After what seems like weeks of sunny, 70 degree weather Saturday’s “Opening Day” of the much anticipated Premier Marine Tournament Trail began under dark, damp skies. It didn’t get much better for the remainder of the day weather-wise. Undaunted by the weather, however 36 undaunted teams were on hand for what proves to be one of the most popular tournament series on the Upper Bay. All teams were in the water and ready for a soggy blast off at 7:00AM at Tydings Park in Havre de Grace, MD.
Shortly after blast off, the precipitation changed from a light sprinkle to a torrent of heavy downpours for much of the morning, The stronger than expected winds forced many teams to alter their game plans and search for calmer water. Under these adverse conditions, though the playing field became a bit more level as Mother Nature held the upper hand on this day.
Premier Marine owner Dave Macbride welcomed the anglers with a word of thanks and boat numbers were called off one by one. Both flights had cleared the marina by 7:15 and it was “Game On!” The roostertails of all of the competitors were visible in all directions as teams headed toward the Susquehanna River, North East River, the Eastern Shore, and even Middle River. Anticipation was high as several teams remarked later that they didn’t know if their best areas would be affected by the rain and wind.
Despite the weather, a sizable crowd was on hand at the weigh-in ceremony as was the wind and rain. Although some expected the overall catch to be down somewhat due to the weather everyone knew that there were still going to be some big bags carried to the scales. They were correct!
Twenty five 5-bass limits were caught during this tournament as the Upper Chesapeake continues to shine. A total of 137 bass totaling 494.50 pounds were weighed with the average bass caught weighing about 3.60 pounds. ALL 137 bass were released back into the Havre de Grace area of the Chesapeake Bay just as healthy as when they were caught. Kudos to the anglers for great fish care management!
Claiming 7th place and the final pay position of the Premier Marine tournament were Kevin Simpson and Sam Rineer. Their limit of largemouth weighed 20.68 pounds and earned them $240.
Finishing in 6th place and pocketing $320 were Mike Piccolo and Jim Steiner. They presented 20.72 pounds of bass to the scales.
Kevin Park and Bryan Bylotas bagged a limit that weighed 20.82 pounds, good for 5th place and $370. Good job!
Today’s 4th place finishers were Clyde Brown and Corey Ellis. Their limit of fish weighed 20.90 pounds and was good for $430.
John Vanore and Ryan Bauman finished just ahead with 5 for 20.96 pounds. They were awarded cherry plaques and $620 in prize money.
Thanks to the big bass of the tournament, a giant 7.44 largemouth, Matt Elliott and Dave Gobeli became the second place team today. In addition to the Lunker award of $360 their weight of 21.59 pounds also earned them second place Option Pot money of $180. Stir that in with the $900 second place prize award and you will see that Matt and Dave went home with $1440 in cash. Great job!
The champions of the very first Premier Marine tournament are no strangers to winning big tournaments. Joe Dellavalle and Dan Hawley won one of the big Nauti Goose Opens last year. On this day, however they concentrated on big pre-spawn bass and worked that plan to perfection. Joe and Dan did not have that one giant bass in their bag, but had 5 solid, consistent 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 pound bass. That’s what it takes to win most tournaments.
They not only took home 2 beautiful plaques, but also a big pile of money! The first place Option Pot bounty was worth $420 and the top prize was $1980. A little quick math will tell you that Joe and Dan left the building with $2400! That’s a great return on a $150 entry fee and $25 Option Pot.
$360 went into the Championship fund after this tournament and that did not come from the 90% payback. That comes from the 10% that is not paid back at the ramp ($10 per entry goes to the Championship). The other $5 from each entry goes to plaques and expenses so now you see exactly where your money goes and how much of it is returned to you, the fishermen!
REMEMBER…The Premier Marine Tournament Trail does not calculate points and pounds and to qualify for the Championship the only requirement is that you fish 5 of the 7 tournaments. If you didn’t make the first tournament or had a stinker of a tournament you are not in the hole against other competitors! It’s a beautiful concept! Several door prizes were given away and I heard that their might be a marine battery or 2 going into the door prize pot for tournament #2 on April 21.
Thanks to all of those that made this a very enjoyable tournament which was just the tip of the iceberg. This includes Dave Macbride and his ace mechanic Jimmy, Sean Peddicord, Ray Jachimsky, and Billy Zinkhan. Dave Macbride was last seen towing a tournament contestant’s boat from PA toward the shop at Premier Marine for a Power Pole installation this week.
Just a reminder that I will be running a Paycheck Open tournament this Saturday out of Tydings Park in Havre De Grace. It’s an affordable $125 Entry Fee, $10 lunker, and $15 Option Pot for $150 all-in.