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BOWMAN: Tim Schneider’s tournament bass a real monster

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Updated: June 23, 2013 6:36AM

Tim Schneider caught a smallmouth bass so huge Friday it set off a worldwide search of tournament records.

About 10:30 a.m. on the first day of the Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament, Schneider latched into a big smallmouth while fishing in a pack of 12 boats on Green Bay south of Sturgeon Bay. Schneider, a parts manager at an auto dealership, and partner Greg Dickson, the owner of Triangle Sports & Marine in Antioch, were fishing tubes on a rocky flat in 2 to 4 feet of water.

‘‘It came up once, rolled once,’’ Schneider said. ‘‘It tried to go under the big motor, [so] I horsed it a little bit. I tried to turn it around. I told Greg to get the net. It happened really fast. We pride on ourselves on not getting excited. It went in the live well, like other big others.’’

They are professional in their approach after years of tournament fishing. Both have set roles. Schneider fishes in back and runs the live well. Dickson fishes in front and runs the boat.

‘‘I tried to be nonchalant, but my knees were shaking,’’ Schneider said.

Schneider was fishing a tube made by a friend on a Shimano Crucial X72M spinning rod with a Stradic 3000 spinning reel. They found a color that works for them when drop-shotting in the fall and figured it would work as a tube. How right they were.

‘‘I knew it was big; I didn’t realize how big it was,’’ Dickson said. ‘‘I care more about catching the next big one. I heard 7.22 pounds was leading for big bass. I thought, ‘Oh, my God, we are not going to be beat that.’ Then I walked back up to the weigh-in, and people were running up to me.’’

Even with an 8.45-pound anchor fish, Dickson and Schneider finished 50th with 52.28 pounds. Darrell Greenwood and Steve Anderson won with 67.13 pounds. Schneider and Dickson won the big-bass pot of $1,430 and worldwide fame with emails from as far away as Japan.

Schneider’s smallmouth missed the Wisconsin record (9 pounds,
1 ounce), caught June 21, 1950, from Indian Lake in Oneida County, by a few ounces.

There was some thought it might be the heaviest smallmouth ever weighed in tournament fishing. As to that, Ken Duke, the senior editor at B.A.S.S. Publications, emailed: ‘‘BASS has kept lousy records over the years, so I can’t say definitely that no one in BASS history has topped that mark, but I think I’d have heard of it.’’

Chad Gay with FLW Outdoors said they don’t keep separate big-bass records for largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass, so I checked likely places for monster tournament smallmouth. The Ohio record (9.5 pounds) came from Lake Erie on June 16, 1993. It was caught by Randy VanDam. He’s the brother of Kevin VanDam, the most accomplished star in tournament fishing, and the father of Jonathon VanDam, one of the young stars of bass fishing.

I found Randy on Tuesday morning at D&R Sports Center in Kalamazoo, Mich., and asked whether his record fish had been caught in a tournament.

‘‘No, I was fun-fishing,’’ he said.

He loved Schneider’s fish.

‘‘It was a toad,’’ VanDam said.

He suggested I talk to Mark Zona, a Homewood-Flossmoor grad who has made good in bass fishing, who was fishing with Jonathon on Lake St. Clair. About midday, Zona called back and said a kid caught a 9-pounder in the U.S. waters of Lake Erie during a tournament last fall out of the Niagara River. He was tracking down details.

Stray cast

Chet Coppock is an old buck with a gnarled rack, so small hunters ignore him. But he still grunts from the thicket.

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