Pittsburgh, Pa.—The BASS Federation Mid-Atlantic Divisional turned into payback time for Pennsylvania angler Darin Doll.
The 37-year-old York, Pa., electrician was competing in his first Divisional but it was the second time he had fished the Pittsburgh area. The first time Pittsburgh's Three Rivers bass gave him a hard time. "I was here five years ago in a classic (Pennsylvania BASS Federation championship) and never caught fish, but I didn't do my homework," admitted Doll. "This time I did my homework. I came out and did a lot of prefishing and got a lot of help from the locals."
The York County Bass Club member passed the Three Rivers test this time by catching three limits of smallmouth bass and finishing with 20 pounds, 7 ounces to win Mid-Atlantic Divisional champion honors.
Borrowing a jet boat from his friend, Jeff Lauer, allowed Doll to make a long trek through treacherous shallows and go where no conventional bass boat could run. All three days of the tournament, Doll ran about an hour and a half up theYoughiogheny River to catch his limits of smallmouth bass.
Doll believes the jet boat made a difference in this event. "I was running in 2 inches of water at times," he revealed.
The tournament champion alternated between a white 3/8-ounce Terminator double-bladed buzz bait and a 2-inch green pumpkin Mizmo tube on a 1/8-ounce jighead to catch all of his fish. The fish were holding near rocks and grass along the banks of the gravel shoals in 1 to 4 feet of water.
"I was retrieving the buzz bait real slow because the double blades allowed me to reel it slow and that was a key because it was keeping the lure in the strike zone longer," he said. "I was throwing the tube upstream, keeping my rod up high and letting the current take it down and the fish were eating it just like a natural bait (being swept down by the current).
The depth of the water determined which lure he would throw. In the skinniest water, Doll went with the buzz bait, but when he drifted through a deeper pool he would switch to the tube.
The first two days the water was low and clear and Doll found the most aggressive fish holding tight to the banks. "It didn't take much to catch them because they just clobbered my lures," he said. "But (the final day) the water came up from the rain we had and it got a little murky so the fish moved off and I didn't quite get the same bites as I had before. They were still coming up and hitting it but it was so murky that they just couldn't see it. They were going after the noise and missing that buzz bait a lot."
By winning this divisional and leading his Pennsylvania team, Doll and five other anglers who finished atop their state teams advance to the BASS Federation Nation Championship, the world championship for amateur bass fishing. Joining Doll at the Federation Nation Championship will be the following state winners: Shelton Walters, Delaware; Daniel Rodriguez, Maryland; Eric Woodward, New Jersey; Jeff Freeman, Virginia; and David McKinney, West Virginia.
The championship will be held Nov. 8-10 at Lake Tohopekaliga in Florida. The 55 contenders of this championship will be vying for six spots to the Bassmaster Classic set for Feb. 22-24 at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.
After trailing Virginia the first two days, the host Pennsylvania team rallied the final day to win the team competition of the divisional. The 12-man squad accumulated 115 pounds, 1 ounce to tow home the top prize—a $32,000 Triton Boats 186 bass boat rigged with a Mercury 150 h.p. outboard motor. "The first two days we were there," said Rick Anderson, Pennsylvania BASS Federation president. "We were 12 pounds out going into the last day and things got heated with a couple of the members in the meeting the night before but they put it together and we pulled it off."
The $1,000 Purolator Big Bass award went to Narrows, Va., angler Rodney Rice, who caught a 3-pound, 14-ounce smallmouth at 9 a.m. the final day. The fish bit a green pumpkin 5/16-ounce Eakins' Pro Model Jig and a green pumpkin Eakins' Pro Model Craw along a concrete wall about 4 feet deep on the Monongahela.