Wilson Burton decided to fish his first Buckeye Division Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) tournament “just for fun.”
After winning the super two-day event on Lake Erie last weekend (Sept.11-12), he likely would love to have that much fun every time he fishes a bass tourney.
“I’m no big Lake Erie guy so I didn’t expect to go out and win it,” he said after posting a two-day weight of 31 pounds, 12 ounces on a pair five-bass limits.
Burton, who fished in the BFL All-American Championship this summer, took an approach where participants may have been limited to a lockdown area on Lake Erie. Because high winds were predicted for the first day of the tourney, he decided to concentrate on the area where those boundaries would be. The lockdown area would have consisted of waters between the Marblehead and Cedar Point lighthouses.
The area wasn’t locked down, but after nearly sinking his boat while battling 6-foot waves in an attempt to get to Kelleys Island, he decided to move to the area between the two lighthouses where he had done well in practice.
During practice, he and his partner found a school of largemouth bass. After catching a couple of four-pounders, they decided to leave them alone and seek them out during the tourney.
“After we both got those big fish, I said ‘We’ve got to leave,’” the Findlay basser said.
Burton found them again during the weekend event and nine of 10-fish limit were largemouth. Large smallmouth bass usually produce the winning catches on Lake Erie, but the wind kept anglers away from those fish.
“I used a 3/4-ounce blue and chrome redeye shad Rattletrap and cast it a mile,” he said.
Burton also caught a few using a War Eagle spinnerbait and Thoraks jig fished weedless.
The top 20 after the first day qualified to fish on the second day.
Burton is fishing another super two-day BFL event this weekend on the Detroit River out of Trenton, Michigan. This is the season finale in the Michigan Division. He sits in 34th place in the point standings and should qualify again for regional competition. The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in each division qualify for regional competition. The top six in each regional qualify for the All-American Championship.
Six Lima area anglers have qualified for the Potomac River regional out of Smallwood State Park in Marbury, Maryland, Oct 14-16. Other divisions in that regional are Michigan, Northeast and Piedmont.
Gary Ginter of Bellefountaine maintained his third place in the points standings among boaters while Kyle Weisenburger of Columbus Grove wound up seventh. Bob Logan of Waynesfield finished 14th. Dick Shaffer of Rockford jumped from 46th and wound up 37th.
In the co-angler division, Ron Weisenburger of Continental and John Lane of Findlay qualified for the regional by finishing 17th and 26th in the points standings.
In the Lake Erie tourney, Ginter finished fifth with a pair of limits that weighed 26 pounds, 6 ounces. His first day weight was 14 pounds, 8 ounces while his second day weight was 11 pounds, 14 ounces. Kyle Weisenburger was ninth on a pair of limits that weighed 25 pounds, 4 ounces. His first day weight was 13 pounds, 4 ounces while his second day weight was 12 pounds. Shaffer had a five-bass limit that weighed 10 pounds, 4 ounces.
On the co-angler side, Ron Weisenburger had a total weight of 18 pounds and finished 11th in the co-angler category. On the first day he caught a five-bass limit that weighed 12 pounds, 10 ounces. He caught two bass that weighed 5 pounds, 6 ounces. Lane caught only one bass that weighed 2 pounds, 2 ounces and he wound up 64th.
In addition to Burton trying to qualify for regional competition at this weekend’s Michigan competition, Lima’s Zach Maisch sits in 15th place in the points standings in the boater category while his mother, Vickie Maisch Rumer, is 28th in the co-angler category.
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL