Folks at home folks at home, the BFL Northeast Division tournament on Lake Champlain is in the books. With a 38th finish out of 148 anglers, I found a little peace at last. I really can’t complain, I was only 6 ounces away from a check. More lessons learned in my
rookie BFL season.
Fishing is truly humbling. As you know, my season has been a long way away from what I imagined it would be. But maybe, just maybe I am getting the hang of this. I got to Champlain on Wednesday for practice and it didn’t take long to find active fish. Some were on a rocky ledge in 8-10 feet of water adjacent to a grassy flat in 13 feet of water. I was catching them using a Zee Bait Rib Tail worm on a Neko Rig. Although they were nice sized fish, and plentiful, I knew these were not big enough to win the tournament. So I tried a spot which had current running through, about 30 yards wide, leading from one part of the lake to another part of the lake. I hooked and lost 2 monster smallies using a spy bait. Even though I did not boat them, I marked the spot and left knowing I would return on tournament day.
On Thursday I wanted to go try a spot I found the week before. Fishing along with my buddy Matt, the first spot gave up 3 smallies each over 3 1/4 lbs. The next little point added a 3 lb. largemouth caught on a chatterbait with a Zee Bait Swimmer trailer. I saw some followers, all good tournament-sized fish, so we marked it, packed things up and moved. The next spot was also productive throwing the Zee Bait 3.5 Swimmer on a 1/4 oz. swim bait head. With these spots locked in, I felt I was getting dialed in to catch a good limit.
Tournament morning started off with a tough ride- winds 8-12 from the south, making Champlain a little rough. I made the run to my first spot in about an hour- my back is still paying for that. However, I was rewarded on my 3rd cast with a 2.5 lb. smallie using the chatterbait, and my co-angler hooked a 3 pounder soon after. I decided to switch to my Kistler KLX with an underspin jig and Zee Swimmer. After the cast, I let it sink, and bang, the fight was on! I knew it was a 4+ on the other end and my heart stopped when it jumped 2 feet into the air and spit my lure. Oh the one that got away- I am sure this cost me a check. The solace was that we were getting bit! So I started moving to my other waypoints and BANG, we found the school that gave me my limit. It was time to start upgrading.
By noon I had 13.5-14 lbs., but I knew I needed a lot more from this lake to place. I traveled further north, traveling right along the Canadian border to a pretty shallow area with trees scattered all over. I had 3 points in the river to check for quality fish along lay downs. At the first point I had a 3 lb largemouth follow my chatterbait but it didn’t
commit. Then my co, Jeremy Bulich, got his 5th fish so he was happy. He’s a high school senior who is on the way to becoming a good stick. I caught a small keeper that didn’t help my bag so off we went to the next point.
I noticed there were quite a few people fishing in this part of the river, people not in the tournament, so while that gave me hope, except for a 9 inch largemouth, I didn’t get bit. So I decided to take the long ride back to the area I started. Fortunately, it paid off. I upgraded with my largest smallie of the day, a 4 lber caught on a super fluke.
With a 3:15 weigh-in looming, at 2:00 I decided to try a couple spots on the way back. I caught a couple, but nothing that improved my bag. In the end, I weighed in 16 lbs. , good enough for a 38th place and some points for the overall points race. Jeremy actually finished 21st and cashed a check in his first tournament! I was happy for him, as this young man has the same Passion I do. It felt good to be up towards the money, and I had a great time catching over 30 fish.
The next outing for the People’s Champ was the ALS Philadelphia Chapter Benefit tournament hosted by the Bucks County Anglers Club on Van Sciver Lake, Fairless Hills PA. There were 32 teams participating in this tournament held in honor of Byrd Post who passed away 14 years ago from this debilitating disease. Byrd was a great guy, still very muched missed by the membership.
A number of us got our sponsors to donate to the raffle which raised extra money. Donations came in from iBass360, Forage Lures, Penndel Pub, Enigma, and JaKKed Baits. iBass360 Pro staff and Fishing Fiends founder Sean McKiernan got Mike Iaconelli to donate an autographed tournament jersey.
Fortunately, given how bad the weather has been in the east, it was a beautiful day on the water with a slight breeze and mostly sunny skies. The winners, father/son team Don and Scotty McAnulty weighed in 5 for 11-7 just edging out another father/son team
of Pat and Pat Thornton by 2 ounces. Rounding out the top 5 with 5 for 9-14 was yours truly, the People’s Champ and my partner T-bow.
It was a super day of fun with friends and family coming together for a good cause. This was the 13th year for this ALS Benefit and the BCAC has raised well over $67,000 to fight Lou Gehrig’s Disease- not bad for a small local club. I’d like to thank all the folks who organized and participated in this event, with a special thanks to iBass360, Penndel Pub, and Forage Lures for their donations. A great way to Live The Passion and, when you do it for a great cause, a way to stay humble!
iBass360 Pro staff Nick Ferry is a “people person”. He has an engaging personality that lives up to his billing as “The People’s Champ”. Nick has been a very successful club angler in SE Pennsylvania with both the Peace Valley Bass Anglers and the Bucks County Anglers Club who is now taking that experience to the BFL. Nick is Pro Staff for Ardent Reels, Kistler Rods, Zee Baits, Forage Lures, JaKKed Baits and Seaguar Line. Nick is a regular contributor to the iBass360 Blog.