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Ed Czerwinski, Matt Gunningham land 19.26 pounds in Big Bass Bash

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Updated: August 2, 2013 7:20AM



PORTAGE — Ed Czerwinski and Matt Gunningham made the most of the Ranger boat they borrowed from Ross Tornabene.

The Crown Point team ran it to victory Saturday in the inaugural Big Bass Bash. They weighed an impressive bag of five smallmouth bass at 19.26 pounds, big enough to have the crowd whooping and hollering in front of the stage at the Portage Bass Pro.

Despite small-craft warnings and heavy seas rolling on the north winds, the tournament drew 17 entries for the fundraiser for Warriors First Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project.

“I was a little bit nervous,’’ Czerwinski said. “But when we saw others were running, we decided to go for it.’’

“That is why he was driving,’’ Gunningham said.

Good decisions that paid off with a check for $1,135 for the winners, who were primarily fishing shaky-head jigs or drop-shotting.

“We caught them all day,’’ Gunningham said.

They had their limit by 8 a.m. and culled smallmouth for the rest of the day, fishing around the Port.

Steve Prange and Andy Buss weighed a bag of largemouth bass at 14.38. But don’t let the largemouth fool anyone. They did not stay in the safety of the canal. The tournament launched from Portage Marina.

Prange and Buss made a strategic run.

“We figured the wind would diminish the smallmouth fishing,’’ Buss said.

So they ran to a protected area they knew, somewhere within 45 miles of Portage and caught largemouth.

“We were in a few states,’’ Prange said.

It was a 45-minute ride there and more than an hour ride to return.

Pre-tournament favorite Mike Myers and David Adams finished third with 12.67.

“It was rough,’’ Adams said.

“We got to where we wanted to go, but we just couldn’t get the fish to go,’’ Myers said.

Chris Trzeciak and Jim Manney made the run to U.S. Steel and caught what looked to be the biggest fish of the day, a smallmouth under five pounds.

“High seas’’ is the way Trzeciak described the day.

“It was wild,’’ Hal Wilkens said. “I would say I ran in 6-8 footers.’’

“Wavy, bumpy,’’ Eric Heck allowed.

Greg Miller kissed the wood of the stage at the weigh-in to illustrate what he felt like doing on making it back.

Despite the bumpy first Big Bass Bash, it will be back next year.

“Pretty cool thing they did here for Wounded Warriors,’’ Gunningham said afterward.

Woo Daves, who won the 2000 BASS Master Classic in Chicago, emceed the event with relish.



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