ERIE, Pa. — Crowded waters hindered his plan, but Tyler Williams of Belgrade, Maine, made the right adjustments and caught a limit of 16 pounds, 8 ounces. After two days, he leads the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Northeast Regional at Lake Erie with a total weight of 33-8.
After placing second on Day 1 with 17 pounds, Williams enters the final round an ounce ahead of Maine B.A.S.S. Nation teammate and Day 1 leader Keith Poulin.
“I was on (Lake Erie) again and my area got filled with boats, so I just started running to other spots that I had marked,” Williams said. “I didn’t even know if they were any good or not, but I was able to scrape up four fish.”
Williams ran 18 miles to the lake’s New York end and fished between 20 and 40 feet. He prefers that area because he found it holds more distinct bottom structure, where he could make more targeted presentations.
“I like isolated rockpiles,” Williams said. “If you have an area that has nothing and then you have an isolated rockpile, there’s probably a fish on it.”
Relying heavily on his Garmin Panoptix LiveScope, Williams said he saw two of his bass before casting to them. Showing the fish a variety of baits was his key to success.
“I was mixing it up between a drop shot with a 1/2-ounce weight and a Berkley MaxScent Flat Worm in green pumpkin color, a tube and a Ned rig,” he said.
With all of his baits, a slow, meticulous presentation was important, but Williams stressed the need for balance.
“Sometimes, I’d slow down too much and I’d catch a drum (bycatch species),” he said. “There was a fine line; a sweet spot in the presentation.”
Hailing from Lisbon, Maine, Poulin had another good day and added 15-7 to the 18-pound limit he caught Wednesday and sits in second with 33-7. Like Williams, Poulin also found only four bites and put them all in the boat.
“That’s all you can do, as long as you get four in the boat,” Poulin said. “It was a good early bite. I had two good fish and two that I really would have liked to have gotten rid of.”
Poulin again ran to the lake’s New York end and fished 12 to 15 miles from takeoff. He spent his time drop shotting in 20 to 35 feet, where he focused on seams, breaks and rock irregularities.
“I tried some different stuff in the afternoon, just to see if I could get a bite because I went four hours without anything,” Poulin said. “I came inside (Presque Isle Bay) the last hour, but I couldn’t get rid of my smallest fish.”
Michael Comeau of Alburgh, Vt., added a 15-pound limit to his Day 1 catch of 16-7 and held steady in third place with 31-7. Returning to the area he fished Wednesday, Comeau found that Thursday required an adjustment.
“I had to move out a little deeper,” he said. “I seemed to catch fish either really shallow, like 15 feet, or out in 30 feet — I couldn’t catch them in that mid-depth,” he said.
Fishing a drop shot with a Berkley MaxScent Flat Worm, Comeau found the day’s south wind challenging for his drifts. Increasing his weight size to a 3/8-ounce helped him control his presentations and sack up his limit quickly.
“Yesterday, I had all my fish by 8:30; today I had an earlier draw, so I got there 20 minutes early and had them all by 8 o’clock,” Comeau said. “After that, I can’t catch them.”
Zack Hajecate of Wallkill, N.Y., is in the lead for Big Bass honors with his 5-14.
Johann Vanwoerden of East Haddam, Conn., maintained his lead in the nonboater division with a two-day total of 22 pounds. Having lost his third keeper at the boat, Vanwoerden added two fish for 7-14 to his first day’s limit of 14-2.
Employing the same technique he used on Day 1, Vanwoerden caught his fish by dragging a green pumpkin/gold flake tube. Using his rod tip to impart action, he’d dance his tube up and over any bottom structure he detected.
Dayton Lilly of Hope Valley, R.I., holds the Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 5-13.
In tomorrow’s final round, 21 boaters and 21 nonboaters compete for the top prize and a spot in the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on the Ouachita River in Monroe, La., Nov. 3-5.
In the state team competition, the New York B.A.S.S. Nation accumulated a two-day total of 319 pounds, 2 ounces and won the top prize of $6,750. The Maine B.A.S.S. Nation took second with 318-2 and won $4,050. Finishing third with 311-5, the Massachusetts B.A.S.S. Nation won $2,700.
Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 5:30 a.m. ET at Presque Isle State Park, Perry Monument. The weigh-in will be held back at the monument at 1:30 p.m. Per Pennsylvania state regulations, boaters will bring in a limit of four bass each day.
The tournament is being hosted by the Erie Sports Commission.