Scott Robert of Greene fishes for bass Monday on the Androscoggin River in Turner. “The bass are unpredictable here,” Robert said about fishing on the river above Gulf Island Pond. “The fish are on the run.” Robert won the 2020 B.A.S.S. Nation Northeast Region Maine Championship to qualify for the B.A.S.S. Nation National Championship on Pickwick Lake in Alabama. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

With a chance to qualify for the national championships on the line, Scott Robert remembered what his grandfather told him 20 years ago.

Raymond Dufour had told his grandson the location of an underwater shoreline on Sebago Lake that was known to hold bait fish.

Robert of Greene fished that mile-long shoreline for two days and won the 2020 B.A.S.S. Nation Northeast Region Maine Championship on Aug. 19-20.

“I found fish the first day. My pattern worked,” Robert said about going back to the same underwater shelf for the second day of the tournament while sitting in second place.

Robert’s two-day limit of 10 smallmouth bass for a total of 26.27 pounds won the tournament and qualifies Robert for the B.A.S.S. Nation National Championship on Pickwick Lake in Alabama from Nov. 11-13.

“This is my first time ever making nationals. I had a grin all night,” Robert said about the evening following the tournament.

Robert grew up fishing for salmon with his grandfather and for bass with his uncle. Shortly after graduating from Lewiston High School, Robert started competing in bass tournaments.

Robert said tournament fishing is not on many people’s radar, but those that do compete get hooked.

“People that are in it, know it,” said Robert.

Just to be able to compete in last week’s Maine Championship, Robert had to go up against 66 other anglers during the 2019 Maine Fish Off on China Lake. Robert won and he and the other top 10 finishers qualified for the B.A.S.S. Northeast Regional, which was to be held on Lake Erie in Erie, Pennsylvania, this summer.

Regional tournaments were canceled because of COVID-19. Instead, each state could hold its own championship and send the winner to the national championship.

Sebago Lake was chosen to host Maine’s championship and only 10 “boaters” and 10 “nonboaters” were invited. Boaters, such as Robert, stayed in their own boat for the two-day tournament. Each nonboater switches to a different boat after each day of fishing. Toby Cross of Bowdoinham caught six bass for a total of 11.5 pounds to earn him a spot at nationals as a nonboater.

Scott Robert of Greene pulls his Phoenix bass boat up to the boat launch Monday on the Androscoggin River in Turner. Robert won the 2020 B.A.S.S. Nation Northeast Region Maine Championship to qualify for the B.A.S.S. Nation National Championship on Pickwick Lake in Alabama. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“Sebago is always tough,” said Robert. “There is so much boat traffic and the water is very clear.” Fish can spook easy in clear water.

“Sebago is a huge body of water,” said Jason Sirois of Auburn. “What a hard lake to fish.”

Sirois was the “nonboater” that fished from Robert’s boat on the first day of the tournament. Sirois pulled in a 3.2 pound bass within the first five minutes of fishing next to Robert and thought he was on his way to having a good “bag” of fish for the day. As luck would have it, that smallmouth was Sirois’ only decent fish of the tournament.

“Rocks and weeds are my bread and butter,” Sirois said about where he tends to find fish. “But on Sebago, the fish aren’t in the rocks and weeds. You got to go deep.”

While some fished against the shore for largemouth bass during the Maine championship, Robert put his boat over deeper water in search of smallmouth.

“I went deep for big smallies,” said Robert.

Sirois said “patience” is why Robert stood out and won the championship on Sebago by six pounds.

“He was really patient,” Sirois said, describing how Robert would throw jigs along the mile-long underwater shelf and then turn around and go back along the shelf over and over again. “He knew what he was doing.”

Sirois on the other hand, said Robert showed him a thing or two about fishing deep and how to tackle a fish.

Sirois said Robert pulled one large bass out of Sebago, but before Robert could get the fish into the live well, the hook came out and the bass flopped around on the deck of the boat. Robert dove to keep the fish from falling back into the water.

“I never saw a guy fly over the deck to save a fish like that,” said Sirois. “He went all out. He used his whole body.”

Robert graduated from Lewiston High in 1993 and was a regular on the tournament scene until life got in the way. Robert gave it up for his children.

Robert has a 17-year-old son, Nathan, a 14-year-old daughter, Ashlee, and a 14-year-old stepson, JT.

“Kids need to be here. They need to be there. They have softball games, they have soccer games,” said Robert. “I chose to go to their games rather than fishing. You only have them for a short period of time.”

“Kids change you,” laughed Robert.

“My wife and kids are big supporters,” Robert said about the amount of time and money it takes to fish competitively.

Robert’s wife, Erika, will occasionally fish the tournaments with him and his son, Nathan, is following suit. “He wants to be a tournament fishermen,” said Robert.

Robert and his wife will make the 17-hour drive to Alabama to prefish Pickwick Lake the first week in October. The national championship will start Nov. 11 and rules state you can’t fish the body of water within 30 days of the tournament.

Robert said he would not enter a tournament without prefishing to learn about the lake. Robert said that not prefishing would be equivalent to “not doing your homework, but showing up to take the test.”

“If you give me a week on the lake, I should know it pretty good,” said Robert. “If I can’t catch fish in five days, I should just go home.”

Robert will be one of 48 bass fishermen competing on Pickwick for a national championship and a chance to move on to the Bassmaster Classic, the Super Bowl of professional bass fishing, in Denton, Texas. Hawaii and Alaska do not send anyone to the national championships, said Robert.

“I’ve never made it this far before,” said Robert. “I have no idea what to expect.”

“Be positive, prefish and do my best. That’s all I can do.”


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