On Saturday night, August 8th, the Bergen Bassmasters began their marathon 11 hour night
tournament on Lake Hopatcong. With a full moon looming overhead, the 30 fishermen,
accompanied by at least three other bass tournaments, had the lake to themselves. A cool, cloudy,
and breezy night would change a few patterns developed while prefishing and anglers would be
forced to adapt to the change in conditions.
Club sophomore, Joe Willemsen placed second in last years rookie of the year race but there was no one in front of Joe after weigh-in early Sunday morning. Joe captured his first Bergen Bassmasters club victory with a limit of bass weighing 13 pounds 4 ounces. While he did not have any huge fish, his entire limit was made up of solid 2-3 bass. Joe was struggling with only two fish at 3:30 am but as the night turned into morning Joe got into gear. After losing a huge fish estimated at around 5 pounds, Joe went on to bag three more solid keepers by fishing 7 black power worms with rattles. Hi s main pattern involved fishing 4-5 depths on main lake points.
After finishing in 3rd in each of the last two night tournaments, Steve Rusert placed second at Hopacong with a limit weighing in at 11 pounds 4 ounces. Steve did quite well in practice, however, the night of the tournament produced only 5 bites for Steve. He was fortunate to land all five. Steve concentrated on four areas of the lake fishing a shallow water pattern revolving around weeds, rocks, and docks. His baits of choice were 4 and 7 black and red shad power worms. to bag his limit by 5:45am.
Finishing in third place at Hopatcong was non-boater, Frank Freguletti. Ftank also did well in
parctice but struggled early during the tournament. He did not land his first fish until 12:30 but
finished with 7 keepers. He concentrated mainly on rocks and weeds using black worms and black
spinnerbaits. Frank did manage one bass off of docks and said that his best action took place
Placing fourth and earning his first Bergen Top 5 finish was club rookie, Andy Karcich. Andy solidified his hold on the top rookie spot this year by weighing in a five bass limit at 10 pounds 7 ounces. He fished Pop-Rs and 7 black power worms around the edges of docks and on outside weedlines to bag a total of 8 keepers. Andy had steady action all night long and managed his limit by 2:30am. Having a very solid season thus far, Andy has himself in good position with only two tournaments remaining.
Rouding out the top five was Joe Dino. Now fishing as a non-boater, Joe utilized his knowledge
of Lake Hopatcong to cull up to a limit of bass totaling 10 pounds 6 ounces. This was his best
finish of 1998 thus far and a sigh that Joe can still put fish in the livewell even if it is from the back
of the boat.
Rich Gerken strengthened his reputation for catching big fish by once again landing the tournament lunker. This time around on Hopatcong, Richs lunker largemouth weighed in at 5 pounds 2 ounces.
In total, the 28 members and 2 observers combined for a total of 98 bass (3.5 bass avg. per angler) for 198 pounds 3 ounces. The catch was slightly off from last years totals of 26 anglers, 101 fish, and 203 pounds 6 ounces. Last years winning weight was 13 pounds 8 ounces.