SANDUSKY, Ohio -- Weights soared on Day Two of the 2011 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open on Lake Erie as the winds calmed and gave anglers access to more areas.
On Day One, there were six anglers who cracked the 20-pound mark, with Nate Wellman’s 22-4 topping the list. Friday, 15 anglers crossed that mark, with John Devries tallying an astounding 26 pounds, 7 ounces of smallmouth. However, Elite Series pro Wellman managed to retain his lead with a catch of 23-3, giving him 45-7.
“I pulled up to where I left ’em biting yesterday afternoon, and it was awesome,” Wellman said. “In my first three casts, I caught two fish, and I was throwing 3-pounders back before I had a limit.”
“I ended up leaving there with four fish. But, they were even more loaded up on my third spot. Between the two of us (Wellman and his co-angler), we probably caught 70 bass there.”
Wellman lost several fish that he estimates would’ve given him another two pounds or so. He also says that the spot is replenishing every day. Going into the event, Wellman had 12 areas he planned to fish, but he’s only hit five of them so far.
“I’m pretty optimistic going into tomorrow,” he said. “My goal here is to make it to the Classic since I had an OK year in the Elites and didn’t qualify through that route. I don’t care about the points, I just want the Classic. And I want that big trophy. I want to have twins!”
Last year Wellman took home hardware by winning the Northern Open on the Chesapeake in Maryland.
Devries, of Fishers, Ind., made a hard charge Friday, sacking up the heaviest bag of the tournament. His 26-7 stringer gives him a 42-12 total. He only caught 16-5 on Day 1, but credits his net man (his co-angler who netted his fish) today for part of his turnaround.
“I found these fish five days ago, but I couldn’t get to them yesterday so I had to make a long run and scrape up what I had,” he said. “But, I knew the wind was going to be right for getting there today. I went and had a limit before I got to my spot, but thank the Lord they were there.”
Devries was snapping a tube (hopping it off of the bottom) when his biggest fish hit, but caught the rest on a drop shot rig. Though he’s in second, Devries is nervous about Day Three: He said he’s afraid he might have used up all of his fish. He was saving the spot he hit Friday for the final day.
“I had two spots where I planned on catching 20 pounds, then I figured I’d blow it open on Saturday with that spot,” he said. “I think I’ll be lucky if I catch 16 pounds tomorrow.”
His bag was anchored by a 6-0 brute.
Chris Malone of Ironton, Ohio, retained third place with 20-7 for a total of 41-7. In fourth is Jared Rhode of Port Clinton, Ohio, with a total of 39-4, and in fifth place is Elite Series pro Derek Remitz of Grant, Ala., with 39-3.
The winner of the pro division will earn a spot in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, provided he fishes the entire three-tournament Northern Open circuit.
Co-anglers are vying for a fully rigged Triton bass boat with a Mercury outboard, and leading the way is Mike Chunko of Alliance, Ohio.
Chunko is averaging 4.7 pounds per bass in his two-day total of 27-14. Behind him is Day One leader Jonathan Shoemaker of Elyria, Ohio, with 26-9; in third place is Pete Manns of Seville, Ohio, with 26-0; in fourth is Chris Van Vliet of Cleveland, Canada, with 25-10 and in fifth place is Ryan Smith of Galloway, N.J., with 25-4.
Tomorrow’s launch will be held at Battery Park Marina, 701 E. Water St. at 6:30 a.m. ET, with the weigh-in beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the Bass Pro Shops in Rossford, Ohio, located at 10000 Bass Pro Blvd. 43460. All events are free and open to the public.