On July 17th, the Bergen Bassmasters visited the Connecticut River for the first time and were greeted by temperatures in the high 90's, and heavy boat traffic. To reduce the stress on the fish, the bag limit was reduced to 5 fish per angler. Althought it was the first time on the river for most of the anglers, a number of limits came to the scales.
After over 10 years in the club and fishing his 73rd Bergen tournament, non-boater, Steve Schilling claimed his first ever points tournament victory. By bringing in the heaviest weigh-in he has had, Steve broke the jinx with 12 pounds 8 ounces and also recorded the tournament lunker with his 4 pound 8 ounce largemouth. Using an unconventional tactic on the river, Steve fished larger baits. His first two bass were caught on a black Jersey Rigg but the next three, including the lunker and another large fish fell for a 10 inch power worm. Steve was fishing a backwater area of the river loaded up with weeds.
Placing second was another non-boater, Andy Karcich. Andy is having a break through season. He started out by placing 9th at the NJ Federation Potomac River event and continued by faring well in the Bergen tournaments thus far. On this weekend, Andy would place second at the Connecticut River and then 3rd at the NJ Federation tournament at Lake Hopatcong the next day. At the River, Andy brought in a limit of bass weighing 11 pounds 12 ounces falling just short of not only the win but also for lunker. He had culled four fish and caught his limit on a variety of different colored power worms fishing both main river and creek areas concentrating on both weeds and rocks.
Rounding out the top three finishers, all happening to be non-boaters, was the top man in the club, Frank Freguletti. Frank claimed his third consecutive top five finish by placing third with a limit of fish weighing 10 pounds 8 ounces. Frank had the majority of his fish on 4" black power worms and added one on a spinnerbait. Frank's pattern was fishing main river spots south of the launch and claimed one spot procuded nearly 10 pounds for both he and his partner, Rich Gerken.
The top boater in the event was Eric Lehmann who brought in a limit weighing 8 pounds 7 ounces and placed fourth. As could be expected, Eric caught his fish on 4" black worms and fished mainly deep edges of the weedlines in the feeder creeks. He had three fish early and culled two fish.
Claiming his first top five finish this year, Terry Eckel also brought in a limit of bass. His total catch of 6 pounds 15 ounces moves Terry up in the standings. He concentrated on fishing the feeder creeks south of the Salmon River launch and caught his fish on both spinnerbaits and also on the Yammamoto Senko, a lure similiar to a Jersey Rigg.
In total, nearly all of the 28 club members brought in fish. The 78 total fish caught suprisingly consisted of only 13 smallmouth and the total weight was 130 pounds, 1 ounce. With the standings tightening up and the season entering the second half, many anglers have their eyes on the next event, the all nighter on Candlewood Lake.