...To improve skills as bass anglers through a fellowship of friendly exchange of bass catching techniques and to preserve the future of Bass Fishing through conservation, youth and public awareness.

Submitted by:  John Hayden

Bergen Bassmasters’ 2007 Trail got off to a rousing start with 13 of our anglers coming to the scales with limits.  In fact, the club weighed in a total of 106 fish with a total weight of 199.58 pounds. 

Springtime on Candlewood is one of the most difficult times to obtain a weekend launch permit so thanks to Nick Albano, our dedicated Tournament Director, we fished on a Wednesday.  What a pleasure it was to have Squantz all to ourselves.  Nor did the club have to “cue up” to fish their favorite honey holes. The weather, although cloudy, cool, windy (!) and drizzly, was perfect fishing weather as the results clearly show.  Against this backdrop, our new club President, Mark Scocco, a Daiwa Pro-Staffer, captured our ‘07 inaugural event with a sack of fish totaling 16 pounds, 11 ounces.  His anchor fish – a 5-pound, 9-ounce largemouth – took the lunker prize money, too!

Mark says in his post-tournament interview:  “I had pre-fished twice covering nearly the entire lake but basically had planned on fishing some early pre-spawn smallmouth spots that I had learned a few years back fishing the CT federation.  The Sunday before, John Giordano and I started hitting a few of those areas but found only small buck bass on them.  I was confident that I would catch a limit but had hoped that 4 days of stable weather leading up to the tournament might have some bigger smallmouth moving shallower.  From practice, we also were able to narrow down the bait choices to jerkbaits and crankbaits with a possible tube bite if it got really tough.  I decided to start in the New Milford arm and about 7:30 in the morning, I boated my first fish, the 5 pound 9 ounce lunker.  The boat was in about 18 feet of water casting up to a rock shelf but the fish was off the bank around a deeper boulder and came up as the clown colored rattling rouge was sitting still.  Focusing on boulders with the jerkbait, I picked up a 2+ smallie off some shallow rocks.  Working back through the same area multiple times, I boated another 2+ smallie and a small keeper.  Moving to our second spot and sticking with the rogue, we fished a small island where I caught a 3-pound smallie for my limit at 11:30am.  I culled out two more fish through the day and caught a few other keepers that didn’t help.  I would define my pattern as focusing on shallow rocky pre-spawn smallmouth areas with isolated larger boulders.  Fish were caught in 4-6’ of water but the boat had to be in 14-20’, which meant that deep water was very close by.  I caught all but 1 fish on a very large medium diving Rattling Rouge in clown color.  The key was the very slow, deliberate cadence with a long pause in between.  I fished the bait on a Team Daiwa S Topwater twitching rod but the SOL baitcaster, with it’s slower retrieve speed was key.  Nearly every fish hit on the pause and I had to keep telling myself to slow down.”

Our second place finisher was John Hayden with a total weight of 14-pounds and 7-ounces and he told me (lol):  “I pre-fished on Monday in gale force winds.  I concentrated on windy and rocky points and basically power fished with a red crawfish crankbait.  If a fish hit me in a spot, I immediately way-pointed it on my GPS units, picked up the trolling motor and ran to another spot.  This approach gave me more than a dozen hot spots to concentrate on for the tournament.  The only difference between my practice day and my tournament day was that I stuck my fish and thoroughly worked my dozen spots.”

Coming in third place was Scott Mitchell with a 5-fish bag that weighed 13-pounds and 7-ounces.  Scottie told me:  “He concentrated on points as he practiced the day before the tournament and had success on them.  He focused on 12 – 15’ of water and roadbeds around rocks and used Spiders on 1/8-ounce jig heads.  Smallies were inhaling these tiny baits and Scottie, using 6-pound test line, had the thrill of his life keeping up with these battling brawlers.  At one point the six-pound pool was within his grasp until the bruiser smallie decided to say bye-bye to Scott and his spider.”

Pat Van Wettering captured fourth place with a limit that tipped the scales at 12-pounds, 5-ounces, who told me:  “Ok, I got all my fish on jerk baits in a clown color. All fish came on the pause. Got 7 keepers for the day.”

Rounding out the top 5 finishers was Steve “Stinky” Rusert with another limit of 5 fish weighing in at 11-pounds, 1-ounce.  Steve tells me “that he figured is was way too early to fish the back of coves so he found a secondary point within a cove about the size of his front yard and caught 8 bass there.  Using an alewive-type Team Daiwa crankbait he was able to capture his two largest fish of the day there.  Later Steve and his partner, Steve Schilling, moved to a wind-strewn boulder/rock bank about 50 yards long and boated more bass there.”