Mid-Atlantic Divisional: Still wide open

BURLINGTON, N.J. —The final day of the 2011 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Mid-Atlantic Divisional presented by Yamaha and Skeeter is upon us. Under ordinary conditions we’d be looking at only a few anglers who could win. But not here, not this time. The weights have been so low that at least a dozen — maybe more — anglers could win this thing going away.

To be fair, New Jersey looks to be in pretty good shape in the team competition. They’re weight of 58 pounds, 3 ounces is far and away heavier than Pennsylvania’s 31 pounds, 3 ounces. But this is a tough event. Anyone can stumble; anyone can find them. And that’s all it would take to shake things up at the state level. Click here to view the Day One or Day Two team standings.

The individual angler competition is different. It’s a real horse race in all six states to see who goes to the Nationals and has a shot a fishing the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.

Consider these facts:

Delaware — 10 ounces separate leader, Chris Price, from challenger Greg Alexander. And third place Mike Morris is only 15 ounces off the mark.

Maryland — 7 ounces separate Paul Gietka from Ryan Kephart.

New Jersey — There’s less than 2 pounds standing between Eric Bennett in first place and second place Scott Weiland. Behind them is Chris Smith. He’s only 2 pounds, 13 ounces away from the lead. And even fourth place, Froggy Kolasa has a shot. He needs 4 pounds, 3 ounces to win his state.

Pennsylvania — Scott Sirakos is holding a 1-pound, 13-ounce lead over Ron Taylor, hardly commanding. Third place, Chris Epsicopo, is back a ways but even he has a chance if he can make up a 2-pound, 15-ounce deficit.

Virginia — It’s about the same here. Mike Cumberledge is holding on by the skin of his teeth with a 1-pound, 15-ounce lead over Jeffrey Meador. And Brian Calloway is only 6 ounces behind him.

West Virginia — 15 ounces stand between Hobart Butcher and Chris Morrison.

The overall winner is just as close. Eric Bennett is leading but Scott Weiland (New Jersey), Hobart Butcher (West Virginia), Chris Smith (New Jersey) and Paul Gietka (Maryland) are all within easy striking distance. Several other guys could win it if they get on the right fish.

“I’ve caught mine by covering a lot of water with ChatterBaits and jigs,” says challenger Scott Weiland. “The real problem, for me at least, has been to keep them hooked. Every day I’ve lost a good fish. They’re just not aggressive and aren’t taking it very well. It’s hard to get a good hookset.

“This is almost anybody’s tournament at this point. All it’ll take is finding the right spot and picking off a couple of decent fish — not giants, just decent. If that happens you’ll be able to make up a lot of ground quickly.”