Congero Conjurs up his first Club Victory at Candlewood Night tournament
On Saturday night, July 25th, the Bergen Bassmasters once again fished Candlewood Lake for their annual summertime marathon 10 hour night tournament. After holding the open buddy tournament at Candlewood the prior week with some mixed results, this year’s event still held promise of the potential for a huge bag of smallmouth despite some lower than average weights being caught. With the quality and large numbers of smallmouth in the 4 pound plus category that Candlewood produces, a 20 pound string is not unheard of and a common theme of “black spinnerbaits” could be heard coming from most of the competitors in this event although not everyone was to locate the numbers of smallies.
One non-boater went a bit against “convention wisdom” and worked some magic on the Candlewood smallmouth. Rich Congero, a Bergen Bassmasters sophomore, shifted from the thumping blade of a black spinnerbait to instead use the wobbling of a white chatterbait to bag solid numbers of sizable fish. Despite losing a few big fish, which inevitably happens with nighttime smallmouth, Rich still managed to catch a total weight of 15.38 pounds for his first ever, Bergen victory.
A consistent top finisher and current leader in the Angler of the Year race, Vern Gatson has come close but has yet to capture his first win. At Candlewood, he would come as close as possible, finishing as the runner up just 1/100th of a pound, the equivalent of about 1/16th of an ounce, behind. Once again, Vern brought a big bag to the scales, this time with 15.37 pounds of smallmouth. He used a black spinnerbait to catch his fish. With over 40 pounds in just 3 tournaments, Vern’s catches have him building his lead for 1st overall and could see him challenging the record for heaviest total weight caught in a season, currently held by Jason Mordhorst who had 83 pounds 12 ounces in 2013.
After a top finish at the open buddy the prior week and a few very successful pre-fishing outings, Bill Vella entered Candlewood confident of taking a check at the regular club tournament and leapfrogging back up the standings. Although the really big fish didn’t turn up, Bill still amassed a very nice 15.21 pound limit finishing the equivalent of only 2 ounces back from the eventual winner. Using his own custom made namesake bait, a bustin billy bass black spinnerbait, he caught numerous fish which were absolutely hammering the big thumping blade – it’s no longer a secret as club members were stocking up on the now famous baits in the parking lot before the event from Bill’s mobile tackle shop out of his Ranger boat.
After missing the Zoar tournament, John Ernest returned and once again placed in the money with the fourth 15 pound plus bag of the tournament. John’s 15.01 pound limit was also caught on black spinnerbaits (we suspect the same billy bass version) and landed John in 4th place for the event.
The top five was rounded out by John Hayden who also had some good success with quality fish the prior week prefishing. John’s limit weighed in at 14.34 pounds.
For a change of pace, the lunker for the event was not won by a member placing in the top five. Rather, John Giordano landed a big 4.77 pound largemouth which edged out a few of the 4 pound smallies brought to the scales.
|Place||Angler||Fish||LM||SM||Released||Weight (Oz)||Weight (Dec)||Points||Picture Available|
|13||Richard Logan Sr||4||2||2||4||8.06||8.390||28||X|
|14||Richard Logan Jr||3||0||3||3||7.05||7.340||27||X|