New Yorker William Lotz Leads B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Regional On Douglas Lake

William Lortz can either go chasing bass or just let the fish come to him. Choosing the second option was a wise move Wednesday, as the New Yorker leads the first day of the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Regional presented by Magellan Outdoors.

Lortz, of Rochester, N.Y., caught a five-bass limit weighing 21 pounds, 10 ounces to claim a narrow lead in the regional competition between bass clubs underway on Douglas Lake.

Close behind with 18-10 is Casey Smith of Macedon, N.Y., followed by Greg Dipalma of Millville, N.J., with 17-7. Ivan Morris of Virginia Beach, Va., is fourth with 17-5 and fifth place belongs to Jonathan Carter of Glenburn, Maine with 17-3.

“I want the fish to come to me,” said Lortz. “I didn’t want to be where they are leaving.”

Translated into layman’s terms, that means Lortz is fishing for postspawn bass. Those are the most reliable bass of all in springtime. His fishing area holds the highest concentration of bass with the most activity. Following the spawning cycle, those bass are hungry, aggressive and easiest to find.

Finding bass under the conditions favored by Lortz also means the bass are in deeper water and not migrating into shallow water.

“Tomorrow it will be a hero or zero for me,” added Lortz.

That’s the downside of his strategy — timing is everything. Being on the right spot means boom or bust.

Dipalma is fishing the same type of pattern, and he echoed the comments made by Lortz.

“There are easily 100 bass in the school of fish that I’m targeting,” he said. “Where I am fishing is a typical staging area, a path used by spawning bass coming and going from deep into shallow water.”

He added, “The big issue for me tomorrow is will I be in the right place at the right time when they are feeding?”

Weather is another big unknown for Thursday’s second round. The forecast calls for a front to drop temperatures overnight into the low 40s. Following a night of rain, the daytime high is expected to be in the low 50s, or about 20 degrees colder.

“My research on this lake shows the bass are easily turned off by cold fronts,” said Dipalma.

Competing on Douglas Lake are B.A.S.S. club anglers from 18 U.S. states and Ontario, Canada. To be determined are overall winners, the top finishing state team and qualifiers for bass fishing’s club championship.

That event is the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan Outdoors. The top boater and non-boater from each state will advance to the championship.

New Jersey’s 20 anglers collectively caught 151 pounds, 14 ounces to lead the team standings Wednesday. Virginia is in second with 148-5. North Carolina is third with 142-2, and Georgia has 139 pounds for fourth place. Maryland is fifth with 136-14.

The state team with the most weight is awarded a new Skeeter ZX190 bass boat, matching trailer, a Yamaha VF150LA outboard motor and accessories. Total value of the rig is $49,835.

For Friday, the tournament field will be cut to the Top 36 boaters and non-boaters. If necessary, the field will be expanded to include the Top 3 boaters and non-boaters from each state.

That group will compete for championship berths and the overall titles in the boater and non-boater divisions.

Two anglers are paired with the boat owner allowed to keep five bass. The accompanying angler can keep three bass. A keeper largemouth is 12 inches, and smallmouth must measure at least 15 inches.

Leading the non-boater division is Scott Murphy of Edison, N.J., with 11-8. Murphy had non-boater big bass of the day honors with a largemouth weighing 6 pounds.

Lenny Beebe of Griswold, Conn., had boater big bass of the day with a largemouth weighing 6-1.

The tournament begins at 6:30 a.m. EDT with boats returning at staggered flight times beginning at 2:30 p.m. Tournament launch and weigh-in are being held at The Point Resort and Marina.