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Local angler Diaco assumes TBF Eastern Divisional lead

By Jennifer Simmons – 18.Sep.2008

GILFORD, N.H. – The wind blew a little harder today on Lake Winnipesaukee for day two of The Bass Federation Eastern Divisional, and competitors couldn’t adjust enough to best local angler John Diaco of Rochester, N.H., who took the lead with a two-day catch of 27 pounds, 14 ounces.

Diaco’s catch helped push the New Hampshire team further ahead in the race among the states, as New Hampshire’s 12 team members have caught 232 pounds, 1 ounce of bass over two days to continue their lead in that all-important contest. TBF awards cash prizes to the state teams based on total caught over the tournament’s three days. New Hampshire’s day-two performance put them ahead of current No. 2 Massachusetts by 26 pounds, 9 ounces.

Seven 12-man teams are competing in this week’s Eastern Divisional, representing not only New Hampshire and Massachusetts but also Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York. Each state team’s winner after tomorrow’s final weigh-in will advance to the 2009 TBF National Championship as a boater, while each team’s runner-up will advance to the nationals as a co-angler.

Diaco puts local knowledge to the test

This week’s overall winner will earn a $500 Wal-Mart gift card as the Castrol Maximum Performer, and Diaco’s day-two catch of 15 pounds, 12 ounces put him ahead in that race by a 1-pound, 6-ounce margin. He leads the New Hampshire team by 3 pounds, 13 ounces.

“I got blown off my smallmouth today,” Diaco said. “At 11 o’clock I had two 12-inch fish, but then I went to a new area for largemouths and within an hour and a half had a limit.”

Diaco grabbed the lead today pitching a jig with a Sweet Beaver trailer in 5 feet of water. Despite his day-two success, he’s hoping Mother Nature deals a little more kindly tomorrow.

“I’d like the wind to lay down a little tomorrow so I can try to catch a limit of smallmouths early,” he said.

This is Diaco’s second appearance in divisional competition, and should he finish first or second in New Hampshire tomorrow and thus advance to the TBF National Championship, it would be a dream come true.

“I’d love it,” he said. “I put a lot of work into this one by prefishing all-new water, looking for largemouths. This is my home lake.”

Gildea holds on to Massachusetts lead

In second place overall and first in Massachusetts is Jim Gildea of Weston, Mass. Gildea held on to his Massachusetts lead with a day-two catch of 13 pounds, 8 ounces that brought his two-day total to 26-8. That puts him ahead on his state team by a healthy 5 pounds, 2 ounces.

Gildea’s continued success didn’t seem inevitable as he started the day.

“At 11 o’clock, I had two decent fish and two rats,” he said. “I started to think, ‘Maybe today it isn’t going to happen.’ Then I went to a pocket and saw a large arch on my Lowrance. I dropped on it, and it was almost in slow motion. My line went to the side, and I pulled up and felt good head shakes. It was the 3-2, which was my biggest bass.”

Hogue still on top in Maine

The leader of the Maine team remained unchanged a second day, as Laurence Hogue of Kennebunk, Maine, continues to lead thanks to a two-day catch of 24 pounds, 4 ounces that has him in third place overall. He leads his state team by a 3-pound, 3-ounce margin.

“Today was a lot slower but I was able to get out of the wind,” Hogue said. “I caught seven keepers and stayed with the drop-shot.”

Hogue has his doubts about his hot spots but remains fairly optimistic about his final-day chances.

“It seems like my fish are getting dry, but hopefully I’ll be able to catch them again on the same spots tomorrow,” he said.

Gagner catches them in spite of the wind

Retaining his lead on the Vermont team is Gilbert Gagner of Highgate Springs, Vt. His 11-pound, 4-ounce day-two catch brought his two-day total to 23 pounds, 10 ounces, which leads Vermont by 2 pounds, 2 ounces.

“The fishing picked up a bit on the spinnerbait today, and I caught eight fish on it early, but then I culled all of them on a drop-shot,” Gagner said. “I couldn’t fish my traditional topwater pattern because of the wind, so I went to backup water with the spinnerbait and drop-shot.”

Although those presentations served him well today, Gagner is hoping to return tomorrow to his trusty topwater.

“I am going back to my original plan with the topwater bait with the goal of catching 12 pounds,” he said.

Rest of the best

Sitting in the eighth spot overall and first on the Rhode Island squad is Mike Mantha of Charlton, Mass., with a two-day catch of 22 pounds, 6 ounces.

Taking the lead on the Connecticut team is Christopher Blanc of Cos Cob, Conn. His two-day catch of 16 pounds, 14 ounces leads his team by 10 ounces.

Rob Lamoy of Chazy, N.Y., continues to lead the New York team with a two-day catch of 13 pounds, 6 ounces. His day-two catch of 4 pounds, 13 ounces was only enough to secure him a 2-ounce lead heading into the final day.

Competitors will take off at 7 a.m. EST tomorrow from the Silver Sands Marina located in Gilford. The final weigh-in, followed by a check and trophy presentation, will also take place tomorrow at Silver Sands beginning at 3 p.m.