Lake Hopatcong Interview

Three-Peat for Van Wettering!

The Bergen Bassmasters continued their 2002 tournament trail with yet another very difficult and challenging tournament. On September 21st, 32 members struggled on a stingy Lake Hopatcong to catch only a total of 39 keeper bass and a total weight of only 63 pounds 3 ounces. Although no one member was able to bring a limit to the scales, just managing a single keeper proved to be rewarding in points towardds the year-to-date standings. After this event, the top twelve was sure to shuffle.

Pat Van Wettering not only continued his strangle hold on the first place overall position, he also tied a club record with his third win of the season. The record held by Nick Albano in 1993 seemed a difficult feat to match but Pat will have an opportunity to break that record at the final event on Greenwood. Pat considers Hopatcong to be his home lake and he did his homework leading up to this event. He spent numerous days pre-fishing looking for the best morning spot and that strategy proved critical. He caught all four of his bass in the first two hours of the event. His 8 pound 1 ounce total was caught using a Zara Spook and a modified white spinnerbait in the Byram Cove area. Pat removed from the front blade from a tandem spinnerbait to give the lure more vibration.

Lake Hopatong is also the home lake of the runner-up, Darrell Barrett, literally. Darryl lives on the lake and used his knowledge there to boat three bass for a total of 5 pounds 3 ounces. The second place finish is his first top five tournament finish with the club. He worked hard to boat his bass catching two on a lizard and one on a spinnerbait concentrating on fishing weeds.

After a tough Hudson event that may have ruined his chances for an unprecedented third straight Angler of the Year title, John Ernest bounced right back into the top six overall by placing third at Lake Hopatcong with 3 largemouth totaling 4 pounds 5 ounces. Knowing the event would be tough and without a chance to pre-fish, John fished his strength and utilized Senkos around many of the lake's docks to catch his fish.

A tie for fourth place was taken by Scott Mitchell and Steve Rusert, each with three bass and a 4 pound 3 ounce total. Scott, fresh off an 8th place finish at a Foxwood's event, reminded everyone that he is always a threat to win. He fished Senkos arounds docks and caught his fish throughout the day. Steve is keeping the pressure on Pat for the top spot and is confident heading into the final event on his home lake, Greenwood. Steve also fished his confidence bait, a Senko, but focus on fishing weeds rather than the dock pattern he is known for.

The tournament lunker was caught by Jason Mordhorst who also deserves honorable mention by placing sixth in the event. Jason's lone big bass was caught in the morning by the state park on a topwater bait and weighed four pounds even.

The 2002 season will conclude at Greenwood Lake on October 5th. Pat VanWettering, Steve Rusert, and Brian Mahoney will all be vying for their first Angler of the Year title. Nick Albano, John Ernest, Eric Lehmann look to hold off Andy Karcich and Bill Vella for top six spots. Many others will be making that final push towards the top twelve and a spot in next seasons Top Gun Shootout!

All contents created 2002 by Mark B. Scocco.