Bass fishing's focus shifts Saturday to Evans Lake, the venue for the annual tournament benefiting the Youngstown-Mahoning Valley United Way.
Dr. Mark McMurray tossed a serious challenge last weekend to those who will compete in the third annual Bass Classic, presented by Consumers Ohio Water Co.
If the results of a recent tournament at Evans Lake are any indication, the early favorite for this year's Bass Classic championship is McMurray, of North Lima.
McMurray threw down the gauntlet by trouncing the field of contestants in Mohawk Valley Bass Club's Evans Lake event June 29 with a catch of 18.6 pounds, including a 5.5-pound giant.
The Bass Classic is formatted as a pro-am bass tournament. Experienced tourney competitors are paired up with amateur anglers recruited from the ranks of local businesses and professional organizations and will spend Saturday morning as teammates in search of the winning catch.
Looking into the crystal ball, one can guess that the United Way tournament's anglers will find bass prowling the edges of the submerged aquatic grass beds that virtually ring Evans' perimeter.
Places where the weeds form points or pockets, or where they drop into deeper water, are likely to produce the best catches.
It also is likely that the winning techniques will include a combination of lures and techniques. Topwater lures should be productive in the opening hour, but as the sun gets brighter the fish will retreat into the shadows. Most of the competitors will be pitching plastic worms as the day winds on.
Spectators are welcome at the weigh-in, which will begin around 1:45 p.m. Saturday at the Evans Lake boathouse. They can expect to see a number of big fish, such as the 6-pounder brought to the scales last year by Dave Williams.
Williams will be back this year in search of more big bass, along with McMurray and other local bass veterans. They include Ron Learn of Hubbard, winner of two big local tournaments already this year; Matt Johnson of Youngstown, tournament director for the Greater Ohio Tournament Trail; George Byers, tourney director for the Extreme Bass Series; and Matt Korpi, owner of Viking Marine in Canfield, where many local anglers have purchased their boats.
Jeff Hanna of Columbiana, a pro angler and regional sales rep for lure and fishing accessories company PRADCO, will compete and also serve as the weigh-in master of ceremonies. CD-93.3 radio personality Fast Freddie is among those will compete in the amateur division.
McMurray may be the early favorite, but anything can happen in tournament fishing, so the field of entrants is setting their sights on his 18-pound catch.
The United Way will get some much-needed cash as a result of the tournament, says chairwoman Jennifer L. Johnson of Consumers Ohio Water. She expects proceeds to top the two previous events, which raised over $6,000 each.
Sponsors this year include, in addition to Consumers Ohio Water Co., Astro Shapes, BFI Carbon Limestone Landfill, Zebco, Harrington Hoppe & amp; Mitchell law firm and Clear Channel radio stations.
In conjunction with the event, United Way agency Potential Development will stage a fundraising Duck Race at Evans Lake.