Weisenburger’s season to end in Toyota Series event

By Al Smith - Guest Columnist

The Major League Fishing (MLF) season officially comes to an end next weekend for Lima area bass anglers who fish various MLF circuits.

Kyle Weisenburger of Columbus Grove, who fishes three circuits on the MLF, will compete in the 2021 Tackle Warehouse Toyota Series Championship presented by Guaranteed Rate at Pickwick Lake in Counce, Tennessee, Thursday, Oct. 28, through Saturday, Oct. 30.

A total of 400 bass anglers will compete in the event. Weisenburger qualified by finishing fourth in the Plains Division on the Toyota Circuit. He is fresh off competing in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) regional tournament on the Potomac River last week.

He hopes an adjustment he made on the second day of that event will help him at Pickwick. He shot up more than 70 places on the second day of the Potomac Regional by making a small adjustment.

“Potomac was a bit frustrating. I was around the number and quality of fish I needed to have a great event. After struggling on day one and part of day two, none of my adjustments had been working. I then make a final adjustment and begin catching them really good to finish out day two,” Weisenburger said. “Had I realized the adjustment on day one, I think it could have made all the difference. That’s the difference between being a good angler and a great angler — knowing when and how to make the right adjustments on the fly.”

Thus, he will not be locked into a particular plan. He hopes to put in a solid five days of practice on the lake he has never fished. The lake is so big, one can fish waters in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.

“I am going there with an open mind. I just want to take my time in practice and fish what looks good in front of me. I’ve got plenty of rods and presentations rigged up in my boat that can be pulled out of the rod locker in a matter of seconds. There are probably 30 rods in there. My goal is to have it dialed in to about five rods on my front deck by day one of the tournament,” the Lima area pro said.

The full field of anglers will compete on days one and two of the event, with the top 10 pros and top 10 Strike King co-anglers based on cumulative weight from the first two days continuing to the third and final day. The 2021 Toyota Series champions will be determined by the heaviest three-day total.

Jimmy Washman, of Covington, Tennessee, a local pro who qualified for the tourney said he felt fortunate to be fishing the championship on his home lake and is excited to see how the tournament unfolds, according to a MLF press release.

“There’s not as much vegetation on Pickwick Lake as we normally have this time of year, and the fish haven’t made a push to the bank yet,” Washam said. “However, the cooler weather coming in should help them get out of suspension mode and start biting. The bigger fish are already getting easier to catch, and we should see a lot of healthy fish in the 3- to 4-pound class, so it’s setting up to be a fun event.

“I expect to see some junk fishing, but I think moving baits will play a big role with the cooler weather and cooler water temperatures, and fish should really start keying in on bait. Depending on what type of water release schedule we have, there will be some traditional tail water baits in play, but I expect there to be a surface bite and a pretty good moving bait bite that will either be full-blown or will develop throughout the event.”

Washam said he anticipates it will take an average of 19 pounds per day to win the championship, and approximately 17½ pounds per day to get into the Top 10.

At the Potomac River regional, a pair of Lima area bassers came close to qualifying for the BFL All-American National Championship. The top six finishers qualify for the national championship.

John Lane of Findlay, who was fifth heading into the final day as a co-angler, could only get two bites on the final day and finished ninth with a three-day weight of 23 pounds, 3 ounces on 11 fish. He was seventh after day one with a four bass that weighed 11 pounds. A five-bass limit of 9 pounds, 6 ounces pushed him to fifth with a total of 20 pounds, 6 ounces. The lack of bites on the final day knocked him to ninth as he caught two fish that weighed 3 pounds, 13 ounces.

“Although I am very disappointed for not making the All-American, I am happy with a top 10 finish. We fished hard all week in practice, and I was able to put together a pattern late on the last day of practice. I threw a chatterbait most of the tournament and found the best bites were the last few hours of low tide. I did get my largest bite on a frog in heavy grass mats,” Lane said.

“I struggled to get bit on moving baits,” he said of day three. “I started to flip isolated grass and punch some grass mats but only got two bites all day.”

He added, “I am looking forward to next year because I feel I learned so much this season on how to adapt to conditions. We will see how things progress next year.”

Veteran Dick Shaffer of Rockford always seems to be in contention for a championship spot and appeared headed for a top six finish after two days, but also came up short on the final day.

He was sitting in eighth place after two days with a total of 28 pounds, 6 ounces in the boater division. He did catch a five-bass limit on day three, but the 11 pounds, 3 ounces was not enough to get him into the top six. He wound up 10th with 39 pounds, 9 ounces. Shaffer caught a limit each day. His weight on day one was 12 pounds 14 ounces, which put him 13th. His second day weight was 15 pounds, 8 ounces.

Grass mats floating away hurt not only him but some other finalists.

“When the water is up the grass kind of floats and when it goes down it forms new mats. The mats got blown away and blew up on the bank,” he said. “I had about 20-yard mat that was so thick you couldn’t get through it. I tried flippin’, but couldn’t get them. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. That’s two years in a row I finished 10th. That was pretty good, but not good enough.”

Shaffer is taking time away from bass fishing and will spend a week with seven other anglers fishing for crappies at Indian Lake.

Gary Ginter of Bellefontaine had the best finish among the other Lima area bassers competing on the Potomac. He was 27th with a weight of 15 pounds, 9 ounces. He caught four bass that weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounce on day 1 and had a five-bass limit on day two that weighed 14 pounds, 5 ounces.

Kyle Weisenburger wound up 67th after being in 140th place after day one. His two-day total weight was 15 pounds, 8 ounces. He caught fish that weighed 2 pounds, 1 ounces on day one, but had a five-bass limit on day two that weighed 13 pounds, 8 ounces.

Lima’s Zach Maisch finished 72nd in the boater division. He caught two bass that weighed 5 pounds, 15 ounces on day one and had four bass that weighed 8 pounds, 14 ounces for a two-day total of 14 pounds, 13 ounces.

Wilson Burton, who finished second in the Mississippi River regional in Wisconsin last year, was 76th in the boater division with a two-day total of 14 pounds, 8 ounces. He had two bass that weighed 5 pounds, 8 ounces on day one and a five-bass limit on day two that weighed 9 pounds.

In the co-angler division, Ron Weisenburger of Continental caught one bass on day one that weighed 1 pounds, 11 ounces.


By Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at flyfishman7@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at flyfishman7@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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