To say that 2020 has been a unique year would be an understatement.  With the COVID-19 pandemic, nothing has been what could be considered “normal.”  This reality has affected nearly all aspects of our lives.  This included the District 15 TBF National Semi-Final held on October 10 and 11, 2020 on the Hudson River out of Catskill, New York hosted by the New Jersey Bass Federation.  The event was originally scheduled to involve anglers from New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island.  However, given current restrictions, Rhode Island anglers were not at the event.

Nevertheless, 24 anglers (12 Boaters and 12 Co-anglers) from New Jersey and 16 anglers (8 Boaters and 8 Co-anglers) from Connecticut participated in a challenging event.

Day 1 welcomed the anglers with multiple challenges.  Initially, the 15 to 25 mph south winds made navigating and fishing much of the river incredibly difficult.  Additionally, with the fish not quite yet on their fall feed, 15-inch keeper-sized largemouth and smallmouth were difficult to locate and catch.  Regardless, some anglers caught excellent Day 1 weights.

In the Boater Division, Day 1 was led by Connecticut’s Keith Cleary with a 5-fish limit weighing 13.71 pounds.  He was followed closely behind by Dexter Marshall of New Jersey with 4 fish weighing 13.49 pounds, including the Day 1 Boater lunker 5.56 pound largemouth.  Third place was held by Mike Czaplinski with a 5-fish limit weighing 12.10 pounds.

In the Co-angler Division, New Jersey’s Joe Casale posted an amazing 16.54 pound limit, anchored by the Co-angler Division Day 1 lunker 5.59 pound largemouth.  Behind Casale in second was Jon Cohl from New Jersey with 3 fish weighing 9.45 pounds.  Cohl was followed by Pete Longo of New Jersey who had 4 fish totaling 9.21 pounds.

As is often the case in upstate New York, Day 2 presented the anglers with 180-degree different conditions from Day 1 with 10 to 20 mph north winds.  These conditions did not deter many anglers from having a successful fishing day.

In the Boater Division, New Jersey’s Mike Czaplinski smashed them on Day 2 with a 17.63 pound 5-fish limit, including the Boater Division lunker 6.08 pound behemoth largemouth.  He was just ahead of Connecticut’s Jordon Doucette on the day who posted 17.22 pounds.  The third largest weight of the day was posted by Derick Olson from New Jersey with 15.89 pounds.

In the Co-angler Division, Day 2 was led by Joe Venuto from New Jersey whose 5-fish limit weighed 11.36 pounds.  He was followed by Joe Casale of New Jersey with 8.05 pounds and Terry Stevens of New Jersey with 6.68 pounds.  The big fish of the day, a beautiful 4.49 pound smallmouth, was caught by Chris Miller of New Jersey.

When all the dust cleared and all the numbers were crunched, the winners of the event were, in the Boater Division, Mike Czaplinski from New Jersey with 29.73 pounds and in the Co-angler Division, Joe Casale from New Jersey with 24.59 pounds.  These finishes also make them the New Jersey qualifiers for the 2021 TBF National Championship event.  The Connecticut qualifiers for that event were Keith Clearly in the Boater Division with 24.23 pounds and Josh Escobar in the Co-angler Division with 11.29 pounds.

In the State Pride category from this event, the designated 8-man team from New Jersey led the way with a total of 124.23 pounds.  The designated 8-man team from Connecticut posted a total of 76.52 pounds.

The New Jersey Bass Federation would like to sincerely thank the following individuals and organizations: Keitech USA – for providing tackle packages (@$50 value each) for all anglers as well as a $200 gift certificate as a raffle prize and additional cash prizes to the Boater ($200) and Co-Angler ($100) winners; Riot Baits – for providing two tackle packages (@100 value each) that were used as raffle prizes; Our intrepid trailer tower, Mike Aspinwall, Sr. for everything he does for us; Rebecca and Alexis Keller for their help during the event; Amy Perry of the Connecticut TBF for all her help during the event; All the other anglers and individuals who helped us make this event a successful one.

For all photos of this event CLICK HERE. For full results CLICK HERE

TH Marine 45th Anniversary Promotion!


Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (also called Lake Roosevelt) is the reservoir created in 1941 by the impoundment of the Columbia River by the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state. It is named for Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was president during the construction of the dam. Covering 125 square miles (80,000 acres), it stretches about 150 miles (240 km) from the Canada–US border to Grand Coulee Dam, with over 600 miles (970 km) of shoreline; by surface area it is the largest lake and reservoir in Washington. It is the home of the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.

The October 03-04th,2020 National Semi finals was held on Lake Roosevelt .This fishery is known statewide for its fantastic smallmouth fishing in which it contains a very healthy population of smallmouth bass mostly . This year we brought 39 Teams (Boaters) to the lake for our event.

The weather conditions were very comfortable both Saturday & Sunday with air temps getting up to 80 degrees and sunny both days with hardly any wind . Even though the conditions were nice for the anglers it definitely made the bite a little more difficult due to the lack of wind current for some .

After day 1 of fishing we had 7 boaters whom brought back bags of limits over 14lbs. The top bag on day 1 was from Dave Krom who weighed 18.47lbs, David Parnicky was the next closest boater in weight with his 5 fish limit that weighed 17.30, followed by John Branch with 16.25.

The Co-anglers also panned out nicely after day 1 of fishing with the top co-angler Glenn Hancuff bringing back 15.12lbs. Justin Blackmore weighed 14.45 and the next closest weight was 13.04lbs . The close results set the anglers up for a close shoot out for day 2 of competition.

Day 2 started again shortly after the national anthem echoed through the valley. All angler were updated prior to start of their day that the state pride results showed that the Boaters were separated by less than 9lbs with Washington in the lead and the Co-anglers were separated by less than 6lbs so EVERY KEEPER FISH COUNTS TODAY ANGLERS!

After the last fish touched the scales on Sunday and the final results were tallied up there was a lot of movement on the leader board. John Branch who was sitting in 3rd place on day 1 managed to stick a bigger bag on day 2 that weighed 17.41lbs and therefore claimed the Top finishing boater from Washington State with his overall weight of 33.66lbs. On the Co-angler side Michel Free who stayed consistent both days with weights of 11.98 from Day1 matched with his Day2 weight of 12.33lbs for a total weight of 24.31lbs was good enough to secure his position of Top finishing Co-angler overall and advancement to Nationals. Congrats to the top fishing boater from Oregon Kory Ray who finished with a total weight of 28.02 and Glen Hancuff from Oregon who put 21.28lbs of lake Roosevelt smallmouth on the scales and also punched his ticket to Nationals .

Overall, we had a great event with lots of smiles on many anglers’ faces throughout both days. The Washington state bass federation was the “only” group who was approved for a permit in our state to use the park due to CDC Guidelines this year. At any point, we were not allowed to have more than 10 anglers in front of the scales weighing fish which made the process a tad longer than normal however this humbled and grateful group of anglers did a fantastic job in following the guidelines with the park ranger standing in plain  sight both days. The rangers were pleased with how we conducted ourselves and we did not receive a complaint .Great job angler with proving that our OPEN – AIR Sport of competitive bass fishing is still possible when we all do our part.

Dez Ruffin (washington state bass federation president )


It is October 9, 2020 5pm and Registration is well underway.  The Tournament Director was set up early and ready to register all the Anglers as they came through.  The first step was check-in and they were given a copy of the local rules.  Once checked in, they worked their way down a line spaced out due to Covid-19.  The next step was to verify Ranger Cup with Bobbie Littlefield, who was in charge of the computer and the information for the tournament.  Following her, Scott Lepka was handing out jerseys each angler earned along with the Lowrance Hats and TBF Gators.  The last station anglers picked up their motor bands to identify they are in a contest, which is required in Idaho, and get their pairings and boat position.

A short briefing was given to all the Anglers following the check-in to go over all the local rules and answer any questions the anglers had.  As the briefing was coming to an end, Jennifer Stocke, Manager of Black Sands said food was ready.  She set up a buffet style dinner with homemade chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a small desert.  It was excellent.

Early arrival for Day 1 of the competition.  As boaters launched their boats, they passed through a small channel where they demonstrated their kill switch, lights were verified working and all live wells were operational.  At 7:30, the National Anthem played, official time was briefed and boat 1 was sent.

While all the anglers were out fishing, it was time to set up the weigh-in site.  Banners were hung, weigh table and scales set up and then tested to ensure a smooth and quick drive through weigh-in.

The first boat returned around 3:45 pm.  Joseph Graham was out at the no wake zone checking each boat as they came in to ensure no late arrivals.  Boats of all different shimmering colors sped in from the lake, whitecaps trailing behind them. The first flight all arrived on time.  The anglers put their boats on their trailers and proceeded to the weigh-in in front of Black Sands Resort.  As they finished loading their boats, the second flight started to arrive.  Same as the first flight, all boats from the second flight check in on time as well.

All day long it had been nice, with 5 mph winds, and because it was cloudy all day, it gave the fish ample opportunity to bite.  Once weigh-in got underway though, the once calm wind started to pick up, blowing at a bitter and distracting 15-20 mph.  In order to block the wind, a vehicle was brought around and a large heavy cooler was placed on the table with the scales.  Because of the wind, the scales took a little longer to lock in.

The first boat pulled up to the scales where they were handed 2 weigh bags.  Once all the fish were bagged, the anglers brought the fish up to the scales where they were put in a tub of water so they could be looked at and verified for length and liveliness.  Wendy Dawn handled the fish with great care and placed them in the weigh basket while Scott Lepka weighed the fish and called the weights.  Simultaneously, a bucket was filled with water and put back into the angler’s bag.  Boat number and Angler name were announced to Bobbie Littlefield and as soon as Littlefield recorded the weights, they were automatically printed and a copy was given to the anglers.  The anglers then took the fish to the release boats where Joseph Graham, Dan Chandler, and John Lindstom were waiting.  Each release boat made two trips to release the fish at least a mile from the weigh-in site and away from any bank access.

A total of 232 fish were brought in to the scales, 229 were released alive totaling 442.62 lbs.  Each of the release boats made two trips as to not overload the fish and get them back into the lake as soon as possible.

Every angler weighed at least one fish on Day 1.  So far, the Top Angler of the tournament after Day 1 is Charley McMurdie from Idaho, weighing 5 fish for 17.13 lbs.  On the Co Angler side Glenn Parsons has a weight of 13.69 lbs.  The top Montana Angler for Boaters is Douglas Stiffarm with 14.11 lbs. and the leading Montana Co Angler is Hunter Dahnke with 11.18 lbs.

At 11:30 pm on Day 1 of the tournament, it has been raining nonstop for the past 3 hours.  This is the first significant rain in over a month, as Idaho does not get much. It is forecasted to rain until 2 am.  Because of this, the ambient temperature dropped into the 40’s, and this nonstop rain has the potential to adversely affect tomorrow’s fishing.

On Day 2 of the National Semi Finals between Idaho and Montana, boats start arriving at 6:15 am.  Today feels calmer than yesterday with clear skies and light 5 mph winds.  A Co Angler did not show this morning, and they were unresponsive to any phone calls.  Jim Davis stepped up to fill in so no unlucky Boater had to be pulled from the tournament.  Boat checks were conducted, the National Anthem played and blast off was at 7:50 am.  For today, the order was reversed from Day 1, as boat 27 went out first and the rest followed from the no wake zone.

Today, anglers also started to return a little early for weigh-in.  Everything is set up and ready, and to make things smoother than yesterday, a few more volunteers helped with the weigh-in.  Russ Littlefield, XXXX Chandler, and Marshal Currothers helped with pictures and taking the fish to the release boats, while Erika Brandt took the pictures of the Anglers.

The weigh-in showed the fishing was a little tougher on Day 2. Boater Charlie Mcmurdie said the fishing on Day 2 was “good, but yesterday was better.” With his biggest catch of the day being a whopping 4 lbs. While Angler Kelly Lee was quoted saying, “The fishing was great, the catching was horrible.” His catch was also about 4 lbs. 203 fish were brought to the scales on Day 2 with a total weight of 364.03 lbs.

Combined for both days, 435 fish were released alive, but 6 were dead.  Most Boaters and Co Anglers interviewed stated dropshots were the bait that caught the most fish, while Boater Roger Stringer said he had the best luck with chatter baits. A total weight for the tournament was 800.47 lbs.

Idaho top Boater, Charlie McMurdie and Idaho top Co-angler, Torrey Tucker

Following the weigh-in, final scores were calculated and the top 5 Boaters and Co Anglers were announced.  The Anglers were all fishing in order to move on to National Finals and Two Boaters and Two Co Anglers were identified.  For Idaho, Charlie Mcmurdie brought in 30.49 lbs. to win the tournament as a Boater, and he will represent Idaho at the National Tournament.  And Idaho’s winning Co Angler was Torrey Tucker whose fish weighed a combined 20.23 lbs.  The top finisher for Montana’s Boater was Jason Crone with a combined weight of 18.43 lbs, and the top Montana Co Angler was Cher Moua with a combined weight of 18.62 lbs.  Since Cher’s combined weight is greater than the Top Boater for Montana, he will most likely have an option to go to Nationals as a Boater.

Montana top Boater, Jason Crone and Montana top Co-angler, Cher Moua

Good luck to all at the next level of competition.

A big thanks to everyone who helped out with the tournament.  It wouldn’t have run as smoothly as it did without everyone’s assistance.  With another thanks to the Black Sands Resort for their support and good food.