Submitted by: Nick Angiulo
It looked like the stars were going to align for the New Jersey Bass Federation’s first event of the 2018 tournament season on April 14, 2018. There were two consecutive warm days and the water was finally starting to rise from the mid-40-degree temperatures that were found earlier in the week. With that in mind, a field of 37 Boater and 26 Co-Anglers anxiously took to the water. However, as is often the case in bass fishing, there is no way to predict the mood of bass on a day-to-day basis and, unfortunately, the fish were particularly uncooperative for many of the participants. Nevertheless, one angler found and caught the size bass needed to obliterate the rest of the field by almost eight pounds!
The Boater Division winner made this event a cake walk. Wally Peer, of Blazin Bass, posted one of only three five-fish limits in the event. However, unlike the other two limits, his was full of large and healthy Lake Hopatcong bass. His total weight of 17.55 pounds, anchored by the 5.11-pound Boater lunker, was a full 7.81 pounds ahead of the second place Boater. The win was worth $2,000 and Peer collected an additional $125 for his Boater Division lunker.
The battle for second place was close as two additional anglers with five-fish limits on the day tangled for that spot. Coming out on top was Mike Rinaldi of the Bergen Bassmasters with 9.74 pounds. Rinaldi’s second place finish was worth $1,190. Rinaldi picked up an additional $250 as the highest finishing Ranger Cup qualified angler.
Finishing in a close third was Mike McMahon of the Warren County Bassmasters. McMahon’s five fish limit weighed 9.25 pounds and was worth $795
The Co-Angler Division proved to be a battle of attrition’s as most anglers struggled just to get bites. Nevertheless, some fish were caught, and the top three anglers were separated by only 0.84 pounds.
The first-time NJBF Co-Angler winner of this event was Darren Sobel of the Big D Valley Bassmasters. Sobel, who weighed in two fish weighing 3.57 pounds, was fishing in his first-ever New Jersey Bass Federation tournament. His Co-Angler Division victory was worth $1,250.
Taking second in the Co-Angler Division was Brian Snowman. Snowman, a member of the R-Unit chapter, also managed two fish. His two fish totaled 3.17 pounds and were worth $475. Third place was captured by Akira Okuyama of the Big D Valley Bassmasters. Okuyama’s two fish weighed 2.73 pounds and were worth $300. The Co-Angler Division lunker winning fish only weighed 1.82 pounds and was caught by Randy Gillespie of Blazin Bass. He received $100.
- Only three anglers brought five-fish limits to the scales and only 70 fish totaling over 135 pounds were weighed in. All fish were released alive.
- By being the highest placing eligible Ranger Boat owner in the event, Mike Rinaldi will receive $250 in Ranger Cup bonus money.
- Thanks Just wanted to give a shout out to the Paul Schmidt and the Northeast Bassmasters who also had a large event today on Hopatcong. Everything went incredibly smooth both in the morning and afternoon and we saw no issues on the water.
- A special thanks to the NJBF members who came to help out today. It is much appreciated!!! Those members and friends include Keith Kitson, Kris Lechman, Chris Miller, Mike Hart and Vice President Doug Peabody’s wife and daughter.