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Tournament News Powered By Lake Drive MarineTournament News Powered By Lake Drive Marine

A-rigs, Underspin Produce Winning Sack

By Louie Stout

Mike Raber and Austin AndersonMike Raber and Austin Anderson

Mike Raber and Austin Anderson came within seconds of seeing a $40,000 first-place prize slip out of their grasp in the Payback Bass Super Tournament at Lake St. Clair last weekend.

Thanks to Ohio anglers Cody Gray and Codea McCathran who hustled Raber to the weigh-in after he and Anderson ran out of gas, the Michiana team was able to get their winning bag of 24.46 pounds of smallmouth on the scales.

The duo, who fished in Lake Erie and headed back in plenty of time, miscalculated how much gas they had burned on Erie in Anderson’s 21-foot Phoenix Bass Boat.

“We took Austin’s boat instead of my Nitro because of the contingency prizes,” explained Raber. “His boat holds 50 gallons and mine holds 55 and we didn’t realize fuel would be an issue. It was a gift from God that those Ohio guys saw me waving frantically and asking for help.”

Raber said the Ohioans picked him up with 10 minutes left within a couple miles of check in.

“It was the difference between $40,000 and the worst day of our lives,” joked Raber, who promises to reward the rescuers with gear from the Tackle Shack, where he works.

The fishing part of the experience was a lot less stressful, thanks to Raber’s persistent practice and countless hours of experience on Lake Erie.

“I couldn’t ask for better weather during practice and the event,” he said. “It made the 60-mile run easy.”

They had 23 pounds in the first 15 minutes and then ran around trying to upgrade.

“We had several different schools; some had more fish but not the potential for winning,” explained Raber.

He said LiveScope played a small role, but noted that most of the fish they caught were hugging the gravel bottom in 14 to 23 feet. They primarily fished Alabama rigs with Kietech 3.3 and 3.8 swimbaits.

Interestingly, he used 1/8-ounce Bite Me Tackle jig heads on the A-rig in that deep of water.

“It works for me, because it allows me to fish slower and give the fish a chance to react, even in deep water,” Raber explained. “We’d see bait on the LiveScope and see them come up and eat the lure in places where you didn’t see the bass because they were hugging the bottom.”

Some of their fish came on a 3/8-ounce Thoraks Underspin dressed with a regular size Strike King Z-too.

"We slow-rolled it over the structure and would stroke it (lift and drop) the way you would a blade bait,” he described. “As the day went on, the schools would break up and the underspin worked better than the A-rig.”

Raber hopes to cash in again at the next MLF Toyota Series on the Potomac River. He’s currently 12th in the Northern Division standings and needs to finish in the top 25 to earn a berth in the championship.

He’s being supported by area businesses Tire Star, R&M Concrete, Str8 Up Mounts, Twisted Tine Skulls, TLF Roofing and Siding and the Miller Sign Company.