Morgenthaler finishes fourth at BASS event

Courtesy Photo
Chad Morgenthaler hooked this jumping smallmouth on Lake Ontario in a Bassmaster Elite tournament held recently. Chad's major sponsor is Jasper Engines. He finished fourth in the event, his highest in two years.

By LARRY LAGRANGE
sports@dcherald.com

The guys who fish the Bassmaster Elite series have got to be tough cookies. Jasper Engines is the major sponsor for Missourian Chad Morgenthaler, who recently competed on the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York. ESPN2 covers the Elites and showed the conditions from the recent tournament. To say the waters were rough would be an understatement.

The pros were able to fish huge Lake Ontario and several guys opted to try it. On the final tournament day, the wind was brisk from the southwest, creating huge breakers. The eventual winner, Chris Johnston, was featured in a segment that showed him catching one four-pound smallmouth after another. The amazing thing was that he was fishing in gigantic six-foot waves, rocking his 21-foot bass boat like a cork. Johnston did an amazing job sticking to his bass boat front seat and not pitching over the side. He had located a small hump out in the lake, and it was paying off big time. How he even felt the bite in those waves was hard to imagine. The cameraman, although seasick, hung in there and photographed the scene. Thank goodness he and the other anglers and photographers made it back to port safely. Hailing from Ontario, Cory is a veteran on these waters, and it showed, as he pulled in nearly 100 pounds of smallmouth for four days’ effort. He barely edged out Paul Mueller, who had led for most of the event but slipped slightly on the fourth day.

Virus changes starting point

Chad Morgenthaler did well as he placed fourth, landing around 80 pounds of largemouth and smallmouth.

“We were originally set to go out of Waddington, New York but because of virus testing they moved take-off to Clayton,” Chad said, “So, that opened up Lake Ontario. I found my fish there on the last practice day. It was a good smallmouth spot, but I didn’t know if it would hold up for all four days of the tournament.”

Chad had located an out-of-the-way honey hole that the other anglers hadn’t found.

“When you have that kind of rare situation, things usually work out. I gave it all I had for three days, but the lake got rough on the afternoon of the third day. On the last day I decided not to risk it and ended up fishing the river in calmer water and found some largemouth on docks.”

How in heaven’s name could an angler even feel a strike fishing in big waves?

“Even in the rough water when smallmouth struck, you knew it. They hung on. I wish that I had been able to get back out to my spot on the last day, but my better judgment told me I should play it safe.”

A good decision?

“If I had it to do over again, I might’ve tried the rough water, but I can get seasick, which would have been a problem. When you’re rolling in six footers and trying to look down at your graph to stay on your spot, that’s what gets you. If you can keep your eyes focused ahead, you can more easily avoid the seasickness. This was my best finish since I came in second a couple of years ago at Toledo Bend.”

Chad competed at Lake Champlain right after finishing up.

“I had a short practice since I fished the last day on the St. Lawrence. So I just fished places that worked at Champlain in the past. The fish moved a lot; one day they would be in 30 feet and the next day in 10. I only lost one big fish and finished 33rd, got a good paycheck, and moved up in Angler of the Year points. I’m in contention to make the Classic (at Lake Ray Roberts in Texas in March). I need to be in the top 40 of anglers to qualify. We’re only halfway through our year since the virus pushed our season back.”

Elite events to come as of this writing are Lake St. Clair Aug. 20-23, Lake Guntersville Sept. 30-Oct. 3, Santee Cooper Oct. 8-11, Chickamauga Oct. 16-19, and the final event Nov. 5-8 at Lake Fork in Texas.




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