A record field of 44 boats was in the water and ready to blast off at safe light on Saturday, April 12 at Tydings Park Marina. Despite a large kayak tournament going on simultaneously everyone did a remarkable job parking and staging so the tournament could launch on time.
It seems like it’s been years since we have had weather this nice for a PAYCHECK tournament. It was sunny, warm, and calm for the most part but a breeze did kick up later in the day.
The report from the water was that lot’s of the popular pre-spawn spots on the Upper Bay were crowded but everyone seemed to be adapting and getting along despite elbow-to-elbow in some areas.
For 2014 PAYCHECK is experiencing with a 1-in-4 payout while maintaining the 90% payback that has helped us become so popular. The most criticism I’ve heard with regard to participation is from teams who would fish if we paid more spots. In addition to paying and extra spot or 2, based upon the number of teams fishing, we also redirected the Option Pot to be paid to the 2 highest finishing teams that enter the Option Pot. Within the 44 teams who participated in this tournament, most of the new teams acknowledged they fished because of the additional places paid. We will monitor this for the 2014 season and determine if it will be continued next year.
All teams were safely back to the dock on time as there were 3 flights to avoid congestion at the ramp especially with the kayakers. Thanks to those teams who left early for either calling, texting, or having another team advise they were leaving early so we wouldn’t be worrying about them.
With 44 teams on hand a total of 11 places were paid. Although we saw a lot of 5-6 pound fish show up at the scales, it appeared that the best chance for a top 3 finish was to have 5 quality bass rather than one big one and 4 other 15-16″ fish.
Mike Sentore and Sean McKee, 2013 Grand Champions picked up where they left off with a 5-fish limit weighing $19.38 pounds. As you will see, they were less than 2 pounds from the lead and received $450.
Joe DellaValle and Dan Hawley were the exception as they only had 4 fish today, but they were giants. Their total weight, which included the big bass of the tournament, was 19.67 pounds. The big bass weighed 6.99 pounds and takes the early lead in the David Gillis State Farm Big Bass of the Year award. Joe and Dan received a Lunker plaque and a total of $1005 for 4th place and Big Bass. Extra cash for the lunker is donated by John Hansen from www.remotemechanic.com, a PAYHECK sponsor.
Darrell Ellis, back on the water following a year-long knee recovery and rehab teamed up with high school angler Nate Brown this year and finished 3rd today with 20.46 pounds .They also boasted a bass just under 7 pounds to help secure their awesome limit. Darrell and Nate reported catching about 8 keepers today. They each receive a plaque and a total of $760 for their 3rd place finish.
Ken Wood Sr and longtime partner Brian Swall can usually be found tournament fishing on the Potomac River especially since Brian lives in Manassas, VA, no easy drive to and from the Upper Bay. In fact, they had a 3rd place finish in last week’s PAYCHECK Potomac Teams opener. Proving that a bass is a bass is a bass wherever you are, Ken and Brian employed successful Potomac techniques to secure 2nd place with a big bag of bass weighing 20.94 pounds. Their hearts stopped for a bit as they experienced mechanical issues while returning to the ramp. They want to express their gratitude to fellow competitors John Valdez and Ed Davis who, in accordance with our rules, gave Brian a ride back to the ramp with their fish That’s a great gesture, John and Ed and thanks for helping maintain the integrity of the PAYCHECK Tournament Series. Including 2nd place Option Pot money Ken and Brian received $1250 in cash and 2 plaques.
Always a year round threat on the Upper Bay, Mike Piccolo and Dave Anderson admitted to struggling to catch quality keepers for the majority of this tournament. In fact, with just 2 hours to go they were convinced they would be weighing just an average 5-bass limit. However, as is true with all champions, they made strategic decisions in both location and technique and were able to cull 4 or 5 more times in the waning hours of the tournament. Still not convinced they had enough to win, the scales held the answer to all of their questions as their weight was called at 21.03 pounds, just enough to ease past Ken and Brian. In addition to plaques, Mike and Dave moved into the early lead for the Heaviest Bag of the Year award sponsored by Aamco Transmissions of Parkville. Their prize money, including 1st place Option Pot totaled $2130.
All 109 bass were released alive and healthy! Let’s continue to show good livewell maintenance and fish care management throughout the season.
On a down note this morning there were 2 boats that began getting on plane prior to idling past the bulkhead. Not only is this unsafe to other boaters staged near the mouth of the marina entrance but it reverberates among the slipholders who have already had me banned form using the bullhorn prior to “complete safe light”. Let’s not give them another reason to complain about bass tournaments. Remember that unsafe practices such as this are subject to disqualification so let’s be a little more courteous.
On an upnote, both the park attendant and one usually bothersome slipholder approached me early afternoon to commend you guys for keeping your idle speeds down throughout the day. Great job, everyone!
The next PAYCHECK/Premier tournament will be held at Tydings Park on Saturday, May 10. Let’s try to crack the 50-boat number as the spawn should be in full swing by then.
The winners of the May 10th tournament plus at least one other team in the money will be issued a brief Voice Stress Analysis with a licensed polygraph examiner.
Other upcoming PAYCHECK tournaments include PAYCHECK Friday Teams on April 25, the first PAYCHECK Pro Tour on April 27, and the PAYCHECK Potomac May 3.
PAYCHECK sponsors include Solar Bat Sunglasses, Rhino Linings of Delaware, North Harford Collision Center, Cecil County Tourism, Aamco Transmissions of Parkville, David Gillis State Farm Insurance, Precision Tackle, Cornerstone Recruiting, Fox Tail Custom Cabinetry, Tom’s Custom Rods, www.remotemechanic.com, Fishing University, Spro Corp, Tri-State Trophies, Southern Auto Tech, Rita’s Italian Ice, and Premier Marine.