MASSENA -- The NY BASS Chapter Federation (NYBCF) held its second tournament of the season on the St. Lawrence River with 172 anglers in an 86 boat field competing for their share of the $17,200 prize money.
The anglers brought in 588 bass weighing 1,632.10 lbs. with the average fish going 2.77 lbs. In the boater division alone there were eight limits in excess of 18 lbs.
The Bass Federation notes that those numbers are stout anywhere in the nation and quality smallmouth fishing in Massena ought to be on everyone’s short list of choice destinations.
During tournament registration the anglers reported catching bass in depths of three to 55 ft. with lures ranging from chartreuse spinnerbaits, to four inch plastics presented on a drop shot rig, to tube lures in green pumpkin and watermelon colors.
For three days before the event the wind blew out of the northeast with bright sunny skies and air temperatures in the mid to high 80 degrees. On tournament day, July 22, anglers were greeted with partly cloudy to overcast skies and southwest winds of 8 mph that peaked at 15 mph by the afternoon weigh-in. While tournament conditions are always changing the one constant in this particular event remained the smallmouth bass that the St. Lawrence River is famous for, and they showed up in mass.
• Boater Division:
Returning to his winning ways was 2011 defending St. Lawrence River Champion Steve Pickard representing Port City Bassmasters. In a pre-tournament interview Pickard offered anglers his insight that the deep water drop shot bite would likely be the dominate pattern, but he also cautioned anglers that shallow water smallies could factor into this year’s event, and they did.
During practice Pickard located a quality group of smallmouth relating to an island holding in approximately 15 ft. adjacent to a weed point with rocks near a sandy flat. Pickard reports using a drop shot rig to catch his winning 21.02 lb. limit of smallmouth that was anchored by the lunker that weighed an impressive 5.28 lbs. Pickard stated when he arrived at the winning location he quickly boated his first fish and then attempted to hold in the current making repeated casts to the target area but the fish seemed reluctant to strike so he continued to fish around the point and when he arrived back at his starting point and made just the right cast he caught another fish.
What he noticed was unlike most summer pattern smallies when he hooked fish it didn’t ignite the school, but instead it seemed to the put the fish on high alert. Armed with this new knowledge he continued to move around the area hooking a fish on each pass and by 9:30 he had the winning limit in his live well. For the victory Pickard moves into the number two spot for the 2012 Angler of the Year race with just one event remaining. Not to be lost in all of the excitement is the payday that comes along with this victory. Pickard takes home the guaranteed first place $2,500 the US Reel Lunker Award valued at $560 and as a qualifying Bass Pro Shops Tournament Rewards angler he won the contingency money valued at $3,000 ($2,500 cash and a $500 Bass Pro Shops gift card)
Taking second place with a weight of 20.82 lbs. was local bass angler Brad Paradis of Ogdensburg. Paradis reports catching his fish early in the morning on a spinnerbait and then at midday he switched to a drop shot in the main river channels to cull some fish and at the end of the day he returned to his spinnerbait area where he threw soft plastics to cull a couple more times. When asked about specific baits and colors Paradis said the key to his success was a white spinnerbait and a four inch brown worm.
Power Team Lures Pro Staffer Jamie Hartman took third place honors with a solid limit of smallmouth weighing 19.84 lbs. and his big bass weighed 5.12 lbs. Hartman piloted his Ranger Boat 53 miles one way to reach his deep water fish where he went to work with a drop shot rig. He reports the wind made his area harder to fish, but overall it worked out and he‘s pleased to get the weight he brought in.
Rounding out the top five were Ted Barth, Southern Tier Bassmasters, with of 19.08 lbs. and Mike Schmitt Jr., Erie County Bassmasters, with a weight of 19.07 lbs.
• Non-Boater Division:
Corey Badman, Crown City Bassmaster, took first place with a weight of 16.01 lbs. marking his first NYBCF Tournament victory along with the $1,500 prize money. Badman reports catching his fish on a drop shot rigged on 10 lb. Trilene line with a 3/8 oz. sinker fishing between 20 and 30 ft. When asked about his bait or color he decided to keep that information to himself.
Second place winner Dan Morgan, Hudson Valley Bassmasters, brought in a nice 15.80 lb. limit. Morgan reports catching his fish in 18 - 22 ft. on a Bass Pro Shops 3.5 inch Tender Tube (green pumpkin) rigged on a 3/8 and ¾ oz. lead heads fished on 10 lb. test P-line Fluorocarbon.
Eric Grant, Chemung Valley Bassmasters, secured third place on the strength of his 15.62 lb. limit. Grant reports catching his fish by dragging a 3/8 oz. tube in 20 ft. of water rigged on 8 lb. test line.
Rounding out the top five were John Whaley, Capital District Bassmasters with 15.54 lbs. and John Stoughtenger, Barge Canal Bassmasters with a weight of 15.36 lbs.
The Non-Boater US Reel Lunker Award went to John Duczeminski, Black Rock Bassmasters with a 5.27 lb. smallmouth caught on a Senko (baby bass) fished in 12 ft.
The Town of Massena, Bass Pro Shops, Minnkota, Humminbird, Lowrance, US Reel, Rapsody Rod, Allstate Insurance, Ticonderoga Chamber of Commerce, Massena Chamber of Commerce, Anderson Boats, Team E Outdoors, SFTackle.com, Aztec Bass Fishing, North Jersey Marine, Adirondack Reel Service, Triton Boats and Mercury Motors all sponsored the event.
For additional information on NYBCF tournaments contact Peter Knight at (315) 598-2971 or [email protected].