Fleshman Leads Bass Fishing Tournament
NORTHEAST, Md. — The individual competition was fairly close as the weigh-in moved along in the 2012 Bassmaster Federation Nation Mid-Atlantic Divisional this afternoon. A dozen anglers were in the 12-, 13- and 14-pound range with Kevin Waterman from Maryland claiming first place with 15 pounds, 14 ounces of dark green bass. And then Robby Fleshman from West Virginia stepped up to the scales.
The size of his stringer caught the crowd by surprise. At first there was a stunned silence, then cheers and clapping. His five-fish limit tipped the scales at 21 pounds, 5 ounces. That put him 5 pounds, 7 ounces out in front.
“I fished weeds and wood,” said the Mountain State angler immediately after carrying his fish to the release boat. “I was shallow — in the 4 to 5 foot range — and moved around a lot with a moving bait. I don’t want to say any more than that right now. I’ll tell you more on Friday afternoon.”
Asked if he had enough fish left for tomorrow and Friday, Fleshman replied that he was confident his fish would hold up as far as numbers are concerned but he didn’t know about the weather affecting his bite. He was clearly worried that warming temperatures and clearing skies would not be kind to him.
Fleshman also claimed the day’s Big Bass honors with a 5-pound, 12-ounce hawg.
In the state team competition, Delaware is in first place with 40 fish totaling 93 pounds, 7 ounces. That’s 5 pounds, 5 ounces in front of second place Zimbabwe. Members of the African team managed 34 keepers on waters many miles from their home. Holding onto the third slot is Virginia, with Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and West Virginia rounding out the first day standings, respectively.
The leader for each state team advances to next month’s 2012 Bassmaster Federation Nation Championship on Alabama’s Wheeler Lake, Oct. 25-27. Fleshman leads for West Virginia, and other leaders after today are Waterman, Maryland; Donald Lauer, Delaware; Craig Townsend, New Jersey; Darin Doll, Pennsylvania; Bryant Copley, Virginia; and Glen Fowler, Zimbabwe.
A total of 203 fish were brought to the scales. They weighed 511 pounds, 15 ounces for an average weight of about 2 1/2 pounds. Mid-Atlantic anglers caught 18 limits.
Most of the anglers reported tough fishing conditions, which they attributed to yesterday’s storms, especially the high winds. For the most part, the fish were scattered with an intermittent bite. A few anglers did report, however, a traditional Upper Chesapeake Bay early morning feast along with an afternoon famine.
No matter the tough conditions, it was hard to find an angler who wasn’t looking forward to tomorrow morning’s launch.