OACOMA, S.D. -- Wisconsin angler Bob Downey recalls the only other time he had been on Francis Case Lake was when he was about 8 years old and had fished off the pier at Cedar Shores Resort while on a family vacation.
Returning to the lake as a member of the Minnesota B.A.S.S. Nation state team, Downey caught a five-fish limit weighing 12 pounds, 8 ounces to set the pace today in the B.A.S.S. Northern Divisional. Fishing in his first divisional as a non-boater, the Cast-A-Ways Bassmasters club member caught his limit behind Michigan angler Ted Prisbe, a veteran divisional competitor who weighed in an 8-08 limit to move into fourth place.
The 25-year-old Downey said they were in the right place at the right time. “There were a lot of guys there so you had to move because the fish moved pretty quickly up there,” said Downey, a credit analyst for a surety agency. “The wind would change a lot in the area we were in and every time it changed it would reposition those fish. A lot of times they would come up and school and we had to be quick to get in there and other times we were just kind of dragging around.”
Downey noted he caught all of his keeper smallmouth on three different lures. “I love to fish for largemouth up shallow, that is my strength, but smallmouth are my favorite fish to catch,” Downey said. “The way we were catching them today - I am comfortable doing that.”
“We have smallmouth back home but I have never fished smallmouth in a reservoir, which is what I would consider this,” said Downey. “I know it is a river (an impounded section of the Missouri), but I have never fished for them in a reservoir-type situation like this.” Downey mentioned the way he caught his fish today is similar to what he has done in the past on natural lakes with off-colored water.
If Downey finishes as the top angler on his Minnesota team, he will earn a berth in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship (BNC). Other state leaders bidding for BNC berths include Prisbe of Michigan; David Junk, Illinois; Chip Swindell, Indiana; Nate Brown, Iowa; Stan Dodson, Ohio; Eric Storms, South Dakota; and Jason Sosebee, Wisconsin.
The Minnesota squad leads the team competition with 46 pounds, 15 ounces. Wisconsin is in the runner-up spot with 36-14.
The Northern Divisional contestants will take off at 6:45 a.m. tomorrow at Cedar Shore Resort for the second day of competition.