Submitted by: Nick Angiulo

The TBF New Jersey Bass Federation, celebrating its 35TH anniversary, opened up its 2008 tournament season in fine style at the May 4, 2008 event held on the Northern Chesapeake/Susquehanna Flats. This event produced some heavy weights in both the Boater and Co-Angler Divisions and some close competition. In all, the Federation anglers hit the seemingly never-ending expanse of rivers, bays and creeks on a pleasant early Spring day marked by early clouds followed by bright sun and breezy winds in search of the ever-challenging 15-inch or larger bass.

Boater Division

Capturing first place in the Boater Division in impressive style was Doug Peabody. Doug, who hails from Brick, New Jersey, and is a member of the Limiters, posted the victory by bringing a five-fish limit to the scales weighing a whopping 19.38 pounds, which included two fish over five pounds. Doug indicated that he fished in an area he has fished in previous years in the Sassafras River, and, even though he only managed one fish in practice there, believed that there were fish to be caught in that location. On the morning of the tournament, he pulled in and began throwing a Rattletrap bait on the inside edge of the weed line. Fifteen minutes later he had two good keepers and caught the rest of his weight by 9:00 a.m. Included in this catch was one largemouth weighing 5.46 pounds and another weighing 5.28 pounds. Doug stated that this was his second-ever Federation win, with the other win also on the Flats. He wished to thank all of his club mates for all of their help. For his Boater Division victory, he received $1,170.

Finishing in second place, more than one-half pound behind was Dave Frost, Peabody’s club mate. Frost, from North Haledon, New Jersey also weighed in a hefty sack of five bass totaling 18.78 pounds. Dave stated that he fished marinas and weed beds in the Northeast River and on the main flats. He indicated that he only caught six keepers on the day, but made every one of them count. Armed exclusively with a flippin’ stick, Dave caught his biggest fish, a fish over five pounds, and another solid fish, in the last half hour of the event. For his second place Boater Division finish, Frost received $936.

Third place went to the ever-consistent Rich Schneidereit, who weighed in a five-fish limit totaling 16.86 pounds. Schneidereit, from Medford, New Jersey, and a member of the Clearwater Bassmasters, reported that he had one of those rare near-perfect fishing days where every decision he made was the right one. Rich stated that in the morning he fished a weed bed in the Bohemia River and caught a quick limit with a black and blue Sweet Beaver. He culled through the morning and at noon made a move to the Sassafras River, where he proceeded to catch a five pounder and a three and one-half pounder within the first few minutes on a crankbait. He then returned to the Bohemia and continued to catch fish. For his third place finish, he received a check for $643, and will also receive an additional $500 in Ranger Cup bonus money as the highest eligible finishing Ranger boat owner.

Rounding out the rest of the top Boater Division finishers was Mike Sims in fourth place with a five-fish limit weighing 16.20 pounds, worth $468; Chris Oeser in fifth place with a five-fish limit weighing 15.22 pounds, worth $409; and Chris Smith in sixth place with a five-fish limit weighing 14.68 pounds, worth $292.

With the big weights at the top of the Boater Division, it is amazing that the Boater Division Lunker was not caught by one of the top finishers. Rather, that prize went to Rob Laufenberg, who weighed in a 6.40 pound behemoth. Laufenberg, from Denville, New Jersey and another member of the Limiters, caught his fish in the Northeast River on a crankbait and was awarded $270.

Co-Angler Division

If the first event is any indication, this year’s Co-Angler Division promises significant competition as well as enhanced prize money to the top finishers.

With this in mind, first place went to Bruce Knevals, who weighed in an impressive five-fish limit totaling 15.48 pounds. Knevals, from Morristown, New Jersey, and a member of the Quickfire Bassmasters, stated that his victory was his first-ever Federation placing. He indicated that he fished with Mike Sims who put him on fish in the Sassafras River much of the day. Bruce threw a green chatterbait in weed beds near bluff banks to catch all of his fish. He estimated that he and Mike caught 30 keeper-sized fish on the day and that culling was quite an adventure. Bruce stated it was one of his greatest days of fishing and wished to thank Mike for bringing him to areas with such an abundance of fish. He also emphasized that anglers like Mike are the future of the Federation; a young angler who went out of his way to be friendly, gracious and accommodating to him throughout the entire day. For his Co-Angler Division victory, Bruce received $610.

Finishing second in the Co-Angler Division was Al “Froggy” Kolasa who also brought a five-fish limit to the scales that weighed 13.96 pounds, and included the Co-Angler Division Lunker winning fish, a 4.28 pound largemouth. Froggy, from Blairstown, New Jersey, and a member of the Mega Bass 6, reported that he thought, given the time of year, it would be a “Senko” de Mayo pattern, but instead it turned out to be a “Lizard la Loco” day. He stated that he threw a six inch moccasin colored plastic lizard to catch all seven of his keepers on the day. Fishing in a cooperative effort with his boater on the day, Jason Orecchio, in Bohemia River weed beds proved to be the ticket. Froggy also wished to thank his club mate, George Hutchinson, with helping in locating fish in practice. For his second place Co-Angler Division finish, Froggy received a check for $488; and an additional $130 check for his Co-Angler Division Lunker.

Third place Co-Angler was Dave Hayes with four fish weighing 8.32 pounds. Hayes, from Pittsgrove, New Jersey, and a member of Gloucester County Bassmasters stated that he fished with Rich Schneidereit on the day mainly in the Bohemia River. While Rich and others were catching fish on creature-type baits, Dave found success with a black Zoom Finesse Worm thrown on a 1/8 ounce weight. Dave wished to thank Rich for an enjoyable day and Bill Wilson for all of his help in locating fish. Dave received the third place Co-Angler Division prize of $335.

Rounding out the rest of the top Co-Angler Division finishers was John Erickson in fourth place with a three fish weighing 7.82 pounds, worth $244; and Keith Love and Frank Hutchinson tied for fifth place with two and three fish, respectively, weighing 5.66 pounds; worth $152.50 each.

Miscellaneous Notes

1. In all, there were 16 five-fish limits brought to the scales and 172 fish totaling 475.74 pounds were weighed in. All fish were released alive. The 2.77 pounds per fish average shows the quality of fish that can be caught in the fertile waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

2. By virtue of being the second and third highest placing eligible Ranger Boat owners, Mike Hart and Bob Kowitski will receive $300 and $100, respectively, in Ranger Cup bonus money.

3. An extra $600 ($300 per Division) in prize money was added to the purse for this event by the Federation Board of Directors. The same amount will be added to each of the remaining four point tournaments.

4. Please take note that any angler who competes in all five regular Federation tournaments this season is eligible to win one of four $500 prizes to be raffled off at the season-ending Greenwood Lake event.