Cold and rainy opener at Candlewood yields some big smallmouth
The Bergen Bassmasters kicked off their 2015 tournament season at Candlewood Lake on Monday April 20th. Although the lake had only iced out barely a week earlier, temperatures were in the upper 40’s and the fish were eager to get into their spring patterns. Beautiful days leading up to the event made for a difficult practice and finding a solid pattern wasn’t an easy endeavor. Monday’s weather turned nasty as torrential rains soaked Bergen contestants throughout the entire event and steady winds and stronger gusts made for challenging conditions. Although the weather wasn’t pleasant, it seemed to kick the fish into high gear and as usual, a few anglers found the big girls and landed some very nice bags of fish. These anglers consistently have been catching big bags of springtime fish on Candlewood using tactics and locations they’ve learned through spending quite a bit of time on the lake, fishing numerous opens in addition to Bergen events. Experience once again paid dividends for these top five finishers.
Over the past few years, Mike Rinaldi has logged countless hours on Candlewood learning it’s structure, migration routes, and consistent fish holding areas both shallow and deep in areas spread across the lake. During practice, Mike used this time to locate the areas with the warmest water and to check the general locations of the fish. Convinced the shallow bite was not yet solid, Mike opted to concentrate on deeper water cover. With the cold water, Mike opted to downsize his line and his baits and reports the key for him was to fish as slow as possible – like “watching paint dry” slow. The tactic was hugely successful as Mike boated around 20 keepers that day. He culled a few times up to 17 pounds 3 ounces. Mike also landed the tournament lunker, a huge 4 pound 11 ounce smallmouth.
Vern Gatson had an eventful practice where his buddy landed a 35 pound striped bass off the Danbury town beach but otherwise, he managed to locate some deep fish in the southern section of the lake. After much success last year in the New Milford arm, Vern opted to start on his these areas but after managing just one fish in that arm, which happened to have colder water than down south, he made the move that would pay off for him. Switching and fishing docks in about 15’ of water in the Danbury arm with a ¼ ounce rigged original Keitech spider, Vern located a small area holding some sizeable fish. Staying there and working them by fishing slow, Vern culled up to a very solid 16 pound 12 ounce limit.
Jason Mordhorst, the currently reigning Angler of Year, started his quest for his third straight title with a strong 3rd place finish to start 2015. He fished painfully slow utilizing spiders fished in areas of chunk rock. Keeping the boat in deeper water, Jason concentrated on 6-12’ depths. He relied on his knowledge of migration routes on Candlewood as these spots have previously proven successful in the spring. He felt the key to his top finish was to wait out the fish along spots on these routes. His morning started with smaller fish but as he returned to the same spots later in the day, it seemed larger fish started moving up. He eventually culled through 10 keepers up to a very nice bag of fish weighing in at 16 pounds 7 ounces.
Fourth place at Candlewood with 15 pound 9 ounce limit of smallmouth was Chris Liobis. Also placing in the top 5 in last season’s opener, Chris is quickly getting the reputation as a serious contender whenever the jerkbait bite on. He located some fish in practice, concentrating on points where smallies had started moving up and along bluff areas in water as deep as 20’. Like others, Chris found that many of his spots but felt the key for him was knowing when to move and not stay too long in hopes of coaxing fish to bite that may not be there. He was confident in his technique and kept moving to locate the fish. That technique paid off with a couple of four pounders and 8 keepers total for the day.
Frank Freguletti has had quite a few top finishes at Candlewood over his many years with Bergen but in this event, Frank would be fishing his first as a new boater. Frank really struggled in practice, catching only 2 fish in two prior outings on the big lake. On Monday, with the conditions changing, so did Frank’s luck. Like other top finishers, Frank moved around quite a bit in order to find the active fish. He found them in 10’-15’ of water relatively close to a shallow spawning flat. He then alternated a variety of different jerkbaits fished super slowly to coax up 6 fish for the day, culling once. His most productive bait was a Megabass Vision 110 and Frank’s limit totaled 15 pounds 4 ounces garnishing him 5th place overall.
The top non boater for the event was Bruce MacConchie who just missed a limit but brought in 4 solid smallmouth for a total weight of 9 pounds 12 ounces and 10th place overall.
In total, the combination of the late ice out, very cold water temperatures, and driving rain and winds throughout the day dampened what is usually a very good kick off event. The 31 club anglers managed to bring in 84 fish, 11 limits, for a total weight of 215 pounds 8 ounces.
|Place||Angler||Fish||LM||SM||Released||Total Weight (Oz)||Points||Picture Available|
|25||Richard Logan Jr||0||0||0||0||0.00||4||X|
|25||Richard Logan Sr||0||0||0||0||0.00||4||X|