On August 28-29, 1999 the Bergen Bassmasters returned to Lake Bomoseen for their annual weekend Club Classic. Bomoseen was the site of last year's event where the club saw over 20 bass exceeding 4 pounds come to the scale during the two-day competition, including 6 over 5 pounds. Most club anglers enjoyed the prospect that a big fish might be caught at any time although bites were not as easy to come by.
In the future, 1999 may be remembered as the year of the Non-Boater. For the third time this season, a non-boater scored the tournament victory as club veteran Joe Dino was the only angler to catch limits both days of the event. Each day, his creel included a 4 pound bass that pushed his two-day total weight to 24 pounds 14 ounces, a record for the heaviest winning catch at a club classic. The record was set by Terry Eckel at last year's Bomoseen event with his 23 pound 3 ounce catch. Joe's first day's limit weighed in at 13 pounds 10 ounces. His pattern that day involved fishing dark colored Yammamoto Senkos along a well defined weedline that dropped into 15-17 feet of water. On day two, Joe's total was 11 pounds 4 ounces. Those fish were mostly caught early in the day once again on Senkos and he added a 4 pounder on a crankbait. This day, he landed four bass around 15 foot deep scattered clumps of milfoil and finished off his limit around noon along the productive day one weedline. Joe's margin of victory was 9 pounds 13 ounces and was the largest ever in a classic.
Joe's first day partner was Mark Scocco who placed second in the tournament. Mark placed third at last year's Bomoseen Classic but his spots from last year were unproductive in 1999. During practice both he and Joe, while fishing separately, stumbled onto the same productive weedline. The 50 yard stretch would produce a limit of bass for Mark on day 1 that weighed 9 pounds 5 ounces. His bite was mainly an early one as he caught 4 bass by 8am on chartreuse dipped Senkos. He finished his limit after 2pm on a black Senko. On the second day, Mark once again landed three quick bass on the chartreuse Senkos along the deep weedline but his bite slowed as fishing pressure from numerous boats in the area forced him to seek other areas. His day two total of 5 pounds 12 ounces gave him a two day total of 15 pounds 1 ounce, enough to garnish the runner-up spot.
After a slow practice and an even slower first tournament day, Kirk Stober came to life and day two by having one his best even days on the water. Although he failed to weigh a bass on day one. Kirk chose an area where he had lost a big bass the first day. The area was holding fish as he quickly limited by 7:30am on day two. He continued to cull his way through at least 18 keepers up to an eventual total of 14 pounds 14 ounces. That weight was to be the largest catch of the tournament and vaulted Kirk all the way up into third place. Kirk utilized pearl white Senkos fished off the deep weedline in water as deep as 20 feet. His key however was to fish with the drift. As wind picked up during the day, he fished with the wind to allow the bait to drop deeper more easily. The tactic allowed the weightless bait to fall to the needed depths where the fish were holding. The successful tactic also landed Kirk the runner up lunker on day two as well with his 4 pound 9 ounce kicker fish.
Finishing in fourth place was a perennial Classic contender, Alvin Walters. Fishing with a faulty trolling motor for two days, Alvin once again fished a productive shallow water pattern that gave up 9 bass for him over the two days including a four pounder on day one. It also gave up another two four pounders in practice. Fishing the outside edges of shallow water slop in the north end of the lake, Alvin managed 4 fish for 8 pounds 3 ounces on day one. On the second day, he managed his limit of bass but could not get the big one as his limit added another 6 pounds 1 ounce to give him a total of 14 pounds 4 ounces.
Although Jim Hallihan did not manage too many bites during his two days of competition, the quality of fish that he caught allowed him to place 5th in the event. On day one, Jim's two bass totaled 6 pounds 11 ounces and included the first day's lunker; a four pound 15 ounce largemouth. On the second day, Jim once again brought two bass to the scale. This day, his catch once again included a four pound bass and totaled 6 pounds 15 ounces. His final weight for the tournament was 13 pounds 10 ounces. Using the lure of choice for the tournament, Jim used an assortment of different colored Senkos including pumpkin, white, and black. He added another fish on a 6" blue fleck curly tail power worm. Jim was concentrating on fishing inside weedlines in 5-6' of water. His lunker on day one was caught at the mouth of a cove in the shallow water at around 1:30 in the afternoon.
Other notable catches include two fantastic showings by club observers, however, observers are not permitted to hold placement in the tournament. Billy Westergaard landed two nice fish on day one to total 7 pounds 15 ounces. On day two he added a 10 pound 7 ounce limit to total 18 pounds 6 ounces for the tournament. Leave of absence member, Ron Fairbanks also fared well bringing in a 10 pound 12 ounce limit on day one that included a 4 pound 9 ounce smallmouth. On day two he added another 7 pounds 4 ounces for an 18 pound total. Jack Erdei had a slow first day but made up for it by catching the lunker on day two with his four pound 10 ounce largemouth.
This year, the team format was held differently by allowing the teams to be formed draft style where the captains selected their members. Partner pairings had teammates in the boat together which were also selected by the teams themselves. It was a very successful format which was liked by nearly every competitor. The team captained by Eric Lehmann held a huge 23 pound lead after the first day and managed to hold on to win by over 16 pounds. The team was anchored by the overall winner, Joe Dino's 24.14. Other members included Ron Fairbanks with 18 pounds, Mark Scocco with 15 pounds 1 ounce, Scott Mitchell with 11 pounds, John Ernest with 8 pounds 10 ounces, Alan Goldman with 7 pounds 9 ounces, the captain added 7 pounds 5 ounces, and Norm Trass contributed 3 pounds 13 ounces. The total weight for the team was 96 pounds 4 ounces.
A total of 7 limits were weighed in compared to only 2 last year. 3 were weighed on day 1 while 4 came to the scales on day 2. Anglers weighing in limits were Joe Dino, Ron Fairbanks, Mark Scocco, Alvin Walters, Kirk Stober, and Billy Westergaard. Joe was the only angler to weigh limits both days.
The club caught a total of 119 fish and all but 1 was released alive. The total weight was 253.08. Last year, with 3 fewer anglers, the club weighed in only 73 fish for 181 pounds.
Although last year's tournament produced more than 20 fish over 4 pounds and 6 over 5, this year's largest bass during the tournament was Jim Hallihan's 4 pound 15 ounce day 1 lunker. However, while an actual number is not known, it is estimated than 15 bass over 4 pounds were brought in.
After failing to weigh fish on day 1, Kirk Stober and Joe Willemsen both rebounded tremendously on day two. Kirk limited with the heaviest catch of the entire tournament, 14 pounds 14 ounces. In fact, Kirk landed more than 3 limits of fish during the second day. Joe Willemsen landed 4 nice bass including two big smallies for a 12 pound 8 ounces.
With water temperatures in the 74-75 degree range, many locals pointed out that the water was the warmest they had seen it in many years. That factor combined with other tournaments being held on the lake on both Saturday and Sunday made conditions more difficult than expected.
Last year, the winning weight for the team was 61 pounds for 7 anglers; an average of 8.71 pounds per team member. This year, the winning team weight of 96.04 was for eight team members; an average of just over 12 pounds per angler.