Submitted by Nick Angiulo

The New Jersey Bass Federation (NJBF) significantly changed its tournament format in 2016. In that regard, it instituted large guaranteed first prize payouts to the winners in both the Boater and Co-Angler Divisions, and ended its season with its first-ever two-day finale, offering the biggest first prizes ever awarded in a NJBF event. The finale was also worth 1.5 times in tournament points and helped determine which Boaters and Co-Anglers would be eligible to fish in this year’s District 15 TBF National Semi-Final event in October. Under that backdrop, a longtime Federation member, but only occasional tournament participant, went out and smoked the Boater Division at the August 20 and 21 event held at Lake Hopatcong to win the Boater first prize of $2,500. In the Co- Angler Division, one angler rode a huge Day 2 weight along with a big fish bite to leap to the head of the Co-Angler Division.

Boater Division
Wire to wire wins in bass fishing are rare. However, in this event, one angler put two impressive days together to easily outdistance the Boater Division field. That angler, Ralph Campitello, from Kinnelon, New Jersey and a member of the North Jersey Bass Anglers, had a two-day total weight of 26.87 pounds, winning the Boater Division by over 5.50 pounds. Campitello consistently brought two big bags to the scales, starting off on Day 1 with the biggest limit of the event, totaling 14.30 pounds. Sleeping on an over one-pound lead could not have been easy, especially when considering the prize money at stake. Nevertheless, Campitello duplicated his limit on Day 2 and came in with 12.57 pounds on the day. As noted above, the $2,500 Boater Division first prize check awarded to Campitello is the largest ever awarded in a NJBF event.

Second place in the Boater Division was captured by Cody Barry. Barry, one of the Federation’s up-and-coming anglers at only 21 years old, posted two consistent limits of fish to take the runner up spot. Barry, who resides in Tabernacle, New Jersey and is a member of the South Jersey Hawg Hunters was in fourth place after Day 1 with a solid 10.45 pound limit. Barry bettered that weight on Day 2 by bringing 10.89 pounds to the scales, giving him 21.34 pounds overall and a 0.74 pound margin over third place. For his second place Boater Division finish, Barry collected $1,050.

Third place finisher Derick Olson made up quite a bit of ground between Days 1 and 2. Olson, from Honey Brook, Pennsylvania and a member of the Quickfire Bassmasters, had a small 8.42 pound limit on Day 1, placing him is tenth place. However, Olson backed that weight up with 12.18 pounds on Day 2, giving him a total of 20.60 pounds, and the $800 third place check. Fourth place Boater Division finisher was John McAloney. McAloney, from Sussex, New Jersey and a member of the Essex County Bassmasters, had a two-day weight of 19.51 pounds, worth $580.

Other prizes were awarded to the fifth, sixth and seventh place Boater Division anglers. In that regard, Nick Angiulo received a 2017 free entry certificate for his fifth place finish; Mike Hart received a 2017 free entry certificate for his sixth place finish; and Keith Kurpicki received a $150 gift certificate that was graciously donated by NJBF sponsor, North Jersey Marine, for his seventh place finish. The Boater Division lunker prize was taken by Rich Schneidereit, from Medford, New Jersey and a member of the Clearwater Bassmasters with a 4.84 pound largemouth, caught on Day 1. Schneidereit’s lunker was worth $150.

Co-Angler Division
C.J. Tuite broke a long NJBF victory drought by winning last month’s Delaware River event. And, after his Day 1 weight of 3.92 pounds consisting of one fish, he was likely none too confident that he could make it two in a row as he sat mired in eighth place. However, he indeed did so, with a huge Day 2 output of four fish totaling 10.50 pounds, including the 4.39 pound Co-Angler Division lunker. Tuite, from Succasunna, New Jersey and a member of the Warren County Bassmasters rode his Day 2 success to easily win the event by nearly three and one- half pounds, and collected $1,750, the largest check ever awarded to a Co-Angler in a NJBF event. Tuite collected an additional $125 for his lunker.

Mike Lee had a narrow lead in this event after Day 1 when he managed four fish for 9.29 pounds. However, as is often the fate of a co-angler, he struggled on Day 2 to bring in two fish weighing 2.66 pounds, giving him a total of 11.95 pounds. Nevertheless, Lee, from Oakland, New Jersey and a member of the Essex County Bassmasters, held on to finish in second and collected the Co-Angler Division second place prize of $600.

Third place Co-Angler went to Dave Lindabury with 11.68 pounds. Lindabury, from Mt. Laurel, New Jersey and a member of the Big D Valley Bassmasters had only two small fish on Day 1 weighing 3.30 pounds. However, on Day 2 he put together the only five-fish limit by a Co-Angler totaling 8.38 pounds, which catapulted him up to the third position. Lindabury received $310.

Other prizes were awarded to the fourth, fifth and sixth Co-Angler Division anglers. In that regard, Greg Farace received a 2017 free entry certificate for his fourth place finish; Casey Noble received a 2017 free entry certificate for his fifth place finish; and Bill Spindler received a Ranger life vest that was graciously donated by NJBF sponsor, North Jersey Marine, for his sixth place finish.

Yearlong Tournament Awards

Angler of the Year
Boater Division Angler of the Year was wide open going into this last event with the top 10 anglers separated by only 20 overall points. However, Derick Olson expanded his narrow lead with his solid finish in this event to easily capture the title.
The Co-Angler Division Angler of the Year was also an incredibly close race going into the event, with the top six Co-Anglers within 14 points of one another. However, similar to the Boater Division, C.J. Tuite, by winning this event, ensured that he would be the Co-Angler of the Year.

Rookie of the Year
In the Boater Division, the Rookie of the Year was Ryan McGinty of the Big D Valley Bassmasters. McGinty finished the season in sixth place overall in the Boater Division.
In the Co-Angler Division, and making it a Big D Valley sweep, was Dave Lindabury, who, by virtue of his seventh place finish in the standings is the Co-Angler Rookie of the Year.

Miscellaneous Notes
1. The fishing at Lake Hopatcong proved tough, but better than expected. In that regard, 270 fish weighing 505.62 pounds were brought to the scales. All but two of the fish (99.26%) were released alive.
2. By virtue of being the highest placing eligible Ranger Boat owner in the event, Derick Olson will receive $250 in Ranger Cup bonus money.
3. The NJBF anglers and Tournament Staff are to be commended on their care of the fish brought to the weigh-ins during all of the 2016 events. Of the 1,256 fish weighed, only six were brought to the scales dead and an amazing 99.52% were released alive.
4. Kudos go out to first-year Tournament Director, Dan Goykhman, who did a tremendous job with the new format and ran this season’s events in a fair and efficient manner under often trying circumstances.