Submitted by: Nick Angiulo
The New Jersey Bass Federation’s second point event of the 2018 tournament season was held on Maryland’s vast Chesapeake Bay, where its northern sections hold the potential to break 25 pounds of bass in a day. The fertile brackish river systems that make up this area, colloquially known as the Susquehanna Flats, are as rewarding as they are challenging. In this regard, this event, held on May 6, 2018, did not produce the over 20 bags that are often seen in events there as the water is just now warming to spawning temperature. However, it did produce one of the most exciting and close Boater Division finishes in recent memory as well as a Co-Angler Division winner who posted a weight that is likely an all-time record in that Division.
Winning first place in the Boater Division by less than one ounce was New Jersey Bass Federation President Mike Keller. Keller, of the Blazin Bass chapter, reported having a banner day, catching more than 20 keeper-sized bass, eventually culling up to his 19.32 pound winning weight. He needed every hundredth of a pound as his winning margin of .04 pounds was razor thin. While Keller did not have a bass over five pounds, his bag consisted of five “clones” in the four-pound range. Keller was rewarded for his Boater Division victory with the guaranteed minimum first prize of $2,000.
The second place Boater has been missing from New Jersey Bass Federation events for many years. A longtime former member, Todd Sages, returned to the Federation with a bang by nearly taking the event with 19.28 pounds. Sages, a member of the Big D Valley Bassmasters, anchored his limit with a 4.67 pound largemouth. For his second place finish, Sages received $1,040. Sages’ weight was also enough to win the $250 Ranger Cup prize for this event.
The third place Boater Division finisher also broke the 19-pound mark. Jim Papierz, of the Warren County Bassmasters, brought 19.20 pounds to the scales, a weight that earned him the third place $705 Boater Division prize.
With all the bigger fish weighed in at the top of the Boater Division, it was a slight surprise that the lunker fish for the Division was not caught by one of the top finishers. Rather, the lunker winning 6.11 pound largemouth was caught by B.P. Hurding of the Big D Valley Bassmasters. He received $125 for his Boater Division winning lunker.
The Co-Angler Division anglers had much success on the day, but none had as epic a day as the winner. In that regard, the Co-Angler winning weight is the largest posted in a point event since the Federation changed to its “pro-am” style events in 2016. It may even be the largest weight ever posted by a co-angler in Federation history. Regardless, the winner, Federation rookie Scott Gropp of the Big D Valley Bassmasters, brought a whopping 19.02 pounds of bass to the scales to obliterate the field by nearly a full five pounds. Gropp’s creel included the Co-Angler Division lunker winning 5.57-pound fish as well as a second five pounder. For the victory, Gropp received the minimum guaranteed one-day Co-Angler first prize of $1,250. He also received an additional $100 for his Co-Angler Division lunker.
Finishing in a distant second place was Gropps’ Big D Valley club mate, Bob Kyriacos. Kyriacos had four fish that came in at an impressive 14.18 pounds, which was enough to capture the second place Co-Angler Division prize of $425.
The third place Co-Angler also had four hefty fish, weighing 13.67 pounds. That weight was brought to the scales by Frank Garcia of the North Jersey Bass Anglers and was worth $180.
- There were 18 anglers (31%) who brought five fish limits to the scales. This is an impressive statistic given that there is a 15-inch size limit for bass in Maryland during this time of year. A total of 157 fish totaling over 468 pounds were weighed in. The per fish average weight was an impressive 2.98 pounds. All but one fish (99.36%) were released alive.
- As mentioned previously, by being the highest placing eligible Ranger Boat owner in the event, Todd Sages will receive $250 in Ranger Cup bonus money.