NORTH EAST, Md.— The home field advantage helped Michael Sentore of Gloucester City, N.J., win the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Regional on the Upper Chesapeake Bay with a three-day tally of 59 pounds, 7 ounces.
A home field advantage is often a curse in a bass tournament because an angler can fall into the trap of fishing places where he caught bass in the past instead of where they are at the present moment. Sentore, who works in the commercial water treatment industry, easily avoided the curse to claim the $6,200 top prize.
Sentore said that he fishes the Upper Chesapeake every weekend and was able to run to various places during the tournament that he knew were holding bass. He also knew how to take advantage of the tidal fluctuation.
"My basic pattern was to run up the North East River in the morning and fish docks and wood cover on low tide," Sentore said. "When the tide came in later in the day, I fished grass flats in the bay."
Sentore's pattern grew stronger every day. He caught seven bass on the first day of the tournament, twice that many on the second day and 20 bass today.
When Sentore fished docks and wood cover, he flipped a 1/2-ounce Riot Instigator Jig dressed with a Riot Tantrum soft plastic trailer. On the grass flats a 1/2-ounce Riot Recon Bladed Jig dressed with a Riot Streaker swimbait did the trick.
Tim Carini of Marietta, Ga., claimed second place in the boater division with 55-13 and earned $5,000. He brought in five-bass limits of more than 20 pounds on the first and third day of the tournament, but managed only four bass on the second day. Carini caught his bass on shallow grass flats with a 5-inch Big Easy Swimbait Texas rigged on a hook that had a 1/8-ounce weight molded to it.
"I didn't fish my spot right yesterday," Carini said. "I didn't compensate for the east wind."
Third place and $4,000 went to Rick Hamer of Charleston, W.V., for his tally of 52-6. Hamer advanced to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship last year as a non-boater. He does so this year as a boater.
Will Smith of Moncks Corner, S.C., collected $3,100 for winning the non-boater division. He claims he had to fish differently every day because each of his three boater partners took him to different types of bass water.
Tournament champion Michael Sentore caught the biggest bass brought in by a boater. It weighed 5-15 and earned him the $500 Big Bass Award. The non-boater Big Bass award of $250 went to Kevin Combs of Addison, Vt., for a 6-6 largemouth he caught on a Missile Baits D Stroyer flipping bait.
The top 35 boaters and non-boaters who qualified to fish today from the previous two days of competition also received cash prizes. Seventeen eastern states and the province of Ontario brought teams to the tournament. The teams competed to win top state honors while each angler hoped to qualify for the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan.
Today the top boater and non-boater from each state and the province of Ontario received an invitation to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, which takes place at Lake Hartwell, South Carolina, on October 19-21.
"At the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, these anglers have an opportunity to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic and the professional Bassmaster Elite Series," said B.A.S.S. Nation tournament director Jon Stewart.
"It's what dreams are made of."