In nine days, the Saratoga Race Course gates will be open and “THEY'RE OFF!”
I have been a resident of Saratoga Springs since 1968, and for the past 10 years have had the pleasure of bass fishing with many of the horse owners, jockeys and trainers, veterinarians and out-of-town visitors to the track and their families.
Bass fishing did not get into my blood until I joined the Capital District Bassmasters club in 1974, which was the beginning of a series of bass boats and bass tournaments. I definitely became a “bass fishing junkie.”
It was during this time that I met Jerry Brown of Mechanicville, also a club member. "Brownie" and a group of about 20 members fished weekend club tournaments, and some of us fished other open tournaments, most of which were on local waters.
It was in 1981 that the club wanted to fish a partners tournament (one member and one nonmember). We thought it might be a way to get more members. One of those nonmembers that wanted to fish was a 12-year-old kid, Brownie’s son. No one wanted to fish with him because of his age. I took him, and I am very glad I did. He fished very well that day.
How well? At the weigh-in the day of this tournament, Brownie’s kid and I won! When I was asked about him, all I could say was “The kid can fish.” And I never, to this day, let those who didn’t want him as a partner forget that a 12-year old kid and I kicked their butts.
Now this young man was Chad Brown, who now lives in Saratoga. If you are a thoroughbred racing fan, I am sure you have heard of him and seen him at the track or on TV. I guarantee he will be at the track on July 20, opening day.
As for his fishing now, he and his brother Todd have partnered up when Chad can, to fish the Saratoga Bass Challenge tournament on Saratoga Lake. Sign-up and weigh-in for the tournaments, held 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, is at Lee’s Campground. In a field of 40 teams last year, the Brown brothers ended the year finishing fourth overall. And at the tournament weigh-ins, the whole family is there to greet the Brown team.
As for his horse training abilities, Google “chad brown.” You will be impressed.
I think I might ask their father, Brownie, if he wants to partner up for one of these Tuesday night tournaments and see if we can’t out-fish his two boys and my son Sean and his partner Jim Bubb.
Since I have been talking about the Capital District Bassmasters club, I have been keeping a secret about one of our tournaments in which I CHEATED. John Michaels arranged with the city of Mechanicville to use a building there to teach a dozen or so youngsters how to fish.
I believe we held four seminars for the kids and we supplied all the equipment. At the end of the four seminars, the participants were invited to fish a kids' tournament that would be held on the Mohawk River. There was one youngster who was blind that I had worked with on casting, and I was going to fish the tournament with him in my boat.
It was a three-hour tournament and all of the kids weighed in five-bass limits. All the kids received trophies, but the biggest trophy went to my kid and everyone was happy for him. I can still picture that big smile when we handed him the trophy. I don’t think I was the only one with wet eyes.
Now for my confession. The day before the contest my friend, the late Dan Kwasnicki and I went to the Mohawk with his boat and went down one lock below where we were holding the tournament. We spent several hours fishing and the 5 biggest smallmouth went into his live-well. We then went down behind an island, put the bass in a large cage, anchored it and marked the spot with a bobber and left.
The next morning before the tournament began, Dan launched his boat early, went behind the island and put out his anchor. My young angler, who was very excited, and I were the only boat that locked down. I stopped my boat behind the island, dropped anchor and had my young hunter cast toward Dan. I can tell you when Dan attached that first bass to his line and Dan dropped it in the water -- the fun began. My young angler was one excited young man. Would I do it again? Under the same circumstances, absolutely.
JOIN A BASS CLUB
Prior to my joining a bass club, when I fished I would only fish for pike. But when my friend Les Bonesteel bought a bass boat and he twisted my arm to join a bass club with him, I agreed. And I am so glad I did. I began as a “no boater” and fished with those club members who had boats. That is where I learned a LOT about bass fishing. However, it did not take me long to find myself in a new 16-foot Ranger bass boat, and I've had nine boats since then.
Give it a try – I know you will like it. Here is a list of the bass clubs in this area: Capital District Bassmaster, Helderberg, Greenbush Bass, Mohawk Valley Anglers and Mohawk Masters Singleman. Google these and see what they are all about.
Reach Ed Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.