Big Erie Smallmouth

Vermillion, Ohio — Retired policeman Don Fowler demonstrated he's still got the knack for piecing clues together during the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Northern Divisional at Lake Erie.

The 55-year-old retired detective sergeant of the Michigan State Police solved Lake Erie's waters today by weighing in a five-fish limit totaling 22 pounds, 12 ounces to take the lead in the divisional. Fowler is a member of the Tear Drop Bass Club and is competing in his first divisional.

His first day of competition went according to plan as Fowler caught smallmouth all day long at depths of 20 feet or more. "Yesterday was my best day of practice and today was equal to yesterday," said Fowler. "I picked up the pattern at the end of the second day of practice and honed in good on it yesterday."

The Michigan angler never had to make any adjustments to his pattern today, even though he is fishing out of his jurisdiction. "I never switched baits, weight or line all day," said Fowler "I've fished northern Erie before whenever I could get out on the Detroit River but that's not very many times."

The Northern Divisional features two competitions combined into one event. Anglers from eight states are vying for the top spot in their team standings to qualify for a berth to the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship, the premier event of amateur bass fishing. Their daily catches are also counted towards their team's score as the eight states compete for bragging rights and a top prize of a Triton Boats TR-186 bass boat and Mercury 150 h.p. outboard rig with a total value of $32,000.

Minnesota set the pace in the team competition by catching a cumulative weight of 115 pounds, 6 ounces. Michigan is second at 103-10. In addition to Fowler, other state leaders include Larry Coleman, Illinois; Ron Fabiszak, Indiana; Tom Williams, Iowa; John Zvorak, Minnesota; Steve Smith, Ohio; Steven Strope, South Dakota; and Chad Johnson, Wisconsin.

The team champions and the top state of the Northern Division will be determined at the conclusion of this three-day event on Friday.

Daily launches and weigh-ins are being held at Red Clay on the River Restaurant. Weigh-ins begin at 3 p.m. EST each day. 

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