Open: Local legend claims co-angler title

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Call him the Bard of Bass Fishing.

Ron Shakespeare, the local bass fishing ace with the hard-to-forget last name, won the co-angler division of the St. Croix Bassmaster Southern Open at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes on Friday, taking center stage in a field of 225 anglers from several dozen states and foreign countries.

Shakespeare, who lives nine miles down U.S. 192 in St. Cloud, finished with a two-day total of 19 pounds, 10 ounces. That was 2-10 more than his fishing partner Jerrod Albright of Kissimmee, who weighed six bass over two days for a 17-0 total. The friends held the top two spots after Day 1 of the derby, as well.

Shakespeare collected $24,820 with the win. He got a head start on the championship after catching a 13-8, three-bass limit on Thursday, including a 6-8 heavy that anchored his bag. His total dropped to 6-2 on Friday, but it was enough to fend of Albright and Company for the title.

“I came in today the same way I came into Day 1,” he said. “I just wanted to have fun.”

Shakespeare caught each of his bass on a lure called the ‘Dirty Albright’, named for his friend and fishing partner. They both used the lure throughout the Southern Open and said it was elemental to their success. Albright described it as an 8-inch trick style worm with Junebug, black, blue and Christmas Tree coloring. CPF Lures is the manufacturer.

“There were a few hundred pros on the water the past few days and they don’t miss an opportunity,” Shakespeare said. “You have to have something a little different to show the fish, and I was fortunate to have it to try out here this week.”

Donald Ciacchi of Cleveland, Ohio finished third among co-anglers with a two-day total of six bass weighing 16-14. J.W. Battle, Jr. Of Orlando was fourth with 15-7 and Oklahoma’s Darrin Mallow was fifth with 14-3.

The co-anglers fished for a total cash payout of $85,717, with the Top 40 competitors collecting a check.