SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Yesterday the overwhelming majority of the anglers voiced the desire for more wind to make fishing better at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open. They got it. And then some.
The worst possible direction for the wind to blow—at least for bass fishing—is from the east on what is New York’s largest inland lake. By topography, the lake runs east and west. When gusty winds kick up it stirs up the current and multiplies the waves as they roll uninterrupted across the mostly open water lake. For most of the day the wind blew from the east at 15 mph, with higher gusts.
Scales open early
B.A.S.S. tournament officials opened the weigh-in scales about one hour before the official start of the 2:30 ET weigh in. They did so in the name of fish care, so that fish could be weighed and release, sooner than later.
Taking them up on the chance were two anglers. Those included the Thursday co-angler leader Dai Kitajima, who weighed 11 pounds, 14 ounces. Today he added 3-12 to his score for a two-day weight of 15-4. Kitajima weighed early after boater partner Josh Douglas had a mechanical issue with his motor shortly after takeoff. He chose to stay out on the lake, maneuvering the shoreline with his trolling motor, to give Kitajima the chance to add to his weight.
Another early comer was Christian Mazzola Sr, who yesterday was 153rd place with 2-1. Today he caught 18-12, including a smallmouth weighing 4-2.
Bowes and Bowes
Senior Tournament Manager Chris Bowes is usually joined by a state officer from the B.A.S.S. Nation on the stage to weigh the catches. On Friday he was instead joined by his son Noah, who served as the weighmaster. The event was also a homecoming. Chris is a Syracuse native and it’s the birthplace of his son. When he was two years old, the family moved to Orlando, Fla., when Chris accepted a job with B.A.S.S. when it was headquartered there.
No juice, no problem
Kirk McMullen fought to the finish on Friday. The angler from Macdeon, N.Y., ended the tournament with 30-1, based on the strength of his Thursday catch weighing 16-6. Faced with fishing in the gusty winds, McMullen kept his foot solidly on the trolling motor pedal to stay on spots. By 12:30 p.m., his batteries were drained. For the remainder of Friday, he set up drifts across his area, managing to weigh 13-11.
Conservation tour of duty
For the third time in four weeks, the New York B.A.S.S. Nation provided its live release boat for Bassmaster events. This week it was at Oneida Lake, and previously, at Bassmaster Elite tournaments on the St. Lawrence River and then Cayuga Lake. The boat joined the two AFTCO Yamaha Live Release Boats already in use, with the goal of boosting fish care during the New York swing. The B.A.S.S. Nation boat was staffed by members, including Paul Hudson, the fish care manager, and Barb Elliott, the conservation director. The boat has quite a history, dating back to its christening in 1997 as a live release boat on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail. New York got the boat in 2011, gave it a much-needed facelift, and it’s been in use ever since. What is more the boat does double duty for habitat improvement projects to remove invasive species from lakes, and as a mobile classroom for teaching anglers how to fizz deep-caught largemouth. In fact, Elliott taught fizzing and fish care classes to the Elite Series pros.