The Spro Frog Only Upper Bay Open presented by Susquehanna Fishing Tackle was held on he Upper Chesapeake Bay out of Anchor Marina in North East, Maryland on August 2, 2014.
Undaunted by steady rain prior to and during registration, and the forecast of more of the same throughout the day, an outstanding field of 80 teams were on hand and ready to fish. The guys and gals participating in this event were blessed, however as the rain all but quit for the day minutes prior to blast-off.
The skies remained overcast and the early hours of the tournament featured low tide exposing more of the milfoil, eel grass, hydrilla, and lily pads…a frog angler’s dream! Expectations of big bass at weigh-in would be fulfilled as you will note later.
Each contestant in this unique tournament format was permitted to use ONLY Spro Frogs and Spro hollow-bodied topwater lures. They were allowed to make subtle modifications to the Spro frogs such as coloring the frog, shortening the skirt, adding scent or inserting a rattle. The were not permitted, however to add any type of weight or rig the Spro frog as a trailer on another lure.
As each team registered they were presented with an “Appreciation Package” presented by Spro including 4 brand new Spro Bronzeye Frogs and Shad lures, 2 Spro Hats, 2 Spro Face Buffers, and Spro decals. Susquehanna Fishing Tackle also gave each contender a raffle ticket and a chance to win rods, reels and more after the conclusion of weigh-in. The Nauti Goose Restaurant offered discount coupons to each team.
www.sfttackle.com also had plenty of Spro Frogs for sale and one angler was seen leaving the scene incognito after purchasing 22 Spro Frogs!
This tournament featured a 100% Payback to the anglers and with a field this size a total of 18 places were paid. Also at stake was a custom crafted frog rod created by Tom Wewerka of Tom’s Custom Rods which would be awarded to the individual capturing the largest bass of the tournament.
All anglers were safely checked in at their appointed weigh-in time and the weigh-in ceremonies began. A huge throng of spectators lined the shores of the upper reaches of the North East River at the Nauti Goose Restaurant where the weigh-in ceremonies were to take place. Also on hand was Spro National Sales Manager Syd Rives who greeted the anglers and helped with the photographs.
Syd also told the crowd of a few new innovative ideas that Spro’s R and D department was working on and also listened to suggestions offered by some of the anglers.
The official Spro tournament staff members were in place as the first bag of bass came to the scales. Rich Bruce handled the measuring and weighing of each bass that was presented by the anglers as tournament emcee Dave Kilby from PAYCHECK Tournament Series began calling weights. George Acord from Susquehanna Fishing Tackle recorded the weights and Billy Zinkhan logged them into the computer.
As expected, some giant bass crossed the scales giving the growing audience several opportunities to cheer throughout the afternoon.
Ron Horton, fishing solo today set the bar early as he placed 17.19 pounds of bass on the scale giving the other teams a high mark to shoot for. Would this be a traditional Upper Chesapeake slugfest or would the weights be low? Read on!
Keith Cowan and Zach Cowan were today’s 10th place team as they weighed a total of 16.14 pounds of largemouth bass, good for $350. Great job!
Fishing for the star-studded Team Outcast squad, the talented duo of Rick Ungham and Eric Flutka dropped 16.73 pounds on the scales to finish 9th. They pocketed $380. Nice work!
Donnie Tomlin and Jay Burger teamed up the claim 8th place thanks to their Spro frogs. They won $400 for their catch weighing 16.85 pounds. Way to go!
John Ingram and Tee Sanford finished in 7th place today with a fine limit that totaled 17.14 pounds. That was good for $450. Good fishin’, guys!
The aforementioned Ron Horton slid into 6th place with that 17.19 pound limit allowing him to win $500. The great thing is he didn’t have to share it with anyone since he fished alone. Can’t beat that!
Upper Bay veterans Kevin Simpson and Sam Rineer, frog fishing connoisseurs cast their Spro topwaters in the right places at the right time as their best 5 bass weighed 17.76 pounds giving them 5th place. They were presented $550.Good work!
Fourth place belonged to Ken Wood, Jr and Willie Barrett who culled to achieve their final weight of 17.86 pounds. They won a total of $835 as they also had the 2nd big bass of the tournament. Great day, fella’s!
George Short and Tommy Turner weighed 17.95 pounds to finish 3rd today. Good thing the overcast skies kept the heat down a bit because George has a hard time dealing with excessive heat and has been known to do his own version of the “Spro Bronzeye Plunge” into the Chesapeake Bay during a tournament! This consistent pair won $650.
Dave Wilder and Rob Steiner joined forces today and finished with a sack of 5 bass that totaled 18.60 pounds. They also fooled the 3rd largest bass of the tournament into a boat ride to the Nauti Goose weigh-in area adding to their overall winnings. In all, they received $960. That’s a great return on their minimal entry fee.
Traveling to the Upper Chesapeake from north-central Pennsylvania to compete in this Spro Frog Only tournament were Mark Knapp and Lloyd Watkins. They competed out of their Charger bass boat, creatively adorned with their sponsors logos. Please note that they left the area quite a bit wealthier than when they arrived. They had a unique day on the water as they accumulated the winning weight of 19.37 pounds of largemouth bass.
Like the Super Bowl, they exclaimed that their day was broken down in two entirely different halves. Mark was the leading scorer of this team during the first half as he produced a steady limit over shallow grass. They reported that Lloyd took over in the latter part of the day as they moved to a lily pad field where his Spro popping frog proved to be the “snack of choice” as they quickly culled to reach the winning weight. They were awarded first place prize money of $1800. Congratulations!
Tom Wewerka from Tom’s Custom Rods graciously donated his custom frog rod to Don Ahart and Bill Tyger who weighed a 6.40 pound hoss on the scale. In addition to the custom rod, which boasted the Spro Bronzeye logo and a commemorative inscription they also received $395 in cash.
Thanks to the Spro Corporation, Syd Rives, Susquehanna Fishing Tackle , and all of the volunteers who made this event a tremendous success! Special kudos to Jerry Sersen who endured the rain during the wee hours of the morning checking boats and ensuring each trolling motor had an official ribbon attached.
We would like to make this a regularly scheduled annual event. Please give Susquehanna Fishing Tackle and the good folks at Spro your thoughts and opinions of the tournament.