Thursday, September 8, 2016

How Mike Williams and Duane Won the CSFL National Classic XX and Regional Cup 2016

Two wins in one!
By Luigi De Rose

Friends and family rejoice as the CSFL Classic and Regional Cup
comes home to Curve Lake First Nations. (Photo: Dave Chong)
Labour day weekend marks the unofficial last weekend of summer but for bass anglers in southern Ontario it is the CSFL National Classic and Regional Cup.

The CSFL tournament circuit is made up of four divisions plus a Canadian Pro Bass Tour that offers individual anglers and two-person teams an opportunity to qualify for the Regional Cup. The Regional was held Friday September 2nd, prior to the Classic weekend, to thin the field to the best 50 to compete for the National Classic that was held Saturday, September 3rd and Sunday, September 4th on Stoney Lake, Lakefield, Ontario.

Competitors must do well in the Regional to have an opportunity to fish on the weekend and that is what eventual winners Duane Jacobs and Mike Williams did to start off the long weekend with a bang!

With years of experience on Stoney Lake, the team of Jacob and Williams ventured out along with the other 72 boats to discover the unseasonably cool temps had made the bass skittish. “We tried to hook a few big smallmouths in the morning during the Regional but they wouldn’t go.” declared Jacobs a 42-year-old construction worker. “On Stoney, you need a mix of smallmouth and largemouth to do well. Last year, we won the Stoney Lake Combo (Walleye and Bass) tournament so we knew what kind of fish was needed to win.” stated Williams, a 39 year old guide. The bite never really picked up until mid-morning as they targeted largemouth hiding under shallow lily pads and slop. With the bites coming more frequently, the duo realized they had a shot of winning the Friday tournament.

“By 1 O’clock, we decided to focus on winning the Regional and hit our “A” water hard.” explains Duane. Having culled up several times, they eventually brought in 16.9 pounds of largemouth.  Luckily, they caught what they did as the team of Dave Chong and Oliver Grigull sacked 16.8 pounds and narrowly missed overtaking them.With $1 500 and medals for the win, the two Curve Lake First Nations residents focus on the National Classic.

Mike and Duane always keep it fun.
(Photo: Duane Jacobs)
Saturday morning had them throwing topwaters to target the lake’s chucky smallmouth but to no avail.  With the morning cool and the sky blue bird, Mike and Duane determined that they had to continue pitching Punisher jigs to pads and weed mats in areas that had a hard bottom in six feet of water and shallower.

“It seems the hard, rocky bottom held the heat and this sucked in the bass from the surround areas. Our best water seemed to replenish each day.,” acknowledged Mike, “Duane threw the frog a bit and other baits but the fish were either small or never bit well. We had to just stick with the jig.”

Sticking with the Punisher Jig paid off with a Saturday weight of 14.75 pounds. Their two-day limit of 31.65 pounds was enough to remain in the lead but the Top 10 had shuffled considerably and several strong teams were closing in.

Sunday morning was cool and crisp which worried Mike and Duane. They decided to abandon their topwater smallmouth and focus the entire day on throwing jigs to grass. “We just kept at it. I had a heavy action 7’2” rod in my hand all day. We both used Punisher jigs. I had a Berkley Chigger Craw as a trailer and Mike had a plastic chuck on his jig.” explained Duane. Sticking to natural brown coloured jigs seemed to pay off best. As they filled their livewell, it became evident that the quality and size of the largemouth was shrinking.

“Compared to the beginning of the event, were many 3 and 4 pound bass were boated these spots only produce 2 pound bass on Sunday.” recalled Mike.  To make the final weigh-in more entertaining, Williams and Jacob were asked to come last to the scales and the fear of life was put into them right before they came to the stage.

“When we heard that Chris Monk and Greg Elcich weighed 19 pounds. We turned to each other and told ourselves that we’ll have to settle for second place. We have countless second place finishes and we were expecting it to happen again.” explained Mike. Luckily, they had just enough scoring 43 pounds a mere 0.05 of a pound ahead of Monk and Elcich. As the event came to an end, Mike Williams and Duane Jacobs won two tournaments by the skin of their teeth.

The total haul for Mike and Duane was $10 000 for being Classic Champs plus free 2017 entry to any Division for being All Canadian Champs. These awards plus the $1 500 for winning the Regional Cup made for a rewarding start to September.

A truly magical weekend not only for CSFL celebrating their 20th Anniversary but for two boyhood friends who achieved their most significant win all in front of scores of friends and family.

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