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Diaco wins TBF Eastern on his home lake

New Hampshire team wins race among the states

By Jennifer Simmons – 19.Sep.2008

GILFORD, N.H. – The Bass Federation Eastern Divisional wrapped up today with a local atop the final leaderboard. John Diaco of Rochester, N.H., caught 40 pounds of bass from his native Lake Winnipesaukee to earn himself a ticket to the 2009 TBF National Championship.

His 40-pound three-day catch also propelled the 12-man New Hampshire team to the winner’s circle, as TBF awards cash prizes to the state teams based on their team members’ total weight caught. The New Hampshire squad brought in 337 pounds, 3 ounces of bass over three days to top No. 2 Massachusetts, whose members caught 290 pounds, 15 ounces.

Seven 12-man teams competed in this week’s Eastern Divisional, representing New Hampshire and Massachusetts but also Maine, which finished third in the race among the states, followed by Vermont in fourth, Rhode Island in fifth, Connecticut in sixth and New York in seventh.

As the overall winner, Diaco earned a $500 Wal-Mart gift card as the Castrol Maximum Performer. He will also represent New Hampshire as a boater at the 2009 TBF National Championship alongside New Hampshire’s No. 2 Alan Denise of Haverhill, Mass. Each state team’s winner advances as a boater, while each state’s runner-up advances as a co-angler.

Diaco avoids the “choke”

Diaco led the New Hampshire team as well as the overall field on day two, and he retained his lead by bringing in another limit of five bass today that weighed 12 pounds, 2 ounces.

“After yesterday I felt good about my chances, but last night I got a little worried I’d choke,” he said. “But everything worked out and it feels great. I’m psyched!”

This marks Diaco’s first foray into national championship competition, and he can thank a healthy Winnepesaukee largemouth bite for the chance.

“I decided to go right for largemouths today because of the wind,” he said.

Diaco targeted largemouths in the Lee’s Mills area of the lake, fishing 5 to 10 feet of water with a 3/8-ounce pumpkin jig tipped with a soft-plastic trailer. He caught seven keepers today.

His 40-pound catch gave him the overall victory by a 1-pound, 8-ounce margin and the win in his state by 6 pounds.

Gildea returns to nationals

Returning to the national stage from Massachusetts is Jim Gildea of Weston, Mass., whose two-day total of 38 pounds, 8 ounces put him in second overall and first on his state team. He competed in the 2008 nationals and looks forward to another chance.

“I’m so pumped,” Gildea said. “Last year I fished the championship, and FLW put on a great show. I am so happy to go back.”

Fishing a style he calls “nothing fancy,” Gildea managed to end the tournament in first place in Massachusetts by a 5-pound, 7-ounce margin over Pete DeMoya, who advanced to the nationals as a co-angler.

“I just fished slow and did my thing,” Gildea said. “I got around bait and fished slowly and patiently. My fish came from little out-of-the-way spots I found recently.”

To catch his bass, Gildea used a drop-shot featuring a 5-inch Yamamoto Kut Tail worm with a 1/4-ounce tungsten weight.

Gagner goes all the way

After 14 divisional appearances, Gilbert Gagner of Highgate Springs, Vt., has at last made it to the big show. He will represent Vermont at the 2009 National Championship as a boater thanks to a three-day catch totaling 36 pounds, 3 ounces. That put him ahead of Matthew Applebaum of Johnson, Vt., by 2 pounds, 3 ounces and landed him in third place overall. In fact, Gagner and Applebaum were also back-to-back on the overall list, as Applebaum ended that race in fourth. Applebaum advanced to the nationals as a co-angler.

“I am so excited!” Gagner said. “I missed the nationals (before), and I’ll give it 100 percent when I’m there.”

Gagner was particularly thrilled that his method of fishing for bigger fish but fewer bites panned out. His presentation of choice was dragging a green pumpkin tube rigged on a 1/4-ounce jighead as well as a War Eagle spinnerbait with a gold skirt and gold blades.

Best of the rest

Representing Maine at the 2009 nationals will be Laurence Hogue in the boater spot and Jason Mitsin in the co-angler spot. Hogue led the Maine team all three days and ultimately won with a three-day catch of 34 pounds, 2 ounces.

With a 32-pound, 8-ounce three-day catch, Mike Mantha of Charlton, Mass., took the Rhode Island crown and that state’s boater spot at the nationals. He is followed by William Hopkins of Rockville, R.I., who advances as a co-angler.

Taking the Connecticut crown is Mike Kane of Clinton, Conn., with a three-day catch of 29 pounds, 4 ounces. That edged No.2 Christopher Blanc of Cos Cob, Conn., who caught 22-6.

Rounding out the state winners is Rob Lamoy of Chazy, N.Y., who led the New York squad for three days running, ultimately weighing in 23 pounds, 14 ounces of bass. That bested No. 2 Derrick Martineau of Au Sable Forks, N.Y., by a pound.