Starting the final day in 8th place, Lee Rogers of Newton, N.J., rocketed up the leaderboard with the biggest limit of the day to win the Lake Erie Northern FLW Series event as his 15-10 bag gave him a three-day total of 48-12. The triumph earned him a paycheck worth $32,439.
On days 1 and 2, Rogers fished around the islands near Sandusky for smallmouths like the majority of the field. Posting 17-03 and 15-15, he put himself in the top 10 with a pair of solid days on a stingy week.
“We had a hard time putting it together – I thought the fish would be deeper, that’s how I usually fish here this time of year,” said Rogers of his practice. “I started working shallower and found a bunch of them in the 15-foot range. We alternated between baits, they wouldn’t eat a spy bait or a spinnerbait, but they’d eat a drop-shot.”
Concentrating on a handful of rocky spots on Kelleys Island and the Bass Islands, Rogers caught his smallmouth between 12 and 18 feet deep for the most part.
“They were small spots, so it didn’t take long to find the fish on them,” says Rogers. “But there were no numbers, you would just catch one or two.”
For his smallmouth, a dropshot with a Strike King Half Shell did best, and though his primary color was green-pumpkin/purple, he alternated between a few depending on the conditions.
Restricted to a small area in front of Sandusky Bay and the bay itself on the final day, Rogers fished rock piles near and off the bank to catch a 15-10 limit of largemouths.
“There wasn’t a lot of grass, so we were targeting rock piles,” said Rogers. “I caught some on tubes and then I switched up to a Texas rig with an Eco Pro Swing Shad. It came through the rocks a little easier and they started eating that pretty good.”
The Swing Shad is a swimbait, and Rogers used the 3.8-inch size in a green-pumpkin color and a 5/16-ounce weight to do his damage. His tube of choice was a Strike King model with a 3/8-ounce weight, also in green-pumpkin. He also added one fish on a spinnerbait fished over some grass on the final day.
Unlike some of the other anglers who strictly stuck in the bay, Rogers dabbled with rock outside of the bay, between the south entrance and Marblehead. He also caught fish on some offshore rock in the bay and a rip-rap marina wall.
“It’s awesome,” said Rogers of his win. “I really didn’t think I would be in contention to win. I knew the size fish I had, but I know these guys can really stick ‘em. I just wanted to duplicate day 1 and get a check.
"To make the top 10 was a shock. I just can’t believe it; it’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid."
Here are the final totals for the top 10:
1. Lee Rogers: 48-12
2. Drew Sanford: 48-03
3. John Dawson: 47-11
4. Jonathan Kelley: 46-04
5. Jonathan Dietz: 45-09
6. Dick Parker: 44-12
7. Tony Mitchell: 44-10
8. Chase Serafin: 44-01
9. Troy Stokes: 39-15
10. Drew Six: 39-14