Skanateles Lake Classic – A bass catching Bonanza!
The Bergen Bassmasters ventured north to the Finger
Lakes region of New York and a new locale for its 2-day Bergen Classic.
The site, Skaneateles Lake, is primarily known for smallmouth
although considered rare, can be found in limited sections of the lake.
It’s crystal clear waters provide drinking water for the Syracuse
region, and it’s typically not heavily fished for bass.
Also a new concept this year, he classic shifted from its usual late
August-early September timeframe and instead was held opening day weekend,
June 20th and 21st.
During practice the week leading up to the event,
nearly all anglers were reporting catching dozens of fish each day on just
about any bait they threw out there.
However, a lot of small fish were being caught and it seemed an
angler had to “weed through” 25-30 fish in order to catch a solid one in the
3 pound class. Vets who had
fished the lake before claimed there were a lot of quality fish to be had
but it seemed the smallies had just finished bedding and the females were
much more difficult to locate the smaller males still running the banks.
Of course, as usual, it would be largemouth that would play a serious
role in the top finishers bags but a smallmouth king proved that it’s only a
matter of finding the right fish. After
a slight “delay” due to a local disgruntled person deciding to illegally
chain closed the gate at the entrance of the State boat launch, the event
eventually got started and the
day was saved by John Ernest who “just so happened” to have a pair of bolt
cutters in his truck. After
receiving permission from the local constable to cut the chain, the clubs
launched and 20 minutes later, the event was off and running.
Having never seen the lake before and arriving Friday
night, essentially going blind into the tournament, club sophomore Chris
Liobis still had some ideas from his teammates as to what to expect.
Having already pulled in some quality bags of smallmouth in Bergen
events, Chris proved once again that he has what it takes to locate the big
ones. On Day one, Chris charged
out to a big lead that he would not relinquish.
With a huge 14.46 bag of 5 smallmouth anchored by the 4.07 day 1
lunker, Chris held a pound and a half lead going into Day 2.
Continuing with the same pattern the next day, he managed the second
heaviest bag on Sunday with 12.06 limit of 5 smallmouth for 16.52 total
pounds and winning by a huge margin of almost 4 and a half pounds.
Chris was fishing swimbaits in and around grouping of docks and then
in between docks backing off and fishing rows of rocks sitting in about
Although Chris weighed in two big bags of smallies, it
was largemouth that would anchor the bags of 3 of the next 4 finishers.
Doug Giachino opted to primarily fish the southern area
of the lake and specifically was targeting largemouth.
On Saturday, although his limit did have 3 smallmouth in it, he
managed to locate some largemouth to round out his creel.
Although his 7.41 pounds had Doug in the middle of the pack, he was
confident going into Sunday that he had some largemouth to go to and
committed to fishing that pattern.
It was a choice that really paid off as he boated about 2 limits
worth of largemouth, culling up to the biggest 5 fish limit of the
tournament at 14.69 pounds. The
huge day 2 catch sky rocketed Doug up the ranking to place 2nd
overall with 22.10 pounds. His
pattern involved fishing black Senkos Texas style around Lilly pads in about
2’ of water. His bag was
anchored by the 4.33 pound day 2 lunker – although the biggest fish honors
went to Eric Lehman who opted to not partake in the lunker pool.
Eric’s huge smallmouth weighed in at 4.83 pounds.
Placing third was the angler most had pegged as
favorite to take home the win mainly due to the experience he has fishing
Skaneatales Lake. John’s strong
skills as a finesse fisherman played right into the clear water and
smallmouth and he fished those strengths to amass two nice bags of smallies.
On Day 1, John fished 3” senkos in slightly deeper water along rock
lines in 10-14 feet of water.
Although some fish came shallower, he better ones were caught off the banks
along windy shorelines. His
11.83 limit on day 1 had John within striking distance of first place.
On Day2, John still managed another nice bag of smallies at 9.29 to
solidify his top 3 finish.
Placing 4th and 5th were a pair known as
excellent shallow water Senko fishermen, both of whom targeted largemouth in
areas in both the north and south ends of the lakes.
Steve Rusert was also fishing to his strength throwing Senkos at
basically any shallow piece of cover, weeds, pads, docks, logs, etc.
On Day 1, his limit of largemouth weighed in at 12.78 pounds and on
day two, he added a smallie and another 4 largemouth for 8.08 pounds and a
20.86 pound two day total.
Locating his fish earlier in the practice week, Bill
Vella opted to fish for shallow largemouth that could been seen in and
around spawning beds. Also using
a Senko, Billy managed a nice limit of largemouth on day 1 at 12.97 pounds
which had him in 2nd place after day 1.
Day two proved a little more challenging for Bill and he had to rely
on some back up smallmouth areas to amass another 7.68 pounds for a total of
20.65 pounds which was good enough for 5th place.
The team competition was among the closet in Bergen
Classic history with all three teams only separated by a mere 2.5 pounds
after day 1 but one day 2, Team Hayden pulled out the victory anchored by
having 4 of the top 5 tournament finishers.
Team captain, John Hayden and the cast consisting of Doug Giachino,
Steve Rusert, Bill Vella, Mark Scocco, John Ernest, Bruce McConchie, and
Alan Goldman all brought limits to the scales day two to ensure the victory.
In all, an amazing number of fish were caught and
although the size wasn’t as impressive as had been expected, there were
still some pretty hefty bags brought to the scales.
On day one, 20 of the 26 anglers brought limits to the scales but on
the shorter, 7 hour day2, an amazing 23 limits were caught by the 26 club