St. Joe River
Six Span Ramp
April 21, 2012
7:30 am - 2:30 pm
The future of bass fishing ...
A significant cold front blew in Friday afternoon and made fishing much more difficult than expected. Nevertheless, R & B competitors made it look like a good day. Of the 35 teams 13 weighed limits and 28 weighed fish. Six teams had limits that went double digits. In all, 110 fish came to the scales.
1st Place: St. Joe River veterans, Kevin Fletcher and Greg Mangus went against the grain by ignoring the many spawning fish in channels and targeted main river fish. As a result, they once again proved why they are some of the best river rats in Northern Indiana.
Not only did they win the event with a limit containing 4 smallmouth and a single largemouth weighing 13.47 pounds, but they also brought the Starboard Choice Marine Big Bass Award to the scale: a 3.28 pound smallmouth. They won $660 for the win and an additional $280 for the big fish.
Mangus praises Fletcher, "He is the best river fisherman I know. I
just asked, 'What do I do now Kevin?'" Fletcher had answers, "I have found a jig will catch bigger fish on the river and the main river is typically a crawdad bite." To no one's surprise the team threw a combination of Mango jigs and Bubba jigs - homemade jigs by Fletcher that have become legendary in Michiana - baits created to mimic crawdads. They tried other baits: spinnerbaits, crankbaits, worms, tubes, and jerkbaits, but they failed to produce quality fish.
Bait selection was not the only answer Fletcher had. They put together two patterns. One that included flipping jigs to wood in backwater areas and another contrary pattern. Fletcher explains, "Hard current was key. The fish we targeted, I believe, were post spawn. I also feel these fish were just beginning to feed heavy again. It was good timing." The hard current constituted the bulk of their biggest fish.
The winners caught 15 keepers total, but it did not start off well. After 2 hours, they only had a single fish in the livewell. Like many other anglers, they reported fishing got better as the day warmed up. They took a run & gun approach to cover as much water as possible. Mangus admits that 6 of their keepers came from spots neither of them had ever fished before. By late morning, they had built two solid patterns.
2nd Place: Craig Chupp and Dave Miller wasted no time. Less than an hour into the tournament , 8:25, the team had a limit in the livewell. Their approach was simple and uncompromised throughout: drop shot rigs in the channels.
Miller explains, "We spent all day in the channels. The fish were on beds, however, we could not see them until the sun shined through. So we blind casted our rigs in areas we knew were holding fish. When we could see them we continued to toss the
drop shot at them." It worked and things continued going their way. Their biggest fish, a 2.93 pound largemouth, came after another angler's hard work. Miller recalls, "A little distance from us, another team was working a fish for a long time. Eventually, they gave up and moved on. We trolled to that area and Craig casted in the same area they were working and it bit immediately." They caught 15 keepers and their best five weighed 11.97 pounds. This earned them $404.
3rd Place: The team of Rich Paton and Dave Morrow had only previously been on the Six Span stretch of the St. Joe River for a handful of hours before catching a limit of 11.56 pounds and winning $258.
Morrow admits, "The only experience we had before Saturday was the previous Sunday for a couple of hours."
Obviously that was all they needed. Like Chupp and Miller, they spent the majority of their time in the channels where they targeted spawning fish. However, in the early morning the beds were empty. It was not until late in the morning that the fish began setting back onto them and even then they were fickle. They flung 7 different baits at beds, but the shakey head worm produced the majority.
Despite their success, it was the lost fish that remains fresh on their minds. With just 40 minutes left, they left the channels and tossed the shakey heads along the seawalls. A fish estimated at 4 pounds was fooled and bit, but after a short battle it spit the bait. However, shortly thereafter, they hooked into and landed their biggest fish of the day, a 2.6 pound smallmouth.
4th Place: New to the R & B Bass Circuit this year, Myron and Robert Miller are glad to join. Myron admits, "We debated on fishing R & B last year but decided on another circuit. It was a mistake." Well I could have told you that one Myron! Welcome aboard.
And R & B competitors had better recognize as the brothers wasted no time establishing themselves as serious competitors by boating an 11.46 pound limit and winning $184.
They began the day fishing the mouths of channels hoping to land a big female, but that did not produce. Actually, by 11am they had not yet landed a keeper bass. Myron reveals, "We then began cranking some seawalls and landed a pair of smallmouth keepers. This gave us some confidence going into the channels." They entered the channels at 12:30 and never left. Here they landed another 5 keepers by tossing finesse worms at spawning fish.
5th Place: Not many people would be disappointed with a top 5 finish, but perhaps Scott Beard and Andy Jenkins have some reason to be. Beard admits, "I was on the river Thursday evening with my son and we had over 14 pounds. We saw a ton of 4 pound fish." The culprit: the cold front. "The cold pushed the fish out and we could not locate them."
Still, 11.10 pounds ain't too shabby. It earned them $128.
They too attacked the channels with a mixed bag of baits that included centipedes, senkos, and jigs. "We fancasted the baits to areas we hoped held bedding fish. We did not catch a bed off a bed until our fifth keeper." They wrapped up their limit at noon.
Other winning teams:
6th Place:Chuck Lee and Brad Dunfee teamed up and put together a 10.12 pound limit and won $110.
7th Place:2010 Points ChampionsBobby Nelson and Aaron Hochstedler had never seen this stretch of the river before the tournament. Yet, they came up with a 9.99 pound limit and won $90.
D's Lures Award:2011 Points ChampionsTeddy Bradley and Mark Fennell have put themselves in good position to repeat as champions with a 9.73 pound limit.
Solar Bat Big Bass Award:Josh Stalcup and Rick Bauer landed a 3.14 pound smallmouth to win $70 and a shot at new sunglasses. To learn how to qualify yourself, visit the Bonus Money & Prizes page.
Dick's Sporting Goods Big Bass: A $50 gift certificate was given to John Cochran and Tim Childs for bringing the third heaviest fish of the tournament to the scales: a 3.13 pound smallmouth.
Xtreme Bass Tackle Mystery Bait Award: One of the more exciting prizes given away was the award provided by Wayne Carpenter and Xtreme Bass Tackle. Kevin Miller and Larry Schwartz won over $100 in prizes and $100 in cash. Learn how they qualified on the Bonus Money and Prizes page.
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