Laconia, N.H. — A Connecticut angler and his state team claimed the top two honors of the BASS Federation Nation Eastern Divisional today at Lake Winnipesaukee.
After moving up to second place yesterday with one of the heaviest bags of the day, Matthew Desimone added another limit today to his three-day catch to finish as the Eastern Divisional overall champion with 15 bass weighing 34 pounds, 3 ounces.
By winning this final divisional of the year and leading his team, Desimone and seven other anglers who finished atop their state or provincial teams advance to the BASS Federation Nation Championship, the world championship for amateur bass fishing. Joining Desimone at the Federation Nation Championship will be the following state and provincial winners: Glen Bruce, Maine; Eric Femiak, Massachusetts; Joe Matt, New York; Scott Parker, New Hampshire; Mike Desforges, Ontario, Canada; Leo Bevelaqua, Rhode Island; and Skip Sjobeck, Vermont.
The championship will be held Nov. 3-8 at Milford Lake. The 55 contenders of this championship will be vying for six spots to the Bassmaster Classic set for Feb. 20-22, 2009 at the Red River in Louisiana.
Competing in his first divisional, Desimone caught a five-bass limit each day to climb from 19th place the first day to the top spot. Multi-day tournaments on Lake Winnipesaukee are usually won with limits of smallmouth so Desimone targeted brown bass every day of practice and during the competition. "I didn't catch a single largemouth in 10 days of fishing up here," he said.
Relying on a green Lunker City Rascal finesse worm and a watermelon/gold flaked Yamamoto Cut Tail, Desimone worked the lures on drop shot rigs in deep water. The 35-year-old gas company worker from East Berlin, Conn., used a 1/4-ounce weight tied on 10-pound Power Pro line with a 6-pound fluorocarbon leader. He worked his drop shot rig with a 7-foot Quantum Super Lite spinning rod and Shimano spinning reel.
The weather changed daily as wind and a cold front passed through the area the last two days, but Desimone noticed his fish in deeper water were unaffected by the changing conditions. "I caught most of my fish in areas with rocks and pretty sheer drops," said Desimone. The Silver City Bassmasters member took all of his fish from depths of 30 to 35 feet.
His most productive area each day was a rocky point that narrowed into a rock pile on one end. "On the south side of it there were rocks that dumped into 35 to 40 feet of water," he described. "Those fish were on the drop right on the bottom."
After a windy second day, Desimone encountered sunny skies and slick water today. The bite had slowed down, but he still coaxed some fish into biting. "I had to be more patient today, the bite was a lot slower," said Desimone. "I didn't do anything differently all three days though. The big thing I found as the tournament went on was that I had to soak the worm. I just had to leave it down there on an arch that I saw on my sonar. I had to wait for them to eat it. Most of the time they didn't, but sometimes they did."
The tournament champion admitted he did have to fish deeper than what he was fishing in practice. "The last couple of days of practice I figured I could get some better bites deeper so I just kept moving out throughout the week of practice," he said.
Desimone anchored the Connecticut team that won its second straight divisional. The 12-man squad accumulated 286 pounds, 7 ounces to take home the top prize — a $30,000 Skeeter bass boat/Yamaha outboard rig. "The guys on our team were fishing deeper fish than a lot of the other teams were," said Paul Carter, Connecticut Federation Nation president and a member of the winning state team. "We had six people prefishing here for two weeks and they shared information with the rest of the guys who just came up this week."
The $1,000 Purolator Big Bass award went to New Hampshire angler Scott Parker who caught a 6-pound, 4-ounce largemouth at 11 a.m. the first day. Parker was flipping a watermelon/red-flaked 1/2-ounce Arky spider jig along dock about 10 feet deep on the main lake when the big fish bit.