On September 19-20, 1998, the Bergen Bassmasters conducted their annual weekend Classic. Lake Bomoseen in Vermont, was the location for this year's event and was suggested by Kirk Stober and Brian Mahoney after a successful outing last year. The lake has a reputation for having some difficult fishing at times but it is also known to produce some quality fish. The 28 Bergen members and observers discovered the quality of bass that reside in the lake despite the low numbers of fish caught. Over the two day event, a total of 20 bass over four pounds were to be weighed in including 6 over 5 pounds, 4 of which were weighed in on day two.
Terry Eckel captures his first ever club victory by demonstrating consistency over the two-day event. Terry brought three bass to the scales on day one, two of which were over four pounds each, for a first day total of 11 pounds, 9 ounces. Residing in second place after the first day, Terry moved into the winner's circle by bagging the only day 2 limit weighed in totaling 11 pounds 10 ounces. His two day total of 23 pounds 3 ounces fell just short of the Classic record for winning weight, set last year at Ticonderoga. Terry had vacationed at Bomoseen with his family this past Memorial Day weekend, taking time to learn the lake. He was then able to maximizing his pre-fishing time the two days prior to the tournament to develop the winning pattern.
Steve Rusert had fished Bomoseen many years ago. He started his practice by catching two bass over 7 pounds each and added a four pounder as well. Steve strengthened his pattern in practice and parlayed it into a huge day one catch of 16 pounds 7 ounces. However on day two, the changing conditions shut his pattern down as Steve brought in one bass at 2 pounds 5 ounces. His two day total of 18 pounds 12 ounces was enough to hang on for second place. Steve's total catch also anchored his team to capturing the honors for top total team weight at the Classic. Steve's primary pattern involved fishing Jersey Riggs around both shallow docks and also along 15' deep weedlines. Since the Rigg is usually fished weightless, it took patience to fish the bait that slowly over the deep weeds.
Mark Scocco placed in third with a total weight of 17 pounds 11 ounces. Mark had also vacationed on Bomoseen this past Memorial Day weekend. A spot found then combined with another produced two big fish for Mark during the Classic. An isolated dock adjacent to 35' of water produced nearly 15 pounds of fish in the first 10 mintues of the second day. However, two large fish totaling about 7.5 pounds snapped his line due to a crack in a rod guide that freyed his line; a lesson to all to check your equipment before each event. Mark's day one partner, Joe Dino, turned him onto a deep water ledge which dropped from 20' to 42'. There, Mark caught a 4 pound 5 ounce smallmouth on the first day along with two other bass and added another 3 pound smallie there on day two. He utilized a 7" blue fleck worm with a 3/8 oz weight in the deeper water. Other baits that produced for Mark was a silver Jersey Rigg and a alewife Slug-go. He also was consistent weighing in 8 pounds 14 ounces on day one and then he anchored his day two catch with a 5 pound 2 ounce largemouth for a total of 8 pounds 13 ounces.
Ron Fairbanks, fishing his first Bergen Classic, demonstrated his ability to locate fish on unfamiliar bodies of water by placing fourth at Bomoseen with a two day total weight of 15 pounds 10 ounces. Ron concentrated on fishing outside edges of milfoil in 10-15' of water in main lake weedlines. He caught most of his fish prior to 9am both days by fishing topwater baits such as a Super Pop-R and a ZZ-top. Each day, Ron weighed in a largemouth that weighed in over four pounds. After day one, Ron was in 6th place with 6.04 but moved into fourth overall by weighing in 9 pounds 6 ounces on the second day.
Non boater, John Ernest, placed fifth overall at Bomoseen by weighing in a two day catch of 12 pounds 9 ounces. John's weight was anchored by the 5 pound 1 ounce day 1 lunker which edged Steve Rusert's 5 pounder by only an ounce. John spent most of the first day in the front of the boat as his best friend and day 1 partner, Jim Hallihan attempted to help out by creating a "chum slick" to offset the clear water conditions on the lake. John's fish were all caught on soft plastic. He used 4" black power worms in 2' of water for largemouth and 7" blue fleck worms fished in 30' depths for a few smallies on day 2. John's 4 fish catch of 6 pounds 14 ounces on day 2 vaulted him into the fifth place slot.
Honorable mention to Kirk Stober who placed in 6th at the event with 11 pounds 7 ounces . Kirk bagged two fish each day and his day one weight of 6 pounds 13 ounces was anchored by a 4 pound 13 ounce largemouth.
Another non-boater, Frank Freguletti, landed the day two lunker and also the big fish for the entire event with his 5 pound 6 ounce largemouth. The big bass edged out Jim Hallihan's 5 pound 4 ounce fish by only two ounces and was Frank's personal largest bass that has caught.
In the team competition, Steve Rusert, Ron Fairbanks, and Norm Trass helped to anchor the winning catch of just over 61 total pounds. After having a commanding lead of nearly 15 pounds after day one. The team slipped as Mark Scocco's team rebounded with a few five pounders to close the margin of victory to only 8 pounds. The winning team consisted of Steve Rusert, Ed Schickman, Alvin Walters, Ron Fairbanks, Rich Gerken, Andy Karcich, and Norm Trass.
Big Largemouth: Frank Freguletti 5.06, Jim Hallihan 5.04, Mark Scocco 5.02, John Ernest 5.01, Norm Trass 5.01, Steve Rusert 5.00
Big Smallmouth: Mark Scocco 4.05
Steve Rusert and Terry Eckel were the only two angler to record 5 bass limits during the entire event.
Terry Eckel recorded three bass in the 4.5 pound range over the two day event.
Steve Rusert set a record for heaviest one day Classic catch with 16 pounds 7 ounces on Saturday.