Weener works way to top

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Jesse Weener is going to make sure his partner’s boat has plenty of gas in it for the final day of the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Divisional at Lake Monroe.

Paired with Rich Lindgren of Minnesota Thursday, Weener caught two keepers weighing 5 pounds, 11 ounces and had an anxious moment when Lindgren’s boat ran out of gas within sight of the check-in at Fourwinds Marina.

“We just sat there and waived somebody down,” said Weener, who was able to bring his fish to the scales on time and finished the day in first place with 15-5.

The 32-year-old machinist from Holland, Mich., had never fished on Lake Monroe until he prefished the reservoir on the Fourth of July weekend.

Weener admitted he didn’t learn much about the lake then due to the heavy boat traffic.

During this week’s practice, Weener averaged one to two keepers a day. “We were catching them on everything in practice, said Weener, who caught his fish on spinnerbaits, topwater lures and crankbaits.

The Macatawa Bay Bass Club member is fishing as a co-angler in this event but he has been able to catch his keepers mainly from his spots. He has also been able to fish his strength, which he describes as “slow, finesse-type stuff.”

“I got a few less bites Thursday, but it has been a battle both days,” said Weener, who got four bites Thursday and boated the two keepers and one short fish.

Competing in his fourth divisional, Weener is proving that a co-angler has just as good of a chance of winning this event as a boater. “I try to do a little bit different than what they are doing,” he said. “I try not to throw the same thing if I am following them.”

If Weener finishes as the top angler on his Michigan team he will qualify for the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship (BNC). Other state leaders hoping to make the BNC are Ed Rounsaville of Indiana; JJ Patton, Iowa; Brad Gravenhof, Minnesota; Danny Ryan, Ohio; Troy Diede, South Dakota; and Josh Wiesner, Wisconsin. 

The highlight of the day was the four keepers weighing 13-10 (the biggest bag of the tournament so far) caught by the Illinois high school duo of Dailus Richardson and Trevor McKinney. They are leading the Illinois team but are ineligible to qualify for the BNC.

However, they can earn tournament champion honors if they weigh in another big sack Friday. 

Weener also won the $250 Livingston Lures Leader award for finishing as the tournament leader after Day 2.

Minnesota has taken over the lead in the team competition with 82 pounds, followed by the host Indiana squad with 75-3.

The Northern Divisional contenders will launch for the final competition day at about 6:45 a.m. Friday at Fourwinds Resort. The final weigh-in will begin at 2:45 p.m. at the same location.