DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

ROJAS EDGES A-MART ON LAKE MICHIGAN

Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 06/29/2012
Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos by Dave Rush and Matt Pangrac

Green Bay, WI - After Aaron Martens brought the only 20 pound limit to the Green Bay, Wisconsin scales on Thursday to open up a two ounce lead over Dean Rojas, there were many more questions than answers. 

Martens divulged that the majority of his tournament leading stringer came sight fishing for spawning smallmouth within the first half hour of competition on Thursday, and although he had amassed over 100 offshore waypoints during practice on Lake Michigan, many of them were covered up with fellow competitors. 

“I don’t know how the lake is going to fish for the next few days,” admitted Martens.  “Everyone is fishing a three to four mile section, and every single spot has a boat on it.” 

Dean Rojas, who also boxed the majority of his weight early on Thursday, echoed Martens’ sentiments.  “Everybody is watching everybody else, so there are really no secrets…It will be very interesting to see what happens over the next day or two,” he stated.  

What happened on Friday was that the two tournament leaders flip-flopped, with Rojas taking the lead after bringing in the second heaviest limit of the day weighing 17-14 to boost his two day total weight to 37-12.  Martens settled in second, weighing a respectable 16-15 to settle 13 ounces behind Rojas with a total weight of 36-15. 

Dean Rojas“Before the tournament started, I had no aspirations of leading this thing,” admitted Rojas after the conclusion of the day two weigh-in.  “I’m just fishing the moment right now and trying to do the best with what I have.”

Rojas said that his morning on Lake Michigan started poorly.  He made a long run in choppy conditions fully intent on picking off several remaining spawning smallmouth that he located during the day on Thursday, but was unable to entice a single bite.  Fishless at 10:30, he made the move offshore and promptly lost a fish over three pounds. 

Sharing an area with Terry Scroggins, Rojas said that the jovial Floridian actually keyed him in to what he needed to be doing.  “We shared the spot the rest of the day and I was able to cull up to the weight that I brought in.” 

Catching about a dozen keepers on Friday, Rojas said that he left the fish biting. The key, he explained, was knowing that he would have to adapt in order to stay at or near the top of the leaderboard. 

“I started the day with a very open mind because I knew that the majority of my fish were burned up after yesterday.  I was planning on fishing deep, but I knew that it was just a matter of coming across the right area.  Eventually I figured it out.” 

Even though the field will be cut in half on Saturday, Rojas said that the fishing on Lake Michigan will be just as crowded.  “The guys who made the cut are all fishing around in the same area, so it’s not going to make a difference at all,” he allowed. 

“I don’t know how many fish are there or how long it’s going to last, but I’m going to try to catch as many fish out of there again tomorrow and hopefully see what happens on Sunday,” he concluded.  “It’s going to come down to getting quality bites and not losing them.  If you can fish 100%, you’re going to do pretty well.” 

2nd Place: Aaron Martens (16-15, 36-15)
Aaron Martens remained near the top of the leaderboard on Friday after managing a 16-15 limit to bring his two day total weight on Lake Michigan to 36-15.  After relying on spawning smallmouth on Thursday, the Alabama pro switched it up on Friday and targeted the offshore bite. 

Aaron MartensWhile he caught the same number of keepers on Friday that he did on Thursday, around 30, the number of kicker bites just weren’t there.   “I caught a lot more small fish and it seems like a lot of the guys who were fishing shallow decided to move out,” he said.  “Yesterday, I had several areas to myself and now it’s getting really crowded.”

In addition to cramped quarters, Martens said that he thinks the rest of the field is getting more dialed in to catching the Lake Michigan smallmouth.  “I think the other guys are figuring them out.  There are areas with lots of boats that have fish here and there.  The thing is that there aren’t a ton of fish.”

Like Rojas, Martens said that the fact that the field will be cut in half on Saturday doesn’t really affect him.  “Quite a few of the same guys will be in the same areas tomorrow,” he explained.

Noted for his prowess with light line and spinning tackle, Martens said that each bite is a lesson in patience.  “I haven’t timed it, but it takes minutes to land each fish.  These fish are like little marathon bass – they don’t give up.  When you think that they’re done, they’re only halfway done fighting,” he said.  “The smallmouth in the Great Lakes constantly have current and cool water.  With that combination, they’re really healthy and fit.  They jump a lot, pull drag, and make crazy runs.” 

Jonathon VanDam3rd Place: Jonathon VanDam (17-7, 35-2)
On Friday, Jonathon VanDam brought in his second limit surpassing the 17 pound mark to move into third place in the standings heading into the weekend.  The young Michigan pro said that his years of experience chasing Great Lakes smallmouth is paying off this week. 

“Whenever I fish the Great Lakes I always feel comfortable, so I don’t get spun out if things don’t happen right away,” he explained.  “With the wind speed, direction and current, there’s a lot more stuff that you have to take into account on the Great Lakes than you do on a reservoir.” 

After sight fishing on Thursday, VanDam said that he had to completely switch gears on Friday.  “I only caught six or seven today, but they were the right ones,” he explained.  “I caught a lot of short fish, but the good ones move in and out constantly.  That’s just how smallmouth are by nature.” 

Sharing an area with his uncle, Kevin VanDam, Jonathon said that they are the only two anglers keying on the area.  “I know that a lot of the other leaders are in a small area, because I drove around up there and there just wasn’t a spot to fish.  With that much pressure, those fish are likely to move.” 

4th Place: Brandon Palaniuk (17-0, 35-0)
Over the course of the first two days on Lake Michigan, Brandon Palaniuk has relied on the big bite to stay at the top of the leaderboard.  On Thursday, his 18 pound limit was anchored by a smallmouth approaching five pounds, and on Friday, he weighed-in the tournament’s heaviest bass weighing 5-10. 

Brandon PalaniukWith a limit weighing 17-0 on day two, the Idaho pro finished the day in 4th place with a total weight of 35 pounds.  The 5-10 smallmouth, which came early in the day, is the largest smallmouth that Palaniuk has ever weighed in during tournament competition.  

Palaniuk said that he returned to the same area that produced the bulk of his weight on Thursday and only caught one two pounder on the first pass.  “I kind of got nervous, but I knew that I didn’t get to fish the area really well because of the wind,” he explained.  “I turned around, got the right angle, and as soon as I got lined up I caught the big one.”

He filled out his limit in the area, and jumped off a smallmouth over four pounds before leaving the area to save it for the weekend.  “I didn’t want to beat it up that much,” he said.  “Hopefully, it’s a place that I can pull up to and get a few big bites each day fairly quickly.” 

5th Place: John Crews (17-11, 34-1)
After weighing a solid 16-1 limit on Thursday to finish the day in 19th place, John Crews jumped into the top five on Friday with another 17-11 to boost his two day total weight to 34-1.  The Virginia pro was the only angler in the top five who was able to bring in more weight on Friday than in the opening round. 

John Crews“The day started out kind of slow,” said Crews.  “I caught a two pounder and then a couple two and a half pounders.”  With three bass in the livewell, Crews made his next three bites count.  “They were all four pounders,” said Crews. 

Over the course of the day, he said that he caught nine or ten keepers and was able to “peck around” in several key areas.  “Ish (Monroe) and I are sharing one area, and you pass a lot of guys throughout the day.  It’s all pretty crowded out there.

“It’s not super easy,” continued Crews, who currently sits in 19th place in the TTAOY standings.  “I think that a lot of these fish are moving around.  The smallmouth definitely don’t behave like largemouth – one day they might be in one area and the next day they’re 500 yards away.  They really like to roam around. “

For the weekend, Crews expects the bite to become tougher.  “When you’ve got so many guys fishing around each other, a lot of the fish are just getting jacked on.  I feel like it will tighten up a little bit, and you’ll see a considerable drop in the weights depending on what direction the wind blows.” 
 
TTAOY Race
After relinquishing his lead in the Toyota Tundra Angler Of the Year point standings after the first day of competition to Todd Faircloth, Brent Chapman rebounded on Friday with a limit weighing 14-10 to finish the day in 23rd place and reclaim the TTAOY lead. 

Todd Faircloth, who finished in 3rd on Thursday, stumbled on Friday and only managed three fish weighing 7-8.  He fell to 36th in the standings and also dropped to third in the TTAOY standings, nine points behind Ott DeFoe and 31 points behind Chapman.     

 DAY 2 STANDINGS
 
 
PlacePRO ANGLERDay 1Day 2Total FishTotal Weight
FishWeightFishWeight
1 Dean Rojas 5 19-14 5 17-14 10 37-12
2 Aaron Martens 5 20- 0 5 16-15 10 36-15
3 Jonathon VanDam 5 17-11 5 17- 7 10 35- 2
4 Brandon Palaniuk 5 18- 0 5 17- 0 10 35- 0
5 John Crews 5 16- 6 5 17-11 10 34- 1
6 Greg Hackney 5 17- 0 5 17- 1 10 34- 1
7 Chris Zaldain 5 16-13 5 16-12 10 33- 9
8 Ishama Monroe 5 16-13 5 15- 5 10 32- 2
9 Yusuke Miyazaki 5 14- 8 5 17- 4 10 31-12
10 Ott DeFoe 5 16-11 5 14-11 10 31- 6
11 Tommy Biffle 5 17- 1 5 13-12 10 30-13
12 Terry Scroggins 5 16-13 5 13-14 10 30-11
13 Chris Lane 5 15-12 5 14-15 10 30-11
14 Takahiro Omori 5 12- 0 5 18- 1 10 30- 1
15 Russell Lane 5 12-12 5 17- 4 10 30- 0
16 Bernie Schultz 5 14-14 5 14-12 10 29-10
17 Stephen Browning 5 14-10 5 14-15 10 29- 9
18 Scott Ashmore 5 15-14 5 13-10 10 29- 8
19 James Niggemeyer 5 16- 9 5 12-13 10 29- 6
20 Kevin VanDam 5 13- 1 5 16- 5 10 29- 6
21 Scott Rook 5 15-13 5 13- 6 10 29- 3
22 David Walker 5 17-13 4 11- 4 9 29- 1
23 Brent Chapman 5 13-14 5 14-10 10 28- 8
24 Skeet Reese 5 16- 0 5 12- 6 10 28- 6
25 Shaw E Grigsby 5 13-13 5 14- 6 10 28- 3
26 Travis Manson 5 16- 7 5 11- 1 10 27- 8
27 Bill Lowen 5 14- 1 5 13- 6 10 27- 7
28 David Smith 5 13- 2 5 14- 5 10 27- 7
29 Stephen Kennedy 5 14- 2 5 13- 2 10 27- 4
30 Derek Remitz 5 12-11 5 14- 1 10 26-12
31 Boyd Duckett 5 10- 2 5 16- 6 10 26- 8
32 Rick Morris 5 11- 4 5 15- 2 10 26- 6
33 Dustin Wilks 5 11- 3 5 15- 1 10 26- 4
34 Kevin Ledoux 4 11- 0 5 15- 4 9 26- 4
35 Pete Ponds 5 13-15 4 11-12 9 25-11
36 Todd Faircloth 5 18- 3 3 7- 8 8 25-11
37 Fred Roumbanis 5 10- 3 5 14- 9 10 24-12
38 Kotaro Kiriyama 5 12- 2 5 12- 9 10 24-11
39 Rick Clunn 5 13-12 5 10-14 10 24-10
40 Matthew Herren 5 17-14 2 6- 8 7 24- 6
41 Matt Greenblatt 5 13- 8 3 10-10 8 24- 2
42 Alton Jones 5 12-12 4 11- 3 9 23-15
43 Bobby Lane 5 16- 8 4 7- 5 9 23-13
44 Mark Davis 5 14-14 3 8-15 8 23-13
45 Keith Combs 5 11- 9 5 12- 3 10 23-12
46 Edwin Evers 5 11- 2 4 10-11 9 21-13
47 Chad Griffin 5 12- 1 4 9- 8 9 21- 9
48 Mark Menendez 5 16- 9 2 5- 0 7 21- 9
49 Timmy Horton 5 13- 4 4 7-15 9 21- 3
50 Andy Montgomery 5 12-13 4 8- 5 9 21- 2
51 Gary Klein 5 12-10 4 8- 8 9 21- 2
52 Gerald Swindle 5 11- 1 5 10- 0 10 21- 1
53 Denny Brauer 3 7- 8 5 13- 8 8 21- 0
54 Matt Reed 4 10-13 4 9- 7 8 20- 4
55 Jared Lintner 5 16- 8 2 3- 9 7 20- 1
56 Fletcher Shryock 5 12-12 2 7- 3 7 19-15
57 Davy Hite 2 4- 3 5 15- 9 7 19-12
58 Randy Howell 5 9- 8 5 10- 2 10 19-10
59 Michael Iaconelli 4 6- 9 5 12- 5 9 18-14
60 Jason Williamson 5 8- 5 5 10- 8 10 18-13
61 Jason Quinn 5 15-12 1 2-14 6 18-10
62 Mike McClelland 4 8- 5 5 10- 3 9 18- 8
63 Kevin Short 5 14- 4 2 4- 4 7 18- 8
64 Jeff Kriet 5 10-12 3 7- 8 8 18- 4
65 Jamie Horton 5 12- 0 3 5-14 8 17-14
66 Nate Wellman 5 12- 1 2 5-11 7 17-12
67 Brent Broderick 1 2-13 5 14-14 6 17-11
68 Greg Vinson 5 9- 9 4 7-13 9 17- 6
69 Jeremy Starks 5 13- 6 2 3- 9 7 16-15
70 Kelly Jordon 5 12-13 2 3-12 7 16- 9
71 Brian Snowden 4 9- 1 3 7- 0 7 16- 1
72 Casey Ashley 5 12- 4 1 3- 5 6 15- 9
73 Russell Parrish 4 10- 8 1 5- 1 5 15- 9
74 Cliff Pace 0 0- 0 5 14-15 5 14-15
75 John Murray 3 6- 9 3 8- 5 6 14-14
76 Kenyon Hill 2 3-11 5 10-13 7 14- 8
77 Byron Velvick 2 4-10 5 9-10 7 14- 4
78 Kyle Fox 4 7- 1 3 7- 1 7 14- 2
79 Brandon Card 3 7- 7 3 6- 9 6 14- 0
80 Keith Poche 5 13-13     5 13-13
81 Cliff Prince 1 2- 0 5 11- 9 6 13- 9
82 Clark Reehm 5 9- 6 2 3-14 7 13- 4
83 Morizo Shimizu 3 12-12     3 12-12
84 Casey Scanlon 3 9- 0 1 3- 4 4 12- 4
85 Britt Myers 4 7- 2 2 5- 1 6 12- 3
86 Charlie Hartley 2 3- 4 2 8-11 4 11-15
87 Billy McCaghren 3 5-13 2 4- 4 5 10- 1
88 Cliff Crochet 2 3- 6 3 5- 6 5 8-12
89 J Todd Tucker 2 5- 0 2 3- 7 4 8- 7
90 Grant Goldbeck 3 7-12     3 7-12
91 Terry Butcher 3 5-10 1 2- 1 4 7-11
92 Jami Fralick 2 5- 3 1 2- 3 3 7- 6
93 Zell Rowland 0 0- 0 3 7- 4 3 7- 4
94 Bradley Roy 3 6- 8     3 6- 8
95 Michael Simonton 2 6- 0     2 6- 0
96 Marty Robinson 2 3-11     2 3-11
97 Jared Miller 1 2- 2     1 2- 2
98 Paul Elias 1 2- 1     1 2- 1
A complete story will be posted soon.