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Archive for ◊ July, 2012 ◊

Turn bass into cash
Wednesday, July 04th, 2012 | Author:

The opening day of bass season has become paralleled with the start of something else in recent years: the beginning of the bass tournament season in the area.

Several clubs host bass tournaments during the summer in virtually every public waterway that is home to smallmouth and/or largemouth bass. Places such as Harveys Lake, Lake Jean and the Susquehanna River to name a few.

And they all carry a lucrative cash prize, giving anglers an added incentive.

Perhaps the most lucrative tournament, when it comes to cash awards, is the open buddy event held by the Columbia County Bassmasters on June 23-34 on the Susquehanna River. The tournament, now in its third year, is based at the boat launch at the Berwick Test Track and 42 miles of river from Nanticoke to Danville, are eligible for the event, giving anglers plenty of room to spread out.

Like most tournaments the format is simple the heaviest fish wins. But in this tournament, that means $5,000 for first place and a total of $12,500 paid out for the top-nine finishers. The prize money is funded by the Columbia County Tourism fund and the top-50 finishers from the first day go on to compete for the cash prizes on Sunday.

And theres more. A $500 lunker prize is awarded each day, a $100 prize is handed out to the child bringing in the heaviest fish plus gift certificates for the second heaviest fish each day.

It costs $140 per boat, which is two anglers, to enter the tournament, which isnt bad for a chance to win the kind of money were putting out, tournament director Chuck Monico said.

But theres more than money that draws people to the tournament. The Columbia County Bassmasters partner with the Columbia/Montour Visitors Bureau and Berwick Borough to hold a Family Fun Festival in conjunction with the tournament. The festival, which is also located at the Test Track Park, features food, entertainment, prizes and train rides to Lime Ridge and back.

One of the highlights of the festival is the daily weigh-in at the boat launch, which gives people a chance to see what anglers are catching in the river.

We try to bring the two events together and it is unique. The festival gives the public something to do while the guys are fishing and theyre waiting for the weigh-in, said Ingrid Podgurski, director of marketing for the visitors bureau. It all ties into getting kids interested in fishing and the outdoors.

The tournament itself also takes steps to make sure that the fishery isnt impacted. Monico said theres a minimum size limit of 15 inches, which reduces stress on the smaller, more numerous bass in the river, and all fish caught are released back through the entire stretch via two aerated tanker trucks.

Basically were re-stocking the fish and spreading them out, Monico said.

Still, the weekend event hasnt been without challenges during the first two years. The first year drew 83 boats, while last year the number dipped to 54. Podgurski said rain has hampered previous turnouts, and fluctuating river levels have jeopardized the tournament.

We have tons of interest in it, but we often dont know until last minute if well have the anglers because they wait to see what the river is going to do, Podgurski said.

Monico said locals have been catching and releasing bass in the 3- to 4-pound range, but last years flood did change the makeup of the river in places.

Podgurski added there is talk that funding for the tournament will be cut next year, making it self reliant. If that happens, Monico said his club will probably take it on, but the prize money may be reduced.

Regardless, Monico and Podgurski are both optimistic that the joint event will continue and evolve into a tradition linking the community and bass anglers.

This really gives a lot of people an opportunity to see whats in the river and how well its doing, Monico said. You dont have to go out of the area to find some of the best bass fishing.

Tournament schedule
License counts

Upcoming area bass tournaments (if you would like your tournament to be listed, email Tom Venesky at tvenesky@timesleader.com):

PA BassCasters will host an open buddy tournament at Harveys Lake on Sunday, June 24 at the state ramp. Boat check is at 4:15 am with the start at safe light. Weigh-in will be at 1 pm at the state ramp. For more information, call Dan Davis at 762-1469.

The Nanticoke Conservation Club will host its annual bass tournament on the Susquehanna River on Saturday, July 7, at the Union Township boat access. The tournament runs from 6 am to noon and registration opens at 5 am Cost is $50 per boat with an optional $10 lunker. For more information, visit www.nanticokeconservationclub.com.

The Suskie Bassmasters will host a Wednesday tournament each week on the Susquehanna River beginning June 20 to Sept. 12. The tournament will be held at the boat launch in Nesbitt Park and registration begins at 4:30 pm Launch is at 6 pm and weigh-in is at 9 pm For more information, visit www.suskiebassmasters.org.

A Wednesday night tournament will be held at Harveys Lake each week beginning June 20 at the public boat launch. The tournament will begin at 6 pm with weigh-in at 9 pm at the launch. Registration is at 4 pm There is a $15 entry fee and payouts for first and second place. A championship round with a $1,000 payout will be held in September. For more information, call John at 814-4986 or Duke at 991-0080.

The Columbia County Bassmasters Open Buddy Tournament will be held on June 23-24 at the Test Track Park on South Eaton Street in Berwick. There is a 100 boat limit and registrations will be accepted up to the first day of the tournament. For more information, call Chuck Monico at 753-3223.


Fishing license sales are up 11 percent from last year, according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. As a result, the agency is expecting a surge in activity when bass season opens on Saturday, June 16.

Through June 4, anglers had purchased 683,031 licenses, an increase of 67,389 from the same time last year.

Were very happy that license sales have continued to increase, PFBC executive director John Arway said. Bass are already one of the most popular sportfish targeted by anglers. Because last year was unseasonably cool and wet, we think anglers are even more anxious to get out this year and make up for last years lost days.

The season runs to Oct. 31 for lakes and Sept. 30 for rivers and streams. Minimum size is 12 inches with a creel limit of six. For more information on catch-and-release waterways and other regulation changes, visit www.fish.state.pa.us.

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