For an exclusive audio interview with winner Dave Mansue, click here.
CECIL COUNTY, Md. Dave Mansue of Robbinsville, N.J., earned his first BASS victory at the season-opening Bassmaster Northern Open presented by Oakley on the Chesapeake Bay. Mansue's three-day total of 47-pounds, 6-ounces was enough to hold off Curtis Richardson of Belleville, Canada by exactly six pounds.
"This is incredible," Mansue said. "I've been fishing competitively for 10 years and it feels great to be able to say I'm a champion now."
Mansue only managed three fish weighing 10 pounds, 13 ounces on Saturday, but it was enough to maintain his lead over Day One leader Frank Scalish of Cleveland, Ohio. Scalish brought a single fish weighing 5-pounds, 10-ounces to the scales to finish third with a three-day total of 39-10. As Mansue predicted after Friday's weigh-in, he took advantage of a strong current to claim his first victory.
"I said I'd need the current, and it was there today," he said. "There were four places I had planned to fish and I kept rotating through them trying to get a bite. I probably went around four or five times today."
Mansue was working a 3/4-ounce green pumpkin football head jig with a green pumpkin Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw trailer along rocky outcroppings and boulders to bag his fish. The current played a big part in his win, and he was relatively secluded.
"I know there were a lot of boats piled up in a few places, but I thought if I could get away form them I'd stand a better chance," he said. "As far as I could tell, there was no one else doing what I was doing."
For his win, Mansue took home $49,114 and sits atop the Northern Opens points standings. At the end of the third Northern Open, the top seven point winners will qualifying for the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series season and the top two earn berths in the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, set for Feb. 19-21 on Lay Lake out of Birmingham, Ala. The complete standings can be found at Bassmaster.com.
Richardson thought he had the event won because when he talked to Mansue during Saturday, Mansue said he hadn't gotten a bite yet, which was true; Mansue's first fish came at 12:30.
Richardson was using a custom drop shot bait made by a company in Ontario, Canada. The bait is called the Slammer, a goby-minnow hybrid bait that he threw to bridge pilings and underwater points. Richardson brought in the second biggest bag on Saturday weighing 14 pounds, 11 ounces for a three-day total of 41-06.
"I thought I had it wrapped up," he said. "I lost two fish today, but I lost some yesterday, too. I think I let the tournament slip through my fingers yesterday. But everyone lost fish, the current put a bow in your line that made it hard to get a good hookset. If I had executed better I would've had it, I think."
A pair of Bassmaster Elite Series pros finished in the top 10: Kotaro Kiriyama of Moody, Ala., was fifth; and 2006 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Mike Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J., was eighth.
In the co-angler division, Moo Bae of West Friendship, Md., won a Triton/Mercury boat package valued at $32,000 after he dominated the field by nearly seven pounds. His three-day total was 27 pounds, 1 ounce.
Bae was throwing a black, red and neon Chompers tube on a 1/8-ounce shaky head to debris out in open water.
Louis Croce of Morton, Pa., finished second in the co-angler division with a 20-02 total, and Dan Warczok of Cohocton, N.Y., was third with 19-11.
The next stop in the three-tournament Northern Open division is the Aug. 20-22 event on Lake Champlain out of Plattsburgh, N.Y.
The Cecil County Office of Economic Development & Tourism is the tournament host.
Official Sponsors of the 2009 Bassmaster Opens: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, BOOYAH Baits, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Marine.
Supporting Sponsors of the 2009 Bassmaster Opens: Bass Pro Shops, Triton Boats.