Posted by Z3 MEDIA TEAM on 08/25/2013

Story by Matt Pangrac and Dave Rush - Photos by Dave Rush

Detroit, MI – The final day of the 2013 Elite Series season had all the makings of a classic right from the start.  Leading the tournament entering Sunday was veteran Mark Davis, who had already fished his way into the 2014 Bassmaster Classic with a strong performance on the Detroit River.  With the Classic qualification taken care of, Davis had his sights set on earning his sixth Bassmaster victory, the last coming in 2005.  

Starting the day in 2nd place was Alabama’s Chris Lane, who, like Davis, entered the week in desperate need of a strong performance to earn an invitation to the 2014 Classic in his backyard next February.  After leading the tournament on Thursday, Lane was looking to finish the tournament the way that he started it. 

Newly crowned Toyota Angler Of the Year, Aaron Martens, started Sunday in 3rd place.  With the pressure of the TAOY race behind him, Martens was looking to capture the third Elite Series title of his career and lift the TAOY trophy and Elite Series trophy on consecutive days.  

In the end, Lane proved to be victorious.  In front of a raucous crowd at the Lake St. Clair Metropark, the 2012 Bassmaster Classic champion notched the first Elite Series victory of his career after crossing the stage with a limit of Lake Huron smallmouth weighing 19-11 for a four day total weight of 82-4.  

Mark Davis’ high risk/high reward pattern that had carried him through the first three days on Lake Erie wasn’t able to get him to the finish line on Sunday.  Davis brought just four bass to the scales on the final day weighing 13-3.  He finished the tournament in 2nd place with 76-13.  

Aaron Martens never even made it to the weigh-in stage on Sunday, as he suffered a catastrophic breakdown as he began the arduous 60+ mile run from the fertile smallmouth waters of Lake Erie to the check-in point at the mouth of Lake St. Clair.   With the other final day competitors fishing Lake Erie already headed back to the weigh-in, Martens was unable to hitch a ride and ended up releasing an estimated 20 pound limit of smallmouth back into Erie.  He finished the tournament in 12th place with a total weight of 62-2.  

Sunday’s biggest mover was Alton Jones, who brought in the heaviest limit of the day weighing 22-3 to jump into 3rd place with a total weight of 76-6.  

The 5 Final Day Facts from the Detroit River:
Tournament: Bassmaster Elite Series (August 22-25)
Location:  Lake St. Clair/Detroit River – Detroit, Michigan    
Winner:  Chris Lane (82-4)
2nd Place: Mark Davis (76-13)
Total weight separating 1st place from 2nd place: 5-7

1st Place: Chris Lane (22-9, 17-1, 22-15, 19-11: 82-4)
What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“I was sitting on the lake side of the mouth of the river that was flowing from Lake Huron into the St. Clair River.  I was fishing where the current was flowing down out of Lake Huron into the St. Clair River.  During practice, I fished that entire river.  I tried fishing the back of the St. Clair River where it feeds into Lake St. Clair, but the fish were all between 2 and 3 pounds.  When I fished the mouth of Lake Huron, though, there were 4 and 5 pounders.  As I got further down the river, it seemed like I caught smaller fish. 

“I figured out that the fish were stacked up where the current came out in the mouth of the river.  I was targeting the cans and the sea walls, and the fish were loaded right there.  The current that slammed into the cans and seawalls just brought tons of bait, and the bait was a huge key.

“Three guys that made the top twelve, including myself, were fishing in Huron, so that tells you right there it was the right place to be.  I was targeting little pebble rock piles and grass.  They weren’t really big rock piles and boulders like a lot of the guys were fishing.  The main depth I was fishing was anywhere between 5 and 20 feet during the first two days, but the fish seemed to be in about 30 feet of water the last two days.   I also caught a few really nice fish extremely shallow this week.” 

What were your primary baits and tactics?
“My primary bait was a 4” soft plastic shad style bait fished on a drop-shot with a ¼ ounce drop-shot weight and a 1-foot leader.  As I got into heavier current, I’d switch to a heavier drop-shot weight to make sure that it kept bouncing off the bottom.  I also used a ¾-ounce spinnerbait and a jerkbait, so I used it all to win this event.  Most of the fish that I weighed-in this week, though, came on the shad style plastic and the spinnerbait.  I really don’t think that the lure was the key to winning this tournament as much as it was the area that I found that was holding heavier fish.

“I fished the drop-shot on 6-pound-test Stren 100% Fluorocarbon line and a 7’ All Star spinning rod with an Abu Garcia Revo Premier 20 reel.  When I was throwing the spinnerbait, I used an All Star ASR Series 7’1” Fast Action Heavy Power rod with 15-pound-test Stren Brute Strength line and an Abu Garcia Revo SX reel.”

Did you have a key moment during the week?
“The mouth of Lake Huron where I was fishing was the spot that was holding heavier fish for some reason.  Erie held some good fish, but I had a 5-12, 1 5-12, and a 5-11 out of Huron.  Alton Jones had big fish of the tournament and also had two giant bags of fish from Huron, so that says right there that the fish were heavier in Huron.  The key was figuring out where the current was flowing and where the fish were holding, but the real key was knowing that Lake Huron was where I could catch the bigger fish.”

What was the most challenging or surprising aspect to your week?
“Making the run up to Huron in the morning was the most beautiful boat ride you could ever imagine.  You had slick calm water with a little steam coming off of it, and you got to watch the sunrise the entire time you are riding up there.  But on the way back I got absolutely pounded – I guess that’s just the nature of the beast with this river system.  Wind and boat traffic were both a challenge in the afternoons.  Those huge freighters would be coming right by me sometimes when I would be trying to land a big one.”

How would you access your decision making and execution on the water?
“About noon today I really got focused in and decided I really need to catch some big ones.  At that point, I caught my biggest fish of the day, which was about 4 ½ pounds.  I had to make the decision that I needed to get keyed back up and not be satisfied with just making the Classic.  I mean, I was pretty ecstatic in my room last night when I figured out the points and realized I had probably made the Classic.  I went out today really happy about that and was relaxed and having fun, but I got that feeling at about noon that I could win this event if I got going.” 
2nd Place: Mark Davis (22-1, 20-10, 20-15, 13-3: 76-13)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"Probably the biggest key for me this week was figuring out that I couldn't catch those fish by casting.  I was having to drift my bait, which I think gave it a more natural look.  I do it a little differently than a lot of guys do because I open the bail on my reel and let out a lot of line.  Instead of controlling the drift of my bait with my boat, I can do it with my line.  You end up with a whole lot of line out, but I think that is good in this clear water."

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"I was fishing a drop-shot exclusively this week.  Most of the time I was drifting my bait, but on the days when there wasn't enough wind I would find the fish on my Lowrance and drop on them.  I was having to switch between nose hooking my bait, and wacky rigging my baits depending on what the fish were telling me they wanted on that particular day.  I mainly relied on one particular area throughout the tournament, but I never caught a single fish off of that spot today and was forced to move around to catch what I did." 

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Strike King KVD Dream Shot, Roboworm Straight Tail Worm

3rd Place: Alton Jones  (16-1, 16-10 ,21-8, 22-3: 76-6)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"Finding the right drift line was the biggest key or me.  The first day I went to the area where I ended up doing well and literally missed the right drift by about 50 feet.  I had pretty much given up on those fish, but went back up there and finally found the exact line I needed to drift and it was just lights out.  Those fish were holding on underwater eddies that were created by hard bottom, like rocks and zebra mussels.  Once I was able to determine where I needed to present my bait, I caught them good the rest of the event."

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"I was targeting the underwater current breaks that you couldn't see on the surface.  I was fishing in 30 ft of water that had a lot of current.  The hard bottom was a big key in where the fish were holding.  I was fishing around a lot of gobys, which those smallmouth love to feed on."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Yum F2 Tube (Green Pumpkin)

4th Place: Takahiro Omori (18-2, 20-3, 17-0, 20-11: 76-0)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"I practiced in St. Clair the first day and just didn't get many bites at all.  I decided to go practice in Erie and the fishing was much better for me.  So I would say making the decision to fish in Erie was the biggest key for me.  This is the third year in a row that I have come into the last tournament needing a really good finish to get in the Classic.  So I knew that I needed to make the right decisions and fish a clean tournament to make that happen.  It was a really risky decision to go to Erie because I don't know much about it, but I am happy that it all worked out."
What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"I was targeting 20 to 25 ft of water in Lake Erie with a drop-shot and a tube.  I was using a Daiwa pitching/flipping stick this week because I have been dealing with tendonitis.  It made it much easier for me to fish, and I didn't lose any key fish at all.  I didn't even have a spinning rod in my boat at all this week."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Gary Yamamoto Shad-Shaped Worm, Xzone Lures Slammer, Gary Yamamoto Tube

6th Place: Kotaro Kiriyama (20-7, 20-0 ,17-6, 16-7: 74-4)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"I was keying on little rock and sand breaks in Lake Erie all week.  The fish were just roaming around this week and acting really spooky.  They were difficult to catch, and I had to adjust each day."
What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"I was seeing every fish I caught on my graph.  I would see them and drop my drop-shot to them and catch them.  Other people were catching them dragging their bait, but for me that isn't fishing.  Because of the pressure and all of the boat noise around my areas the fish weren't biting well.  With all of the waves and rough conditions I never was able to have enough time to fish how I needed to fish." 

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Jackall Cross Tail Shad (Ayu, Green Pumpkin Pepper), Prototype Jackall Plastic

7th Place: Morizo Shimizu (17-0, 18-9 ,20-11, 17-14: 74-2)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"Fishing the grass in Lake Huron was the key for me.  I was also targeting some rock, but the grass was producing better for me.  I am very happy that I will be fishing in my second Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville."

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"I was fishing in Lake Huron in about 20 ft of water in the mornings when it was windy, but would move deeper out to around 30 ft when it would calm down.  I was fishing a drop-shot and targeting fish I would see on my electronics."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Unnamed 4" Drop-Shot bait, Unnamed 5/8 oz tungsten drop shot weight,  Sunline FC Sniper Fluorocarbon (7lb)

8th Place: Randy Howell (20-4, 18-7 ,16-7, 16-3: 71-5)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"The key was probably just choosing to take the abuse and make the run to Erie.  All the fish I was catching down there were thick and healthy, so they weighed more.  My Lowrance electronics were also huge for me this week.  Being able to find those isolated rocks out on the flats was crucial.  Whenever you find a rock out in Erie you are going to catch smallmouth."

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"I was fishing in 15 to 20 ft of water targeting isolated rocks out on the flats in Lake Erie. Moving around a lot and targeting several pieces of structure was key.  You might find a rock and catch several small ones, and then the next one you would fish might have some bigger ones on it.  It was just a matter of making the most out of the time you had to fish out there.  Mostly I was drop-shotting a variety of baits whenever I would see the right kind of stuff on my Lowrance."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Gary Yamamoto Shad- Shaped Worm, Unnamed plastic goby type bait

9th Place: Jeremy Starks (18-13, 18-4 ,17-14, 16-5: 71-4)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"For me the big key was making the decision to spend my time in Lake Erie.  I practiced some in St. Clair but figured out pretty quickly that the quality of fish I needed to compete wasn't there.  The better quality fish live in Erie, but the problem is you have so little time to fish once you get out there."

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"It was all about finding little rough patches in 20 to 22 ft of water for me.  You just had to idle around until you found the right stuff because if you were just fishing the sand you weren't going to get bit.  I was primarily drop-shotting all week long."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Strike King KVD Dream Shot (KVD Magic), Poor Boys Drop-Shot Darter

10th Place: Keith Combs (20-4, 19-6 ,16-14, 12-3: 68-11)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"Committing to Lake Erie was the biggest key for me.  I practiced a few other places but figured out pretty quickly that Erie was the place to be.  Utilizing the new Humminbird 360 on my bow was huge for me.  It made it easy to target the rocks I was catching them on, but I could also see which way the fish and the bait were moving.  I am confident that it helped me catch a few fish that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to catch."

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"Everything I caught this week was relating to rock in 28 to 31 feet.  It had to have a sharp vertical break around the rock areas.  You could pull up and see tons of bait on your graph, but unless you could see the bass on top of the break you couldn't catch them.  Today it was just too rough to do a lot of moving around and locate the fish that would bite."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Strike King KVD Dream Shot

11th Place: Derek Remitz (19-10, 15-15, 22-5, 5-9: 63-7)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"Getting to Erie and back every day and maximizing my time while I was there were the two key things for me this week.  There was no doubt coming into this tournament that I was going to fish in Lake Erie.  I really struggled with the south wind for some reason, and just couldn't get them to bite and I don't know why.  I guess it just makes it so hard to fish that you really can't be as efficient as you need to be with the limited time you have."

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"I was drop-shotting all week long in about a 4 square mile area of Lake Erie.  I just concentrated on the big flats and tried to find as many irregularities on those flats as possible to fish.  Some of the fish I would see streaking trough bait on my graph, but most of them came off of targets I would see and drop down."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Gary Yamamoto Shad-Shaped Worm


Place PRO ANGLER Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4 Total Fish Total Weight
1 Chris Lane 5 22- 9 5 17- 1 5 22-15 5 19-11 20 82- 4
2 Mark Davis 5 22- 1 5 20-10 5 20-15 4 13- 3 19 76-13
3 Alton Jones 5 16- 1 5 16-10 5 21- 8 5 22- 3 20 76- 6
4 Takahiro Omori 5 18- 2 5 20- 3 5 17- 0 5 20-11 20 76- 0
5 Nate Wellman 5 17- 7 5 18- 3 5 20- 8 5 19- 9 20 75-11
6 Kotaro Kiriyama 5 20- 7 5 20- 0 5 17- 6 5 16- 7 20 74- 4
7 Morizo Shimizu 5 17- 0 5 18- 9 5 20-11 5 17-14 20 74- 2
8 Randy Howell 5 20- 4 5 18- 7 5 16- 7 5 16- 3 20 71- 5
9 Jeremy Starks 5 18-13 5 18- 4 5 17-14 5 16- 5 20 71- 4
10 Keith Combs 5 20- 4 5 19- 6 5 16-14 5 12- 3 20 68-11
11 Derek Remitz 5 19-10 5 15-15 5 22- 5 3 5- 9 18 63- 7
12 Aaron Martens 5 21-14 5 19- 9 5 20-11     15 62- 2