The two-day 2013 PAYCHECK Championship kicked off Friday Morning, October 25 at Anchor Marina in North East, Maryland. This was the first cold morning of the fall as overnight temperatures were in the thirties. A steady breeze didn’t make conditions any more comfortable.
This event almost had a tragic beginning if not for some quick thinking by PAYCHECK Angler and Conowingo Director Billy Zinkhan. Uncle Gene backed Billy in the water at Anchor Marina around 4:30 Friday morning. As he was maneuvering his boat around the long docks at the Nauti Goose he heard shouts of “Help! Help!”. He noticed a woman in the water by the city dock and promptly positioned his boat to pull her out of the water. Although she was obviously intoxicated, the end result could have been much worse had there not been a tournament going on. Kudo’s to Billy!
Thirty one teams out of the sixty or so that qualified were on hand for the grand championship, all with high expectations to win. Everyone was in the water with their lights on and livewells checked by safe light. After a quick briefing on the shores of the Nauti Goose restaurant day one of the PAYCHECK Grand Championship was under way.
Weather conditions didn’t improve much throughout the day but none of the teams came in early. Despite the adverse conditions there were still some respectable bags that came in on Friday. In fact, 15 five-bass limits came to the scales.
Danny Rodriguez and Eric McNulty held the lead after Day One with 19.88 pounds. They were closely followed by Harry Nurk and Calvin Schwenk with 19.41. Mike Sentore and Sean McKee (18.91) , Duane Essick and Jay Pirillo (17.87), and Dan Kardash and Marty Baker (16.42) rounded up the top 5.
Harry Nurk and Calvin Schwenk landed the Big Bass on Day One which weighed 6.24 and earned them a lunker plaque and $155.
After the weigh-in 7 or 8 teams visited the Nauti Goose restaurant for a relaxing dinner. Looking out over the North East River as the sun was setting the water was calm and it was a picture perfect scene, but………
Most teams, even those that zeroed on the first day, returned on Day Two hoping to cash in on the Upper Bay’s big bass. After all, there were several teams in striking distance going into the final day of competition.
Saturday saw some strange weather conditions. For the first time this year there was frost on the docks and boats in the morning as the air temperature was a few degrees colder but the water was dead calm. Unfortunately, that would change very quickly. A strong breeze soon developed which turned into 15-25MPH winds with higher gusts blowing right up the North east River from the south. By mid-day there were whitecaps IN THE MARINA and looking out across the headwaters of the North East River it looked more like Ocean City.
Concerns about who would catch a hefty limit quickly turned to praying everyone returned safely as a few teams made long early morning runs. Just trying to tie your boat off in the marina was a challenge in itself, especially if you were by alone.
It’s the efforts of guys like Russ Witmer who represent the true integrity of a PAYCHECK angler. With his son and partner Tim unable to make either day of the competition Russ fished solo, launching and loading his boat by himself in the wind. Russ struggled on Day One but in the toughest of conditions on Day Two Russ was able to catch one keeper. Reailzing he wasn’t in the money he was determined to weigh in his one fish and not show a zero for the championship. After finally managing to tie his boat off single-handedly he proudly carried his bass to the scales and we couldn’t be more proud either! Thanks, Russ…you are one dedicated PAYCHECK Angler.
The overall weights were way down on Day Two thanks to the wind. Only 4 teams improving on their Day One weight. George Short and Tommy Turner made the biggest move on Saturday jumping from 8 places thanks to the heaviest bag on Day Two which weighed 15.67 pounds. Only nine limits appeared at the scales.
With the weights being down on the final day there would not be a walk-away winner and it put a lot more teams in the hunt. A clear winner could not be determined until the final bag was weighed.
Jerry Ashby and Paul Brown were the first team not to cash but received a Quick Save Trolling Motor Plate valued at $100. They had a 2-day total of 22.69 pounds.
Pete Faverio and Chuck Rife, who had a great second half of the season finished with an overall weight of 25.58 pounds to claim 8th place and $235.
Harry Nurk and Calvin Schwenk slipped a little on Day 2 but still finished in 7th place with a total weight of 27.15. Including their first day lunker money they won a total of $440.
As mentioned earlier, George Short and Tommy Turner moved way up the leader board on Day Two into 6th place with a combined weight of 27.63 pounds, They received $300.
Mike Piccolo and Nate Brown teamed to finish the Championship in 5th place. Remember young Nate was in need of a partner as regular partner Darrell Ellis is still rehabbing a knee replacement. Thanks to Mike for stepping up and also to Paul Steiner and Josh Headley for their willingness to partner with Nate. Mike and Nate put 2 solid days together total 28.24 pounds, good for $350.
The veteran team of Clyde Brown and Corey Ellis had a 2-day combined weight of 29.19 pounds to finish in 4th place. For their efforts they received $450. Nice going!
Duane Essick and Jay Pirillo overcame some major mechanical issues on Saturday and still managed a limit of bass. They totaled 30.64 pounds over 2 days landing them in third place overall. They were presented plaques and $500.
First day leaders Danny Rodriguez and Eric McNulty gambled against the wind both days and produced a 2-day total of 32.09 pounds to finish in second place. They had a great tournament and were awarded $900 and a Lowrance HDS-5. Great job!
The Premier Marine Team of the Year Mike Sentore and Sean McKee have had an incredible year fishing the PAYCHECK Tournament Series in 2013 and their hard work culminated with a PAYCHECK Championship. When they weighed 13.96 on the second day I’m sure their confidence level was not that high due to #1-the caliber of fishermen in this event and #2-they assumed another bag approaching the 20 pound mark was needed.
When the smoke cleared and the final team weighed their fish Mike and Sean were declared the champions with a grand total of 32.87 pounds, narrowly edging ahead of Danny and Eric. They received $2000 in prize money and a Power Pole Sportsman edition.
JT Lang and Chris Lang, one of the 4 teams to improve their catch on Saturday captured the Day 2 Lunker, a fat 4.90 largemouth which earned them a plaque and $155.
Despite the weather it was a great tournament! After all…when did the wind NOT blow during a PAYCHECK/Premier marine tournament this year?
I want to thank the many, many volunteers who have helped make this year a success. These include the entire Brown family, also Julie, Janette, Gia, Lavita, Darrell, Helen, Sean, Mark, Butch, and everyone else who helped out in one way or another. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some names and I apologize.
Also, thanks to my Directors, Billy Zinkhan and Dennis Deahl.
Look for a whole new PAYCHECK look in 2014. We’re adding trails and just announced the PAYCHECK Signature Series yesterday, a boater/Co-angler format with an end-of-year championship of it’s own.
Also, a new G3 bass boat will be awarded at the 2014 Grand Championship on Oneida Lake!
Finally, thanks to our sponsors who include www.remotemechanic.com, Premier Marine, North Harford Collision Center, Tom’s Custom Rods, Susquehanna Fishing Tackle, Southern Auto Tech, Vanore Enterprises/Rita’s Italian Ice, and of course, Miss Utility.
Keep visiting our website, www.getpaidfishing.com for information on remaining 2013 PAYCHECK Tournaments and what’s in store for 2014!