W.Va. man on verge of bass fishing Super Bowl
Top five finish this weekend will send Charleston native to pro fishing event in Ala.
Daily Mail staff
Courtesy photo
Charleston native Jeremy Starks, seen with his Bass Cat fishing boat sponsored by Friends of Coal, is set to compete this weekend in Sandusky, Ohio, for a shot a the 2010 Bassmaster Classic in February.
NASCAR's top drivers have started the Chase, the series to determine the stock car racing league's champion.
It's similar for bass fisherman Jeremy Starks, who is preparing for the windy challenges of Lake Erie as he gears up for the Northern Open 3, in Sandusky, Ohio, this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Placing in the Top 5 of the Northern Open would win Starks a spot in the Super Bowl of professional bass fishing, The 2010 Bassmaster Classic on Feb. 19-21.
Starks, 36, said a professional West Virginian angler has never made it to The Classic, which will take place at Lay Lake in Birmingham, Ala.
"It would mean a lot to me to win," Stark said.
In preparation for the open, the Charleston native has been mapping out and pre-fishing Lake Erie since last Monday.
Starks said waters are off-limits to anglers until three days prior to Elite series events. But in an open, there are no limitations on fishing the waters beforehand.
Even with time to prepare, Starks said Lake Erie's high winds, large waves and algae make preparing for the open difficult.
Starks said algae blooms have also caused the water to be darker than normal, allowing only 10 to 15 feet of visibility, compared to the usual three to four feet. Starks said to overcome that obstacle he will use darker bait.
"Some areas are still clear, but the better fishing areas are the ones that have darkened up," Stark said.
Starks said Lake Erie's open water, which covers nearly 10,000 square miles, is conducive for the use of noise imaging electronics to locate fish.
"It's fished the way I like to fish," Starks said. "My favorite part of fishing here is the technical aspect of fishing."
Starks expects the three-day open to go well. Last Tuesday, he caught bass weighing in around 22 pounds.
"If you do that evey day, it's enough for a possible win and definite place in the top five," Starks said.
However, Starks said his bass were caught 32 miles away from launch ramp. With wind conditions unpredictable, Starks is now attempting to locate fish closer to the shore.
"The biggest problem is the lake is dictated more by weather than a fisherman," Starks said.
Starks said he has had a tough season, encountering mechanical failures, electronic issues with problems with migraines.
"It's been a trying season," Starks said. "But I'm pretty fortunate to be 13th or 14th place considering all the problems we had."
Starks said his love for bass fishing stemmed from his love for the outdoors in general. But being a professional bass angler is not as easy as some may think.
"Competitive bass fishing is a stressful job," Starks said. "We fish hard and run fast boats. It's no longer relaxing."
Starks - who is sponsored by Friends of Coal, Walker Machinery Co., Pocahontas Land and One Stop Convenience Stores, among others - won his first Bassmaster Elite Series in the June 2008 Southern Challenge, in Decatur, Ala.
Starks continues to be an advocate for the West Virginia coal industry, as he sports a "Friends of Coal" jersey and drives a West Virginia, clean coal power-themed Bass Cat fishing boat and truck.
"Coal is the staple of our economy," Starks said. "Without coal our economy just goes downhill. I still have family members who work in the coal industry, so I understand the importance of coal."
Contact writer Elaine McMillion at elaine.mcmill...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4872.