Submitted by:  Nick Angiulo

The final event of the 2018 tournament season was shaping up to be an exciting affair.  With several anglers vying both for spots in the District 15 National Semi-Final and the Boater and Co-Angler of the Year awards, the August 18 and 19 two-day event at New York’s Oneida Lake was going to be eventful.  While the event lived up to the hype regarding the ramifications involved, the fishing was generally disappointing.  Oneida Lake is known as a fish factory for both smallmouth and largemouth.  However, the lake appeared to be undergoing a late summer/early fall transition and the small-mouth were very difficult to locate, leaving the less abundant largemouth as the more reliable targets.  With that in mind, Jim Papierz put two solid days together to take the Boater Division victory and Frank Hutchinson’s consistency in the Co-Angler Division proved enough to take the title.

Boater Division

Jim Papierz, a member of the Warren County Bassmasters, picked an opportune event to win his first-ever New Jersey Bass Federation event.  With the $2,500 Boater Division first prize on the line, Papierz rode a big fish bite each day to narrowly win the event over a hard charging Nick Diamandas, Jr.  Papierz had a two-day total weight of 25.96 pounds, just less than a pound more than Diamandas, Jr.  In a true rarity, Pap-ierz caught the largest bass on both tour-nament days, a Day 1 largemouth nearing four pounds and a Day 2 largemouth weighing 5.23 pounds. 

Jim Papierz Day 1 and 2

While second place is generally not some anglers preferred place to finish, Nick Diamandas, Jr.’s second place finish proved just enough for him to take both the Boater Angler of the Year title as well as the Boater Rookie of the Year title.  Diamandas, Jr., of the Raritan Valley Bassmasters, came into the event several points behind point leader Mike Keller, but his second-place weight of 25.12 pounds gave him just enough points for the Angler of the Year title.

Second place Boater & Angler of the Year Nick Diamandas, Jr.

Third place Boater was Ben Keysper.  Keysper, also a member of the Raritan Val-ley Bassmasters had a big Day 1 and was leading into Day 2.  However, he could only manage three keepers on Day 2.  Never-theless, he held on for third place in the Boater Division.

Third place Boater Ben Keysper

Co-Angler Division

The Co-Angler Division illustrated just how tough Oneida Lake was over the tour-nament weekend.  Normally, Co-Anglers have no problem patching together five-fish limits of bass at Oneida.  However, in this event, no Co-Angler could manage two days with five fish and only the winner managed to come in with eight fish over the two days.

Co-Angler Division winner Frank Hutchinson

Winning the Co-Angler Division was Frank Hutchinson, of the Mega Bass 6, with 17.78 pounds. Hutchinson’s consistency proved to be the difference as he brought four fish each day to the scales, providing a near three-pound margin over his closest competitor.  Aside from the Co-Angler Divi-sion first place plaque, Hutchinson received the $1,750 Co-Angler first prize.

The second place Co-Angler was Brian Snowman of the R-Unit chapter.  Snowman’s seven fish over the two days weighed 15.00 pounds.  Of note, Snowman weighed in the largest fish in the Co-Angler Division on Day 1, a 3.31-pound smallmouth.

Snowman with two solid smallmouth

The third place Co-Angler was Darren Sobel of the Big D Valley Bassmasters.  Sobel had a two-day weight of 12.73 pounds.  While he expressed general disappointment in his overall finish, he did more than enough to win the Co-Angler Rookie of the Year award.

Darren Sobel

The Co-Angler Division lunker on Day 2 was a 5.10 pound largemouth caught by Bob Kyriacos of the Big D Valley Bassmasters.


Anglers of the Year

      As previously mentioned, Nick Diaman-das, Jr. was the Boater Division Angler of the Year.  In the Co-Angler Division, Mike Lee dominated and took the Co-Angler of the Year award by over 20 points.


Rookie of the Year

 As mentioned previously, in the Boater Division the Rookie of the Year was Nick Diamandas, Jr., and in the Co-Angler Division the Rookie of the Year was Darren Sobel.

 2018 Points Race

 At the end of the season, the top five point-getters in both Divisions qualified for spots at the 2018 District 15 National Semi-Final.  Below is a listing of the qualifiers, by Division:

Boater Division

Nick Diamandas, Jr.        686.50 points

Mike Keller                      684.00 points

Jim Papierz                     679.00 points

Kevin Albright                 675.00 points

Nick Runo                        665.50 points


Co-Angler Division

Mike Lee                          682.00 points

Terry Stevens                  660.00 points

Bob Kyriacos                    631.50 points

Brian Snowman               630.50 points

Darren Sobel                    630.00 points

Miscellaneous Notes

  1. Only five anglers managed two five-fish limits in the event and only 176 fish totaling 382 pounds were weighed in. All but three fish were released alive.
  2. By virtue of being the highest placing eligible Ranger Boat owner in the event, George Hutchinson will receive $300 in Ranger Cup bonus money.
  1. The Federation anglers and Tourna-ment Staff are to be commended on their care of the fish brought to the weigh-ins during the 2018 point events. Of the 403 fish weighed, only four were brought to the scales dead and 01% were released alive.

    Oneida Photos CLICK HERE