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Lilly – The Race Tightens Up!

Submitted by:  John Hayden



Bergen’s 2nd tournament of the ’07 Trail took place on the usually stingy Lake Lillinoah.  In his 1st official tournament as a full-fledged member of Bergen, Louie Zhelesnik takes his first 1st place check.  Bergen also saw the return of John Ernest who, in typical fashion, underscored his return to the club with a 3rd place showing.  Our year to date standings, after this tournament, got very crowded with Steve “Stinky” Rusert moving into 1st, Eric “Slappy” Lehman, Mark Scocco and Pat Van Wettering all tied for 2nd and John Hayden slipping to 3rd.

The weatherman promised high skies and high temperatures and he delivered in spades.  With barely a wisp of a breeze the only truly comfortable period of the day was first thing in the morning when we enjoyed some cloud cover and fog.  Add to that water temperatures in the mid 70s and conditions screamed for top-water action and our 1st place and 4th place finishers, fishing out of the same boat, took full advantage.

Louie, with a limit that weighted 10-pounds, 3-ounces, says in his post-tournament interview:  “We pre-fished on the Thursday prior to the tournament and discovered that the topwater bite was on.  I caught quite a few smaller fish but in good quantities.  I realized that I would need to be a lot more accurate in my casting on tournament day as the fish were tight to cover so I went to a lighter line and a better rod.  Andy (Karcich), my boater, and I concentrated on casting our Pop Rs under the trees on the shady side.  We varied our rhythms but made sure to pause the retrieve and found that most of our fish followed the lure and struck on the pause.” 

Our second place finisher, Rich Gerken, with a total weight of 10-pounds and 2-ounces told me:  “I started out the morning throwing the Sammy and eventually concentrated on blow downs with bitsy bug jigs.  Both Robert and I kept catching shorts but I finally ended up culling to the five fish sack.  Thanks to the extended tournament hours I caught my biggest fish @ 2:10 pm!

Coming in third place was John Ernest with a 5-fish bag that weighed 10-pounds and 1-ounce.  John told me:  “John focused on 10’ – 15’ of water and threw spider jigs.  With the extended hours of the tournament, John told me that he captured his last fish, the tournie lunker, after the original 2:00 pm ending.  This last fish came in right after John’s partner, Eddie Shickman, warned him about the rocks and frayed line.  Rather than change the line after Eddie’s warning, John stayed with it and, wouldn’t you know it, he hooked his largest fish of the day.  John says he fought that fish as if it was a 20 pounder – he let it run, take drag and do whatever it wanted to do since he was more worried about it breaking off.  Eventually, John says, the fish wore itself out and found itself with a new temporary home in his livewell.”

Andy “gotta have my ice cream” Karcich captured fourth place with a limit that tipped the scales at 9-pounds, 12-ounces, told me:  “Whatever Louie told you, John, is what I did.  Since we pre-fished together, we both concentrated on topwater as that what worked for us in practice.”

Rounding out the top 5 finishers was Steve “Stinky” Rusert with another limit of 5 fish weighing in at 8-pounds, 3-ounces.  Steve, ever the in-depth and informative interviewee that he is, tells me “I threw Senkos all day”.