This past Saturday, Massachusetts Kayak Bassin’ closed out the regular season with our first-ever championship! With few big bodies of water to choose from in the state, and even fewer somewhat central to both the eastern and western divisions, we settled on Webster Lake, which is most famous for having the longest name of any geographic feature in the country.

No, not Webster Lake; the tongue-twisting Lake Char­gogg­a­gogg­man­chaugg­a­gogg­chau­bun­a­gung­a­maugg, which roughly translates to: “Whoever named this lake clearly had a drinking problem.”

Leading up to the event, pre-fishing reports indicated it would be a tough bite. A few people did well, like Nelson da Costa and John Ferreira, the latter of whom apparently put up close to ninety inches the Wednesday before the event.

For the most part, though, people struggled, and the cold front that dropped in Friday night didn’t do us any favors.

But that didn’t deter anyone, as we had nearly a full field of thirty-seven out of thirty-nine qualified anglers show up tournament morning!

Ramp-cooked breakfast sandwiches were provided by John Ferreira up north and Shawn Dominik down south, and I’m not saying I’d like them to do that at every event, but…I wouldn’t complain if they did. Either way, thanks, fellas!

At 7:45 AM, we hit the water. Lines in at 8 AM.

Heading across the lake, Valber Santos and I found that we were heading toward the same weedy cove. Gerard Elias had shot past us, then doubled back. As we passed each other, he said, “Overshot my spot.”

Valber and I laughed, and then a few minutes later realized we’d done the same damn thing. When we finally got to the weedy cove, Gerard was there, and now, over the course of the winter, we’re going to learn how to read maps better.

Just entering the cove, from the shore end of a point, I tossed out a ned rig and quickly hooked up with my first fish—a solid 17.25. I was pumped! But I wouldn’t catch another fish until 2:14 PM.

John Ferreira took a quick lead with three fish. A few other anglers had fish on the board, but only one apiece, if I recall correctly. John had a limit not long after and got to work culling. It looked like the rest of us were fishing for second.

I didn’t pay much attention to the standings for a good part of the day since I wasn’t catching fish. At one point, though, anglers began figuring things out and making moves, and John’s lead began to shrink.

When the standings went offline, Joseph Daddeo had taken the lead, but anglers were still putting the pieces together and fish on the board…

For this event, we paid out five spots, event lunker, smallmouth lunker, and pickerel lunker. The angler with the biggest bass also took home the Old Glory Outdoors Big Bass Bonus prize. The top five anglers also won a gift certificate to YakAttack!

There was a two-way tie for pickerel lunker, with both Ari Stonehill and Nick Ringgard putting up a 22.50-incher. Because we don’t measure every pickerel we catch, we can’t go by the next biggest pickerel for a tie-breaker, so they split the $250 pot.

John Ferreira nabbed an 18-inch smallmouth just four minutes after lines in, which would remain the biggest smallie of the day.

For the overall event lunker, we had a three-way tie between Steve Hedges, Joseph Daddeo, and Derek Brundle, all of whom caught an 18.50-inch largemouth. For bass tie-breakers, we go by the next biggest fish, which was Derek Brundle’s 16-incher, giving him the pot and the Old Glory Outdoors prize pack—which included tackle from 6th Sense Fishing, Googan Squad, Fresh Baitz, Z-Man Fishing Products and others, as well as a rod from Ark Fishing and some hats and stickers.

Like many anglers, Shawn Dominik struggled out there. With just a 12.5-incher on the board for most of the day, he made some moves that proved fruitful in the last few hours, catching seven bass that ultimately pushed him from the back of the pack all the way up into fifth place with 71.50 inches.

Though leading for a good portion of the day, culling throughout, John’s offshore bite changed and, unfortunately, he was unable to make the necessary adjustments. However, his is 73.50 was still enough for 4th place and a solid payday.

Scott Rhodes had a bit of luck on his side, getting blown off course on the way to his first spot and finding a small piece of structure that was holding fish in 25 feet of water. When his first spot produced just one fish, he moved back to what he’d seen earlier and quickly put a good one on the board. He would stay there for the rest of the day, grinding out a very respectable 74.50-inch bag on a tough day.

With no pre-fishing, and having never fished the lake before, I launched south and zig-zagged all across the lake, all the way up into the creek by the northern ramp, with only one fish to show for it in the first six hours.

On my way back south, I stopped on the humps out in the middle basin, which are obviously a community hole. I’d fished them pretty good earlier in the day, but couldn’t get a bite. On my way back through, though, I changed my Megabass Vision 110 from a trout color to a perch color, and immediately started catching fish.

I caught at least twenty smallmouth out there in those last hours, and by my math, my 76.25 had surpassed what Joe had when the standings went offline at 3 PM. But Joe is a stud and never quits…

While I spent most of my day fishing offshore, Joe stayed shallow, focusing on two marinas, targeting largemouth feeding on bait, of which there was plenty. My late-day run did have Joe’s 3 PM total beat by an inch, but at 3:12, Joe laid a 15.75—a 2.5-inch upgrade—on the board, which bumped him up into first place and sealed the deal on becoming the very first Massachusetts Kayak Bassin’ Champion!

Congrats, buddy! Very happy for you. Well-deserved!

And congrats to the rest of the anglers in the top, as well to anyone who caught fight this day. It was tough out there, even for John, who was making it look easy in the morning.

Check out the full standings here over on Fishing Chaos.

It’s been a great season, and I hope next year is even better. Thanks to Shawn and Nelson for taking the reins and running the Western Division, and a big shout-out to all the anglers who fished it. It can only grow from here! And to the rest of the staff—Donald Davis, Bruce Levy, John Ferreira, and Kevin Amaral—thank you!

Our “annual” awards banquet is scheduled for March 19, 2020. We checked out the venue today, and it should be a good time. We’ll have three years of trophies to award at this one! So make sure you mark it on your calendars, especially if you won an event in 2019, 2020, or 2021 (seriously, I don’t want to have to mail a dang trophy).

Thanks, everyone, and congrats again to the winners! Great job this season!