Post-spawn on the Upper Chesapeake Bay. The weights drop, the big fish disappear, and you’re lucky to squeak out a small limit, right? Not hardly…read on!
We were finally blessed with a beautiful day on the Upper Bay on June 9th for the 4th tournament of the popular Premier Marine Tournament Trail, a branch of the PAYCHECK Team Tournament Series. Tydings Park in Havre de Grace, Maryland hosted this event. 30 outstanding teams participated in this event which features a 90% payback at the ramp. Each of these top teams are capable of pulling off a big win and with the expansive grass flats holding big bass the playing field now levels out a bit. With a 5:30 AM launch at safe light and a 3:00-3:15 PM weigh-in a long, hot tournament day lie ahead for these dedicated anglers. As numbers were called roostertails from engines could be seen fanning out in all directions as teams sped off to their honey holes.
The tide was right for an early frog or topwater bite which usually means larger fish. Would that be the bite that would produce the winning bag? The end of the story would be revealed around 4:00 in the afternoon as the scales closed. Tydings Park always provides us with a large group of spectators, many who are visitors to the area who had no idea these waters produce quality bass fishing of this nature. In fact even the most seasoned tournament angler has to ask, “When will these big bags of bass end?” The answer? Not today, that’s for sure!
The bar was set high as Billy Zinkhan and Don Muir were the first team to weigh in and posted a 19.14 on the scoreboard. The next two teams to hit the scales were progressively higher. Was this a sign of things to come? You bet! The last team weighed their hefty limit of largemouth bass and the scales were declared closed. Final results were calculated and the awards ceremony began.
With a featured 1-in-5 payback 6 places were paid. When you have an even number of teams like we did today with 30, it’s great for the team who squeaks out the last check, but that extra place is paid partially from the higher places as is true with all tournaments. If you are the winner, life is good if there were 29 teams, 34 teams, and so on as the top spots would earn a few more dollars. Nonetheless, a 90% payback is still a great concept and PAYCHECK and Premier Marine tournaments are proud to offer it.
Gary Bailey and Dan Kuczinski partnered up to claim 6th place today with a great limit weighing 20.11 pounds, good for $220. See where this is going? 6th place…20.11 pounds?
Finishing in 5th place today with 21.10 pounds were Joe Dellavalle and Dan Hawley. These guys won the inaugural Premier Marine tournament and are a big bass threat every time they put a lure in the water. They had a couple of 24” spawned out bass today that probably weighed 7 pounds a month ago. They pocketed $300 bucks today.
There are 3 major casinos within 40 miles of Tydings Park including Delaware Park, Hollywood Casino, and the new Maryland Live casino that just opened in Baltimore. The REAL gamble with our tournaments, however is whether or not to enter the voluntary $25 Option Pot. If you had a lousy practice, don’t feel like you’re on big fish, or feel jinxed or superstitious you have a legitimate excuse not to enter. Those decisions come into play more often than not in the final outcome and today was no exception.
Joe Booker and David Greenleaf teamed up and ended the day with a 4th place finish thanks to a whopping 22.14 pounds! They not only stuffed $360 in their pockets but also 2nd place Option Pot money worth $150 for a total of $510 Nice going.
Let me say something about the Team Outcast bass club from Maryland. I don’t know what these guys eat at their club meetings but these guys can fish! Their members are always near the top and usually have 4 fists on the handles of their weigh-in bags as they approach the scales. Even their Junior Members are being groomed to compete successfully as was evident by Natalie Dougherty’s recent performance in the PAYCHECK His and Her’s tournament.
Rick Ungham and Eric Flutka carried on the Team Outcast tradition at this tournament placing 23.13 pounds on the scales. Resting comfortable in the bottom of their weigh-in bag was the tournament lunker, a gigantic 6.52 pound largemouth. Rick and Eric were last seen walking away from the crowd with not only big smiles on their faces but 3 beautiful Premier Marine tournament plaques and $820 in prize money.
Clyde Brown and Corey Ellis, fresh off a win last week at the Friday PAYCHECK tournament came oh-so-close to a repeat performance today. They had close to a 5 pound average as their final weight settled at 23.30 pounds, barely nudging Rick and Eric for 2nd place. They were presented plaques, $820 in prize money, and bonus cash of $350 for being the highest finishing team entered in the Option Pot. That’s a grand total of $1170!
Ernie Leiphart and Clefton Shortlidge were the third team to weigh in today and had to wait it out as bag after bag of big bass were carried to the scales. Clefton was pacing around the weigh-in area like an expectant father while Ernie was a little more calm choosing to pass the time eating a burger. A sigh of releif came across their faces as the final team weighed and the scales were declared closed. Their weight of 24.19 pounds sealed the deal and earned them the gold medal. They were awarded plaques and prize money worth $1780. Congratulations.
There was one deceased bass at this tournament which succumbed to a deeply buried wide gap hook. There were 2 expired bass at the previous tournament for a total of only 3 bass fatalities in the Premier Marine tournament series this year. With a total of 120 teams fishing after 4 tournaments (30 boat average) that’s a stellar record! Thanks to each team for their management of the bass in their livewells this year. I’m very proud of each of you!
I was a little short on help for this tournament and would like to thank the many volunteers who stepped in to help out. I hope I don’t leave anyone out but these include Sean Peddicord, Billy Zinkhan, Jerry Ashby, Amanda Brown, George Helm, Willie Barrett, and our photographer, Jeanette Knoop.
The next Premier marine Team Tournament will again launch from Tydings Park in Havre de Grace, MD on July 21st.