Shane Baertsch was finished fishing at 10 a.m. today, but even with four hours left to fish, the Montana angler had enough to take the Day 2 lead at the 2012 Cabela’s Bassmaster Federation Nation Western Divisional on Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
“I switched to fishing for bedding bass this morning after the wind died and caught two good smallmouth — 2 to 2 1/4 pounds each — off beds,” said Baertsch, a foreman at Montana Rail. “Those filled out my limit. I never threw anything back today.”
Baertsch’s total weight is 23 pounds, 15 ounces. Behind him are Wyoming’s Stephen Siddoway, 23-11; Idaho’s Josh Polfer, 23-10; and Arizona’s Andy Bravence, 23-8.
Baertsch worked a reaction bite yesterday, when it was good enough for a limit of 11 pounds, 14 ounces. He continued it this morning when the conditions changed. And as long as nobody gets to his spot — a 200-yard area — he thinks he could find another limit there tomorrow.
Baertsch tied for his team lead yesterday with Randy Gust, but now he has a 4 1/2-pound lead on Gust, which puts him in a good position for a qualification to the 2012 Cabela’s Bassmaster Federation Nation Championship in October on Alabama’s Wheeler Lake.
He joins several other team leaders with a 4-plus-pound margin. Andy Bravence of Arizona, Jason Hemminger of California, Frank Villa of Colorado, Franco Vallejos of New Mexico and Ryan Furno of Oregon all have strong leads in their states and could potentially leave tomorrow’s weigh-in with an invitation to the championship.
Other states have much tighter races. Mike Lavallee of Utah has 19 pounds, 14 ounces, only 10 ounces more than Tyler Swaney. Jeremy Percifield has a slim 5-ounce lead over Gene Batey Jr. in Washington’s competition. A weight of 3 pounds separates Idaho contenders Josh Polfer (leader) and Brent Shores, as well as Nevada contenders Timothy Klinger (leader) and David Naugle. In Wyoming, Stephen Siddoway is a little more than a pound ahead of Bill Golightly.
Don’t count anyone out yet, though, said Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Federation Nation senior manager. “One fish can make all the difference in the world,” he said, and the anglers have all day tomorrow to make it or break it.
The state team competition heated up today, with Washington making a huge leap from seventh place yesterday to second today with 159 pounds, 11 ounces total. That puts Washington less than 14 pounds behind two-day leader Wyoming. Utah now sits in third place with 151 pounds, 15 ounces. The winning state will take home a Triton/Yamaha/MotorGuide/Lowrance boat package worth $35,000.
On the whole, the competitors kept their fish today, rather than throwing some back earlier in the morning in hopes of getting a bigger bite. The no-cull rule has forced anglers to make their best predictions of what size fish lie in wait for them. If they guess wrong and throw what they think are small fish back, they could end up without a limit.
That happened multiple times on Day 1, but only a few contenders — David Naugle, Seth Garrison, Jake Cook and Bubba O’Neil — said they threw bass back today. None of those four filled out their limits, but they are all between places 20 and 29 overall after today.
The biggest fish today was a 4-pound, 13-ounce smallmouth caught by Mike Kramer of Utah. The only fish that came close to that one was a 4-7 caught by Andrew Sayles, California B.A.S.S. Federation Nation president. If Kramer’s bass holds up tomorrow, he’ll win the Cabela’s Big Bass award of $200 in gift certificates.
Competition resumes tomorrow when the full field launches at 5:30 a.m. MT at Buckboard Marina. Anglers in the Junior Bassmaster competition will launch then, too, and the weights caught by those 20 young anglers will contribute to the states’ total team weight. The weigh-in will take place at 2 p.m. MT. Find photos and video of the weigh-in tomorrow evening on Bassmaster.com.
2012 Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Title Sponsor: Cabela’s
2012 Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Official Sponsors: Toyota, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha
2012 Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Supporting Sponsor: BOOYAH, Humminbird, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Owner, Simms
2012 Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Clothing Partner: Simms