Hamilton County Outdoors -- 03/05/2014
By Dick Nelson

Open and hardwater fishing takes center stage

The 2014 Bassmaster Classic may have drawn national attention Feb. 23, but this past weekend saw the three-day Fuel n’ Food’s sixth annual Ice Fishing Contest on the Great Sacandaga Lake. This is where registrants not only had an opportunity to win cash prizes for walleye, trout, pike and perch, but some lucky angler drove home pulling a brand new Bass Tracker boat, motor and trailer behind.

Held in Fuel n’ Food’s parking lot March 2, the $13,000 boat package was separate from the contest, giving everyone who paid the $20 entry fee an opportunity to win the grand prize, whether they caught fish or not.

I’ll have the results of that event, along with the two-day contest coordinated by Ross Bait Shop next week, but thanks to Ray Fyke and Penny Ross I do have photos and results from the Reid Hill Fish and Game Club ice fishing derby where despite rain, wind and a lot of slush, 65 anglers jigged lures and watched tip-ups rigged with an assortment of baits including grubs, wax-worms, shiners and hunts for trout, walleye, perch and pike.

Held Feb. 22 on GSL, Andrew Georgia won the walleye category with a 19 inch marbleye, Ira Cromling III placed second with 18-7/8, and Pat Cromling was third with 18-1/2. In the northern pike category, Joel Thomas was tops with 41-1/2 inches; Tim Hilts was second with 30-1/4, and Dan Polsinelli was third with 27 inches.

When it came to trout, only two were caught with Pat Cromling skating away with the first place prize for a 19-1/2 inch brown trout while Chris Motyl’s 15-3/8 inch catch netted him second place. Top perch were Zachary Whitman, 13-1/4 inches; Ira Cromling Jr., 13-1/8; and Alex Nellis, 12-1/4.

Fyke expressed special thanks to Greg Atty and Dustin Delany for their generosity, saying it will make the club’s May 18 Kids Fishing Derby that much better. Fyke also thanked Wally at Driftwood Park for his support as well as Penny Ross, Dennis Kruger and Marc Kruger for all their hard work.

If you think it has been cold and windy on GSL and Hamilton County impoundments, just be thankful you weren’t one of the more than 100 anglers that were stranded for three days on Minnesota’s Upper Red Lake because of a blizzard. According to reports employees from a nearby resort were finally able to reach the ice fishermen after the storm had them trapped roughly eight miles from solid land in 45 ice houses.

Some anglers said that since they couldn’t sleep they weathered the storm by fishing. One rescued fishermen said although he is relieved to be off the ice, the three days he spent on Upper Red Lake was some of the best fishing he ever had. If nothing else, you have to admire his tenacity.

BASSMASTER CLASSIC

As for the Bassmaster Classic, the 44th edition of what has often been called the “Super Bowl” of bass fishing came to a surprise conclusion Feb. 23 when a lesser known 41-year-old angler named Randy Howell leaped from 11th position the second day of the three-day tournament to win the coveted Bassmaster Classic Championship Trophy and the $300,000 prize money that went with it.

The Springville, Ala. pro angler earned his spot in the Classic after winning the first of three 2013 Bassmaster Northern Open events with a total weight of 47.11 pounds. That tournament was held along the James River in Virginia. The other two were held on Lake Erie and Oneida Lake.

Howell, who made the final 25 angler cut by finishing the second day with a weight of 38.6 pounds, won the event with a final three-day catch of 67 pounds, 8 ounces.

“I’ve had this dream so many times, and it’s happening now. I can’t believe I won the Bassmaster Classic. I don’t win tournaments very often,” Howell said.? Held on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville, Howell told the cheering crowd at the Birmingham–Jefferson Convention Complex -- many of whom were hometown fans -- "I've been fishing tournaments for 21 years and this was by far the best day of fishing I ever had," adding that he might have had some divine guidance in catching the winning weight.

Howell's favorite book is the Bible.

“As I moved off my first spot to run further up the lake a voice inside me told me to turn around and go back to Spring Creek,” Howell said. "Do you want to be good or do you want to be great, the voice said? I turned around and went back and that's what did it."

Howell said most of his catches were made on a crawfish red Rapala DT6 and a prototype Livingston Lures medium-running crankbait.

Connecticut angler Paul Mueller was second with 66 pounds, 8 ounces winning $45,000; Edwin Evers of Oklahoma was third with 65-11, winning $42,500; Ott DeFoe of Tennessee finished fourth with 63.6 pounds picking up $30,000; and Randall Tharp, of Port St. Joe, Fla. was fifth with 62.12 pounds winning $27,500.

Each of the 25 anglers that made the cut received a check, the lowest of which was $12,500.

Surprisingly seven former Classic champions competing in this event never made it to the final top 25 cut-off. Four-time winner and bass fishing superstar Kevin Van Dam came the closest, finishing 26th. The other ex-champions who came up short were Chris Lane (36th), Mark Davis (43rd), Alton Jones (45th), Mike Iaconelli (47th), Takahiro Omori (48th) and Skeet Reese (49th).

TAKE A SURVEY

Outdoor Life is taking a deer hunting survey and would like to know what you think. To participate go to www.outdoorlife.com. Wait until the photo box on the left cycles to “2014 Deer Survey” and click on it. Then click on “Outdoor Life's 2014 National Whitetail Survey.”

THE WRITE STUFF

The Outdoor Writers Association of America has announced its annual Norm Strung Youth Writing Contest. Sponsored by Safari Club International, cash prizes are awarded winners in grades 6-12 for poetry and prose categories.

The work must have been published in a newsletter, newspaper, magazine, literary collection, etc. during 2013. Go to OWAA.org, click on ‘Programs’ and slide down to ‘Contests’ for the contest rules. The deadline for mailing entries is March 15.

Dropping anchor ‘til next time.

To contact Dick Nelson with event or club news or to send a photograph email dnelsonrecorder@aol.com or outdoors@recordernews.com. Events should include the what, where, when and cost (if any). Photographs should include name of subject(s), town of residency and a brief description of the photo.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

March 8 -- New York State Conservation Council Legislative Meeting, Herkimer County Community College, 100 Reservoir Rd, Herkimer. (315) 894-3302.

March 9 -- 19th Annual Sportsman’s Dinner, Wells Central School, 1571 Route 30, Wells. See the Coming Attractions section of this newspaper for details.

March 15 -- The Mohawk Valley Sharp Spurs Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will host its annual Hunting Heritage fundraiser banquet at Perthshire Restaurant, 112 Perthshire Road in Amsterdam. Contact Tim Brisley at (518) 366-3837 or tbrisley@gmail.com; Dick Andrews at (518) 843-9086 or Mike Auriemma at 843-2432.

March 15-16 -- Gun & Militaria Show, Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga. See the Coming Attractions section of this newspaper for details.