Todd Schmitz of Goshen, Ind., had the deck stacked against him on the final day of the second 2010 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open on the Detroit River. He started Saturday in ninth place and more than five pounds behind leader Chris King, who had smacked 25-plus pounds Friday.
But King of South Amherst, Ohio, faltered Saturday and didn’t weigh in a single fish. The honey hole he relied on for the two prior days had dried up and King wound up in 20th place, which opened the door for Schmitz. Schmitz boated 23-13, the second heaviest bag of the tournament and the heaviest of the final day, to build his three-day total to 61-0. With the victory, Schmitz will take home more than 46,000 and valuable points in the Northern Open circuit.
Schmitz is no stranger to success in BASS competition, registering two previous wins with BASS, but this is without a doubt his biggest.
“This is unreal, I mean I’m thrilled and all, but it really hasn’t set in yet,” Schmitz said as he shielded his trophy from the rain. “To be able to compete – and win – against guys this good is unbelievable. I couldn’t be happier.”
Schmitz’s practice was cut short as he had to work on Sunday and Monday. However, the fish he found in Lake St. Clair proved to be reliable enough to support him over three days. He was throwing a Bomber Fat Free Shad in perch colors. He mixed up the colors — a more natural shade when the sun was out and a brighter scheme during overcast skies – depending on the conditions. He focused on sandy spots near the shipping channel in St. Clair.
“The water I was catching them in was slightly cooler than the rest of the lake,” the national RV rep said. “They’d move around a lot and it was just a matter of finding them each day.”
Day 1 leader and Lake Erie guide David Hasty of Toledo, Ohio, brought 16-14 to the scales the final day, falling 13 ounces short with a three-day total of 59-3. Hasty found that the Detroit River had dropped more than a foot the final day, which scattered his fish.
“They moved, and I caught some good fish, but not like I was the first two days,” he said.
Behind Hasty was local favorite Ryan Said, of Wixom, Mich., who made a strong case for the win with his 20-9 stringer the final day. He had 56-10 for a three-day weight. In fourth was Art Ferguson, of St. Clair Shores, Mich., who added 17-12 to his weigh for a total of 56-7. In fifth place was Chad Pipkens of Holt, Mich., who caught 18-11 the final day for a total of 56-5.
With Dave Wolak, the points leader in the Northern Opens heading into this week, not participating in the Detroit River Open, the door was swung wide open and Said took full advantage. With a third and a second-place finish in the division, Said has taken a commanding lead in the race for the two Bassmaster Classic spots.
On the co-angler side, Kenneth Taylor of Shelby Township, Mich., took home a Triton/Mercury rig valued at $32,000 for his three-day total of 38-13. He bested second place by more than five pounds.
“This is incredible,” the Chrysler employee and part-time firefighter said. “I had great pros all three days who were willing to work with me and put me on fish.”
Taylor drop shotted most of his fish in Lake St. Clair, where he feels most at home. Behind him was Ken Ramsey of Cassopolis, Mich., who brought 11-8 to the scales on the final day for a three-day total of 33-12. In third was Joshua Kolodzaike of Toledo, Ohio, whose three-day total weighed 32-6.
The next stop for the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Opens is set for the Chesapeake Bay out of Cecil County, Md., on Sept. 16-18. The tidal fishery will undoubtedly play into the hands of the locals who are familiar with the treacherous waters. Last year’s winner, Dave Mansue, is doubtful that he will attend after a less-than-stellar performance in the first two Northern Opens. This leaves the door wide open for other pros to earn a Classic berth.
The local sponsor for the event is Detroit Sports.
Bassmaster Open Title Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
Bassmaster Open Official Sponsors: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Skeeter Boats and Yamaha
Bassmaster Supporting Sponsors: Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats and Triton Boats
About BASS For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and its expansive tournament structure while championing efforts to connect directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles. The Bassmaster brand and its considerable multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer; comprehensive Web properties in Bassmaster.com, BASSInsider.com and ESPN3.com, and ESPN2 television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle. BASS oversees the prestigious Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, BASS Federation Nation and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic. BASS offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.