Nation: Florida wins Eastern

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Stephanie Blevins

NORTH EAST, Md. — On the first day of the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Regional on the Upper Chesapeake Bay, South Carolina, Delaware and Florida separated themselves from the field of 18 teams by 20 pounds or more. It seemed inevitable that one of them would claim the championship after today’s weigh-in, as less than 7 pounds separated these three teams.

The South Carolina team, which started today in first place with 162 pounds, 3 ounces, fell to third with a two-day total of 263-15. Delaware held onto second place with 272-14. The Florida team leaped from third to first place with a dominating total of 330-7.

The award for the Florida team was a Skeeter TZX190 bass boat and trailer outfitted with a Yamaha SHO150 outboard, a Minn Kota 70 Edge trolling motor and a Lowrance Hook 5 sonar/GPS unit.

“It’s about time,” said Florida B.A.S.S. Nation President David Drigger as he accepted the certificate. “We worked hard for this.”

Although the Florida team was far from home, Drigger said Chesapeake Bay is similar to the St. Johns River and other tidal waters they fish in their home state. The shallow hydrilla and milfoil grassbeds, the hot weather and the big largemouth bass that thrive in Chesapeake Bay also made the Floridians feel right at home.

“I didn’t ask the guys to share information, but they did it on their own,” Drigger said. “That really helped with our comeback today.”

Now that the team championship has been settled, the tournament will continue one more day to determine the individual winners. The field will be cut to the Top 35 boaters and the Top 35 co-anglers overall. The Top 3 boaters and co-anglers from each of the 18 teams that did not make the Top 35 cut will also compete.

New Jersey team member Michael Sentore climbed from fourth place Wednesday to lead the field today with a total of 37-11.

“I caught about 15 keepers today, which is about twice as many as I caught yesterday,” Sentore said. “I fish here almost every weekend. I’m just running spots that I know hold bass. Hopefully, I’ll get enough bites tomorrow to seal the deal.”

For leading the boater division on the second day of the tournament, Sentore earned the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award of $250 in the boater division.

Georgia team angler Tim Carini, who topped the boater division yesterday with 22-1 dropped to second place with to 35-1. Carini caught so many bass on the first day that he came in 45 minutes early with the heaviest five-bass limit of the day. Today he found the fishing to be much tougher.

“It was a grind today,” Carini said.

Kyle Fox from the Florida team is third in the boater division with 34-12.

James Topmiller III from Florida's team leads the co-angler division with 22-1. The co-angler daily limit is three bass. Topmiller collected the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award of $250 in merchandise.

After today’s weigh-in, one boater and one co-angler from each state team will advance to the 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan at Lake Hartwell, South Carolina, on October 19-21. At stake will be a chance to earn a berth in the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, also on Lake Hartwell, March 16-18. Friday’s weigh-in begins at 2 p.m. ET at Anchor Marina in North East, Md.

The event is hosted by Cecil County, Md.

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