Local anglers excel in pro bass tourney

Two local bass anglers have finished high in a professional bass tournament, and one is a repeater.

Two local bass anglers have finished high in a professional bass tournament, and one is a repeater.

Last week at the three-day Bassmaster Northern Divisional tournament on Lake Champlain, Latham’s Sean Wilkes worked his way from a first-day middle-of-the-pack (172-angler field) to 12th place after day two. But the former Capital District Bassmaster club member wasn’t done. His final day’s catch of 21 pounds, one ounce, the biggest five-bass daily total of the tournament, earned him second place with a total three-day catch of 54 pounds, 14 ounces and a payout of $18,037.

He finished less than two pounds behind the winner, Shin Fukae of Texas. Wilkes caught all of his largemouth limit flipping a black/blue half-ounce jig in shallow grass.

On the co-angler side, James Schneider of Watervliet won the $25,000 first-prize Triton 17 Pro bass boat and Yamaha 115-hp outboard with a three-day total catch of nine bass totaling 32 pounds, one ounce. He credited his win to a Li’l Hustler spinnerbait and tube baits. In these tournaments, the co-angler’s daily limit is three.

And speaking of Capital District Bassmasters, they recently fished their over-nighter at Port Au Roche Launch in Lake Champlain. The tournament, which was supposed to be a two-day event, had to be cut to one due to wind gusts of 30-35 mph. The one-day results were Dave Beemer of Averill Park, 14.36 pounds; Dave Goyette of Scotia, 13.68; John Whaley of Troy, 12.45; Tom LaRose of Troy, 11.28; Spencer Skoda of Glenville, 11.27; and Dave Reynolds of Schenectady, 10.69. Big bass honors went to Goyette with a 4.68-pound largemouth.

I guess the pro tournament on Lake Champlain did not interfere with the Greenbush Bass Association tournament out of the Ticonderoga Launch because the top five teams weighed in five-bass limits averaging three-plus pounds per fish.

Leading the way was the team of Jerry Gibson of Averill Park and Adam Bielawa of Ravena, 18.46, which included the tournament lunker, a 5.30-pound largemouth. Second was Ben Benkowski of Rotterdam and Todd Mitchetelli of Gansevoort, 17.60. North Greenbush anglers Gene Bielawa and Bill Allie had 16.09 pounds. Champlain is definitely a “bass factory.”

The Mohawk River continues to be giving up good smallmouth bass, as evidenced by the top two teams in the Mohawk Valley Angler’s Club Three-Man Spring event held out of Dufels Road launch. The top two Schenectady angler teams were: Mike Capullo and Noel Mikins with 13.08, and Lewis and Scott Kilm with 13.01 pounds that included the tournament lunker, a 3.49-pound smallie.

The Saratoga Tackle Bass Challenge set another attendance record with 29 teams entering last week’s Tuesday evening tournament. For the first time since this tournament began, there was a tie for total weight (12.42 pounds) by two Saratoga Springs teams. The rule says that the winner, when there is a tie, is broken by the biggest single fish. The team of PJ Peculis and Bill Marshall had a 4.24-pound largemouth and received first-place cash of $653. Their big bass was also the lunker, worth $280.

Tony Pascucci of Saratoga Springs, who fished alone, was second and received $391. The Saratoga Springs team of Mike Schliecher and Nick Loan was third with 11.46 pounds, worth $261.

Just around the corner from Saratoga Lake, little Lake Lonely was giving up some big largemouths the same day and time as the contest on Saratoga Lake to two of the single-person, one-bass tournament anglers. Milton angler Cody Coulter won with a 5.4-pounder, and Scena Meader of Saratoga Springs, who fished from a row boat, brought in a 5.1-pounder.

According to Bill Parry of the Lake Lonely Boat Livery, the bass are biting, but it requires patience and know-how to fish a plastic worm.

Guide report

Capt. Stephen George of Allwater Guide Service reports a good walleye, trout and bass bite on his last four trips on the Great Sacandaga Lake. The Rhineharts, from Ohio, landed a four-pound brown trout and nine walleyes, a Schoharie couple hooked up with 11 ’eyes and an Iraq veteran through the Guides for Veterans organization boated a 3 1⁄2-pound rainbow and five keeper walleyes.

And lastly, a night bass fishing outing not only included an 18 1⁄2-inch bass, but also walleye and perch. I believe the ’eyes are still attracted to a worm-rigged harness trolled deep.

My time on the water

My daughter Sheila, her husband, Matt Dunston, my 3-year-old grandson Sammy and 1-year-old granddaughter Sydney recently moved from Virginia to Saratoga Springs.

Before they moved, Matt said he wanted to have Sammy and himself learn to fish. Obviously, I was happy about that, and last week, Matt and I went to the Upper Hudson.

The evening before, he told my daughter he was not as interested in taking the fish off as he was catching it. She smiled and told him, “You’ll take one off.”

Both my son Sean and daughter learned to fish at a young age.

Once on the Hudson, it was wacky worm lesson time, and within a few casts, he was ready. I told him all that was required was to cast, close the bail and let it sink. That was the “do nothing” method.

It didn’t take long before he boated a small largemouth that I photographed with him holding the fish up by the line. The next two fish were a bit bigger, and I showed him how to quiet a bass by holding a thumb in its mouth and applying pressure with the rest of your fingers pressing up beneath its lower jaw.

Several fish later, he caught his biggest bass, a smallmouth close to three pounds that danced its way into the net. Once in the boat, he held the fish properly and I took the photo. I’m sure he and I will be out on the water more this season, and Sammy will also be out there with us.

Get the kids out and fishing!

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