9898 fir more information.

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Don’t forget, this weekend is free fishing in Ohio. Ohio residents may fish for free in any of the state’s public waters. It is the only weekend when those 16 years old and older are not required to obtain a fishing license to fish in the state’s public waters.

By 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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