Submitted by: Nick Angiulo
The New Jersey Bass Federation’s final event of its 2017 tournament season had a lot on the line. Along with the normal prizes awarded to the top anglers in each Division, this event would also decide both the Boater and Co-Angler Divisions’ Anglers of the Year as well as determine which anglers would qualify to fish in the TBF District 15 National Semi-Final event to be held at this very same lake at the end of September.
The Boater Division winner likely felt some pressure as he entered this event, as he was not already qualified for the National Semi-Final. Regardless, by winning the event in impressive fashion, Darren Pincus automatically qualified as a Boater for that event. In winning the event, Pincus, a member of the Blazin Bass chapter, brought an impressive five-fish limit, weighing 14.30, to the scales. That weight was enough to com-fortably win the Boater Division and its associate $2,000 first prize.
Usually second place is not the spot to be, but if you asked second place finisher Manny Cruz, he would likely say, in this case, that he was more than satisfied in that spot. The reason? With his Boater Division second place finish, Cruz moved from fourth place in the overall standings, to the top overall spot, making him the 2017 Boater Division Angler of the Year. For this event, Cruz, of the United Bass Anglers, brought five fish weigh-ing1 3.29 pounds to the scales. His second place Boater Division finish was worth $675.
Third place went to Ron Schneider, a member of the North Jersey Bass Anglers. Schneider, who is a much decorated Federation angler, but has not fished the circuit recently, returned to show that he still has what it takes. In that regard, Schneider weighing in 13.24 pounds of bass to take third place and $425.
The Boater Division lunker, a 4.83 pound largemouth, was caught by Bergen Bass-masters angler Mike Rinaldi. For his Boater Division lunker, Rinaldi received $125.
The Co-Angler Division was a highly competitive, albeit difficult affair, as many of the Co-Anglers had a difficult time putting together any consistent pattern on a day plagued with high pressure and heavy boat traffic. Nevertheless, several Co-Anglers put together enough bites to rise to the top.
The first-time NJBF Co-Angler winner of this event was Scott Cocioppo, a member of the United Bass Anglers. Cocioppo posted the only five-fish limit in his Division, and, while it only weighed 7.20 pounds, that weight was enough to take the overall $1,250 prize by nearly one-half pound.
Taking second in the Co-Angler Division was Mike Aspinwall, Sr. Aspinwall is a member of the Gloucester County Bass Club. While he only managed three keepers on the day, his 6.82 pounds was enough to take the $365 Co-Angler Division second place prize. In addition, Aspinwall’s biggest fish, a 3.58-pound smallmouth, was enough to take the $100 Co-Angler lunker prize.
The third place Co-Angler, Mike Lee, a member of the Essex County Bassmasters weighed in two fish for 5.83 pounds. He received a free entry certificate into a 2018 Federation event.
Yearlong Tournament Awards
Angler of the Year
Boater Division Angler of the Year was wide open going into this last event. However, as mentioned previously, Manny Cruz shot to the top based on his strong finish in this event.
The Co-Angler Division Angler of the Year was also an incredibly close race going into the event. Doing just enough to take the top spot was Donny Diggs, fishing as a member of the Quickfire Bassmasters.
Rookie of the Year
In the Boater Division, the Rookie of the Year was Bill Selwasky, Jr. of the Essex County Bassmasters. Along with winning the Candlewood Lake event, Selawsky finished the season in ninth place overall in the Boater Division.
In the Co-Angler Division, Federation newcomer, Ben Dain, proved consistent all year to take the Co-Angler Rookie of the Year. Dain’s overall third place finish also secured him a spot in the National Semi-Final.
- A total of 16 anglers brought five-fish limIts to the scales and 144 fish totaling over 264 pounds were weighed in. All but one fish (99.31%) were released alive.
- By virtue of being the highest placing eligible Ranger Boat owner in the event, Darren Pincus will receive $250 in Ran-ger Cup bonus money.
- 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 2017 point. Of the 503 fish weighed, only six were brought to the scales dead and an amazing 81% were released alive.
- Congratulations to the top six overall finishers in the Boater and Co-Angler Divisions. All of these anglers are qualified for the TBF District 15 National Semi-Final to be held on September 30 and October 1 at Lake Hopatcong.