Bill Vella Wins on Lake Zoar!

The Bergen Bassmasters continued it's 2004 tournament trail with an event at Lake Zoar on May 22nd. It had been over 8 years since the club last held a tournament at Zoar and it was new water for more than half of those participating. Some anglers pre-fished extensively to learn the lake while others would just wing it by applying seasonal patterns to try to locate the fish. The early draw down and moving water had held off the spawn and a few largemouth were spotted on beds during the event, however, targeting the pre-spawn fish proved to be more successful for the 30 members fishing.

Continuing his winning ways from last season, Bill Vella caught the only limit of the tournament and his 10 pounds 2 ounce total weight bested the nearest competitor by more than 3 pounds. Known to be an excellent shallow water fisherman, Bill is in his element in the springtime when fish are moving up to spawn. He targeted shallow bass located north of the ramp in a small cove and varied his tactics to wind-protected banks for a few shallow smallmouth. Bill also caught the tournament lunker, a 3 pound 15 ounce largemouth that was caught off a downed tree. His bait selection was none other than a Senko, however color seemed unimportant as he caught fish on black, pumpkin, green/white, and white.

Placing second largely on the advice of his partner, Eddie Schickman, was Alvin Walters with 7 pounds 1 ounce. Alvin's four bass were caught around shallow rocky areas with chunk sized boulders. After not having much success with a small worm, Alvin switched to the black and silver fleck Senko that had been working for his partner. He moved up-river to where there was some good current and began boating his fish.

Placing third was the top non-boater in the event, Joe Benevenia, with four bass weighing a total of 6 pounds 14 ounces. Joe pre-fished a few times including participating in a Watershed Bassmasters event there the prior week and was pretty successful. The day before the event he had over 10 pounds and had established a solid pattern concentrating of grassy areas in 6-8' of water. Joe dragged a small finesse or curly tail worm from the bank out to the inside weed edge where the fish were staging. The pattern continued to work well on Saturday but Joe fell just short of bagging his limit.

Fourth place was taken by Jason Mordhorst who had also placed at the 1st event at Lillinonah. Jason had never seen the lake prior to the tournament but with the overcast conditions, he relied on a Pop-R topwater bait to bag a few smallies early in the event. He started south and basically fished his way back to ramp along deeper rocky shorelines. He also caught two fish on Senkos and his total weight was 6 pounds 10 ounces.

Rebounding from a tough Lillinonah event and placing fifth was John "Woody" Glaser with four bass totaling 6 pounds 3 ounces. Woody had never seen the lake prior to a lone pre-fishing outing a few days before. Locating shallow fish in practice on "road-kill" tubes, Woody attempted to duplicate the successful tactics on tournament day. His efforts produced two largemouth and two smallies.

In total the 30 club members brought in 61 bass for a total weight of 96 pounds 2 ounces. Thus far, after two very difficult and somewhat disappointing events, the 2004 season is shaping up to be a very challenging one. Anglers are looking forward to our next event, Sacandaga Lake, where despite the unlikely high weights, there should be a considerable number of fish caught.

Mark Scocco