The Bergen Bassmasters concluded their 1998 tournament season with a trip back up to Candlewood Lake in Connecticut. Candlewood, a club favorite in the spring, would be a challenge for the Bergen members. The cold nights had the lake turning over prior to the tournament and water temperatures were around 61 degrees throughout most of the lake. The event would decide many of this season's races which were tight going into this final event. Brian Mahoney was in 1st place overall having a small lead on the number two spot. Jack Erdei, the top non-boater had only a 1 point lead over his nearest competitor and Bill Vella was still within striking distance as Andy Karcich had the lead for the top rookie. A little luck would go a long way in this tough tournament.
Claiming his second Bergen victory this season was Pat Van Wettering. Pat had the heaviest catch with his winning weight at Twin Lakes and nearly had the heaviest bass of the year with his 5 pound 13 ounce lunker here at Candlewood. He added another quality bass for a total of two bass weighing 9 pounds 9 ounces. Amazingly, both fish were landed within minutes of each other while Pat was fishing the Sherman arm of the lake. He used 6" Blue Fleck worms fished along weed pockets near the deeper weedline and both fish were caught around 11:30am.
Greg Trass solidified his spot in the top six overall once again by placing second at Candlewood. Greg is a consistent producer on Candlewood and this tournament would be no different. He landed two quality bass, each in the 3 pound range, for a combined total weight of 6 pounds 10 ounces. An astonishing fact; Greg has finished in the top six overall 8 out of 11 years in the club missing only in 1997, 1994, and 1992. Each of those years, Greg had to miss a tournament yet still placed in the top 12 each time.
By finishing third at Candlewood, Mark Scocco had earned enough points to move into the number one spot overall. It was Mark's second time winning the Angler of the Year prize. He had won the award back in 1995 and placed 2nd overall in 1992 and 1994. Mark's Candlewood catch was made up of three bass for a total weight of 4 pounds 14 ounces. His first two fish were caught on white spinnerbaits with white blades fished offshore near rocks and inside weedlines. The third was caught off a deep weedline on a Luhr Jensen Speed Trap. He credits his high speed Team Daiwa reel since he caught his fish while "burning" the spinnerbait as fast as he could reel. All three fish were caught in Danbury Bay before 8:30am.
The fourth place finisher was Nick Albano. Nick also staked his claim on a top six overall spot with his strong finish here at Candlewood. Nick capped off an excellent season which saw him place in the top 10 in 6 of 7 tournaments. His Candlewood catch included 2 bass for a total of 4 pounds 4 ounces. Nick had fared well at a two day tournament held the prior week at Candlewood although it was a tough bite then as well. This time around, he decided to start off in a deep cove. There, he saw some baitfish activity and decided to throw a Pop-R. It proved to be a good choice as both of his fish fell for the topwater despite the cold temperatures.
Placing fifth at Candlewood and moving up to second place overall was Eric Lehmann. Eric returned to Bergen this year after a three year absence and proved that he still has what it takes to make the top six. Eric landed three bass at Candlewood for a total weight of 3 pounds 15 ounces. His three bass were caught early in the tournament in Danbury Bay. One bass fell for a speed trap and the other two were caught on Eric's trademark 4" black power worm.
Honorable mention goes out to Doug Giachino who tied with Kirk Stober for sixth place at Candlewood, each with 3 pounds 6 ounces. This time was Kirk's third straight 6th place finish. However, the three strong finishes helped Kirk to slide up into the top six overall finishing in
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Candlewood indeed proved to be a tough tournament as the club recorded it's lowest catch of the season. The 30 club members weighed in only 29 bass for a total weight of 57 pounds 3 ounces. All fish were released alive.