Submitted by: Nick Angiulo

The annual New Jersey Bass Federation’s Team Tournament pits the top six anglers from each participating New Jersey Bass Fed- eration club against one another in a two-day, cumulative weight event, and the event routinely brings New Jersey’s best bass anglers out to compete. Aside from the team portion of the event, where the top four teams received cash prizes, the top five individuals received cash prizes and the top five anglers in each division (Boater/Co-Angler) qualified to advance to the 2017 District 15 TBF National Semi-Final.

The May 18 and 19, 2017 installment was marked by firsts. This event, held under unseasonably hot conditions, produced first time winners in both the team and individual portions. Aside from the weather, the biggest challenge facing the participants was the unusually stingy biting bigger fish that live in the Northern Chesapeake Bay and its numerous rivers, creeks and tributaries. Blame could be most likely attributed to the tremendously varying early spring whether which left the fish in limbo between pre- and post-spawn. Regardless, many anglers found and caught numerous 15-inch plus bass to make the event an over- all success.
Team Portion

This year’s winning team, the Big D Valley Bassmasters, has been to every Team Tournament since it became eligible as a club in 2001. According to Nick Angiulo, its only remaining founding member, the club has come close on several occasions to winning the event but had just fallen short. Not this season! Rather, this year’s team put together an impressive performance leading from wire-to-wire marked by each angler from the squad catching at least one fish
each day, a feat that proved uncommonly difficult in this event. Moreover, the club nearly made it a sweep of all the top prizes as its top Boater, Ryan McGinty, with 33.26 pounds, just barely missed taking first overall and the club’s top Co-Angler, Kevin Kelly, with 25.69 pounds, was the top overall Co-Angler. The club’s Day 1 weight of 56.69 pounds gave it an 11-pound lead over its nearest competitors. While that sounds like a safe margin, in a body of water with so many big fish, no lead is safe. Evidence of that is the fact that two fish over six pounds (including Kevin Kelly’s 6.81 pounder) and seven other fish over five pounds were weighed in on Day 1. Rather than rest on its laurels, the squad put together an even more solid Day 2, improving their daily weight to 62.01 pounds for an overall total of 118.70 pounds and a nearly 13-pound victory. Aside from McGinty and Kelly, the team comprised of the following members: Nick Angiulo – 19.95 pounds; Glenn Savino – 15.89 pounds; Dexter Marshall – 13.01 pounds; and Bruce Stearn – 10.90 pounds.

Standing l/r – Bruce Stearn, Nick Angiulo, Glenn Savino, Dexter Marshall. Kneeling l/r – Ryan McGinty, Kevin Kell

According to Angiulo, who has fished in every one of the last 17 Team Tournaments, he is sure that the club’s other founding member and longtime Federation Board Member, Bruce Stovall, who passed away a few years ago, is somewhere looking down with pride and a wide smile on his face.

Taking second place was the Quickfire Bassmasters with 105.98 pounds. The team was led by Federation Executive Officer Jason Orecchio with 33.21 pounds. He was followed by Donny Diggs with 22.90 pounds, Brian Calloway with 22.58 pounds, Dan Schoneveld with 11.73 pounds, Brian Snow- man with 9.91 pounds and Matt Stark with 6.05 pounds. Finishing in third place was the Blazin Bass chapter with 91.36 pounds. This team was led by overall winner and Federation President Mike Keller with 33.76 pounds. He was followed by Darren Pincus with 24.48 pounds, Dan McGarry with 17.05 pounds, Sean Loll with 8.95 pounds, Art Vitale with 5.55 pounds and Joe Fleischman with 2.37 pounds.

Mike Keller with two solid fish

Individual Portion

Taking over the challenge of being the Federation President is a formidable task. To be able to do that and continue to fish at a high level is truly impressive. That’s exactly what this year’s overall individual winner of the event has done. New 2017 Federation President, Mike Keller, put together two consecutive consistent days to win the individual side of the Team Tournament for the first time. Keller’s amazing consistency gave him a very slim 0.50-pound margin of victory. On Day 1, Keller posted a 16.84-pound limit, placing him in fifth place almost two pounds off the lead. However, his nearly identical 16.92-pound Day 2 limit was enough to overtake those ahead of him and win the individual side of the event.

As mentioned above, the Day 1 leader, Ryan McGinty, fell just short as he never could catch his fifth fish on Day 2 which would have given him the victory.
Below are the top five individual finishers who received cash prizes: 1ST – Mike Keller – Blazin Bass – 33.76 lbs. 2ND – Ryan McGinty – Big D – 33.26 lbs. 3RD – Dan Goykhman – East Coast – 33.22 lbs. 4TH – Jason Orecchio – Quickfire – 33.21 lbs. 5TH – Kevin Kelly – Big D – 25.69 lbs.

Top three finishers l/r – Dan Goykhman; Mike Keller; Ryan McGinty

Additionally, the top five anglers in each division (Boater/Co-Angler) qualified to ad- vance to the 2017 District 15 TBF National Semi-Final. Those individuals are as follows:

Boater Division Co-Angler Division Mike Keller Kevin Kelly Ryan McGinty Donny Diggs Dan Goykhman Greg Trass Jason Orecchio Mike Lee John Erickson Frank Garcia

Tournament Notes
While this event did not produce the large weights that are possible on the Northern Chesapeake Bay in the spring, the results were nonetheless impressive. In this regard, the 61 anglers weighed in 242 fish over the two days. The total weight for the event was 822 pounds, with a hefty per fish average of 3.39 pounds.
Special thanks to all the anglers who volunteered to help the Tournament Staff before, during and after the event. It is sincerely appreciated.