Past Tournament Results

While the Empire Chase has come and gone, bringing the BASS Elite Series Tournament to Buffalo, July 31st thru August 3rd, 2008. The Smallies showed why Lake Erie is not only the Walleye Capital of the World, it's the Smallmouth Bass Capital of the World as well ! ! !
First off, Congratulations to Kotaro Kiriyama, what an awesome job on Lake Erie Bronzebacks of 93 Pounds & 6 ounces for 4 days (20 Bass)!!! Also Congrats to Buffalo's own, Tim Creighton for winning the Co-Angler side with 38 pounds & 14 ounces (9 bass).
I had a rather disappointing tournament, finishing 49th after sitting in 18th at day 2's end. It's started out tough on day 1 with James Kennedy as he had motor problems that forced us to nurse his boat back to the dock for repairs that cost about 3 hours of fishing time and kept him from running to his best spot. I still managed to catch 10 pounds 4 ounces for 3 fish after not having any fish at 2pm, then landed 5 book end 3 1/4 pound Smallies on one drift and sat in 21st place. He was a great guy who has just been plagued with bad luck all season and I wish him the best next season. On day 2, I drew Terry Scroggins and had a ball fishing with him. We caught a bunch of fish but just not big enough ones to help either of us much. I managed 10 pounds 4 ounces again with all book end fish again. No big kicker fish to help me move up in the standings much but I did slide up to 18th. On day 3, I drew Greg Hackney and it was the worst tournament fishing experience I have ever had, Bar None ! ! ! ! ! The Rumors of his treatment of Co-Anglers are True. I have never fished with someone who was that arrogant, selfish, worried about what you are doing and unprofessional in my life ! ! ! He did the standard trick of turning off the electronics so your fishing blind while trying to block the front sonar by moving in front of it if he saw you looking at it. Then, he positioned the boat, stern to the waves, leaving you only to drag something way behind the boat at about 1 1/2-2 mph. If I casted toward the front of the boat off to one side (not even casting past the mid point of the boat), he would turn the boat with the trolling motor toward your line so you would have to reel up, cast to the other side he'd do the same thing. Then when it got rougher, he put out a drift sock right off the back of the boat to even eliminate more area for you to fish. I started fishing straight down off the back corner opposite the drift sock and the next thing I know waves are crashing over the back of the boat as he's pushing the boat backwards into the waves to back up over a fish he see's on the graph. Then he tells me not to fish straight down. He just kept trying to frustrate you and take you out of the game. Unfortunately, It worked and I only caught 1 bass that weighed a whopping 1 pound 4 ounces that dropped me to 49th. I did cash a check, but was more disappointed in myself for not finding a way to beat him at his own game and letting him get the best of me. I really should have had him disqualified for his actions, but BASS probably wouldn't have done anything about it anyway. They know about the complaints about him as it's common knowledge among Co-anglers and after Keith's comments at the weigh in to me; "Oh, you mean he actually let you catch one!" Now, that BASS has eliminated the Co-Anglers on the Elite Tournament Trail for next year. We'll just have to see how big of crowds show up to the weigh ins without the Co-anglers families in attendance and we'll get to hear some new excuses why they couldn't catch fish as they won't have us Co-anglers to blame. BASS wants to become to next NASCAR, being the ELITE Tournament Trail for Professionals, but they really need to look at the individuals they have representing them as should the sponsors! I know I won't buy anything Mr. Hackney promotes!

July 16th, 2006 - Greater Erie Red Cross Bass Tournament
Lake Erie out of Presque Isle, PA. I had a 35th place with tournament partner Joe Fonzi out of 68 teams with 10.74 pounds for 3 Bass (tournament limit) while the winners: Chuck Main and Dave Lefebre had 14.40 pounds. We ran 26 miles back to just over the NY border to fish a few humps that while prefishing we had caught some monsters on (3 over 5 pounds and many 4 - 4 1/2 pounders). The long run in 2-4' waves going both ways used up a lot of valuable time that could have been spent fishing closer to Presque Isle as our Big Fish were gone or just had lock jaw. We just couldn't get the bigger fish to bite while we couldn't keep the Sheepshead and smaller Bass (1-2 pounds) from biting our Tubes and drop shot rigs.

June 17th, 2006 - the Annual Wagon Wheel Restaurant Bass Tournament
I finished 4th with 9.27 pounds for my 2 Biggest Smallies, missing the money by .01 of a pound. The winner had 10.16 pounds, while second had 9.42 as well as big fish a 5.62# Slob and third had 9.28 pounds. I fished with my 12 year old son Travis who held his own with a 11th place finish with 7.86 pounds for his 2 biggest Bass but would have probably been in the money if he wouldn't have lost the 5 to 5 1/2 pounder at the boat.

May 20th, 2006 - 6th Annual MAKE-A-WISH Millennium Bassmasters Tournament
I Finished 7th with partner; Joe Fonzi out 94 teams. They called Lake Erie off limits due to the extremely rough conditions with 4-7'+ waves and 20-30+ mph winds. Everybody had to fish inside the main breakwall. We managed to catch about 30-35 Smallies with most being 2 -2 1/2 pounds but wound up with a couple nice ones that weighed 8.84 pounds for our 2 biggest fish. We were fishing an unprotected section of Donnelly's Wall with about 15-20 other boats. By the end of the day most of the other boats moved to more protected areas as it had kicked up to 4-5' waves in the Harbor where we were by noon. We caught our biggest fish a 4.98 pounder at 1:30pm on a smoke/green Shuberts Tube jig and other big fish came on a Rapala DT10 Crankbait at 11:00am. The winners were Tim Braun and Jeff Wagnor with 10.90 pounds, they fished a couple hundred yards down from us in front of the Erie Basin Marina entrance. Overall, it wasn't that bad a day of fishing despite the conditions.

2nd Place in US Anglers Choice Team Northeast Regional Championships
Out of the Buffalo Smallboat Harbor Buffalo, NY on October 14th &15th, 2005

I finished 2nd with my tournament partner Joe Fonzi in the US Anglers Choice Northeast Team Regional Championships , October 14th & 15th on Lake Erie out of Buffalo, NY. We were edged out by .02 of a pound by another local team of Tim Braun and Jeff Wagoner, Congratulations to them on a job well done, beating 74 other Teams from Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New York. They deserve it, we didn't execute well enough for the claim the win.
We couldn't get our fish in the boat to get the job done, having 11 fish on the first day in the first 10 minutes and only landing 4 of them which equaled about 16 pounds. The first fish I lost was a legitimate 5 1/2- 6 pound Slob Smallie (on first drop to the 38' hump in 44'), followed by losing a mid 4 to 5 pounder on the next drop, then losing another 4 pounder before finally landing a 5.20 Hog that wound up being our biggest fish of the day. We should have easily had 23 to 24 pounds in the livewell, but this would wind up haunting us later! We moved to another spot we had, only to find the fish were gone after wasting about an hour and half in running/scanning time. Then on to another deep water hump that came up to 34' in 40' off Myers Reef were Joe picked a nice 5 pound Smallie and we culled out a fish with another 4 pounder. This would be the last fish in the livewell for us for the day giving us a total of 21.70 pounds for our 5 fish, leaving us sitting in 3rd behind Mike and Chris Kozel who had 22.64 pounds. We wound up catching 19 or 20 Bass, a Walleye and huge Sheepshead (about 7-8 pounds). Using
Okuma Reels on Okuma, Bass Pro Shops & Gander Mountain Rods with green 4" Mizmo Tubes, smoke 3 1/2" Bass Pro Tender Tubes, 1/2 & 3/4oz Hopkins & Bass Pro Shops Spoons, drop-shotted Snakebite Tackle 3 1/2" Sculpins (Goby imitator) and 3" Drop Shot worms to catch all of our fish.
The first day on Erie proved to be interesting with many different strategies employed by the competitors. From running as far as Dunkirk/Barcelona to the Canadian Shoreline to fishing in the upper Niagara River. With many different patterns used to catch the eager Smallmouths on Erie and Largemouths & Smallmouths in the River. Everything from Tubes, Drop-Shot rigs, Spoons, Senkos, Spinnerbaits, Jerkbaits and Topwaters were all implemented in catching the numerous 16 - 20 pound limits that a lot of the teams enjoyed.
On Day 2, the weather looked to pose a serious threat to everyone's safety with predicted 15-25+ mph winds out of the Northwest and 4-6' waves. The tournament director used good judgment in siding with safety by calling the Lake off limits and that everyone had to fish in the Niagara River or behind the break walls. Although the lake was rough, 3-4 footers with the occasional 5 footer it wasn't unfishable, but to those who aren't used to running and fishing in rough water it could have been a dangerous situation. The local teams would have had more of an definite advantage, so this leveled the playing field dramatically.
We were in the last flight on day 2 and were beat to our first 3 spots, having to share them with several other boats catching nothing but short fish. We didn't catch a keeper until about 9:30 on our 4th spot. Joe got a nice 3 1/2 pound Smallie on a Senko and then we put a dozen fish in the boat from same bunch of old submerged pilings, managing just 2 other keepers, a pair of 13" Largemouths. We continued to work a few more spots that only produced a few undersize fish. With only about an hour to fish, we moved into a shallow (5-6") rocky flat after seeing another team inside us catch a couple fish and leave. On Joe's first cast. he nailed a 4.20 pound Smallie on a Tube. We caught 4 more keepers, finishing out our limit and culling the Largemouths with 2 pound Smallies to give us a day 2 weight of 12.77 pounds and a total of 34.47 pounds. Our fish came on 4" green & white Mizmo Tubes and 4" Senko's in white and purple.
We wound up winning a 2006 Bass Cat Pantera Classic (19') with a 200 Mercury Optimax, a Motor Guide 70 pound trolling motor, a Lowrance X51 graph and custom trailer valued at $37,000!

Click here for complete results of the US Anglers Choice Northeast Team Regional Championships

Sept. 24th, 2005 - US Anglers Choice Team Tournament Series - Lake Erie Division - 6th Place Finish

Sept. 3rd, 2005 - US Anglers Choice Team Tournament Series - Lake Erie Division
We finally Won One after finishing 2nd the last 2 tournaments in a row

August 20th, 2005 - US Anglers Choice Team Tournament Series - Lake Erie Division
We finished 2nd again!

August 6th, 2005 - US Anglers Choice Team Tournament Series - Lake Erie Division - 2nd Place Finish!

July 23rd, 2005 - US Anglers Choice Team Tournament Series - Lake Erie Division
We learned a very big lesson during this tournament that wound up costing us! During pre-fishing Joe found a big pod good fish and we had a summer cold front come in which usually doesn't effect the Smallies as bad as it does in the spring. So, we went there first thing and on the first cast, Joe got a 12-13" Smallmouth and throws back! I say what are you doing throwing that fish back? He replies; we won't need that fish, with the amount of fish I caught here yesterday. I did start to think he was right as I hook a Slob Smallie on a drop-shot paddletail worm that would wind up being our biggest fish of the day, a 4.65 pounder. But, Wrong! We must of caught the only 2 fish there he didn't catch the day before, as we struggled to catch keeper fish the rest of the day. We only managed to only to catch other 4 keepers that weighed 9.95 pounds and finished 7th. While we did learn some good lessons; don't beat up your fish the day before a tournament (just check to see if they there and leave them alone) and put every Keeper in the Livewell until you have a limit, you never know what could happen as you can always cull them out later. This mistake may have cost us the point championship in the end!

July 10th, 2005 - BASS Weekend Series - 1000 Islands / St. Lawrence River, NY
It was the first time I've ever fished the 1000 Islands/ St. Lawrence River from a boat as I've ice fished Lake of the Isles in the past and was anticipating the trip after hearing all the stories of how great fishing is. After seeing the past tournament results with the Smallies dominating the limits. I prefished a lot of different spots through out the River and ventured to some of the various Reefs(12-17 miles) out on Lake Ontario. Only to become disappointed and frustrated in not finding any good Smallmouths only catching a couple undersize ones, a couple Perch and a Northern Pike on the first day of practicing. I started out looking for Smallies again on my second day as well with the same results, so I resorted to going after Largemouths in some of the bays, docks and weed beds. I put together a couple decent patterns on Senkos under docks and Jerkbaits on the deep weed edges. The extreme fishing pressure, tons of pleasure boats and constantly changing weather (hot, 80-90+ degrees and Thunder Storms rolling through each afternoon) definitely affected the fishing. I went to the best set of docks I found first thing on Tournament Day and it started out great. In the first 15 minutes I had 4 keepers in the live well, but lost a legit 3 -3 1/2 pound Largemouth as it got wrapped up under a dock and broke off. That would come back to haunt me later as I never caught another keeper the rest of the day. I did catch a bunch of undersize Bass and broke another big fish off that I don't know if it was a Largemouth or Pike. It was extremely tough fishing for everyone after seeing the weigh in. I wound up finishing 77th with only 5.0 pounds and that lost fish wouldn't gotten me a paycheck but would have at least given me a respectable finish. I left the 1000 Islands wondering how an area with so much awesome structure and different fishing options available could be so difficult to fish. I still had a great experience, enjoyed the scenery and look forward to fishing there again!

July 2nd, 2005 - US Anglers Choice Team Tournament Series - Lake Erie Division
I decided to fish a Pro Tournament Series for the first time with my usual partner Joe Fonzi. We've fished a ton together and done well on the local level in the past so we stepped up ladder to the next level. The day started out ok, with the Lake's waves rolling about 1-2' a near perfect condition, but that would change dramatically! By weigh in time the Lake had blown up to near small craft warnings with 5-6' waves! We caught about 20 Smallies mostly on green and Goby colored Tubes. We found it tough to find any big Smallies that would cooperate and tougher to get bit as the day went on. We wound up 6th with 13.18 pounds while the winners; Rick Kazmierzac & Mike Marcaccio had a whopping 24.77 pounds (the biggest 5 fish weight of the series)! They caught there fish off Myers Reef in about the first hour and then struggled like everybody else.

June 26th, 2006 - BASS Weekend Series - Cayuga Lake, NY
It was only the 3rd time on Cayuga Lake, with the first 2 times ending with easy 12-14 pound limits. Although it was much different this time as the fish were just finishing up spawning. Between post spawn negative mood and the ton of fishing pressure made the bite extremely tough. During pre-fishing I struggled to try to find some of the Lake's big Smallies, fishing a ton of spots; drop offs, points and deep weed edges without a Bass. I resorted to fishing shallow in the weeds for Largemouths but, had a hard time catching keepers. I managed to catch 3 keepers and 5 short fish on a Texas rigged Senko and a 1/4 oz golden shiner home-maid spinnerbait. I only lost one keeper fish that wouldn't have made a difference. I wound up a rather disappointing 103rd.

May 21st, 2005 - MAKE-A-WISH Millennium Bassmasters Tournament
I fished with my normal partner Joe Fonzi to a 35th place finish out of the 136 teams. We should have done much better as we had a bunch of big fish located, but the 20 degree cold front that blew in overnight slowed the bite considerably. No excuses as everybody was on the same playing field. We just couldn't get any big Smallies to bite even though we caught about 20 Smallmouths and a Walleye, while most Teams struggled to catch a few fish.

May 8th, 2005 - Niagara Frontier Bassmasters Partners Tournament
I finished 4th with Rich Pickles, we a good day on the water catching about 30 fish between us with most of our fish coming off jigging spoons, Sonars / Silver Buddies and hair jigs. But, I lost the Biggest Smallmouth Bass I have ever personally had on right at the boat. A legitimate 6 1/2-7+ pound Slob Smallie on a hair jig that I thought was a big Catfish when I hooked it! I can't say it would have helped us win, but would have definitely put us in the money.

August 26th-28th, 2004 FLW Outdoors Everstart Series Bass Tournament, Lake Erie out of the Buffalo Smallboat Harbor. The winner was Joseph Pappas of Southgate, MI, who had 39-13 pounds the last 2 days (33-14 the first 2 days) of Erie Smallies to win the 4 day tournament taking the $10,000 cash and a new Ranger Boat & Yamaha or Evinrude Outboard. The highest local competitor was Brad Brodnicki of Amherst who finished 4th with 31 -13 pounds over the final 2 days.
I finished 51st in my first Tournament as a Professional cashing my first Pro check as well. The majority of the competitors fished fairly deep 30-50' with Tubes & Drop-shoted worms and Goby imitations from Buffalo to Barcelona. The first 2 days were very windy with 20-25 mph south winds making presentations and boat control very difficult as well as slowing down anglers making long runs.
I opted to drag a gold Kwickfish off a 3 way rig both days over a 25' hump in 32' and a 19 - 25' drop off for most of the time. But, did catch one of my 4 # kicker fish on a drop-shoted Snake Bite Tackle Sculpin when wind subsided enough to fish it efficiently. This was my hot set up while I was pre-fishing, only if we could have a little less wind. But, that's how it goes, I adapted. But, not quick enough as well as should have moved around a bit more instead of camping out on my spots. Live and Learn, this was a great experience and I can't wait for my next chance at making some Erie Gold off Erie's Bronze!
Although I didn't get to fish the final 2 days by not making the Top 20, the final competitors had totally different conditions to deal with, dead flat water which can be as difficult or harder than the rough water. Here, on Lake Erie, being adaptable and having a back up plan are a must. Probably more than any other Lake because of it's shear size, quickly changing weather, diverse structure and constantly moving Smallmouths!

June 24th, 25th & 26th, 2004 Citgo Bassmasters Northern Open out of the Buffalo Smallboat Harbor, Buffalo, NY. The tournament was a Huge Success again with over 8,022 pounds of Bass caught over 3 days. The winner was Frank Scalish with 55-4 pounds edging out local favorite and the first 2 day's leader: Gaspere Costabile who had 55pounds.
I had an awful Tournament finishing 128th out of 171 entrants on the non-boater side but, learned a valuable lesson. I will never fish as a non-boater on my Home Waters again, I will stay home if I can't get to fish as a Pro and control my own Destiny. May be I would fish as a non-boater on water I'm not familiar with but not here.
Day 1: Started out ok, with the weather but got progressively got worse. I fished with Greg Mills of Dayton, OH. We were in the last flight to go out and by then the wind was picking up with waves building to 1-2'. We ran to Myers Reef and started in 12-20'. He lost a Big Fish right off the bat, then got 2 keepers while I lost 1 and caught 2 Sheepshead. The waves continued to build to 2-3 foot with the 15-20mph winds. I switched from Tube Jigs to drifting a Kwickfish and caught a nice 3 pond Smallie immediately, then lost another one. I set Greg up with a Kwickfish and he got a big Sheepshead. I got another keeper Smallmouth and a Sheepy. When Greg said its time to go, that it was getting to rough (3-4' to me it was just getting good). So we went back to the Buffalo Small Boat Harbor and fished the same section of break wall for the next 6 Hours! I caught a Northern Pike on my second cast on a Rattletrap, then not another bite for the next 6 hours. I tried everything from Spinnerbaits, Senkos to Tubes. Talk about Frustrating, all we would have to do is move down the wall a couple hundred yards either way to 2 spots I knew held fish or to the Erie Basin Marine and I know I (we) could have caught more Fish and I could have got a limit and possibly at least been in the Hunt to fish the Final day. He keep saying he caught big fish there 2 weeks a go and did catch 5 small Smallies by flipping Tube Jigs to the break wall but, the boat positioning didn't give me much of a chance to catch anything only having 6-8 foot to pitch to or cross his line to get to fish that hadn't been casted to and/or had been spooked by the boat.
I weighed in just 4-15 for 2 fish and was totally out of any chance of making the cut.
Day 2 was the complete opposite of day 1 it was dead flat with basically no wind and we went out in the first flight and of course the latter flights did very well when the winds started to pick up when we were do to be back in. I fished with Kevin Baldwin of Vandergrift, PA. He was great Guy but like me had a bad first day and was out of it. We tried a lot of different spots but the tough flat conditions didn't help us and got the best of us. We did each manage to catch 3 keepers each all coming out of 40' of water between Seneca Shoal & Myers Reef and off Evans Bar off Tubes (Mizmo & ISG) and drop-shotted worms (Top Notch Tackle). I lost several fish and but landed a 4 pound Hog Smallie at 2 o'clock that if I could have had 4 more like it could have put me in the Big Show on Saturday. The wind had just started to pick up and the fish started to snap when we had to go and weigh in. If the 13-2 pounds for the 5 fish I caught for 2 days was daily (I was catching 13-15 pounds a day practicing without really working a spot hard), it would have helped me cash a check, But That's Fishing.

June 19th, 2004 The Wagon Wheel Annual Smallmouth Bass Tournament My neighbor and Tournament partner for the day; Mark Wheeler finished 2nd with 8.84 pounds for 2 Smallies. We fished off Myers Reef in 16-22' of water. He was using big Golden Shiners off a 3 way rig, while I stuck with Tube Jigs but, I should have switched to live bait.

May 15, 2004 Make-A-Wish Millennium Bassmasters Tournament - The Tournament was a huge success, raising $12,545 for the MAKE-A-Wish Foundation! Despite the poor conditions of steady rain, fog and a 25 degree cold front (mid 80's Friday to 60 on Saturday) 136 2-man teams participated. The Winners were; Pete Elphinstone & Linsay Smith with 11.86 pounds for 2 fish, 2nd place was Scott Sexton & Gerald Mante Jr. with 11.64 pounds, 3rd place was Steve Smith & Al Beckett with 11.30 The lunker award went to John Siejak & Robert Jackson with a 6.44 Slob Smallie!
I fished with Joe Fonzi and we had 9.30 pounds and finished 70th in the middle of the pack. We struggled as everybody did, there were only 4 boats over 11 pounds and about 20 over 10 pounds. It's to bad, I didn't get the 6.7 pound Slob my client got on Friday along with the 6.2 Joe had on Friday would have been nice but that's how it goes.

May 2, 2004 Niagara Frontier Bassmasters Tournament Finished 6th place with Brett Bulmer with a total weight of 10.26 pounds while the winners had 10.84 pounds.

May 1, 2004 Millennium Bassmasters Tournament at the Buffalo Smallboat Harbor.
I fished with Alan Smith to a 3rd place Finish, We had 11.76 pounds for 2 fish with our biggest being a 6.14 pound Slob! We fished mainly between 18 Mile Creek and Myers Reef in 10-18' of water. The winners were Jim Rodney and Ken Napier, they had 12.02 pounds with a 6.78 pound Monster to anchor their win. Claude & Rodger Desrochers of Ontario, Canada were 2nd place with 11.84. Dave Stahura Jr. & Dave Sr. finished 4th with 11.48 pounds.

Citgo Bassmasters Northern Open on Lake Erie at Buffalo, N.Y. on September 10-12, 2003 was huge success for the area (promotion of our great fishery, the revenue for the local hotels, restaurants, tackle shops, convenient stores, gas stations and NY State in tolls, launch & licenses fees). We need to tip our hats to B.A.S.S and Thank them for coming here, as well as hope they come back in the Future. Thanks, B.A.S.S, you deserve it, even though our local media gave you little exposure.
This Tournament shows how great this Fishery is even when the fishing is not at it's best. There was a total of 8,283 pounds of Bass caught in 3 days by 350 entrants (350 anglers the first 2 days & the top 100 the last day)! Yes, 8,283 pounds of Bass in 3 days with fishing just mediocre, what if it was fantastic like it was earlier this year or if they could use live bait. I would bet you could have seen 10,000 pounds then!
I finished in 26th place with 34-9 pounds on the non-boater side. It was a fun, challenging, trying, rewarding and learning experience that I would recommend to any Bass fisherman.
On Day 1, I was paired with Ray Craig from Crooksville, Ohio. We ran all the way to a stretch between Dunkirk and Barcelona. It took a full hour to get there at 50 mile per hour, luckily the lake was flat. We fished 21-25' most of the day catching about 30 Bass between us. He was using a green Texas rigged Trick Stick (Senko type bait) alternating occasionally to a smoke Tube jig (both made by his company, New Age Baits) to make up his 15-4 pound limit. While I used a green Cruncher Tube Jig, a mellon-pepper Bass Pro Shops Tube Jig, drop-shotted Top Notch Tackle paddle tails in mad shad and pumpkinseed to make up my 14-5 pound limit. It was my best day over all because we had a very comparable fishing style. I had 14 Smallmouths, 3 Rock Bass and a couple Gobies, while only losing 2 Smallies that weren't big ones. That put me in 25th place, 4-1 pounds behind the leader.
On Day 2, I was paired with Randy Yager of Syracuse, New York. We started fishing a 35' hump in 39' of water off Myers Reef. He had good pod of fish hanging around that hump early during practice but the last day they seem to disappear. So, he didn't fish there on day one and did poorly where he fished and was regretting not trying there now. He pulled most of his 17-1 pound limit off of the spot on day 2. I had one of those days you hate to have; breaking off 3 fish (1 about 3#, another that was a hog 4#+ and not getting to see the third, 2 knots broke at drop shot hook and the other one broke at the blood knot to the Floro-carbon leader) while losing another 4 fish at the boat (2 in the 3-3 1/2# range and 2 about 2#'s) and losing another Huge fish that took off screaming line out that if it was a Bass was a monster but, I think it was a Catfish or Steelhead. I was really struggling to get fish out of that deep water and only had 1 fish at 12:30. Randy was very unselfish and agreed to take me to one of my honey holes off Silver Creek to see if I could catch a limit because he knew I had a shot to make the cut. I was glad he did, I caught 4 keepers to finish my limit and lost the screamer there, with Randy getting 3 and a cull fish, a 3 1/2-3 3/4 pounder all in about 45 minutes. Then we went back to Myers to finish the day. We each culled out a fish before we had to go in, he was alternating between melon-pepper and smoke Tube Jigs while cruising about our buoy with his trolling motor until he marked a fish on the graph. Then he would hold over them, drop down and usually catch the fish. I caught most of my fish on Bass Pro Shops Tubes in mellon-pepper and pumpkinseed, a couple fish on Top Notch Tackle Paddle tails in mad shad and 1 on pumpkinseed that I drop-shotted to my 11-0 pound limit. That put me in 27th place after day 2 allowing me to make the cut and guaranteed me a check. I know you have to get the fish you have on into boat against these guys or you don't have a chance. I got a little lucky to make the cut, but if I had landed the fish I lost I probably would have been easily in the Top 20.
On Day 3, I was paired with Gaspare Costabille of Niagara Falls, Ontario, he was in 3rd place after day 2 and would remain there at days end. We fished off Windmill Point on the Canadian side starting in 8- 15' throwing white/chartreuse Spinnerbaits, he went 1 for 4, landing a 2 pounder and losing a 4 pound plus Smallmouth. I didn't get a bite, that is one advantage of the front of the boat, the fish see your lure first. Then we moved 300 yards straight out to a drop off that went from 28-38'. He had his limit before I got a Smallie (had a couple Gobies and a Rock Bass). He was dragging his Smoke Tube and letting it sit on the bottom for long periods of time. When he would get bit he would go there's one, he drop his rod tip for a couple seconds, then start to pull up slowly until he would feel a little weight and set the hook. I tried his technique, but couldn't learn it at the time, it takes a lot of patience which I didn't have as the time was ticking and pressure was building to catch a limit. I went back to what I do best, down wind casting a 1/4 oz Tube Jig in smoke (that Gaspare gave me) and started catching fish. I wound up catching 7 Smallies (1 undersize and 6 keepers) and only losing 1- 2 pound fish, before Gaspare decided we were going back in shallow to throw spinnerbaits again to try to get a big kicker fish. It proved to be the right decision for him, he was going for the Win, the same as I would have been. He went 2 for 3, both culling out smaller fish and getting his biggest fish of the day on his last cast before we had to run, a beautiful 4-5 Slob! This gave him a 17-15 pound string and giving him $15,000 for 3rd place. I learned that he is definitely on to a big fish technique that I will learn to do, all of his fish were bigger than mine, I got as many bites just not big fish. I managed to have a 9-4 bag that moved me up one place into 26th. I guess I should be happy with that finish against some of the best Fisherman in the world, even though I know I should have done better (just not having the break offs and lost fish would have put me easily in the top 20) or if I could have fished some more of my areas. My weight would have put me in 48th on the Pro side with only getting to fish only one of my spots. Next time they come to Lake Erie, I will fish Pro and control my own destiny.

The Fish Odyssey 2 day Bass Challenge on Lake Erie (day 1) and Lake Ontario/Niagara River (day 2) was cancelled. They said they were worried about the weather, but I think they didn't have enough entrees. This allowed me to fish with my son most of the week in the Fish Odyssey. Travis placed fourth in the Junior Bass Division with a 4.91 pound Smallmouth. The Junior winner was Matt Cambell with a 5.14. I was fishing with Joe Fonzi and Eric Elenfeld, when Joe got the winning Smallmouth Bass that was 5.91 pounds on a Tube jig between the Round House and Waverly Shoal. Unfortunately Joe didn't have a camera on the boat and we really didn't think it would hold up all week so, no picture to show. While Elenfeld Family did well also with Eric taking 2nd place in the Walleye Division with 11.62, his dad Fred took 2nd in the Bass Division with a 5.82 and his son Eric took 2nd in the Junior Sheepshead Division with a 6 pounder.

The Bass Eye Tournament to benefit Cystic Fibrosis was a huge success, raising $116,000 for a great cause! The winners were led by Joe Cinelli with 2200 points, with my normal tournament partner Joe Fonzi leading his crew to the most awards (most unusual catch; Rock Bass, most bass releases - team 43, most celebrity releases 13, most individual releases-17, biggest bass-21 1/8") and 2 nd place (if they would have caught a Walleye they would have won! I had the same team (almost) as last year, KC Bryan, her fiancé Justin White and Chuck Kriener to start with. We tried to get our Walleye by trolling until 10 am when Chuck had to go in and go to a meeting, we then picked up Rob Hess and his daughter Rachel. We headed back out about 10:30 to find the Lake building from 1 footers to 2-4's so we didn't run far and started off Smokes Creek. We picked up 2 - 14" + points fish and lost a couple others before a few people started getting queasy, so we retreated to inside the break walls. Which had been pounded all morning by a lot of boats. We couldn't find any points fish in there, that's how it goes. You can't expect to win under those circumstances, but it was for a Great Cause, everybody had Fun and that's what's important!

The 3rd Annual MAKE-A WISH Lake Erie Smallmouth Bass Challenge on May 17, 2003 was another success raising about $4000 for the MAKE-A-WISH Foundation from
had 12.54 pounds for their 2 biggest Smallmouths, netting them $2000 for their efforts as well as the lunker award with a 6.68 pound SLOB!. They fished in about 26-29' off Hamburg using smoke tubes. My partner Joe Fonzi and myself fished the same area, just inside them in 21-24' to a 12th place finish with 11.14 pounds. I had a 6.02 pounder and had a heart breaker by loosing a twin 6#+ at the boat (although I don't think it would have been big enough to help us win, it definitely would have put us in the Top 5). We had our best luck on Cruncher Tubes in green mist , Bass Pro Tubes in melon-pepper and a 3" Yamamoto Senko in baby bass (that the 6.02 slob hit). The other top finishers came Myers Reef, 18 Mile Creek, Smokes Creek and the humps in front of the Ford Plant. The depths varied from 7- 35', while most of them were using Tubes in smokes, melon-peppers, browns & white, with a few using jigging spoons and stickbaits

The Niagara River Anglers Bass Tourney on July 27th, 2002 on the Niagara River and Lake Ontario. There were 81 entrants in the adult division and 11 in the youth division. The winner was Earl Smeal with 7.45 pounds and the cash bash (big fish) winner was Jay Wick with a 4.40 pound slob he caught right in front of boat launch while waiting to pull his boat out. I wound up 10th with 5.37 pounds, I had the same problem as most of the other anglers you couldn't get thru or away from the small fish (1-2 pounds)! A lot of boats had catches in excess of 100 Fish! The highlight of the Tournament was my 8 year old son, Travis finishing 2nd in youth division! He had 3.505 pounds that he caught all by himself and is now hooked on tournaments. The winner, John Rowan had 5.34 pounds.

I fished the BassEye Celebrity Challenge on July 16th to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation search for the cure. It was a unique fishing tournament that you were limited to 3 rods and object was to catch walleye and Bass together to make a BassEye (1-15" Bass and 1-18" walleye). You would get 150 points for your first BassEye, 300 points for each after that or 50 points for each additional legal fish. I was teamed with Chaz & Chuck Kreiner, Justin White and our celebrity KC Bryan. She is outstanding and enthusiastic young woman that has Cystic Fibrosis and is a spokesperson for CF. She has a great outlook on life considering with her disease she has a life expectancy to about 35. She believes the will find a cure before then. I think and hope they do, with more money going to research from these RedBone Tournaments series. They made over $80,000 from this tournament! The winner was led by Jim Gorden and had 1050 points. We had 550 points and wound up 12th out of 34 teams. We could have done better if we got to fish the whole allotted time but, KC and Justin both had to go to work. They work for the Buffalo Bisons organization (they had to take care of pre-game festivities) so, we were back at the dock at 12:45 and every else got to fish until 3 and not have to be back until 5. Those are the brakes! We trolled jet divers with spinner/worms for the walleyes (went 2 for 5). Then started bass fishing on Senaca Shoal about 10:30, we wound up catching about 30 Bass and sheepshead on minnows drifted off 3-ways, of which 4 were over the 15" minimum. I can't wait until next year!

The annual 6-Bang Tournament was canceled at the last minute, but the Wagon Wheel Restaurant was kindly enough to put on a replacement Tournament on June 30, 2002. If you like Fish Fry's give these people a try, it's the best I've had! They're at 7201 Niagara Falls Blvd, Niagara Falls right across from Tops Market. My partner Joe Fonzi won it with 9.44# and took the Lunker Award with a 5.42# Monster! I was tied for 5th with 7.81#. We fished out of Dunkirk, we caught most of our bigger fish out of 29-31' on green Cruncher and melon-pepper Bass Pro Tubes.

The Wagon Wheel Restaurant Annual Smallmouth Tournament on June 15, 2002, We had a clean sweep between my partner Joe Fonzi and myself; I took 1st place with 9.22 pounds for 2 Smallmouths (my big fish was 4.68# not bad for postspawn) while Joe took 2nd place with 8.75 pounds and the big fish award 4.82 pounds Smallie out of the 71 entrants. We prefished Thursday and Friday finding most fish were coming off their spawning beds (some are still on beds, I don't like to fish them on beds with all the egg stealing Gobies around), the bigger fish seamed to hanging in 22-28', with many smaller fish around in the 1 1/2 - 2 pound range just a little shallower 14- 22'. We took all our bigger fish on Tubes (green Cruncher & melon-pepper Bass Pro) while the smaller fish were coming on minnows. I got a big surprise when I set the hook on hit on a Cruncher Tube, the reel started screaming and after a 7-8 minute battle up comes a 29 3/4" (15# +) Channel Cat!

The 2nd annual MAKE-A-WISH Tournament on May 18,2002 at the Buffalo Small Boat Harbor was a huge success making over $6,000 for this great charity and producing the Biggest Smallmouths to date. The Winners, Brad Brodnicki and Todd Walters had get this, 13.56 pounds for two Smallmouths with a 7.34 pound Monster (one of the biggest I've seen)! There were 5 other Teams that had over 12 pounds, 2 other fish over 7 pounds and 16 over 6 pounds! My partner Joe Fonzi and I zigged when we should have zagged. We prefished Friday finding 5 good spots that held big fish, some of our other favorite spots were to muddy to fish. We found out the hard way how much your fish and water can move overnight. We fished our first 4 spots with out a fish! (had 2 bites) Finally a fish at 12:04 a 3.6 pounder on a chartreuse Kalins grub, then another 45 minutes of nothing. We had one last ditch effort, run to the spot we won this tournament on last year, it was too muddy on Friday. But with the North-east wind we thought maybe the water had cleared up some and we could see a few boats working the general area in the distance. We caught 5 bass in the last hour we had to fish, which were all in the 4.5- 5 pound range to rebound a little to late. We had 10.22 pounds and finished 50th out of 89 boats. Normally, this weight would be respectable and probably a solid top 10, but not this year with the mild winter has producing some of the biggest Smallies ever! We found out that 6 of the top 10 fished the same general area where we ended up, Only If we would have moved sooner it would have been a lot different. We stuck to our game plan and didn't adapt quick enough to changing conditions (water clearing and fish moving). A lesson well learned that should make us better tournament fisherman in the future.

I was paired with Angie Ridalfo from St. Catherine's in the Millenium Bassmasters Tournament at the Buffalo Smallboat Harbor on May 5, 2002. We found some good fish first thing in the morning catching a 4.6 and breaking off a 5 1/2-6 pounder (this time I broke it off). The bite slowed so we left to try a few other spots, bite was slow everywhere we tried (probably because of light North wind change from WSW). So we went back to where we started and hammered them for the last hour catching 14 or 15 with more than half of them being book-end 4.5 pounders. We wound up 19th with 9.28 pounds, while the winners: Rob Orosz/Dominic Boissonnault had 11.56 pounds. The Lunker award was 5.96 pounds.

I fished Chautauqua Lake Bassmasters Tournament on May 4, 2002 out of Dunkirk Harbor with Joe Fonzi. We were in the right area but just couldn't find a consistent "Big Fish" pattern or land the big ones we had hooked up (Joe broke one 5 1/2- 6 pounds off and we lost 2 other big ones). The winning Team caught their fish within 100 yards of us, we watched them land the 7.10 Monster that took the Lunker Award. Joe Battaglia and John Conley had 12.25 pounds with the 7.10 pound slob to take 1st place. With another huge Smallie weighing 6.91 and three others over 6 pounds, the fishing was very good for big fish. We wound up 16th with 9.73 pounds.

I fished the 2 day Fish Odyssey Bass Tournament with partner Joe Fonzi on September 8 & 9, 2001. We thought we had a good chance of placing well from the size and the number of bass we were catching during practice, we had two 18#+ days on Erie and 10#+ on the lower Niagara/Lake Ontario. But between lake conditions changing, having to share our best spots, losing several 3-4 pounders and having fish move or couldn't get them to bite from others spots, all hurt. We choked, managing to catch only 2 keepers weighing in 3.94 for day one on Lake Erie, the leaders on day one had around 19 pounds. On day 2 we did somewhat better catching our limit, weighing 8.27 pounds. We lost one big fish (4-5# Largemouth!) and just couldn't get any other big fish weeding through the 50 + bass we caught. This was a problem for just about everyone, the heaviest weight was around 13 pounds on day 2. The winners had 32 pounds, we had 12.21 pounds and wound up 19th out of 56 teams.

On June 16th, I finished tied for third in the Wagon Wheel Bass Tournament with 8 pounds 12 ounces for 2 Smallies (both were 4 pounds 6ounces). I caught them out of Dunkirk in 14-17' on tube jigs (melonpepper, rootbeer). My partner ended up fifth with 7 pounds 11 ounces. There were 72 entrants with the winner having 2 monsters that weighed 10 pounds 7 ounces from off Sturgeon Point.

Winner of the 2001 Make-A-Wish
Lake Erie Challenge

I won the MAKE-A-WISH LAKE ERIE SMALLMOUTH BASS CHALLENGE out of the Buffalo Smallboat Harbor on May 19, 2001 with partner Joe Fonzi. We had a winning weight of 11.38 pounds for our 2 fish, beating out 78 other 2 man teams. I had the 3rd largest Smallie at 5.80 pounds, that was caught after I lost a 2-3 pounder halfway in, I let the tube drop back to the bottom when it hit. So that's the "TIP OF THE WEEK". When you miss or lose a fish don't reel it in, let it sink and give it few shakes on the way back to the bottom. You'll be amazed how many extra fish you'll catch! Most of our fish came from 19-22' in front of Hamburg on melon-pepper Bass Pro Shops Tender Tubes.

We were also 6th in the Chautauqua Lake Bassmasters Tournament on May 5th out of Dunkirk with the weight of 10.23 pounds. Fishing the same spot the next day a client landed a 6.3# monster and I got a 5.8# beauty myself. Too bad, we didn't have them the day before.